Monday, May 31, 2010

Adventures Postponed

I'm good at making lists. I've got a lot of them. A "To Do" list, a wish list, a bucket list, a "bad habits to break" list...and more. They're not all written down, but they're at least in my head somewhere. Making them is easy. Executing them is more difficult.

One of the lists I've been thinking about recently includes the places I want to travel for some "grand adventures". Among the places within the U.S. that I want to travel are Boston (great historical sites), the coast of Maine, Alaska, Washington State and Oregon. Internationally, I don't think I could go wrong, but I want to get to Great Britain (especially if I can tour the castles), some of the Aztec areas of Mexico, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil....and on...and on...

It's a fair-sized list, but there's nothing out of reach. I've started to wonder what's stopping me, though. Some of it is monetary. I think that's a fair excuse, especially with a new house ( to me). There are still plenty of expenses. But there always will be. I'm comfortable with my life, but there's so much more to see. I think some of the reluctance is due to that complacency and the fear of stepping outside of "the norm" on my own.

There's something to be said for having a travel companion. It's a second set of eyes to check the map, it's someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to split costs with, someone to confirm that you're seeing what you think you're seeing, someone to prove that you were actually there. It's a great comfort to have a familiar person with you in unfamiliar locations.

But at this point, I don't have that travel companion. It's not something I say to elicit pity or seek out volunteers, it's just a statement of fact at this point. And it's an easy excuse to keep myself at home. Even though I dream of a grand adventure, I just haven't gotten the nerve up to just make that decision and go with it. Lots of "if only...", "soon...", and "I'll do it when....", but no firm dates yet. Most of the big trips that I've been on have been with a school or initiated by the family. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't qualify as the grand adventure.

Really...I want to have fewer lists. Shorter lists. I need to do something about it. I need to make a step toward taking that grand adventure.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Out With the New, In With the Old

Habits are a funny thing. You spend tons of time building and developing the good ones, but all that work can be eliminated in no time at all.

Take exercise. I think I've learned that for me, exercise is the key to all my other good habits. When I exercise, I eat a healthier diet. I drink more water. I have more energy and more creativity. It's very straightforward. I know it, I accept it...and yet I find it very difficult to maintain it.

So I bought a 90-day boot camp workout DVD program as a starting point. It's a tough workout, but it's good--it forces me to push myself. I was determined to complete the program, so I focused everything on making sure I got that workout done. About 75 days into the program I tweaked my knee, so I figured I'd take a couple days off and make sure it was 100% before I got going again. Two+ weeks later, I still haven't gotten back to it even though my knee felt better within a week. And of course, the further away from it I get, the tougher it will be to get back to it. So why the heck is it so difficult to get back into it?

A few years ago, I got into running. I pushed myself hard. I ran some serious distances (no marathons, but I did get into double-digit mileage). I lost a much-needed 30 pounds. And things were good. Until I burned myself out, gave up on running, and gained all the weight back.

I know myself pretty well. I need to give myself goals that are going to force me to push myself into doing things I'm not capable of, otherwise I'll get bored and lazy. But if I do the same thing, I seem to get bored and lazy. And if I have to think too hard about tracking which exercises need to be done on which day, I get lazy. And if I overdo any particular exercise, I burn myself out. Which, surprisingly enough, leads to me getting lazy again. Hmmm....I think I sense a pattern developing here....

So. Deep breath. Pop in the DVD. Start over again, but maybe mix it up since it's spring and I live in a beautiful neighborhood. Push myself, but not to the point of burnout (provided I can find that point). Because I know it's the key to getting many other things to fall into place. Provided I can just keep the habit.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

As someone who spends most of his waking hours thinking (and overthinking...then thinking about the fact that he's overthinking), sleep can be a welcome respite once I finally get my brain to wind down for the night. One of the nice things is that generally, while I know I dream regularly, I tend not to remember those dreams once I wake up. Remembering dreams just gives my brain more things work out, and that's the last thing I need. Recently, however, I've been having a greater concentration of dreams that I remember fairly clearly. I think my subconscious is trying to send messages. And then I wake up either trying to rationalize or question what I did in my dream as well as attempt to interpret the messages, which tends to be an exercise in futility at best.

A lot of these dreams are about some of the things I want most in my life, but I have to say: If my subconscious is directing them, it certainly has an odd sense of humor about itself. It seems that it's writing "The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook to Josh's Life".

