Have you ever felt the need to wipe away the energies of the day? I’ve felt it a lot lately. And sometimes, like today, it is a reason for me to take a shower at 3am and eventually go back to sleep instead of waiting and starting my day.
What do I mean by “energies of the day?” The thoughts that won’t go away. The feelings from listening to others or hearing the news or reading the reactions to any of the above. I want to clear the brain and reset (and actually sleep). Today, I find the need to write first.
One of my reflections lately has been about my birthday. The last post came before my birthday. Now that the odometer has officially flipped over, I am almost two weeks into a new decade. A friend ahead of me in the same year reassured me that it would be ok and there wouldn’t be zombies after me, or anything like that.
The other reason I have thought a lot about this birthday is because as an adult it has always been my effort to celebrate, especially for decade birthdays. Ten years ago I was still married. My (ex) husband had a decade birthday first and made a fuss about celebrating. When my turn came around – nothing. Our anniversary happened to be in October a couple of weeks later. My ex not only had to work, he didn’t offer to make plans over a different weekend, which is what we previously had done. The marriage, at least from my point of view, was rocky for many reasons. After the anniversary discussion I decided that I was finished. Instead of celebrating a relationship, I went apartment hunting, happy, at least, that I’d be returning to Kalamazoo. By the end of October I had moved (with the cat) and (re)started single life.
I moved several times since first returning to Kalamazoo. Some moves I chose to do while others I had to. For example, when the landlady died and the family wanted to make sure the house could be included as part of the estate. I had time, as long as I hurried up.
Moving this year is not something I expected. I actually have enjoyed living in a studio and made it feel cozy. I guess it had been more cramped than I realized, though. When the opportunity to move upstairs came along, I jumped. I could’ve moved to a bigger studio, too. I was only interested in the upstairs apartment. So for the last two weeks of September, I figured out where things generally would go and moved (with some help) upstairs to an apartment with three or four times the space. It seemed “right sized” – not as big as when I rented entire houses, and still bigger than the studio.
What I have noticed is that there is a different feeling when you have the space to move around. I will still be downsizing things. I believe my brain is also trying to download things. Maybe things that I didn’t completely have the room to put it in. Or the words to express. Or lost when in places too big. So, here I am at 4 in the morning, reflecting. I feel cleaner from writing as much as from showering. Just like that first move to the single life, this feels like a transition, too. Like there is more happening than the fact of organizing from a move. It’s probably been happening, and I am at a point where things slowed down enough (I mean, it IS 4am!) that I can acknowledge this change.
I have to say that I am excited. I also want to note that the last 10 years, even the parts more recently, seem like a long time ago (yes, in a galaxy far away, too). It’s experience, yet right now and whatever is coming up is what seems exciting and I don’t even know what that is. Have you had any similar experience?
Thanks for reading!
Have you ever been on the edge of something and could not quite grasp it? Maybe the name of a person when you recognize the face, or a tidbit you heard. It is frustrating, right? What if what you are normally good at, which might be remembering names and not just faces, feels blocked? Communication, instead of flowing freely, is more jagged in the same way glass might crack. In other words, what you are trying to say, if it reaches the intended audience, becomes distorted while traveling. The distortion means that for the communication to redirect, it takes work, and everyone involved must be willing to try. Does this sound like truth or weirdness?
I have noticed this phenomena in my own life and in particular during the last year. Part of noticing at all is through the attempt to increase self-awareness. Being self-aware is an ongoing journey and the more I learn the more I realize there is still a long way to go. What I have noticed is that actions and communications in one environment are sometimes taken differently in another environment. This is not true one hundred percent of the time or with one hundred percent of the people. Sometimes others involved do not try or will crack those jagged lines further and it makes it hard to patch things up.
