Flavors and Perspectives

Dublin

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was to get to know people for myself, then decide who I think they are. It’s too easy to listen to everyone else’s opinion of people. It’s tempting to get advice about vacations and books, but there is no accounting for some folks taste.

Micro cultures

There are many versions of the cities we visit and especially the places we live in. If you live in a historic city you would know what I’m talking about. For instance, New Orleans. There’s the highly romanticized version that’s in the movies with all the drama and music, then there’s the vilified version that the preachers on television like to blame for the downfall of society. Of course that’s not the only city I could name. I’m sure you could name a few also. London. Las Vegas. There’s an actual list. Top 10 Sin Cities in the World.

Personality

And the versions are about as many as there are people. The city varies from, nasty, busy, stinky, a rip-off, crowded, bawdy, etc. I’ll leave the rest to you. Perceptions are plentiful to opinionated people, just as ideas are to inventors. Cheap. What creates atmosphere that you can almost touch and even seem to come to life, is when a story is born. Give me a good story, combined with a strong visual perception, and you have a customer. Otherwise I couldn’t read about Gotham city. Who in their right mind would otherwise want to read about an orphaned child, a corrupt city, with a backdrop of darkly drawn ink caricatured bad guys? But all of us who have grown up with this story line for some reason have loved it. In this story line there is redemption. There’s hope for even the worst possible circumstances.

Books:

Some of my favorite stories are from well-known cities with their own flavors. Jim Butcher writes about Chicago in the Dresden files. There are underground tunnels, vampire councils, and of course the a slew of bad guys that no ordinary citizen wants to meet. And Dresden is the guy to take them all on. You see Chicago through his eyes.

Karen Marie Moning starts her Fever series in the peach of sunny Georgia but continues in Dublin. I’ve never been to Dublin but I can almost taste the froth on the beer. And the chill from the misty rain makes me want to grab a blanket every time I read another of her books. I can’t wait until the 20th of this month when the next one comes out.

Currently I’m reading a series by Faith Hunter, Jane Yellowrock, which in the currently centers in New Orleans. There’s dancing, eating, and hunting vampires. Here’s a scene that shows the city coming back to life after a hurricane/storm. If I were a photographer, I’d be itching to take snapshots.

Lanterns, lamps, and candles lit windows. People sat at tables on second story balconies, by lamplight, and the smell of food wafted down. Tinny music came from open windows, battery-powered boom boxes perched on ledges shared a soft dissonance of musical tastes. Live music, a guitar, saxophone, a drum came through an open bar door. Tables inside were lit with candles, a generator roaring in back. Small businesses that depended on the tourists trade twenty-four/seven, just to make the rent, were opening, despite the lack of city power. More generators began to hum. – Blood Cross excerpt, by Faith Hunter.

How does a view of a city apply to people? Get to know them yourself, then decide. Never judge a book by its cover. Think about it. And check out Re-framing.

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To Love Yourself

Love
Love (Photo credit: Swamibu)

Most of us would agree mutilating our body because we hate ourselves is unhealthy. Acting against our health by withholding food or making unrealistic demands on ourselves seems obviously wrong, but yet we see it happen. Neighbors, actors, models, even family members mutilate themselves out of hatred.

Sometimes we also try to better ourselves because of fear. We feel we don’t fit in or we aren’t pretty enough. We are too fat, too ugly or too nice. So we try to change because we fear rejection.

I’ve heard many times that we need to love ourselves as we are today. How do we do that?

  • Highlight one part of yourself, your voice, your slim fingers and focus on that one attribute.
  • Steal someone’s persona. If you adore a well-known actress for her hair and yours is similar, hijack that feeling. Someone once told me I reminded him of Kate Winslet. Recently Vogue photographed Kate and used Photoshop, as is their norm, creating a big brouhaha. Kate Winslet’s Vogue Cover.  Once before, GQ visually slimmed her down but stated it wasn’t drastic. I’m glad that someone noticed her original beauty.
  • Be. Just be who you are and meet your own needs. Don’t withhold food, clothing or love. Just as you would see a child’s need for these things, see your own need. 

That’s where I’m at. I’m still looking and may stumble upon other ways to love me. What’s yours? In the meantime, I refuse to be cruel to myself.

 

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I’m Not Jealous

While sitting in the waiting room at the doctors office, I had a funny conversation. HGTV was showing a couple buying a new home. This house was too little. That one was too old. None seemed just right for their $300,000.00 budget. Envy. Jealousy. Annoyance. Comments were flying in that waiting room. We were incredulous. She wanted a bigger kitchen but she didn’t cook. She loved having a brand new home (2 months) but didn’t like the construction that was happening around the neighborhood.

Not that I don’t understand completely. If I were paying $300,000.00 for a home, I’d want it just right also. Okay so maybe I do see her side of it, but a part of me was jealous that she took it so for granted.

