FMF31 2018 Day 12: PRAISE

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: PRAISE

I can easily get lost in an internal mental debate about words (well, external too …). The challenge with parsing words and intentions so finely is that it’s easy to lose sight of the need to act, even if it means taking a risk, making a mistake, or failing.

The role of “helping” is central to some reading and talking I’m doing right now, especially in groups that are trying to come to grips with white privilege. It’s more than I can dissect in five minutes.  At its core, the point is whether we sometimes derive some false sense of “being good people” from helping people who are less fortunate (white savior complex comes to mind, and wanting praise even if we don’t consciously realize that’s why we do charitable things).

That said, thank you to Dale in the Publix parking lot today, for the first bump and the opportunity to buy you a dinner that included greens, something that always reminds me of my mom (picking them/washing them/ freezing them/trying to get younger me to like them (I’m very much over disliking them now!))

She was the perfect example of helping without wanting praise, and I’m pretty sure she was somehow part of our conversation.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

FMF31 2018 Day 10: HOW

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: HOW

There’s probably a more efficient way to do this, but when I hear something that may be a tiny seed for a future blog post, I send myself an email with the phrase in the subject line.

Therefore, I find myself mystified weeks later when I’m cleaning out emails and run across blank emails that just have subject lines that clearly meant something to me at the time!

Here’s one: “Forget about why, know your what.”

I heard this one at the Type A conference I attended in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I don’t remember exactly which speaker said it (sorry, speaker!), but her point was that we are often told to follow our passions and dig deep for our “whys” when “why” won’t put food on the table. Having a passion is good but the what is where the rubber hits the road.

In addition, since I have been trying to read something edifying first thing in the morning rather than immediately turning to social media, I decided to read a Lightning Notes this morning and this was the first one to pop up.

It begins with: “When someone does something that knocks our socks off, the question so often asked is, ‘How did you do it?'” and proceeds to discuss the thought process behind that question, and the potential answers. it ends up at:

“How” is about the outer work the person did; it’s often what we can see, look up, research. Belief, though, is about the inner work the person did. The meaning making and perspective shifts, the mindset techniques and faith refills.

Maybe I am hurting myself by clinging so tightly to my “whys,” but I know it has led me to (finally, after all these years) be working in a job where writing and language are among my primary responsibilities, and that is a very good place to be right now.

Five Minute Friday Comfort

FMF31 2018 Day 1: STORY

I am participating in 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes 2018 (all of my submissions can be found here).

Today’s prompt is: STORY

I was involved in a remarkable Facebook Live yesterday. Typically, that Facebook Live is a “readalong” of the Sunday New York times. Yesterday was different.

We did have the Times as our anchor, but given the public discourse underway about people’s very personal experiences with sexual assault, we touched on the paper but focused more intently on people’s stories.

I had a small role behind the scenes helping the host by adding relevant links (for example, one of the participants spoke about Denim Day Milwaukee and I dropped in that link).

The host had told me on the phone the night before that he planned to share his personal story about sexual assault. Once he knew I had a story, he asked if I wanted to share mine. A few hours later, I said I would.

As it turns out, I wasn’t able to join the Facebook Live even though I was willing, so I wrote it all out in the comments. To help the people who only listen to the readout instead of watch, the host read my story out loud.

And at that moment, it occurred to me that although it would have been powerful for me to tell my story on camera, perhaps the true power of stories lies, in a way, in writing them out and then hearing them from someone else’s voice. It’s a different type of sharing that enables them to experience what I have to say in a different way.

I left the hour and a half (plus, because we ran over) grateful for the communities we stumble into in this life, for “old-fashioned” paper newspapers that evolve into digital communities, and for being able to trust people I have never met, who have still proven their credibility in other ways, with my most difficult experiences.

Five Minute Friday Story

31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes 2018

I am participating in the 2018 “31 days of 5-minute free writes” activity (like I did last year).

Here are the prompts:

 

And I’ll come in and link up each day after writing.

10/1 Story

10/2 Afraid

10/3 Believe

10/4 Why

10/5 FMF Prompt – Share

10/6 Belong

10/7 Hope

10/8 Comfort

10/9 Inspire

10/10 How

10/11 Door

10/12 Praise

10/13 Talk

10/14 Ask

10/15 When

10/16 Pray

10/17 Pause

10/18 Search

10/19 Who

10/20 Audience

10/21 Start

10/22 Help

10/23 Common

10/24 Brief

10/25 Capture

10/26 Moment

10/27 Whole

10/28 Song

10/29 Together

10/30 Voice

10/31 Close

(And to those of you who subscribe to my blog, thank you first of all! I am sorry this is going to multiply the number of emails you get from me for a month. Feel free to ignore them and meet me on November 1 when I’ll return to my regularly scheduled weekly programming.)

 

Five Minute Friday: COMPLETE

 

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: COMPLETE

“Pick a stick from this bag,” said the facilitator at last night’s “Happy Hour” focused on STD Prevention. (For the record, the bag was filled with popsicle sticks of varying colors and condoms.) I took one, no questions asked.

