Category Archives: focus

What do you desire?

Read the Think and Grow Rich book, and one of the points is that you have to have a goal that burns into your very being–a desire that you cannot contain, something that keeps you going during the day and awake at night. What do you desire?

Ever watch Lucifer?

I have wracked my brain for decades, going from interest to interest, all fleeting, all shallow. I am addicted to music teaching, but also any kind of teaching, but like most things, after a while, I have to take a break to maintain some sort of sanity and avoid burnout. I have some amazing knitting projects. I have entered those and other crafts into the state fair and won some pretty nice ribbons. I used to make Christmas baskets of homemade goodies–breads, jellies, fudge, and candies. I got very good at financial service. I have a vested interest in Toastmasters. But none of that is really a burning desire. Smoldering desire? Smoking desire? Nope. I thought college would focus my desire and even went back to school to get a degree in business, but though it was interesting, nothing sparked.

Dig DEEPER they said–all the books on “Having your best year ever,” and “Success in ___ easy steps,” (You can fill in any number in the blank, it doesn’t matter.  There ARE no easy steps or the success would be cheaper.) “Finding the leader within you” and “21 irrefutable laws of leadership” tell you that unless you know what you want, you can’t help others get what they want. So deeper I went.

As I was pondering this apparent lack in my personal development about 3:00 AM yesterday, it came to me that the thing I most desire is this:

Are you ready?

Do you have a guess?

No?

Understanding. What a weird thing to desire! Once you understand something, you’re never done because then you want to understand something else. I want to understand the Big Bang. I want to understand Special Relativity. I want to understand how people think. I want to understand group dynamics. I want to know why, when I’ve studied every leadership style, read dozens of books, watched dozens of seminars, webinars, podcasts, and workshops, I can tell you step by step how to be a leader and no one follows me. I want to understand how caterpillars become butterflies. I long to understand why some songs are popular and some are not. I wish I understood why my blogs have no readers. The quest for understanding is not the same as the quest for knowledge because facts without understanding do not answer questions.

When understanding is your underlying desire, it is hard to justify to those who long for proficiency in their fields, who long for a certain income, who crave a big audience, who long to help lots of people with their skills. What kind of job requires understanding as opposed to facts in evidence? Psychoanalysis? Understanding is gleaned from asking the right questions. And your understanding of your client is based on incomplete information because it is impossible for someone to convey thoughts, attitudes, perceptions, and philosophy to someone in such a way that every single darkened corner is flooded with light. Your total focus is in asking the questions that make the client self-aware and lead them to a better understanding of themselves. You will NEVER understand them totally.

Case in point:

If we continue in our current behavior, the earth will be destroyed in less than 50 years. That is a FACT! Deny it if you can!

Ok, denying it.  It is the principle of unintended consequences. Greenhouse gasses cause the planet to warm up, the ice at the poles to melt. It changes the migration patterns of the birds and the sea creatures. It allows tropical flowers to grow in Nebraska. It makes things like the bomb cyclone happen. The reduction in the sheet ice also reduces the albedo or reflective surfaces of the earth which causes more absorption of solar radiation further raising the temperature. It may change the gulf stream and change the salinity of the oceans. What if it turned the Sahara Desert back into the rain forest it used to be?

Have you seen the pollen storms?

Never in my 60 years have I ever experienced that. Why is that happening? As the water heats up and the surface area of the oceans expands, there is more evaporation which causes more humidity which makes the air less stable. This increases the number and size of hurricanes and cyclones and bomb cyclones. What do we know about these clouds?  The tops of the clouds increase the albedo of the planet, which cools the planet. The increased pollen causes more plants to grow and thrive. The fires cause more dust particles in the air which gives the moisture in the air something to cling to and increases the precipitation rates.

The earth is not a completely closed system since it receives energy from the sun continuously, but it is pretty darned close. The earth doesn’t care if there are humans on it. There will be life on the planet: civilizations, teeming and swarming life because of the proportion of water to land and the proximity of the moon. Greenhouse gasses are called greenhouse gasses because they are favorable to plant life. I tell you if you go back 10k years and say to man, “Man? QUIT PLANTING AND DOMESTICATING FOOD ANIMALS! 10 THOUSAND YEARS FROM NOW IT WILL KILL THE PLANET…AND PUT OUT THAT FIRE!” they will not listen. Note that the amount of dust and ash spewed out by volcanos completely dwarfs the number of particulates and gas in the air (including cow farts) produced by man and his manufacturing and agriculture. I could go on, but I won’t.

