Fleeting Thoughts Friday 9.30.16 – When Childhood Echoes

I found an abandoned keyboard outside my apartment on Wednesday – the kind you type on, not rock out Mozart on, although I guess depending on who you are and what you call art, an argument could be made for the equivocation of the two…I digress, the sight of it immediately and involuntarily excited me.

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I can understand how this sight might not be exactly enthralling to many others, but I was quickly reminded that it’s still one of the most exciting things in the world to me. I know what you’re thinking…a keyboard? Really?! But it’s true. Ever since I was a kid, I always thought anything with letters on it that I could make words out of were the coolest things ever invented.

I have no explanation for this random obsession with typing mechanisms, I’ve just always been drawn to them. When I was little, my dad found an old broken typewriter in the basement and brought it up for us kids to play with. I thought it was the most awesome thing ever! This is especially ironic considering that I’ve really never learned to properly type; my husband makes fun of me, he says I type with two fingers like a T-Rex:

I can assure you, it’s not that drastic. I moved around a lot as a kid and that part of my development “suffered.” But I can make words come out of my fingers nonetheless, so let’s not get hung up, alright?

Where was I? Oh yeah, random childhood toys. I loved playing with keyboards! I would pretend that I was an author, reporter, spy, lawyer, cashier, banker, librarian, garbage man (I’m not sure why, but I have a distinct memory of weighing and charging my siblings for their garbage on my typewriter)…Come to think of it, I could really play any occupation as long as I had that typewriter and as long as I was in charge of it – I liked to be in charge a lot when I was little; they call that “executive leadership” skills now 😉 But my favorite thing to do on that typewriter was type up my own stories, poetry and short musings. And what do you know? Lo and behold I’ve grown up to be a lowly blogger!

Whatever the case, I think that typewriter made an impression on me, one that was formative and unshakable. Something about it called to me. And I can’t help but wonder if we are our truest selves when we are kids? If we’re born with all we are already inside of us just waiting to come to fruition? Is there something to that? OR are we inherently shaped by the tools we are exposed to as children? If that’s the case then I totally blame my status on my dad for allowing us to play with broken office equipment. I mean, what if he had brought home a copy of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of the Nations?

What was your favorite toy when you were a kid? What did you like to make-believe most often? Does it have anything to do with what you are doing now? Does it still call to you?

 

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Fleeting Thoughts Friday 9.23.16 – Rock, Paper, Scissors, Gratitude.

I recently had a very revealing conversation while driving home with a good friend. We will both be 30 years old next year, and for whatever reason, this number seems to drive us crazy. It’s a time in which many people (especially women) are taking stock and thinking about all those boxes that they have or haven’t checked yet—as though we were given a 100-foot-long checklist when we were born of exactly what we’re supposed to accomplish by the end. And unfortunately, the two measuring instruments that we most often tend to utilize are what we feel we are supposed to have accomplished already and what our friends have managed to do by this point.

And honestly, who can blame us for falling into this trap? From a young age, almost our whole world is set up to compare our performance to everyone and everything around us. If I’m being honest, I’m not sure if there has ever been a season when I haven’t been concerned with where I am compared to the rest of my peers. High school classes, test scores, college acceptance, graduation rankings, job offers, relationship status…the list just goes on and on.

In a western world acculturated by the next newest technology, hottest vehicle, highest job title, biggest house, most successful spouse, and most angelic children, it’s difficult to escape this comparison game. I call this kind of thinking a trap because it truly is pointless. Not only does it breed terrible feelings of inadequacy, but also it engages us to play in a rigged arena, living life as though we’re in some ultimate game of Rock, Paper, Scissors trying to outdo the people next to us. If we were all given the same opportunities in life, starting from the same place with the same package, then maybe it would be fine for us to look around and judge our status based on where everyone else is, if we were all clones. But we don’t live in that world! We are born with different parents, in different households with different income levels and different talents, temperaments and attitudes in each and every one of us. So comparing ourselves to one another is about as sensible as comparing a ferret to a fish.

We spend a whole lot of time thinking that we could have more, that we should have more, and when we get it, we wonder why we don’t feel any happier, any more content. But what if we spent more time on the opposite? What if we trained ourselves to recognize that we could just as easily have a lot less? That we could be much worse off? Honestly, at any given point in time while we are thinking about how we wish we could find that perfect job/spouse/house/child, someone else is wishing they had your package.

By the culmination of our conversation, my friend and I had determined that gratitude really is the beginning of contentment. Moreover, it is the antidote to comparison, envy and inadequacy.

