Scraping together opportunities

We had plans and they hit a wall. That’s tough for a 14 year-old celebrating her birthday.

We rescheduled but that left us with today and it was bleak. There had been plans, there had been high anticipation and now…I had to substitute something for my daughter.

We thought a brunch with French toast would help. As we drove over to our favorite 50s diner, I remembered something.

“This is the last Saturday of the month. My friend used to play music with at the famer’s market. I always tried to go see her play.

“She loves playing music so much that she has three or four jobs so she can play music. It’s that important to her. She knows for sure that it’s the most important thing.

My kid was listening, but she didn’t have much to add. I turned into the parking lot.

I have a great number of things I want to do in life. I am also right at this moment trying to advise my kid on the cusp of high school how to choose a life path. We have been trying to talk about the things one could do.

It’s not such a straight path. I certainly did not follow a brochure to find the career I have found.

I am sure that is true for a lot of people. How did all the circumstances line up to arrive at the now?

I admire my musician friend’s clarity. A rare few artists are so committed to their artistic efforts that they place it at primary place. An even fewer number make enough money from their art to sustain themselves.

The rest of us shuffle our to-do’s and priorities to keep both food and a roof. We grownups have to scrape together a plan from whatever is left lying around., I tried the doors to see if any were unlocked. Then I mustered up the courage to walk through the open ones.

It didn’t always work out. Just like the night before a birthday party, there was anticipation and sleep lost. And some things slipped out of my grasp.

Me and my daughter were having breakfast and coming to terms with her latest disappointment. That might be one of the most grownup things a person could do.

lightening the load


This weekend we bought a dresser from a guy off craigslist. This is my kind living. We had our eye on this piece at the store for the last several years, but we didn’t want to pay full price for it.

My husband (also known as my research staff) found this very piece for sale nearby and we jumped. Same day.

It took a little preparation. We’d already figured out the piece would fit in our house beautifully, but we had to make sure it would fit in our new truck. Yep, if we strapped it down.

We gave the man selling it a chance to eat lunch and then we were there.

This very sweet man let us into his home. We climbed the five stepped and entered his front door. Signs on his walls showed us he was a Vietnam vet, bless him. He showed us the piece. It was not band new but it was exactly what I’d hoped for.

Now, one of the reasons we liked this piece it because it was solid wood. It was a big tall dresser and it substantial.

Our new friend the vet had told us he couldn’t help us lift it. It was just us.

He did not want to hand it over. He couldn’t imagine a woman and a slender man could take care of this …300? 350?…pound dresser with success.

I paid him up front in cash. I knew we could do it.

I was used to overseeing people move and install heaving audio video equipment in corporate spaces. I’ve had to oversee teams move multiple 500 pound televisions up serval flights of stairs.

My crews taught me so much. I was not the one humping those boxes up the stairs. But we talked it over and planned every part of the way. All the turns, any tight corners we thought it through ahead of time and made sure the equipment and the people would not be harmed.

But the golden prize that we were reaching for every step of the way, was sharing the load.

A dolly with wheels was our best friend. Smooth moving blankets that let us tilt on the grades and slide it is our friend.

One little guy can do amazing things to lever and slide the load into position.

It doesn’t have to be so hard.

I looked over the path that we needed to traverse and I saw how we could make it happen. First step was getting sliders under the legs so we could push it gently and safely over the carpet to the front door.

Those 5 steps on the porch were a challenge. But laying the dresser down on a moving blanket and then sliding it down the steps onto a wheeled dolly took care of that hurdle.

Then we wheeled it over the sidewalk (Watch out for the bump!) to the truck.

Oh boy. It’s almost 3 feet from the sidewalk to the bed of the truck.

If that were a deadlift, it would not be safe.

But with those moving blankets again, we tilted and slid that bad baby snugly into the truck.

Our new friend was blown away.

It was a chance for me to remember things I forgot I knew.

It’s worth the time and attention to make things easier. There are ways I can lean on the supports around me.

Some people would have given up, but I had the vision. There are forces standing by waiting to be utilized. If I look for it, there are ways to make it easier on myself.

That walkthrough—that planning of each step—it made it all come out so easily.

I always have the urge to charge in. That leaves out the chances to make it easier and in fact faster. It’s worth it to take the time to imagine every piece of the path reveals so many chances to lighten my load. It’s like magic waiting to happen.

I did that once…

Over Christmas and new year’s, I was stuck and home getting over the plague of the moment. I had a nasty cough and I found that if I didn’t speak or use my voice I could avoid painful coughing fits.