So here’s the thing. How does understanding this do me any good?  Does it make me money? Does it make me famous? Does it make me powerful? No? Then why would I desire it? It’s a mystery.

Because I still get paid for giving music lessons and the financial business, I am not considered a drain on society, but if I only did what I desired, I would be reading, sucking up information and formulating theories and plausibilities for my own amusement and would be considered a lazy bum. My son Ben also ponders things like this though he’s more into human behavior than I. (https://puppettron.wordpress.com/) My daughter Jo writes fantasy/fiction based on a desire for understanding as well.  https://ithilen.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/freshman-francis-the-library/

Maybe we all have that thirst for understanding, but for some, it’s not a craving or a desire, just a mild curiosity.  Let me tell you though: once you have delved into the mystery that is understanding, every single other desire seems shallow and inconsequential. I am not ready to settle for a lesser desire. Though for the sake of society, maybe I should.

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Unwilling Learners

Ever taught an unwilling learner? They are the ones that question the validity of the subject matter, question the expertise of the teacher, and/or refuse to do the homework because of priorities in their lives. I was a band director. I required practice from my band students. I got calls from parents accusing me of being unreasonable to require 20 minutes of practice EVERY NIGHT for band students.

“How DARE you require daily practice! Kids have sports, homework, and chores to do every night!”

“Oh? They never take their books home with them. I know, I watch them as they leave. They’re in 6th grade, how often and how long are their football practices? Oh? They’re not in football yet? Oh, they ARE in football but it’s club football, not school football, so practices once or twice a week for an hour? So you mean to tell me that on the nights they don’t have practice, they’re doing homework for two hours and chores for three to four hours and going to bed at 9:00? Too bad they won’t get to play Football in High school. How will they EVER squeeze in time for the mandatory two-hour practices for football every night? High School homework is what, two to three hours a night? And they’ll have part-time jobs as well in High School.  So unless they work only on weekends, they get home after football practice at about 6:00 PM, do three to four hours of chores, homework for two to three hours, puts them in bed at 1:00 AM.”

“What? You’re going to keep them out of Football because they won’t practice for your stupid band?”

This is a conversation I had many, many times. They refused to give their kids any sense of responsibility.  Of COURSE, they weren’t doing chores around the house. Of COURSE, they weren’t doing two hours of homework every night. They were watching TV, playing video games, hanging out. It was amazing that the students ever learned enough music to fill out a concert.

There was one 6th grade band that did so badly (because I had 0 support from the parents) that I made them play the concert anyway. They got 1/2 way through their third song and just basically quit because they were all lost. I explained to the parents (and the children that were upset behind me) that with band practice once a week, we only got together for 14 lessons. 14 lessons should give them at least 14 notes they could play, plus the ability to play in two different time signatures, and the ability to follow a director. But for the days between lessons, without practice, the students lost about 20% per day of what they had been taught, lost the endurance and strength in the muscles that allowed them to play more than five minutes on their instruments, did not improve or maintain the eye-hand coordination necessary to process the information on the page and could not improve their listening skills so they could be in tune and play together. That’s why practice between band lessons is important and it’s important that these kids learn this concept and that you, the parents, learn this. Ya, I got fired.

“Why don’t we teach tax preparation and finance in school?” We do.  Do you think that the tax laws remain the same from year to year? Do you think your kids will completely reject your advice about money and ignore the advice from banks and other financial institutions that profit from people’s ignorance when it comes to money management? Or do you think you have all the money issues figured out because of what your Insurance Agent told you was a good investment?

“When will I ever need algebra and geometry? I have my iPhone.” Which bag of flour is the better value? Which car is the best for my money? How long does it take to get to work? Why does my shed keep falling down? Where do I put the jack on my car when I have a flat? Show me on your iPhone how you would input that information to get the answers to those questions.

“Why do I have to learn this Olde English Shakespeare stuff?” Ever watch Game of Thrones? Where do you expand your vocabulary? Can you communicate in phrases that are longer than 140 characters? Can you make a point? Can you win a debate? Can you logically defend a choice?

“What do YOU know about math? (English, Statistics, Computer Science…fill in a subject)” I know more than you. I know where to look to get the information I need to fill in your gaps. Do you?

