Closing out 2015

sunset

The remains of the day, seen through the sunroom window

I’d planned to let this day pass quietly and without ceremony, a day like any other. It fits the pattern for most of my days this year – quiet, low demands, not doing too much, maybe just enough. But then my friend popped up in chat yesterday and asked, “What word would you choose to sum up 2015?” She said she was picking the same word as last year, which reminded me…. I’d totally forgotten that I picked a word on this day last year! My word for 2015 was “open”.

In some ways, I’m not sure if I met my intention of being open very well. I said no to many things. Often, saying no to things opens space for something else. Except I filled my space up with Facebook and various other online streams, a constant consuming of the sharing, pictures, interests, and thoughts of all of you. Thanks for keeping me such good company this year!

I did open myself to a few fun adventures this year:

I’m struggling a bit to pick a word for 2016. My low-demand lifestyle has quite a hold on me. This year also had big helpings over thinking, rebellion, and resistance, which are making themselves known in this exercise right now! In light of these experiences, my word for 2016 is “softness”. Another big player in 2015 was a certain, frustrated sound, “UUURRRGHHH!!!!!” My wish for 2016 is to have more relaxed “Ahhhhhh……”. Whatever comes my way, may I meet it with Ahhhh… May I relax my grip on perfectionism, judgment, and fear. May the grip of shoulds relax their hold on me. May we all relax and be soft with each other.

Happy new year, dear friends! Thank you for your friendship, your sharing, and for showing up. Wishing us all peace, ease, and our heart’s desire in the new year.

A Ton of Bricks

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If you ever wondered what a ton of bricks looks like, it looks like this: one pallet. I helped my DH unload two pallets today.

December 5, 2015 42928 PM PST

Haha, we’re 62 bricks short of a load!

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This is a lot harder than the 7-minute workout!

Helping unload bricks is the least I can do, and the least I actually do. In addition to moving bricks, my amazing husband has moved on his own:

– 4 tons of dirt. Shovel into wheelbarrow, wheel it, shovel it out
– 5 tons of gravel. Shovel from truck to wheelbarrow, move it, shovel out
– 1 rented plate compactor
– 1 ton of sand

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My hero! ❤ ❤

My 100 Days of Haiku

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I did it! My first-ever “100 Days” project. I was inspired by someone else’s 100 days of haiku and decided to give it a try. I set a few guidelines for myself:

  • Write about something that happened that day
  • Post every day, no skipping days

I’m pretty happy with how I did. There was only one day that I missed on accident. I’m surprised it didn’t happen more often. During the first week, I was so worried that I wouldn’t think of anything to write about, I got over excited and posted more than one per day! Then I fell into a pattern of waiting until the end of the day to write the haiku, so that I could review the day and pick a topic. This often slid into, “Boy I’m tired, time for bed, oh wait…. Aaack, the haiku!”

almost-asleep

Day 85

For a creative medium, I’m glad I picked haiku. It was different from the drawing and painting I’d been immersed in previously. I can’t imagine doing one whole Zentangle per day, it would take me too long. A haiku can be completed in just a few minutes. Using the Notegraphy and Font Studio apps for styles, background art, and photo overlays was fun. And I mostly enjoyed the challenge of trying to fit a thought into the 5-7-5 syllable pattern. It’s similar to trying to fit into 140 characters on Twitter.

mind-races

Day 32

I definitely hit a laggy period, especially around the 80-day mark. I don’t remember why. Was it that life was uneventful? Or had I gotten tired of the practice?

It was fun to share! Knowing that I would post these publicly, I worked to anonymize some situations. A few haikus that got the most response seemed to be inspired when I had a bee in my bonnet, haha!

dont-do

Day 99

As day 100 approached, I wondered if I’d miss writing a haiku every day. I can’t say that I miss it. It felt interruptive and stilted at times when I noticed an experience I wanted to share, and I had to stop and mentally save it to see how I could massage it into the 5-7-5 pattern. I prefer to just let the expression flow. But it’s still fun to create haikus. Here’s an experience I had the other day, a funny photo and riff on a song title. I realized a few minutes later, it was a haiku that wrote itself!

phone-booth

If you’d like to visit my 100 Days of Haiku, plus a few extras, you can see them all here.

