The Irreverent Professor

Unvarnished realities about life, teaching, learning, and change in this wild, wild world

Things That Make My Life Easier

When we moved to our dream location last year, we vowed to live a “simpler, smaller life.”  Who knew that the biggest challenge to living simpler and smaller would be…me?  A lifetime of indoctrination into the world of more and bigger is not easy to overcome.  It requires a serious mindset shift.  And I slip…a lot.

Watching my husband set off on his bike to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner just now made me think of some of the things we’ve put in place to keep our lives simpler and smaller.

Our beach bungalow

Our beach bungalow

  1. We right-sized our house.  Ok, technically we down-sized.  We have lived in homes as big as 3500 sq. ft. and as small as 1200 sq. ft.  The truth is, our needs are small and simple.  We need three bedrooms: one for us, one for our son, and one (or a den) to use as a home office since we both work from home.  Check.  We need a kitchen.  Check. We need a place to eat (dining room).  Check. We need a family gathering place (living room). Check. We had to get rid of about half of our furniture when we moved and I had to get rid of about half of my clothes since we now share a closet.  I don’t miss any of it.   That we have a front porch is a bonus.  That we added a (bug-free!) screened in back porch is positively decadent!  Sure, I would love to have a proper guest room for the occasional guests we have.  But guests are rare and we make due with air mattresses and a trundle when we do have some.
  2. We have a housekeeper. A splurge.  Worth the money and a great time-saver.  The time we don’t spend cleaning house is spent with each other.  This morning my husband and I took a walk on the beach together while our house was being cleaned
  3. We order our groceries online. Any chance my husband gets to avoid talking to a human being, he does so this works great for him.  We order online, swing through to the special lane at Harris Teeter to pick them up, and bring them home. Probably less impulse buying too.
  4. We use HelloFresh for meals.  We love it!  It has given my husband (the cook) three new menus to try each week (they take about 30 minutes to prepare) and the fresh food comes boxed to our door. Less waste and some new tastes!
  5. We did have a yard guy, but he wasn’t helping keep our plants alive and I can kill them myself without paying him to do it.  And we only have a tiny swath of grass that I could cut with a pair of scissors in about 30 minutes (but won’t).
  6. Next thing I want to try is Stitch Fix which will do my clothes shopping for me.  They surely will do a better job than I do for myself (I’m fashion-challenged and will wear shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops any chance I get).

I know some of my simplifying measures are just paying other people to do things for us.  But that’s the great thing about it…we would rather pay people to do some of the things for us that we don’t like to do than pay for a giant house or newer cars or rounds of golf or whatever.  Everyone’s different.  But these things make our lives easier and we don’t feel like we’re sacrificing anything.  Others might really want a golf club membership but be willing to clean their own house.  It’s all about prioritizing.  And everyone’s priorities are different.

The one area in which I just can’t seem to simplify is pets.  We have three cats and a dog.  That’s a lot of fur in a small house.  (Thank goodness for Swiffer.)  But it’s also a lot of pet love. And while that doesn’t make my life smaller or simpler, it makes it more wonderful.

Autumn, the latest addition to our family

Autumn, the latest addition to our family

Carpe easier!

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Doing What You Know versus Being Who You Are

Aha.

I had an aha moment and I want to share it with you.

My brother used to call me a “human doing” because, as a (sort of) recovering Type A personality person, I was always busy.  Going, doing, keeping busy.  My theme song might have been this quite wonderful song BusyBusyBusy by Kevin Kline (yes, the actor) on Philadelphia Chickens, one of Sandra Boynton‘s albums for children.  [You may not have know that the wonderful author Sandra Boynton had albums.  They are fabulous!  I…I mean, my son…loves them!]  

This is seriously one of my favorite albums. Where else can you hear some of your favorite artists sing silly songs?  Awesome is what it is.

