Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tumblers Shifting, to Unlock Life's Safe

About... Well, let's see. Oh I know! It was in the spring of 2004 I started a book called Wildflower, and I made a book jacket for the book I had not yet written.

I had done this before, actually. And I always got a kick out of it when my sons would show my "book" to their friends. I would always come in and interject, "It's not a real book yet! This is a motivational tool...! See, open it up and you'll see it's about something else."

The boy would open the book and see that it was an out of date dictionary or something like that. I had simply printed out what would be a cool book jacket and glued it to the paperback. Like I said, it was a motivational tool. I would set it in front of my computer as I wrote.

The idea to "make" my book (with a new cover) was not my idea. I read somewhere that the visual of seeing your name in print is very powerful.

If you can see it, it will happen.

Today, I looked at the clock at 4:48 am, a whole 12 minutes before my favorite radio show clicks on my alarm. I was already pouring my coffee by the time I heard their chipper morning voices at 5:am. Since then I have been working on the cover for my book, which is soon to be on

It has an ISBN and an EAN-13 and everything... Want to know them?

ISBN: 1440459576
EAN-13: 9781440459573

Yeah, probably not much you are going to be able to do with that information. I'm just bragging. Cut me some slack! ;)

See, an ISBN is an industry standard book number that can be referenced anywhere. The EAN-13 is another industry standard number which is tied to the barcode on the back of the books you buy. The EAN references information necessary when the book is purchased at a bookstore. (Like current price, for instance.)

What does this mean? It means I'm officially a "real" writer.

Oh, sure, I always have been a writer... It's pretty much the only thing I have ever "always" done, and more than anything else, it's what I make money doing now. But isn't it interesting how we assign meaning to things, based on our belief system? I have always been a writer, but now that my book will be available (ahem... are you listening??) on and Barnes & Noble (cue the oohs and aahs), I feel like a "real" writer. Like I've arrived.

Or, more specifically, I am arriving.

I am thinking book signings, book donations to schools, and then there is my ultimate "dream"... Reading to kids. That is what I have always wanted to do. Get paid for reading (ideally my own books!) to kids. I love that stuff.

It's not like I haven't sold books before. I've sold a bunch, actually. But to walk into a store and see my book on the shelf? That's a whole new experience. And hey... I'm ready for that!

Here's the really wild thing. (Are you ready?)

If you had asked me a week ago where my life was headed, I would not have known what to say. I can tell you what I would have thought, though...

Well, let's see... I need a steady income, and quick. As much as I love to write, it's not getting all the bills paid. Oh my gosh, this house... What a mess! What am I going to do with it?? And I am so stressed out. I just can't think about what I need to get done. Wait... Is tomorrow Halloween?

That is exactly what I was thinking a week ago. (And then some!) Today I am waiting to hear back on a paycheck job that pays great, doing something I would love that is super easy for me and I am perfectly qualified for, and I'm the #1 candidate; I have a sparkling new ISBN and EAN for a book I wrote over a year ago; I'm designing my own book cover for my first "real" published book ("my own" because I can and want to, not because I have no choice); and I know that my house is going to get fixed, my kids are feeling strong and happy, my love live is on the road to recovery, and I have a perfectly bright future ahead of me.

So, what has changed since last week? Not much.

No, I'm not being sarcastic! I'm serious. Not much has changed.

(And yet, everything is different.)

The thing that changed is my intent. I took a look at my wants and desires.

I read that it doesn't matter that you don't know how to get what you want. It doesn't matter why you might be afraid to get what you want. (Sound crazy? Imagine this: If I get a job, how will I be around to get my house fixed? ...If I publish a book, what if it doesn't sell? ...If I fix my relationship, will I lose my freedom and independence? ...If I become wealthy, how will I know people like me for me? ...If I tell him I love him, what if I scare him off? ...If I can take care of my own life, does that mean no one will show their love for me by trying to take care of me? Being afraid to get what you want doesn't sound so crazy now, does it?)

I read that the only thing that really initially matters is that we want.

For so long, most of us have been disappointed with life. Let down. When we were kids we asked for things and our parents told us we were anywhere from selfish to want something, to just unrealistic. We grew up and wanted to do something interesting with our lives, and we heard "Oh, you are such a dreamer! Do something practical with your life or you will starve." When we get a job, we ask for a raise. When we have a friend we ask for a wing-man or -woman. When we have a spouse we ask for more sex. (Or different sex!) When we are parents we ask for peace and quiet. Is it any wonder that most of us have stopped asking for what we want?

In many cases, we have even stopped wanting, so we won't feel bad about feeling like we can't ask, because we think we won't receive. But asking for something and not getting it in that specific situation is not the same as asking yourself what you want for your life.

We don't know what we want anymore. We are out of practice with how to want. We don't know what we want anymore.

I can hear some of you thinking as I type it: "I'm not an idiot. Of course I know what I want." Well, then, why have I had such a hard time going for it? Well, lots of reasons. Fear, mainly.

Then there are others of you who are thinking: "You are right. My hopes and dreams are wrapped up in my children" or " my job." or " survival. I don't even know what I want anymore."

(See I was right.)

Before you can get what you really want, first you need to know what you want. Once you know what you want, you can see your life that way. Think of it as fantasy, if you want. Once you see and feel that fantasy, the "how" finds a way.

Now I have seen it. I have seen what I want, I have seen what my life can be, and I have seen the first step to get there. And I have to say I am excited.

(By the way, the whole path isn't important! Just the first step. Makes it easier, doesn't it?)

Here's what happened. I read that the first thing is to write down a list of 101 things I want. To some, that sounds easy, to some that sounds challenging. I can tell you that I did it fairly quickly. It took me a few hours. (Fortunately I was stuck somewhere, so I had the spare time.)

I found that in my case, there were three phases to my list. First came the typical things I usually think about, when I think about "what I want". To have a job I love making a great living. For my home to be fixed. For my kids to feel comfortable with the changes they are going through. To have a loving romantic relationship.

The second phase was when the list began to change into a list of dream stuff. Things that just came to mind if I could have whatever, in any and every way. This part was actually easy, because it was mostly trivial stuff. I didn't feel restrictions on my wants anymore, so I just put the things that I want. To have a ranch with horses. To have a housekeeper. To have a PT Cruizer. To take a vacation twice a year. You know, fantasy stuff in a cool life.

