There is a way things must be done

A guy yelled at me today.

In a way, he was right. Because there is a way that things need to be done.

We have to do things that way because if we don’t, it just doesn’t work.

And, I hadn’t done it that way.

I know there is a way things need to be done. I completely believe in doing it the way it needs to be done.

And, hard as I try, I don’t always manage to do things they way they need to be done.

My sock drawer will back on me on this.

So, when he wanted felt compelled to repeat to me the way things need to be done, I tried to interrupt and explain what happened.

The tide could not be stemmed. The indignation must be expressed. The standard must be maintained.

We can’t have this. We cannot, and we cannot and we cannot not say so.

He was loudly calling the second foul.

Yes. I probably should have filled out the correct TPS report. It’s IMPORTANT.

I know. I’m trying. My average is getting better.

Me and my sock drawer have our ups and downs.

I am pretty sure yell-y guy has his own sock drawer.


Younger every year

You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

-Pink Floyd

I like to say I was born a hundred years old and I’m getting younger every day. I was born extremely responsible.

I had so little freedom I was very very very careful how I spent it.

In hindsight I am pretty sure I invested well. But like Tomas says in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the only way to know if it was the best choice is to live one’s life all the way through with that choice and then go back and live it all the way through with the other choice.

And that’s not possible, so we have to make the choice.

I made my choices.

I’m reading Less, about a man who made very few choices in his life. He fell into a long life-sharing relationship with a poet who won the Pulitzer. Arther Less is famous mostly for knowing this famous person. A supporting character in his own life. And now he is struggling with turning 50.

Have you heard of this book? In a terribly unimaginative life-imitating-fiction, the book itself won a Pulitzer.

It’s hard for me to tell what is supposed to be ironic and what is unintentionally so. It seems that it was meant to be absurd.

But the thing about turning 50 is it is intrinsically absurd.

Things that were impossible, inconceivable 25 years before have become commonplace. By this time we’ve learned how to pull the levels of power and can move the earth.

Prime of life, indeed. I know how to get a lot of stuff done.

Now it’s a matter of what do I want to do?

Now that I have pulled these levers, what is worth the effort? The stuff I can do didn’t happen by accident. I know the cost now and I’m a little less willing to pay it for no reason.

But I’m not like Pink Floyd. I was not one to kill time. I’m far more willing to waste it now. Tomas is right. I might have jumped that gun and been running full out for ten years in the wrong direction.

I can’t know now.

The best I can do is pay attention to what I like, and do that enough times in a row to start a trend.

I meant to do that

I know I have made plans to cry from time to time.

When I knew the audience I was working with, and I had a goal in mind, I would plan to let the tears go.

To be fair, I have definitely cried when I didn’t’ want to, and had to excuse myself to return to the topic– when I have lost my composure and most certainly was not behaving with intention.

Emotions are not under my control. Unless they are. And then I can use them. Like, when I knew it would help to cry. And I could work up the tears to get what I needed out of the situation.

But one thing I haven’t learned how to do is yell with intention. If I yell, it’s a loss of control. I probably feel like I’m in control, but those might be the same times when I think I’m not yelling.

My daughter has a fine-tuned sense of when I am yelling. And it is not always associated with an increase in volume.

But really, when I get yelled at by someone else

a friend

my husband

a boss

Volume isn’t the biggest factor.

It’s the emotional content.

Crying is emotional too. No doubt. As I think about it, however, crying in front of someone is only about myself. It’s admitting that I feel something. It’s an exposure of something inward. If I cry, it’s being vulnerable and exhibiting something about me.

The emotional content of yelling is a push. It is expressing a judgment of someone else. Judgments are sharp things.

I suppose done properly, voicing a judgment that lifts up rather than puts down is a force for good.

Come on! Don’t give up, you can do it!

If you push just a little harder you will achieve it

That might be called cheering rather than yelling.

But judgements most often don’t work that way. And yelling is for the most part a hurtful expression. It most often happens inside my own head too.

I yell at myself so often it doesn’t even require words anymore. And it’s not very helpful.

