Monday, February 16, 2009

Enough Already

OK, you know when I first heard about blogging, it was from Merlin Mann, who said you should blog on a topic for six months, and then when you ran out of things to say, stop.

So I am. I am not where I was when this whole thing started, and obviously, it isn't motivating enough for me to write about it. I have some ideas for what the next thing is, but for now, I've apparently said everything I have to say on this topic.

Rock on.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Saw "yes man" today

Saw Yes Man today. It was a pretty enjoyable film, all in all. OK, I give up. It was a movie, not a film.

Anyway, it was a really fun experience. I don't suppose it is any great piece of art, but it was enjoyable and we saw it for $1, which makes it even better.

I thought it had a really powerful message though, one I found pretty inspirational. Because, truth be told, I am Jim Carrey early in the film in some ways. My goals this year are to write and read and watch movies--generally alone.

Of course, the premise is that he hears a motivational speaker who convinces him to say YES to everything. Clearly, this strategy proves as (hilariously) untenable as saying NO to everything when taken in the extreme.

But along the way, his life is a lot richer for having taken a few chances and working outside his comfort zone.

One of my goals is to live an enriching life. I think I have a different perspective on what that could be. Or should be. So, it is time to do some research and find myself something--a group, an activity, a hobby or a challenge that will get me out of the the house and living a little.

And no more settling for what's easy in a relationship...I want to find something that will rock my world.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In honor of Merlin Mann

I was driving to Columbus today and I started to listen to a talk from David Allen on productivity. On the passenger seat was a list of phone calls that needed to be made. So, to be productive, I actually DID SOMETHING instead of listening to a tape about doing something.

And it was good.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quick thoughts

It has been a while since I posted, so just a quick note. Things are very busy, lots of time on the road and some OT from work, and I haven't had time to do much blogging. But, I do pride myself on knowing when something has to give, and this has been it for a while.

Things are going well, though. I am making progress on challenges, and feeling pretty good along the way.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pretty Good Day

It was a pretty good day today. Lots to do, but I worked my way through it and eventually made some progress. Felt good when I left work today...lots of things behind me, email cleaned out. Pushed myself through some projects. The kind of day I need more of.

Of course, that's all about me.

The Economist has an interesting
article on procrastination. It says that one of the reasons people procrastinate is that when they are forced to think in the abstract.

As the team report in Psychological Science, in all three studies, those who were presented with concrete tasks and information responded more promptly than did those who were asked to think in an abstract way. Moreover, almost all the students who had been prompted to think in concrete terms completed their tasks by the deadline while up to 56% of students asked to think in abstract terms failed to respond at all.

This is something that David Allen talks about a lot. The reason we often don't do a task is that we don't know what we are supposed to do first. We don't have it boiled down to a specific enough "next action." I would argue that ambiguity rather than abstraction is at the heart of the answer to this question.

At any rate, it is nice to see something besides the usual fear, perfectionism, discomfort occupying this debate.

Each of the tasks I had postponed to day--each for far too long--had been because I didn't know what the next step was. Once I exposed that first step, the rest of the work flowed right along.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thought for Today.....

And still this emptiness persists
Perhaps this is as good as it gets
When you’ve given up the drink and those nasty cigarettes
Now I leave the party early at least with no regrets
I watch the sun as it comes up I watch it as it sets
Yeah this is as good as it gets.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


So, what is your obligation to yourself, and what is your obligation to others? I have been involved with someone, and everything was going fine. I only saw her every week or so, which is fine, because I just got out of my marriage, and I'm enjoying having some freedom and flexibility, and the prospect of having to look at the same person and deal with all those complications is about as far from my mind as the prospect of getting my nipples pierced.

She is somewhat needy, however, and this has generally not been a problem because she had female friends she cried to. She seems to have worn her welcome out with them, and last night, that left me facing the torrent of tears in the middle of the night.

I care for her. I don't want anything bad to happen to her. But, I'm not sure right now my shoulders are broad enough to be carrying someone else right now. I don't want to get out at the worst possible time, but I wonder if the time might ONLY get worse from here. What I'd like most is to continue to way it is, but I don't think that is in the cards, either.

So, the question is, do I have a higher obligation to me or to her. Of course, just writing this, the answer has become clear.