This is seriously one of my favorite albums. Where else can you hear some of your favorite artists sing silly songs? Awesome is what it is.  http://www.sandraboynton.com/sboynton/boyntonmusic.html

Anyhoo, what I am coming to realize as I get old and sparkly (my hair is sparkly, not grey!) is that I stay busy doing what I know, but that doesn’t always coincide with who I am.  And if I am not being who I am, then I’m not really living the most fulfilling life I can.

A long time ago, I remember reading an article (in the pre-blog, tweet, post days) that talked about how compelling it is to ask people to answer a simple question and that their answer to this question reveals a lot about them.  So I’m going to ask you this question and–without thinking about it long and hard–tell me what the first answer is that pops into your head.  Or don’t.  No pressure.  Ready for the question?  Ok, here it is.  Remember, don’t think.  Just react…

Who are you?

What was your knee-jerk, gut reaction answer to that question?  It might have been something like:

– I’m a woman

– I’m a dad

– I’m a Christian

– I’m a free spirit

– I’m an accountant

Now think harder about the question.  Did you really answer “who you are?”  Or did you answer the questions “what you know?” or “what you do?”

Whatever your answer was or is (and you are welcome to change your answer now–I’m not the thought police), think about how you spend your time.  Are you spending your time doing things that make the most of who you are?  Or are you spending time doing what you know?

As an example, I know about crisis preparedness and legal issues for the meetings, hospitality, and tourism industry.  I spend a lot of time on those topics–researching, writing, editing, teaching, social media-ing (it’s my blog, I can make that a verb).

A picture of a more "real" me than I suspect some of my colleagues might imagine.  I was glad this day when my suitcase failed to show up at the resort with me as it gave me an excuse to wander around in a gift shop t-shirt and swim trunks.

A picture of a more “real” me than I suspect some of my colleagues might imagine. I was glad this day when my suitcase failed to show up at the resort with me as it gave me an excuse to wander around in a gift shop t-shirt and swim trunks.

But that’s not who I am.  I am: a writer, a mother, a wife, a stifled creative, an educator, a speaker, an anti-authoritarian…and a few things that maybe I won’t publish here lest we get off track.

My aha moment came when I realized that when I’m just doing what I know, I am less happy than when I am being who I am.  Which in turn reminded me of this wonderful quote:

“If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’?  And if not now, when?”Hillel the Elder

If not now, when indeed?

Carpe now!

Getting Unstuck–THEM

One of the biggest obstacles to getting unstuck, in my experience, is THEM.  You know THEM–well-meaning friends, family, and all-purpose lovers of the status quo.  The ones who think you are crazy when you tell them you are selling yet another house and packing up to move yet again (maybe to a city where you’ve already lived three times) yes–even though you’ve only lived there two years, yes–even though you have a good job, yes–even though you’ll lose money on that house.  Or going back to school…again.  Or (surprise!) having a baby at 42.  Ok, that last one was one of my better moves.

It’s the side-eye you get from your mother when you say you are thinking of just throwing out all but 33 items in your wardrobe.  It’s that judgmental over-the-glasses look you get from your son’s teacher when you say you are thinking of home schooling him.  It’s the wary look your spouse gives you when you say you think you might give up your lucrative career to become a popsicle-stick artist.

From  Courtney Carver's blog "Be More With Less."  Check it out.  It's awesome.

From Courtney Carver’s blog “Be More With Less.” Check it out. It’s awesome.

It’s hard to battle THEM because most of the fight is in your head.  I attribute a great deal to my husband’s single raised eyebrow.  That eyebrow speaks volumes to me.  In fact, it talks to me all night.  It argues with me all day.  And by the end of the day, I’m furious with the eyebrow.  Or I’m resigned to believe the eyebrow is right.  But 9 times out of 10, when I ask my husband for eyebrow-interpretation, he attributes some innocuous meaning for the raised eyebrow like “Wow, I didn’t even know you were a dog person.”  Or he has no idea what I’m talking about.  Or he confesses that he didn’t hear my question because he was wondering why people keep eating orange cheddar cheese when by now, everyone knows that’s not natural.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize.  Although opinions are like ***holes (everyone has one), people aren’t really that concerned with what I do.  Other people don’t spend vast amounts of their time thinking about me.  What I do with my life doesn’t directly impact them (unless they happen to be married to me or my son).  So while I can listen to their input, their collective input has to be given it’s proper weight–0.000427% of my decision-making factors.

