155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-nine: Follow

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Today’s prompt: Follow

When we have gotten used to things being a certain way, then a change is announced, it can be challenging to accept that change, embrace the positive benefits that might result and follow the path to implementing it.

I was talking last night with my friend Randy, who has been the director of the phone counseling hotline that I used to volunteer/work for (in the late 80s) for more than 25 years.

We were talking about ALL the changes — the many information-handling pieces that were strictly paper-based back then that are now handled by computer, the operational revisions, the way staffing and volunteer management has evolved.

I had been at the hotline when we first took on the contract for the Florida AIDS Hotline (again, late 80s). Because I was a compensated backup supervisor, I had to get trained on that hotline and work it. He and I discussed the fact that some volunteers didn’t agree with us taking on the AIDS Hotline (again, late 80s) and left the agency.

I commented that my personal views, and my path to becoming a more committed ally for LGBT individuals was BECAUSE I had to follow instructions and get trained on that hotline.

It turns out that although we should never fail to think critically about the choices ahead of us, *sometimes* following an organizational change is exactly what we need.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-eight: Connect

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. (Confession: I *may* not be able to resist spell-checking!)

Today’s prompt: Connect

Look closely at the picture of tweezers above. I got them out to deal with a stray eyebrow hair the other day. I squeezed and squeezed yet nothing happened.

When I looked closely, I realized that the ends, the parts that would need to grasp the errant eyebrow hair in order to extricate it …… DID NOT CONNECT NO MATTER HOW HARD I TRIED TO FORCE THEM TO.

This “totally ineffective tweezer” situation seemed like such a parallel for so many other things in life.

From a distance, without my glasses on, the tweezers looked like any other pair of tweezers (frankly I was amazed to find tweezers at all — we never seem to have them when we need them — same goes for emery boards and fingernail clippers, especially toenail clippers but I digress).

It was when I actually tried to get them to do what they were supposed to do, that they failed.

Are we somehow doing the same thing in our lives? Putting on all the outer appearances so we look like we have it all together but neglecting to maintain the qualities and priorities that help us connect when we most need to?

Because I work from home, and because I will admit I have been more and more hesitant to bother to get ready to leave (something has to be really compelling or downright mandatory to coax me out), I worry that my “connector” bits are getting rusty, that I won’t have enough “foundation” experiences to write about…

…that I’ll end up in an endless loop where I am not connecting enough to grasp anything that matters.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-six: Change

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Today’s prompt: Change

“Don’t go changing to try and please me.”

“Just the way you are” by Billy Joel, which includes the line above, is one of my all-time favorite songs.

It came out around the time I took a class trip to New Orleans. You can tell this was a 70s class trip because we all crammed in a teacher’s car (it was a small group). These days, we would have had to sign five forms in triplicate, rent a bus and hire a driver to avoid liability.

Whatever the case, this song seemed to come on 20 times during the trip (I am sure this is an exaggeration of my middle-school memory).

I think — I’ve gotten to the point at 52 that I don’t feel *that* compelled to change to please others, but it is a lifelong quest to feel comfortable with ourselves — that we don’t have to change in order to please ourselves.

Wayne and I were talking the other day about the MAMMOTH job ahead of us of decluttering to list the house, and I said “despite how it looks (I am a terrible housekeeper and let clutter pile up), I hate clutter.” He said, “I just gave up at some point because I got tired of the dirty looks.”

Now, not to break down the Kiger marriage in five minutes, but we have each over 25 years done plenty of things worth getting a dirty look from the other.

Yet it still grieves me that in his head, the state of our house was driven primarily about my stubbornness and unwillingness/inability to change.

Take it away, Billy ….

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-five: Because

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Today’s prompt: Because

I am the kind of person who wants to know the “because” behind the things I do.

It’s not that I want to be in charge of everything; it’s more that understanding the context of my tasks helps me feel part of a bigger mission and see why/where my contribution fits in.