I consumed a lot of audiobooks, podcasts and YouTube. Towards the end I watched a reaction video to an old Jordan Peterson interview.

A female British reporter asked Peterson to explain why almost all top CEOs are male. His reply indicated that it’s a hard job that most people—male or female—don’t want to do, and it takes working 70 to 80-hour workweeks. You can catch it here at 12:21

Over Christmas and new year’s, I was stuck and home getting over the plague of the moment. I had a nasty cough and I found that if I didn’t speak or use my voice I could avoid painful coughing fits.

I consumed a lot of audiobooks, podcasts and YouTube. Towards the end I watched a reaction video to an old Jordan Peterson interview.

A female British reporter asked Peterson to explain why almost all top CEOs are male. His reply indicated that it’s a hard job that most people—male or female—don’t want to do, and it takes working 70 to 80-hour workweeks. You can catch it here at 12:21

I’m my sick haze I flashed on a memory. Throughout my career, I’ve made very intentional choices about the steps I want to take. Years ago, I heard about how high-level executives have to work 80 hours a week.

That number made me tilt my head and wonder. There are 168 hours in a week. Half of my waking hours would be work. I thought of the people knew who were supposedly in that high level position and I determined that it was a myth. No way did they ACTUALLY work 80 hours, they must have exaggerated. These top-of-the-org-charts types are likely to exaggerate, anyway.

I calculated it is not possible

Until…


I was assigned projects at work that had me working 80+ hours a week. Part of the requirement was to track the hours I worked on each project in 15 minutes increments, so I was very sure that I was truly working these hours.

The way it came to pass was I started my day working on European projects at 7 am. I then managed reporting and overseeing on a project that was night work in the Pacific time zone. This work involved holding  daily kickoff for the work that started at 6 PM, and finished somewhere between 2 or 5 in the morning. I slept on the couch with my phone to answer any questions that might come up thoughout the night. I set my alarm to call the team lead by 4 AM to take a report on the work that happened each night and compose a report to the suits about the progress, problems and their remediation plans. Sometimes the work was done earlier. Sometimes they were still going.

The workload was brutal.

I could only do this because it was well planned and the actions were previously decided before we started on this work. It was a HARD LIFT to have to think and write that daily progress report at 4 in the morning. In fact, I created a draft of it the night before after the kickoff meeting when I was more alert.

That night work was 6 weeks. I had my taste of 80+ hours of work a week. I know what it takes to actually work that long. Sleep is the first thing that’s lost, followed quickly by clarity of thought.

I still think most CEOs are exaggerating that 80 hours, but the tippy top ones might not be. I am however, convinced that I do not want to choose that lifestyle.

There are choices. My manager at the time kept asking me if I was ok. I could have asked for help and handed some of the work off. I am not sure that would have been accepted, honestly. It’s possible this might have been some kind of test. But I didn’t have to stay in the game, I could have quit.

I knew then, and I still know now what it would take to be that kind of worker. I know with certainty that I CAN do it and that I do not WANT to do it.

Much respect for those who do want to do it. Now that I’ve had the sample, and I know the taste of that choice I am finding other ways to fulfil my ambition. I’m making other choices. I can make an informed decision on how I want my career to go.



I’m my sick haze I flashed on a memory. Throughout my career, I’ve made very intentional choices about the steps I want to take. Years ago, I heard about how high-level executives have to work 80 hours a week.

That number made me tilt my head and wonder. There are 168 hours in a week. Half of my waking hours would be work. I thought of the people knew who were supposedly in that high level position and I determined that it was a myth. No way did they ACTUALLY work 80 hours, they must have exaggerated. These top-of-the-org-charts types are likely to exaggerate, anyway.

I calculated it is not possible

Until…

I was assigned projects at work that had me working 80+ hours a week. Part of the requirement was to track the hours I worked on each project in 15 minutes increments, so I was very sure that I was truly working these hours.

The way it came to pass was I started my day working on European projects at 7 am. I then managed reporting and overseeing on a project that was night work in the Pacific time zone. This work involved holding daily kickoff for the work that started at 6 PM, and finished somewhere between 2 or 5 in the morning. I slept on the couch with my phone to answer any questions that might come up thoughout the night. I set my alarm to call the team lead by 4 AM to take a report on the work that happened each night and compose a report to the suits about the progress, problems and their remediation plans. Sometimes the work was done earlier. Sometimes they were still going.

The workload was brutal.

I could only do this because it was well planned and the actions were previously decided before we started on this work. It was a HARD LIFT to have to think and write that daily progress report at 4 in the morning. In fact, I created a draft of it the night before after the kickoff meeting when I was more alert.