Why I Don’t Like Gamification

Originally posted elsewhere in October 2012. Thank you to Timehop for resurfacing it. Still as true for me today as ever.

The other day, I tweeted this:

Do X years of experience make you an expert? Is your whole reputation reflected in # of status points? This is why I don’t like gamification.

Here’s the story behind the tweet:

The customer community that I manage has a built-in status points system (we use Jive). Status points are earned by different activities done in the community, such as posting documents or having an answer you provide marked as “correct” or “helpful”. Different status levels, from “Getting started” to “Super Cyberhero”, are reached as more points are earned.

An employee who is a community member emailed me to request:

My status level is at Level Two out of Five and I’m not able to change it. This can be misleading to customers who may not know who I am, and who may judge my expertise based on my status level. Can you override the point system and update my status to the highest level? This will give them more trust in my expertise.

My response to this has two parts: one part technology, and one part earned trust.

On the technology side, the status level graphic can be replaced with another graphic, such as “Employee”. This is something we have considered implementing, but haven’t done so.
Pro: This would clearly mark which community members are company employees.
Con: The indicator of how many points an employee has earned would be removed.

Which brings me to earned trust. Even if I *could* override the earned status points* and change the person’s status to the highest level, I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. Should I update his status to “Expert”? I don’t know – *is* he an expert? I don’t feel qualified to make that designation. Does having built a product make you an expert on it? Maybe…. or maybe not. Should all employees be marked as Experts? Probably not. Then how would we decide who is, or who isn’t, an Expert? Who would decide?

The points system reflects a member’s *actual* activity in the community. Points are earned when content is contributed, and when other members provide recognition. I think it would be appropriate to mark employee profiles with a graphic in addition to reflecting the points earned. To simply change the status to the highest level would be more misleading – it would imply that the member was more active in the community than he actually is.

Maybe I am biased. I don’t consider myself a gamer, and am not particularly motivated by points and badges. I do understand that game mechanics can provide excellent support for desired behaviors, such as healthy eating or getting household chores done. My favorite gamification success story is Speed Camera Lottery: instead of just penalizing speeders, the camera captures drivers who obey the speed limit and rewards them with the potential to win cash (funded by the speeding ticket fines). Brilliant! This is a game I can get behind!

But racking up numbers just for the sake of numbers – number of LinkedIn connections, Facebook ‘like’s, badges – seems to be missing meaning. What is the desired behavior that is being supported? Or, whose desired behaviors?

And to elevate a member’s status points so that his contributions will be more accepted or respected… sorry, no can do. Those points – that trust – must be earned.

* I’m sure the points can be overriden. Thank you in advance if you want to teach me how. But I’m not interested in going there.

Sharing. It works!!

The other day, I re-shared a Tiny Buddha post about respecting and accepting our own desires and intuitions. I’ve been doing a lot more consuming and re-sharing these days, rather than blogging, and I’d been questioning the value. Seeing myself referenced here in my friend Tracy’s “Less is More” post was a total surprise. Thank you, Tracy, for reaffirming that sharing works. Sharing can help others in ways that we can’t predict or imagine. ❤

tracymmaurer

lessAfter a stint of furious blogging (well, for me anyway), I’ve been finding it hard to do a post at all. I didn’t feel like I had anything to say. I’ve heard it argued that if you give yourself the goal of posting once a week, you’ll find something to say. But I’ve watched others who make it a regular habit, and I would have to say that not everything they post really needed to be said. Maybe for them it did – I guess I shouldn’t really judge their efforts. But for me, I want whatever I write to be worthwhile. I don’t want to create a post just because I promised myself I would.

Yes, there is something to be said for consistency of timing. I would prefer to be known for consistency of (or at least above average) quality. I hope to limit the number of times…

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