We were discussing this at my diet support group. We encourage one another to persist, and to keep going in our path to good healthy choices.

The leader said, “I’ve been doing this for more than ten years. I’ve never heard anyone say they hated themself to success.”

Hmm. That leads me back to the question that started this essay. When would it make sense to yell with intention?

or to restate

When would it be useful to cut someone with a judgmental statement?

When I say it like that, the answer is unequivocally never.

But to cheer someone on, to state things baldly and with positivity, I would like to do a lot more of that on purpose.


If it’s true for everybody, it must be true for you.


The universal is personal.

Imagine if the world started spinning more slowly. What would that mean?

The end of the world, right? But slowly. And gradually.

And things that happen slowly and gradually are the new normal.

I just finished reading The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It’s science fiction, which you all know I have issues with. And yes, it’s dystopian. The earth inexplicably has begun to spin slower. Days and night are longer, respectively. Other laws of physics we are used to relying on begin to break down.

That would be reason enough for a story. But this story is told from the perspective of a 6th grade girl. In a central California suburb.

It is distinctly possible that everything in the world of a girl that age is dystopian. Her best friend deserts her at the same time and her mom becomes unraveled. There are plenty of girls of that particular age who experience this while the world continues spinning as it always has.

I think that the author used the perspective of a girl as a crutch, not to have to explain why the earth changed spinning speeds. It’s a deus ex machina move, and to leave it unaccounted for is a hole in the story.

But once I forgave Walker for not giving me the sci-fi juice I felt I deserved, I could see the story for what it really was: the perspective of a very privileged and safe little girl suddenly in a world that is not longer safe for anyone.

What is safety? Her doting parents and solid best friendship turn out to be more tenuous than she realized. And when she could no longer assume what she had always relied upon, the lack of her best friend at her school lunch table was far more meaningful to her than the earth’s rotation.

For a 12 year old, that lunch table is vastly more important.

In the same way, our every day lives, experiences and relationship matter a lot more than the big issues.

It matters that someone wishes me well as I start my day. It matters what smiles I meet.

There’s not much I can do about the earth’s rotation. There’s not a lot I can do about a lot of things.

But I can be a force of love and kindness in the world. It makes a difference.

Better than Bristol Fashion

I made up a new word. English let’s you do that .

I’ve been working on the toughest project of my life, and it’s been scooping me out. At the same time I’ve been getting excellent teamwork.

It’s not just the teamwork. Kindergartners know that word.

The people I have been working with have practiced


That’s my word. And to underline this idea, I have coincidentally been reading Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana. My daughter’s been reading a children’s version for school. She was telling me about it, excited to learn about sailors’ life.

At last! I could read a book with her. I picked it up this week and have been swimming in the metaphors and vocabulary of the middle 1800s.

Veronica is telling me she wants to try salt beef. Me too!

Dana’s book is famous not just because it’s a good book–which it is–but also because it formed a basis for a reorganization of the rights of sailors.

He talks about the hard work of the sailors from an American perspective. Living all together, eating together and working together is a whole lot of togetherness.

And it is understood that a sailor should always have work to do. There was no doubt that every single one of the crew on the ship had opinions of one another’s skills in any of their tasks. They had very repetitive tasks. And when one of them took their work easy, it made another’s work harder.

Dana talks about how the captain and the mates would keep the crews in line, bawling the out to keep it all moving and on task.

In a well-run ship, everyone knew their work and did it. But the mates kept the standards.

I don’t work on a ship. Here in the 21st century, we have a different sort of work model. Yet the concept of each person knowing their work and doing it remains.

That’s the teamsmanship I was experiencing. All the people involved were in this were leaning in. I didn’t have to chase anyone down. My team was fully engaged in completing their task to the best of their ability, and communicating with me, the captain of this project.

In these times, people are expected to bring knowledge and dedication to their work. If people don’t bring those things, teamwork can still happen. But when they do bring their best experience and problem solving skills to the task, it’s beautiful.

When we catch each other’s mistakes, and give suggestions about how we can avoid them–That’s teamsmanship. That’s the ideal we are all looking for.