New Year, New Process

For the last two years, I participated in One Word 365. 2013 focused on Here. Now; 2012 was about Focus. I’ve been thinking about what word I want to pick for 2014, or even if I WANT to participate this year, as I don’t feel I did a very good job the last two years.

The other day, I made plans with a friend I haven’t seen since my wedding almost a year and a half ago. We’ve lived in the same town since June; there is no excuse for that. When I do actually make plans, I become overwhelmed because I’ve made plans every weekend for an entire month or two (this includes non-friend plans like Girl Scouts, seeing family, errands, etc). I’ve been living under two extremes, and it’s not healthy for oh so many reasons.

So, I am making an actual, bona fide Resolution this year: I will see at least one friend per month. This resolution has a couple of rules attached to it to make it measurable:

  • At least one of us must have specifically brought up the idea of seeing each other; it can’t be a chance meeting
  • This is in addition to the 2 trips I already have planned with friends
  • At least half those I reach out to must be people I don’t already see on a semi-regular basis

So far, I’m off to a good start–the next 2 weeks are actually pretty full: Thursday night, 2 different people on Sunday, and next Friday. February has one definite and 2 tentative plans; March has one definite plan.

 

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Being in the Moment When Everything is Falling

"I have decided to be happy, because it is good for my health." Voltaire

“I have decided to be happy, because it is good for my health.” Voltaire
from Etsy

I’ve been trying to write a student affairs-related post for about a week now, but I have had no energy to get the thoughts into cohesion. Some of it has to do with end-of-the-year craziness (May 17…on May 17, all will be right in the world), but some of it is personal, which is totally blocking my ability to think about much more than the tasks immediately at hand.

2 days after the mess that was the Boston Marathon Bombings, I received a late-evening call from my dad–Monday he’d been diagnosed with Squamous cell carcinoma & was having it removed Wednesday; totally routine, he’d be in & out that day & could even drive himself! Yeah, not so much. After a few hours at the Dermatologist, he was told to call a family friend because he was going to Worcester for emergency plastic surgery. The cancer was all gone, but so was my dad’s nose. When he called me afterward; distraught, in shock, and totally overwhelmed, I think I broke a little–I’d spent all day Monday watching the news & communicating my safety to loved ones; I found out the following day that someone I was once very close to was a volunteer medic at the finish line, and my empathy for her was immense; now this.

I don’t think I realized just how closed up I had become until reading a blog post from a fellow polytheist/pagan and came upon this line (edited for swearing):

See, [stuff] happens, and that’s the way it is; pick a mythology, any mythology, and stuff on a cosmic level of SUCK happens to all the gods. Any god. Pick one. If they can’t spare themselves and their own families what the hell makes humans think that they’re going to get a free ride and have everything handed to them on a [omitted] platter?”

As I wrote in my last post,  the Gods don’t LET things happen, they just do. The gods of most ancient religions were part of the world, not outside of it, as with many modern religions, and are bound by it. Because I view Them as part of the world, I cannot expect any one of Them to single ME, or Boston, or even the USA out of all the other millions of people, and cities, not to mention animals, plants and ecosystems. Talking to my dad on Sunday, after several more visits to check the healing before the reconstruction, and as he’s getting ready to return to work after a couple of weeks away, he told me that he’d been feeling really sorry for himself until he remembered the woman attacked by a chimp in 2009. Laughing, he said that he had it pretty good.

And he does. So do I.

I’m meeting a friend in Downtown Crossing after work, so tonight I will get off the T at Hynes & walk down Boylston Street, being HERE. NOW.  Hopefully, a few of the negative daemons that have plagued me since Patriot’s Day will be exorcised as I enjoy the sun & air.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring

What I’ve Learned from Video Games

Image of the game cover

LEGO Lord of the Rings for Wii
Image from ToysRUs.com

*This post will have a bit of technical lingo, but it’s not important to be familiar with the video game in question to understand the post)

I’ve been playing LEGO Lord of the Rings (LLotR) off and on since Christmas, and am learning quite a few things from it (I have finished “story-mode” and am now in “free-play” trying to reach 100%). Please know that although I’ve never been much of a gamer, I’ve had quite a bit of exposure: by the time my brother died 5 years ago, he had 6 console video games (including the original Atari we got when Nintendo came out & a family friend upgraded) and 2 handhelds.

