Tag Archives: Perspective

Waiting Patiently, Part 1

We decided to try our hands at a bit of vegetable and herb gardening again this year after a several year hiatus.  We just got a few things and put them in pots because I still haven’t settled on a ‘landscape design’ for the back yard.  (There is the one in my dreams that includes a 3 season room/conservatory, a patio, a beautiful new fence and award winning plantings…)  The last time I tried to raise a tomato plant I put it on the west side of the house and it got burnt and spindly and we managed to reap a single tomato from the poor thing before it became compost.

 

I think that I’ve learned a bit since then.  We’ll see if I have learned enough.  Now our tomato plants live on the south side of the house and are currently full of promise – about 18 tomatoes are developing between the two plants.  We also have peppers, mint and oregano.  We had basil, but a random wind burst blew a chair onto it and now it is in the process of dying.

 

We are already realizing that the herb books we possess have gaps – like when and how to harvest.  Perhaps the writer assumes we know this part…  In which case he or she is wrong.

 

I am enamored of the idea of gardening – decorative and produce.  I have a stack of gardening books that I look at and reference periodically, some practical and some fanciful.  Reading about our founding father’s deep interest in gardening, as gentlemen gardeners I realized that is around my level.  I want to talk about it, think about it, enjoy it and just occasionally do the heavy parts.  Plant something here, pull a weed there, rely upon thick layers of mulch to prevent weeds and help retain moisture.  Unfortunately I don’t have the financial resources to pull off this sort of gardening.

 

Watering is a Zen activity that falls happily in my version of gardening.  Some days the plants have to wait patiently while I participate in other activities and interests, though.

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Gardening is perfectly suited to the acquisition of knowledge – it is forgiving of novice mistakes if you start slowly and allow for changes in plans.  Gardening is helping me to practice the patience that I have mostly lacked in other parts and earlier stages of my life.

 

You’ll have to excuse me now, I feel the need to go take a tour through the yard.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

There Will Be Exasperation

I’ve just sat down and gotten comfortable, so of course the dog now wants to go out.  This is exasperating.

 

Picking up one too many things to put back in their proper place, so everything slides and clangs and rolls away on the floor.  This is exasperating.

 

Dropping one of my earrings as I walk out of my room and put them on at the same time because I am already pressed for time.  This is exasperating.

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Going just a little too long between meals, trying to do that one more thing when tired, being unable to stretch just that tiny touch more to grab something needed when constrained – these are exasperating.

 

Being unable to retrieve the word that I want, or remember the association that would fit well into a conversation, or find that mosquito that buzzes in my ear when the lights are off and I am just about asleep.  Exasperating.

 

Having someone bring in dirty dishes just as I finish up in the kitchen.  Grrr.  Having the phone ring a couple of minutes before the end of the work day.  REALLY??

 

Vexing, infuriating, aggravating, inflammatory things happen every day, plenty of times per day to rankle each and every one of us.

 

Thankfully there is also laughter and beauty and kindness.  The dog wags her tail and smiles at me when I grumblingly go over to let her out and shortly thereafter let her back in.

 

I don’t have any interest in spending my hours feeling indignant much of the time.  I can remind myself to eat in a timely manner to stave off those blood sugar dips that result in a foul mood.

 

It’s a mind game that I can play better some days than others.  How about you?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Staying Calm

Someone went in the basement of a government office in England a couple of years ago and found themselves a gold mine by unearthing a WWII slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On”. With my tagline on my old blog being Reasonable Expectations, which is along the same vein, you probably believe that I find the phrase has plenty of merit.  And I do believe in the sentiment.  (I almost bought a plaque myself when I first saw one in a catalog because it is a pithy and practical mantra.)

 

Google search of keep calm and...

Google search of keep calm and…

But ever since I was told the first time as a child in a tizzy about some long forgotten irritation to ‘calm down’ I have thought that is the most useless phrase in the English language.  In the history of the world the number of people who have actually calmed down just based on being told to do so might be legitimately calculated at one.  In my experience, both personal and observed, it is more likely to be equated to waving a red flag in front of a bull.

 

But, since chronologically we are all adults, we do need to temper our tempers.  We are civilized after all, aren’t we?  Therefore we must find a means within ourselves to defuse any mounting irritation, frustration, anger, or rage before it gets the better of us.  Before we get into full tantrum mode.  And there is plenty to be frustrated about – businesses seem to create rules for the specific purpose of frustrating their customers.  Or, knowing a particular time of day is a high volume time there will only be 2 cashiers with a long row of empty checkout stations and a longer row of people who have somewhere else to be.

