Have you ever noticed how people start to look alike the longer they are around each other? This definitely seems to be true of couples. Sometimes, you may have noticed it with an owner and a pet. Back when we were still married, my ex-husband and I found it cute to wear similar items – a jacket, a sweatshirt, or maybe a baseball type cap. When they were items I would wear anyways, it seemed fun. What happens if it goes too far and you lose your own identity? Is it better to have that mix?
I have been thinking about this because it happens to more than just couples. When you are in an environment long enough, the others around you are going to rub off, whether fashion or other characteristics. In fact, I have heard discussions about becoming like the average of the 5 people you are around the most. I don’t know if this is completely true. I do know that it worries me when I think about the different environments I am in and what that might mean. Where my ex-husband and I intentionally dressed alike at times, I find other examples more subtle. In fact, over time, these become a part of the norm. What can change that?
About 10 years ago I decided I wanted to change things about me and my life. That decision created the start to an awareness and a reason to seek out feedback. It was intentional, just like the example of dressing similar. I worked on all aspects that I could think of – joined new groups, shopped for new type of clothes and had friends with me for support and feedback. I explored whatever I found that seemed relevant. Being intentional and creating that awareness did and has made an impact. I have branched out to try more things and also kept the previous feedback in mind.
I had a lot of life changes in a short period of time – new job, divorce, moving several times and returning to school. The last point, school, has been significant. It gave me time and access to people and resources on campus to be able to work on better health, for example. I had healthcare without a full-time job, and I could use the gym and participate in classes offered, which helped me explore options such as yoga and running. I didn’t find too much significance in my degree program until one of my electives.
I loved all three electives. One in particular changed the way I thought about things and I wished more of the classes had done that. Changing the way you look at things could be as easy as sitting on the ground instead of up in a chair. The point is that if we are so used to sitting in the chair we may automatically use that perspective. Realizing that more perspectives exist opens the mind. In that class, I realized how tight norms could be. In that class, I began to let the norms unwind and let them go.
The problem with going against norms is that it can be an uphill battle. It can mean losing out to follow what I believe is right over what is expected. When I had an idea about solving a problem, instead of burying the thought, I brought it up and developed it and learned a lot from the experience. I like hanging around people who have that mindset and it encourages me to keep on this path. That uphill battle still exists, though.
I feel like I have hit something similar to that class previously mentioned. More schooling has taught me a lot about the world related to behaviors and general human development. Overlapping the last couple of semesters, for about a year I have been around new people. As a group, we have been creating an organization. The discussions have been a mix of perspectives. Whether there are compromises or a win, it’s been an uphill battle. Probably the most difficult is the work that goes into creating the organization based only on pieces and examples. Still, I feel like things are changing for me as they did the way the one class did. I’m not sure it is the culture I want, yet I know I am absorbing some of it because I am there. Expressing myself as I want to does not always work well. Part of the battle is paying attention and understanding the different perspectives, with or without agreement. Similar to school, I am there to learn and participate and work at full engagement. Still…
How do you hang on for a bumpy ride when there is no seat belt? Since there is no seat belt, do you have to hang on or do you get ready to jump to the next ride instead? Or maybe coast with a foot in two different cars? It might even be like Twister, with hands and feet on separate circles. That’s probably the most stressful of all, yet this world says “Bring it on!”
If this makes any sense to you, please comment with your thoughts or questions.
One of the fun parts about social media is reading the adventures my friends have, especially related to their children. What I find interesting is the similarity in stories as the children hit certain ages or stages in life. For example, one of my friends posts about the challenges of his two-year-old daughter while she is going through potty training. Slightly behind these posts, one of my other friends has the same topic about twins (boy and girl) and how he has twice the fun, since one twin’s actions follows the other. As far as which one starts the chain, take your pick. It varies.
What I see after following both these friends and others is that the situations are normal and how they are handled is what may set the stage for future behavior. For example, “terrible twos” are known for tantrums. Every time the tantrum works it encourages the chance that a tantrum will happen again. We expect the little kids to have them until they learn that the tantrums will not work. What about when it is adults? I hate it, hate it, hate it when the only way I end up getting attention is because I raise my voice and keep going in the direction towards a tantrum, even if it is not a full fledged one. It works. I know better (and totally HATE that), and end up in that mode sometimes anyways.
