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Category Archives: Schedules

The Most Important Question Of Your Life


Such  a great find that I had to share. The form it came in had his name link incorrect, so now you can check out his site. Props, Mark. Props.

-Sharon

 

 by: Mark Manson, on Markmanson.net

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence—but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.

People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.

What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.

There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”

Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. They just aren’t aware of what it is they want, or rather, what they want “enough.”

Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand.

If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.

Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.

For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then … and then nothing.

Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.

I was in love with the result—the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing—but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. Hell, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.

The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a shit. The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the top.

Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.

But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.

I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.

People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.

This is not a call for willpower or “grit.” This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain.”

This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend

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And It Cliqued, Just Like That.


Women.cliques

Here’s the thing about women. They are POWERFUL. They have influence individually, but in groups, they are exceptional. And if anyone has been to middle school, or high school, you may have experienced some of that. Whether in a school dance or at a lunch table, school age groups of females have been a force to be reckoned with. I know this because, well, I am one. And from experience, I know how hard it can be to operate around a group of females. A bad hair day, or the wrong jeans are sometimes all it takes to feel the brunt of a gaggle of ladies. We women can be cliquish. Dramatic. Catty. Gossipy.

Or…

powerful womenWe woman can be inspiring. Empowering. Encouraging.  This is what I experienced tonight. I experienced a MeetUp group called Onederous Women. Onederous Women chose into creating an inclusive space where networking was not a cattle call for business cards. I experienced a space, instead, where strengths were shared.  I got to be part of a space where women met to empower, enjoy, and partake of each other’s lives.

It was an honor.

Imagine this: Nourishment for the belly and the soul all in one room. Practical solutions to everyday problems. A group of problem-solvers devoted to hearing a call and responding. That’s what happened tonight. Right there in the basement of a church, inspiration happened. Bravery happened. Connection happened.

And I was in awe.

I choose to believe it was all for me. It had to be. Because it was that specific to me. No, seriously. Look. I have needs. And wants. We all do, but all I can do is speak for me. So, again,  I am saying that I lack in many areas. And mostly, I get to them eventually. EVENTUALLY, some things get handled, but some just keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile. But it was a bit uncanny that so many of my needs and wants and lacks were being solved in one room, at one time. The room was filled with innovative solutions by women who utilized their talents, their experiences, their sorrows and joys into a workable resource that filled a need.

My need, tonight.

Check this out. I need a tailor. For my husband. We have been looking and looking, but never really got around to pulling the trigger. So we just let it hang out there, in nebulous space. Also, I need to eat healthier. I say it every day, and so does my daughter and hubby. Again, nebulous need. However, I also need a practical way to travel. It has become more important. Also, I need clothes that rock. But I just hate shopping.

stuffNebulous space gets a bit crowded sometimes.

So many more. I need guidance with my finances on an ongoing basis. So does everyone I know. I crave knowing what I don’t know. I stink at sending out cards and correspondence. I am on a journey of discovering how to heal and move forward. I need help knowing how to market to people who are looking for what I can do for them (Freelance writing, by the way. Shameless Plug.) Blah, Blah, Blah. I lack in many areas, but what I lack the most is a cheering section of people who know how hard it is to be living life as a woman, and know how to help.

I didn’t even know that having a one-stop problem-solving shop was an option.

These ladies brought all their power together and what came from it was an alliance of possibility. Power radiated throughout that room, and I don’t know that they even realized it. Actually, they probably do. And now, so do I. Think about the power of possibility. Now add to it the real-life applications, the experience, the innovation that comes from hard working business-minded women. It adds up to much more than hope.

lightbulb momentIt is what makes success.

If you have one whit of sense, you will seek out this group. For networking, sure. For fun, yes. But for a life-changing experience, definitely. Be part of a power clique.

 

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Of grieving, living, and fruit…


It’s February now. I have not been back Home to see mom since dad passed away.  I call her every few days, or at least weekly, but it is all small talk, and we never bring him up.