GapingVoid.com @gapingvoid always knows just what to say

GapingVoid.com @gapingvoid always knows just what to say

And just like that, THEM (THEY?) don’t have the power they used to have over me.  Don’t give people more power than they have earned.  Don’t let them take up valuable real estate in your head.  THEM are only a barrier to getting unstuck if you let them be.

Carpe THEM!  I mean, carpe us…I mean carpe YOU!

Getting Unstuck: Sacrifice

I feel sure that there are a number of people out there who think I’m bat-shit crazy.  I’ve moved 17 times in my adult life (six times to where I live now – I kept at it until it stuck).  I’ve changed jobs 16 times in 26 years, often into a completely different career (for example, caterer to lawyer).  I have four college degrees.

IMG_3106

When I got engaged, I told my would-be husband that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to stick it out for the long haul because I didn’t seem to stick with anything for the long haul.  I’m happy to say we’ve been married for 15 years…in no small part, perhaps, because he’s been willing to move six times (and sometimes the moves were even his idea!).

Now maybe I am bat-shit crazy, but here’s the thing: I don’t just tolerate change.  I crave it.  I thrive in chaos.  I loathe the status quo.

So when someone tells me they really want to change ____ (job, career, relationship, location, etc., etc.), I am baffled when the next words out of their mouths are…”But I can’t.”  Sure you can.  You always can.  The thing is, change takes sacrifice.  It’s not so much that people “can’t.”  It’s that they aren’t willing to make the sacrifice.

I can’t even tell you how much I’ve sacrificed to make all the changes I’ve made over the years.  But I’ll try.  Here are just some of the sacrifices I’ve made:

  • Damaged or lost relationships with friends or colleagues.  So many I’ve probably forgotten some people altogether.
  • Money (sometimes significant amounts) on the sale of houses and condos in real estate transactions (we’ve bought and sold six dwellings in 15 years).
  • Opportunities to be near and with family, sometimes during major life events and crises.
  • Stuff–mountains of stuff.  Stuff I’ve replaced and had to get rid of again. Stuff I bought, was gifted, was given.  Stuff I loved and hated and outgrew.
  • Space.  I’ve lived in a 3500 sq. ft. house.  I’ve lived in a 1296 sq. ft. condo.  I’ve lived in several in between. It’s all the same to me.  You know, except for the amount of stuff I can fit in it.
  • Career trajectory, upward mobility.  I could probably be a Chief Purser, law firm partner, Full Professor by now if I’d stuck with one of those things.
  • A passel of kids (but we did manage to acquire one along the way.  And by “acquire” I mean adopt, not snatch…just for the record).
We completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen in this condo...and lived there two years.  Next!

We completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen in this condo…and lived there two years. Next!

Of all the things I’ve sacrificed over the years, do you know what I’ve grieved the most? (And I’d like to say it was relationships because that would make me sound all deep and stuff but…) A chicken basket.  A white basket with a small ceramic chicken glued on it.  It was given away in one of many “Brutal Purges” that resulted in hundreds of “off to the local charity” trips.  I’ve grieved it because my mother-in-law talked a store clerk out of it when it wasn’t even for sale and gave it to us as part of a wedding gift.  She cracked me up, my mother-in-law.

I’ve known people who have made the sacrifice, decided it wasn’t worth it, and went back to their old job/relationship/town/whatever.  I applaud that.  Some sacrifices aren’t worth it.  I wouldn’t give up my husband and son for anything.  I wouldn’t give up chocolate for anything. (As aforementioned, I’m neither deep nor sentimental as evidenced again by giving my husband, son, and chocolate the same priority level. But it’s chocolate, for heaven’s sake.)

But those who say they want to change, but can’t?  I’m not buying it.  It’s just a matter of whether value of change > sacrifice.

