“If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Work is X; Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut.”
Work. Play. Listen. Einstein’s formula for experiencing a new version of life called A.
The questions that sometimes emerge in my journaling are about how to combine work and play so that they are seamlessly one. How can I enjoy my work so much that it feels like play? And how can I incorporate more play into my work, while still feeling like I am creating something that serves another?
Perhaps my answer lies in Z. Maybe I am not listening. At least not enough. My mouth is open and expressing thoughts, feelings, and even complaints. If I paused to meditate, breathe, pause, and listen, it is possible that I might feel more simpatico with life’s meaning, purpose, objective — or whatever it is that drives us and compels us to discover and contribute and, ultimately, feel more successful.
Work. Play. Keep my mouth shut. Listen. Pay attention to the promptings and follow through. Play more music. Take longer walks. Look around. Be still. Follow. Experience a success in life.
Life has a way of grabbing my attention and reminding me daily of what’s important. Loved ones. Health. Friendship. Family. Compassion. Laughter. My lovely dog companion. Creativity. Nutrition and exercise. Meditation. Generosity of spirit. Appreciation in the moment. When I become distracted by the trivialities that numb this awareness, I oftentimes find myself feeling confronted . . . or greeted . . . . by a Change of State. Confronted or greeted? How I determine Change’s perceived benevolence factor is how I shun or welcome it.
The other day I found myself frozen in a moment of experiencing a Change of State. Frozen. It was inevitable that a new paradigm was opening its doors to me. And I was immobilized with fear.
The stealth speed Continue reading
to subsume: to include or place within something larger or more comprehensive; encompass as a subordinate or component element
When you were a child, what did you want to be when your grew up?
If you are doing something quite different from what you imagined you would be doing, what happened? What swerved you onto a different path that led you away from your childhood dreams? Or maybe you are still very much there, living the dream, without even realizing it?
There are many subsuming elements that our lives encounter, embrace, deny, or challenge. Elements that distract us from who-we-are and steer us onto paths into what feels to be a foreign country where we don’t speak the language and we don’t understand the customs.
When I was a child, I wanted to be Continue reading
“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Shakespeare
The other day, a friend asked me, “On a scale of 1 – 10, how much do you like yourself?” I hesitated and wondered for a moment, letting self-awareness and self-confidence do a do-si-do with any real (or false) sense of humility and low self-esteem that was hiding inside me.
I was struggling that day. Unbeknownst to me, it was apparent to this person. I thought that I had been holding it all together so well with just enough breezy positivity to keep me afloat. In reality, my world felt to be Continue reading
Dogs, how I love thee.
There is something about the way that my dog looks at me that reassures me that all is well with the world. That things are going to work out. That she always has my back. That she will be there after all of the dust has settled. That my worries aren’t always going to manifest in the crazy ways that my imagination presents.
That life is meant to be lived in the moment. That there is fun to be had and adventures to be discovered. That spontaneity rules and patience serves. That the moment is here to be experienced, not anticipated. That it feels good to bust a move when I am just so darned excited.
Dogs. Devotion. Loyalty. Trust. And the best sense of humor on planet Earth. We love them and they love us without hesitation. You can’t get a friend more loving and loyal than your dog. They lift us up when we most need it and then never let us down after that. It’s like a constant sense of elevation that lifts the spirit and blossoms the soul.
Cogito ergo sum: I think; therefore I am . . . a dog lover.
Do you ever feel as if you simply have too many ideas? It isn’t that life is too short to “do” or “finish” everything . . . it’s just that each moment is too tiny to absorb all of the expansion that wants to burst forth from each little second. This gives me pause, and I wonder What am I doing with each moment? Am I valuing it? Living it? Being it?
We are prompted Continue reading
Cogito ergo sum
Cogito ergo sum: I think therefore I am. If I follow Descartes’ lead and I pair thinking and being, it’s possible to stretch my thoughts beyond any perceived reality in order to become more than I think I am. Or that I can do. Or that I can be. Or that I clearly need to be in a job interview.
Descartes’ well-known quote struck me today as I was performing my daily online job scan – an activity that can leave me feeling excited and bleak, joyful and defeated, all rolled into one entity of emotion. The jobs that were listed on the sites today did not appear to be much of a match for “my skill set.” Pricing processor, jitney driver, glue mixer, surgical sales rep, marketing assistant, lead accountant, aviation systems engineer, upholstery technician. Who knew that our planet is populated by so many specialists doing such varied and technical work?
What exactly am I qualified to do anyway?
All of these jobs reminded me of the many things that I am not qualified to do. Jobs for which I have zero experience or education. I don’t have the skills to crunch numbers in a way that would satisfy a scary audit, and I can’t even imagine the responsibilities of being a proficient and mindful glue mixer. Scary.
While I have a good imagination, a part of me does not allow my mind to stretch a what-the-heck? to I-can when it comes to the Job Hunt. A part of me quails from imagining how to best convey transferable skills from Brand X to Product Y or Z. I am thinking that I could apply my spatial skills and learn how to upholster furniture . . . but why wouldn’t an employer hire someone else with awesome experience and skills before I can figure out what the heck to do with a staple gun?
Skills. Abilities. Experience. Passion. Education. Hunting for a good-fitting job is challenging. There are simply so many jobs out there that prospective employers want to fill . . . and there are people out there, equal in proportion, with the know-how that will convince someone to hire him or her. It is quite the cycle when you step back and look at it: a task needs doing and someone is there to say, without hesitation, “I can do it! Pick me!”