I cry, without fail, after I hang up with mom, but somehow never allow myself to show sadness to her directly. I usually call my youngest sister within that hour. For whatever reason, I can grieve only with her. She lives close to mom and sees her every day.

I feel jealous, or maybe envious, of her.

Sometimes I feel guilty for being alive when my loved one is gone. I mean, I know he was 73 when he went, and he had a very full life and … Blah, blah, blah…I still just wish I could see him, and talk with him again.

i guess this is grieving, right?

for a while, I didn’t let myself cry. Like it would betray his life. Or his memory, I guess. Like I am supposed to remember only the good. He passed away with family and loved ones surrounding him. He was a good man that left behind a legacy of kindness and service. He was a good chess player and advice giver. Stuff like that.

now I cry when I think of him. Or when I don’t think of him first, but then forget I should be thinking of him. I cried on his birthday, and on Christmas. I will cry on my moms birthday.   I am crying now.

it feels good. To have my eyes leak about him. I don’t fully sob, yet. Let’s be clear about that. When I say I cry, I screw up my face and let the tears come, holding in the sobs for another time. I will cry later, I say.

This is how I grieve. Amid live, I guess. I mean, life goes on.That is cruel, sometimes, that life moves and swirls around tragedy and pain. I still notice that the sun comes up. There is still beauty in the world. My kids still need me. I still eat and sleep and watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey.  And, I still smile.

many things stay the same and are all the sweeter for it. The alarm sounds at 7 a.m. On school days. My husband and I go to Pho on Mondays for lunch. My son sakes for the car, and to stay out late, like clockwork. I can count on those things.

but then there’s the fruit.

odd, but my fruit changed. All of a sudden, and for the first time in my life, our fruit bowl is not full of fresh fruit. It is not arranged with apples, oranges and bananas that get eaten for the first week, and then are left to spoil, only to be thrown out and changed all over.

something as ingrained as fresh fruit has been changed to fruit in a cup. Fruits in cups? Eh… You know what I am saying. Those single servings of mini oranges, mangos, and peaches, all diced and covered in light syrup. Or heavy syrup, if I can find it. (I haven’t found it yet, but am still on the hunt.)

so about 20 fruit cups get deposited every 2 weeks, and are completely devoured, every time.  No one says a word about the change. They just get gobbled up. Why this matters to me is that it is something I have let go of. I don’t know if this is a phase, or it is a new tradition. A tradition of having teens and adults indulge in what is traditionally a kids thing, every day, and fooling ourselves into pretending it is healthy as fresh fruit.

I guess I realize that life is too short to stand on principle alone. Think outside the box, for gosh sakes, at least for a while.  So I coddle my kids when they have food poisoning, instead of leaving them with more room to barf in peace. (They are teens now, I would have figured. They don’t want me smothering them when they are this old.) again, they don’t say a word about it. They just let me in, and coddle me back, I guess. We never speak about what the changes mean, or when they started, but we all know. We all know that when a loved one passes away, some rules just don’t matter.

some customs, and traditions shore us up, but others, like affection and fruit, can be improved upon.

 

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Never Too Late…


6th Grade Math Book_4912

I’ve decided to get up out of bed (a very comfy bed with controls for your head and legs, I might add), and live life with a purpose today.  What does that mean to me? Being outward focused, so I called my daughters elementary school. Parents volunteer, right? I mean, I haven’t done it since my oldest son (now 21) was in elementary school, but still.  I guess it is time.  PTA, and all that, right?

I started out by asking if they (the 2 teachers of my daughter, who’s in 6th grade) would like some help in her class.  I was told that they have plenty of volunteers….except for during math. That should have been my red flag, right there, but I remembered that I enjoyed math (until my senior year in high school, I mean), so I said sure I would love to help out, not realizing what I was in for.

