COMFORT IN UNCOMFORTABLE

I was called out for doing something in my work day that was uniquely me.
It was how I write emails to business associates.
I communicate like I am talking to them personally.
This was a bother to one associate of mine.
So was I comfortable being called out for doing something that obviously was wrong,
even inept in another person’s mind?
I went very quickly from feeling belittled, or allowing me to think less of myself because of another scholastically reinforced opinion, to feeling better about my individuality.
I made a choice all by myself, to be me to another person.
The only thing I can contribute is what comes from me.
Regurgitating ad nauseam that which is covered by others in ways that didn’t include me, isn’t me being me.
I want to get people information so they can understand but I also want them to get it from me. You don’t have to agree or even like it but when I write that way, that’s what talking to me is like.
It’s all been done before.
In music, when I wrote, I knew that every note has been played and there isn’t much truly new that can be produced. That doesn’t stop art from coming out of me and being put into a format that wouldn’t be exactly the same if I wasn’t involved.
That is art.
Art is defined by it’s imperfections as my mentor Jeff Casey & his, Nik Venet taught me.
He also said that “anyone can sing, anyone can write a song but not everybody tells the truth and it’s the truth that reaches people.”
Wise. And applicable beyond songwriting.
This is another way of saying what’s already been said – Be yourself.
Don’t be afraid.
Grow so that you can always be a better version of yourself.
Look around you, including a 180º look back at your work on occasion so you can measure your growth. Maybe even enjoy some of what you’ve done. It’s impactful to appreciate.
It’s good to find yourself being comfortable with what used to be uncomfortable.
Know the rules, and then break a few here and there if it’s of benefit.
It’s a sign of growing if you’re doing things that make you a little uncomfortable.
Live in it.

WHAT DID YOU CREATE THIS WEEK?

I’m not asking if you’re creative or artistic.
Creation is what produces any result of good living.

Did you create a good meal?
Did you create a concept that took hold with someone,
or a new take on an existing concept?
What did your week consist of?

I’m asking you to think about it.
You are creative whether you think so or not.

When you look at what you did make, you feel pretty damn good about it.
Live there for a bit by realizing what it is that you did.
You started with nothing and ended with something.

You affected people this week.
I hope you found something that people smiled with you about
because that made for a small connection.
That is living well.

Forget the things for the moment that are wrong and that we all so easily
get wrapped up in disagreeing with.
Somewhere in your week, you felt good. Somewhere you connected.
Feel that again by memory.
Go do that sort of thing again. Then again. More, again.
Small bits make for bigger moments.
Moments make up a life.

NOBODY QUESTIONS THE BUG MAN

I think you could go anywhere and do anything with a bug man suit on.
They look official with a full body uniform like they know exactly what they are doing.
They have a tank with chemicals you don’t want to be near.
They keep to themselves, looking down, and don’t need anything from you.
They don’t linger awkwardly. They do their thing and move on.
They could be casing the neighbor’s house.
A man in a business suit couldn’t walk around your house without suspicion.
You could get in anywhere.
It’s an all-access pass.
Nobody questions the bug man.

BACKSPACKLING AND GIVING BACK

There’s three bathrooms where I worked.
The one nearest me was routinely disrespected. It was not clean.
By not clean I don’t mean that there is paper towels overflowing the garbage basket.
I mean that somebody routinely wanted to get what was in them, out of them so fast
that the force used in the expulsion left backspackle everywhere below the rim.
Yeah, sorry kinda, but imagine having to use that baño.
This is disgusting to be sure.
I take it as an opportunity to see if I can play target practice well enough to be able to knock some of it off. Almost never does this work, which just leaves me frustrated and back to a little disgusted. Oh, also, Mr. porcelain artist, would it kill you to spray the scent blocker right in front of you? The waste ghost seeks places to hang out down the entire hallway. I know enough about you.
Having moved on, I think about what it takes to never look back and see what you did.
He must not see himself as an artist or he’d check out his work. Somebody has to deal with that. Usually it’s weeks later.
It reminds me of a story from when I lived in Florida. There was this surly old curmudgeon who would walk his 119 year old dog past our rental house. The dog found our yard
continually appropriate for his gift. So whenever I’d see the guy outside our front window, he’d be standing there waiting for his dog to finish the masterpiece. He was waiting
patiently too, like there was nothing wrong with what they were doing, or maybe
he was expecting the dog to do the dairy queen twist at the top, I don’t know, but
there he was, letting it happen and then walking away for someone else to deal with it.
I got tired of this at one point.
I gathered up the steaming fresh gift and put it in a bag. I followed the coot to his house.
He was inside pretty quickly.
I put the bag at the doorstep and rang his bell.
When he answered,
I told him that I was returning his gift. I didn’t want it anymore, and that he could cancel my subscription to it. He said nothing and just closed the door. I guess I made my point
because the next time I saw this real-life cartoon he was across the street, 10 feet
in front of the neighbors picture window letting the dog do the same exact thing.
Uugh. Some people…
I’ve heard it said that you should never look back, only forward.
Looking back is a load of crap!