I’m not good at video games, especially the ones that need a lot of hand-eye coordination or the ability to remember/key long cheat codes  (think Mortal Kombat & Mario Brothers). I much prefer RPG-style games (Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy 1 were my favorites as a kid). Playing LLotR is making me realize why I have never completed a video game in my life: I don’t level-up enough. LLotR doesn’t have leveling as one may understand it from other games; I can’t move to the next stage without completing the basics of the current level, but I don’t need to be a Level 52 with magic & weapons upgraded to 27 in order to defeat Sauron or anything like that. It takes TIME to level-up in video games, something I’m not always good at. I want to get to the end and to the next thing instead of the tedium of constantly battling the minor enemies to actually prepare myself for what’s next.

LLotR is also feeding into my One Word: Here. Now because there is a TON of quests, items to collect, and world to explore that it can’t be done all at once. To complete the Hobbiton area, I need to re-do Amon Hen, the Mines and Pelennor Fields–I need to focus (One Word 2012!) on the task at hand; I can’t be distracted by all the other quests and collectibles. I don’t exactly think outside the box all the time–when there’s a fallen bridge beside me, it’s not always my first nature to try smashing it to get the collectibles that are behind it, or to shoot randomly at different items on the off-chance they will drop something.

This brings me to my final video game lesson:  sometimes you need help, but don’t rely on it. One of my favorite things to do when my brother played Final Fantasy was reading the guide to help him out–I LOVED that thing, and am saddened there isn’t one for LLotR. I bookmarked an online wiki not long after I started playing however. This disappoints the perfectionist in me since I want to do it all myself, but I notice myself relying on it when I get just a little frustrated rather than using it only when I need just one…more…treasure…to reach 100% for a given level. It’s EASY to let someone else do the hard part and map it out–they are experts in their field for a reason, right?

It just might be more satisfying though to give it a go yourself; slowly, attentively, trying to smash apart everything made of LEGO pieces to see what’s hiding there.

What I’ve Learned from Girl Scouts

Girl-Scouts Logo

Yesterday, I was asked how many years I have been a Girl Scout. This includes all types of involvement because one must always be a registered member whether as a Girl, Volunteer, or Staff. When I mentally tallied the 9 years as a girl, 2 as camp staff and 7 as a volunteer, I came up with 18.

That’s a long time for someone to dedicate to a single thing.

Yes, that is more than half my life, but I had several breaks in membership/activity because I didn’t think I was “old enough” or “experienced enough” or “had enough time” to be a Girl Scout volunteer. It took a while to realize one does not need a daughter or to run a troop to be  active with GS. As a Learning Facilitator, I have the “exciting” role of teaching new Volunteers about the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and helping them understand/use program materials effectively with the girls they are working with.

So many of these new volunteers are joining because they want their daughters to have the same experience they did. Girl Scouts has meant a lot to many women and we are inherently attracted to things that have a  positive effect on us.

Girl Scouts is different though, and it’s hard for volunteers to grasp. Heck, it’s taken me 3 years of facilitating sessions on the GSLE to “get” it, and I feel there’s still more to learn. I often hear in sessions, and read on the web, “If we have to do so much to make it work, why do we have this program?” I’ll be honest that I find some the new program materials leave something to be desired. But I will also say that I get the reasoning:

Girl Scouts is about the experience, not the badges.

This is an incredibly hard concept to make people understand. It’s absolutely a combination of the forest/trees scenario and the fact that change is difficult. It’s also affected by the need to give everyone a trophy, even if they didn’t show up but were on the team (that’s a rant for another day though). The way I understand it, the Journeys program was created to allow girls and their volunteers to have a cohesive, multi-layered experience over the course of many sessions/activities.  The founder, Juliette Low, said this about badges:

Every badge you earn is tied up to your motto. This badge is not a reward for something you have done once or for an examination you have passed. Badges are not medals to wear on your sleeve to show what a smart girl you are. A badge is a symbol that you have done the thing it stands for often enough, thoroughly enough, and well enough to BE PREPARED to give service in it. You wear the badge to let people know that you are prepared and willing to be called on because you are a Girl Scout. And Girl Scouting is not just knowing…..but doing…..not just doing, but being.