I also note when I observe it is happening in a situation I am a part of and I HATE it just as much. If I can do something to stop the full out show, I will. I’m referring to work or organization environments, not the general public. The thing is, just like I don’t get attention sometimes with a normal discussion and feel like I have to escalate the tone, I understand what seems like the need for this behavior.
Is it still considered a tantrum when it is an adult? In a discussion one day, the response from the other person went something like this: “The way the world works is that the squeaky wheel gets the attention.” In a sense, we are all a two-year-old trying to get attention. Considering how often I have an upset stomach as a result, I wish it could be as easy as using wd-40 to make the squeaks stay away when they are not necessary. Maybe the question is “how do we respect and listen to each other?”
What do you think? Do you have a story or suggestion to share?
When I went through divorce, I was lucky. How do those two get paired together when divorce just plain sucks? Being surrounded by people and having lots of choices of activities and places to go – that is lucky. When what you are going through sucks, it helps to have a social network to lean on. That doesn’t mean we talked about divorce. We did at least check in with each other. I have written about this before, and I have been thinking about it again, because I wonder, where have all of the people gone?
To be fair, I am referring to a time between 8 or 9 years ago, and a lot has changed. So, when I say “people,” that does not mean all of the same individuals. What I do mean is “Why aren’t there a lot of people and activities now?” What is the difference and is it just me?
What may be funny is that these questions made me think about a poster I kept until a few months ago. My fifth grade teacher had us describe each of our classmates with something positive, and why the overall person “is my friend.” Other than the points about softball, I do not believe much has changed – “a good reader,” “is tall,” and “shares her things.” On top of that, I have nearly 700 “friends” on Facebook, plus people following me on Instagram, LinkedIn and here, on WordPress. What really matters to me, and has always mattered, is who I get to see in-person. It is a different type of connection than commenting, liking, or following people online. Telephone can be ok, too (did I really just type that?) IF there is a conversation involved. I have had calls where it might as well be the other person reading one of my posts and not typing anything (or liking). It’s all about the following. That might be acceptable if the person being followed is unobtainable, such as a movie star or TV actor. Different story completely – back to this one.
So here is the thing – my life overall is better because there is no divorce (or anything similar) happening, yet it is quiet. I have been talking about it for a while and have regained some meaningful interactions. These I look forward to, and I believe it helps that they are regularly scheduled over coffee or something similar. Still, I see others all of the time and feel like it does not matter. I share and am nice and my actions are genuine. I have not been in school since mid-April, so that gives me more time, right? I still feel as busy as when I was in school, just without all the homework deadlines or classes to attend. We all find time for what is most important to us, and sometimes that can be hard to balance. I do feel there are better answers waiting to be discovered beyond the excuse of “busy.”
Others must be noticing this phenomena in their lives, too. I have seen a few more posts lately that mention that texts and comments have not been enough. Real support with real people really matters. My favorite times are when I get to see friends, whether I know them well or not. The past couple of weeks have included several people who I had not seen in months. I loved all of the BIG hugs. It is not enough. I want to be as lucky as I was when going through divorce, as far as the social network.
People I have met more recently sometimes seem like they want to stay more of an acquaintance (and sometimes I want them to stay that way), even when we interact for several hours on the days we are around each other per week. I am not referring to co-workers, either. (I work remotely, so those interactions are going to be over email or messaging or the phone.) I mean, if my classmates and I could figure this out at 10 years of age, what has changed? Is it really about social media? On the other hand, different people who I have not known more than a couple of years are completely open and willing to have deeper discussions as needed. Sometimes, those are the highlights of my weeks!
Bottom line? If we really are friends and have not connected much (or at all) lately, time to add to the calendar. And, if we do already see and chat with each other regularly and consider each other friends, see you soon!
What are your thoughts?
Although I have been writing, it’s mostly been for classes or work related. In fact, I have been so busy doing things that my internal schedule is off and I cannot sleep. Lucky you, or better yet, lucky me to take the time to write and maybe be able to rest after.