Being Too Honest Doesn’t Always Win Others Over
I went to a recent interview where the interviewer told me in her return email that she was quite impressed with my curriculum vitae. This made me happy to hear. A thought bubbled to the surface, This might be it! This could be a great fit!
Then, in the interview itself, she proceeded to tell me how so many people aren’t all that . . . that what they say on paper is a far stretch from who they actually are. In other words, the next half hour was going to be an exercise in her de-bunking my CV until she was properly satisfied that I wasn’t some kind of con artist.
Or it almost seemed as if it would have made her happier if I was a complete fraud. She picked, probed, and dissected. She wanted a recounting of this and a listing of that. The good news? There were no fibs on my CV. What she saw was what she got. It felt as if she sort of liked what she was hearing, but her skepticism never really left her face or tone of voice. Still, I thought I had a good chance to land the position, given my answers. That was until she asked me why I wanted the job.
This was when I made a fatal mistake. I wasn’t expecting the question, so I told her the truth. I wanted to tell her that since the recent election, I found myself wanting to look for ways to give more back to my community. Before I could elaborate beyond the word election, she abruptly stopped me from saying anything else by issuing the international sign of Stop right there! and raising her hand toward my face. “Careful!” she barked at me, anticipating some long soliloquy from me on the woes of current politics. Which is not what I meant to do at all. Not at all. If I could have elaborated, I would have said that I wanted to use my experience and background to do what I can to give back. To be a part of something bigger than me. To help others learn and be the difference in their respective worlds. Etc. Something along these lines. You get the idea. But she didn’t.
A Warning Shot of Be Careful
That issued order of “Careful!” told me that this position wasn’t probably the best fit for me. That she was clearly overworked. That she was part of an under-funded program that had gotten the better of her spirits over the years. I don’t know anything about her life and I don’t want to presume, but I knew that I had torpedoed by own interview. I thought I could redeem myself when I said that I was good at setting and meeting goals in answer to the anticipated What is one of your strengths? She replied, “I hope that you don’t think you are actually going to change anything here. You’ll come to work and put in your eight hours and do what you can before you go home at night. This job is not about setting goals.”
Which is when I thought, Without a doubt, I just completely and utterly sunk myself. The interview kept going while she interrogated me on each volunteer activity or teaching experience that was listed, and I kept answering as truthfully and completely as I could. After an hour of being grilled and drilled, I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
The crazy thing? I was so excited at the prospect of getting back into the field of education that I thought I had a chance at the job. The reality thing? I didn’t stand a prayer. I should have known when I was leaving her office that I should immediately go back to hunting the online sites for whatever other positions I am not remotely qualified for.
But I hoped that there was some way that she could forgive my honesty. I didn’t hear anything, and I waited until after the date she told me that she was going to make a decision. I emailed her and she responded with the going-with-a-more-qualified-candidate response. Which is fine. Now I know that I wasn’t the Yes and now I am back to the hunt.
Be the Yes!
I used to teach a class in which I invited someone from an HR department to come in and talk about interviewing skills to the students. The single most important takeaway from these informative presentations was “Be the Yes! Before you go in to the interview, while you are interviewing, and afterward when you send your post-interview thank you . . . Be the Yes! You would think after sitting through more than a dozen of these presentations I would have known better to not say the word election, but I guess I was so wanting to Be the Yes in giving back to my community that I should have made up some other reason as to why I wanted to contribute to learning.
Which makes me feel a little sad. And kind of glad. And incredibly introspective. Sad because I blew an opportunity for saying something so taboo. Glad because I don’t have to share an office with an overworked cynic. And introspective because I am not going to quit Being the Yes to what I believe and how I want to help others learn.
The lesson I took away? Be myself. Answer questions honestly, rather than answering questions with what I think a future employer wants to hear. Think first and be myself. What a simple concept, right?
Well, maybe not that simple. I am still on the job hunt and looking forward to a future job where I can be both the Yes and Myself. I know that the position exists and, being a true believer in good things, I look forward to my next interview. I will wear something “professional,” offer a firm handshake with a smile, answer the question What’s your biggest weakness? with modest confidence, make eye contact with everyone – should it be a panel interview, follow up with So what’s next in the process? at the end of the interview, get the names of everyone who was involved in the interview, and send the requisite handwritten thank-you note after the interview.
I Would Have Hired Descartes in a Heartbeat
I learned a lot from this interview experience. Descartes’ philosophical proof of existence believed that thoughts lead to existence. “I could feign that there was no world, I could not feign that I did not exist.” World, I am ready to Be the Yes. And to think. And, to be me. And to not “be careful” in interviews. The right job is out there for me. I just know it. Cogito ergo sum!
One of my part-time jobs is located in a building that houses several different non-profit and county agencies. My position is one of those desky-type jobs that is computer dominated, so I set a timer to go off on the hour. When the timer dings, I take a short break from my office and go on a walkabout from one end of the building to the other, circle out and around the block, and re-enter the building with renewed focus and fresh energy to make a difference and change the world, one keystroke at a time.
These regular walks up and down the hallways have led to me meeting many people who Continue reading
I came across this picture the other day and am trying to remember why the heck I took it. I didn’t take it with my phone but with my heavy, bulky, big-girl Canon . . . which further tells me that this was a special moment that I wanted to record with my “good camera.”
Weird. I’m not sure but I think that I was celebrating, having just moved into a fantastic temporary beachfront rental for what turned out to be four exquisite months. This transition was one of those ideas that had been on my Wish List for years: Live on the beach during the stormy winter months to write. This recent move Continue reading