Category Archives: Wonder Wednesdays

Damaging My Defenses

When I was writing my upcoming email workshop (launching later this month), I asked my sister to be my lab-rat. She agreed and ran through the lessons and exercises, discovering a way to turn her negativity about her job into passion for a long-term blogging plan. Before she’d even finished the workshop, she’d launched Urban Panther (quickly joined by the Urbane Lion).

And being the sort of person my sister is, she researched what needed doing and set up a plan to do it. As a result, she’s just a few months into blogging, has become very popular, and surpasses me in regular comments (and likely daily readers).

I’m extremely proud of and happy for her (especially since she discovered the passion through my workshop). There is, however, more than a smidgen of envy and even a touch of highly negative jealousy. Yes, that’s right, Self-Pity-Alex managed to sneak back into the personality zoo and started running about yelling, "It’s not fair! She’s only been at it for a few months! I’ve been blogging for two years!"

Wise to Self-Pity-Alex’s tricks, Realist-Alex pointed out that the Urban Panther went into blogging with a plan. I dove in two years ago without thinking, and other than (more or less) regular posts along consistent themes, I’ve been just mucking about.

Lazy-Alex stepped in to defend Self-Pity-Alex with some mutterings about how much work it is and shouldn’t my writing skills be enough? That drew the rest of the personalities into the fray, causing a near meltdown in the shower this morning.

Fortunately, Realist-Alex called everyone’s attention to the hole in the confidence fence that surrounds the zoo. "But what caused the hole?" they all asked, some of the more dramatic personalities fearing asteroid impacts or dinosaurs. "It’s simple," replied Willpower-Alex, "We’ve fallen off the no sugar/no wheat wagon at high velocity and knocked a self-pity sized hole in the defenses during the landing.

Don’t worry though, Realist-Alex has frogmarched Self-Pity Alex out of the personality zoo and Willpower-Alex has committed to repairing the breach and standing guard in the meantime.

Someday Lessons:

  • Growth never goes in a straight line – expect a few hairpin turns that seemingly take you in the wrong direction.
  • Don’t let surface thoughts control you – examine them (on several levels) to find out the root cause of negativity.

I Really Like to Work

Last Tuesday I met my friend Cate down in Madrid where we wandered about, ate and drank for several days. We then returned home on Friday and repeated the Madrid activities in San Sebastian, Pamplona, and Bilbao until she left last night. Totally relaxing and lots of fun.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, on Sunday night when I found myself wishing I could just go back to work on Monday. I was having a great time; I just missed working.

I’ve never missed working. In fact, I have always thought that I’d be happiest retired, spending my days puttering about. In reality, however, it was simply a case of not doing the right sort of work. I’m too independent to suffer a boss, except on a very part-time, hands-off basis (like with my teaching English). When I started my own business, I thought I’d want to work, but actually I just avoided working, to the point that I made more work for myself (through volunteering on my industry’s national association and writing endless business and marketing plans).

Last year when I lived in France, I considered myself retired, but I actually had a part-time job. I wrote, I blogged and I kept up at my business-related networking. It was on a part-time basis, but it was work. I just didn’t consider it so because I enjoyed doing it so much. Now I work about thirty hours a week on various writing and blog-related projects.

And I miss it when I don’t do it.

Someday Lessons:

  • Supposedly laziness might just be a case of a square peg in a round hole.
  • If you aren’t aware of what’s going on inside, you’ll miss important self-discovery moments.

Wading Through Chueca

The party filled the streets for a ten block radius in Madrid’s gay barrio Chueca. The bars served mojitos, kalimotxos, and beer from their doorways. Dance beats fought with each other and with the revelers’ shouts for dominance of the available sound waves. Drunken partiers in apartments above the bars threw water down on the crowd, which threw ice cubes back up at the partiers.

When a popular song came on, everyone forgot their conversations and sang along, jumping up and down. Alcohol bounced out of cups onto bare skin or fashionable clothing. Down the centre of every street ran a small river of booze, water and piss. Those who’d worn sandals cursed themselves for fools and vowed to throw the sandals out the moment they got home.

Through all this the people moved, sometimes flowing as easily as the liquids under their feet. Most of the time, however, the movement occurred in spurts, two opposing currents crashes together allowing only the dedicated or supremely drunk to slip through the cracks.

I also moved through all this, increasingly tense and annoyed at the general level of public inebriation. I don’t like outdoor crowds, especially ones packed into narrow streets. In my head such crowds turn into mobs and I drown in a sea of people pummeled by the waves of feet pounding over me.

Usually I don’t put myself in this sort of situation, but I wanted to be with my friends, so had to accept the crowds as part of the deal. Since I couldn’t change the situation I decided to change my perceptions. Instead of fight the crowds, the noise, and the music, I merged with them. I use the changing beats to dance myself from tiny opening to tiny opening. I bounced off people pushing past me and I used the stumbling drunks to shield me from flying beverages.