The culture has changed. Kids don’t HAVE chores. They can’t have fun unless it is regulated by parents. Playdates? Really? Organized sports for 5-year-olds? Video games and educational programs on a tablet for kids under 4? What is WRONG with us?!!! If we want to immerse kids into a love of learning, they have to be surrounded by people that love learning. Because we denigrate learning to something that only happens during the first 12 years in school, and we abhor reading or going to concerts or seminars, what have we taught the children? Learning is a CHORE to be endured. Maybe we should establish mandatory boarding schools!

Welcome to the House of Husker.  There are 4 teams: Crimson, Cream, Black, and Runza. Their respective Beasts are the Crimson Pegasus, the Cream Cow, the Black Spectre, and the Runza Dragon. Each team will be responsible for learning basic life skills such as Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Geography, Physical and Biological Sciences, American and World History, Civics, and Visual and Fine Arts. Each team will be responsible for a farm consisting of garden and farm animals including pigs, goats, chickens, and cattle. Each team will be responsible for the finances and business management of their farms and other related ventures. There will be related businesses such as cottage industries that specialize in industrial technology such as carpentry, metal work, small and large engine repair, information technology, and animal husbandry, etc. Each class in each team will be responsible for cooking for the whole team one weekend of every month. (7th graders–Breakfast, 8th graders–Lunch, 9th graders–supper on Saturdays, 10th graders–Breakfast, 12th graders–Dinner, and 11th graders–Supper on Sundays.) Homework will include a mandatory hour for every class taken and an hour’s practice in the Arts course in which the student has enrolled. The heads of teams will be two faculty members per team, a senior student leader, a vice-leader, a business manager, a project manager, and representatives from all the classes in that team. Each team will wear student robes with the team uniform during class time. Intramural competitions will be encouraged.

Applications accepted on a first come, first served basis.

 

Update: I have had NO applications up to now, 5/10/19. I thought I’d have at least a dozen!

Update: I STILL have no applications as of 7/17/2019. What is WRONG with people!

 

 

Let it all Hang out!

There is this inspirational poster making the rounds.

Wear your fancy lingerie.

Light those candles!

Use the good china!

Drink the Champagne!

Don’t wait!  You don’t know how much time you have left.

How inspirational.

Take things that are special and make them common.  Don’t save the chocolate cake for birthdays.  Don’t take care of the china that your mom passed on to you; serve hamburgers on it.  Buy NOTHING but fancy lingerie and wear it when you’re working in the garden.  Light all the candles in the house regardless of the scent…and the fire hazard.

We’ve taken traditionally special things and made them not matter any more.  A portrait used to be only for the rich, and they had to sit for days while the artist painted in all the nuance and the secret smile that reflected on your inner self.  Click!  Selfie!  Click!  Another selfie!  So portraiture is not important or special.

We used to have champagne flutes and beer steins to give the liquid a special feel and smell.  Solo cups are OK, now.  As long as there’s alcohol in the cup and it is strong enough to get you drunk, it doesn’t matter how it’s served.  We don’t enjoy the taste of the beverage, it is just a means to an end–getting so blasted you don’t remember or care what you drank to get to that point.

Fixing dinner for your family was an act of love, and the smells filled the house.  The food was shared along with the events of the day.  It was a time to connect to your siblings and parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents…  Now it’s what you do in the car on your way some place.  Food is what you order to eat during football/baseball/basketball games on TV.  We don’t just eat, we have to eat and be entertained at the same time.  We don’t like silence much.  Turning on the TV is easier than talking at the dinner table.  You’ve seen people out to dinner at a nice restaurant and everyone at the table is texting or playing games on their phones.  They are not talking to each other.  Eating together is not important or special now and neither is cooking.

Church was where you went to worship, and you dressed up.  It was a solemn occasion with prayer, hymns, and a rousing sermon.  After church, there was the church in the parking lot.  You socialized with people you only saw on Sundays and got caught up.  You went to the graveyard next to the church and visited the departed.  There were potluck dinners served for special occasions and funerals.  That was your community and your social circle.  Now, people skip church to go to soccer games.  The elders of the church will wear jeans to services.  Hymns that used to put scripture to music to help the masses remember the verses now are repetitive phrases that say how good their God is.  It might be seen as more meditative because of the chant-like quality of the words, but the main message of the words is that we get to define God in a way that meets our criteria as a super being that gives us anything we want if we write a big enough check.