A dream about jobs:
I had the Monday through Friday job that I've continue to hope for. I was the boss with the office, big desk, the works. It was a proud feeling. My boss called with a big project for myself and my staff, and it needed to be done by the end of the workday. I wrote down the details and prepared to get to it. Life was good. Then I got to know my staff. Utterly incompetent, clueless about what their jobs entailed, and no motivation to work whatsoever. I spent a great deal of the dream madly running around doing their jobs and mine because I knew if I didn't get the project done, I'd be packing up that big desk and leaving the office. And apparently, my staff knew that I'd do the job for them, because they were sitting around watching and making snide comments while I was running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off. At the end of the workday, I sprinted the finished project up to my supervisor's office, where there was a stone door slowly dropping toward the floor. I knew I had to get that project in, so with a burst of speed I dove across the polished floor, slid under the door just moments before it would have crushed me. I jumped to my feet and tossed the packet onto the desk in front of me.

I woke up from this one with my heart racing. Then the questioning of my actions began. Why the heck would I keep this staff? Why the heck wouldn't I at least ask my boss for an extension on the project? Why did I never ask for help? Why am I worrying this much about a dream?

A dream about dating:
I was out on a date with a woman that I could feel a strong attraction for, even though I don't think I ever clearly saw her face. Nothing was ever good enough for her on this date, but I adjusted because I knew that I cared about her. I changed restaurants, changed tables at the restaurant, changed seats at the theater, and sent back the dessert twice because she asked me to. And I did it without a complaint.

Boy, was I mad at myself when I woke up! I scolded myself for a few minutes for not standing up for myself before I reminded myself that it was just a dream.

A dream about family:
I had two beautiful children. I could tell they were mine by physical resemblance. I could feel the incredible love I had for them. I was making them breakfast (which they proceeded to throw around the kitchen), cleaning up after them, taking them to school, coming home, cleaning up after them some more, going shopping for the video games they wanted, setting up special play areas for them, picking them up from school, showing them everything that I'd done for them...and they hated it. Despised it. Trashed the play area, smashed the video games, then went about breaking random things around the house. I couldn't stop them, no matter what I did.

The first thing I demanded to know when I woke up was what kind of woman would abandon me with two children. Getting no answer from my subconscious on that, I moved on to the sadness of having children that just didn't respect their father.

This particular grouping of dreams has me thinking. Is there a particular reason I'm having them now? Is there something I need to address immediately? Is my subconscious just torturing me? They certainly touch on the dark side of the things that I wish for in my life. The dreams may be a good reminder to just be aware and careful with the choices that I make or to be careful what I wish for, which is nice in a (sick, twisted) sense. But I think I'll be ok going back to a stretch of nights where I don't remember what I dreamed once I wake up in the morning.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm Mean...

Sarcasm is something that I think may just be ingrained in my DNA, but it doesn't mean that I don't want to back off a little bit. One of these days, it's going to get me in trouble at work...

The older I get, the less patience I have for brainlessness. If we lose power at the tv station and are broadcasting black, it's certainly an issue. It's my job to monitor what's on air, so at this point I'll be scrambling to fix the problem and someone from the newsroom will inevitably will call up to ask if I know that we're off the air and whether they can get an explanation as to what the problem is. Despite all the things that I want to say, the nastiest I've ever gotten is, "Yes I know we're off the air, and I could work on getting it fixed much more efficiently if I didn't have to answer the phone." That one was enough to get me a slap on the wrist (there was an admission that I was correct conceptually, just a warning to watch what I say). Ah, but to dream of what I could say if there was no threat of repercussion...


Someone that I work with got her hair cut recently. It was a dramatic change, and noticeable to anyone. But she came down with a project that we'd needed a half-hour earlier, saying "Sorry...I was just getting so many compliments on my hair that I couldn't get away." I was a bit annoyed with the vanity, so I decided to bite my lip, take the project from her, and get to work. Later, she came back with another bit of work that needed to be done and spent all her time flipping her hair back and forth, obviously looking for a reaction. I continued to bite my lip (although I think I was starting to taste blood, as hard as I was biting it). She came back a third time, this time bringing down a picture of some celeb with a similar hairstyle, asking how favorably her style compared with the celebrity. I looked up at her with as blank a look as I could find and said, "You look different. Did you change something?" She stormed out, muttering something under her breath and hasn't mentioned it to me since.


I'm going to need to grow facial hair for the summer community theater show that I'm doing, so I'm working on a goatee at the moment in hopes that the costumer will like it and let me go with a facial hair style that I like. It's been going for a little over a week, so it's definitely not filled in but it's quite obviously there, especially since the sides of my face are shaved. Someone in all earnestness asked me, "Are you trying to grow a goatee?" I responded, "No, my 5:00 shadow starts in the middle of my face and spreads toward the sides." That got a laugh and sheepish, "Yeah, that was a stupid question."