The third phase was really exciting, not to mention unexpected. Looking back, it seems like I had begun to make decisions. The whole list was of things I wanted, but this last phase was of things that really really would make my life complete. I later realized that of the whole list, it was the stuff in here that were the things I really want in my life the most. I didn't even notice that I began starting the sentences with "I want..." I want to make a lifelong impact of parents and kids. I want to see smiling faces when I read my books to kids. I want my kids to feel safe and secure. I want to provide a financial future for some loved ones. I want a loved one to have a job that pays well and helps me. I want to provide once-in-a-lifetime experiences for my kids and spouse. I want to travel frequently with the one I love. I wasn't listing things anymore. I had begun to make decisions. My perspective shifted from listing the things I want to listing that I want the things. (If that makes sense.) It was a powerful experience...

In the book that I read, which said to do this, it said to make the last want, Number 101, the biggie. Make it one with no limitations whatsoever. No limits of time, space, gravity, money, or any other limits you could imagine. This is a special want. (I'll tell you why it's special another time, but I will tell you that in my case, my Number 101 summed up my entire list. I don't know what your Number 101 will be, or if it will sum up your list, but it is more special that then rest on your list, and I will tell you why another time.)

After I completed my list, I reviewed my list of wants, and I was pleased.

Incidentally... Making a list of things you want is not selfish. Chances are things you want aren't only for you. Not many of us only want things that are good for only us. Another beauty of this list is that we can list so MANY things that there are more than enough wants to satisfy you and your loved ones. I have things on my list like building a strong investment portfolio for my kids, as well as some other people who are important to me. (People who probably wouldn't expect it.) Other things on my list are for certain family members to become more healthy. Other wants are for loved ones to get better jobs. One want is for a troubled friend, wanting her to find love. Another is wanting a different troubled friend to live life more carefully.

So now I ask... Is making a list of wants selfish? What if I told you that if you make a list of 101 very specific wants that you have, wants for yourself and others, many or most of your wants can come true?

If you want your child to find a spouse that loves him for who he is, one who take good care of him as his wife, and you know that you could have that by simply making a list of 101 wants, then why not? Taking one day, and spending each spare moment, and maybe your lunch break, writing your list of 101 wants, could very well change your life.

It certainly won't make it worse.

When I was done reviewing my list, I noticed something else. What would have otherwise seemed like wants that were scattered, were actually very focused. The things that will bring more joy into my life could be supported by securing other wants, too. So I can see here that the key is not to just think about the things that make you happy (although that is a great thing to do), but the key is to go after what you want.

Here's what I mean about that...

I've had some great "payroll" jobs, but ultimately, I have been saying I really just wish someone would come to me and say "I want to pay you to do what you are good at, and love to do. Just keep doing what you love, and we'll pay you what it's worth, and it happens to be a lot."

I mentioned I am up for a great "payroll" job, and my hope is that they will see that I'm as qualified for it as I already know I am. (Although I might not mention how easy it is for me, or they might consider lowering the pay scale!) But remember how I started this blog?

My book.

Something on my list is that I want to build a couple of investment portfolios for some loved ones.

I also want certain other loved ones to have jobs they love, and get paid well.

I want to have a lot of family around me at the holidays.

I want to help a lot of people, to make an impact which would affect them positively throughout their lifespan.

I want certain family members to realize their impact on others.

I want a certain type of car (no, it's not a luxury car!), horses, and frequent travel.

There are a lot of other things, too (there were 101, remember?) but something I saw was that when I get what I ultimately want, the other things which would bring me joy are natural by-products. (And when you review your list, it all comes into focus!)

Let's say that my book is published, and let's imagine that it sells well. Extrapolate that out, and let's say I write a few more which also sell well.

Now take a look at the list above. Now the stuff ties together, doesn't it?

And now you can see what I see...

I see myself reading my books to kids who don't know who the heck I am, but love my story. I see the looks on their faces, their reactions, and I feel the feeling I have, knowing that their giggles are because of something I wrote. When they say "Wait! Go back!" it's because they want another look at the drawing that I did. And at the end of the story, they have learned something that will help them, their parents have a new way to handle a problem that was confusing before, and the kids can't wait to read the book (or have it read to them) once more. And this is what I get paid to do.

And that, my friend, is my reward for getting what I want.

(Well, maybe there are a few other rewards as well.)

Here's more beauty in all of this. When I get what I want, I can give to those I love.

I give my sons a ranch and horses to ride. I give someone I love a job as my manager. I give my father a daughter he is proud enough to call his daughter. I give my mother a reason to make a positive impact in her life. I give my ex-husband the comfort of knowing that I am ok. I give my sons the comfort of a mom who makes a great living, and still able to pick them up from school. I give a financial foundation to some loved ones who might not have another option. And that's only the beginning.

What do you want? Do you have bills to pay? Do you have dreams that you pretend don't exist? Do you want to learn a new language, do you want a different home, do you want a new vacation spot? Do you want to volunteer more? Donate more? Do you have family struggling? Do you have kids who hate to see you trudge through your day and life? Who can you give to if you get what you want? Have you really thought about it?

Make your list. You don't have to share it with anyone... (I know I was guarded as I made mine!) It's important that you not change your answers for fear that someone may see it and either not like it or ridicule you. Put it in a password protected word document if you are embarrassed at the idea of others knowing your deepest wants. The best and most accurate way to make this list is to not put a lot of thought into each of your responses. If something like "I want to make $500,000 next year" comes to mind, don't stop yourself, thinking That's unrealistic! Why did I think that? I'll just put $100,000. That's a lot more reasonable! Go ahead and write down what comes to mind.

The list is for 101 things you want. Not 100 and not 102 things. One hundred and one.

When you write, be conscious of what you are saying. "I would like a new job" doesn't cut the mustard. You either want it or you don't. You aren't making a commitment, you aren't quitting your job by making the statement, and you wont get fired for saying it and wanting a new job doesn't make you a bad person. "I want a new job."

Same goes for "I wish I had..." and "I hope to..." and anything else besides "I want". To shorten the writing, you can start " have..." or "...for my kids..." or whatever. But if the sentence can't start with "I want" then reword it.

Another note: Be specific! If you say "I want to get a call to talk about money" you might get a phonecall to talk about someone wanting money from you! Specifically, you want someone to call you to talk about giving you some money. (Now, the question is, when do you want them to call?!) If you say you want to be surrounded by people on your birthday, you might want to say you want to be surrounded by friends on your birthday! If you get picked up for Jaywalking, and spend your birthday in a county cell, you are still surrounded by people, right?

All I know is that there are so many things that I have wanted in my life, but I was afraid to let myself want them.