This weekend is homecoming. The last few years I have been participating in the 5k as a runner. For this event and other running events, I usually see friends participating. In the past, I have either been part of a group making plans to participate, or I have shared and asked on Facebook. I’ve even had friends come specifically to cheer (I have done the same) as their participation, which has even meant standing out in the cold waiting with me for the race to start, and trying to keep warm or find me to take pictures while I am on the course. Most of these friends are still around and participating in events. I usually find out because of a Facebook post after the fact or because we run into each other after the end of the race. For this weekend’s event, I decided to do it anyways, even though my training barely worked. I was on a roll with the c25k (couch to 5k) app for a few weeks, practicing all 3 days. After that, I went once a week a few more times, and the last time I walked most of the time. I am changing the goal I had of running the entire course to enjoying the event and running as much as possible (it’s faster and warmer). I think it’ll work..
Classes have been what I have been up to the most. I only have two and they keep me hopping. I am a part of an undergraduate research lab and a writing creative non-fiction class. Both require a lot of reading on top of any writing. I don’t mind the work, though, because the material is great. I want to be there. In fact, the last time I had a semester like this it was in the fall semester just before finishing the MBA program. Both those classes had big impacts, and I believe these will, too. They are pushing me forward.
What about everything else? I have felt at a crossroads for a while. In fact, when I read the blog posts for my job I can usually identify with the topic, and many times they seem to match what is happening in my life. It’s almost freaky, err, magical. Others must feel that way, too, since there are lots of conversations and special products tend to sell out. This post here resonated with me even more than usual cause I know I am in a place of crossroads, and it is a matter of the direction I choose (or not) as to what happens.
One direction I chose to go was west, all the way to California, to attend #SGSoCAL. I love Startup Grind conferences, and this gave me a chance to attend and also support the HQ team. Having the chance to interact, even a little bit, and also mingle with the attendees, was inspiring. The inspiration helps me. There is a lot of energy and things moving because people are putting their all into their business passion. It makes you want to help them and it makes you want to move, too. Plus, the week in Los Angeles was like returning to mid-summer. The temperature even topped 100 degrees F one day. It was worth the heat and especially the sunshine, and I made new friends, besides seeing some current friends. I have barely returned for a week and that week in Los Angeles already seems a long time ago.
Right before I left for Los Angeles, I kicked off the day with one of my yoga instructors and one of her friends at an event called Soul Pose, a yoga party. I love yoga and all the things that they added to the event, so it was a great kickoff for me. I even had a chance in Los Angeles to do yoga on the beach. In September! That doesn’t happen in Michigan except on a fluke.
And then there was Disneyland. The first and last time I was ever in the Los Angeles area I went with my grandmother (Bubbi) shortly after I turned 16 years old. It was the first time I had ever been on a plane and the first time to California. I don’t remember a lot about it except that we did NOT go to Disneyland. I believe we went to Universal Studios and CBS Studios. Plus, a couple of teens around the same age had moved from my block to live with their grandmother out there and we went to the Pacific Ocean. No Disneyland, though. Maybe it was too expensive or far away. I’m not sure, other than it did not happen.
When two of my friends at Startup Grind found out that I was coming to #SGSoCAL, they each separately told me that I HAD to go to Disneyland (one even made it a “last request” before he left). It’s not that they really needed to twist my arm as much as that they were even trying to. I found out at the conference that they were tag teaming me and discussing what to write while sitting next to each other and sending me separate messages. In the end, they may have both been more excited than I was that I got to go. Neither of them are at HQ anymore, so the effort to keep in touch will be different.
Thanks for reading to the end! Time to run.
Tuesday, September 6th was the first day of school for many students in the area, all different levels. I began classes this past week, too, although not until Wednesday. It was fun to look at all the postings that appeared on Facebook. As I took a picture, all I could think of was “I’m melting.” The photo did not go up on Facebook, and I do not really want to post it here, either. The temperature had been hot and the humidity high. Thankfully, both have dropped.
This leads me to a completely different topic that I almost titled “My two best friends.” The first is Runkeeper. The reason I like it is because there is a social interaction with friends. I used to have a longer list of friends. When trying to update my last name I ended up starting a new profile. That’s ok, though, because I have had some people accept. The interactions are through “likes,” comments, and being able to see that others are running through their activities. It doesn’t matter to me about the time or distance being faster or further than mine cause I am not trying to compare. I am curious why friends run – training, regular exercise, etc, and will ask. All of those examples help because they motivate me to get out and do it, too.