That night work was 6 weeks. I had my taste of 80+ hours of work a week. I know what it takes to actually work that long. Sleep is the first thing that’s lost, followed quickly by clarity of thought.

I still think most CEOs are exaggerating that 80 hours, but the tippy top ones might not be. I am however, convinced that I do not want to choose that lifestyle.

There are choices. My manager at the time kept asking me if I was ok. I could have asked for help and handed some of the work off. I am not sure that would have been accepted, honestly. It’s possible this might have been some kind of test. But I didn’t have to stay in the game, I could have quit.

I knew then, and I still know now what it would take to be that kind of worker. I know with certainty that I CAN do it and that I do not WANT to do it.

Much respect for those who do want to do it. Now that I’ve had the sample, and I know the taste of that choice I am finding other ways to fulfil my ambition. I’m making other choices. I can make an informed decision on how I want my career to go.

negotiating the next 50

This January is the one when I turned 50. This feels big to me.

I strongly remember 25, which was halfway to now. I was absolutely sure that 25 was a brick wall that I had to have certain things done or I was doomed to failure for my whole life. Unsurprisingly I had missed certain of those milestones and 25 found me making substitutions.

The substitutions themselves had to be real. I was sure I should have graduated from college by then, but it hadn’t happened. I substituted that I had found a good career even without that diploma which was supposed to be the skeleton key to life success.

At 25 I was very focused on what I had to do. I had very low expectations of what others would be giving me. My relationships seemed to be more about what I had to give to them rather than what they should do for me.

In my new career, I began to notice that people interacted differently that I was used to. They were far more careful with my preferences. I thought I would try this tactic in my marriage. I formed an experimental opinion.

I would not like Indian food, and see how it was received.

It was not well received. My experimental opinion was not honored. It was more like an enemy that had to be conquered into submission.

I have never forgotten the results of that experiment. I learned so much about what I wanted from other people and how to set expectations.

I kept the career and ditched that marriage.

Substitutions had to be made. My preferences had to be considered and accommodated. I didn’t know how to do that right away. 25 years later a know a lot more about how to ask for things and how to negotiate substitutions.

I certainly don’t get it right every time, but it gives me a lot of hope for how far I’ve come and what I can look forward to. Happy new year! Let the next 50 years be even better.

It’s coming for ME

I’d like to pretend it’s for some high moral reason, but deep down it is more basic that that.

I hate censorship.

I hate it with a cold terror. Because when censorship starts, it is coming for me. I know it. I can feel the teeth in the wind of the first rumors. It’s after my neck.

Sure there are people who say horrible things, reprehensible and hateful things. Things I think should not be said, and I wish they would stop.

But then again, I have learned from things I once despised. And I’ve learned to understand the reasons for the reprehensible even as it is spoken. It’s worth the examination and the exploration in daylight.

When it is silenced, it silences me.

Cornered, cast out, crushed and eliminated. Death and destruction. Silence and censorship.

The cutting off is dangerous and it’s coming for me.

All ideas come from ignorance. I start with half and idea, ill formed and incomplete. Maybe it’s so wrong it needs to be discarded. Maybe there is something to it. I play with the new ideas and see which one are useful, which ones are true and bring good things to me.

I’m noting but ignorant. If I cant’ start from my ignorance I can’t start at all.

I can’t learn from my ignorance—the one thing I have plently of—if censorship stops my beginnings.

NOT THERE, warns the spirit of censorship.
YOU ARE IN DANGER the censor warns

And I cannot move without consulting some other changeable spirit who does not have my best interests in mind.

How can the censor have my interests in mind? I am not allowed to speak them.

I’ve studied this censor for many years. There are some commonalities and some tricks the censor uses. This helps me recognize them sooner.

I’ve been watching the censor snip and cut, silence and bite these last years. It was mid January, 2020 that I called my friend. A close friend, once I’d known for years and spoken with several times each week.

I said I was scared. I was scared of the censorship and when I saw that President Trump had been deplatformed I knew they were coming for me.

The Twitter files talk about how that happened, and we’ve gotten to see behind the decision made by the executives of twitter.

We didn’t know that then. I knew fear. I was writing

PROTECT FREE SPEECH

On cards and leaving them around my neighborhood.

It felt powerless and ineffective but I was compelled to do
SOMETHING

I was crying to my friend saying I was scared.

She said “I believe in the first Amendment but that man is wrong and he must be silenced.”
And she hung up on me. We’ve never spoken again.

I was sad. I missed her—still miss her—terribly.

The censor cuts, searing off redemption. The censor is certain, no room for ambiguity.

