This is the eight month I’ve been publishing a daily six word story about my life. I’m committed to this daily practice in order to improve my storytelling skills and to enhance my daily well-being. Every Sunday I publish a weekly summary of my stories from the past week. If you want to know more about this daily practice you can read my original post about this project over here.

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Something new I noticed this week: when crappy things happened, I didn’t overreact or dwell on them, I simply moved on. I got a speeding ticket – at 6:30 am leaving the gym (!!!) and within an hour or two I had almost forgotten about it completely. It seems as though I’m getting better at not wasting emotional energy on issues that aren’t productive. I couldn’t undo the speeding ticket, so there was no point in even thinking about it anymore. I was happy to find I wasn’t dwelling on things very much, and that seemed to continue throughout the week. I’m starting to adopt the attitude that “somehow everything will just sort itself out.” It feels much more relaxing to think this way – it’s much better than constant worrying. Here’s hoping this attitude might last.

Here’s my stories from the past week:

Sunday, 8/4/13

60 minute massage turns into 90.

Monday, 8/5/13

Work friends can be like family.

Tuesday, 8/6/13

I think I opened Pandora’s box.

Wednesday, 8/7/13

Eleven over. Failed to avoid citation.

Thursday, 8/8/13

Morning run. Two poops. One bag.

Friday, 8/9/13

NEW RULE: only one poop allowed.

Saturday, 8/10/13

Tucson is one very small town.

What I’m Learning About Storytelling and Life

I had a couple friends forward me some interesting emails this week, and one of them forwarded me the commencement speech from writer George Saunders – who spoke to the graduating class at Syracuse University this spring. I had already bookmarked this particular article in the NYT and planned to include it in an upcoming blog post. So I replied thanks – and noted that we are definitely getting in sync.

This incident caused me to remember another comment a coworker had made last month when I bought my new Prius. I told him that when I shared with friends I had bought a new car, but asked them to guess which kind of car, more than half of them correctly guessed I bought a Prius. This coworker replied the he wasn’t sure how he’d feel about that – because he’d probably feel irritated about being so predictable.

I explained how I wasn’t irritated at all, I was more pleased that my friends really knew me well enough to know my values and preferences. I thought my friends ability to predict my new car validated that fact that I’m fairly authentic and consistent with everyone I know. Their accurate guess about my new car simply meant I am open and authentic about who I am. And I was very happy about that. It made me feel known and understood.

Those were the two interpretation choices I had: I could choose to be irritated about being predictable OR I could choose to be happy about being authentic and understood by my friends. Of course I chose the latter.

And then this week when I got the speeding ticket in my Prius, four different friends separately commented on the irony of a Prius getting a speeding ticket. Instead of being irritated, I chose to be happy that my friends love me enough to tease me. Which makes me appreciate my friends even more.

And so what I’m learning this week is that when we choose to interpret comments in a positive light, it creates an upward spiral of positive emotion. Every time we choose appreciation over irritation, kindness wins and relationships thrive.

When I choose to appreciate my friends’ knowledge of who I am, I appreciate my friends even more. And when I appreciate my friends more, the trust in our relationship grows and they feel comfortable enough to tease me. And then I feel more connected to my friends, and then our friendship grows and so on…

Every time a friendship deepens, it does so because we choose to appreciate and value the relationship.

George SaundersWhich brings us right back to George Saunder’s advice to the college graduates. His speech circles around kindness and love. As he proclaims to the recent graduates:

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”

He goes on to elaborate with an example from his own life, and encourages the audience to hurry up becoming kinder and more loving. He advises us all to focus less on personal success and to err in the direction of kindness.”

I’ll add to that sentiment by advising us all to apply kindness in how we interpret comments from family and friends. Whenever we have the choice between irritation and appreciation, I hope we choose appreciation. It creates an upward spiral of kindness in our life.

You can read the full text of George Saunder’s speech over here.

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For almost 7 months, I’ve been publishing a six word story about my life, every day. I’m finding this habit helps me keep life in perspective, thereby enhancing my daily well-being.  If you want to know more about this daily practice you can read my original post about this project over here.