Weddings?  Don’t get me started.  Too late.  We’ve made the circus of the wedding so important that it sometimes causes the divorce.  Yes, the wedding may be one of the most important days of your life, but it’s not the flowers, or the band, or the pictures, or the honeymoon.  It is the commitment to each other.  We’ve gone and made the actual marriage “just a piece of paper” that gives us rights and privileges in the sight of the law.  Whereas the wedding is so important that people will be in debt for decades to pay for it.  That makes the couple committed to the bank, not to each other.  So the marriage–the important part of the relationship–is unimportant, but the wedding–the show that goes with the celebration that the couple that’s been living together for 5 years is finally legitimate–is more important than any other single event in the couples’ lives.  If the wedding is so important, why did they live together and have a child together before they got wedded?  Oh…because marriage is just a piece of paper.

Why is the TV the biggest object in the house and placed in the most prominent location?  Because conversation is not important.  Having people on an island sniping at each other and planning each other’s demise in full high definition clarity and color is of the utmost importance.

So I ask you this:  Why wear the fancy lingerie, use the fancy china, light the fancy candles, and use the nice crystal for real champagne when you wear jeans to church and sweatsuits at home, never cook, do nothing but watch TV, drink whatever is alcoholic in the house just to get drunk and pass out, and never talk with your families.

I say KEEP SOME THINGS SPECIAL!  You wear that dress only when…  You break out the good china when…  You light the fancy candles because…  There ARE special occasions.  Keep them special.

Flower Duet

You’ve never heard of it, but you’ve heard it…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf42IP__ipw

This duet is featured in Piranha 3D, Meet the Parents, Superman Returns (Kevin Spacey’s scene), Bronson (with Tom Hardy), Carlito’s Way, True Romance,  and The Hunger.  Hmmm, only seen Meet the Parents and Superman returns.  Then there’s the Trout Quintet.  That was in Sherlock Holmes, Game of Shadows.  The villain, Moriarity uses that song to torture Holmes.  Over and Over and Over we see Classical music being the music of choice for the villains.  Why is that?

It is the music of the elite.  Rap, Punk, Metal… yes those bands are expensive, but there are only a few members of each band.  An orchestra though, that’s some heavy stage production!  What if you wanted to cut it down to one or two people…Bach Cello Prelude comes to mind, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGgG-0lOJjk.  Look at the look on his face!  He’s transported!       

Fur Elise  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1iZXyWLnXg is another solo you might request.  But when it comes to performing these songs, it takes years of practice and study to play them as they were meant to be played.  It’s not something you can just play.  So the music is not music of the common person.  It is relegated to those who have the time to listen, truly listen and appreciate this type of music.

Fine art is the same way…Modern, Renaissance, Impressionistic art, is appreciated with time and study.

  Is this sculpture modern or ancient?  Is it a work in progress or finished?  What does it mean?  How was it conceived?  Who was the artist?  Fine art, whether it is Modern, Renaissance, Impressionistic art, is appreciated with time and study.

Classical Dance, same story:  you can go to the ballet, but unless you understand what you’re seeing, there is no appreciation.  All the finest art is for those few with the inclination to study and become familiar with the forms, and the time to expend on the appreciation.

If you look at the portraits in the Louvre, those are not primitive photos.  Most think of the Mona Lisa as a rather large painting.  It’s not.  It’s only 20″ X 30″

Each painting reveals the subject’s place in time, their character, the character of the artist, and the perspective unique to the piece.  The photographic portraits reveal the skill of the photographer to get the subject to sit still for 20 seconds.  In fact those really aren’t portraits; they’re just pictures.  A modern artist in photographic portraits spends a lot of time placing, posing and dressing the subject and the background to achieve art.

Do you understand why the best actors prefer the live stage to the movie or t.v. set?  It’s continuous acting!  Engaging oneself for the duration of the play and intense interaction with the other players and the audience as well.  In those plays that have long runs, the dynamic on the stage and with the audience changes each time it is performed and makes it critical to fully engage in every performance as if it was Opening Night.  The appreciation of this interaction by members of the audience takes an understanding of the play, the players, the direction and the venue.

This appreciation takes education in areas not normally associated with the common man.  “Common men” have no interest in art for art’s sake, no curiosity in the finer things in life.  They don’t need a higher level of education, and I’m not talking about degrees and certifications.  You will find “common men” with PhD’s.  They thirst for knowledge, but not knowing.  They focus on intellect not understanding.  “Common men” do not ponder.  Highly intelligent people think differently than Smart people.  Smart people can regurgitate facts and statistics and fascinating trivia, but they cannot interpret this information in a way that opens new insights into how the universe works.  Highly intelligent people, on the other hand, see connections that link seemingly unconnected things.