One of my interests includes learning more about leaders and leadership and how an organization can be effected. Since an organization is made up of people, that means there are emotional effects. Organizations are alive, in a sense. It’s more than the communication or the name at the tip of your tongue. If the person in charge has certain attitudes and emotions, anyone around is likely to “catch” and possibly reflect those same attitudes and emotions. I mean, if the person in charge is doing it, and that person is seen as having a high quality of character and worthy of the position, then it makes sense some would intentionally mirror that person. The leader in this case is being considered someone worthy to follow, from mannerisms to habits to attitude. We learn by example and many times it may be intentional. Did you ever play house and have a role as a parent and mimic your own parent, for example? It also means there are others who may not realize why a good day has turned sour. It is similar to driving to work and not remembering what route you took. Another version is that you can be aware of that change and pinpoint the source of the reaction, or, while in route, you enjoyed the scenery.
The last point has been challenging. First, not everyone is or tries to be self-aware. I have been working on increasing self-awareness for over ten years. It works if you’re intentional about it. When an area you are not used to being “off” is hit hard, the immediate instinct is to react. Kind of like the “fight or flight or freeze” that we hear about. This is where yoga and the self-awareness journey have helped me – they have taught me to pause, and then react to the situation, not my emotions to the situation. Reacting with that initial instinct usually causes unneeded trouble. If someone told me I had to fight it out on the playground at recess, I wouldn’t be surprised. Other times, it could be junior high and a constant “Mean Girls” (boys, too!) movie on repeat.
The part that really gets me about the communication is that many times I have had the skills or the interest where creativity will flow. In the jagged glass environment, all of those skills and interests are like the name that can’t quite be remembered. Eventually I am reminded and realize that. What it feels like is a wall or some barrier pushing down while the “correct” answer is being coerced (sometimes nicely) to the front. Is this related to controlling by fear and the automatic reactions that have been programmed into our lives?
I bring up this topic to try to figure it out and to return to the topic of community. Funny thing is, others in the same community are immune because they have a different focus. For example, I have observed one person with a project and another person who wanted to learn the same topic ending up in the same room. They verbally agreed to work on the project together towards both of their goals. I have seen this several times. It has to be the correct mix of people, though, and it probably depends on the approach and the project. I have tried the same thing and have received more attitude than support from the idea. I find it all as interesting as it is nauseating. What keeps me hooked is that I have had enough of the times I have enjoyed to keep returning. The question is – which part will last?
Thanks for reading!
I just finished an excellent book called “The Linchpin” by Seth Godin. It would’ve fit well with the Business Book Lady and Kalamazoo Business Book Club discussions. My favorite point, the main point of the book, is that we all have art to give. Art, according to Godin, is “any original idea that can be a gift.” Godin also notes that there is labor involved: “Not the labor of lifting a brush or typing a sentence, but the emotional labor of doing something difficult, taking a risk and extending yourself.”
As I was reading the book, I was thinking about Godin’s concept of art. The art couldn’t be outside the box, either, because there is no guaranteed support or even the chance to complete (what Godin called “shipping.”) Instead, the creativity of the art is on the edge, where it is still recognizable, with a twist. I believe Hacker Gals would’ve fit since the goal was to have part maker space design, and part women’s organization, among other ideas. Those were all recognizable. Putting them together the way I did was the twist.
My life seems to be one of those twists, too, kind of like my favorite flavor of soft serve ice cream – mixing vanilla and chocolate. I’m coming up on a really good part, too. It’s like when you know your experience will change because you turned 16 to drive, except that is all you know. I’m getting to the part of school I’ve been wanting to do the most for the last couple of years. I couldn’t do these things now if I hadn’t taken the path I did, my “driver’s training.” The training is not easy, and definitely comes with obstacles. First of all, appealing to be able to receive financial aid.
Funny thing about liking school enough to earn degrees – they all add up to a lot of credit hours. Too many credit hours earned can be just as bad as too many credit hours attempted and not earned. The requirement for both is to appeal and provide documentation to prove your plan. I had to do it last school year, too. All I get out of the process is feeling like a human pinball being bounced around the machine. The biggest problem of being a part of the machine is that the departments don’t talk to one another. No one knows the entire process or what each step requires. I started this year with what I learned from last year, and made an appointment with financial aid. My paperwork was ok as written, except I needed to submit a graduation audit for my documentation. An audit required talking to an adviser in the college of my degree, and walk-ins weren’t available the day I was already on campus. When I talked to someone a week later and submitted paperwork to the registrar’s office, the auditor emailed me later that one part was missing. Meanwhile, financial aid had made it sound like the audit had to be completed before the appeal could be approved, which I told the auditor. A couple of days later, the missing paperwork was submitted, the auditor stated proof of the submission was all I needed for financial aid, and financial aid is reviewing my paperwork. Whew!