My second “best friend” app is c25k, which stands for “couch to 5k.” It is set up so you run three times a week for 8 weeks and gradually increase the running over the walking until you can run an entire 5k (3.1 miles). I have run 5ks before, and I have even run without stopping until the finish line. I started over because I haven’t been able to run straight through in a couple of years (at least), and a 5k coming up in October is one I have never been able to run the entire course without walking parts of it. This year may be the last time I enter this particular race, so whether or not I have friends who participate in it, I am doing it. The training started with week two because of the time until the event. To date, I have finished week two and three and day one of week four. Yay!
I have been pairing yoga with running since yoga keeps me stretched out and then I run better. It has been a fun adventure so far. Thank you, to my friends who are on Runkeeper. Also, thank you to my Safety Buddy. My Safety Buddy only knows when and where I am running, yet that is an important social interaction, too, beyond just the “safety” part.
Do you have a first day of school or running story to share?
The topic of downsizing and purging is going to continuously come up here. On that thought, I mentioned to one of my friends that I wanted to donate excess scrapbooking supplies specifically where it would be used, not sold. As a former Creative Memories Consultant, I could try selling to other CMCs, and I have. A group of border makers that I had were “hot items” at the time I decided to sell, and the page coordinator even assisted me. Those were relatively small, and I could mail them in a manila envelope for about three dollars. Although I took time to post more items for sale, they were ignored or I discovered that I would need a lot of bigger boxes, and it would take more time than it was worth it to me. What seemed to move was when a “wanted” item was posted, and you had to pay attention and be first to comment or possibly be the closest in proximity. I tried a garage sale, too, and that didn’t go far, so I stored everything the best that I could.
It turned out that the friend I mentioned the wish to has a sister who crafts all the time. She has rheumatoid arthritis, and to keep her fingers moving, she makes cards, journals, and much more. My friend connected me to his sister, and we chatted on the phone. I not only believed them both about the supplies going to good use, I was excited. By going through what I have (and there may be more that I haven’t found yet) I already made more space in my apartment, with the pile of items placed by the door. On top of that. we all win – it made my friend feel good to connect us, it made his sister feel good to have more supplies than she could ever afford, and it made me feel good to give it away and make space. My friend’s sister is not going away, though. We are now friends, and she offered that anytime I want to spend a day crafting to let her know. This is HUGE. I haven’t had the space to do much in the last couple of years. Also, since the end of my consultant days, I haven’t had many friends who have time and want to craft together. In summary, new friend, more space at home, new chances to craft and I will have access to tools that I gave away. Can you feel the excitement?
My next big “picture” project related to downsizing has to do with magnetic albums. I have around 15 books that are 100 pages each, or about a year’s worth of time. These albums are sitting on a shelf up high in the kitchen. Not only are these albums bad for pictures, that’s too many to convert. On top of that, the layout never stays the same. I photographed the pages of the books I previously took apart, and have come up with a new idea – short videos. With a video, I can do a narration and it’ll be like a home movie, then I can dump them faster and preserve what I can. Stay tuned!
Although I will probably have more “Yoga on the Beach” days, one of the best days at the lakeshore had a different purpose. Thanks to my neighbor and his job in the lakeshore area, I had a chance to spend the entire day with a new view. It began with a drop off at a coffee shop built like a super sized house, including large front and back porches. I had been to the coffee shop before, and after receiving what I ordered, I headed outside. The table I chose was near an outlet, which I wanted for my computer.
The great part about the day was finding different spots, whether to absorb, relax, or work, and I chose all of the above. With electronics in my bag, I didn’t want to sit in the sun on the sand. I did walk on the pier to the lighthouse and I also walked on the beach and in the water enough to get my feet wet. The best area of the day, though, was in the shade. I sat for a long time in the grassy area under the trees, usually on a towel and sometimes on a bench. Others had similar ideas, and many had a dog with them. Since most of the people around me were with at least a second person, every so often, one person would get up and go for a walk. The walks usually had multiple purposes of walking the dog and getting food. Sometimes, a person would go off solo, leaving the dog in charge of whoever was left.