 

Anyway, back to defusing frustration.  Reminding myself to breathe is a good mantra – have you ever noticed that your breath is shallow and rapid which makes your pulse get shallow and rapid?  And your shoulders head north toward your ears?  I can’t make the store bring out some more cashiers, but I can make myself breathe more deeply and shake out my shoulders until they are back where they belong.  And try not to listen while the man behind me tells the woman he is with to calm down.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Not so Great Now, But Later…

My niece had a bad few moments yesterday afternoon that is primo material for a great story later.  I am part of the phone tree for the alarm on my sister’s house and sometime before 3pm today my cell phone rang but I was in the middle of something so I let it go to voicemail.  When I checked the phone later, I had a message from the alarm company that ended by telling me that the police had been called.  Curious, all this time that I have been on the phone tree and this is the first time that they have called.  (I couldn’t tell you what I am supposed to say to them…  I think I have it written down somewhere.)

 

Anyway, my niece got home from school and set off the alarm and got to have an unpleasant conversation with a local police officer.  I feel empathy for her embarrassment frustration and worry, she is that lovely age of 13 when almost everything is potential for embarrassment.  I won’t mention yet that she will be able to tell this story for years.

Capture

I think back on some of my moments that still get laughs when I trot out the stories…  There was my high school graduation when I was the only one out of 700 plus proud graduates who managed to catch the sleeve of my gown on the stair rail and I had to walk backwards up the steps, in high heels, to unhook myself.  There was the time when I was dressed like a ghoul and I locked myself and my kids out of our house and car when we were trying to go to a Cub Scout Halloween party.

 

I have to laugh when I think about the time when I was dropping off my older son at preschool and accidentally locked my younger son in the car.  He just kept smiling and waving at me when I tried to pantomime him unlocking his car seat and hitting the button to unlock the car doors.   (I had a bad habit for several years of locking myself in or out of places.)

 

I’m not going to say that I don’t lose my cool when things go a bit haywire, but honestly having something go a bit off just makes better memories.  I try to remind myself of this in the moment.  To err is human, and makes for a fine story.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

A Highly Collaborative Introvert

Maybe you are wondering why I am combining these two seemingly contrary traits.  These traits cannot exist in parallel to each other.  But they can and do, and I am living proof.  On my original blog, in my most enduring and highly viewed post to date I talk about being an introvert with extroverted tendencies.  And mention that I like to collaborate.

 

Collaboration is to work with another person on within a group toward a shared goal.  Collaboration is a powerful way to take a good idea and make it something stellar through the use of the strengths of multiple people.  True collaboration, and not the buzzword ‘collaborative’, can and does improve plenty of projects.

 

Introversion simply means that a person wants to choose where, when, with whom and for how long they interact with other people.  Having no control over any of those points creates an energy drain for the introverted person.  Introversion is not shyness, though Dictionary.com lists introversion as a synonym, because shyness is more about wanting to fade into the background when in a group.  Shyness is timidity, wanting to limit your exposure to the unfamiliar.  A person can be introverted and not be shy and vice versa.

 

All of the above is lead in to my topic, being a collaborative introvert.  It took me a very long time to understand my introversion because I am not a complete introvert.  But I often came away from group interactions feeling exhausted and anxious and I couldn’t figure out why.  And part of the reason why I didn’t understand is because I love shared ideas.  I get jazzed up when a group situation offers a chance to develop an ok idea or plan into a much better one.

 

public domain image

public domain image

It has only been in the last few years, as I thought about defining these traits for myself that I realized the distinctions.  And the parameters that I need to create for myself to prevent that exhausted, anxious feeling.  Or at least lessen it as much as I can.

 

Simple things really help – taking a moment to compose myself before walking into the room, having at least some pre-idea of what might happen (meeting topic/agenda, reason for the event, who will be attending, etc.), knowing when I need a break.  I also almost always have a notebook with me to jot things down (for potential blog posts later).

 

What about you do you find value in collaboration?  Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

 

Related:  I also wrote this follow up, Introversion Revisited – How Could I Resist?, which didn’t play as well.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

A Sense of Place

I have never lived in one place as long as a decade, though I am coming close with my current house.  I think that this has given me a very purposeful perspective on how sense of place affects us.  I’ve tried to talk to friends who have had more continuity of home but mostly had a ‘what are you talking about’ result.

 

A sense of place is the feeling of belonging, of feeling that things are right, content.  Right time, right place, right people.  The house and town where you grew up, plus your family and community, surround you and give you the context to decide who you are and what you are about.  If they stay constant, they are almost invisible participants in this process – at least background or scenery in the story of your life.  Although you may have a strong urge either to replicate or escape them.