Another transition has been a change socially. It’s been weird not having friends to talk to as regularly. Maybe this is part of the “art” since it is something I have been doing even before reading “Linchpin” – reaching out to friends to support them, even when they do not ask. It has been special cause it has led to being able to see people who I haven’t seen much in the last year. I hope it has helped in return, too. Plus, today I received unexpected messages to join a couple of friends for dinner. That was super cool, even when I arrived after they were close to finishing. I wasn’t hungry and ordered food to go, which also worked well.
Connections have also been important to me. A former high school classmate reached out recently on Facebook. It was someone who I actually talked to in high school and at a reunion or two in-between because I remember having a conversation about writing. It turns out that is still what he does. I sent a message to have a short chat, and we discussed writing. I have to say that even though I haven’t read Science Fiction (or any fiction) lately, thinking about all I have learned or experienced lately I am inspired to take some of it and create stories. Maybe that’ll work out better than the songwriting attempts, or even help them.
My friends tonight asked what I was up to today, noting that it had been “7 hours” since I had been on Facebook. Even though I use messenger, I’m really not on Facebook that often and appreciate the separation of the apps. What a loaded question about my day. I was excited to say that I watched parts of the Startup Grind Europe conference which began about 3am here (9am in London). I also participated in the world record attempt for the largest live stream audience by watching the interview with Eric Schmidt of Alphabet. After dinner, I had to be home for an online work meeting, and now here I am writing this.
Oh, and I love the layout of my space! I worked on it Tuesday morning before my friend came to visit. Knowing that I was going to show it off was a great motivator!
An ice cream twist explanation of the day seems much simpler, don’t you think?
The phrase in the title “The Seven-Year Itch” usually is about marriage. In my case, it’s how long I’ve been divorced. I noticed this recently because I changed my name back to my maiden name, which started conversations and questions. A common question was to ask if I recently got married. No one expects an answer to be “divorce” unless they have known me long enough to know about my previous relationship. A reason I even noticed the 7 years in particular was because I had to dig out my divorce decree as part of changing my name. It was the official paperwork, stamped and signed in February of 2009 which gave permission to return my name to “Stacy Belinsky.”
One of the first questions I had was “Why did it take so long?” At the time, there was a lot going on, and a long list of things to change. It was easier to leave my last name and wait. I had thought that if I waited more than a year that I would have to go through the name change process, which is expensive and time consuming. I’m quite glad that I was wrong!
Another meaning, to me, of “the seven-year itch” is change. Some changes come at you, whether you want them or not and whether you are warned or not. Meanwhile, there is a steady change going on in the background that is accumulating to something bigger. For example, I never thought I would end up as THE Startup Grind Chapter Director of Kalamazoo. It’s quite a different hat than I am used to because I am the one setting the stage, doing things I wasn’t before and finding coverage for what I was doing and cannot. It makes me quite aware and puts everything in slow motion.
Then there is school. For the first couple of years, the object was to work really hard and learn. When I added in psychology classes on top of writing classes, the amount of learning increased exponentially, at least. What’s really cool is that I am getting to the impact part – working on a collaboration of a journal article to be published later this year and (as part of the psychology program) working in a research lab starting in the Fall. Plus, thanks to one of my recent instructors, I have been meeting psychology graduate students in PhD programs. I am hoping that discussions started on campus will continue at a conference in Chicago, and allow for new people and discussions. Another hat and a new type of conference to attend. I am excited!
Writing has always been the backbone. It was the reason I wanted to return to school. Writing is what I enjoy doing the most and I find it something I need to do, too. Writing is the one part of Startup Grind that I consistently get to do, and even though it is a long shot, I’m even hoping to be able to attend the first Europe conference. I already know I could be one of the writers there. Traveling abroad is also a brand new hat, too, and part of the motivation for the timing of the name change – I want to study abroad before I finish my current program, and the first task on the list is to apply for a passport. I wasn’t going to apply until I changed my name, and that, of course, led to the “seven year itch” reference. Many of these changes I am doing as a part of my choices in life and the items mentioned are most recent. If I looked back at 7 years, the accumulation would be a long list. A reason for what I am doing now is because of items in the list from before that opened the opportunities. I can’t wait to see what is next! What are you up to?