I loved the shaded area because there was a nice breeze. It felt significantly cooler under the trees compared to out in the sun. If I had to get up, then everything went with me. I did that several times and still returned to the same general area. Sometimes I would take a break and listen to the conversations of the people around me and those walking by. I also would lie down and read my book, or just look up, enjoying the area. Eventually, I went to a second coffee shop, thinking that the first one had already closed. It turned out the first place was still open, which i found out when I made it back there to get picked up. I have up to three more chances to return with my neighbor, and I am going to bring my bicycle so he can park instead of having to drop me off in town. Where do you like to go for a different view out of town?
I’m not really sure what it is about this summer that has been different. It’s been really weird – at least socially. I mentioned this before, since it has been a thing I have noticed all year. The summer has seemed extra long, though. What I have been excited about is yoga on the beach. I went a couple of times in July, with different instructors. One of them I have known longer than the other and she is also the first yoga instructor I ever went to, around four or five years ago. We ended up being the only two in the car and had a nice chat, plus a great class and lunch with the other ladies. On top of that, the rain held off until we were paying our lunch bills. Perfect timing!
The last time I went to yoga on the beach I rode with two instructors. It was another great day for yoga, with the lake in front of us, and the lighthouse to the right. After class, I asked if there was time to walk to the lighthouse on the pier. It turned out that both instructors wanted to join in on the walk. The trek across the beach towards the pier was normal – dodging kids and frisbees and smooshing any sand castles. Once on the pier, though, it was like a bonus class utilizing the architecture that was there. Although I did participate, I watched more than anything. Sometimes, my participation was a suggestion. If I thought I could do the pose, then I did try. It still felt uplifting just to be a part of what started as a request to walk to the pier. By the time we returned to our original “classroom,” the sky had become more overcast. We ended up leaving after we heard thunder a couple of times. Credit to the guy by the concession stand near the bathrooms who turned out to be more accurate than the weather forecast. His friend was creating sidewalk art that he claimed would be washed away within an hour. I hope she took some pictures before that happened!
Yoga on the beach has been a great summer activity (thank you, if any of my instructors are reading this!). What I have really missed is seeing friends who I am used to hanging out with throughout the month, again, probably because it is summer. I was really glad when one of them decided to celebrate his birthday at a baseball game and it ended up being a group of 12. It was fun to celebrate with the birthday friend AND see people who I knew, too. The forecast and the skies threatened rain. Luckily, that didn’t happen last night.
I loved waking up to the sound of the rain today and hoped that it would stay all day. The rain is such a relief from the humidity. That didn’t happen, and I felt stir crazy in my apartment. Since the bus runs on Saturday, I decided to go to the grocery store for a few things. As I was getting ready, one of my friends messaged me. I thought she was at home. It turned out that she was at the same store I was heading to, and she also rides the bus! We found each other in person for a minute, did our shopping, then met again on our way out to ride the bus back together. Funny thing – she doesn’t usually go to that particular store location, and we both ended up there. We chatted for a little bit after we both made it home, then I decided to be productive. Well…here’s proof of my attempt at productivity. Yes, it is a Saturday night. I don’t mind that writing (and listening to music) and possibly reading are how I will end the evening, as far as I know. What’s up with you?
It’s funny how long this takes me to write sometimes from when I first think about a topic. On top of that, there have probably been several cycles of all of this, too. As the summer has progressed, the weather has gone between being “disgustingly humid,” as someone I know posted, rainy, or right in-between with a lower humidity and temperature. The point is not the weather forecast. It is that I have really wanted to go swimming, and it took a while to get there. I needed a new suit, for one. Plus, I wanted to specifically go to the campus pool for lap swimming, and I needed a swim cap for that. I decided to add goggles, too, and make sure my eyes stayed protected. While gathering all of those items, I also had to figure out how to get to the pool and make sure it was open for the summer, since there tends to be construction. What I figured out is that it’s a long walk to get to the pool without a car. Maybe during the fall or winter a campus bus gets closer. The city bus definitely does not. The final item to figure out was the day and time. I decided to replace running with swimming and go on the day I tend to run.
I finally made it to the pool last week, and it was great! Now I feel more comfortable about going and I have figured out other items. For example, if I do happen to drive and go at the evening time, the meters are free after 4pm. Yay! Swimming was a relief from the humid weather that day, so bonus on the timing. On top of that, I went swimming the next day, too, although a different pool.