 

If they change regularly, or at a crucial time in your development these elements might become more than background, they might shape a part of the story.  They might, if you are me, pull into the foreground and make you wonder who you might have been had the circumstances changed.  Had you stayed in one of the places, say?  Or a different location had been chosen.

 

At one point, my dad had two opportunities to move up to run his own council – one in the Chicago area and one in Port Huron, MI.  He took the opportunity in Chicago.  I was already in my late teens, but I do sometimes wonder how the alternative might have affected things.  It is possible he had other conflicting opportunities leading up to previous moves, but I only know of this one for certain.  I do know that he entertained the idea of leaving Scouting when I was in mid-grade school due to a bad situation with council leadership.  He stuck with it and we ended up in Portage MI and I had my own room, plus that was the biggest house we ever lived in.

 

I have come full circle in a way – the first house that my parents actually owned was in Hoffman Estates IL and I have now lived in 2 different houses in this village as an adult.  Moving back to a childhood place was a bit of a comfort at a difficult time in my life.  Familiar places reduced the stress of unfamiliar problems.

moving out-8-28-99

My nomadic childhood has led me to think a lot about community.  About what draws people together and conversely sets them apart.  About how important community is for well-being, for stability – financial and emotional, for opportunity and support.

 

Having no strong sense of place linked to a physical location, I developed a strong sense of place within myself and within the group of people who make up my family and close friends.  I have also taken to collecting things that remind me of people and my past.  Nearly all of the items in my house have history.

 

I hope that you have a sense of place that gives you comfort.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Perception of Control

I feel compelled by circumstances to write on this topic.  In a short span I came across the following links that relate to the topic of control and our perception of our level of control:

3 Reasons You Can’t Climb Out of Your Financial Hole

TheRealMikeRowe on Facebook – 4/19/14 Saturday Mail Call

 

So if I start out this post about control saying that I feel compelled to do something, then who has control?  Well I do, because I didn’t have to pay attention to the forces that happened to bring these examples to me within minutes of each other.  But I am also aware of the influence and how it affects my behavior.  How many people live their lives with a high perception of a lack of control?

 

Too bad we can't have a time out spot like this nearby when we need it.

We can’t control the weather.

I learned early on that I operate better when I have structure, so I created structure when the situation didn’t provide it.  I see this as a gift of my melancholy.  I also learned that this awareness seems to be rare.  There is an assumption that control is held by others in many instances.

 

If we assume that the control is held by others, then we abdicate any control that we might hold in a given situation.  And it might be that the overall control is held by someone else – but there are almost always aspects of control that we might be able to hold if not wield.

 

The example that comes to mind is the jury that I sat on over 10 years ago.  (Fascinating experience – I highly recommend it, but found it hard to balance my life for those 5 days.)  The young man was on trial for murder because he drove the car in a drive by shooting.  Had he exerted control that night and not taken his crew for that ride, instead followed his original plans to go on a date, there is a high potential that none of us would have been there those January days.  Had his lawyers exerted some control and put up some sort of defense, he might not have been found guilty.

 

I could go on with that more extreme example.  There are plenty of examples every day.  Maybe someone regularly interrupts you at the office.  You could find a firm and suitable response that lets that person know you will find them when you are available instead of letting the interruptions continue.

 

I thought it was interesting that most of the comments that I read through on the financial article didn’t address the points of the article at all, rather unconsciously reinforced the first point that many people have a perception of lack of control over their own financial solutions.  Awareness of where you might take control, no matter how small, is a first step.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Offering a Gift

I am still absorbed in my book about Louisa May Alcott.  (It takes me a terribly long time to read a book through these days since books are mostly reserved to a few minutes before I go to sleep at night.)  Louisa seems to have been rather fixated on presents.  She is quite generous with her immediate family as her fortunes improve thanks to her writing but on the flip side she receives very few presents on those gift giving occasions.  She deeply appreciates the gifts that she gets but there is clear envy of others who receive more.

 

It is May, therefore I am almost tardy in finding a gift for my brother’s birthday.  He would be fine with a card, I am certain.  But I like the ritual of gift giving.  The lead up to gift giving occasions means an opportunity to think about that person.  To set aside the constant scroll of things to do and places to be for a bit to think about that person.  Times we have shared and our current relationship.  What the person might like or need.

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My brother and I are at that stage in life when we don’t need more things to clutter our homes, but we have lots of interests so a well thought out addition to our collections is appreciated.  A couple of years ago, for his birthday, I bought a flash drive and loaded it with the family pictures that I have scanned so far.  He was thrilled.