My hunger for the “because” part of life is not always a good fit for freelance world. Either by virtue of being separated physically from my bosses/coworkers, or because of being a dotted line on the org chart, more often than not, the “because” is somewhat inaccessible.

(Don’t get me wrong — that’s a blessing too. There’s lots of minutiae about the work world that you get to escape as a remote freelancer too.)

I think that’s why at least part of my career has involved career counseling. Asking people why they do what they do, helping other people find their own “why.”

I think that search for a “why” is never-ending.

And I am glad (mostly) the various twists and turns of my life have given me different angles on how best to fulfill my purpose.

Because having a purpose, after all, helps make the act of going to work matter.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-four: Revise

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Today’s prompt: Revise

I would like to revise the outcome of a decision I made about a Facebook friendship (the picture above is a sunrise I shared with the individual).

Last year, I shared a piece of information with a friend that she needed to know for her health (physical health, mental health). I can count the times I have been the messenger for this type of information on one hand — it was not undertaken lightly.

It was a difficult piece of information for my friend to receive, and it was not taken well. She did not unfriend me, but restricted my ability to see any activity on her Facebook feed.

Then I was offended/hurt (rightly or wrongly). In a pique (not sure if I spelled that right!) of “if you’re not going to share your Facebook life with me in full,” I’m just not going to play that game.

Then *I* unfriended *her*.

Now the situation around which I shared the information has come and gone, but my “unfriending” is (to me) pretty permanent.

I realize, though, that this points up the sheer crazy of our social media world.

What really matters is — and I haven’t seen her since “the conversation” — rather than words/pictures on a screen, could we talk face to face as friends again?

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-three: Work

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Today’s prompt: Work

My car needs work.

While it does need mechanical work (this north Florida summer without air conditioning has been pretty miserable), what I mean today is that it needs work to not be such a cluttered, trash-can-on-four-wheels mess.

There’s also this weird piece of weather-proofing that won’t stay in place that dangles down by the passenger side window. My daughter looked at it Friday and rolled her eyes (maybe not literally but ….).

This car, despite its mechanical issues and cluttered nature, is the one big thing in my life that is paid for free and clear.

Therefore I gave myself the gift of five extra minutes this morning before writing to work on cleaning out the car. Five minutes is only a dent but it’s a start!

I hesitated. Would my husband hear the garage door opening at o’dark and jump out of bed, wondering what the heck I was up to?

It was also raining, so it was tempting to put it off.

But I squeezed in, avoiding most of the rain, and got to work.

Now I have a passenger seat that has been cleared off of all the receipts and little shreds of paper I wasn’t sure what to do with and a passenger floorboard that no longer has the discarded cell phone portable charger that I threw down there in disgust when it stopped working.

It was a baby step, but as baby steps go, it’s one that made my heart happy, my car a little lighter (see yesterday’s post), and my car a little more bearable. It was work worth doing.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-two: Light

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Image courtesy of debspoons at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today’s prompt: Light

As we sat with our realtor yesterday laying the groundwork to list our house, I was fighting to see the joy and relief and lightness of spirit (and wallet) when we sell our house.

Mainly, the logistics of wading through all of this stuff, these material items that are weighing us down, made the task seem almost impossible, even if the end result is a favorable one.

We talked about letting go of “things,” and I thought how just hours earlier Wayne and I had been cleaning out the room Dad occupied for the last three years, that had been my son’s room before that, and how I stopped him from sending my son’s Build-A-Bear, which is a dog actually whose name I don’t even remember, to a thrift shop. I had so many memories of him choosing it, of ALL the expensive little bear/dog-sized clothes we bought it. (Actually I think his name is Siren — recalling the fire engine obsession of his childhood!).

So many second thoughts (unproductive ones, of course) were running through my head — why did we THINK in 2005 we could afford this house AND do the things to it that would make it the showcase it can be?

On the other hand, things do happen for a reason (sorry to throw in a cliché) but … I love this neighborhood. It was the house we needed to take care of his Dad, for my children to grow up in. There’s a reason it is part of our memory mosaic.