Carpe sacrifice!

Getting Unstuck: Taking Action

I had two conversations with friends yesterday that have me thinking.  Both said that there had come a point (or several) in their lives in which they got “stuck” in some way and had a hard time getting unstuck.  It’s a relief to know I’m not alone in this.  What I’ve come to realize is that being stuck takes many different forms:

  • Stuck in a career – you don’t like the career you’ve chosen or you’re bored with what you’ve done for the last x years.
  • Stuck in a job – you love where you work but you’re feeling unfulfilled or you like what you do but not where you do it.
  • Stuck in a relationship – you’re in a bad relationship or you’re in a good relationship but you’ve gotten bored, lost each other, gotten stale.
  • Stuck in creative endeavors – writer’s block, wanting to get back into something creative you did before marriage, before kids, in college.
  • Stuck in education – I’ve advised many students who have changed majors umpteen times, gone to school with PhD students got stuck at ABD (all but dissertation), and talked to many who want to go back to school but “can’t” because _____ (fill in the blank here – too old, can’t afford it, too busy, etc.)

And these are just a few.

I’ve been thinking about how stuck I am for, oh, going on a good year now.  So who am I to talk about getting unstuck?  But one of the ways I was stuck was geographically.  I liked where I was living, but there’s only ever been one place that has had my heart.  A place I knew I was meant to be.  And in May 2014, we moved back to this place.  Finally.  After 25 years of living elsewhere.  Finally, we’re back.  Finally, we can afford to be back.  Finally, we accumulated the right combination of education, experience, and risk acceptance to move back to our little town and make a home here.  Sure we had to downsize and change our lifestyle in certain ways.  But sacrifice is also part of getting unstuck. (Hey, I think I just discovered my next blog post topic.  Yay me!).

My hometown, St. Simons Island, Georgia.  No better place on earth - for me.

My hometown, St. Simons Island, Georgia. No better place on earth – for me.

One of my biggest challenges (which I’m sure is shared by others) is paralysis of analysis.  I’ll think about and talk about being stuck.  I’ll lament and complain and get depressed about being stuck. I’ll whine and bitch and moan (and then wonder why suddenly none of my friends are available for lunch dates). But none of that does a damn thing to help me get unstuck.  The only way to get unstuck is to Take Action.  So we took action on the geographic stuckness.  Big Action.

But all action to get unstuck doesn’t have to be Big.  It can be small action.  It’s a lot less daunting to consider small action, taking one tiny baby step in the direction of getting unstuck.

I highly recommend this career book, which is tied to the Myers Briggs Personality Type Inventory.  It's one of my favorites.

I highly recommend this career book, which is tied to the Myers Briggs Personality Type Inventory. It’s one of my favorites.

In the past when I’ve felt stuck in a career (which has happened to me a lot!  I get bored easilly), I haven’t (always) just up and quit a job and gone back to college. I’ve started by having a cup of coffee with someone who was in the career I thought I wanted to be in.  Sometimes it validated my interest, sometimes it made me realize that wasn’t the career for me.  I ❤ career counselors and have talked to a few at colleges and who have private practices.  I’m also a sucker for personality inventories and trying to tie personality traits to careers that appeal.

I haven’t personally gotten stuck in education (hence, the four degrees on my wall), but have advised traditional and non-traditional would-be students alize to consider taking a degree or non-degree class or even a workshop in the field they are interested in at a community college to see if they really like it. Online courses make this pretty easy.  When I have wanted to go back to school, I start collecting degree requirements from different schools and programs to see which one “feels” right.  And you are Never. Too. Old.  My oldest student – in an online master’s program, no less – turned 70 just before she graduated.  So take that!

Of the friends I talked to yesterday, one stuck in his career took a job in a field he had previously only volunteered in.  While he’s not sure it’s the “right” place to be for the long haul, he took action and is (a) at least drawing a paycheck and (b) feeling like he’s contributing to society again.  He took action.  The other one, also stuck in her career, quit her job and took a low-stress (and low-pay) job.  Ultimately she realized that it wasn’t worth it to her and she went back to her old employer but in a new position.  Her action led to important information and an improvement in her situation.