My dentist happens to be 40 miles away, and my cousin(in-law). I like going to her and her office cause I feel like they really take care of me there, and they do not try to overdo the office or up-charge or find things to work on that may not really be necessary. For example, many times when I am there we discuss my bite splint. I totally agree that when the dentist at the time said that I needed one, it was, and still would be, an accurate diagnosis. However, I did not need a bite splint that is neon pink and glows in the dark (and I used to have a case that matched). It cost more to get it that way and the neon pink glow was not what made me want to wear it. My bite splint is a “hot topic” almost every time I go to the dentist because part of the appointment is getting it cleaned and making sure it fits.
I also like going to my cousin because it is a chance to see family. When available, I go to the house and see my cousin and their kids, which hadn’t worked out for several times. At the least, I get the connection at the office, though. This time, I found out my cousin and the kids would be around all day, and I could go swimming, if I wanted to. I said I’d be there after my appointment. At my appointment, I was forewarned that the boys were taking turns doing chores, and the 12-year-old was quite grumpy since that took him away from playing video games.
It was late morning when I arrived at the house, and my cousin greeted me outside. When his younger (8 yr old) son finished a chore, we all sat on the porch and chatted while the older son bounced back and forth a couple of times. I loved listening to what everyone was into, including the circuit in the basement based on “American Ninja Warrior” that my youngest cousin moved through rather well. Eventually, we all went outside to swim and sit by the pool. Yes, another swim day! This time, in salt water. Within a couple of hours, my cousin’s friend with his boys joined. The kids played in the pool while the three adults chatted. It was an all around great day and hard to leave and return to Kalamazoo. One of the reasons I wanted to stay was because the social connections I have been missing felt really strong and the discussions were interesting. I missed out on the chance to see my cousin’s dad, too. It has all made me reconsider what I might do about transportation so I can get up there more often.
The back and forth days have not just been the temperature. They have included how I have been feeling. Sometimes the yoga instructors will say to assess and think about terms related to weight. One day, my legs felt really heavy and I was glad for yoga. By the end of the class, my legs felt better. Yoga on the beach highlighted the end of the week and added another really good social component. I rode with the instructor and met the other ladies when we had lunch together. I’m grateful that the instructor sets up carpooling. If it wasn’t for carpooling, I wouldn’t be able to go at all.
As the weeks transition, I had that lethargic feeling again and decided to take advantage of the unlimited summer yoga and go this morning. It definitely has helped me get unstuck and flow again.
Finally, sometimes what I notice is the need to be acknowledged. This could be personal or it could be what I see out in the world, on my block, through Facebook, or wherever. One of the reasons I like blogs over journals is because I want to be acknowledged as much as I want to share my experiences. When people “like” my posts, it is a good start. I still believe that some are doing that because they “like” whatever the featured photo is and aren’t necessarily reading what I write. What is even better is when there are comments, and it doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. I try to acknowledge my friends by sending them messages after seeing posts, or offering to take one of the neighbor kids with me when I walk downtown. No one needs to be invisible and we are all human.
Sometimes, the memories Facebook decides to remind me of are better off being ignored. Other times, they are plain old sad and I may look at them, but I do not usually choose to share them. The last couple of days, though, have been big winners. I have cluttered my news feed because they were FUN!
For example, yesterday was not only humid, the memory that popped up was when I first saw Pop Evil locally. All I wished for yesterday was for it to rain and relieve some of the heat. When the rain finally came later that night, I was thrilled!
The significance of the Pop Evil concert was that it was during a particularly dry summer four years ago. The band played at an outdoor venue. When they finished, many stuck around to get autographs and photos or they were dancing to the music still being piped through the speakers. Maybe an hour later, it started to rain. I handed my phone to the friend with me and joined others who were dancing, sliding on some of the brick since I was barefoot. If I had been around others during the storm last night I just may have danced in celebration during that one, too. The experience four years ago, especially shared with one of my friends, was one of the most fantastic nights. I even met the lead singer and drummer of the band, and both were really nice! Somewhere, I have autographs. Yay for great rainy day Facebook memories! What are yours?