Friday, November 30, 2012

Us against Them

You are part of an us. In fact, everyone is part of some us. Even if you consider yourself a solitary being in the world, you are part of an us. In that case, you're your own us - a small us, but an us nonetheless.

Every us has an associated them. By definition, them is not us. There is no better descriptor for them than not us. It says all we need it to say.

We live our lives in the tension between us and them.

At some point in your life you will draw the distinction between us and them. It may be a conscious decision or it may be surprisingly subconscious.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Home again

It's always interesting to sit outside the circle and watch a different family dynamic. It makes you ponder your own.

Some things hold true regardless of the group situation. For example, the most difficult part of genuine communication is being genuine.

Tired, happy to be home, counting this as a post, and considering the post-a-day initiative a success so far ...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday?

No! It's the season of light.

Christmas lights in Granbury

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, more than any I can remember, the Christmas decorations hit stores early. At one of the 271 neighborhood Walgreen's, I watched sales clerks unloading battery-operated Santas and artificial trees while Halloween pumpkins and faux-wicked witches were still on the shelves. I saw my first unnaturally jolly Christmas sale commercial on TV in October.

I became strangely committed to establishing a "fall tableau" on my front step - a decorative display of miniature straw bale, pumpkins, and ornamental gourds - to set a fall harvest atmosphere. I even picked up a half-priced scarecrow in an after-Halloween sale to keep watch over the tableau and draw a seasonal line in the sand between summer heat and winter cold.  It seemed important.

The scarecrow has been named Wendy. Wendy has a perpetually sunny smile on her face and keeps toppling over. I found her face down (but still smiling) in a pile of autumn leaves the other day. I have a sneaking suspicion Wendy drinks. She's probably exhausted. Watching over the harvest must be hard work.

Why has the cultural leap from Halloween straight into Christmas vexed me so? How has my sweet little drunken scarecrow fall tableau come to occupy such an emotionally important place in my mind?

I think it's because that leap from Halloween directly into Christmas is a leap from asking for candy to getting and giving more "stuff." It's a straight line of acquisition without any pause to be thankful for what we already have. Thanksgiving is a pause that whispers "enough" between blustery shouts of "MORE."

I'm thankful today for all the many blessings in my life. I'm thankful for people who want to spend the day with me. I'm thankful for the stamina and the resources to travel. I'm thankful for safe travels, even if I miss my family. I'm  thankful for the rich character of my family. They're people who can turn even the ordinary and routine into a memory.

I'm thankful for Wendy, the sweetly smiling drunken discount scarecrow, who reminds me that I have enough.

Wendy in a sober and upright moment

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Health on the road?

On the road for the Thanksgiving holiday and giving travel health the old college try - As I sit waiting for my flight to Dallas to board, I feel a little guilty about the barbecue sandwich and mac and cheese I ate for lunch. But I have to say that it was pretty darn tasty, especially for airport food.

I've had a glass of iced tea, but don't want to drink water on top of the tea because I hate the tiny bathrooms on airplanes. Water would surely push me over the urinary cliff. My last act before boarding is usually hitting the restroom one last time.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's the difference between fantasy and dream?

Reminds me of an old joke...

Question: What's the difference between sexy and kinky?
Answer: Sexy is tickling your lover with a feather. Kinky is using the whole chicken.

A feather? Or the whole chicken?

A fantasy is the imagining of something impossible or improbable, while a dream is something strongly desired. Some say that the difference between the two is that we're consciously aware of our imagination when we fantasize but not so when we dream.

They're both important for a healthy psyche, but be careful. Don't let hyperactive fantasies squeeze out malnourished dreams.

Yippee-yi-yay cow patty!

Interweb gremlin - actual size

This post was originally scheduled to run yesterday, and then interweb gremlins interceded.

Okay, okay - it was user error on my part. I admit it. I'm posting it now and, with any luck, there will be another post later on this evening to fulfill the spirit (if not the letter) of the law of posting every day for the rest of November. Today's a two-fer - you're welcome!

Tiptoe through the cow pies

When I was a kid, I'd sometimes go target shooting with my older brother. We'd walk deep down into the pasture and take aim with his .22 pistol at any number of targets - maybe empty cans, maybe makeshift paper targets - carefully avoiding the cows, of course. The most satisfying target was a cow patty. If you've not had the pastoral shooting experience, you probably do not realize how satisfying it is to shoot a fresh cow patty. Cow patties, cow pies, manure piles... call them what you will, but they explode in a spray of impressive splendor when they're hit spot-on with a .22. Ya know what it is? It's manure majesty! The Imagineers at Disney World should try adding something like that to their synchronised fountain displays.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

How can you cement a healthy habit?

Yesterday I talked about breaking an overwhelming plan into smaller "bite-sized" chunks and then making those smaller chunks into habits to increase chances of success. That sounds pretty simple. I mean, if biting my nails comes so effortlessly then I should easily be able to form a healthy habit, right?

You may have even heard a general rule of thumb that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Only 21 days - that's three short weeks - piece of cake! Why don't more people latch onto this brilliantly simple way to enforce positive behavior?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Eat your sandwich one bite at a time

The whole "create a strategic life plan so life will sing more than stink" idea isn't really a new one. In fact, tips and tools to guide you in creating a lifeplan are available all around you. With so much available information free for the taking, you'd think people would be actively charting a course for intentional happiness left and right.

But no matter how much you think about planning (it's been lurking in the back of my mind even when I'm not giving it full frontal attention) or read about planning, the whole process seems harder than it's supposed to be. Maybe even harder than it's worth?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Posting every day for the rest of November

I've resolved to post every day for the rest of November. I can't promise the content will be top notch, but it will be regular.

I wish I could promise the written equivalent of oatmeal, a stick-to-your-ribs kind of blog experience. The best I can do is promise that I'll write regularly and that I hope it will not be the written equivalent of a cheap frozen burrito nuked in a wimpy breakroom microwave.

You know what I'm talking about - you eat it quickly, the inside is kind of cold and mushy, it doesn't really fill you up, you wonder if that communal microwave is harboring harmful bacteria because no one ever really cleans it and everyone just gets stubborn when they read those passive aggressive notes the admins leave about the mess in the breakroom, and then you regret having eaten the burrito in the first place.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Standing neck deep in water - lessons from a hurricane

I've been following the situation in U.S. states impacted by Hurricane Sandy last month. I feel a personal connection because I work with several clients in the area, including state agencies and research universities.

But I also feel a connection because Hurricane Sandy brought back personal memories of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which hit Gulf Coast states in 2005. My memories are not those of a Katrina survivor, but they're powerful nonetheless.