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.

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 12: Life’s not fair

Today was a tough day. With the holiday season and coworkers on vacation, there have a been a few extra responsibilities to look out for, but I can handle that. Today I spent most of my day immersed in the news articles about the Mandera Massacre in Kenya. It’s gruesome, so I’ll spare you the details (read them online if you want to). The whole story shook me to be honest. But one small little detail snuck almost unnoticed. The Adventist Church that meets in that town, approximately 15-20 people on a regular basis, had 4 armed guards the morning they were meeting, BEFORE news arrived of an attack. So meeting with at church for them comes with armed policemen outside to help keep them alive. 

Day 12: We often see how our life isn’t fair; some people in the world have worse than we can imagine. I’ve lived in unsafe places before, and know the reality of not living in the sheltered environment. But I have never lived somewhere that I needed an armed guard to meet somewhere with people who believe the same thing I do. 

My heart breaks for the lives that were lost, the families that were broken, the community that was changed forever. Those who remain face more than most of us will ever have to. Life’s not fair. But for just a moment I realize how much worse it could be. May we never forget.

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?

Day 7: Care about Quality

My new self-proclaimed “looking away from the screen” project at work is to read through this small book called Health and Wellness: Secrets that will change your life to find sharable quotes for social media. I’m on chapter 6 entitled “You Are What You Think” and I’m sure my thoughts could be a lot more positive.

There is some great content in this book, really there is. The only problem is that on about the 3rd page, the pages started falling out. Now each time I turn a page, it falls out. And I promise you that I’m not just a violent reader. I treat all books with care and admiration, so there’s no need to turn me in for abuse. But there’s something about this book that has it falling apart. I thought maybe it was just my book, but when I went to see a friend’s copy the same thing happened.

Now to be fair to the publisher, this book was made to be as inexpensive as possible, so that people could buy many copies to share with their friends. They end up costing just under $2.50 a piece, which is a deal for over 100 pages of valuable information.

But as I watch each page fall silently from it’s place, I can’t help but wondering how much extra it would have cost to keep that from happening. And that’s a big deal coming from someone like me who grew up in a family of thrift store deal hunters. But my lesson for day 7: It’s important to care about quality. In my mind, it is now hard to separate the poor quality material from the great content. I may agree with everything and want to share the content with my friends, but I’d be embarrassed to give them a book I knew was going to dissolve in their hands. This is probably an attitude I need to adopt to many areas in my life. In what areas do you feel you need to increase the quality in your life?

Day 3: Enjoy!

Welcome to day 3! It’s been a lazy Saturday with relatively little drama. We learned a bit more about the inner workings of generosity this morning at church and celebrated our 11 month anniversary. It may not sound like a long time, but being locked up in a tiny apartment with me for 11 months is probably enough to drive most normal people crazy. I feel like there were a lot of interesting life lessons today, especially from this morning’s sermon. Remember, people aren’t grateful for what they feel entitled to, so live as if everything is a gift. Deep right? Pastor Mike said it much more convincingly.
But I’m going to cheat and use the wise saying from my Yogi Tea for today’s lesson. Day 3: The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment. Ok, so I’m not sure if I agree with this 100%. I think that looking out for others is important, and true love is selfless. And life certainly isn’t a marathon of happiness. We, unfortunately, live in a fallen world and deal with a lot of bad stuff. 
But, I do see a whole lot of value in enjoying every moment, especially with sense of appreciation. Especially the little moments. Enjoy doing the laundry, not because it’s fun (unless it is for you) but because you have clothes, you don’t have to do them by hand (so glad that chapter of my life is over for now). Not that every moment will be fun, but can possibly be enjoyed. Today some of my greatest moments were strange misunderstandings with my husband, which under the wrong attitude (read: if I was feeling moody) could have led to arguments and hurt feelings, but were instead turned into an opportunity to laugh together at ourselves. There’s a big difference in my mind between enjoying the task, and enjoying moments. I may not always love going to work, but I love the little moments of interaction with my coworkers. I certainly don’t enjoy doing the dishes, but seeing the process of something going from used and dirty to clean and orderly is addicting. Cooking isn’t always my thing but put on a little salsa music and it becomes a whole production in my kitchen. 
So tonight, maybe you don’t have anything “enjoyable” planned, but stop a few times and ask yourself “Am I enjoying myself right now?” And if you aren’t (which is very possible) figure out one small thing you could do to fix that. Because a life well lived is a live well enjoyed.