Wonder cannot survive without questioning. and I need both

I’d like to pretend it’s for some high moral reason, but deep down it is more basic that that.

I hate censorship.

I hate it with a cold terror. Because when censorship starts, it is coming for me. I know it. I can feel the teeth in the wind of the first rumors. It’s after my neck.

Sure, there are people who say horrible things, reprehensible and hateful things. Things I think should not be said, and I wish they would stop.

But then again, I have learned from things I once despised. And I’ve learned to understand the reasons for the reprehensible even as it is spoken. It’s worth the examination and the exploration in daylight.

When it is silenced, it silences me.

Cornered, cast out, crushed and eliminated. Death and destruction. Silence and censorship.

The cutting off is dangerous and it’s coming for me.

All ideas come from ignorance. I start with half and idea, ill formed and incomplete. Maybe it’s so wrong it needs to be discarded. Maybe there is something to it. I play with the new ideas and see which ones are useful, which ones are true and bring good things to me.

I’m noting but ignorant. If I can’t start from my ignorance I can’t start at all.

I can’t learn from my ignorance—the one thing I have plently of—if censorship stops my beginnings.

NOT THERE, warns the spirit of censorship.
YOU ARE IN DANGER the censor warns.

And I cannot move without consulting some other changeable spirit who does not have my best interests in mind.

How can the censor have my interests in mind? I am not allowed to speak them.

I’ve studied this censor for many years. There are some commonalities and some tricks the censor uses. This helps me recognize them sooner.

I’ve been watching the censor snip and cut, silence and bite these last years. It was mid January, 2020 that I called my friend. A close friend, once I’d known for years and spoken with several times each week.

I said I was scared. I was scared of the censorship and when I saw that the President had been de platformed, I knew they were coming for me.

The Twitter files talk about how that happened, and we’ve gotten to see behind the decision made by the executives of twitter.

We didn’t know that then. I knew fear. I wrote

PROTECT FREE SPEECH

On cards and left them around my neighborhood.

It felt powerless and ineffective but I was compelled to do

SOMETHING

On the phone, I was crying to my friend saying I was scared. 

She said “I believe in the first Amendment but that man is evil and he must be silenced.”

And she hung up on me.

That censor spirit cut us apart. It had come for me so fast, my fears so quickly realized.

I missed her—still miss her—terribly. Silence continues, there was no way back to relationship.

The censor cuts, searing off redemption. The censor is certain, no room for ambiguity.

No room for me in the censors’ world.

Yet I am here. I have to find a way to be. That friend is not the only friend I’ve lost to this spirit. This is a tragedy. Connection to people is important to me.

I choose not to cooperate with the censor.

The lure is strong. What if I could get enough people together to make that other group feel the cut that I felt? How satisfying that would be! Perhaps we could begin to develop shibboleths and secret gathering places to get the strength to slice the enemy deeply.

No, I don’t want to slice. I want to be connected. I want to explore the world with other people, people with new ideas—necessarily different from my own—to see what is possible.

It takes courage to make connections. There is a risk and a cost. I could lose what small connection I have. I could be left alone, cast out and rejected.  Can I withstand a rejection?

Here is where faith comes in—faith in myself and conviction that I must stay open. Openness is the opposite of censorship.

I will stay open, as hard as it is, in counter to the censorship I hate. I choose acceptance.


books I read in 2023

  1. miracle at speedy motors
  2. The Talented Mr. Varg
  3. fortunately the milk
  4. the wrecker
  5. dream of the red chamber
  6. the girlw with no names
  7. the seven husb of evelun hugo NF
  8. Tea Time for the traditionally built
  9. Verbal Judo
  10. double comfort safari club
  11. The s Saturday big tent wedd party

what use is wonder

It’s the end of the year, and even more than planning what I would like to do next year I really enjoy taking stock of what my last year has held.

Can I be honest? There are a few landmark moments in my life when I think I took a hard angle out from what was expected. Since COVID it almost feels like my life jumped the tracks and I landed in an alternate universe. Am I supposed to be looking for the onramp back to what should be happening?

It seems like this is the alternate universe me and everyone I know has landed in, so maybe it’s for real after all.

Each year I take a look at the books I’ve read. This year I read significantly less than usual, only 95 when the last year was 140 and the year before 160. I think I read so much because of the lockdown and my vague impression that the world was not real. Books seems more trustworthy.

I slowed down a bit last year because I wanted to take the time to savor the books. I’ve meant to read the hard ones.

There are people who love to watch movies. A lot of people. They watch the movies again and again. They will say favorite lines along with the actors.