I was afraid that if I wanted something big, I would pin myself down, into being forced to figure out how to get it, when I already knew that I had no clue of how to get it in the first place. If I knew, I would have it already! I was afraid to want something because people told me that certain things were not likely to happen. I didn't go to college for art because my father told me I would starve. So I went for something "practical", was bored, and didn't graduate. I was afraid to want because I have already had a blessed life. Who am I to want more? So many people have so little... But not wanting doesn't help me to help others get more, or help them help themselves, does it? I was afraid

And the first thing I had to overcome was to realize that it is possible to want. The second thing to overcome was my anxiousness about wanting things for my life, including not knowing how to get what I want. What good is wanting something if you don't know how to get it, right? Wrong.

The conundrum is that the path doesn't appear until you can allow yourself to truly want. Don't even think about the how until you get past the barrier of being OK with wanting what you want. Once you can say, to yourself, I WANT THIS. PERIOD. Then the way will come. It's when an idea suddenly comes to you, or you meet someone who "happens" to have a contact that would be perfect for you, or you stumble across a book in a bookstore that you didn't know existed, but has the info you knew you needed. One you say, "Ok, I want this. I don't know how I'll do it, but I want it. Period.", this is when (and why) things "fall into place". This is when things seem to magically work themselves out. You decide you want a different job. Period. And somehow you meet someone socially who says, "Boy, if you weren't already working, I would hire you!"

The way surfaces once you give yourself permission to simply want something. It's not the commitment to "go for it", not even the decision to have it... Quite simply to decide that yes, you want that. Once the want is there, the rest will appear. Like magic. (Quite literally, believe it or not.)

I have seen my future. I won't share it here, because it's not important to me that I do that. But I can tell you this: I have seen with full clarity the direction of my life.

  • It starts with the list: 101 things that start out "I want...".

  • Next, review the list. See the common themes and threads. See where if you get X on your list, then Y and Z will naturally occur.

  • Last, look at Number 101 on the list. Then close your eyes and imagine your day in great detail. What your new life looks like. Feels like. Smells and sounds like. This is what your life will be like.

The "how" will appear, in the way of feelings, thoughts, ideas, excitement, and new things in your life.

When I see my path, I can almost see the tumblers falling into place, a mechanism like life which is complex and locked tight like a safe... But when you have the combination in your hand, the tumblers know where to fall. And when the combination is complete, the safe, and your life, has been unlocked.

Now, make that list.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What Will Make You Happy?

In response to aguales , who, in addition to some kind comments about my post The Risk of Transparancy, also said...

...When I get in "perfectionist mode", risk becomes all about what I can lose. It's hard to break the perfectionism habit and learn that allowing imperfection actually allows room for growth (which is the gain). Do you ever get in "perfectionist modes"? And if so, how do you deal with that? ...

The answer? I do stuff to force limitations on myself. Like now. I'm about to blog about something I was thinking about this morning, and I need to get it done in... Um... Let's give it fifteen minutes.

Ok, so I've got 15 minutes to blog about... About... What was it again? Oh yeah!...

It's about getting the most of what you want in life.

(Ok, ok, it sounds corny, but bear with me for a minute...)

What do we do in our daily existence? Really think about it. What do we feel like we have to do? We have responsibilities, leisure, family, spirituality, community/giving back, friendship, fun, work... All of these things and more. How many things do we do in out life that we really don't want to do?

For most people, a lot, probably.

Let's take work as an example. Personally, I believe that the way we earn a living should be based on something we enjoy, but that's not always reality, as some people "fall into" their jobs. Although they may not hate their work, it's not really a part of who they are or what they enjoy.

"Falling into"... That is a topic for another blog. For sure. I don't like that "falling into" unless it's talking about love. (Yet another topic.)

Ok, Lorin... back on track. Tick-tock-tiock-tock, remember??

So, if we are to get the most of what we want out of our life, we must first consider why we do the things we do. In truth, NO ONE does something that they do not get one benefit or another from. The benefit might be that you succumbing to someone's unreasonable demands, that contradicts what you want, may leave you with the feeling that the alternative (what is threatened) is worse. (If this sounds like you, please go read
The Risk of Transparancy, specifically the parts about the way risks statistically result... You might like that.)

If I have a financial responsibility... Say I own a home, I need to keep my home by paying for it. To pay for it I must have income. So if I have a job I hate (theoretically, because I would not work in a job I hate) I am working in that job by choice because I need the money. Why? Because I need the house. Why? Because living in a home is a lot better than living in a shelter.

My home makes me happy.

If I have a child who needs financial help, and I have to struggle to support that child, I may feel stress from having to work two jobs. But if the "warm and fuzzies" I get from the smile on my kiddo's face is worth it when I can gift the gift of a teddy bear, then the second job is getting me more of what I need.


Yep, that's right. Whether we are volunteering or working or helping family or scraping up dog poo...

Oh crap. Time's up.

Well, I had some freeze-ups. I'll just set it for another 15 minutes and add in whatever editing time. That's about right, right?

(Besides, 15 minutes was unrealistic to start with, right? This stuff is important!)

No matter what we are doing, (even blogging) we are getting something out of it. But here is the enlightening thing. (Well, I think it is…!)

Sometimes we do things thinking it will bring us what we want or need, when there is an easier way. Or a better way.

Remember that Teddy Bear? Say it gives me warm and fuzzies to see the smile. I could say that giving him toys makes me happy. Why? It makes him happy. But what if I found out that he was smiling to make ME happy?

What if I said first, “Son, I was going to get you a Teddy Bear, what do you think of that? If I work on Saturday I will get a check, and with it I can give you that Teddy Bear.” What if the response would be “Um, mom…? I like the Teddy Bear, but I would like it better if on Saturday we went to the public skate park instead.”

Dumb me.

Here I am thinking I’m working to make my kid happy, I’m working at this job, slaving away, and that the result will be my happiness because of his happiness, and his happiness comes in the form of something I want to buy that I think he’ll like. But that’s not reality…

What I want most is happiness. What brings me happiness? His happiness. What would make him happy? If I spend time with him at the park on Saturday instead of working.

Oh, but what if it were my older son?

“Son, I love you so much, and making you happy makes me happy. What would make you happy my love?”

“Well, mom, I love candy. Lots of it. I want candy for every meal. And although I’m not 16 yet, I really want a car to drive. I’m almost 14, so I think I’m ready. As for bedtimes, it would make me happy to stay up as late as I want, every night. And it would make me happy if you let me drop out of school to run away with the circus. I love you so much, mom, you are the best.”