This past week didn’t really have a particular theme; I just found that several different things went really well. Home projects, works projects, time spent with friends, everything just sort of clicked into place. When that happens, you don’t want to question anything too much, you just go along for the ride and keep your fingers crossed that everything awesome will continue being awesome.

Here’s my stories from the past week:

Sunday, 7/28/13

Watching Charly swim makes everything better.

Monday, 7/29/13

Building relationships, one conversation after another.

Tuesday, 7/30/13

When the dog sheds, he SHEDS.

Wednesday, 7/31/13

LOVE when a plan comes together.

Thursday, 8/1/13

More in the groove every day.

Friday, 8/2/13

Never seen ducks waddle so fast.

Saturday, 8/3/13

Everyone loves a fairytale love story.

What I’m Learning About Storytelling and Life

I’ve been reading a lot lately and a lot about nutrition science. Two particular books I HIGH recommend and I’ll be reviewing here soon: Fat Chance and Wheat Belly. Yes, I agree that’s a terrible book title. Aside from that, both books should scare you. I mean seriously scare you. But you SHOULD still read both of them, just be prepared to be scared.

As I passed by the vending machine today at work I paused to wonder if there will be some point in the future when we look back and and wonder how we EVER allowed anyone to sell poison in vending machines as if it was food. I thought about how Coca-Cola used to include cocaine in their sodas and how people used to smoke indoors at work. Now we would shudder in horror at either one. I wonder if in the future we’ll shudder in horror as we read about the food people used to eat, way back in 2013, before we started banning processed food from the national food supply.

In Wheat Belly, the author writes a lot about celiac disease. Celiac disease is essentially caused by a reaction to wheat, and so people who suffer from the disease cannot eat any gluten. I won’t dive into the history and statistics about celiac disease, I’ll simply say that it’s a complex condition, which can lead to many other complications. And trying to function in the USA without eating gluten is more than a minor inconvenience, it’s nearly impossible.

But the author made an interesting statement that caught my attention. He basically asserted that people with celiac disease are lucky, because their body clearly alerted them early on to the dangers of wheat. Their reaction to wheat was the equivalent of the canary in the coal mine, so to speak.

And if you think about illness, or breakdowns of any kind in that way, then the things that “go wrong” in our life could all be seen as the early warning alert system.

I have another friend who was recently diagnosed with a stress induced illness. Her response?

“At least now this will force me to make some dramatic life changes.” I applaud her perspective.

Celiac disease, stress induced illnesses, and many other “problems” that arise in our life, can all be seen as blessings, as gifts, if they are viewed as symptoms that alert us to deeper underlying problems. The canary in the coal mine might feel like a splinter in our finger, it might annoy us and irritate us and complicate our life. But it might just be saving our life because it brings our attention to something important that is wrong.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: we should pay closer attention to the things that aren’t going to right in our life, to see what we can discover beneath the surface. We might want to listen closer to the things – or people – that disappoint us and annoy us – to see what lessons we can glean. I know it’s human nature to want to distance ourselves from our disappointments and challenges. But perhaps our challenges can teach us the most.

People who have celiac disease  know it’s a major inconvenience to always eat gluten free food. But they also know how healthy they can be – and feel – by eating whole food, by eating real vegetables and fruit. Their disease might actually make them healthier than you and me.

I suppose the parallel lesson for all of us is to have patience with all our problems, and the persistence to look beneath the surface of the problem to see what the canary might be trying to tell us. I hope we are all listening.

As always, thanks for reading along here.

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For almost 7 months, I’ve been publishing a six word story about my life, every day. I’m finding this habit helps me keep life in perspective, thereby enhancing my daily well-being.  If you want to know more about this daily practice you can read my original post about this project over here.

