Monday, March 30, 2020

Coming Together In Quarantine - Or - We're Going To Be Quaran-fine

This whole new world is fascinating to me. It's also scary and stressful and anxiety is running right on that dangerous line, but man it has been such a wonder to listen and learn. I've also done all of this connecting without Facebook or Instagram, as they were really depressing me for a little while.

I have wanted to write something since all of this started, mostly to process myself, but also to reach out and connect with whoever might want to read my ramblings... so with my mom, I guess.

So far two things from this whole new world have really struck me as wonderful - 

1 - Nobody knows what "best" means right now, so doing our best just has to work. 

Besides certain leaders who insist on pretending they know what's going on, even our best medical professionals are saying, look, we're learning as we go, all we can do is our best, so hold on and help each other. 

This goes with folks who are suddenly full time employees and home-school teachers. This is a restaurant owner who is still doing take out and delivery, not to make a few extra bucks, but to keep some people employed. This is a distillery, two weeks ahead of a national launch, changing their entire model to make hand sanitizer. This is my brother in law working 13 hour days as a Nurse manager, just to check in on both of his staff's and keep things going as smooth as possible. 

There's a lot of freedom in knowing we don't have to be perfect. (This might be a "no shit" moment for some of you, but it is really hard for some of us, even if our perfect just looks pretty okay... like my former covid-beard). The hardest part is accepting where we are and rolling with the new punches. Once we get there though, the amount of grace, patience and acceptance just skyrockets. These are, hopefully obviously, such better characteristics to lead with than perfection, pressure and stress.

I generally try not to lead from these characteristics, I think most of us try, but it's really easy to see when we're not at our best when we are sitting in these things alone. That's where the self-assurance and grace comes in. I haven't been very good at this lately and I've let the anxiety win too many times, but that's why I've been writing this for the better part of a week... I'm just trying my best. We aren't in ideal situations, so it should be easier to forgive ourselves for not being ideal, but we're a species of people who aren't classically very good at forgiving ourselves or other, which is why point 2 is so amazing.

2 - People who can't come near each other are getting closer!

Every day I've been trying to reach out to at least one new person. Not a stranger or anything, though that sounds fun, but someone I haven't chatted with in a while or someone I might normally see casually, but won't have that opportunity. People are singing songs together on balconies. Virtual happy hours are all the rage. Technology is bringing people together who might not have considered using technology a month ago.

There are really positive and creative things happening to help support people all around. From fund raisers and benefits for those out of work to musicians playing daily or weekly concerts on their websites or YouTube. Ben Gibbard, from Death Cab for Cutie, has done a daily concert for the last two weeks and it's fantastic (here's my favorite). Tens of thousands of people are watching and he's using the platform to share news and benefit information.

This morning I learned that John Krasinski started a YouTube news show called Some Good News, where he's only sharing the positive things happening in the world. Because yes, we're surrounded by a whole lot of scary, frustrating and unsettling shit, but we're also all in this shit together. I have no idea how he didn't full on cry during half of it... the whole show makes the air so dusty and your eyes so itchy.

Life is never easy, but so many of us are realizing how lucky we are or how much worse it could be. I'm one of the lucky ones. Through and through. I have lost income. I have anxiety. I have family I'm scared for. I have colleagues who are struggling to balance. I have family downstairs while I work all day transitioning between doing their best and trying not to murder each other, because it's hard.

This is all hard and we're still the lucky ones. We have technology that brings us together. We have stores that are still open. Maybe you don't currently have a job. Maybe you're currently struggling, but if you are able to read this and think about it, you're luckier than most and throughout it all I hope you know you have me.

I don't know how many people are even still reading right now, but if you are I'd love to hear from you. I'd love to hear your struggles and the good things that are happening. I'd love to do a video chat or a call or text check in. I have food to share. I have heart to give and to be honest, it's one of the only thing that's making me feel better throughout all of this.

I've been struggling with the unknown, like most of us, but I know the things that have made me feel better are these connections. Little things go so far. I would love for people to share the good stories they have heard, either email them to me ( comment here, or send me a text or call me and tell me about it. If you are still on Facebook or Instagram or, I don't know, Tik Tok (I hear that's a thing I don't understand), put something on your page that is wholly good and positive. Shoot someone a message you haven't talked to in forever. It doesn't need to be me, but reach out!

Let's be intentional and use this time apart to come closer together. Let's share the good stories and support our most at need any way we can, even if that's a kind word or a hello. It could be a random $10 Venmo to a friend who is out of work or a nurse who is working 60+ hours each week. Thank you for reading this and being a part of my life. I can't wait to see you and give you a hug, but until then, I can't wait to see your name on a screen and say hello. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Crowd Sourcing Inspiration

Not surprisingly to me...
I'm not great at doing the things for me.

Self care is not something I excel in. Now I'm not a slovenly disaster or anything like that. This isn't a woe is me post. I don't  take terrible care of myself. For the most part I really enjoy the vast majority of what I do. I love my job. I love my other job. I love walking my dog as soon as we're actually walking, I really hate getting ready to walk my dog. I love being with my family and getting things done around the house. I love listening to books and podcasts while I drive. That's the majority of my life.

I have a pretty okay attitude about life and what it means to live happily. I make my own happiness and I communicate when I think I need to... sometimes.