Once everyone had chosen a stick, the facilitator told me what our sticks represented:

Orange: HIV

Blue: Syphilis

Yellow: Chlamydia

Red: HPV

Purple: Gonorrhea

Green: Negative

As you can see below, I “had” chlamydia.

Five Minute Friday

This is an exercise educators use to help young people (and, apparently 53-year-old people) understand the effects of their actions.

“Did you think to ask me ‘why should I take that stick?’ he asked us.” NO. We just did it, because he offered.

I attended the event because I wanted to reconnect with the world of education/advocacy about Sexually Transmitted Diseases in advance of today’s #ADayWithHIV (here’s a previous year’s post).

In addition to the samples of how the educators connect with young people (like the popsicle stick activity), there were discussions of the basics about STDs and how they are transmitted.

More than the graphic pictures and the clinical discussion, though, I was struck by something the educator said overtly once or twice but implied throughout: people have sex with other people, even in situations that they may *know* are risky, because they lack the self esteem to advocate for themselves.

They see it as something that will make them complete, yet it may lead to illness, pain and an altered life course.

This is why we owe it to our fellow human beings to help do something to build up, not tear down, self esteem when possible.

 

Five Minute Friday

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: CROWD

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: CROWD

I haven’t done a Black Friday shopping trip in years, and I never was crazed like some people get, but the crowds can get insane. If you’re having trouble conjuring an image (which you probably aren’t!), here’s help:

This is what my brain has looked like in the early mornings for a long time, as I immediately picked up my phone to check email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and possibly a few other things the minute I was out of bed. Not to delve into TMI land, but I do mean first thing.

I was unleashing a flood of other people’s priorities, not to mention some truly superficial bits of information, into my head.

As I began my full-time job Monday, I wanted to turn over a new leaf. Although I had been working at the organization already as a freelancer, and mostly full-time hours, I have a renewed sense of the need to focus, especially since the bulk of the work is editing (as a freelancer, a portion of my responsibilities included research and writing, which to me requires a bit of a different focus approach).

I decided if I wasn’t able to live without my phone for that first few minutes (sigh), at least I could be doing something that contributes to my ability to focus and incorporates a positive, uplifting message for the day.

That’s why I put Daily Burst from AudioJoy on my phone. Each morning, the app serves up a thought-provoking or inspiring quote, an article (which I don’t usually read…but it’s there), a scale to gauge how I am feeling that day, and a brief audio reflection (3-5 minutes) with the accompanying text.

***end of five minutes***

My brain is not a loss-leader meant to be fought over by other people with their own priorities.

It is the only one I have, the resource I need to do a job I love already well, and something over which I want to take firm control.

Today’s reading included this passage, which I find much more constructive than a doorbuster.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: RAIN

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: RAIN

When I went grocery shopping at Publix recently, a little voice in the back of my head said, “take the umbrella.”

It’s not, of course, uncommon to have an unexpected deluge here in Florida in the late afternoon, but I often think “I can sprint to the car” if it’s raining.

Not that day.

Between the time the automatic doors swished open and the time I got to my car, the skies had opened up.

I must have looked *hilarious* trying to juggle the groceries (being especially careful not to drop the wine!) and the umbrella. I didn’t do a very good job because I came out of the process soaked to the bone.

I took a picture (from inside the car) to share a humorous tweet about the inevitability of the daily shopping trip (specifically the car-loading portion) intersecting with the daily downpour.

I could just share the picture here, but I think it’s important to keep the ability to craft images using only words. I’m a pretty visual person, so that’s always been a challenge.

This day, the rain seemed bent on invading every thread of my clothing. I suppose it’s good that I had gotten plastic bags (I usually ask for paper) because paper would have deteriorated in the rain and I would have run the risk of dropping all the groceries (did I mention the importance of protecting the wine?!).

The umbrella was blowing inside out because it was so windy. I did get my phone in the truck (priorities) because a waterlogged phone was the last thing I needed.

***end of five minutes***

My head was trying to embrace the “isn’t life an adventure and isn’t it a privilege to be holding all these groceries, to not have to worry about where the next meal will come from?” angle but my annoyance was winning out, I must say.

What I know beyond a doubt, though, is that I had a dry home to which to return and a roof over my head, not to mention the ability to laugh at my “misfortune,” so my annoyance abated almost as quickly as a Florida afternoon thunderstorm.

Five Minute Friday

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: RUSH

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: RUSH

Full disclosure: I am having trouble focusing today. Usually, for my Five Minute Friday, I set the timer and put on classical music so that I can concentrate.

Not today!

I can’t tear myself away from Aretha Franklin’s funeral, for one thing (a favorite line, from former President Clinton: “she decided to be the composer of her own life song.”) Isn’t that awesome?

I suppose I *can* tear myself away, though, because I’m listening to Les Brown right now in preparation for embedding this video into today’s post:

Here’s the role this video had in my life this week. (The version I was shown was a bit abbreviated, but the theme is the same.) I was preparing for a job interview I had been working toward for quite a few months. The time had finally come and I was trying to figure out how to convey that one of my best qualities is consistency.

