Pain

They say that pain is a signal that keeps you from causing more damage. Example being, you feel pain when you burn your hand so that you pull your hand away and keep from burning it worse. Sure, I get that. But I’m not so certain that all pain is valuable. Headaches can signal dehydration, lack of proper nutrition, and probably much more (I’m not a doctor after all).

Pain is one of those strong emotions that helps burn a memory or lesson into your mind. This makes sense, because why learn that pressure washing your foot is a bad idea if you are just going to forget and do it again the next week?

But today I have a headache, and I have NO IDEA WHY! Sure, I could go through the long, long list of what causes headaches and systematically eliminate potential reasons. But, let’s be real. Who’s gonna do that? I might drink 16 oz of water, and if it’s still there, give up. Much more likely, I’m going to break my cardinal rule of “stay away from medicines” to take a pair of iBuprofen. After all, why be at work if I’m getting no work done due to my pounding temple?

So is pain valuable if you don’t know the reason behind it? If there’s nothing you can fix, does it serve any purpose? If you don’t even know what to fix, often times we end up fixing the wrong thing.

I feel like this happens in my relationships with others. I don’t like confrontation. I pull the most ridiculous stunts JUST to avoid running into people I have issue with. So this is kinda a big deal to admit… If someone hurts me, innocently and without realizing it, and I say nothing, my pain is in vain. Sure I may learn not to trust someone or to put my guard up, but haven’t we learned this pessimistic attitude enough? This doesn’t mean I should lash out, or yell, or accuse. But perhaps, the only way for meaning to come of it is for me to sit down, calmly and logically, and let them know what they did and the result it had on me. Only by sharing this will they have the opportunity to learn from it.

Disclaimer: This does not guarantee they will learn from it. You can’t control what others do and they may hurt you again.

So maybe this level of vulnerability is what I need to learn next. Let people know how their actions make you feel if they need to know.

Give it Up

There are many moments in our life where we feel like giving up. Some times are simple, like a game you’re never going to win even if you keep trying. It can get a bit more serious, like a friendship with someone who is selfish and never takes you into consideration. There are also the big moments, like quitting a job, deciding to file for divorce, moving away, etc. And some people even get to the point that they want to give up on life. For the record, I never encourage this one. Never give up on life.

I have a hard time giving up. I will often stay waiting for hours for someone because I’m afraid that as soon as I walk away, the person will arrive. I hate that thought of missing something amazing because I walked away a minute too soon. I’m not sure where that particular fear comes from but I’ve lived with it for a long time.

I think this way on so many topics. What if I walked away from this person, and they were just about to change? Or what if I give up on this project right before the committee decides to adopt it. I guess that’s me living in the land of “what if” and letting it control my life again. This is a dangerous way to live. I keeps too many of us in bad situations because of how they may some day change. Don’t give up too soon, sure, perseverance is incredible important. But perseverance for the sake of perseverance may not get you where you want to be.

There are moments to give up on some things. I have always grown up holding tight to my memories, because somehow I thought that a moment wasn’t worth living if you weren’t going to remember it anyway. But in the last few years I’ve learned the value of giving up negative memories. Yes, negative moments may have helped shaped you into the person you are, and maybe you should never forget the lessons that you learned as a result, but you don’t need to hold on to memories that hurt you. Give it up. Some habits or traditions are in your life for no good reason. If they’re not there for a good reason, they probably shouldn’t be there. Give it up. Some things if your life might be doing damage.

Maybe, just maybe, learning to give up the small things to make a better life for yourself and those around you will give you the courage to give up the big things that are holding you down.

Day 13: Office Decorating 101

So today during lunch I ran across an interesting article about 13 Things Your Desk Says About You. While the concept of personal marketing isn’t necessarily new to me, the thought of my desk playing a part of that certainly is. Of course I glanced hesitantly over my workspace realizing how much dust had accumulated in the corners. I’m not necessarily a talented decorator. 


Day 13: For better or worse, the condition of your workspace reflects on you. The article touched on things like “too many post-its,” “too many pictures of your family,” “too many toys” (or not enough toys if you’re a creative type) and “too many pictures of travels.” The main point to me seemed to be balance and mindfulness. Be conscious of what everything you have at your desk represents something about you. I’ll keep my post-its (hey, it’s how I process), but I may be more mindful to throwaway notes I no longer need. I’ll keep up pictures of my husband, because I like him well enough, but I keep those in a corner just for me. I still think it’s very important for mental health to keep happy triggers at work. But yes, everything we have in public gives a clue to who we are, so choose wisely.