All this is to show that I rarely say hey, I'm going to do X because I really want to and it'll make me feel good.

I always have an excuse, verbal or mental. I do love my work, but it does take my away from my family for the majority of their days. Jenna is doing all the things to keep them moving and on track and most of the "stuff" around the house. So when I get home from work I feel an unspoken pressure to help out and spend time with the kids. These are two things I love doing, I'm a helper by nature and my kids are amazing, so being around them isn't a task. I genuinely feel bad if I don't do the dishes or if the kids ask me to play and I say no.

These are things my therapist* and I have delved into more times than we probably haven't. I'm a people pleaser with unsubstantiated guilt issues. I know I have the ability to make people happy and positively influence them, so I feel an unrealistic need to do so. I'm working on it.

Lost in all of this is the self-care I started talking about before I went on one of my typical rants. I'm not the best friend in the world. I would do anything for anyone (the whole people pleasing thing), but I am not a present friend. I don't make time for interacting with my friends. I'm super happy when it happens, but I don't do it very often.

This is something I value. This is something I feel. This is something I miss... yet this is something I don't actively do. I'm working on it.

Writing is another outlet I full on heart-eyes love😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍. I think of things to write maybe 20 times a day. Movie plots. Characters. Stories for my kids. General thoughts and philosophies. Words that sound cool. But I rarely ever write them down. I don't put time aside to write at all, not even just highlighting the random thoughts that pop into my head. I have been setting daily intentions and weekly goals, which has me holding a pen and thinking, which feels pretty good, but it's not enough.

Yesterday, as I'm reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance with my ears, for the first time, it had me thinking of the act of writing and reflection. Even with that, I really couldn't think of what to write about or how to write anything down. So, like any good 36 year old (I still forget I'm 36 sometimes, strange) I asked social media to give me some hints.

Now, through this... whatever this is... I have decided to write something based on every suggestion that was given to me. Here they are, slightly edited for the sake of clarity and ease with brief commentary:

  • Something Magical that happened that day! : Probably makes me the most nervous
  • Gratitude : One of my daily routines I'm poorly establishing is to think of 3 things/people I'm thankful for and tell them or write them down.
  • Simple household, non-mechanical tools: This is the perfect suggestion from one of the most magnificent people I know.
  • The AIDS epidemic of the 70's and 80's: Whoa... okay, that'll be "fun"
  • Kids Adventures - Stories for your kids: I tell my kids stories almost every night. For probably 2 years I told Mabel a different story every night about either a superhero (she knows a lot about superheroes) or a street sweeper named Gary we made up. Gary was the best. I wish, so badly, that I would have written all of those down.
  • One Strange Rock Episode 1: I don't even know what this is, but I'm going to assume it's a television show about a zany family who lives at 1 Strange Rock Boulevard!
  • Something fictional, like the sun : This one has me thinking oh so much, way too much, I'm very excited. 

I'm going to do my best over the next however long... I know goals should be timely, but I'm really bad at setting goals, it's another thing I've discussed in therapy. I'm a highly effective non-ambitious person who accomplishes massive tasks with very little purposeful planning. I'm weird, dudes, I know this.

But I'm going to write something. Maybe it'll be a reflection like this. Maybe it'll be a poem. Maybe it'll be a short story. Maybe it'll just be a collection of Memes because other people are funnier than I am and memes make us happier... probably dumber... but also happier.

You can see that gratitude is crossed off... as I close out this random post I'll bring it all back together. I am so incredibly thankful for the experiences I've had that have brought me the life I live. I am surrounded by grace and privilege. I work extremely hard for my luck, but it is not lost on me that I have also been inspired and supported by the world around me. I have been writing this for 25 minutes and my fingers are just flying. My brain is clear. My heart is beating. I was randomly smiling a few minutes ago when I wrote the list of topics. I'm so grateful for the people in my life to have responded to a random-ass Instagram story asking for inspiration.

It's here and it's real and it's giving me life and energy. If you are interested, but don't see results, call me out. Do it nicely, I'm very sensitive, but call me out on my shit. I welcome it.

Thank you John. J Instagram. Thank you for inventing Instagram and naming it after yourself. Thank you for working with Sally  Google and her partner Mary Lou Blogger, who made this medium possible. You're the real heroes in this story.

* An Aside Regarding Therapy and Writing 

I don't see any purpose in being untruthful when I'm writing or reflecting about my life in a venue where other people might interact. I write these things for me and sometimes people read them and that's nice too. I've mentioned therapy in conversation before and people have looked at me strange, like it's a dirty word or a secret I should be keeping to myself.

This is my truth and I'm not worried about people who either don't understand it or believe the negative stigma they might have learned growing up. To each their own. This is my life to live and I'm going to make it as awesome as possible. I think you should too. Being self-reflective is nice, but it's also transformative. We all know people who spend all their time complaining about people or the world around them without taking any stock of how they can change it. It's hard, we do not live in a forgiving world, so we need to learn to forgive ourselves and move on.

I see a therapist every few weeks because talking to someone completely objective about the 248,009 things going on in my life helps me understand that life and understand how my weird brain interacts with the world around me. It's amazing and I'm a genuinely better father, husband, colleague, friend and person with therapy in my life. Check it out, I'll share my counselors information with anyone who wants it, she's fantastic.