Tag Archives: Whimsy

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

“There is the Christmas we believe we should have and there is the Christmas that we have.”

~Christopher Borrelli (Chicago Tribune)

 

I am close to 2 people who are self-avowed Scrooges.  I don’t believe it because I know both to be warm-hearted and giving people.  One just attended a Christmas chorale event with me in early December and was farther along in putting up festive decorations at her house than I was.  (I rectified that this weekend.)  So what makes each express such Bah Humbug?

 

How much of our Christmas is expectation, forced frivolity?

 

Yet another friend lamented the added pressure of her family’s Elf on the Shelf that has to do something every day.  Her husband just backs away saying he isn’t creative that way.  She would be open to the whimsy of the season, I think, if not for the outside pressure.  I think this is true for each of these people.

 

Sure I am subject to those ‘if only’ thoughts of amazing, movie worthy Christmas experiences (just about any experiences).  But then again, I have learned to find joy in many ways and many places.  I loved starting my Christmas season with that chorale concert.  And attending my work Christmas party this past Friday.  I am slowly taking out my decorations and reminiscing over many of them.

 

public domain image

public domain image

I’ve sat down to write my Christmas poem that goes into the cards that I send out, addressing a few each day.  I do lament that I no longer have the time to devote to the Christmas baking of years past.  I’ve occasionally tuned in to the local radio station that plays all Christmas music all month, but haven’t pulled out my own CD collection yet.

 

Christmas is about savoring and sharing joy.  I hope that whatever that means for you, you are able to get into the Christmas Spirit this season.

 

© 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

Mr. Nobody’s at it Again

Two boys can get into rather a bit of trouble in the blink of an eye.  Especially when led astray by a rapscallion like Mr. Nobody.  I never clapped eyes on the fellow, but he apparently freeloaded at our house for quite a few years – from the time that my boys were 3 or 4 years old on up until they figured out how to get into mischief on their own or with their friends.

 

He just came into being one day – the day before the standard answer to questions about what was going on was the universal ‘I don’t know’ accompanied with a shrug and shifty eyes, the next day with a wink and a nod the answer changed to ‘Mr. Nobody did it’.  I took to sharing pointers with the boys that they should pass on to Mr. Nobody.  Like respecting property and what was considered acceptable or not.  They would listen and solemnly agree to pass on the lesson or concern.

 

Mr. Nobody was a safe scapegoat who, to the best of my knowledge, never got into anything really awful or unforgivable.  Well, there were the two broken windows (of the two windows in the boys’ room), but luckily no one was actually hurt.

 

Mr Nobody won't show up for a few more years, but the mischief is there.

Mr Nobody won’t show up for a few more years, but the mischief is there.

Boys have a lot of energy and curiosity which can be a dangerous combination – it is proven that males have a higher mortality rate from conception onward.  Mr. Nobody allowed us to talk about dangers, actions and consequences without accusations.  Sometimes the boys even participated in talking about how Mr. Nobody should be punished so that he would understand the gravity of his actions.

 

Mr. Nobody probably had a hand in helping the boys to develop their critical thinking skills – his invention was certainly a bit of creative thinking.  He came about as a bit of avoidance, a hope of deflection – a sophisticated use of humor for boys so young – and he stuck around as long as he was useful.

 

Is there a Mr. Nobody in your life?  An inspired invention that fulfilled much more than its original purpose.  (My younger son says he was a diabolical super-villain.  Ah, perspective.)

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Return to Doodling

I used to doodle.  Mindless scribbles in my school notebooks.  Once I hit the working world, I made myself stop because I didn’t want to be seen in a meeting with my doodles – I didn’t think that it would enhance any image of professionalism.  So I’ve taken to twirling my pen (and trying really hard not to click it repeatedly) in meetings instead.

DSC03739

Now seeing this news clip, CBS News Sunday Morning: The Higher Purpose of Doodling I might just go back to my doodling habits.  Perhaps this will keep my mind present in the room when a meeting goes on.  I have found that even when I am interested in the topic, or it is in some way pertinent to me I have a terrible time keeping my thoughts in the room after about 20 minutes or so – which bears out research that I’ve read about adult attention spans.

How will I balance this return to doodling experiment with perceptions of professional behaviors?  Hmm, not sure just at the moment.  Hunching over my paper so that no one can see doesn’t seem like a viable solution.  Why, exactly, any of us feels that we would have to explain our note taking habits in the work world is an entirely different blog post.  Regardless of any of my actions, I cannot direct, control, or shape someone else’s perceptions of me.

Perceptions of doodlers is a main theme in the hyperlinked video clip – and how we should reconsider them.  Why do we perceive doodling to be such a bad thing other than we can all probably recall a moment or two in our school days when a teacher called out someone for doodling instead of paying attention?  Engagement takes on many forms, as does disengagement.

The other main theme is the point that doodling serves a purpose beyond occupying your hand.  I find it very intriguing that researchers found better detail retention in the doodling group when playing a tedious voicemail.

How about you, do you doodle?

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Go For It and Carry a Hello Kitty™ Lunchbox

There is a constant yin-yang between wanting to fit in and expressing individuality.  We somehow think that we will leave this behind when we cross the threshold to adulthood and finally be comfortable, but find soon enough – drat it all – that this balance is a life-long pursuit in our personal and professional lives.  And balance is probably not the best word because how few of us ever feel that we have found just the right weighting of each element?  (Or even in those sweet moments that we do, how quickly something changes again.)

 

We progress through life attempting to figure out how to fit in within ourselves and also within various groups.  Do I?  Should I?  How was that?  Validation is sweet.  Small set-backs in one area can ripple through our impression of placement in other areas painfully and quickly.  Seismic moments of uncertainty can make us want to jump in bed, pull the covers up and figure out how to be a hermit.

 

I have been able to find my way through life, so far, in a manner that has allowed me to sample many geographic areas, various groups – formal and informal, and provided latitude to explore different ideas.  I have soared and I have stumbled, mostly plodded along at a fairly steady pace.  It has helped that my mom shared her infinite curiosity and my dad shared his determination.  These traits have served me well and stand in place of confidence and assuredness when necessary, plus make room for all sorts of adjustments here and there.

DSC03520

About that Hello Kitty™ lunchbox – I am drawn to her calm, serene thoroughly pleased countenance.  But I was too old when she first came into popularity because she was marketed to girls several years younger than me.  Purportedly then, I was much too old when she came back to prominence a few years ago.  But a funny thing had happened in the years between.  I got comfortable enough with my sense of self that I could indulge in the whimsy that Hello Kitty™ offered, despite my advanced age.

 

When I received said lunchbox as a gift my practical side said, this will be more useful and less wasteful than paper bags; and my creative self said, what a great thing to give me a smile every day.  I was firmly on the leadership track at work by then, but I have never believed that professionalism leaves no room for personal – even quirky – expression.   I am possibly in the minority in this belief.

 

People from senior management down to entry level didn’t quite know how to react to my new possession.  Even the person who gave it to me might have been surprised that I used it at work.  (I never asked and she never said.)  Some people tried to make me feel embarrassed about carrying such a ‘childish’ item into an office.  ‘About that lunchbox of yours’ they would start and I would jump in, ‘doesn’t she just brighten up your day?’.   They didn’t know where to go after that.

 

I carried that lunchbox for about 6ish years.  Until she was looking a bit worn and tired.  Another friend gave me a new bag, also with personality, but this time more ‘grown-up’.  The Hello Kitty™ lunchbox was retired.  But she is still in my heart, rooting for self-expression.

 

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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