As I have tried to understand and accept the current program so I can train others on it, I have come to realize that this is a bigger concept than Girl Scouts. Life is about the experience, the journey. The badges and awards (degree, house, marriage  etc) are what you show when you understand what you’ve done and where you’ve come from to arrive at that place.

But the journey doesn’t end (well, it does, but no one likes to think about that unless you believe in reincarnation). Once you have earned the degree or have been hired for the job, you still have to keep yourself knowledgeable about your field, do the work that is set before you, pay your mortgage. Those are all their own journeys within the JOURNEY that is life. Sometimes I think we’re too focused on the badges.

 

Being Here

I had a slightly difficult night last night. It was inevitable really–the semester started Wednesday, it’s January (ie: winter, ie: SAD), travel and holidays cause stress and I’ve had more of both than I’m used to, and probably myriad other things that I can’t quite put into words.

My wife is a Licensed Certified Social Worker; this is both a good and bad thing as I am sure you can all imagine. I am grateful that she does not therapize (it’s a real word…) me all the time, but I am also grateful that she does when I need it. After our talk, as I lay awake for another semi-sleepless night, I realized that some of the things I am doing in my life are at odds with Here. Now and I need to concentrate on focusing (see how I did that; bring in my 2012 word? genius I tell you!) my life better. Maybe I can use this to build better Twitter relationships by reaching out to individuals rather than just getting lost in the sea of conversation.

NO Twitter I won’t go into all the gory/boring/selfish details, but I came up with an idea for working on Here: I’m disabling TweetDeck on my phone indefinitely. It’s distracting when I am home or out with friends, and I honestly don’t use it as much or as well from my phone as I do with the Chrome App. I’m not getting rid of it, but I’m turning of updates for the main column and extending the update time for mentions and direct messages. If I’m not fearful of missing something potentially “important,” I can pay more attention to what is happening around me. There are other ways of being Here that I am hoping to add into my life, but this is a quick and relatively painless way to do it.

 

If you’re curious about the Now portion of OneWord365, I’m thinking about that too; it’s very tied into Here, but it’s still on the intangible side and I have trouble putting it into words.

How are you putting your OneWord into action?

OneWord2013: Here.Now.

8 months ago, I followed the lead of many other bloggers and began #OneWord2012, choosing Focus as my inspiration. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but I can’t complain too much about it when I consider just HOW crazy 2012 was.

I considered keeping Focus as my word into 2013, but then I made a ReverbBroads post about the best advice I’ve been given and knew that I should make HERE.NOW. my 2013 resolution. Yet, I struggle because technically speaking, it’s two words. There are plenty of words that speak to the essence of these words, but none hold the same meaning, or feel as powerful, so I’ve conceded to cheat slightly.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop & look around once in a while you could miss it” ~Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

I’m generally an anxious person, always more concerned with the outcome than the task, or planning for the future rather than experiencing today. I don’t want to miss life anymore. The person I have been will never completely go away, but she also does not have to run my life. One (or two!!) words can be intangible for someone who thinks in absolutes (a mode of thinking I tend to default to), so I’m adding some ideas to help guide me (I’m trying to be as non-specific as possible):

  • Expand my spiritual practice: as a Greek Polytheist, I don’t have a community of coreligionists to practice with, so I tend to be lazy about ritual
  • Be more attentive to my looks: this might be getting my hair cut more than twice a year, seeing my waxer more often, or something else that helps me feel better about my outward appearance
  • Be more meditative: I have been saying for years that I want to do tai chi or yoga or something like that–2013 is the year
  • See more people: I am always too afraid to meet new people, and often feel like it’s too much trouble to see my friends, so often feel like I’m missing out on so many opportunities/activities

I want the present to be just as fulfilling as I am hoping for my future. My brother’s death 5 years ago forced me to begin thinking that I may not have a future, so it’s important to enjoy the life I have now. I haven’t done as good a job as I’d like, so here it is.

Has your interest been piqued? Do you want to know more? Becca made a phenomenal post to help others decide on their word, and of course, One Word 365 or My One Word are there for the history and purpose of the project.