Uh… Well, yeah, I want him to be happy… So am I about to thwart my own happiness by giving him some bad news?

“Wow, son… Those are some things, now! I love you very much and I AM going to make you very happy. Here’s how…

I’m not going to let you eat that candy because you will be happy when you are an adult and still have your teeth at age 40. If I let you have all the candy you want starting now, you will likely lose all your teeth at a younger age than you would otherwise.

You are almost 14 and so brave, but one day you will want to get married and have kids, and you can’t do that if you are dead. It will make me so happy to see you happily married and grow to do all the things you want to do, so I will not let you have that car just yet.

Bedtime… Hmmm… I know how you feel at school when you have to struggle to work and keep your eyes open. And if you don’t stay awake in class you will get poor grades. That will make it difficult to get into the college you decide to go to and have the career you choose. Although we don’t know what those things are just yet, letting you stay up as late as you want will certainly limit your options. I love you and seeing you have the whole world to conquer when you graduate from school will make us both happy!

Drop out of school? Well being with the circus sounds like fun, although leaving school limits your options. Instead, I will be happy to sign you up for a clown class, but I think one day you will be happy to have the option of being a professional in the circus field, instead of a pooper picker upper.

You can thank me when the time comes, son. You have made me so very happy by giving me this opportunity to bring you future joy! " :)

I can’t remember what book it was (yes I do, but it’s irrelevant) when I read “sometimes the easy way out is the right way in”. The point was that so many…

Oops… Forgot to set the timer. Hang on…

Ok. So many people work and work on something and over do it, because they believe that is the way to get what they want. You know the type. You normal people call them perfectionists, right? Yes,
Aguales, my new blogging buddy, I fall victim to the very problem you do

But when we get going on a task (you know… like the task of LIFE for instance…), we forget about what we are working toward!

Let’s go back to the example about me working in a job I hate to keep my house. (Again, I don’t , and wouldn’t, have a job I don’t like, but I am willing to consider a job I would enjoy, if anyone reading is hiring!)

If I believe that working in a job I dislike brings me happiness (ultimately, by retaining my home) then why not seek happiness straight out?

That sounded confusing, didn’t it?

What I mean is that if you are at the store and you know that you don’t enjoy cooking, what’s the point of buying every ingredient to make a home made pineapple upside down cake, if you can get it from the bakery? If it’s the cake that brings you joy, get the cake, by gosh!

Sometimes you can’t go straight to happiness. For instance, I hear jokes about “squatters’ rights” in reference to homes, but I imagine that I can’t keep it if I don’t pay for it, right?

So instead of picking up the cake pre-made, I can get a box-mix, canned pineapples and go from there.

But what does this have to do with getting the most of what we want?

The bottom line is that what we want is happiness. If making our kids happy makes us happy, it means keeping our kids happy. If we think the answer to keeping them happy is working two jobs because we think what makes them happy is lots of “stuff”, then we will do what we don’t want to do to get something we want more. We will struggle doing work we don’t enjoy (for instance) because we think giving our kiddo a teddy bear is what will put a smile on their little faces.

But do we know that??

I’ll tell you something… I have a son who turned 13 last year. He loves magic. I wanted to make him happy, so I paid out the nose to take him and his brother to Magic Island. Not a hit with the kid. He liked it enough, but what would have made him happy was if I had called up some of his buddies and said “hey, meet us at Double Dave’s pizza, but don’t tell Addison!” I could have paid half as much, and he would have been twice as happy.

But I thought the way in had to be expensive.

My mom used to buy me lots of clothes. All the time. I wanted nurturing affection. That’s what would have made me happy. I wonder if she ever thought boy, keeping Lorin happy sure is expensive! Seems like no matter how much I give her, she isn’t happy!

My ex-husband was really good about taking care of me. (Notice the “ex”?) What would have made me happy was to have an emotional bond with the person who was my husband. When we began the separation process, he was confused as to why I wasn’t happy. He had done so much for me.

When it comes to getting what we want, we have to ask ourselves, what do we want in the first place?

(Yeah, I know… Time is up again. I’m not trying to be perfect here, but I am trying to wrap it up.)

I was in a relationship some time ago, and I thought what I wanted was to be married. One day I thought, If we are to marry, that might not make me happy if he is not happy being married to me! What I wanted was a happy, long term relationship.

Same with time. If I have a person in my life that I feel close to, do I want to spend every breathing minute with him, or do I want to enjoy the time I do spend?

I have a friend who is staying married for her children. She wants her children to be happy, so she remains with a man who she is constantly fighting with, or are otherwise ignoring each other. But does she know what her child really wants? Maybe her children really want to see their parents not fighting, not “stay together”. Maybe the only way to not fight is to be apart. Maybe my friend is sacrificing her happiness for no reason. How will the mom feel if she finds out that the time she spent married so that her child could be happy, in fact caused more distress? That doing what she wants, ending the marriage, would in fact make the child have a happier existence?

I happen to be one of those kids who was the victim of an in-tact, unhappy marriage, so I have some very strong feelings about “staying for the kids”. There are several interesting studies on that
, like this one which states that when parents are unhappy, their kids become distressed and grow up to be generally unhappy people. Although, when unhappy parents become happy people through separation / divorce, unhappy kids become happier when their parents do, even if not together. The marriage of parents who are not in a loving relationship is actually proven to be detrimental to a child. Parents “staying together” is not nearly as important to a child’s happiness, as the happiness of each parent as individuals. The study goes on to say that kids who grow to be happy people are more compassionate towards others, more successful, have better relationships, have better self-esteem, and have the ability to elevate their moods more quickly. (Among a lot of other things.) Essentially, if you apply the information in the study to the “should I stay for the kids?” dilemma, staying together for the kids creates an unhappy person, but giving a child the gift of a happy parent sets them up for a successful life. For more information on the study of the clinical and all other affects of happiness on a person’s life and those around them, read THE UTILITY OF HAPPINESS by Ruut Veenhoven Published in: Social Indicators Research, 1988. (Since I was a kid with unhappy parents, like my girlfriend’s daughter above, I have some pretty strong feelings about the decision to use kids as marital glue... But I’ll leave that blog for another day. : )

So getting back to the issue of getting more of what you want out of life (yep, that’s happiness), maybe the key is to think NOT about how to get what you think will make you happy and go forward, but think about what will make you happy and go backward.