And the many, many — countless mornings greeting the sunrise as I ran its perfect running loop will be imprinted on my brain and heart forever.

What is the price of lightening things up so we can breathe again financially?

Right now it’s a pretty heavy one, no matter the rewards.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty-One: Give

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. (Confession: I *may* not be able to resist spell-checking!)

Today’s prompt: Give

This exchange was extremely typical while Dad lived with us:

Him: Will you get me a [insert name of item, let’s say coffee]?

Me: Give me just a minute.

Him: Oh forget it then.

You would think over three years i would have anticipated how these conversations would go and either a) adjusted my approach or b) learned to modulate my frustration about them.

I’m not beating myself up about this (much) but hoping (I suppose) that if you’re in this position with an elder (or anyone with a brain impairment) in your life, you figure it out sooner than I did.

The irony was never lost on me that a man who seemingly had ALL the time in the world (from the perspective of his daily schedule — he almost always had literally nothing on his agenda for the day except for watching more tennis) …….. didn’t have the cognitive ability to wait for even the briefest period of time.

And then there was me in contrast: always trying to fit in one more moment of work (I work from home) or one of the kazillion things I am always doing because I either have to or want to.

The other irony? On a bigger perspective, he didn’t have all the time in the world. He was 85 when he came to our home (already suffering from the short-term memory issues due to  mini-strokes (and I always say — there’s nothing very “mini” about any stroke)) at 85 and had two bouts of cancer while he was here, one of them ultimately ending his life.

We often demand to be given time — we demand that of ourselves, of God, of others.

Maybe the biggest gift we can give ourselves is a different perspective about it all.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Twenty: Discover

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Today’s prompt: Discover

We have lost something in our country.

We have lost the willingness to discover people’s nuances.

Obviously it’s an enormous overgeneralization to say that, and I do know many people who take the time and effort to see nuance, to listen endlessly, to respect, encourage and keep seeking.

I got on this train of thought because “discover” led me to think of the recent day in October on which Columbus Day had been traditionally celebrated.

There was widespread acknowledgement that the lands Columbus “discovered” were someone else’s lands first.

One discussion I heard was of a possible removal of a Columbus statue (and history aside I am not sure I can envision a NYC without a Columbus Circle but that’s a post for a different day!). Then the Italian-Americans (some Italian-Americans at least) were upset that removing it would offend their heritage.

I am not sure how the Columbus issues are going to resolve but I was happy to see indigenous people recognized.

In the meantime, I wonder what each of us (me included) is doing to discover something in our communities or our world that we may be misunderstanding or minimizing.

Writing Challenge

155 Big Green Pen Minutes Day Nineteen: Brave

I am participating in the 31 Days of Free Writes October challenge. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Credit: Pinterest

Today’s prompt: Brave

When I saw this article about Amy Cuddy early yesterday morning, it caught my eye.

Although the title made it clear that there had been some type of shift in her life, this is what came to mind upon seeing her name:

  • beautiful
  • intelligent
  • gave a TED talk (the 2nd most watched one ever)
  • power poses
  • NY Times best seller
  • has it all together/has achieved things I want to do

Apparently, things have changed over the past year or two for Amy Cuddy.

In short, the research that brought her so much notoriety, in essence research that says “if you physically manifest power (as in doing a power pose in the wings before giving a speech), it will lend you confidence and help you perform better,” was intensely questioned by her peers in a very public way.

When I was searching for this article last  night, my email brought up David Burkus’ email series from a year or two ago. Amy Cuddy had written the “New Year’s message.” It was full of what we can do, positivity and optimism.

I had to look up her Twitter handle to help publicize the Burkus series in my freelance capacity at the time. I put her on a pedestal (for all the bulleted reasons above).

That was then.

Now she is writing a book called, “Bullies, Bystanders, and Bravehearts.” I am reminded that bravery exists most when we are standing in the wings of our own life, away from the lit stage, looking at ourselves in the mirror and finding the strength to be our best selves.

Writing Challenge