The city I live in and the general West Michigan area tend to close down in observance of days like Easter. Although the corner store is open, the parking lot is full of cars that belong to people in the church across the street. Any of my coffee shop “work” spots are closed, so when I am writing today I am at home. I made sure to go outside, though. At the moment, it is sunny and the temperature is in the fifties, which hasn’t happened in a couple of weeks. For however long it stays, the breath of fresh air in the sunshine felt nice.
My task is to write about stress and aging based on articles I am reading. Whether or not purposely said, when I had a discussion with the teaching assistant in charge of meeting with the class on our papers, she commented that it was stressful. Yes – stressed about writing – on stress. Basically, the challenge is in getting started. So why am I here? The title also refers to this past week. I feel like there has been a breath of fresh air as joyous as being outside today. The highlight was being invited to an English department dinner, and the conversations that occurred while at dinner. Let’s just say that there were many references to the fourth grade, which was interesting. My recollection of fourth grade was that it was shortly after the original “Star Wars” movie came out, and the choices of art projects by some of my classmates seemed to revolve around that. I remember someone making a Darth Vader puppet. I also remember the teacher, Mrs. Fox, and how we would do different musicals (I believe she played the piano). One of the class productions was definitely “The Monster Mash.”
However you are spending your Sunday, I hope it is a great day. Thanks for reading!
In my “Psychology of Aging” class last week, one of the discussions revolved around attitudes and aging. When something happens, how you cope, and that attitude in coping, can either build up a lot of stress or bounce off of you. For example, when I finished an appointment, I knew, and even stated out loud, that I had 5 minutes to make the bus. I didn’t have too far of a walk and 5 minutes seemed plenty of time. It would’ve been, too, except I ended up walking behind a group of people getting off of a different bus, and the one I wanted was near the front. It was too congested to walk very fast so with probably 20 steps to go, I watched the bus pull out. It’s not worth trying to catch it at a different stop, either, so I found a spot inside a nearby building and waited for the next one. Disappointing? Maybe. I thought it was ironic and kind of funny.
When my last class of the day ended a couple of days later, I had to make a stop before heading to the bus waiting area. Normally, there would be 10 minutes. By the time I was able to leave I had 5 minutes or less. This time, I was coming from the other side and the bus was at the back end. I probably had another 30 seconds to get close enough, so I watched it leave, again. Twice in a row? Still funny, I guess. I knew it might not work, though, so I went to a different building in the hope of taking care of a task. I wasn’t able to complete it, but at least it gave me something more to do than standing around and waiting. I wouldn’t have known I couldn’t complete the task if I hadn’t tried.
What this has made me think about is how things seem like they are a really good idea and turn out to not be “it.” Today, to read something while I was on the bus to go to Meijer, I remembered that I had downloaded the book “The One Thing” (by Gary Keller) to the Kindle on my phone. I don’t even remember how the book was recommended other than I think I found it from reading something else. The main discussion in the book is that we don’t get ahead by “big” things. We get what we want because (usually) we are passionate that leads to dedicated practice and learning of one thing, many times with the help of one person, and that leads to success. The author cites Walt Disney, the Beatles, Bill Gates and Oprah, each having not only one thing they were into doing, but someone significant in their lives who helped them obtain that one thing to the point that they could give back to the world in the same way – through one thing.
The book and the experience this week in general has also led me to think about all of the parts of my life. One organization I really like, for example, and theoretically it should help solve some of my personal problems. Instead, I put out a lot of energy. It is still worth having a relationship and yet not the affiliation. It “just missed” being able to really help me, and I have decided to let it go, whether or not I need to wait for another one to appear. I might have something right in front of me, too.