Gratitude breeds contentment, contentment breeds happiness, and happiness breeds health and wholeheartedness. This is important to know because, as we discussed above, it works the other way too. Comparison leads to envy and discontentment, which leads to a constant feeling of lacking, which breeds a feeling of inadequacy and overall ugliness.

But I’ve been learning that discontentment, comparison and envy are not the only things that can be squelched by practicing gratitude. The more I process this application of gratitude the more apparent it becomes that gratitude covers a multitude of garbage.

I struggle with anxiety; it’s just a part of my truth. My anxiety is pervasive. There’s not an area of my life that it doesn’t touch. My anxiety makes me a careful, cautious and concerned person, but it can also make me into a negative person if not checked. All that worry produces a mindset of constantly coming up short, feeling like I’m not enough or we don’t have enough to deal with a specific circumstance, causing me to focus on worse-case scenarios a majority of the time. But I’ve noticed a significant advantage to refocusing my mindset on what I do have that’s going right in any given situation, and not to sound all Pollyanna, but this practice has definitely helped to calm my mind and make me into a more positive person.

I’m not saying that anxiety can be simply done away with completely by thinking happy thoughts – mental health is a real struggle and should be approached like any other illness – with serious professional attention. I am saying that practicing cognitive awareness and positive reframing can be one of the tools in our arsenal to help combat the storm of worry and negativity.

We need to stop thinking of life as a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors and more like a game of Solitaire. We’re not all in a game together playing to one-up each other, we’re all playing different games at the same time, and the only people we should be competing against are ourselves. The only time we should be looking in on someone else’s game is to support each other in the process. Are we doing the best we can with what we’ve been given? Are we giving our all to make the best decisions about what’s right for our own lives? Are we acting with integrity, humility, generosity and thankfulness? To paraphrase a gem of wisdom that was recently shared with me, the only time we should be evaluating what our neighbor has is to make sure they have enough, and the only time we should be evaluating what we have is to give thanks.

I know that I’m not presenting any new wisdom with this post. My only aim is sharing what I’m going through presently. This week I made a new attempt at focusing my mind on gratitude above all else, and I came up with a saying; it’s silly, and it’s simple, but it’s been working for me:

Don’t complain and don’t compare
Just be thankful for what’ s there

Don’t judge or envy how others are livin’
Just be grateful for what you’re given.

I have to apologize – this thought was more full-fledged than fleeting. Sorry, it is what it is. Nonetheless, I hope you found it useful. Happy Friday!

Fleeting Thoughts Friday 9.16.16 – Let’s Get Intentional

It seems all week long, in one fashion or another, I’ve found myself in the midst of discussions about relationships. And while all of these conversations have had their own varying details, the one through-line that surfaced time and time again was the idea that relationships take work.

Now, we’ve all heard this adage repeatedly, but this week it occurred to me how basic this observation is. What exactly does it mean? What kind of work? How do you know you’re doing the right work? What work is healthy and “par for the course” and what kind of work is too much?  I’m not sure I have solutions, but it became apparent that this saying left me with more questions than answers.

Anyone who has been in a relationship for an extended period of time knows that the ‘honeymoon’ doesn’t last forever. That feeling that it’s just you two and no one else exists is temporary. If you haven’t been through this experience yet, I’m sorry to break the news, but the butterflies, the not being able to keep your hands to yourself, the belief that your schmoopie can do no wrong, the desire to write love letters that solely entail wanting to bone, that doesn’t last. For those of you that think that your love will always be like that by itself…here’s a picture of Ryan Gosling laughing at you:

 

Now that we have all had a laugh at your expense, I will offer up a caveat to say that your relationship won’t always be like this without you being intentional about it. And this is the crux of what I think is meant by “work”, the heart of what I think that idea really means.

If we think about our best friends, how do they continue to hold that status? What do we do to keep that connection alive? We intentionally schedule dinner dates where we make the effort to keep the conversation going, we text and call regularly, we share goofy moments and office craziness throughout the day, we let them in on the minutia, we carefully pick their gifts, we purposefully set aside time just to visit with them.

If you think back to the beginning of your relationship with your significant other, you intentionally did these same things while you were dating. But then something happens when we move in together. It’s easy when you see someone daily to assume that you have all the time in the world to connect with them. When someone is right next to us, we start to think we have plenty of time to communicate with this person anytime, so we choose a TV show over a conversation. We assume that because they are right next to us, they know how we feel, so we skip telling them out-loud, buying the flowers, writing the love note, making the favorite cookies. And before we know it, instead of our closest friend and lover, our partners have become nothing more than our roommates.

