Quote of the Day

“It’s World Rat Day?”

“Rats are cute. Haven’t you ever had a pet rat?”

“Ya, in high school. We bred them, froze the babies, and fed them to the piranhas. Circle of Life”

Interjects another colleague, “Hakuna Matata!”

Last week in photos

Spring break has started. My mother has come to visit. We have a deal where she will be watching Levi this week while Peter and I work our respective schedules. We started off with getting our hair done and doing the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup on Saturday.

A few images of our journey, ending with our blooming magnolia tree.

Last week in photos

We had an adventurous week. We’re still struggling with this midnight schedule. Spring has sprung further. Pinewood Derby required a lot of attention, and it amounted to a lot of lessons learned. For example, we could benefit from a drill press to assure we get the subpar axels and wheels on straight. We need to practice painting on wood, because our combination of sealers and paints didn’t equal lasting sharpness.

The Reading List

And, for the next installment of “the reading list.” The last few weeks has found me contemplating things like…

Are we looking at the wrong factors when considering health care? (“Hospital toilets offer clue about what’s wrong with US health care.“)

According to Renner, we are. In his piece, he gives a surface glance at a solution of preventable care. So, imagine my surprise when I skim over to The Atlantic, to find what I had been reading in hard copy, and I come across Andy Hinds article describing the necessary ridiculousness of exercise (“Your Workout Looks Ridiculous“). Do you exercise? What is your favorite version? For my part, I always hope to do better at (as in restart the routines even) swimming, walking, and biking.

These are all well and good – surface discussions into how we can create a more sustainable society by encouraging fitness on every level. But, I was really reading about labels. I was reading about the DSMMD downgraded Asperger’s – no longer making it a certifiable thing (“Letting Go of Asperger’s“).

On the book side, I am finishing (or working on) The Defining Decade, The 12 Tribes of Hattie, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Enneagram: Understanding yourself and others in your life, What Type of Leader Are You? Using the Enneagram System to Identify and Grow your Leadership Strengths and Achieve Maximum Success, and Your Seven-year-old: Life in A Minor Key. Recently, I finished K Is for Killer: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery. On the shelf, waiting to be read include The Story of My Assassins and Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics.

Sometimes I think I’m addicted to books. I have to have a steady stream coming in from the library and from Amazon. I need to smell them, touch them, feel them. I need to absorb their words and ideas within. So, the above mentioned ideas are on the continued quest for understanding myself and the world in which I live – compared to and along with those around me. Coupled with the fiction to take me away from this world and understand a time or a place not generally known to me. The never ending expansion of ideas that make our world interesting, rich with content, and enable us to grow.

Daily Post (3/2): Places

Beach, mountain, forest, or somewhere else entirely?

This is my prompt. That’s it. No question to expand upon favorites, though it seems implied. But, perhaps it just means a place’s effect? No questions to set up a fictions scenario in any of these places. It leaves out indoor spaces, and I find that interesting.

Immediately though, I do not think these questions.

Immediately, I conjure up images and sounds.

A classically gray, stormy day on the Oregon Coast.
A classically gray, stormy day on the Oregon Coast.

First, I see a gray sky, and I hear the waves crashing ashore. Their rhythmic pattern soothing any stress or angst I brought with me. And that image immediately conjures up a combination image of “mountain and forest” back to the days when my husband and would frequent that with Mt. Hood National Forest had to offer. We’re walking, and crunch go our boots along the groomed trails and fallen pine needles I breathe in the cool mountain air. I stop, I listen, and I hear the banging of a stream that is meandering nearby. There is a rush of water falling as a small waterfall is created over a jetty of rocks. We are admist large Doug Firs, and it feels as if we could see a hobbit house nearby. There is a mist settling over the trees, and again, the cool, crisp air infiltrates my lungs.

Second, I am back in the city. On our (new) street, where we live. Luckily, it’s again tree lined and inset from the busy roads nearby. You can still hear the bus rumble by with their diesel engines powering them away every 15-30 minutes, but mostly not. Mostly, I hear our wind chimes on the back porch. The occasional car driving down. And, now, in this life in the city, I imagine myself on that bus, careening down Greeley towards downtown. The bus makes it’s own particular squeaking noises as the engines ramp up and down air brakes doing their job on command. Cars rushing by. The train swooshing. People on the bus chattering, mostly pages turning in books as passengers stare straight ahead weary of eye contact, but not entirely avoidant either.