I asked an extremely tight-knit (and private) small group of friends for parables or other brief stories and examples about consistency. My friend Yolanda said: this is what I think of you … and linked to this video.

I started watching the video and found myself crying the most genuine tears I’ve cried since my mom died in February. I don’t want to spoil it by telling you the video’s point, but in essence it is …

***end of five minutes***

…that sometimes the efforts we make to nurture the things that matter in life take an agonizingly long time. Sometimes it doesn’t look like you’re making progress. BUT if you are consistent in preparing, growth may come in a rush when all that patient nurturing pays off.

I encourage you to watch it too. Maybe you’ll carry away a different lesson than I did, but I think you’ll find something inspiring or motivational.

And on a different topic, I want to ask your good thoughts and prayers for Megan Johnson. It doesn’t render well below, but the caption to this Instagram picture is “when the why is clear, the how is easy.” I’m not sure if the “how” of things has been especially easy for me even though my “why” has felt pretty consistent over the last few years. Yet, I am touched by her sentiment and I want to encourage everyone’s thoughts, since she was hit by a drunk driver recently (as per Annie Jorgensen, Miss Georgia ). Annie says Megan is stable but in pain. If you happen to be on Instagram, rush on over and leave her some kind and healing thoughts please!


Five Minute Friday

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: LOYAL

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: LOYAL

Because of the current political climate, I had plenty of opportunities today to pull a quote about loyalty related to our president’s expectations. Things along the lines of “everyone knows loyalty is what matters most to him.”

But. I. won’t. do. that.

Instead, what is on my mind is something I said in an email to a prospective employer recently. This was a follow-up to a verbal conversation that had occurred between the individual and me a few weeks prior. In trying to extend our rapport (and make my case), I mentioned that, above all, I am loyal.

That particular situation didn’t pan out, but the door is still open (and I am glad).

But I have asked myself since I pressed “send” on that email if loyalty has become an old-fashioned notion, if emphasizing it as one of my strongest qualities is a quaint, Baby Boomeresque choice that actually works against me.

Moving on from that particular email exchange (but staying, in general, on the topic of who we choose to (get to!) work for, I’ll just say — in general, if being loyal is wrong, I’ll take my chances.

Leaving Healthy Kids after (almost) 20 years in May 2014 was the right thing to do, and I didn’t know …

*** end of five minutes ***

…at the time that the vista of “jobs that weren’t quite as soul sucking as my previous one had become” would shrink to “jobs that I could do from home while being caregiver to someone with short-term memory disorder, the side effects of two mini-strokes and cancer” but I am confident that whatever happens in the future, there have been lessons about loyalty from my experiences as a freelancer.

I have learned:

From the first freelance position I held after my transition, that we get exposed to people who will be a part of our universe long after the formal freelance situation ends. (And that my loyalty leads me to overdeliver (or try to…) which requires some moderating to use the employer’s resources most effectively and not create unrealistic expectations for the next freelancer after me who inherits the tasks……)

From another freelance position I held for a few months, that sometimes leaders have loyalties that are somewhat mystifying and completely unrelated to the quality, consistency, and heart you as the freelancer put in. I chalked that one up to “lessons learned” and still retained the “good” relationships and contacts (and did I mention the lessons learned?) that came out of it?

I also have had one several-hour shift as a photographer’s assistant for a large business that does photography at graduations, etc. (and another one coming up this Sunday). The coordinator at the first shift I did said, “I had three assistants in your position say they would show up to the last graduation I did, and they just didn’t show.”

WHO. DOES. THAT?!

Loyalty may or may not be old-fashioned but in my book, it never goes out of style and always adds positive organizational fuel. My plan is to keep showing up, loyally.

Five Minute Friday

 

Five Minute Friday: LOVED

Five Minute Friday

Today’s Prompt: LOVED

I’ll be honest, readers. I am feeling disconnected from this prompt.

As any of us (all of us) writers know, however, writing is among the best of the methods of finding connection again.

It would be easier to write about things I love, but things I loved or times I personally felt loved seem elusive right now.

To tackle them one as a time, though.

I was reminded of something I loved today when I saw the modifications someone had made to New York City subway and mass transit stations to honor Aretha Franklin (especially to (appropriately enough) the Franklin Street station). I mentioned to someone on Instagram how that made the millionth (roughly) reason I love New York City so much.

It reminded me of the day after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, when all of a sudden rainbow hearts and memorial messages appeared on ad panels. Within 24 hours of a tragedy, a city I love (see, NYC will never be just “loved” — it will always be “love” applied all its artsiness and awareness to show solidarity to another city experiencing its own crisis).

Five Minute Friday

Times I felt loved …… I suppose a tangible way to point that out is this laptop I’m typing on. My son somehow tracked down a refurbished laptop with faster processing speeds and a blessedly large 17-inch screen for Mother’s Day. On his college freshman budget. When he surprised me with it, I felt loved.

*** end of 5 minutes ***

Love now, loved then, to love in the future. Thank you, writing (which I have always loved) for doing what you always do — getting me closer to my true self.

Five Minute Friday