As we’ve already discussed above, we haven’t forgotten how to be intentional about all of our long-term relationships because we still actively give attention (and intention) to our friendships, which is what keeps them healthy and strong. We have to get back to being intentional about our interactions with our significant others. Building intimacy in relationships takes intentional action; relationships take connecting on purpose. We have to be purposeful about sharing our thoughts, setting up quality date time, prioritizing and building intimacy with each other. And this includes arguing and disagreeing fairly, too. In the beginning, there are things we would have never in a million years said to our spouses, or used that tone; but unless we are being careful, those lines are easy to cross and leave in our wake. But every time we do, that connection, the intimacy dies just a little bit too.

All in all, it’s helped me recently to focus on the idea that what you had to do to get ’em, you gotta do to keep ’em. And remember, the grass isn’t greener on the other side, my friends, it’s green where you water it.

 

 

 

 

 

Fleeting Thoughts Friday 9.9.16 – Test Yourself!

At some point I’ll have to try to get this post out before midnight…oh well, baby steps.

I give you my word – I have been working on a few other topics this week that delve a bit into some deeper thoughts, I promise to deliver something of more substance in my next few posts.

But in an effort to stay true to my goals and on task, here’s my Fleeting Thought for the week:

I think that the Myers Briggs test is toying with me. Why is everybody that I meet an INFJ? The MBType Indicator says that Idealist INFJ’s (which stands for Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging) are the most rare, yet somehow I know more INFJ’s than any other zodiac sign! I swear every other person I meet is an INFJ.

This can mean 1 of 2 things: 1) We’re really not as rare and special of unicorns as we’ve been led to believe – maybe Myers & Briggs were trying to cater & coddle to our highly sensitive selves? Who can blame them?

OR 2) Maybe we’re just attracted to other INFJ’s by nature and we are a breed with a radar that tends to call one another out of the woodwork…in which case, ROCK ON! The more people I can relate to, the better.

If you’re a nerd like me and you like to geek out on personality studies, or if you’re at all curious about your Myers Briggs type, here’s a few free sites to help you figure it out. It might be fun to take a couple different tests just to see if they turn out with the same results. Happy self-discovering!!

http://www.my-personality-test.com/personality-type/ 

\http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

https://www.16personalities.com/personality-types 

Fleeting Thoughts Friday 9.2.16

Hello Friends! I know It’s been a while, but I’m back…I promise I’ll delve deeper into my long absence more later – actually I don’t promise, but I probably will unpack it for you at some point. At any rate, I had a friend recently bring up the idea of doing a recurring installation of posts consisting of my collected thoughts throughout the week. So I’m going to run with that for a while for now. And though it’s late, it’s still pretty close to Friday – so welcome to my first installation of Fleeting Thoughts Friday:

 

The cost of mental healthcare is a conundrum to me. The very time that someone might need a therapist is likely to be a time when they are strapped for money, like during a job loss, a new child, a big move, etc. At the very least, mental wellness care should be available for anyone at all times, no matter the financial circumstances of the individual. Stress, grief, anxiety and depression are just as pervasive as the flu, and in some cases, can be more dangerous.


Also, you know what’s terrifying? Unexpected window washers. I’ve lived in the city for three years now, and they get me EVERY TIME!! The other day I found myself running into my hallway for coverage in defense, only to realize the only thing at my disposal was my vacuum cleaner.

*Note to self: Invest in a sword.

**Additional Note to self: The obnoxious Bears team flag covering your window is enough to warn any window washing burglar that there’s nothing of value in your house.

***Post Additional Note to self: Why are you so paranoid?? Window washers are doing something nice for you, not out to kill you.


I often catch an earful about how I never answer my phone. The truth is, I keep it on silent 95% of the time. For one thing, I’m an introvert – so a steady stream of incessant sounds coming from a small dictatorial device that’s constantly sitting next to me could easily be defined as a form of cruel and unusual punishment brought upon by the modern technological age.

Second, I have a highly sensitive nervous system and I am prone to encounters like yesterday, wherein I downloaded a new app on my phone and subsequently forgot about it, when my phone made an unfamiliar & alarming noise, causing me to jump, grab it, and instinctively have the desire to immediately destroy it in an act of self-preservation. Luckily, I caught myself before my fight or flight instincts took over completely. Again, I’m unsure why I feel threatened by the noise – on all accounts I know that MapMyRun is only trying to help me. If I could afford therapy right now I’m sure I might be able to work through some of this. As it is, I’ll just have to continue to work out my issues on this blog with you lucky people.

Share this with a friend if you know someone who can relate. Or, if the struggle is real for you, give me a shout-out in a comment below – I know I can’t be the only one…hopefully.