Everyone’s different, but we all get stuck at times. When I was single (and wanting to be not-single), I used to say, “The right guy isn’t going to come walking through my living room” (although he did come through the T1 line to my computer–G*d bless online dating for geeks like us).  Likewise, the solution to stuckness isn’t going to come walking through the living room.  We have to go find it.  By taking action.

Carpe baby steps!

Getting Unstuck: If You Do What You’ve Always Done…

I’m stuck.

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.

Variously attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, and Tony Robbins.

I’ve got the life I want.  Last year, I moved to the beach, I work from home, I have flexible hours, I work part-time and spend several mornings a week at a coffee shop, reading, writing, and chatting with other locals.  I have a saintly husband and a sweet, funny son who brings daily joy and surprises.  I have multiple furry creatures around for loving on–and keeping my feet warm.  Life is good.  Damn good.

But like a counterweight, although my life is going along swimmingly, I am intellectually and vocationally stuck.  I’ve been doing what I do for a long time and in various iterations.  And I’ve been arguably successful at it.  But I feel like I have stopped learning.  I have stopped growing.  I have stopped being challenged by what I do.  I hear the little girl I used to be whining to my mother (as I so often did) “I’m B-o-o-o-r-e-d.”

So as a first step to getting unstuck (and as I often did when Mom glared at me over her glasses following my plaintive cry), I’m reading books.  Not just any books.  Books that address the way of life (and work) that I have come to love: multipreneuring.  That is, doing a lot of things simultaneously and independently.  Kind of like freelancing, but with various different kinds of things–speaking, writing, teaching, whatever else comes along.  And I have started (appropriately, I think) by re-reading the appropriately titled Multipreneuring by Tom Gorman.

Multipreneuring by Tom Gorman - an oldie, but a goodie

Multipreneuring by Tom Gorman – an oldie, but a goodie

I first read it in 1999 when I was working as a lawyer/association executive/adjunct college faculty member.  So it didn’t so much change my life as validate the way I was living my life.  It is still as pertinent today as ever.

Which makes me wonder: do other people feel stuck?  Like they want to change their lives or careers or both and aren’t sure how?  Or where to start?  Are they just scared?  Or do they not know what to do?  And is there a way I can help those people while I’m helping myself?

I end with this thought (which I will explore more thoroughly another time)…again, because it is so pertinent to my situation: “Just because you are good at something, doesn’t mean that’s what you should do.”

Carpe getting unstuck!

Once Upon A Time, 15 Years Ago…

I was just reminiscing about my wedding day.  We’ve been married fifteen years.  Fif-teen!  In these days of disposable marriages, I’m pretty proud of that.

Our wedding day.  A few years (and pounds) ago.

Our wedding day. The first dance.

I know everyone says marriage is hard.  It’s not.  At least not for me.  But I think that’s mainly because my husband is an extremely affable, friendly, conflict-avoidant guy.  The word everyone (and I mean everyone) uses to describe him is “nice.”  I don’t think that’s the word that first comes to mind when they meet me.

I grew up in a house where yelling was a perfectly acceptable form of communication.  We got mad, we yelled, we slammed doors, then hours (or days) later, we pretended nothing ever happened.  In my family, there was some crazy behavior (that in my childhood involved tossing me out a first-floor window and shuttling me over to my grandmothers to get me out of the middle of it).

My husband grew up in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Our wedding was a perfect illustration of our differences.  His dad was his best man.  He gave a perfect toast.  His mother made centerpieces and help decorate the reception hall.  They gave me pearls to wear on my wedding day.