WHAT MADE YOU LAUGH TODAY?

My son, 7 years old, outta nowhere said to me –
“What’s with that spider man?
The guy never picks up his web.”
That made me laugh.
I like writing down the funny things my kids say – what others say too.
I’ve done this for years, even before my wife and I had kids. I don’t exactly know why.
Keeping the good stuff for memories? Finding a laugh when I want one?
Is it deeper than that?
I do think it’s important to find things to laugh at.
Maybe it’s not proper in the ultra serious professional world but there is a time for it.
There’s the technique in professional circles to “break the ice.”
It’s sad if it has to be a technique though. It would be nice to be able to be serious when needed and still have the ability to be loose and have a laugh when it’s there to be had.
I think even a small laugh puts people at ease to be their best.
Professional funny people take the craft of being funny seriously. They write things down during their day, then go back and work it until it’s right. They try it out in front of people to further hone it. Being funny isn’t just lightheartedness or the ability to
smile about something. Turns out it’s just as much work as you put into your job.
It’s especially fun to see the pro’s have a laugh that’s spontaneous and uncrafted. Like these ones with Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK and Ricky Gervais.
The creation of the humor here is so rich because they are vamping off of each other to get to the joke.
I love it when you’re with someone you really click with and you two just go. Even though it’s rare to find that level of good interaction with others, to me it’s always worth it to look for the laugh in a situation where you can. Be creative in the moment. I’m not talking about laugh-a-minute, try too hard to be funny, borderline obnoxious stuff. Just flip the switch from serious to not so serious at the appropriate time.
That’s where the art of timing comes in.
Laughing is as much a mindset as it is an action. Using that mindset to find even one laugh will usually lighten the mood and lift any tension from a situation and you will most likely walk away feeling better overall.
So, what made you laugh today? Go tell somebody.

HOW TO BE AN INFLUENCE

It’s pretty gradual and you may never even know
if you are, or are not, helping another in any way.
You are an influence to somebody though.
Are you a good influence?
Look at your friends and those around you.
Are they of the same character that you want to see in yourself?
You start becoming an influence to others by being influenced yourself.
That is a part of your character over time.
HOW TO START?
You could just jump into things – that would spread your influence.
But if we’re to be honest, I say set your integrity on things you will and will not do.
Live that.
THE GRADUAL CHANGE

Try being a chaperone for your kids class trip, be a coach or assistant,
serve at a food shelter, do something to volunteer in an area of interest for you.
Churches are great for that, if you go. Once you start doing that sort of thing,
you meet people and find new opportunities that just come to you from being
around that activity. Suddenly your life is a little different.
You don’t have to jump in and do everything –  just something.
In the other option you already know what happens. When you do nothing,
what can you expect to get? First be influenced, then be an influence.
Somebody’s listening.
And that makes your world better for you’re having been involved in it.

That’s influence.

I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT

I’m coordinating a class. It’s about things I know well enough to teach even though I’m not qualified by profession in this area.
I’m doing it for free because I know it has impact on people’s lives if they let it. I do like watching it “click” in other people.
But I didn’t want to go this time around.
The class day came and I found myself thinking more negatively about it than I wanted.
I just didn’t feel like going.
But I have to show up. I signed up for this and it’s a responsibility.
So I go.
Funny thing, I find that often the best returns happen in those moments
you don’t expect them to.
My feelings are the easiest thing to change because they are the one thing that
I am totally in control of and have the ability to do something about.
I showed up. Mostly that’s all it takes.
Bring your best? Yes. Prepare? You’d better.
But when I mentally don’t feel like it, the good takeaway afterwards
can be a reward in itself.
The situation changed because my feelings about it changed first.
I need to apply that to eating and exercise.
I just don’t feel like it.