Most have heard the butterfly effect.  Tiny, almost inconsequential differences in initial conditions can result in vastly different ending conditions.  The ripples of change brought about by nearly unnoticeable actions of so many different sources makes things that would seem random to actually be traced, action for action, second for second back to a set of initial conditions that due to the “randomness that is our existence” cannot be duplicated.

Benjamin Franklin

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

― Benjamin Franklin

All the Cumulative stories like that one and “The House that Jack Built” told to children are impressing on children that some things that happen without apparent reason can actually be traced back to the actions of one person or event.  What the “common man” sees appears random, and what the “Smart man” sees is interesting, but what the “Highly Intelligent man” sees is turns of events.
So the “Highly Intelligent man” craves the understanding of the arts, not because it is elite but because he thinks beyond the ordinary.  Classical music, visual arts and performance arts take mundane subjects and changes them into metaphysical expressions, and takes the metaphysical and translates it into a language that can be understood by few.
To further our understanding, let us define villain then.  Not all criminals are villains.  A villain is a criminal that is so self serving and so psychopathic that he’s more interested in the reaction to his crime than the actual monetary or emotional gain derived from his illegal acts.  He seeks the elite.  He looks at the victims of his crimes as a scientist would look at his experimental rats.  He doesn’t derive emotional satisfaction from his crimes.  His emotional, spiritual, and physical fulfillment is found in outside sources such as the fine arts…experiences that are usually restricted to an elite group of people.  They find beauty in the architecture of Rome, the music of Bach and Mozart, the ballet of Diaghilev,  the art of Raphael and Salvador Dali, the poems of Robert Frost, the cuisine of Le Gabriel restaurant in Paris.  They seek out new cultural experiences, read prolifically, and listen to music in all types of venues.  They study color and composition to appreciate art.  So this highly intelligent man will seek the same appreciation as the members of this elite group.
I’m not saying that these pursuits are restricted to the elite; they are most certainly not.  Anyone can turn on a classical station or go to a concert or a ballet or an opera.  It is the cost of a ticket to see great art in a museum.  It is a library card away from books about art and music and any other cultural medium.  It is just a click away on the internet to access some of the most beautiful poetry ever written.  What I am saying is that most people do not want to make the effort.  The villains do because the only beauty they will find in life is outside of themselves.  They crave what they cannot find in themselves.  They look for evidence of Heaven on earth because they know they will never experience the real thing.
Except…
This may be an artifice that Hollywood has come up with.  Is there any research that proves that the music of choice in villains is classical, or proves that they have a higher appreciation for beauty and art than heroes?  Yes, Hitler loved Wagner, but that’s because Wagner wrote about Teutonic gods and heroes.  I find it difficult to believe that evil people can love beautiful music or art.  You cannot love something you cannot relate to, can you?
We, who have an abundance of beauty within us and surrounding us, do not make the effort to cultivate these longings for the extraordinary beauty that is available because good is good enough.  We let “good” eclipse “extraordinary” much to our loss.

Some progress

I have taken walks 4 out of last 5 days.  I’m averaging a mile a day.  Yay.  I’m also doing that Thrive Pill (only one because I get jittery if I take 2) and the patch and the goop.  I didn’t do my goop today though.  When I walk, though, my lower back seizes.  It’s that muscle right on the pelvic girdle.  It makes it very hard to move my legs forward at the hip.  I have to sit down on a bench.  No amount of stretching seems to help before, during or after.  I am just in pain.  It’s not like an 8-10, more like a 4-6, but still requires me to sit.  So it takes me about 50 min to walk 1 mile.  50 minutes.  This is depressing.  But I continue.  I drink my water, do my walk, show up at the gym to do my machine work.  It’s about the end of week 1 of this regimen.  Should I expect some results?  Probably not.  I have a month to get my ducks in a row, then teaching starts again.  I have lots of catch up stuff to do…cleaning, dishes, garden…

Poor Jack

So of COURSE I watched “This is Us” after the Super Bowl.  Those of you who have not gotten sucked into this TV show, this is the gist of it.  Jack and Rebecca are pregnant with (OMG) triplets.  A newborn baby is delivered to a firehouse and abandoned.  One of the triplets doesn’t make it, and Jack and Rebecca take the orphaned baby home with them.  The newborn is black and Jack and Rebecca’s family is white.  The action takes place in the present when all the kids are now 37 years old.  Through the use of flashbacks and narratives, we discover the back stories of all the kids.  We know that their dad dies tragically.  We don’t know how but we’re given hints throughout the season.