I’m sure this lesson extend to many aspects of life. But maybe that’ll be a lesson for another day.

Day 10: Laugh with Anyone

We had a great day at church, learning, delivering food, enjoying a Thanksgiving meal together and watching a movie. I knew a few people, and they’re great, but there were so many people I didn’t know. At first the room was very full, but as the afternoon went on people trickled out. As the group got smaller we all felt more comfortable with each other, even though we weren’t taking directly. And we laughed together.

Day 10: Laughter doesn’t require previous intimacy. It’s easier to laugh with friends and people you know, but as long as you are all open and willing, you can laugh with anyone. Some of the most freeing laughter can come from a brief exchange with a stranger. So let your guard down from time to time and make a well-timed wisecrack if you dare. 

Day 9: Chance it

I love my days off. I love when I stay at home in my pajamas doing absolutely nothing, except for a big adventurous trip to Subway to eat lunch. I also love when I go out into the real world and enjoy the day while others are busy working. One of our favorite things to do once a month is go to Creative Mornings in DC. Creative Mornings is a free breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Creative Mornings is held in 100 cities around the world and every month each chapter covers the same general topic. There’s time to network, enjoy a muffin or two (or every flavor) and then be inspired, awestruck, empowered, touched or set straight by a short (under an hour) presentation by various creative professionals.

Day 9: Live with a bit of spontaneity and randomness to allow chance a chance. 

Today’s presentation here in DC was on the topic of “Chance.” We heard from Lulu Miller who is an NPR Science Desk Reporter, and overall awesome. She spoke about the many ways that chance inspires creativity, and as a storyteller, she often finds the best parts of stories by accident. Or something along those lines. My take away was to allow as much “randomness” into your life to let it diversify and inform your creativity. Our minds may be interesting places, but very limiting. The more you people, things, concepts, etc impact you, the further you can take your ideas.

After leaving the talk, we wandered over to the National Gallery of Art, since, well, we’ve just never been in there before. It was fabulous, and precisely the practice we needed after hearing the theory. My job has nothing to do with fine art, but I felt myself inspired in many different ways. We lingered over pieces we had never seen before and stopped in awe in front of paintings we had only ever seen in books. We found a set of paintings by
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the namesake of Daniel’s college in Peru, and an artist who helped inspire modern advertising design (or something along those lines). It was wonderful to sit on the (super comfortable) couches ever few rooms to discuss art with my husband (and rest our tired feet). I felt like it led us to thoughts and discussions we would have never otherwise had. Consider Lulu Miller’s theory confirmed at least once by the Taipe adventurers. 

So if you’re feeling in a little bit of a creative rut, fear not. Do something completely random, stay open to finding something you weren’t expecting, let other’s experience become a part of yours. You may just find yourself on a whole new path by chance.

Day 8: Distract yourself

My inspirational outlet at work comes in the form of Banangram tiles. While working, I spend a fair amount of day looking for just the right word to express a given thought accurately. But what I love about these tiles is there is no “best” word (unless you’re playing strategically I guess). I get to sit back and search for a word that doesn’t need to express any particular meaning, but rather just happens to fit the letters I have in front of me. It’s freeing. For me it feels like the difference between baking for fun as opposed to out of hunger. 
Although I will admit, I’m always a little afraid that the words I find reveal something about my subconscious self. There are days when I find several negative words in a row, and I start to worry about my state of mind. But for the most part that theory sounds a bit too much like some sort of Facebook spam, “The first 3 words you find in this crossword reveal what you’re really like!” 
I realized something today on day 8: There is such thing as good distractions. I’ve never really thought of distractions in a positive light, and especially in a setting such as work. I was often called distracting growing up (though I’m sure it had nothing to do with my “look at me, look at me!” requests). By very definition a distraction is something that impedes concentration, and concentration is good, right? Right. But. We may find a few obvious “good distractions” such as distracting someone from physical pain like when getting a shot or keeping them from fixating on something negative. I always enjoyed distracting my nephews from their favorite noisy, obnoxious toy when they were little. But work isn’t necessarily negative, so why would you want to distract yourself from that? I see a lot of value from allowing your brain an opportunity to change gears, especially if you work in a creative field. But at the same time I think it’s important to control your own distraction. If others are always distracting you, you have little control over when you get back to a concentrated state. However if you take 5 minutes away for a specific task (such as Bananagrams), you are in charge of getting yourself back as well. Because distractions will come in one form or another, so why not be the one controlling the narrative?