While waiting for the doctor in the examining room it suddenly occurred to me, I’m not jealous
really. I’m happy to be able to walk away from that TV show and live my life. My life with a capital
MY. Healthy, happy, mature, and well lived. Much like the skinned horse from Velveteen Rabbit story, I like spouting wisdom and realism. My life is full and ordered to my liking and I have no desire for a big house with empty rooms. I enjoy every inch of my cozy home. I love the yellow walls and the sunlight that streams through the windows. I love the tall Oak trees. I’ll keep my life thanks.

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It’s Not Spectacular

Sometimes it’s the ordinary things that don’t get your attention, but they change your life. The everyday habits of brushing your teeth and eating healthy, keep your body strong. The getting up and going to work on time keeps you with money in the bank. It’s ordinary, but it counts. Today I’m taking a bit from the greats.

What if surfing was your job? -Seth Godin

Same waves, different day.

The risk of skin cancer. The falling. Sand in your socks. The people hassling you for your spot on the wave. The pressure to do more sets. The other guys at the beach who don’t appreciate your style. The drudgery of doing it again tomorrow, when the weather sucks. And then every day, from now on, never ceasing.

Where would you go on vacation?

Your drudgery is another person’s delight. It’s only a job if you treat it that way. The privilege to do our work, to be in control of the promises we make and the things we build, is something worth cherishing.

Posted by Seth Godin on September 15, 2013

From the book, Power of Habit,

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things,” Dungy would explain. “They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

Tony Dungy

 Other inspirations:

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.  -Robert Louis Stevenson

I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles. – Audrey Hepburn

Try reading Hormesis – Growing Stronger or you might like Ruthless

You Embarrass Me

I drew a monster. Such a cute monster. He looked like a puff ball with legs. His sleeves and leggings didn’t match. He was hiding his eyes too. His name is You Embarrass Me and he thinks I talk too much and help too much. He tells me I need to shut up. According to The Fluent Self, our monsters are really there to help us. They help us protect ourselves so we don’t get hurt. They curb our excesses. This morning I noticed You Embarrass Me. What does he want? I’m sorry little guy. I didn’t mean to embarrass you or to put you out front like that.

Why was I am embarrassed? I angered someone. I said the wrong thing. And it bothered me. Sometimes people push my buttons. Sometimes they rub my fur the wrong way. It’s going to happen and it’s not predictable. Sometimes I get over involved. I try to set things right, fix the problem and I make the situation worse. If I take a step back, everything calms down. I don’t have to change others, either their opinions or their lives. When I feel the unable to set things right, when I think someone sees my stumbling, my imperfections, I want to hide. Dig a hole and crawl into it. The urge to hide in shame because I goofed up once again, or I said something callous is so strong that I know You Embarrass Me is close at hand. At that moment, I know it’s time to stop. Sit down.

This was helpful for me, Seven Ways to Push Through Embarrassment.

Freedom or Romance? Could you choose?

Which is it? Think quick. What would your choice be? If you could only have one, and be able to live that one to its fullest, which would you choose? The choice is a fantasy. No one has absolute romance or absolute freedom and it may be one of those things that no one needs, but if it came down to one or the other do you know your preference? Maybe you didn’t realize there was a choice.

The choices:

Cinderella with her fairyland romance. The prince claiming her for his own and in front of all her naysayers announcing her as his bride. The ring on your finger, the kiss on the cheek, not to mention the passion. Certainly the wild roller-coaster ride of romance hits some, but it rarely lasts. They tell me it isn’t supposed to last. It’s supposed to blossom, develop and grow into a fully developed love. Now tell me again why we idolize the fairy tales? Is it their mature love? No, it’s the passion. It’s the feeling of belonging. Instant HOME.

Freedom to go anywhere you want to wear the colors of your choice, to think and act freely, even speak from your own mind. You walk in loyalty to those you wish to be loyal to, not having to compromise your true loyalties for the sake of country, political party, religious affiliations or family ties. To move with the wind and flow as the river. No checking in, no expectations, no disappointing others. But having no preset boundaries, no home base, some feel lost.

The truth is these are not either or choices. Just take a good look at the choices you have now in front of you. Make an aware choice. What are you giving up if you choose to take this job or that? What does your family expect of you? Your religion? Your friends? If you are free to move anywhere, to be anyone, what is your gain? What do you walk away from?

A good mix is the best. There’s a balancing of freedom and home ties and it changes at different points in your life. When you feel the pinch of your too tight shoes you know it’s time to squeeze your feet out of them and let them have some air. In the same way, when your personality feels cramped or your life feels dry, boring, or wasted, check your home ties or your freedom level. Adjust as necessary.

But the question still stands, if you could only choose one, which would it be?

Aside: Here’s some beautiful artwork which seems to me a nice mix of romance and freedom. http://stacykathryn.com/artwork/

Dynamics


The company I work for is wanting to move its office to a more spacious building. One that could house all of our office staff, including the warehouse. In the process of negotiating with the city council and the surrounding businesses, the owner of our company has met with some opposition. Not fire-breathing dragons at least, but bear-like opposing forces. Developer challenges downtown parking moratorium

The site is a renovation paradise but has some tight restrictions. 3rd and Kenosha is known as Hodges bend. Getting a permit to build a parking lot is like putting a girdle on a fat lady. And we must have parking.