One way goes like this…“If I get a degree from a good school, I’ll get a good job that pays a lot. Having lots of money will make me happy so I’ll get a degree from a good school.” (Not the best way to approach it…)

Another way goes like this. “I want to have a career doing something creative. There’s a great trade school offering degrees in design and graphic illustration, so I will go that. In order to pay for that, I need a job. I would like a job doing something I enjoy, like writing, so I’ll look for that kind of job. When I have that kind of job, I’ll enroll and get going on my career path.”

So when we think about why we are doing things, doesn’t it make sense to stop and say “what do I hope to accomplish?”

What do I hope to accomplish?

Actually it should be the first question. (Maybe that’s how I can stay on track a little better!)

If we ask what do I hope to accomplish? We can re-evaluate our process. If I hope to accomplish making a clean area in my bathroom, it doesn’t make sense to paint the bathroom first.

If I hope to accomplish getting a job I enjoy, I need to be looking for jobs in the right fields, not at jobs which I “think I can get quickly”.

If I want to have steady income, I need to be considering employment, not scrounging for cash.

If I want my child to respect me as a parent, I need to be the authority, even if he doesn’t understand, instead of giving in to his pleading.

If I want to leave my job, I need to stop putting 150% of my effort into a job I don’t plan to keep. Instead, contribute what is necessary for the job, spending extra effort on fostering a new job.

If we want to spend more time with people who make us feel good, we need to distance ourselves from cynics and those who make use feel uptight, and move toward those we enjoy.

If we want a new relationship, we need to end the one we don’t want in order to begin one that we do.

If we want our child to trust our actions, instead of giving up on our dreams, or what we know is a good idea, we need to stand firm in the decisions we make for ourselves and them, so they will realize the positive result of our decisions.

If I want to… Want to… If I want to... Uh oh.

If I want to learn how to keep my blogging time down, I need to set a reasonable time on the timer and stick to it, instead of saying “what the heck…” when the timer flashes “Time’s up! It’s good enough!!”

(At least blogging makes me happy…! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Risk of Transparency

I read somewhere that if we are to truly love, we have to risk transparency.

Ok, can I admit that this scares the shit out of me?

(Oops... I think I owe my kiddos a buck for that one. It's in print, so does it count?)

So, fine. Be transparent. Risk it. Well, I'll tell you one thing, I'm good and transparent under the cover of anonymity! Although I guess sometimes wearing my heart on my sleeve doesn't go over so well with those who happen upon it.

Just yesterday I tossed a message in a bottle out into the gulf. After about an hour it whipped back my way and bonked me in the head. The note was in the same bottle but on different paper. It was a response from another person! Someone read my heartfelt words and decided to respond! Anonymously! Yea!! So I read it and it said...

Oh, you don't want the details. (Trust me. I'll owe my kids another seven bucks if I reprint it.) But let's just say I made an impression. But you know, the transparency of my message in a bottle did rub that person the wrong way. (For certain.)

So is being transparent not a good idea after all? Oh, but hold on a sec...! I don't even know that person that tossed the bottle back at me. I don't even know the GENDER, so how could they possibly know (let alone understand) me or what I was trying to say? Should I really be upset that my attempt at being transparent flopped like a deflated soccer ball in the heat of summer? Anyone would tend to say things anonymously, which they wouldn't dare to say face to face. After all, the anonymity potential of a "message in a bottle" prompted not only the other person's colorfully rude comment, but my nakedly honest original message in the first place.

But what about transparency with someone I actually care about? How would that work out?
Differently, I hope.

Well, I had the opportunity to test that this week. This week, for a number of reasons, has been a whirlwind of emotion. Practical reasons aside, I have been dealing with a personal relationship issue that has been confusing to me.

(To say the least.)

I had the opportunity to be transparent early in the week, with great results. So great, in fact, that I tried it again on Thursday, when it seemed like things were losing steam. What happened then were, um, complications? And to clear, the "complications" which resulted could very well be interpreted as absolutely nothing at all. The fact is, I was afraid to risk being transparent in the first place. I was afraid of how the information would be received. I thought it was fine, and then I was transparent again, with basically the same information, and the same person, and got a seemingly different response. What prompted the second round of honest dissertation to begin with? Um, fear. How did I decide how I thought the second response was intended? I went off of my fear(s). I was afraid that what seemed like "nothing" was really "something" without any explanation.

(Boy, I sure can get mixed up in the complexities of life!)

But if I am to back off and look ''less closely'' at who said what to whom, (or didn't say or do) and what happened when and where the... uh.. Well, all of that, I would see that nothing has really changed.

Nothing has really changed.

Yep. The same stuff going on from Tuesday through Thursday has not vanished since Thursday. Nothing has changed! But see, that is what fear does to us. It screws with our heads.

No, really.

Funny thing, those movies... Ever watch a movie where there is a closeup of the actor on the ledge of a building stories high, and you just know they are only probably six inches off the ground? Without thinking about that, your mind tricks you into thinking they are up high. But the reverse is true, too...

I was recently up on a ladder, and pretty darned high. I don't especially like heights, particularly when they are high enough to end my existence. But I imagine ladder climbing is not too dangerous when done properly.

''Six inches off the ground... Six inches off the ground... I'm only six inches off the ground...''

And before I knew it, I was on the ground itself.

The point here is that what we think influences how we feel. So much so, that it can alter our life's situations and important decisions.

I have a girlfriend who is in an unhappy marriage. She considered transparency, considered the risk. If she is transparent, she risks her husband exploding, accusing, blaming her for the problems in the marriage. She was afraid he would tell their son that she broke up the family, and God forbid, what if the husband began some self-defeating behaviors? Transparent for this girl means saying "you know, this isn't working for me because you don't seem happy with me. I need to go and have a different life." And to her, what she though could happen if she said that, wasn't worth the risk. She talked to unsupportive family members about it, and decided not to risk transparency. As for me, I feel like the risk is not to consider what you lose, but what you gain. After all, what could she gain? At the very least, freedom. (If nothing else.) At the most? A happy life with someone to love her the way she needs.

Hey, I think I'm hitting on something here.

I mentioned earlier that I am afraid to be transparent. Scared shitless, to be honest! After all, I am risking that person not responding the way I want. For instance, if I were worried about saying "I love you" to anyone, the greatest risk is that they will not say it back. But is that a life-altering thing? If I say "I love you" it's to express it, not to fish for information... If I don't get an "I love you back", that is OK with me.