Third, I am in the office. At work, a normal day. I park my car. My bag swishes over the seat, I pocket my phone in the left and the keys in the right. The door is open and held ajar by my foot. I straighten my bag’s strap and I put one foot (tap) and another (tap) on the hard, cold, damp concrete. Swoosh out of my chair. My wool blended coat straightening around me. Clunk goes the door as I slam it shut. Cha-chunk goes the back door as I open it. Flop goes my backpack over my back. Swoosh goes my lunch bag. Clunk goes the door as I slam it shut. I turn, a few paces ahead and, “Toot,” screams the horn in one short blurb as my popper sets the locks on the car. Small bag in hand, beep goes the card reader, balancing the bags, I open the door with my right hand and ease by. No longer on concrete but new carpet, I shuffle along. Textures switch as we go from carpet to thoroughly painted stairs in their high gloss finish. I see the scrapes I made a week after the job was done with my black shoes. Two flights, to the first floor, where I enter man’s invention: the elevator I’ve opened no less than two doors after the stairs. I depress the elevator buttons. Ding is the noise it makes upon it’s arrival. The 4th floor button illuminates after I firmly instruct it. Ding the elevator announces my arrival. There is barely a noise as I open the door, already co-workers have arrived. Flip the light switches are all on now, and flump as I drop my bags at my desk.

I’m not sure what I am influenced more by – place or sound. But, each have an impact in my day. For respite, I crave the ocean and it’s calming rhythm. When my head is cloudy I want trees. But, the normal every-day is punctuated by cars, carpet, elevators, and mechanical noises guiding me from one task to another.

Last week in photos

This week, we just got by. Peter started his new schedule. Seven years after working at TriMet, we have finally been besieged by the dreaded midnight schedule. In large part due to TriMet management’s refusal to understand scope of work and fail to fill 7 retiree jobs. So, our schedule is upheaved, again.

Here are a few pictures of a few moments that captivated our attention during this adjustment to upheaval.

Creativity

A glimpse at where I can be creative: my accessories. I haven't purchased a new ring since my resized wedding band ($8, thank you). This is the second most expensive ring I've purchased ($26, the other being $23). A great find from Button, a local consignment shop.
A glimpse at where I can be creative: my accessories. I haven’t purchased a new ring since my resized wedding band ($8, thank you). This is the second most expensive ring I’ve purchased ($26, the other being $23). A great find from Button, a local consignment shop.

Self-discovery, a life long process, trying to assess our strengths, our weaknesses, what sets us off, what sets us on fire… all to assess our place in this world, to figure out where we belong, what we should be doing, our best strategies in working with our families, our colleagues, our friends. In 2010-2011, I recall writing more about my observations of others’ reactions towards things. The last two or three years, I’ve been more inward, considering my reactions to things, events – past and present.

So, from past to present – throughout my life, I’ve been prey to quizzes. Starting with the ones that appeared in  Seventeen magazine that later morphed into MySpace and Facebook. Now, the self discovery quizzes I take are in the form of reading about the Meyers Briggs (Please Understand Me I and II or learning all about the Enneagram) or they are found under the pretense or assumption of scientific research with downloadable apps, found exclusively on the App Store (or in the Android Market). And, I am victim to their guile in self understanding.

When confronted with the question, “What are you thinking/feeling right now?” I often freeze. My mind could be on a train of thought venturing deep into… and the question is posed and *POOF* the train evaporates as I struggle to come back to the real world. What was I thinking? What am I feeling? It’s as if a hollowness comes over me and I cannot identify what it was. I need to step back, assess, retrace my steps. It’s in those assessments, away from the question that I am often able to get more clarity.

Back to quiz taking. One was created from Steven R Covey’s book Great Work, Great Carer, written in tandem with co-author Jennifer Colosimo. I found it after delving into (still unfinished) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I started reading it during a moment of calm between all the varied things I have been involved in – church, social justice volunteering, food club, and work. This was just before the feeling of staleness and a new rut came over me. This was post Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Strengths-Based Leadership. This was on the continued discovery of self. This discovery of self to lead me to what Po Bronson thinks we should all be doing, finding out What Should I Do with My Life?

I took this Great Career quiz sometime ago, and tonight, for kicks have retaken it. The quiz simply takes you through a variety of tasks that would be found in a variety of careers. Asking things like, “Do you want to be a forest manager?” to “Do you want to organize complex filing systems?” Then, you rate it on a five point scale – tapping in one direction for very much so and the other for not really at all.