Now EVERYONE loves Jack.  He’s wise, kind, funny and smart.  He’s adventurous and optimistic.  Even when we find out he’s an alcoholic, we forgive him and care about him.  He adores his kids and will do anything for them to make sure they become great adults.  Rebecca is also wise and smart.  She follows Jack into all sorts of adventures with no trepidation.  She’s brave and resourceful.  She cares deeply for all her kids.  She’s the mama bear you don’t want to cross.  Together they are dynamite!  They are the parents all of us want to be.  EVERY SINGLE ONE of their kids is screwed up.

Kevin is handsome and popular, and doesn’t think he’s worthy of praise and goes out of his way to sabotage himself.  He’s a talented football player that doesn’t work hard in school because he is a talented athlete and then is rude to the recruiter that comes to his house.  His knee then gets permanently damaged and his football career is over before it starts.  Because he didn’t care about his grades, he can not now get into college.  He marries his high school sweetheart, and then cheats on her.  She divorces him.  He realizes that he was stupid and tries to get back with her.  Then, at a reunion, he cheats on her again!  He’s in a very popular sitcom and blows up at the end of an episode because he is incensed that his audience doesn’t mind what he’s saying or what he’s doing as long as he has his shirt off.  Then he quits the show.  He’s in a movie with Ron Howard and Sly Stallone and due to an injury, he becomes addicted to Vicodin and alcohol.  He is honored at a HS reunion and doesn’t believe he deserves any recognition and has a melt down, and loses the necklace his dad gives him in the hospital when his knee was operated on.  He has another meltdown when the woman he had the one night stand with refuses to return his necklace.  He ends up getting and staying very drunk and goes driving with his niece who, without his knowledge, has sneaked into the back of his car.  He is remanded to rehab where, in a mandatory psychological session, he tells everyone what a horrible childhood he had…much to the surprise of the rest of his family.  He’s very fragile.

Kate is a big hearted girl with a gorgeous voice and the most beautiful face and smile.  She’s also 500 pounds.  She binge-eats junk food and convinces herself to hate herself.  It’s just easier to give up and listen to the nasty self talk than to change the self talk.  She meets an amazing guy, Toby, and is planning to get married.  She meets Toby at an Over-eater’s Anonymous meeting, so yes, Toby is also big.  (Shades of Mike and Molly…)  She has a miscarriage due to weight and age and that devastates her.    She’s very emotional and what she can’t handle, she compensates for by eating.  Kate is very fragile.

Randall is the black child in the white family.  Well THERE’S an issue.  But he’s a good kid, a gentleman, deeply caring about his brother and sister.  He’s extremely smart and successful in his work.  He’s always trying to fit in and sometimes tries too hard to please.  He has had 2 nervous breakdowns one of which is just 2 months before he delivers his first child in the living room and he’s cool as a cucumber as he does this!  He is always seeking perfection, and of course that’s not possible.  He is married with two beautiful daughters.  He tends to over-analyze everything and stress over everything.  He had brought his cancer riddled biological dad into his house after discovering him after a long search.  His dad had been a drug addicted, bisexual musician.  (There’s another issue!)  His biological dad dies during this first season.  He and his wife have bought the apartment building where his biological dad used to live, and he’s trying to renovate the place overnight.   Randall and his wife have become foster parents.  They’re taking in the kids that no one else wants–the older ones with problems.  Do you see a pattern here?  Randall is very fragile.

So these perfect parents, Jack and Rebecca, do all the right things when it comes to raising kids.  We all wish we could have had these perfect parents.  So why are all their kids screwed up?  Does that give us hope?  Even though we do everything right our kids might be train wrecks and it’s NOT our faults?  And yet…  Because they lose Jack when the kids are 17, could that be the fly in the ointment?  Well?  They were all showing signs of dysfunction in the flashbacks.  Randall had a notebook where he kept relationship notes not unlike Sheldon in Big Bang Theory.  He’s anxious and too eager to please even at an early age.  Kevin knows he’s popular and well liked and uses that to his advantage, but doesn’t develop well as a person.  For instance:  Kevin knows that his sister won’t get the most popular boy to hold her hand because she’s not thin like the other girls so he bribes the boy Kate wants to get close to with all his Halloween candy.  He feels that his mom prefers Randall because he’s the adopted one, and that Dad prefers Kate because she’s the girl and he feels like he’s on his own.  Kate, on the other hand, gets made fun of by her peers and then jumps in and agrees with their assessment.  She assumes the persona that is put on her by others while in elementary school.  She feels judged by her mom who tries to amend Kate’s fixation on food.  This grows to a feeling of her mom’s judgment on everything she does. All of these incidents happen when the kids are 8/9/10 years old.  So the signs of dysfunction are visible even before their marvelous dad, Jack, dies.