I think that when we consider what we are afraid of, especially when it comes to being transparent in relationships, we need to consider not what we risk to lose, but instead what we risk not gaining. (There is a difference, you know.)

I was just in Dallas where I visited another friend named Karen. Karen is very much in love, although not technically dating, a man she had as a boyfriend 20 years ago in high school. Today, she says he surely loves, but doesn't seem to be "in love" with her, although he is often "around", helping her here and there around the house. I, personally, think he loves her, because he does so much for her. On the other hand, he doesn't spend a lot of time with her because he has a crazy work schedule, a lot of family, and kids on alternating weekends. But when she needs him, he is there. He's just in and out as quickly as he can be. It's like a relationship without the relationship.

The truth is that Karen loves this man, always has, and wants nothing more than to be in a real relationship with him, where she doesn't have to wonder about how he feels, or if he wants to be with her or not. (Not to mention dating anyone else!)

"You don't understand," she told be a couple of weeks ago, "yeah, he does a lot for me, a LOT, but when he is over, he doesn't take that minute to, you know... Look into my eyes, or kiss me really warmly. He comes over, says 'hey, I know you need oil in your car...' he takes care of it, gives me a quick kiss and a big hug, and he's out the door! If he loves me, why wouldn't he be able to spend two hours watching a movie, instead of two hours trimming the hedges?''

(Yeah, I can see her point...)

But I know something she doesn't, and that's because I've read The Five Love Languages! His primary love language seems to be Acts of Service. He IS loving her, but her love language is quality time. Something he doesn't have much of. As an outsider, I can see that he is doing everything he can to be loving with the time he has. He's cramming lots of love into every moment he is with her. But she doesn't feel it that way. She sees it as a bunch of busy work and "what about the good stuff??" She wants to be transparent, but is afraid. She needs that relaxed time with him, needs to know if he loves her the way she loves him, but is it all too much to ask? If she asks, is she being insensitive to HIS needs?

Should she risk transparency? Let's look at this new concept of risk that I hit on a minute ago, shall we?

There are two kinds of risk when we consider transparency. Risk a) of what we fear, and risk b) of what we lose by not being transparent. It's the difference between gambling and not investing, when you look at it that way...

So what would happen if she says, "As busy as you are, could we spend some 'quality time' together instead of 'work time'? I sure would love that...!''?

A) She is risking that he'll give a reaction she doesn't want. Since she is very much in love with this man, the WORST reaction would be something like, "Uh, well, I don't feel that way about you, so no. I don't want to spend 'quality time' with you." (I guess the one thing worse than that would be to add "...and I don't think I should keep helping you either." Ouch!)

B) If she DOESN'T risk transparency, she risks losing out on something she could gain. But what is that, exactly? We did "worst case" in A, so "best case"...? He says "I thought you'd never ask! Sure!" He comes over, things go, uh... they go well, he stays until the wee hours of the morning and he decides he can't live without her either. They decide to get together, eventually marry and have a long life together, living every moment blissfully happy until they both are 102.

Ok, I said best case.

So maybe it's stretching it out a little past what we could reasonably predict, but you know... If we are going to be afraid of "the worst" isn't it reasonable that we anticipate "the best"? (It's logical to me, anyway!)

Ok, so let's dial it down on the reality scale. Revisions...

A) He says something she doesn't want. (Reality check! He DOES care for her!! Why would he do all that stuff otherwise? Come ON now!) So maybe this... "Oh gosh! I wish I could, but I can't. At least not this week. I have to do [x,y,z] and I am probably going to be busy this weekend too..."

Hey, that wasn't too bad. He cares for her, maybe he can do it another time. Maybe he won't, but that he told her he WANTS to come, but can't at least tells her something: it tells her how he feels. It's not just about getting stuff done. There are feeling there.

Ok... B) What does she reasonably risk if she doesn't try? Well, maybe he would go over and they would have a nice time watching a movie and eating friend chicken. Maybe they would kiss and when he leaves two hours later, (Reality check! He's busy!!) she'd feel this really great sense of joy, and maybe he'd feel pretty good, too.

Hey, looks like the good is pretty darned good, and the bad ain't that bad. Seems like there is no reason to not risk it.

The people are the same, the situation is the same, everything is the same. Now, things DO change, but things which change can also change back. Things which are not changeable won't change in the first place. What does this mean? It's simple...

It means that if I (you, we...) are afraid that things are one way one moment, and another way the next, we need to do a reality check. Anything which is a constant, and causes the good thing, won't change into something different. If my dog loves me, but one day she is ignoring me, the dog didn't change. The circumstances changed. The second part to this is that circumstances, which could influence a constant, is temporary and can (and will) also change back. If my dog is ignoring me, maybe she has an upset tummy. That will go away and she will no longer ignore me. It's how we respond to the constants and the situations which influence our life. This is the crux of why good things come into our lives, by the way. When we see the good things for what they are, and don't worry about the changeable aspects which temporarily influence the current state of the positives, while dismissing the bad things, the bad things fall away and the good things remain. (More about that another day...! :)

So I think I've just proven something to myself. (And maybe to you.) The risk of transparancy is much greater than you think. The great risk is not is losing so very much if you are transparant and you "fail"... (by not getting your desired response.) The GREAT RISK in not risking transparancy is what you can not gain if you do not take the step to be transparant. Karen may decide to risk transparancy. (Especially after reading this!) And she has a better than 50/50 chance of things going her way. She can't go backwards, only forward. My other, unnamed friend didn't want to risk it, and lost much more by NOT risking it than she would lose if things did not go as she'd wish. At the least she'd have her freedom, if nothing else.

So when I was transparant, I took a risk. My efforts turned out one way one time, and another way the second. But what I have learned is that nothing really changed. Risking transparancy means opening the door for opportunity, and if I choose to let my fears influence how I think and feel about what results, that is my problem, and not an accurate reflection of what is going on. I risked transparancy. Risk. Hey! I risked transparancy! I risked it and I came through ok, and not only that, I have a lot to look forward to. Opportunity is just around the corner, my cristal-clear self was only days ago. The risk is over, I've done my part. And all constants remain, so I am in good shape.

I'm in great shape! I did what I was afraid of, and I came out just great!

(And I didn't even have to say, "Six inches off the ground...!")

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Venom and Hate Mail to Houston After Ike

So, I'm sitting here, wondering about whether or not my house still exists.

(Well, I'm guessing it exists, but does it have a roof?)