In the dynamics of asserting our wishes, as a company or as an individual, the surrounding area will feel some trauma. It must. It either gives way and caves in to your force or becomes dented and scuffed. If you are the heavy weight and bully your way through, they’ll cave in and let you have it. But this is a disturbing picture in my mind since you’ve broken the harmony of the place and it’s no longer the environment you wanted before. Much like the child who wants the kitten, if the child isn’t gentle the kitten loses his anime. Yeah the bully gets what he wants, but the true essence is no longer there. The flower is dead and might as well be plastic.

Gentle persistence. We weave ourselves into the life of our dreams, gradually becoming a familiar face. We coax with subtlety, refining along the way. We expand, contract and conform all the while asserting our wishes. Exhausting? Sometimes. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. To win friends and influence people you can’t bully and demand. You use kindness and not in that overly kind, passive-aggressive way that annoys the heck out of all of us. The type that you feel you have to return the favor.

The surrounding area for our new office is owned by a local guy.With several retail shops and a bar under his ownership, he’s gradually building his empire. It’s an impressive story by itself. http://www.newson6.com/Global/story  But there are always new kids coming into town. The game we play changes and the rules adapt. This is life and we live it every day. Sometimes it alters while we are not paying attention, so it seems like an outside force has wiped the old away and displayed the new. Truly it was only one person or a group of persons that developed a different view. Not evil, not good, just different.

Peace isn’t always about submission. It’s often about getting what you want as well as allowing the other their needs as well. Equilibrium, dynamic, hormesis.

Can’t Stop Running And Can’t Keep Up

I had someone tell me once that they had difficulty writing because they were always correcting their mistakes. I tried to explain the crazy and insane process of most writers but I don’t think I got the idea across. Like most people writers are nit-picky perfectionists. We want to cross all our T’s and dot our I’s also. We care about how everything looks just as much as anyone but your perfect first draft doesn’t impress me.

Writing is a craft. the correct usage of words and the perfect timing of sentences, these are the work of someone who has over many years developed the ability to hear the flow. To be able to develop a paragraph of fiction that sets you on the edge of your seat doesn’t happen in one writing. Writers have learned. First you take all the chaos of a story or whatever it is you want to say and you DUMP it in the middle of the paper. It’s a mess but it feels good to get it all out there. Then you walk away. Leave it there. Kinda like my picture of God in Genesis. BOOM, BANG! That’s where I want to hang the universe.

English: running

After some time later you start combing through all that crap on your page. Reorder here, cut there and add some more in to rephrase to the n’th degree until it reads exactly the way you want it. And it’s not finished until it’s perfect. Writers rarely sit down at a typewriter and start from the beginning Chapter 1. Never have. That’s why we have pencils and paper.

Sometimes I get myself into the frenzy of fixing everything. Those pants need hemmed. That filter is dirty. Ugh, the toilet needs cleaned. And the list goes on. If I’m not careful, I’m the frenzied lady who snaps at people in the grocery store because I still have laundry to do. Stop. Wait. Halt. It will get done. There’s no need to trip. I have to remember to enjoy this moment.

Here’s a quote from a blog I read,

WE ARE BECOMING ADDICTED TO CHAOS AND FRENZY

In talking with a bunch of MBA students at Brigham Young University the other night, I was asked whether blogging was really going to die soon. I replied, naturally, that radio died shortly after TV started, so yes, that was likely. (I wish there were a sarcasm font, but you get it). I did say, however, that we are the problem.

We are addicted to next. When we read our inbox, we’re always thinking about the next mail. When we browse the web, we are calibrated to scan quickly, skim often, and barely register what we see. It’s neither good nor bad. But it definitely is.

YOU CAN’T KEEP UP

A woman three days ago said, “I don’t like Twitter. I can’t keep up.” I said, “You don’t have to keep up. It’s a stream. Dip in. Say hi. Read what you want. Leave.”

But we think we have to keep up. We believe we have to read Mashable and TechCrunch and all those sites to know what’s new or who’s being acquired.

Hint: nearly none of us have to do that. Nearly none.

PUT. THE. PHONE. DOWN.

https://rt947.infusionsoft.com/app/linkClick/8791/7d2248d5748c4b8a/2521807/aad05136721d9f6d

Another writer I enjoy is Seth Godin. I and many others quote him a lot, because he “gets it.”

At the same time…

The lizard brain is on high alert to make sure that everything is okay. The lizard brain can’t rest until it knows that everyone likes us, that no one is offended, that all graphs are ticking up and to the right and the future is assured. But of course, the future (and the present) isn’t perfect. It can’t be.

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/03/fomo-joy-jealousy-and-the-lizard.html
To craft a beautiful life takes effort. It takes focus on the most important things. These usually aren’t the urgent things. These are the moments you sit and read to your child. A kiss goodbye. Having coffee with a friend. Watching a storm come in. So the next time you find yourself running around like a crazy person, remember, you can never catch up. And sometimes we get so caught up in the running that we forget to enjoy the things that matter most.