Much of my attention this week was focused on the CrossFit Games, which took place in Los Angeles. This is the annual competition which brings together the best CrossFitters from around the world, for a very intense week of insane competitions. The Masters competition ran from Tuesday – Thursday, while the “regular” individuals competed Wednesday – Sunday. I’m proud to say my coach ran away with the CrossFit World Champion title for the Men, age 40-44 division. He only had 1 new year’s resolution for 2013, and that was to become the world champion. And he did it. How’s that for some successful goal setting? Congratulations are due to Michael Moseley.

Here’s my stories from the past week:

Sunday, 7/21/13

Threw the plan out the window.

Monday, 7/22/13

Taking a risk pans out. Yes!

Tuesday, 7/23/13

Our coach is number one, WORLDWIDE!

Wednesday, 7/24/13

Our coach is STILL number one!

Thursday, 7/25/13

Michael Moseley is the WORLD CHAMPION!

Friday, 7/26/13

Making new friends with random strangers.

Saturday, 7/27/13

Lost 5 pounds of sweat. Humidity.

What I’m Learning About Storytelling and Life

In between work, house repairs and watching the CrossFit Games, I still found time this week for social events with friends. And thank goodness, because every social event I attended caused me to laugh out loud.

Saturday night I got together with a very good friend for dinner and a movie. And of course there was the inevitable debate about “Which movie shall we see?” Let’s say he wanted Movie A and I wanted Movie B. With my incredibly skillful persuasion skills, I managed to convince him we should see Movie B. Aha! I was victorious and we proceeded to the theater for Movie B.

Just before the movie began, and the lights went down, I realized there were only 4 other people in the theater. Not a good sign. Cue the ominous foreshadowing music.

An hour later, I suddenly realized this movie decision was going to haunt me. I leaned over and whispered to my friend, “You’re not going to hold this against me, are you?” He just started laughing and said “Oh yes I am. For a VERY LONG TIME.”

Crap. It’s one thing to waste 2 hours on a VERY BAD MOVIE. It’s far worse to have talked someone else into wasting 2 hours on a VERY BAD MOVIE.

In the remaining hour, I mentally rehearsed my defense of the movie choice. It got RAVE reviews. The trailer looked good. It had a GREAT CAST! Steve Carell, Allison Janney and Toni Collette. I mean, how could you possibly go wrong with Steve Carell?

Despite all that, I had to admit the movie was bad. Very bad. Horrible bad. For Pete’s sake, the climax of the movie took place on a water slide at a water park. It was that bad.

After the movie ended, we left the theater in complete silence. It was as if neither one of us wanted to name the elephant in the room. Finally I decided to break the ice. “Well I think maybe we should have gone with Movie A.”

He replied “Ya think?!”

And with that, we both bust out into complete and total laughter, to the point I almost couldn’t stand up, I was laughing so hard. We’re talking a full 5 minutes of laughter, and I had to wipe the tears from my eyes just to see.

In that moment I suddenly realized: I’m perfectly happy to watch a bad movie with a good friend any day of the week. In fact, I’d rather watch a bad movie with a good friend, instead of a good movie with a bad friend.

If life experiences could be converted to an equation:

BAD EXPERIENCES + GOOD FRIENDS = NET POSITIVE

GOOD EXPERIENCES + BAD FRIENDS = NET NEGATIVE

The quality of the friends we are with dramatically influence our experiences. More than anything else.

Over the past week, and over the past several months, I’ve been paying special attention to how I feel when I’m with different friends. I suppose it is a luxury, to have this abundance of friends, but as my discretionary time becomes more valuable, I’m becoming more particular about who I spend time with.

These days, I want to spend more time with the people who make me laugh, who forgive me for bad movie choices, and want to spend time with me anyway.

I want to spend more time with people who are committed to and invested in the friendship. I want to spend time with people I can call in the middle of the night.

I suppose we all want the same thing really – we just want people who will be there for us, people we can count on when we need them. It’s really that simple.

With that, I’ll offer my thanks and gratitude for all my friends – local, long distance and virtual – who have been there and continue to be there.

I very much appreciate all of you and I’ll watch a bad movie with you anytime.

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