Another organization is the one I started and that I write about, Hacker Gals. I created it partially because I saw a problem, and partially because I experienced the problem I saw. If I had been the only one with the experience, then that would have been a completely different journey. However, even though I know that the need is there, it still feels like a “just missed it” scenario. I’m not sure where to go with that. It doesn’t seem as simple to me. When I brought the question up last summer, a group showed up for the discussion, and some from the group have helped to keep it going, yet it’s still not feeling right and similar to the organization I know I need to leave, I am wondering if the answer is the same.
When it comes to my “one thing,” I would say that it is writing. It is the one thing I have always loved to do and has moved me forward. Writing is the reason I returned to school. Still, writing is pretty broad. Each of my experiences has helped with the next, and I believe the current path within school and with Startup Grind will help me continue to narrow down what topics I want to research and write about and maybe even provide the community I seem to be trying to find. What is your story?
Thanks for reading!
The friend I referred to in “Art, Being Social and “How Time goes by” noted that I had been “writing like crazy.” His question to me was “Is it a New Year’s resolution to write more?” My response was that it wasn’t for anything like that and I wanted to write more because it makes me feel better.
Writing more has been something I have been intentional about for a while, it is just more obvious lately here. I had noticed before that when I express my thoughts it is a release, which also makes it a relief. It was even mentioned during one of the health psychology lectures last semester that writing can be used as a part of therapy. I like using a blog site for anything I can write about in public, and so began my “writing like crazy” trend.
I learned quite a bit in that health psychology class, which I have been thinking about more during down time. One of the chapters was about stress and how humans are the same, yet different, from other animals. What that means is that we have the same reactions to situations. In the case of animals, though, they do not continue to think about things or even worry ahead of time. Animals use the stress reactions in the moment and either are safe (they did not become the lion’s dinner, for example) or they are dead and it does not matter (that would be if the lion won, for example). We humans, though, have been coping with stress, one way or another, over our life from the time we were infants. Somewhere in the class material I discovered the book Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky, which is all about the stress concept mentioned earlier. It is a book that is backed by science yet written for the general person, and it is one I am in the middle of reading. I will definitely write more when I have something additional to say about the book.
Thanks for reading!
As many people note, I tend to keep busy with various projects. Probably my favorite at the moment is a writing collaboration with one of my professors that is not for any specific class. One of my tasks as part of this writing project is to transcribe recordings of my pitches from 2013 and 2014. I have made it through a few of the recordings and feel like I am looking at a completely different person in another era. I am amazed at my growth in the last couple of years. It is quite interesting.
So, let me back up a little bit to explain a couple of more things. After graduating with an MBA in 2013 and spending the summer deeper in the startup community of Kalamazoo than I had been previously able to do, I came out of it with two main wants. The first was to return to school specifically for writing, because every job I have ever had always seemed to have something to do with writing either directly or indirectly (besides that I have a need to express myself by writing). The second was to be a part of the Starting Gate student business accelerator at Western Michigan University, because I had my own idea and wanted to apply if I found a suitable program to pursue. It not only worked out, I found many of my English classes in Rhetoric and Writing Studies to be helpful with my business idea (which is another story).
Circling back around, though, it was the combination of the entrepreneurial experience and writing program that led to the project I am working on now. However the project turns out, the experience of creating it will have a high impact at a personal level. My reaction after transcribing a few short (5 minutes or less) videos? “OMG!”
Thanks for reading!
When I have felt blocked or stuck, what has worked for me is to let what is not working, sit, and find something that is fun and stress relieving. In my case, that usually means some combination of writing and/or a picture project. Tonight, I am doing both!
The frames on my wall in my current apartment have been blank, except for one, because I knew I wanted to upgrade my wall art, as mentioned in this post. A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded photos to have them ready for printing. Although I printed more than what I would need for the three frames, I wanted to make sure that I had at least the preferred categories of pictures. The themes I decided to use were:
- Book Club – I facilitated the Kalamazoo Business Book Club (KBBC) for 26 months, and read nearly a book a month for the club. During the second year, I started the Business Book Lady blog, and I also made sure to take more people pictures (eventually) instead of just pictures of the book. The discussions were always great and it really was as fun as it looks in the photos. We also found our final home at an awesome location in Downtown Kalamazoo – The Michigan News Agency. The owner, Dean, was as excited to have us as we were to be there. It was fun to see her and the others once a month (at least) on a Monday night.
