Balance is Bull

Ever heard anyone talking about work/life balance? Use the word “balance’ when it came to describing how to multi task and juggle multiple things?

I cry fowl on balance.

I think the concept of balance is a load of ____________. When I watch someone walk across a balance beam, I often see them stumble. I see them just make it by. I see them fall. Very few people have perfected balance.

I recently read a book Your Fully Charged Life: A Radically Simple Approach to Having Endless Energy and Filling Every Day With Yay by Meaghan B. Murphy. Murphy has a philosophy that I found quite refreshing. Though Murphy has a time consuming job and a family, she doesn’t praise balance as her mantra. She is a fan of the word SYNERGY.

Synergy allows for separation and the combining or sharing of resources or elements when doing so adds even greater value. That’s what I strive for; I want different parts of my life to understand the others so they can cooperate, not only play together in the same orchestra.

Meghan B Murphy

Synergy more closely describes the very intimate dance that all the parts of our world must do to coexist. Sometimes your kid can’t be sitting on your lap while you are in a meeting. Sometimes you can’t have a conversation with your Mother’s doctor while you’re at your kids soccer game. You have to be able to give each task full focus. You can’t always multi task. And everyone in your life needs to understand the boundaries that are in place.

I know it’s hard to have kids and parents and spouse and job and household responsibilities and friends and hobbies AND take care of yourself.

Yet- we must.

We can delegate and outsource, but sometimes it gets overwhelming. We need to figure out how to make our lives go as smoothly as possible. We need to find the right combo.

I think synergy is the answer, but what do you think? Synergy? Harmony? Or are you a balance person?

How do you get by?

Anything Can Happen Friday: Cable

The back story: We used to have a bulk rate cable package for our building. When the contract came up for renewal, there just weren’t enough people in the building using cable for us to get a good bulk rate anymore. Bottom line: as of last week we now pay for services that we don’t want/need, but we used to get for free.

Knowing that I didn’t want to pay extra for services we don’t want, I called up the cable company the other day. I supplied them with all the necessary info, told them I wanted to eliminate X and Y.

With me so far?

Ok- the cable guy says:

“Can you get your husband on the line because only his name is on the account.”

Meanwhile, I’m calling from the number that is listed on the account. MY NUMBER IS LISTED AS THE CONTACT NUMBER ON THE ACCOUNT.

I am able to give him all the information for the account because THE BILLS ALL GO TO MY EMAIL. I literally read him all the lines from the most recent bill- every single code and word etc.

Nope. Need to talk to the husband. Which I understand in theory, but I”M GIVING YOU ALL THE INFORMATION AND I’M CALLING FROM THE NUMBER ASSOCIATED WITH THE ACCOUNT. FOR TWENTY YEARS I AM THE PERSON WHO HAS BEEN DOING EVERYTHING WITH THE CABLE INCLUDING SETTING UP THE NEW BOXES WHEN NEEDED.

I mean really, is there some nefarious trickster out there calling the cable company and having Showtime and Starz removed from random people?

I’M TAKING STUFF OFF NOT ADDING ON.. THE BILL IS GOING TO GO DOWN…

I may or may not have been rude to the cable guy…

So I get off the phone frustrated.

I pulled up our bill online and I saw a “Chat Now” thing.

So I went on the “Chat Now” and I asked them to take off Showtime and Starz (FYI- didn’t know we had Starz) and I ask how much my new monthly bill will be.

And ever so quickly Showtime and Starz were taken off my account.

So here’s the thing: is it really security if I can bypass the system pretty easily?

The Stages

Speech: “All the world’s a stage”

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE(from As You Like It, spoken by Jaques)
                                        All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

The above passage might be my very favorite Shakespeare. I love how he breaks down the stages of life. Pretty accurately I think.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the five stages of womanhood- (I only wrote five because I’ve yet to reach the others) I think that each decade adds new dimensions and layers to our lives, we learn and grow: adapt and change.

I highlighted the words that were most descriptive for Shakespeare as he broke down the ages. I used computer speak naming then 1.0, 2.0 etc.

What do you think the stages of life are?

How would you name them?

I Took a Walk

The past few days you’ve read about things that happened when I took a walk.

A walk.

To the Farmer’s Market.

Down the streets of my neighborhood, streets that I walk along all the time.

When you stop to actually look at your surroundings, when you pause and look up or look down, you never know what you are actually going to find…or see…or experience…

You probably aren’t going to see someone get hit by a van…but who knows what you will see when you open your eyes?

Inspiration is all around you…sights, sounds, colors, experiences…

How do these things make you feel? Sad? Happy? Intrigued?

Can you see the makings of a story? Poem? Novel? Play?

Or did it just make you think about things in a different way?

Here’s your assignment:

Take a walk. You can choose the destination. Really use all your senses as you walk: What does the sky look like? What does the air smell like? Pause and look down at the ground- look left, look right. How does what you are experiencing make you feel?

Write it down.

Think about it.

Then do something creative with it.