Could this mean that the Dr. Spock books are inaccurate?

Mmmmmmmmmm…could be.

White out

 “Smoke, Fog, and Haze: Write about not being able to see ahead of you.”
– writing prompt for today’s CW piece.

White

Silent but for the sound of wind

Isolation

What is it that is so critical that I must be here?

I see the tail lights in front of me, but they swerve

It is slick

I must get home, I cannot stay here

I see my warm kitchen, smell banana bread

Feel the warmth of my fire

My hands are cold

My wipers, ineffective

I’m shivering in my seat

I must get home, I cannot stay here

My radio is playing Vivaldi

The programmer has a sense of humor…playing Summer

I smile just a bit

But I must concentrate very hard

It’s difficult to drive by feel

How slow?

How careful?

How long until I’m safe?

I must get home, I cannot stay here

Blizzards, fun to watch

Not having fun now…

Pull over?

Wait it out?

2 more hours.

I must get home, I cannot stay here.

Trust my feeling

Trust my instinct

Trust the road

Trust those driving ahead and behind

It’s hard to trust

I must, because

I must get home, I cannot stay here

OWWWWW!

So I started out 2018 really well…I broke a toe!  Not the grubby little toe, and not the Big really important toe, the 4th toe on my right foot.  Now remembering that my left side gives me troubles…Broken hip twice after replacement, kidney stone in left kidney and now some sort of muscle problem in my left thigh, I limp on my left leg pretty much as a normal thing now.  How do you limp on both legs?!

You cannot splint a toe.  You just tape a good toe to the bad one.  They must be adjacent.  It is a lovely shade of purple now, but I can still get my foot into my shoe!  Yay!  So I ask my friend how she heals so fast because she’s had some broken bones and bam!  You can’t tell she’d ever been injured.  She says use the D3 plus Calcium and not only heals the bones but strengthens them.  Well of Course!  That makes perfect sense!  So what do doctors recommend?  OMG.  You can’t pronounce these meds!  What do they contain?  Welllllll, you can’t pronounce those either.  Why would they prescribe chemicals that are so foreign and contrived when Vitamin D and Calcium work better with fewer side effects?  The fact is, the doctor wouldn’t.  He’d tape the toes together and say stay off of them as much as possible.  Ice and ibuprophen.  He wouldn’t even prescribe a bone healing agent unless you asked about it.

So what do we see here?  We’re treating the symptom and not the cause.  Do we see this approach in other areas?  OF COURSE!

Scenario 1:  I don’t have enough money.  I must double my hours to have enough money.  I cannot double my hours in my current position, so I must find additional work.  If I work for myself, I will make more money, but it will take too much time from my other job.  I will work a part time job that doesn’t pay as well so it doesn’t interfere with my other job.  It will cost me more in time, and sleep, and child care, and gas and wear and tear on my car and add stress to my marriage and my relationships with my children and my friends.  But, I don’t have enough money.

  • Enough money for what?  Are you trying to pay off debt?  Are you wanting a more lavish lifestyle?  Are you worried about paying your utility bill?  Do you find yourself without heat/light/phone every month?  Prioritize your needs for the money.  If utilities and mortgage/rent are the 1st things you pay for out of your paycheck, and you don’t have the money left to service your debt, you may have to eliminate some things and plug the leaks in your budget.  And even if you have plugged all the leaks, you may have to come up with a unique way to bring in more money.
  • Can you get a raise?  You want more money for the time you expend and the value you bring to this company.  Are you worth more now than you were last year?  Have you improved your skill set?  Have you taken on more responsibility?
  • Can you work for yourself in a way that your schedule is flexible enough to give you the money you need to replace your current income with fewer hours?  How important is this job you currently hold?  Is it your passion or is it just a paycheck?  Is it a means to your passion ie. you make $1000 more than you need for your household and spend it on building ultralights, or skateboards, or helping in the shelters or donating to Doctors without Borders.