The nice lady teacher, Ms. Harding, let me know that they do math at 10:30 every day. She did not, however, sound very enthused that I would be coming in.  In fact, she didn’t specify when she wanted me to start, or what I would be doing, or anything.  So I asked if she really wanted help in this area, or was she just being nice to let me volunteer.  She said that she has a high turnover rate of parents and math.

Well! That sounded like a red flag…

I got nervous.  But would I tell her that? Nope. I’m a bit stubborn.

I said I would be there next week, and hung up the phone. This would give me time to spiff up my 6th grade math. (I haven’t used anything other than basic math skills for years.  It’s true. Don’t tell my kids.) And how hard could it be, after all? It’s 6th GRADE, for crying out loud!

Oh how the mighty can fall!

So this is me doing research online about what the 6th grade level math skills entail.  AND… I’m ticked. Good grief! I feel like I have no skills at all! I have forgotten how to solve for X, for starters. Let alone divide fractions! When did my head turn to mush?  I raised 5 kids and taught them how to tie their shoes, make their beds, cook, clean, and drive (Not my daughter, yet.  Just being clear…).

At what time did I trade in my scholastic education for the family education? Did I really let this happen?  And I’ll tell you what! I’m starting to panic. I almost, in my panic today, forget how to spell encyclopedia and Mississippi!  I ran through my math, science, history, and English highlights in my head, and it only took a few minutes! What the? Where’s the rest? I’m getting more and more despondent.  I realized that the more I texted the shortened versions of things like LOL on my phone, the less I think capitalizing and punctuation are important.  AAAAH!

By this time, I am sure that I am just minutes away from Alzheimer’s Disease. I hear that if I’m not expanding my knowledge, I am losing it, after all. I’m ready to lie back down!

So after I had a cup of hot chocolate and calmed down, I realized that all is not lost.  I put my cup away and hopped online. I typed in “6th Grade Math”, and there it was. All the info I needed to spiff up my skills. And when I get lost and have to look up what the FOIL method is? It’s right there too.

Whew!

Next, I went into grammar.  You know what? I didn’t lose those skills, I just forgot for a bit.  “I Before E, Except After C” does still hold true and make sense to me. Then Chemistry. The periodic table is still online if I need to cheat to find out what the symbol for Hydrogen is.  Tomorrow I will delve into history. Yep, history.   But first…

This whole path today led me to registering for free online classes from Texas University, Yale, and Berkley. Yeah, I said free. They are the same classes as people who are there, in person, but I get to piggy back and sit in for free. Oh I love technology.

Right now, I am learning about Pharmacy Drug Interaction phases. And am happy as a clam.

Thank you, volunteering process for 6th grade math. It got me out of my bed, led me on a merry chase, and put me all the way to the sofa, learning to love learning again. Even if I’m nervous about volunteering on Monday, I’ll be back in the right frame of mind.

And maybe I’ll stay and volunteer to eat lunch with my daughter.  I don’t really need to read up on that subject.  🙂

 

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Trying out a new story…


English: Schematic map of the italian regions ...

So here I am, writing for my 15 minutes. I really don’t know what to say today.

I have put in my time starting a story. It’s about a girl who is almost out of Julliard as a Cello player, has a wealthy boyfriend, and some good prospects. All she and her parents have trained her for are about to come to fruition. She is a small town girl who works hard to fit in with the New York crowd. She never wants to go back to small town life, in fact, and it doesn’t look like she has to. However her life takes a turn when all but 1 auditions fall through, and that audition takes her to Italy, where she knows no one, doesn’t know the language, or the atmosphere. She loses even that prospect and has to face that she may not be as good as she thinks she is.

Dejected, she starts the short journey to the airport when her wallet and identity are stolen. She is stuck and has to rely on others to survive in Italy. Through a kind man, she ends up playing in a small group for a traveling opera around the smaller regions of the country. She learns to rely on small town people to keep her going, and she finds a love of the country and a man.  She also finds out what it is to let go of fortune and fame, and embrace service and love.

I like it, but we will see how it really takes off, when I start fleshing it out.

 

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How Bout A Little Old With The New?