I should be a bit more political at work. I should cut the sarcasm back a bit. But sometimes the words are out of my mouth before I can stop them. Fortunately, I've known my far. But I need to make sure, whether or not the sarcasm is part of my DNA, that it tones itself down a bit at times.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tough Word to Say

There are certain words that I have a really tough time saying. For some reason, reaching for the 'c's in "arctic" trips me up at times. "Susceptible" just has too many 's' sounds too close together. But the word "no" seems to give me more trouble than any other.

Most two-year olds that I've met have the word down pat. A lot of teenagers have perfected it when it comes to their parents' wishes. Many politicians have perfected it to the point where they can say it without ever saying the word (provided that you're listening closely). And yet so many times the word reaches my lips, I'm ready to say it, and it just won't come out. It's a two-letter word--how difficult can it be? For me...exceptionally difficult.

There's a fine line between wanting to be there for people and wanting to be liked by people. I toe that line regularly, if not jump over and back (and over and back...and over and back...). I'm a people pleaser. It's a distinction that has its pluses (at least that's what I keep telling myself), but a greater number of minuses. If I'm involved in a group, I want everyone else involved to be having a good time. Which tends to make me try to be extremely active. Which makes event organizers ask me if I'd be interested in helping to organize. Which I have trouble saying no to. Which leaves me with way too many things to do. Which leaves me cranky and wanting to withdraw from everything ( can't be asked to do anything when you don't go anywhere, right?). Which leaves people unhappy with me. Which works against everything I was shooting for initially.

So the goal is to stick with the things where I really have a passion. Right now, that's focused around being a board member for a local community theater. It's a group that I was introduced to six years ago, and I can't see spending my summers any other way, whether I'm on stage or not. I was extremely flattered to be asked to be on the board, and I feel a great sense of reward in the work. And that's so important to me. There are a few other organizations to whom I've given some level of verbal commitment where I don't feel the same level of passion. But since I couldn't say that two-letter word beginning with "n" and ending with "o", I still feel obligated (darn overdeveloped sense of responsibility!). And here's the tricky part: I don't want to disassociate myself from those organizations. All of them are good organizations with good people. And some are organizations where I'd still be willing to take on an occasional role as a leader. But I don't feel strongly enough to take on that mantle on a regular basis.

So it's probably not a matter of a flat-out "no" in many cases. Perhaps more of a "not right now", "perhaps on a limited basis", or "not in a leadership role".

But practicing saying it might not hurt, either. Just in case.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Simply Irrational

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. He asked me for the irrational fear that I'd most like to conquer. I like to think that I have a pretty good mix of the rational and irrational when it comes to fears and would love to conquer all of them, but the answer was easy: my fear of heights. I've walked along the edge of the bluffs overlooking Lake Superior, a long way up, and looked down with no feeling other than awe for the beauty of the landscape. Put me on top of a six-foot ladder, however, and my knees are knocking at a pretty good clip. I think that combining those two scenarios would qualify the fear as irrational.

The next question that he asked was the one that got me thinking, though: What would I do differently if I managed to conquer the fear? The easy answer is that I'd have a much easier time with certain aspects of housework. I wouldn't need a wall nearby to nearly claw my fingernails into every time I tried to change certain light bulbs. I'd change out certain light fixtures myself rather than hiring someone else. But really, would my life change if I eliminated that fear? Frankly, I really had to think hard about the answer because I have no concept of what my life would be like without getting a sense of vertigo when I climb a fire tower or feeling very off-balance working over my head on a ladder.

I wondered about roller coasters. I love the feeling of speed, but I hate the painfully slow climb of the car as it climbs that initial hill before the speed portion begins. It terrifies me to watch the ground slowly creep further and further away. Without the fear, it's possible that I'd enjoy those more.

Skydiving. I might be willing to try that, too. But with a fear of heights, the idea of jumping out of a perfectly functional plane seems wildly ridiculous. No bungee jumping, though. I just don't trust that piece of rubber...

I might take a greater interest in lighting for television and the theater. I've always been very curious about how certain effects are created, but with the inability/extreme unwillingness to go into the light grid, the opportunity to be educated in such things is very limited.

I don't know that I'm motivated to conquer the fear at this point, but I want to keep thinking about my friend's question. I'd like to think that conquering the fear would open a multitude of opportunities. But when I don't necessarily know what I'm missing, I don't necessarily know what I'd want.