For many people, the cost of the childcare and the transportation is 2/3 of the check they’d get from the 2nd job.  If you figure 80 hrs/month at min wage, ($7.25) you’d be working 80 hours for less than $150 a month?  That’s $1.81/hr.  Who can afford to work for $1.81/hour?!!!  So as in every enterprise, you have to look at the cause, not just the symptom.  Is there something that takes only an hour or two per week where you can make $150?  Let your mind go crazy and then pare it down to something reasonable.  For me, that would be 2 students/month.  I would be 1-2 investment clients/month.  It would be 4 books sold.  (Nice thing about books, you only have to write them once!)  Find the source of the problem and work from there.

Scenario 2:  I am fat.  I don’t like being fat.  It causes really stupid problems like not being able to tie my shoes or put on my socks.  I can’t get up out of the couch.  I will eat fewer calories and stay up later so I burn more, and exercise until I drop.  ??  I am not losing weight.  I am eating fewer calories, I changed from my late nights to getting a full 7-8 hours sleep, and I’m still exercising.  I am not losing weight.  I’m eating the RIGHT calories, getting enough sleep and exercising.  I am not losing weight.  It’s hopeless.

  • How are you counting calories?  Do you weigh your food?  Do you cook it so you know how it’s made and what goes into it?  What is the breakdown of your calories–carbs, proteins, fats?
  • How consistent are you on your work outs?  Are they all cardio or do they include strength and flexibility exercises?  Do you work with a trainer?  How do you measure your progress of your work outs?
  • How much sleep do you want?  Do you wake up tired?  What is your typical bed time?  Do you dream?  Do you dream in color?
  • Have you spoken to a doctor?  Had testing done?  Nutritionist?  Recommendations for change in diet?  Watched hour long infomercial about how people are losing 60 pounds in 30 seconds followed by an add for chainsaws and extreme liposuction with a shop-vac…

See?  The symptom is being overweight.  If you cannot determine the cause, you cannot fix the problem.

Unfortunately, when it comes to mental problems, cause doesn’t always lead to the same effect.  I’ve become increasingly skeptical that knowing the cause of a behavior can help change the behavior.  It may eliminate a trigger, but only if the trigger isn’t very old. If the trigger goes back to your childhood, I look askance at it.  Unless you can remove a traumatic experience from your past, you have to go from your present condition.  About all you can do for those experiences is to think, “oh…wasn’t that interesting,” and move on from there.  I know that’s harsh.  “When I was in Jr. High, I was thrown into the shower and restrained, wet and naked, and they took all my clothes and put them in the hallway.”  That’s traumatic.  Can you change what happened?  Nope.  Can you get even?  Probably not, and it wouldn’t make you feel better.  How did you cope at the time?  Do you believe that nothing could be as bad as that experience?  Probably.  Have you anything to fear then?  Hmmmm.  The symptom was being the person on the bad side of a bully and (of course) the minions that follow bullies around.  What was the cause?  Does it matter? Nooooo!  Now that’s where the interesting stuff comes out.

So when you find yourself worrying about stuff in your life, sit down, take stock, and ask the questions until you get to the root of the situation.  Then solve the problem, don’t just treat the symptom.

It’ll make you feel better…

I had a scare. Something wasn’t right, and it didn’t seem to be getting better with time.  I went to the doctor and he did an exam and all the tests came back normal!  Yay!  My doctor may be a better GP than I give him credit, but this was the same guy that, when I went in to get a followup on my hip surgery, said, standing outside my door, “Oh My God! Have you ever seen this much metal in one person?” and then nonchalantly walked in and asked me how “we” were feeling.  “I hurt, but how about you?  I heard you panicking outside.  Are YOU ok?”  Anyway, he gave me a prescription and when I got it and opened the box, it had a sheet about 2 feet by 3 feet in mouse point front and back about the stuff in the tube. I spent about 45 min looking for the dosage information.  It was about 2 lines in the middle of all this mess.  Side effects include but aren’t limited to

  • cancer
  • other cancer
  • unintelligible cancer (I ripped a hole in the paper when I tried to unglue it from itself so I could read it)
  • heart attack
  • nausea
  • diahrea
  • death

So it leaves me with a few questions.

  1. Why don’t they put the dosage on the box or on the tube?
  2. Why do they glue the page together when it’s going into a box?
  3. Why would I take something that might kill me so I can feel better?
  4. Why don’t they say in the prescription how long I’m supposed to take this?
  5. Why do they have to name every study and every statistic about the stuff?
  6. Is it a controlled substance?

I can’t wait to be off this stuff.  It does appear to be doing what he said it would do, but it’s a pain in the ass to use.  Do other countries have to put such ridiculous packaging on everything?  I think the box could have been 25% smaller without the disclaimers.