A Chore Became Art

Hooray for my recent art projects*! They made me more open to helping my DH with a long overdue house project – painting the stucco around a sliding door we put in. It’s about time. It’s only been FOUR years since we put the door in, haha! ;-P

Openness to helping due to recent art exposure: +1

Painting really rough stucco: -2

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Work in progress

As I was scrubbing…. er, “painting” along, the hashtag in my head was #slowesthousepainterever DH finished his other project and came to the rescue with a roller.

…. and we discovered – Oh look! The paint we used does not match the wall! Frick! Now what? The most straightforward thing to do was to paint the rest of the wall. But I just couldn’t face slapping more paint on the stucco. And then I thought – What if I Zentangle it?

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Serendipitous art! For zero foresight, planning, sketching or anything, I’m pretty happy with how this came out. This project went from #slowesthousepainterever to #izentangledmyhouse ! Haahahaaaa!!!

Today’s Zentangle tool: cheapie, 3″ brush. This ain’t your Micron pen!

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Hooray for spontaneity!

Chore turning into art: Priceless

*I learned about Zentangle last year. Before that, I believed “I can’t draw” and “I don’t like art.” I didn’t realized I had art inside me! My Zentangle albums are here and here.

Obvious to you. Amazing to others. ~ by Derek Sivers

This is an oldie and SO, so good. I was reminded of this message the other day and enjoyed getting a chance to watch it again.

And another gift!! In grammar school, we did a class project where groups of kids would draw basic internal anatomy – lungs, heart, etc. I was assigned the brain. There was no way I was going to draw those life-like creases and folds, so my brain was “static hairball brain”. I was teased and still remember it, haha!!!! And then I saw the “my ideas” graphic in this video.

#happy #love

Running across the Golden Gate Bridge

I Don’t Like Running. So Why the Heck Do I Do It?

Running across the Golden Gate Bridge

Mermaid Sirena 10 mile run, November 2014

Some people love running. LOOOVE it. The endorphin kick, the runner’s high, feeling fleet and strong and free. These people look forward to running, have running shoes in the car just in case, and get disappointed when they can’t go for a run.

I am not one of these people. For me, running is <grunt>. Aack. Bleah. Oof. Running is a hard slog.

My Facebook timeline seems to tell a different story. Training runs. Event sign-ups. Running selfies. Victorious finish-line photos. Between what I post about running vs. how I feel about running, there’s a big disconnect. How can I train for and participate in all these running events if I really don’t like running?

“Are you sure you don’t like running?” my friends ask. “How can that be? There must be something you like about it.”

“Um…… <thinking> Not really.” I was stumped myself. How can this be? Why do I keep doing it? I’ve asked myself this question off and on for several years.

This week, as I was proudly showing my newly-earned Hot Chocolate 15k hoodie, I was again asked, “Are you sure you don’t like running?” And I gave a new answer.

“Maybe I like running more than I thought.”

Huh. That was different! All this time, I’ve been very conscious of what I don’t like about running. Running is hard. I get out of breath. Things hurt. I get blisters. If I don’t drink enough water the day before, man – I feel parched during a run. My digestion can get jostled around. No wonder I don’t like running! No wonder I don’t look forward to it.

But with this new thought, I asked myself again, “Why do I do it? What do I like about running?”

Here’s what I realized. I run because:

  • It’s good for me. OK, that’s not a new realization. I’ve always had this as a reason, but it felt like a “should”. But should or not, it’s a healthy activity. I don’t do much exercise otherwise. If I run properly with good form, I can do it and not get injured.
  • It causes me to be intensely present with myself and my body. I’m constantly monitoring how I’m doing. Out of breath? Slow down. Something hurts? Shift. It’s absolutely hateful? Run for at least one mile (and then I can stop if I want). Being highly aware of my body and adjusting to take care of it seems like a really great practice.
  • I actually do enjoy noticing improvement. We all have different measurements and definitions for improvement. I just needed to let go of fear of judgment and defensiveness around definitions that are different from mine.

Among my running friends, I’m known for being strongly opposed to running a marathon or achieving a certain speed. I almost never say “I want to beat my time from last year.” But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get better. Of course I care about my pace. I feel pride and embarrassment just like anyone. But my running goals are not a marathon or a PR. My running goals are: enjoy myself and don’t get injured. In terms of how my body’s doing, these goals are measured by: the run felt easy, I felt good and strong, and I didn’t get hurt. There are runs where I meet these goals! And that achievement feels so good!

  • It’s fun to run in an organized event! I love that traffic is blocked off, or you get to run in a beautiful nature setting, and someone else has laid out the course. The energy of so many other runners around feels like a supportive embrace. It’s especially fun to sign up with friends, to give encouragement at the start and cheers at the end. And sometimes there’s really good event swag.

Earlier this week, my dear husband said to me, “You do the running. But when you talk about running, it feels like you don’t have yourself. What reasons do you have for running that are just for you?” I loved that question. And I love that I’m finally seeing some answers about myself.

Don’t worry. I still don’t love running. I’m still grouchy, fussy me. But maybe I really do like running more than I thought. This post is for the others of you out there who don’t love running, and who do it anyway. Fast or slow, enthusiastic or not – if you run, you are a runner. Rock on, fellow athletes!

Closing out 2014

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The last shadows of 2014. Long live the new year!