- 5k Runs -Running is something that I have slowly been developing during the last several years. It began when I realized that all it took was practice, which I wrote about here. When I enter races, most of the time I know friends who are participating, too. One of my friends, not pictured, came to several of the events to cheer and take pictures, including the picture where the ground looks frosted and I am wearing a pink jacket. It was more challenging for my friend to stay warm while waiting than it was for me running. The Color Run (2014) was meant as a fun event, although some did run as if it were being timed. I went all out and enjoyed the chance to be messy and colorful. The One One Run is a group favorite. Although it is not timed, since it takes place on January 1st (at 1pm), it is much warmer (and faster!) to try to run instead of walk. The picture of me in the crowd was in the local online news! Also, sometimes I see friends I don’t expect, such as at the Kalamazoo Klassic, and the friend finishes the race with me. At the Borgess Run, one of my friends did not want to leave the grounds until we had the chance to meet up. She had participated in the 10k and I was in the 5k run.
- Startup Grind – I had thought about including a frame of startup events and decided since that had an entire book, the wall frame only needed Startup Grind, including the Kalamazoo chapter. The story had changed since creating the “Startup World” album, as far as this topic. I was part of the community until August 2014, when I became a part of the team. It is definitely different to plan and promote an event versus only attending, and I have been lucky enough to experience both sides. The top two pictures and the bottom right corner are all from the same January 2014 event where the night could have been endless. (Yes, the mingling was THAT much fun, besides the fireside chat that night.) The rest are team photographs. The group shot is when I was in California and had the opportunity to visit the Palo Alto headquarters. Since I already had contact with several of the team, it was natural to meet them in person. The day before, I had been able to hike with a mentor I had met through Startup Grind. The other three pictures all have to do with the Kalamazoo team. The Chapter Director is sitting with me and the banner. For a short while there were three of us, and we gathered for a meeting at a coffee shop, which I wrote about here. The picture of me with my bicycle was to celebrate being added to the team, AND be in at least one picture, since as a photographer I was not in any others.
Mostly, the idea is that when I look at the pictures, they make me happy. I might change out the fourth one because it is about my Dad, which makes it a little bit sad. The page had originally been a part of a different display, which I didn’t keep. Since I still wanted to preserve the page and have it out, I fit it to the 12 x 12 frame. The other three, though, are current and make me smile when I look at them and think about the different stories. Working on the pages has made it a productive, fun night, and has definitely been a stress reliever. What is your method to break out of a cycle of being stuck?
Thanks for reading! (and commenting/liking)
When Sandy and I first decided to check out Chili Pepper Songwrite Nite two years ago, I never imagined that I would make it every single time. As I described in Storytelling in a Song, I was totally hooked. Since that time, I support however I am able to, whether it is sharing a status, going to someone’s show, or recording video to help with a portfolio because I am able to and I like doing it. It has been my pleasure because I love listening to the music from the group and hearing their stories. There’s more than that, though, because I have made friends.
The Chili Pepper show tonight was additional to the normal third Sunday of the month since a “Father” of the group, Marc-Alan Barnette (MAB), came to visit this weekend from Nashville.
Besides providing an educational as well as entertaining show, there were presentations included. One was to Rene, also known as “Uncle Bingo.” Rene connected the seven in the Chili Peppers together, and is constantly doing that with and for musicians and songwriters. Tonight, he was personally thanked by the group with an award that was presented by Dani.
It didn’t stop there, though. Clayton, who was the emcee for most of the night, handed the microphone over to Charlie. This time the award was for someone who was not just a fan, but an actual “friend.” Reread what I wrote at the beginning and it basically is what Charlie was stating…about me. How cool is that?
I don’t do anything because I expect something back. In fact, much of what MAB discussed was that songwriters write to touch lives and the money is a bonus. Expecting more probably means that you are in the wrong business. I support local music and musicians, and this is an awesome group. I totally appreciate and am humbled to receive the award and thank all the Chili Peppers for it. The only thing I am sorry about is that I cannot connect with them more regularly than once a month. Anytime I can, I definitely do.
Thanks for reading! (and liking/commenting)