I live in Houston and evacuated to another city with my children before Hurricane Ike came through. I went into a local posting forum to see if anyone has said anything about the area... I've checked on friends and family... Now I am more than a little curious about what has happened to my home.

But this post is not about my home. And it's not about Hurricane Ike.

There were some really kind sentiments. Many people said they were praying for Houston and Galveston. Others gave suggestions, and some said "Don't stick around! I've been through it, it's not fun." What really gets me is the hate.

Yes, the hate.

This post is about the hate that has come into Houston from people around the country. I don't try to pretend that everyone uses the best judgment. And I know that not everyone represents any city, Houston or otherwise. But on top of that, many people in other states may not realize the challenges that evacuation creates. Whether or not to evacuate, and when, is a big decision. Yes, it's often the safer route, but if the whole of the 4th largest city in the country evacuates, I would wonder how many deaths we would have trying to get every single person out. It's simply not possible. Evacuation is not a simple solution, and it's not the only solution, as many of the people who posted, imply. Take a read.

quit crying about Ike, you chose to live in this shit hole
You idiots made a choice to live near the gulf and get your ass kicked year after year by storms! Quit crying and acting like victims! If you don't want to weather the storm, rebuild your houses then suck it up and move to gods country... Chicago, IL LOL

No. #1 That Pisses Me Off About Hurricanes
It's those brain-dead cretin assholes who COULD but REFUSE to evacuate and ride out the storm. BUT as soon as they get in trouble, they whine and cry for rescue. Well, FUCK YOU DIPSHITS!! You wanted to stay, you can live in your own squalor the best you can for being STUPID! Any govermment agent who attempts to rescue you from your own stupidity should be fired, forthwith.

I am wandering how it is out there... all I have is CNN... and they never speak of North Houston... phuckers!!! Any info especially flooding would be appreciated... I have a house in Conroe and I would like to know about the flooding!!!!
Nope your house is gone! It blew right over my place as my roof was coming off! I got some great pictures of your place sailing by if you need them! Now I have to hurry and turn on my TV so I can see the bodies of the idiots that stayed floating down the street! Where did I put that popcorn?

You dipshits where told to leave! FEMA should let you all die and get rid of a few doorknobs. 250,000 less doorknobs sounds nice.all we ned now is the rest of TX to die then the world would be perfect.

People are nice. By the way, there were more. Some were so bad that I could not possibly put them here. There was one with a picture (actually two pictures) of a woman defecating, and the message was that the woman was on her way to Texas to bring people who survived the hurricane some food. (Well, at least it was creative...)

Why must people be cruel? Why must people spew hate and venom? What is the point of this? Ok, so you don't care for Texas, you think those who did not evacuate used poor judgment... Why go into that city's posting forum and take the time and energy to post hate?

Usually I like to give my perspective on things I see in life. I can't offer one this time. I just can't see it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Finding Faith: Confession of an opportunity wasted

So today I had an opportunity.

Let me tell you a little something about me. (In case you didn't already know...)


I am afraid to trust.

Yep. I am afraid to trust. It's true. It's ironic, actually. You see, I can have a little (haha) difficulty understanding others' motives, so I tend to trust pretty generously, most of the time. It has gotten me into some trouble, unfortunately. (The heart-break kind, not the law-break kind...) I guess, as a result, I try to be uber-aware and as a result, I am afraid to trust.

But today... Today I had an opportunity that doesn't come along very often.

(Well, I had a couple of opportunities in fact.)

Picture this: There's someone you love. Without limits. Let's just say it's your...... sister.

Yeah, that's it... It's your sister.

You love your sister more than life itself, and would do (and have done) so much for her. But for some, er... "odd" reason you suspect that she is... um.... cheating on her husband. Yeah... that's it. You think she is cheating.

Why do you think this?

Well... Behavior change. Change of activities, friends... Suddenly she's hard to get a hold of. Her stories don't match up. You... find some of what appears to be "evidence", but she has good explanations (which you aren't buying.) Nothing completely damning, but certainly more than a little suspicious.

And she knows it.

"No really! It's the tip of the latex glove from when I was coloring my hair!"

Uh, ok...

Unfortunately, you are in the situation where you really don't have the right to tell her what she can or can't do, but you have a reason for getting personally involved in stopping what you think is going on. (Pretend that she signed a pre-nup or something... Whatever the reason, it matters to you. A lot.)

After a number of months of this, your trust erodes. The thing about trust is that when it erodes in one area, it erodes in all areas. By the way... This is why relationships fail with regard to trust... When a couple gets to the point where (for instance) he can't trust her to be responsible, and she can't trust him to be compassionate, the rest goes out the window. Suddenly she can't trust him to be responsible and he can't trust her to be compassionate. Trust is gone.

So the trust erodes over months. You suspect that... on Friday nights she goes out with her new lover. But you have children, a spouse and are (very) rarely free on Friday nights. But you wonder... if, by chance, I'm free on a Friday? By gosh, I'm going to her place to find out! I want to know if she's really cheating on her husband! In fact, I need to know...

Never mind that her place is 50 miles from yours, or that the only way you would know she was actually seeing someone else would be to elaborately follow her, spy on her in a compromised situation, etc... The fact is that it's actually a wish to have the information available, and the mind tries to figure out how to make it possible. Right?


*** (Time passes)

At the end of a particularly grueling week, your spouse takes the kids to Chuck E Cheese's, because you are working late and need a break. It's Friday night. You are tired. You check your voicemail.

"Hey, Hon... Mom called and wants us to come stay at the lake house this weekend.
How about I go ahead and take the kids now... You go home, get some rest, and come up in the morning.
I love you and I'll talk you you later. Bye."

Opportunity is knocking. Just so happens the reason your week has been grueling is that the client you have been visiting is 50 miles away. Out by Ol' Sis. Oh and right here is the exit...

You have a decision to make.

For months you thought about this, thought that if you had the opportunity, you would want to know. You needed to know. Pre-nup, remember? This is your sister. Your, uh.... LITTLE sister. This guy is super rich, she is a free spirit, and certainly not likely to be able to get along without her "half"... She's cheating on him, by gosh! Your precious, adorable, incompetent little sister is cheating on her rich husband! And she's making the biggest mistake of her--

Wait. Hang on. This isn't your sister. It's not my sister. I don't have a sister. But I did have a decision to make...

This morning I came to a (proverbial?) crossroad and had to make a decision. I went right.

(Or was it left?)