I still didn’t like it and would rather have been somewhere where I could have watched the crowd without having to interact with it, but I didn’t let it ruin my night.

Someday Lessons:

  • When you can’t change your situation, change your attitude.
  • Don’t expect a one-time change in attitude to have lasting effects, but do enjoy the short term advantages.

Tips for Making Change Stick

As promised last week, here’s the sixth and final installment in my series on making a profound and lasting change in my life. Of course, the actual process of change has just begun, but it seems to be going well and I’m happy with the initial results. We’ll see how it goes as I get further into editing not just my current novel, but future projects.

In Tina Su’s blog post on the topic, she gives us five tips for making the change happen more easily. They are:

  • Focus on just one
  • Mutual Support
  • Understand Why
  • Be Inspired
  • Reward & Celebration

These are all things I try to do in all areas of my life. The only one I’m not so good at is the first. Being the sort of person who gets distracted by shiny objects, focusing on just one task gets really boring. Often I have a million projects started but not finished. Over the last year, however, I’ve really worked at paring down and most recently only have a few projects on the go at any one time.

I get my support and inspiration from my writers’ website, Forward Motion, where I put up weekly goals and comment on my daily progress and the daily progress of others. Even when I feel I’ve had an unproductive day, someone provides me with the words to keep me going and to excite me enough to want to get productive again.

As someone who over-analyzes everything, I understand the why for all that I do – sometimes too well. I’ve learned to back off a bit on the analyzing and to just accept things at face value, and that includes reasons for wanting to change. For example, with my current goal of wanting to be better at focusing on the details in my writing while keeping the big picture in mind, it’s enough to know that this will improve my chances to get published. I don’t need to explore why I either see the whole forest or the bark of one tree; that’s irrelevant to achieving the change.

Finally, the rewards and celebrations – again my writers’ website provides a lot of that, but the biggest reward in this instance is rereading my writing and seeing how much better it is when I pay attention to both the details and the big picture.

Anyone out there have any other tips on making change stick? What helps you achieve an alteration in habits?

Someday Lessons:

  • Know thyself – change will stick only by chance if you’re not self-aware.
  • Be willing to ask for help when you need it (yes, I’ve said this before but it can’t be repeated too often).

Crafting a New Reality

(Part 3 in my desire to make a profound and lasting change in my life)

I’ve mentioned before (a couple of times) how discussing my goals can derail achieving them. With my current goal – to pay more attention to details in my writing – I have another challenge. Unfortunately, this goal is a bit abstract. It’s not like saying "I want to eat more vegetables." That one is measurable. A new reality for this goal might look like: "I will eat two servings of fruits or vegetables with each meal." I can picture that outcome; it’s concrete.

But how will I know when I’ve achieved my current goal? Yesterday when describing the problem, I said that that I’m a big picture or small detail type, nowhere in between. The obvious goal would be finding the balance, of holding the big picture in my mind while examining the details, however I  have no idea how to measure that.

Not having ever experienced this state of balance before, I’m turning to you for help – how will I know I’ve achieved this goal when it’s not directly measurable?

Someday Lessons:

  • Admit when you don’t something and ask for help.
  • Trial and error sometimes is the only way to figure out a workable solution to a problem.

Using today’s trial and error method. Here’s a go at crafting a new reality for my goal…

Continue reading

What Do You Dream Of?

For the past 18 months I’ve pursued happiness. I’ve made conscious choices, welcomed the consequences (including bad ones), and struggled against procrastination. I’ve talked about it here, and you have followed along, "listening" to it all.

Today I want to turn the microphone around to face the audience. I want to hear from you. Specifically, I want you to finish the following sentence. You can use just a few words, or tell me a whole story. It’s up to you.

If I could do anything at all, I would _______________ but I don’t because ________________.*

Someday Lessons:

  • Life isn’t a monologue, nor even a dialogue – it’s a multi-person conversation.
  • When you speak your dream aloud, sometimes it’s hard to justify why you aren’t pursuing it.

* Two years ago when I articulated my dream to a friend, I couldn’t fill in the second part, so kinda had to pursue the dream – immediately!

Staying Quiet, Staying Productive

At the beginning of April, I learned not to talk about my goals, that for me, talking about goals reduces the likelihood of achieving them. Since then, I have been working on a new project and I’ve talked about it to a grand total of three people. I’ve also mentioned it very generally to my online writing group where we support each other’s weekly and daily writing progress.

And know what? Not talking has worked. The project is reaching the point where I can talk about it because it’ll be written and ready to send out to the world. I won’t say anything more yet because it’s not quite done and I don’t want to stop working on it because I’ve over-hyped it.

All I will say is this: it’s the next level of Someday Syndrome, helping you get rid the somedays in your own life.

Someday Lessons:

  • Learning something new means nothing unless you look back and measure its success.
  • It’s very easy to get overexcited and to start celebrating successes before you finish them. Guard against that.