I feel that way about the books that have left the imprint on my life. And most of them have left an imprint on my life. It’s not so easy to find someone who will read these glorious books with me. I’m so grateful for those who will.

And

I cannot deprive myself of these books because I have to read them alone. The thing is, I want to slow down so I can savor them.

The first book I finished in 2022 was one of the hardest books I have ever read: Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I’m not gonna tell anybody they should read that book. It’s a harrowing book that blew open my mind, but I know only a few people can deal with it.

What I am going to say is, I took the time to do a book review on YouTube of this grotesquely magnificent novel. I read the book, which almost killed me. Then I had a discussion with my friend and we discussed all the aspects of the book. The next day I took the time to make this review.  It took almost the whole day to take the time to prepare and record the book review for YouTube.

Taking the time to really present a good review made the book more meaningful to ME. I did it for myself. And then it turned out that it’s my most popular video, more than a thousand people have watched it. Quite a few have taken the to comment and talk to me about it.  

Taking the time to savor and enjoy this thing that I thought no one else was interested in turned out to bring a lot of people into my life.

That’s what I hope to do more of this year. Not to leapfrog so fast over the things that delight me. That’s a very bad habit of mine. This WonderBlog is about wonder, and I want to make room in my life for it. The space, the time, I am wretchedly poor at providing myself with those for wonder. I will work towards it.

Maybe it’s a way of creating new tracks for where my life can travel in. Not an alternative universe but a new one that I create out of the things I like best.

As I say that I feel a shudder of possibility as well as a serious thud of responsibility on my shoulders.

If I’m the one that loves it, I’m the one that has to make it. I’m the only one that knows how.

the time for christmas

“What do YOU want for Christmas?”

That’s Santa’s line. As young as possible, we are supposed to teach to children to have a dream. What thrills your heart? Think of what it might be. Consider the alternatives, which is best? We tell kids they are supposed to come up with a cherished wish. They have the permission and the expectation that they should come up with it.

That’s a sweet pressure that we put on the kids. It’s something we want to instill. What do you want? Let it out…the people need to know. People are standing by to help make the wish come true.

I’m not a kid. Maybe I’m permanently part of the wish-fulfillment committee now. I’ve got some resources and skills now that I didn’t’ have when I was 10. I can make these wishes come true, and it’s a joy to help the kids in my life have their cherished fulfilled.

That’s part of the magic of Christmas.

And still….

Wishes aren’t just for kids. I have a family of people who want to know my hopes as well.

But like I said, I have skills and resources. I can help 10 year-olds with their wishes, but I can handle my own wishes, thank you very much.  I don’t need any help.

That’s the problem with being a serious grown up. I don’t need any help. I fulfill my own wishes almost as soon as I have them. I am a serious grown person. I know that I have to be serious about the things I wish for. I don’t need to bother other people.

The magic of Christmas is a lot of bother. To land that special moment of being there for each other, it takes planning and preparation.

We train our kids for it. And then I, like Ebeneezer Scrooge, don’t participate in the season by making that effort to dream of what I might want. My family wants to join in with me. That means I have to join too.

It’s hard! I have stuff to do. I have responsibilities and priorities. I don’t have time to think about what I like and what I want.

Every night, my cat has a routine. More than just the basics of food and water, which we have locked down, he will stand by to pursue his delight. He will quietly and expectantly stalk my husband to have their time.

When my husband puts his feet up on the couch, reading stories from his iPad, kitty jumps in. This is his moment—their moment. There are blankets, there is a special cubby between his legs and the back of the couch.

Into the cubby, kitty settles himself. He fits in there with the blanket and my husband’s leg. He stretches his legs and kneads the blanket with his claws in the ancient way of cats. My husband knows that this is kitty’s wish, and he makes a place for kitty.

The claws do hurt a bit, but my husband will tolerate it for the pleasure it brings our cat. They have a near-nightly tradition of this special time.

I confess, I am jealous of the cat. Why does he get to have special cuddle time with my husband?

And instantly I know the answer:

Kitty makes the time. Kitty asks for this and my husband is happy to give it to him.

I am the one rushing around from this to that and half the time am barking answers to my family about this or that activity.

If I want what kitty’s got, I have to do what kitty is doing.

I have to make the space in my heart, mind and schedule to recognize what my wishes are and to let people give them to me.

dragging

it’s been a tough patch. At least a week, and I am really struggling to return to the mean. I want to get back to a positive frame of mind.

There is more under my control than I’ve been exercising. I did start to put it out there that I need some people to cheer me up

and some people are coming though…I am seeign again that I can find what I need, I can ask for it.