Inspiration is all around us if we are open to the possibilities. I know how easy it is to be in a rut. I was in one a few weeks ago. I looked at the page and I didn’t care that it was blank. I was perfectly content leaving it that way.

So I took a day. I had a pity party. All the teeny tiny violins were there. Then I shook it off like raindrops that you are unprepared for and got on with it.

We are all allowed to have bad days. And if you believe the Friends theme song, it can be a month or even a year…but eventually we do need to snap out of it…

We are too important to have bad days every day ad infinitum…

We are too important to leave the page, or the canvas, or whatever blank…

We are surrounded by inspiration. We just have to allow ourselves to see it: allow ourselves the latitude to explore it.

Put your phone in your pocket.

Take a walk.

Consider this your prescription: put one foot in front of the other.

Newspapers

So I was out on a walk…

I walked by a townhouse.

I know that in most of America, the single family dwelling reigns supreme. However, in a place as tightly packed as Manhattan, most people reside in multiple family dwellings. Yet, there are still some homes in Manhattan that only house one family…

Townhouses.

There happen to be some in my neighborhood. They are just gorgeous, and I admit to coveting them…so when I walk the dog I look at the stately townhouses and daydream just a little. But on this particular day, I noticed that at least a week’s worth of newspapers sat on the front step.

So when you see a week’s worth of newspapers stacked in front of someone’s house, what do you think?

Do you think that the person went on vacation and forgot to cancel the paper for the week?

Or do you think that something bad happened to the person who lives there?

Are they in the hospital?

Are they still inside their home, unable to get out?

Are they being held for ransom?

This is when my mind goes into overdrive. This is why I like writing and storytelling and anything that can take a single snapshot and make it into something. This is where I love being somewhat creative. I may not write the story, but my imagination still gets a workout.

Some of you are now thinking, what about the people that reside in the house? What actually happened?

Alas, I can’t give you any more details. I don’t know who lives in the house. I don’t know why their papers are outside. I didn’t call or ring the doorbell or anything as to ascertain what happened. Whereas I like to think of myself as a good concerned citizen, I also don’t want to become Mrs. Kravitz, the neighbor who always butts in. In a world of see something, say something I have to decide what is worth intervening. Is this worth calling the police about when it is probably a case of forgetting to cancel the paper?

So here’s todays points to consider:

  1. Do you ever see a scene and just imagine all the who, what, when, where and why?
  2. Would you have tried to find out if the inhabitants were OK?

Discuss

What’s The Lesson

A few months ago, my daughter and I got into a fight.

As many mother/daughter fights go, I can’t remember what we were fighting about. I also know that we were a tad nasty to one another.

When I left the house to errand/walk dog, I was still annoyed with her and she was annoyed with me. We usually say “love you” to one another when we part, but this time I know we didn’t.

We were exasperated with one another.

Now, you may remember a few months ago I told you that I was out walking the dog and I witnessed a man get hit by a van.

Well, that incident occurred on the day that she and I had our fight.

So after I returned home from errands, my daughter flew out of her bedroom and hugged me and told me how sorry she was.

See, my daughter has that “Citizen” app on her phone and saw the notice that a pedestrian was hit by a van in the neighborhood that I was going to. She knew I would be in close proximity of the accident and she got worried that it had been me.

So what’s the moral?

I guess there’s different ways you can look at this:

  1. Don’t fight over stupid things
  2. Never leave a loved one on an angry note
  3. You never know what the future holds for you

I’m sure there are a few other lessons and tidbits from this.

What do you think is the greatest lesson that we learn from this situation?

The One Where I Stereotype

I was walking with the dog when I saw a BIG truck- the kind of truck that people use to haul things and do construction and stuff…

Big macho truck.

Driven by big, burly tattooed guy with a leather vest.

Did I mention the truck was painted pink?

Big, tough looking PINK vehicle- manned by big, tough looking guy.

On the side of the big, pink truck was an inscription to whomever the driver had lost to breast cancer. Some words about being an ambassador for curing the disease. A big pink ribbon telling people to please get checked out regularly.

All on this big pink truck.

When I saw it my first thought was:

Wow. What a great way to try to get a message across to people. Use you vehicle to promote awareness about a devastating disease.

My second thought was:

I’m just surprised that this big tough looking guy actually did this on his work truck

I know. Flog me. I’m a bad person because I don’t think shaved head, muscled tattooed guys can be sensitive to women’s issues and to so openly being devastated by the loss of a loved one.

For the record, I know that I shouldn’t judge people by how they look. Yet…there I was, dumbfounded by looking at the man and reading the message.

Macho guys have the stereotype of being insensitive. The word macho even implies uber maleness…when I see a macho guy every bad stereotype of men pops into my head.

I just can’t help it.

When I walk by construction sites and these big guys stop to pet my dog and AWWWWWW over her cuteness, I am always taken aback. Really? These guys actually think my 7 pound fluffy dog and her pink raincoat are cute? Don’t they see that rather stately German Shepherd right over there?