Monday, January 19, 2009

On setting goals....

I really enjoy Penelope Trunk's blog. She's a refreshing change from most career bloggers, is blunt and smart, a very nice combination.

This is an especially good post.
Basically, it says that your goals have to be about process, and that process has to be to find ways to spend your time doing things you like to do. That's how you create energy and flow, and, ultimately, a happy life. "Take action where your passion lives, and the rest will follow."

This is a very good and inspirational post with lots of good ideas.

It brings up another interesting idea that I have been toying with, which is that there is usually a sweet spot of all these philosophies of life...a point of moderation where there really is energy.

For example, while I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of building your life around what you like to do, shouldn't some of your goals be designed to force yourself to do things you don't like to do? Covey once wrote that "successful people do what unsuccessful people don't like to do."

The difference is more perceived than real. You will note the importance of obsessive practice in the Trunk post, and Covey always talked about aligning your life to your mission.

Still, it is hard to give up all the old "grim duty of life" metaphors we got from Little House on the Prairie. Here's another sweet spot, though, because Trunk's post sounds like of 1960's-what-color-is-your-parachute.

One last thing. We're not moving widgets here. And, in knowledge work, I think what Trunk is talking about is key. The inspired and energetic and the ones that dig out the new inferences and relationships that create not just home runs, but a steady stream of singles and doubles.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Writer's routines shines light on BEING creative as opposed to FEELING creative

I have been writing a little bit about being creative as opposed to feeling creative, in conjunction with Merlin Mann. It has been important to me in helping me think about doing things very big, and actually DOING, not looking for tips on doing, or avoiding facing failure by re-organizing your life every ten minutes.

This post is on the daily routines of writers, and it makes a very clear point.

They were successful writers because they wrote. How much they wrote each day was variable, but they consistently produced words every single day, and they did it on a fixed schedule, regardless of how they felt.

We tie ourselves up in our feelings. We gotta do more, feel less.

Friday, January 16, 2009


This is pretty cool. Wordle lets you make a word/cloud diagram of the words on your blog (or any other set of words, for that matter. Here is what came up when I did this blog.

It blew me away, really. Here's a fascinating snapshot (and pretty accurate) of what has been going on in my mind. There's happy words, scared words, sad words, struggling words. Very powerful visual view

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Doing better

I'm doing a little better. The first couple days were not easy, all this darkness, and it was hard to find a way to get myself out of bed. But, I'm feeling better, making some progress at work, and feeling a little less blue. I don't know exactly where I am yet, but it is a little better.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A day of struggle

It was a day of struggle. Not that things didn't go well, because they did. But, I started to feel like maybe the novelty was wearing out on all this. I started to feel depressed and like the whole thing is pointless. I started to feel like me being alone was, you know, a little sad. Trudging.

Secretly, I had always kind of looked forward to my time alone. I got to cook something fun, and some time to do what I what I wanted on TV, etc. Football season is over, so I started my movie-watching regimen tonight.

Well, this is no time to fall down now. I am getting up the mountain. I think part of it is the winter blues, and I need to try and find a way to get some exercise. Part of it is just an expected trend. You don't sail along forever.

So, I have to struggle. I will not succumb. This will be an enriching year.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Interesting Question

A major part of my recovery program has been to be positive. You know, remain upbeat, positive. Not feel sorry for myself. I'm not a victim.

It seemed like a healthy thing to do.

A friend of mine asked me how I was (via text). I said I was fine.

And she told me that I didn't have to be brave and strong for everyone.

I didn't know what to say. I was a little hurt. It almost felt like I needed to be miserable to meet someone else's expectations.

Like everything, it made me start to doubt myself. Am I papering over real feelings? Am I putting coping ahead of healing? Am I avoiding the real struggles?

I really don't think so. But, this is my story to one else can speak the words that are on my lips. And I'm going to stay positive and upbeat, even if I might be papering over things.

Here's why. I feel like I'm flapping in the air. And if I stop flapping, I'm going to crash. I have been here before, and if I let myself use depression as an answer, I'm going to go down and I might not get up. I don't know if I would get up.

There is only one road forward. Be positive. Be upbeat. Be practical. Flap hard, and use your falling momentum to generate that upward thrust.

There is only one way.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Things OK

Something good happened today.

I wrote a note on the list to a person who was having trouble. I included some words from a post I linked to here, that went like this:

My mom: First, make yourself a cup of tea. Things are better with tea.

Me: I can’t make tea.

My mom: Why not?

Me: Because I’m in a ball on the bathroom floor.

My mom: Well then, the first step is to get off the floor.

I really like that exchange. Well, I posted it in one context, but another person read it on the anniversary of her Mother's death. She said the practical advice reminded her of her mother...and that it helped her get through the day.

Nice thing for today.

Monday, January 5, 2009

On Panic Attacks

I could feel it coming on again, yesterday, at the movies. The fear, the claustrophobia, the feeling of being overwhelmed, the tingling in my leg. I felt it coming, and slowly breathed it away. I realize how I had been having the signs all weekend...irritable, claustrophobic, unable to relax, easy rattled. There's just so much out there to make a person feel ill at ease right now.

But, I got through it, and now I might even see it coming sooner. But, the general sense of being overwhelmed is not going to go away soon. And there will still be lots to be afraid of out there. The only thing that is likely to change is me.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"Control of Attention is the Ultimate Individual Power"

These are the words of David Brooks, of the New York Times, and when I read them, I was blown away.

They are the missing piece in my puzzle. I have been sketching out some ideas about enlightenment, which will be posted soon, and it centers on the idea of the moment, and how you have to be able to do the right, most sustainable thing in the moment, and then let the past and future live in your mind. I believe that if you do the right thing in the moment, you create better options in the future--and therefore a greater sense of well-being and fewer feelings of threat. And better decisions in future moments. As opposed to a cycle of avoidance and life-patching that ultimately consumes itself.

Well, the missing key is that you have do to what you need in the moment. And, that's something I have really been struggling with. Here's what Brooks says:

Control of attention is the ultimate individual power. People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them. They can choose from the patterns in the world and lengthen their time horizons. This individual power leads to others. It leads to self-control, the ability to formulate strategies in order to resist leads to resilience, the ability to persevere with an idea even when all the influences in the world say it can’t be done...It leads to creativity. Individuals who can focus attention have the ability to hold a subject or problem in their mind long enough to see it anew.

Wow. And is there a better creed than that for the post-industrial age? This is especially true in knowledge and creative work, where the widgets we have to move are more conceptual than real. The very flexibility our works demands becomes the rope we dangle from.

Control my attention. Focus on the things needed to be made and done during the year. This is the missing piece of my year. Brooks is right...much like the strategies I listed above, it creates a life spiral, one that nurtures itself, not one that consumes itself.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Merlin Mann

Merlin Mann has another home run. As the holiday is ending and work is coming my way, I'm starting to feel anxious. Lots of work to do, and there's not much of a safety net. And I'm anxious and a little depressed. The drumbeat of our "tough economic climate" is slowly sapping my initiative. ....I wonder if I have the energy to bring it all to the game again. Right now.

Here's the answer. I either do or I don't. Don't mythologize it. Don't wait for inspiration to strike. Don't wait until you feel like it.

Work. It's work. Stop waiting to feel like a success and start being a success. Stop feeling sorry for yourself...stop wishing it was easier. Answer a question, it just gets harder. Get used to it. It isn't going away.
People who want to learn how to feel creative. To feel successful. To feel like an artist. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

My sense, though, is that for most people who repeatedly do (and sell) creative work, this all seems a bit like wanting to feel like a world-class athlete. Because “feeling creative” produces great work in approximately the same way that “feeling like a doctor” makes you a gifted thoracic surgeon.

Let’s Talk About My Feelings

The athlete got good not by reading reviews of headbands, but by waking up early, lacing shoes in the dark, and hitting the track to train hard. While the surgeon got good not by watching reruns of Trapper John, M.D., but by slogging through medical school, residencies, and hundreds of hours of face time with patients, colleagues, and mentors. “Feeling” had nothing to do with it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Goals

Uploaded on September 3, 2007

Year of Enrichment.... things made and done

  • Live with Enlightenment
  • The Beauty of Zero
  • Think big--exposure to big ideas, big acts.
  • Be a writer
  • Baseball
  • 25 books
  • 25 movies
  • Good food and drink
  • Exercise and care for your health