Topping the list, consistently, has been the path of “creative”. Prior to this veil of thinking, I have forgotten how important creativity in work is to me. So far out of the every day is my drawing and painting and sketching, that I only focus on the task lists, the organizing, the leading. How could I have forgotten that I love to draw? How could I have forgotten that I love to get dressed up and put make up on, not to showcase some feminine ideal, but because of the creativity involved. I call it “painting my face”. Some of the most enjoyable moments in a work day involve brainstorming or designing. Yet, a decision I made when I was a freshman in college (the first time at MSU) made me focus on the reading/writing side of a career. This cognizant choice to make a perceived safe decision away from the heartbreak if someone didn’t like my design… Is that why I am in any perceived ruts now? Am I in a career stalemate because I failed to acknowledge when I was 20 the need for creativity that I have?

Welcome to My Point

I sat at the back of the classroom. The fluorescent lights gave everyone a green pallor to their skin. You got used to the constant buzzing after years of conditioning.

I liked sitting in the back. No one noticed me. This was both good and bad. No one noticed me, but then, I wasn’t teased or called out in front of anyone. I was invisible.

I sat next to a nice girl, and two more popular girls sat in front of me. We were a cacophony of big hair and vibrant colors. French rolled jeans were now out of favor, and wide legs were coming back.

This was the 90s. And, I was in 8th grade.

The home room teacher was one of the science teachers. There was a closet that adjoined the two corner science classrooms. And the rumor was that the Mr. Caruthers (married) and Ms. Holden (divorced) were conducting a secret love affair in the closet. Before attendance was taken, Jill turned around, excitedly and asked who she should invite. She was looking at me, and the nice girl, Amber, who sat at my left. It was nearing the end of the school year because she was planning her June birthday party.

I gave a non-committal shrug, as I sat and listened to this conversation. I was trying to be stoic. I was trying to hold back the warm salty drops that were welling up in my eyes as Jill excitedly described the pool, and warm, and fun she was planning. I was trying to be calm while she inconsiderately described her party.

I was holding back tears because I wasn’t on the guest list. I had succeeded in being invisible. I had succeeded, again, in not mattering.

Fast forward to 2014, and it begins to make sense. Dale Rhodes explained to us, during our first and second WVDO leadership academy class, that a classic trait of nines is that their trance always goes back to “I don’t matter.”

In 2008, she asked me in one of our weekly sessions, “Do you think he’s capable of deep feeling?” I wanted to say yes. I wanted it to be true, but I wasn’t sure. We hadn’t had enough conversations. Certainly not enough that went “deep”. And, now, years later, as I consider my “type”, my avoidance of conflict, my inability to correctly articulate exactly what I’m feeling in any given moment, especially when asked point-blank… Now, I wonder if that question should be turned to me. “Do you think you are capable of deep feeling? Do you think you are capable of having relationships more than shallow, surface things?”

The answer is that I don’t know. Being a fence sitter. Being non-committal about passing judgement, holding it back, to keep the illusory promise of harmony — this is how I’ve always operated.

It’s interesting to uncover this layer of knowledge. I’ve taken various forms of the Meyers Briggs. I’ve read different books on spirituality. I have been trained Catholic and learning that perception of what’s right. But, when Dale showcased the 9 types of the Enneagram, and how it showed where we excel (me: diplomacy, hearing all sides of a story, seeking peace, harmony, and mutual regard) and then our pitfalls (my vices: too much TV watching, sloth like, inability to make decisions)… It opened up an awareness that Meyers Briggs and Strengthsfinder have not been able to do. Sure, those tools help understand how I perceive information and where my strengths focus, but something was always missing.

Now, I begin a new journey of self-awareness. As I sit around, I try to focus, now, on where my attention is going. In conflict, I try to assess what my gut is telling me, what messages is it sending to my head. I look around, does this message match with what they are trying to show me? It’s an interesting experience to be outside of yourself while inside of yourself, observing the feelings you are having and where your attention wants to naturally gravitate.

That’s all for now. For now, welcome to my point: Nine.

The Reading List

In this blogging adventure, I will be trying to layer in more structure and recurring features. I’ve committed to two: a bi-weekly reading list and a bi-weekly photo blurb. Today’s the day for the reading list.

In my WVDO Executive Leadership Academy, we were paired with another student and a mentor. In my group, we decided to share some interesting news articles for this first round of meeting.

This is what we chose. I’ll work up to annotations. For now, I’m sleepy and doing good to get this posted!

Chris McKnett: The investment logic for sustainability

Dan Pallotta: The Way We Think About Charity Is Wrong

Stephen M.R. Covey & The Speed of Trust

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Advice to Women: Get Out of Your Own Way