No matter how evolved we think we have become, we still can fall back on judging a book by its cover. We see a “type” and we “assume”.

If you’ve ever seen “The Odd Couple” you know that when we assume, you make an ass out of u and me

Don’t assume anything.

Don’t stereotype.

Pre Existing

Let’s have a little thought exercise into the hypothetical…you all know how I love to come up with a slightly plausible scenario and have everyone talk it out…

Let’s just say someone doesn’t get vaccinated.

We are not going to call these people names or anything like that, because then I will give you statistics as to who is and who is not vaccinated in NYC and I’ll ask you to explain your answer better, so we can be clear as to why we don’t stereotype or why we don’t blankly call anyone stupid

So unvaccinated…

Now say these anti vaxxers get one of these COVID strains that we are giving cute Greek names to…sort of like a special sorority…

So Anti Vaxxer gets COVID Delta…

And they need to go to the hospital…

Does insurance have the right to deny the claim?

If you get a virus that there is a vaccine for and you willingly chose to not vaccinate yourself, does that count as taking a risk?

Should premiums be higher for those who choose not to vaccinate?

Should unvaccinated people be required to waive their rights to health care coverage if they do indeed get sick from something that could be prevented?

Discuss:

Let’s Hang Out

Now that we are all starting to have in real life social happenings…

I went to dinner with friends the other day- had a wonderful time. Great conversation. Lots of laughs. Always have fun with this couple. Totally enjoyed myself and look forward to seeing them again soon.

Last weekend went out with two couples. Day was nice. Nice. Is nice a great description though? Do you really want someone to say that it was a “Nice” time? Or do you want to use a better adjective? Is “I had a nice time” just another way to say that you were bored 75% of the day?

When you go out with friends, how do you want to describe the outing?

I don’t need the outing to be “Epic”. I am not an “epic” person. I don’t do “epic”. No one is ever going to spend an evening with me and say that it was the best night evvvvvver. I am never going to wake up somewhere that I didn’t intend to. I am never going to look at my wrist and wonder why I have a wristband on. There is never going to be an unexplained tattoo on my body…

So what words do I hope I say after spending time with friends?

  • pleasurable
  • entertaining
  • amusing
  • lively
  • hilarious
  • intellectually stimulating

So now you know my goal. No body art. Plenty of conversation.

But what makes it a “pleasurable outing”?

What is the difference between a “nice” time and a “great” time?

Think back to the last time you were with friends. I realize that for some of you this is over a year ago… What makes time with friends so special?

I know that I have a much better time with old friends. The couple we went out to dinner with we’ve known a long time. There’s a shorthand to old relationships. We know one another’s opinions on things- we can build onto the existing relationship. We know what topics to avoid. We know how far we can “push” one another. We know what makes our friends laugh. I am going to see my oldest and closest friends in a few weeks. To say that I am excited is an understatement. I guess there is a feeling of relaxation with old friends- they know your secrets. They were probably there for some of them. I think that when I am relaxed and feel safe I can have a much better time.

So, for me, familiarity does not breed contempt. Familiarity allows me to be me. When I am “Me” I have a much better chance of having a lively time.

But what are the other variable that go into having an “entertaining” evening or outing?

Conversation?

An activity?

Everyone being equally invested in the outing?

The last time you were out with people other than your immediate family, what made the excursion good or bad? Boring or exciting? Lively or dull?

What makes a for a good social interaction?

Does alcohol need to be involved for a group outing to be successful?

How do you define having a good time?

Obligation

My sister lives across the country. When she comes to visit, she stays with my parents. This is not an unusual family situation- out of town relatives often stay with one another.

But…

My sister and my parents have diametrically opposite views on just about everything. I mean really, everything…

And when my sister comes to town, they verbally spar. They verbally spar about 90% of the time. When my sister came to town a few months ago, her plane landed about 6pm. By 9am the next day she was already texting me about the arguments…

I understand my sister’s point of view. She is just trying to be herself. She loves our parents, wants to see them, yet…

My parents are not always easy to get along with…

And some of my sister’s ideas on life are a bit out there…

I clearly understand both sides in this situation.

I understand the cross words and raised tempers.

I just wish that all of them could be quiet sometimes.

I understand the need to get one’s point across. I understand wanting to be heard and not wanting to be marginalized. I understand that we are all allowed to have our own opinions. I get that opinions can never be wrong.

But…at the end of the day…my sister visiting is a lot of grief for everyone. I don’t know if my sister or my parents are actually happy during the visits. I receive calls from both sides…complaining…

I am very stressed out when my sister visits because I hate to be in the middle. I hate trying to broker peace.

So my question is thus:

If a visit to family causes angst, should you visit?

Do you continue the visits out of a sense of obligation? Out of trying to assuage guilt?

Is there a time when you shouldn’t visit your family?

Which regret is worse: not seeing your family because you drive one another crazy or feeling bad that you don’t see your family?

Discuss: