Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quiet moments of victory

Sometimes when I least expect it, life sneaks a laurel crown onto my head.

Lately my most deeply satisfying moments have been small and all-but-overlooked. Case in point: when I started my current job on a college campus in student disability services, I was fresh out of counseling grad school. I knew in my bones that my gifts included a way to make new connections, to form community, and to weave bonds between campus departments. I wanted to start seeing the campus consider disability as a matter of course, not as an afterthought. I wanted to empower other departments to think of disability as part of diversity, and as a result of their connections with me and my office. I wanted to make the most of my job and my education.

Almost 5 years later, I am seeing fruit. A colleague in a department with whom I've been cultivating connection stopped me in the hall today and let me know she advised a public relations rep to include a Deaf student and signing in a video representing campus diversity. She did not ask my advice, nor that of my department - the idea came to her on its own, and she spoke up at a key time. It was a deeply satisfying moment.

I wonder where I got the idea that success comes quickly, and is loud and shines golden, lighting up me and all those around me? It's such a myth, this fast and flashy Nike. More important is the slow and steady work of building: block by steady, dull, dusty block. And waiting. And staying committed.

And staying present for the quiet moments, when Nike actually shows up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Always look on the bright side

Last night, Insomnia paid me a visit. Again. Call it the gift of shifting hormones and an overactive imagination. But instead of lying in bed frustrated that I couldn't sleep, I tried to see the gift in it. I listened to the rain beat down, to TH's steady breathing, to the cat purring. I tried to enjoy the sensation of snuggling in the warm bed, knowing outside was cold and dark and wet. It seemed to work.

How can you look on the bright side?

Monday, February 14, 2011

All you need is love

What do you believe about love?

I believe I have a responsibility to love in an active and social and global way. It is a call of my faith, and a deep truth that resonates within me. Love needs to be the foundation, the reason, the spring from which all my other activities flow. It's like this:
If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

But love is not just an action and a motivation. It is a resting place. It's like this:
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Hap'ly I think on thee - and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29

And love has the power to change everything. It's like this:
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
- Zora Neale Hurston

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's Valentine's Day. What do you believe about love?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


When I considered resolutions and what to work on this year, one main goal came to mind: to minimize multitasking. I'm really not that good at doing multiple things at the same time. And the more multitasking I do, the more I notice my brain losing its edge. I find I can't settle down with a book for an afternoon. I can't eat a meal without hopping up to take care of something else. I can't watch TV without a magazine in my lap. I can't stay focused at work and lose track of what I am doing. I stop mid-chore to start another.

For me, this must change.

Research is reflecting that multitasking is not that great. Here is an excellent article. As you can see from my prior post, my thoughts are already an overlapping pile of data, and it's driving me nuts. So in the quest for a calmer brain, and a sharper brain, I'm working on solotasking. I'm working on what is in this moment. I'm trying to immerse myself in information, not surf it. I'm focusing on doing one task well, reading one book thoroughly, leaving the email unanswered for now.

Do you have any tips for breaking the multitasking habit?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tour of my Brain

What goes on in my brain, on any given day and at any given time and in any given order:

  • I'm Hungry.
  • Stuck song. Typically my mind gnaws on at least one song a day, ad infinitum. Today's edition: "I Gotta Feeling/Boom Boom Pow" by the Black-eyed Peas. Courtesy of the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
  • Work thoughts. Followed by,
  • Thoughts on the next vacation. Not necessarily in a desperate, must-escape-my-life way (although some days are like that). More of a what adventure comes next? way. Usually a few different destinations float around until it's actually time to plan. Right now Honduras, cruising, and Kauai are at the top, with Kauai the #1 hope.
  • Did I lock the car/house; turn off the iron/toaster/humidifier/other appliance? Followed by, I must have, because I ALWAYS lock the car/house, etc.
  • I'm Hungry.
  • I want to know more about... Followed by whatever is the topic du jour. Today it was, English royal history, particularly the Tudors. This is thanks to reading The Other Boleyn Girl for my book club. Wikipedia and internet searches usually ensue. Followed by,
  • What was it like to be a woman/poor/educated/insert social justice issue here/etc. at that time and place? Followed by earnest thanksgiving for my current state, imperfect though it is.
  • Work thoughts. Need another worker for this time frame...
  • I wonder what TH is doing/thinking/feeling right now.
  • Thoughts about friends, their lives, their struggles and joys.
  • Thoughts about family, their lives, their struggles and joys.
  • How many hours/minutes till yoga/running/walking around campus?
  • Shoot. I forgot to (insert errand here).
  • "I Gotta FEELING..." Ack! Need a new song...
  • If I pay XXX dollars every month, how soon will I be able to pay off the credit card/save for vacation/save for a piano/ etc.? Followed by,
  • Do I want my XXX dollars to go to the credit card or do I want them to go to vacation/piano/etc.? Followed by,
  • Should I feel guilty because I want XXX dollars to go to one thing instead of the other? Followed by,
  • Does everyone secondguess themselves about this stuff or is it just me?
  • "BOOM BOOM POW" Ack! Curse you, Black-eyed Peas!
  • Hungry again!
  • Work thoughts. Do we really need to complain about the copier
  • Wonder what's new on facebook/Internet/blogosphere.
  • If I go to bed at 8:00, will I wake up at 4:00? Followed by,
  • Is it sad that I want to go to bed at 8:00?
  • Did I lock the door/turn off the lights/etc. Yes, because I ALWAYS lock the door/turn off the lights etc.
  • If I pair that top and those pants and these shoes, will it be cute or not?

It's exhausting, I tell you.

Friday, February 4, 2011

At the end of a long week

Week 2 of the semester is done and gone. January is a memory. I'm so tired my eyeballs ache. My colleagues and I are stumbling around the office making goofy mistakes; at home TH and I are trying not to put the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard. Seems like I'm constantly hungry and eating every carb in sight (although the crashes from this are contributing to the problem). TH and I can barely manage takeout and TV, most nights, and tumble into bed around 9:00.

Thank goodness this is temporary.

I hope.