English: i am a retard and i love doughnuts th...

I just spoke with a friend. She discussed with me some traditions she was keeping alive. Namely, baking cookies, just like her mom used to make. This brought to me a memory of my mom making doughnuts. OH MAN! Her doughnuts still make my mouth water. And I think half of the reason for it is because of the memory that goes with it.

My Kitchen(Clean for now)

She had a huge kitchen. The kind that held a big ol table, with the appliances all around it, just waiting for hoards of people to visit in it and help out with whatever meal or treat was on the counter. It was expected that if you are in the kitchen, you wash your hands and dig in to prepare it. That meant rolling out dough, and mixing ingredients in bowls, and stirring just-so on the stove.

I loved it.

Now, here I am with kids and a big kitchen of my own. My kids are older, and I have only had them help out a few times. To my eternal shame. I thought I was doing myself a favor because I could cook or bake faster with them out-of-the-way, but I have robbed myself and them of the memories to be made from the chaos that goes on in the kitchen.

Well, no more!

English: Home-baked cut-out sugar cookies, und...

This is a new year. It is time for resolutions and new habits and whatnot.  For me, I will bring some of the past into the present and make my own memories with the kids, and my husband, who already cooks more than me. I will be baking with the kids at first (I enjoy that more than cooking), and then move on to meals.

Wish me luck as I bring sugar cookies and doughnuts into my home, and let the kids into the memories!

 

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The Piano Guys Did Battle


Gray Sphere, see

I didn’t realize how much I had simply gone….Gray. How I had frozen and forgotten to feel anything. Something sad set it off, but I pushed it away as not having time to feel about it and so it sat there, doing nothing but doing something, nonetheless. I didn’t have time to feel about it and so it let me go about my day or night, and when I woke up, I hurt deep down inside. My dreams were sad, sad, sad. My body ached about it, and my smile went away. I woke up and I was sad, but didn’t know how to let it go. I didn’t know how to let that go because it had nestled into my emotions, making a place along the hub-bub of my schedules and car rides and budget making. And then it spread its tendrils just a little at a time, unbeknownst to me. And it waited.It could afford to wait because I was too busy to see that my smile was going away, and I was getting short-tempered. “If I can just get this budget right, then I can take a break.” But I didn’t take a break, and something else talked louder than the heartache. The tendrils spread a bit more and I forgot to love on my kids, and then I forgot to use kind words, and then… and then I just was mad. (Mad is only covering up sad, you know. Mad is a flavor put hastily on to cover the hurt that is bubbling up.)

Until this morning. I felt gray and I kind of liked not feeling anything at all that was real. Until this morning.

Piano

A strange thing happened. It was called music. The music was called “The Piano Guys”. (Really, that’s their name.) They played something  beautiful, with a Cello and a Piano, and with heart. It sounded good and deep and it called to me. Music washed over me this morning, and little did I know that it would do battle with the sad something. They played a soothing, moving song. It let me remember that I could feel, and it melted and thawed the something that was holding me back.

The grayness started to melt, and it showed up as tears.

Great Battle

I sat there, in my bed, with kids coming back and forth, and schedules going on, and I cried. Hard. No holding back, with the music doing battle in the background. Kids and husband asked me why and what was wrong, and what did they do to set off mom, and I didn’t care enough to pull out of my battle with the gray. Not yet. I waved the loved ones off just long enough for the tears to wash away the sad something that had held on to my emotional self and I found me again.  I found my smile, and my animation, and the part that had been held hostage.  The music did that for me.  The tears did that for me. The notes washed the gray away.

Piano

I remembered what it felt like to love on my kids, and to get dressed in warm clothes, and to communicate kindly. With a smile. I remembered me.

Music is that strong.  It is that kind, and good, and powerful, and needed. For me, it is my shield against the gray. It keeps my emotions flowing, and even if that means I cry a bit more, I am grateful. Thank you, Piano Guys. I am loved because you love what you do, and you are talented at it. You do battle with The Gray.

 

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