 

Nine years ago, only months after Mom died, I was doing my ‘oops May has started, gotta birthday shop NOW’ thing and ended up finding my current house.  We were living in a townhouse at the time, the boys and I.  A townhouse is cozy, but two teenaged boys make it claustrophobic and so we had been unsuccessfully seeking a small single family home.  On the way to the mall with my younger son we saw an Open House sign and decided to check it out.  It was a ranch just like we had wanted.  We went in and it met all our criteria.  We were getting excited (and nervous, there were other people touring the house too).  Of course I had forgotten my cell phone so we drove home and called our realtor to set up a second tour which would include my older son.  I feel like my family helped us to find this house and I got a great gift for my brother’s birthday that year.  (I think I got him something from Brookstone…)

 

Despite the fact that I really enjoy gift shopping for the opportunity to reflect that it provides, regular obligations still take up too much of my thoughts and I find myself scrambling at the last minute quite often.  I guess I should work on my planning ahead skills a bit.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Loving What You Do

We are told in so many ways to choose to do something that we love to make our living. It has become almost a cliché.

 

“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.”

~ George Burns

 

Is finding work that you love one of our modern myths?  It certainly can be tremendously helpful to feel positive about your work because we spend a great deal of our time working.  But plenty of people have found a way to be capable at work that is probably just a means to an end.

 

A garden is a work of love.  Hopefully these plants come back this year.

A garden is a work of love. Hopefully these plants come back this year.

Is it possible to excel at something that you hate enough to be successful doing it?  I’ve noticed in myself and those around me that we usually stay where we feel valued and we think that we can provide value to others.  That doesn’t mix with deep dislike in my book.

 

My first job was babysitting.  A pretty standard method of earning money for a girl back in the day – not as much now, I think.  It helped that I was the oldest girl on a block with plenty of kids.  I had a great career for a few years until the opportunities kind of drifted away as the kids got older and I got involved in high school activities.  I did love to babysit.  I miss spending time with kids.

 

Next I got into food service.  It was a relatively easy job to get without much experience, but not one that I was particularly good at because I just wanted to earn some money.  I also did not fit in particularly.  But food service jobs were available so I got one after another for a period of time.

 

A lot about the jobs that you get has to do with expediency, not love.  I probably would have been better suited to general office work but I had no clue how to obtain such a job.

 

Along the line, I took a brief stab at retail work in a small shop that sold natural remedies.  I do have an interest in the holistic approach and in natural remedies plus it didn’t hurt that a friend already worked there.  I’d tried to get retail jobs back before I got my first food service job, but no one was interested in a person without experience.  It was a means to earn some money while my life was in flux.

 

Eventually I got an office job.  I was a single mother in need of steady income and regular hours – so, highly determined that an office was a good choice.  That determination looked like confidence, which I had sorely lacked in my early forays into the working world.

 

I didn’t love office work, I loved my boys and wanted to find balance.  I wasn’t doing what I loved, but I did learn to love what I did because I found plenty of things to spark my curiosity.

 

Love what you do, do what you love, love why you work, love what you can do because you work to support yourself – there are plenty of options, I think.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

An Accomplished Grumbler

In our house, growing up, we learned early on that whining, wheedling and grumbling got you banished.  Who wanted to be banished?  We kept our grumbling to ourselves when we just couldn’t help but indulge in it.  (Especially when dad was around, he ‘would give us something to grumble about’!)  I did my best to instill this same message in my boys that grumbling wasn’t an effective method of getting what you want.

 

My son’s dog grumbles.  (Hrumphf, hmmrrr, rrrmmm, sigh)  It is hilarious as long as she only does it occasionally.  And only hilarious because she is a dog.  I never knew that animals wheedled before.

pleading eyes

What isn’t hilarious is the percentage of the adult population who didn’t get the same message that children got in my family – that grumbling isn’t effective in getting your point across.  There are an amazing number of grown people who must have had their childish grumbling validated and have carried this annoying trait into adult life.  Who have become accomplished grumblers.

 

What does grumbling cost the grumbler?  Why were we banished when we got in that mode as kids?  My mom was a Pollyanna type – amazingly positive and sunny.  (Not sickeningly, perky cheerleader so.)  One of the ways that she stayed that way was to focus on positive activities, which grumbling is decidedly not.  Grumbling is gloomy and low energy and draining.  It sucks you in rather than drawing you closer and you can’t wait to get some distance.

 

I try really hard not to laugh out loud when the dog does her grumbling thing.  She is a clown and I don’t want her to think this is a good method to get what she wants.  I don’t want her to be added to the list of accomplished grumblers.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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