For my part:

  • I got lost on the way to the church (or rather, my cousin got us lost taking a “shortcut”).
  • I had to carefully manage three (count ’em three) pews of parents…on MY side…to include my dad and his wife, my former stepfather and his then-wife, and my mom.
  • I forgot to put on my garter and didn’t realize it until they announced the garter toss (which was good, because there was only one single woman there and she would have been very embarrassed).
  • I chose a wedding venue with no alcohol permit so I wouldn’t have to worry about the behavior of certain members of my family.  As much.
  • I instructed them not to play the “Electric Slide” because I loathed it…and they did anyway. And it was a big hit.
  • The weather between Atlanta and Tennessee was so bad, most of my husband’s extended family couldn’t make it.  We had tons of food leftover and the venue staff ate well that night.
  • The music and video guy stepped outside in the middle of our ceremony to have a smoke and the “Ave Maria” played in a loop over and over…and over. I very nearly stepped away to turn the music off, but my almost-husband had my hand in a vise grip.

That last one was not my fault.  

But it was still a perfect day.

Older, wiser, a little heavier, but happy.

Older, wiser, a little heavier, but happy.

More importantly, it’s been an awesome marriage.  Fifteen years, six moves, one son, and countless jobs later, we’re still going strong.

Carpe anniversary!

That’s What The Holidays Are All About…

Two things: (1) I don’t write a mommy blog, but this is about mommy stuff and (2) I’m sorry I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I miss it.  With the semester and my other work, time just got away from me.

Anyway, it’s the winter holiday season and you know what that means!  That’s right:

1) Grades are in and I’ve been completely burned out for a week or so, reeling from the exhaustion and brain fatigue that comes from grading finals, dealing with grade grubbers, and hoping my class would make for next semester. It didn’t :-(.

2) I’m doing the “politically correct” dance and waiting for repercussions for saying “Merry Christmas” (which is the holiday I celebrate…although more in a secular than in a religious way) versus “Happy Generic Winter Holidays If You Celebrate Any of Them.”

and

3) My sweet 5-year-old son is completely and totally out of control with excitement.

Just a few of our festive decorations.

Just a few of our festive decorations.

It’s a joy to be able to see his face light up as brightly as our Griswald-esque Christmas decorations. It is also a joy to be able to wield the “Santa’s going to put coal in your stocking” threat over his head. It’s a refreshing change from the threat of:

  • Time out
  • Spankings (yes, I know, barbaric, horrible, call DFACS, leave snide comments on this post if you must)
  • Taking away one or more toys
  • Forced child labor
  • Making him live in the backyard
  • Making him live in Siberia

or the truly cruel punishment of…gosh, I don’t even know if I should say it in a public forum…

  • Making him play with his toys in his room by himself.

We are truly evil, no? At least to our little extrovert. Being alone is the worst punishment he can think of. Although we have recently discovered another powerful threat: Telling his teacher, Mrs. T, that he’s been making bad choices. She’s a lovely woman, so I’m not sure what he’s afraid of, but I got this hint from him: “If you tell her, she’ll make me eat lunch by myself.” Ah.

He’s an interesting cat. A little super-extrovert athlete being raised by older introverted geeks. It’s going to be a wild ride.

In the spirit of the holidays, please allow me to share my favorite Boy-ism (so far) from my son this season: “When are we going to have hot chocolate? ‘Cause that’s what Christmas is all about.”

The reason for the season...according to my 5 year old.

The reason for the season…according to my 5 year old.

So have some hot chocolate and Happy Holidays!

Carpe hot chocolate!

Insides Outsides…Reprised

Never compare your insides

@gapingvoid (swoon) http://www.gapingvoid.com

You know that saying, “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides“?  It’s a great saying.  One of the best.  Right up there with “Fake it ’til you make it” (my personal favorite), the Golden Rule, and “Life’s too short to drink bad wine.”

The thing is, I thought I had really taken the saying “Don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides” to heart.  I am very comfortable with who I am.  My whole 47-year-old, BMI of 27 (is that good or bad? I’m not even sure), high-cholesterol, chocoholic self.  I’m comfortable with eating out alone (in fact a lot of times I prefer it, but that’s probably because I have a 4 year old).  I’m comfortable with going out in public without (gasp!) any makeup on.