Thank you, 2014 – a year in which I:

  • Made new friends
  • Said a few goodbyes – some expected, some not
  • Did a lot of running. My relationship with running is on the rocks right now, so it’s astonishing to me that I trained for and ran about twelve events, including three half-marathons
  • Went on some wonderful trips – Tahoe, Truckee, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Vancouver, Yosemite
  • Navigated a surgery and came out practically unscathed. The bark was way bigger than the bite
  • Took a big, long vacation

I’m seeing some friends pick a “word of the year” as we get ready to turn the giant hourglass. I didn’t have a word in mind for 2014. Looking back, the word that sums up my year is “indulgence”. I indulged myself in so many ways this year:

  • Dates with friends and family
  • Perfecting my life as a kitty
  • Exploring new activities – drawing, journaling, volunteering, beer appreciation (I learned I like IPAs)

I also indulged myself in some not-so-positive ways: whining, wallowing, lethargy, sloth. I indulged myself in not doing anything that I didn’t want to do. That sounds great, but the list of what I DO want to do didn’t auto-populate. How strange. Something wrong in the configuration, or I don’t understand how the feature works.

I have so much to look forward to in 2015! I don’t know what those things are yet. So my word for 2015 is “open”. Open to insights, adventures, clarity, and joy. Open to trying new items on a “go do / go discover” list that I create. Open to hearing the sound of my own inner wisdom, and open to trusting myself.

Thank you for your friendship, for your cheers and love, for being lights on my path! Raising my glass to toast the best to you in 2015!

Sabbatical Out Loud: Working on Vision and Anger

Our vision is actionable only if we share itIn the spirit of #WOLWeek – Working Out Loud Week – and feeling kicked in the butt inspired by the above quote from Simon Sinek, here are two things I’m working on.

1. My next job

The biggest project for my sabbatical is: figure out what work I want to do. I want a really clear vision that I can work towards and use as a touchstone. What will I truly enjoy doing? What can I feel connected to? What is important? What’s a good use of my time? Where and how can I use my gifts? How can I provide value? After bumping around with these questions for a while – reading online, reading books, talking to people, journaling, day dreaming – I’m finally seeing some themes that feel right to me. They include:

  • Relationship, connection, caring about people. My gift is to help people feel seen, valued, liked, and supported. This gift is also my drive. I can’t NOT do it.
  • “Delighting the customer” as a core business value.
  • Putting employees first as a core value – valuing, celebrating, supporting.
  • Humanizing work / the workplace / business. “Humanize” isn’t my favorite word. I was sad to read that “being human” is becoming a buzzphrase (i.e., stripped of impact), just like I was sad when authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency became buzzwords. But I suppose the good news is that more people are becoming interested in relationships, connection, and treating each other as people, not as robots or productivity resources.
  • Who says you can’t express love at work? OK, a lot of people have said that. But a shift has started. Here’s a whole list of companies that are making the shift.

I feel like I’m gathering ingredients for a stew, simmering them, stirring. I don’t know yet where these themes are leading or what the result will look like. Do I go work for a company, become a consultant, create something new? We’ll see!

2. Anger management

I’ve known for a long time that I have an anger pattern. (My poor mom and husband are nodding.) When the going gets tough, uncomfortable, scary, or frustrating, I get mad. This comes up in so many areas of my life, personal and professional. I get mad, and then fight-or-flight kicks in. I either come out swinging, or I have an urge to run away to avoid fighting. Geez, no wonder I’m so tired and grouchy so much of the time!

My trusty therapist told me that anger is a cover-up for other feelings. When I get mad, I can use it as a signal to stop and check: What am I really feeling underneath? With that awareness, how do I want to proceed? I’m going to experiment with using TAGteach to shift the anger pattern and create a different behavior.

  • Current behavior: Get triggered, get mad, stay mad, and react from there.
  • Desired behavior: I want to be calm, curious, relaxed, and open.

I haven’t created tag points for myself before. I wonder if this will work. A tag point is the desired behavior. “Don’t get triggered” or “don’t get mad” are not good behavior change goals, and they aren’t tag points. Triggered and mad are gonna happen. I think my tag point is “relax”. Notice myself feeling angry, choose relaxation. (And then click / reward / treat. Mustn’t forget to celebrate!)

Why am I working on this? I think it will be useful for me in so many situations:

  • When I’m faced with differing opinions and (feel like I) have to convince someone. Those interactions can quickly feel like a fight to me, rather than a conversation.
  • When I feel frustrated. Triggers: Unmet expectations, mis-understandings, disappointment, lack of clarity.
  • When I feel impatient. Which is often! (aaack!)
  • When I feel hopeless. “This will never work / change / go anywhere / matter anyway.”

My hope is to shift the anger and channel the energy for good, not for grouchiness. I see how my fight-or-flight problem has sent me running away from so many things. Or worse, not trying at all. That’s not who I want to be.

Wrap-up

I’m working on:

  1. Creating my vision for the work I want to do. It will be related to helping people feel seen, valued, liked, supported, and well-served.
  2. Shifting my hair-trigger anger pattern.

Why I’m sharing:

“Our vision is actionable only if we share it.” This is a step for me to take action. I’m reminded of AC4P – Actively Caring for People – and what their mission stands for: Caring about people, and showing it via action. Caring is not enough; you actually have to do something. Working out loud helps me along the path to doing something.

How you can help, if you’re so moved:

  • Ask me questions
  • Offer suggestions or ideas
  • Tell me about stories that may have come up for you as you read this post

… or leave me a comment with other help that I should have asked for, but didn’t think of. 🙂

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Mentor credits (mentoring via me stalking them):