DROP A HABIT

My Dad loved a Manhattan after work. He and my Mom would take that first hour after he got home and before dinner to share a drink and talk about their day. Us kids knew that it was their time and not to jump in after our “Hi Dad”’s.
It was a nice connecting time and I had an appreciation for that.
As a kid, that was my impression of drinking – not abusive or loud and angry
but connection and laughing.
It was also something to have respect for.
Here’s what I mean by that.
My Dad had this thing he did which I use myself now and show my kids. He would stop drinking his Manhattan for a week or sometimes two just to prove to himself that he could. My Dad would say that he “didn’t want any bad habit to have him.” I look at that once in a while and feel a tug to do the same. Sometimes it’s harder than my resolve is ready for.
I guess that’s the point. It was a good example and a good way to stay in control.
Miss you Dad, but thanks for all of it.
Life without you around now is a little like seeing you over in the other room talking with Mom but not being able to talk to you. It’s a comfort knowing you’re there and that you’re still teaching me lessons.
What habit do you have in mind now?

METHOD MUST MATCH MEDIUM

I was writing a business email and the other person in the room was looking over my shoulder at my composition.
As I’m writing this particular email, out comes a comment. Something like, “I love how you write each sentence on it’s own line.” Which most likely means, “It bugs me how you write each sentence on it’s own line.”
So that got me thinking about why I do that.
It helps convey my meaning in this medium.
Every medium has it’s own best ways to communicate.
I break the lines how I want them to be read. It reads differently on a phone, tablet
or computer based on how you physically interact with the copy.
The complexities of current day written communication involve writing for Twitter,
Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, LinkedIn, text, email and many more even. Each has their own best method.  I know that proper writing should handle things just fine. People don’t read proper English the same anymore but they will respond to periods, line breaks and will brake for the em-dash like a speed-bump. In my experience most people don’t write digitally with many rules. It is done for a report or a proposal but not an email or text. Communication is my purpose. I write like I talk.
I am thus responsible, in part, for a new method replacing and older, tried and true
standard in my small world.
To an English teacher or Professor I am the equivalent of “ugh, the kids these days…”
Know who you’re talking to and write like they will best hear you. However you decide to do that, be yourself in the pursuit of each site’s best ways of being understood,
and consider the devices used to read your material. You have something to say and we want to hear it. You being your best value to us is wanted.
Write it down, let us hear from you.

SOME WORDS DON’T MEAN WHAT YOU THOUGHT

I used the term perverse recently. I said it without really thinking. I felt like I had to check myself. So I looked it up and was a little surprised by what I read.
When I had to define it, I found that I was using the term incorrectly. For the word perverse, I would first think of pervert or some sexual deviant. Taking that word to describe the human mind, I would have thought that it’s being tweaked still in some way of thinking sexually about things. Like the guy who always used to say “that’s what she said” and think he was funny. I knew that the more general term was to describe something as off or wrong in some way but I thought of it as more sinister.
The word ” perverse” means: 1. Directed away from what is right or good; perverted. 2. Obstinately persisting in an error or fault; wrongly self-willed or stubborn. 3. Marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict. 4. Cranky; peevish.
When I looked at it more closely, #1 was the only one that holds a definition I recognized as right. Number 2 –  Obstinately persisting in an error and wrongly self-willed, goes beyond what I would have thought for this definition.  Not just that you’re wrong in your thinking, but that you stubbornly persist by nature or habit. That’s perverse. Cranky and peevish are like the candy coating of this definition. Another source calls it easily irritated or annoyed.  So I could use cranky, irritated  and perverse interchangeably? Perverse has more sting than irritated or annoyed.
How often in our day do we go on by force of habit and don’t really think about what we are doing or saying just like I did in the use of this term I didn’t fully understand? In my case it’s way more than I think and I like the idea of trying to think more closely about what, and maybe even more importantly why I do and say what I do and say.
Hang out with kids a little bit and you’ll hit some challenges that force you to answer their questions in a way they can understand. They force you to be real. They’ll say “I don’t get it” and look for another explanation where adults won’t say anything and just call you an idiot who makes no sense. Kids habits aren’t fully formed yet so they’re honest with themselves more often and comfortable with trying to understand things. Maybe that’s where their easy smiles come from.
With the ways we are communicating now being slashed for convenience, I think it’s easy to assume that more and more people don’t know what they think they know. Words we use regularly might not be the ones to best convey what we are really thinking.
Rather than dig in and learn we just obstinately persist in error and wonder why people don’t get us.
It’s healthy to be wrong.
It’s where learning has a chance to get in.
Words do have a defined meaning. To use a word properly means conveying that meaning by the use of that word.
That is right. No subjectivity. It’s right.
To use it in a way that is not in keeping with it’s definition means that you will be conveying a different meaning. You can persist in defending what you mean but you’re wrong.
I was wrongly self-willed by definition.
It’s especially on display when we’re emotional or in an argument.
What do you mean by what you are saying?
Are you thinking about it? Are you sure?
I wasn’t and I thought I was.