This is not to suggest that I don’t have insecurities.  Several people in the last week have expressed surprise when I have mentioned being insecure about something (see “Fake it ’til you make it” – I must be doing that pretty well. Ha!).  But I’m comfortable having some insecurities too.  I work on them.  Some improve, some don’t.  Eh.

"Every child is different" Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.

“Every child is different” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know.

So imagine my surprise today when I found myself all the way back on square one with this issue.  I walked my 4 year old into his pre-K class and there he was–this other kid writing his name on a piece of paper.  Perfectly.  Upper case, lower case, beautifully formed letters.  And I cringed.  Because my kid writes an almost recognizable W…backwards.  And he does a decent 7, 4, and E.  But otherwise he’s all scribbles.  And the thoughts jumped into my head before I could stop them–“Why can’t my kid do that? Is he not developmentally on track? Are we not teaching him enough at home?”

Before you accuse me of being a Tiger Mom (or a Slacker Mom), you should know that I know that I have the coolest kid in the world.  And he has gifts–mostly athletic and social.  Writing is just not one of them.  But the kid can order a complete meal by himself, call a waitress over to correct something, eat a plate full of cooked broccoli (voluntarily), talk the ears off a cornstalk, climb a rock wall by himself and walk across the top of the monkey bars with perfect balance.  He just can’t write his letters yet.

And I happen to know this other kid (the show off…kidding) has three older brothers.  So he has probably been exposed to such things as writing for quite a while.  Still…I think after karate, we may practice writing some letters and numbers.  Then we’ll have pizza at our favorite pizza joint and kill some zombies in Plants v. Zombies. ‘Cause that’s how we roll.  And it’s ok.

Carpe insides!

First Impressions…Don’t Judge a Book By it’s Cover and All That

First impressions are important.  And yet they are often misleading.  So why do we put so much stock in them?  I confess to meeting someone once and quickly categorizing them on one of the shelves in my mental library of acquaintances: Someone I’d Rather Not See Again, Someone I’d Say Hi to if I Passed Them on the Street, Someone I’d Like to Have a Drink With, Instant Family.

I saw a new doctor last week who was recommended by a friend.  The experience was…tepid.  She (the doctor, not the friend) seemed distracted and basically let me dictate my own care–I need these prescriptions refilled, I need these labs, I need something for this.  I don’t want to dictate my care.  I’m a doctor, but of the PhD variety.

We can't all make such a great first impression.

We can’t all make such a great first impression.

All I should get to dictate are long, boring papers with lots of citations in them.  The funny thing is, though, that two people have now raved about this doctor to me.  About how caring and personable she is.  So instead of categorizing her on the “Someone I’d Rather Not See Again” shelf, I’m going to assume she was just having one-of-those-days.  I mean, who knows what is going on in her office or in her life?

Plus, and this is my big aha for the day–I realize that I often don’t make a very good first impression.  I suspect that you could ask five people who just met me in different circumstances and get five very different first impressions.  When I’m “on” (such as when I’m doing my public speaking thing), I have been told that I come across as an extroverted, funny, and smart.  But if you meet me at a reception, you’d likely think “What a personality-less dud.”  Or maybe just “Rude.”  And if I have ever ignored you walking down the street, it was (probably) not intentional.  I once walked right past two people I’d just had dinner with it…and truly did not see them.  See, I live in my head.  It’s a busy place (think: Alice in Wonderland meets Salvador Dali with Transformers everywhere) and I’m often so immersed in it that I don’t even see the “outside” world.  I’m working on being more present and more mindful, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.

Me trying to make a good first impression on the (then) unknown birth mother who would choose us to be parents for the child she carried.  Apparently it worked!

Me trying to make a good first impression on the (then) unknown birth mother who would choose us to be parents for the child she carried. Apparently it worked!

What kind of first impression do you make?  Have you ever thought about it?  Has anyone ever said anything to you about it?  I’ve told a few people that turned out to totally rock that I had, um, less-than-stellar first impressions of them and that I was happy to be wrong.

My food for thought today.

Carpe lasting impressions.

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