I had been lacking trust, and now I had the opportunity to either prove myself right or wrong. I had the opportunity to learn that which I didn't know for sure. Learn things which I thought would make a difference between whether someone was right or wrong. This would enable me to be either really mad with good reason, or prove to myself that I had been a fool for not believing someone I care about. (Although not "seeing" what I'd expect to find is not fool-proof evidence of innocence... The cycle of mistrust would be likely to repeat, which is also unfortunate.)

So what did I do? I chose trust.

Funny thing is that I didn't even really have to think about it. It just happened.

I guess you could say that the trust chose me.

I might have proven myself right, or I could have hoped to prove myself wrong. Instead I proved, to myself, something much more.

I proved to myself that I was OK not knowing what I didn't know. (This is not the same as denial, by the way...)

No matter what happens outside of me, I am ok. This is the basis of faith.

You see, faith and trust are two things which must be given freely. They can't even really be earned. If one person does something which causes another person to have a hard time trusting...? Well, the trust still has to be given back. It can't be earned. I guess the litmus test of love is how quickly is one willing to trust someone who has hurt them? But is that really a litmus test of love? Probably not... It's a litmus test of the ability to trust.

Faith is like trust in that is must be given, not earned, but there is something extra special about faith...

Faith is not the belief that everything will be OK. Faith is the acceptance that everything is already OK, regardless of how things might appear at the moment.

This is why religious sects talk about faith (although they may not be able to articulate it if you ask them to go into depth...) When people talk about God's Plan, they are saying that regardless of how things may look at the moment, we need to have faith that things are the way they should be. Things are good.

Now don't blog out on me, this isn't a religious blog. (Not that it would matter if it were, would it? God is a pretty cool Guy...)

I'm just saying here that faith is NOT the same thing as hope. Hope is the anticipation of things being different in the future. Faith is the acceptance of what already is, regardless of how it may appear on the surface.

That's what I experienced today. On the surface, things had (I like using the past tense... Feels good.) HAD seemed suspicious. But in an instant... In ONE small minutiae of time, I realized that despite what may be the appearance, all is ok.

Is. Present tense.

So, today I had an opportunity. I had an opportunity to learn.
I thought I chose trust, but trust chose me.
And luckiest of all, I found faith.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Ignorance of Genius

"You are so smart!"

"I think you are really bright..."

"You should be proud that you are so intelligent."

Um... Thank you?

May I make a confession? I don't deserve the credit for being smart. Ok, I know I'm intelligent or whatever... But I really don't deserve a compliment simply for being smart.

Tell me you really make me laugh or you are really insightful or I really enjoy your company. Tell me you appreciate my talent. (Wherever you may see it, and whatever talent it might be.) I even like your writing is intelligent and you are so smart to put that in a way that I could relate to. Yep, I like those, too.

The "You are smart!" compliment is nice to hear from time to time, especially from someone whom I think is pretty intelligent, too. In truth, it's always a gracious compliment, and sincerely appreciated. But as nice as it is to hear, can I really take credit for something over which I had no control?

We don't hold people accountable when they are lacking in cognitive functioning (well, we aren't supposed to), so why should we give credit for above-average intelligence? It has been said that a person is born with a certain IQ that only varies a few points over the course of their lifetime. Interestingly enough, that's not completely true... You can systematically increase the effectiveness of your brainpower over time and with effort, thereby increasing your capacity to process information (and IQ score by a small percentage of points). But really, the potential was already there. There was still a potential range that can't really be controlled. Consider that a person who is born with a fairly serious impairment in cognitive function (let's say scoring an 80 on a clinically-administered IQ test), isn't likely to ever score a reliable 140 on the same IQ test.

So why do we bestow the compliment "you are smart", as if the person had worked to earn it?

I received one of the nicest compliments I think I have ever received in my life the other day....

"I Googled you and there were pages and pages that came up.
Some were duplicates, but there was so much there that you had written.
I spent hours just reading what you wrote, and I have learned so much.
I am learning so much."

Of course, I'm paraphrasing here. I left out you are the most amazing writer I have ever met and the other part that went I have never learned as much from anyone as I have from you and then there was I think you are without question the most...

Oh wait. No, none that last part was out loud. But I think I thought I heard them thinking it. (I'm pretty sure...)

The point I'm making here is that not once did I hear "You are so smart", although I know that the opinion was there, and that's great. What was more important? For starters, that a person I already knew stopped to think I want to learn more about Lorin, about what she likes, dislikes and has to say. What else impressed me? That a person actually spent what turned out to be many hours over a period of consecutive days to read my words. Not words to anyone in particular, just... Everything. But the thing which was the most moving to me was that this really intelligent, educated person said they had learned something from me. Me. And was still learning. From stupid little ridiculous me. (Yeah, I said stupid.)

Sure, anyone can be smart... But when someone tells you they have learned something worthwhile from you?

Now that's a compliment.

I think when people talk about another person being "smart", I think the compliment is really an acknowledgment that there is the potential for something good resulting from someone's intellect. That makes more sense, right?

If someone uses their smarts to find a cure for cancer, that's a good thing. It's the cure which is lauded. A genius theorizes on how the laws of the enormity of the universe can finally coexist with the minutiae of quantum physics, and that gets, um, a little attention. Another good thing. A brilliant teacher spends forty years educating countless kids, many of whom go on to make a societal impact. Not too shabby... This is all great stuff, but how much control did they really have of the brain power they were blessed with? It's what they did with it that made the difference.

They took their potential, combined it with their natural talent and did something good.

Here's a little secret that most "geniuses" aren't going to tell you:

(Now, listen closely, because I'm only going to say it once.)

Tests, including IQ tests and achievement tests, are unfairly biased towards "traditional intelligences", which, probably not coincidentally, the people who created the tests were likely strong in.

Now, don't blog out on me.

Yeah, those tests are bogus. They are ridiculous, they measure the wrong crap, they are not realistic measures of ability or success... When it comes to measuring how "smart" a person is, basically IQ tests are crap. Actually, I hear that there comes a point where once you hit a certain score, your odds of "success" do not continue to increase. I could go into the reasons why, but I will spare you. So, who really cares about a number? (And this ain't sour grapes talking...) If you look online, apparently a lot of people. And yet, an IQ score is pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. But that's just my opinion. (If it's worth anything.)

Hang on... Did I already send in my Mensa dues? Oops... [delete, delete, delete...]

I haven't done research on this and I'm not a scholar. What I do know is that the IQ test is unfairly simple for some people. Some.

And that's because blah blah blah blah blah blah blah and that's how I know that. (I just spared you about 3.7 minutes of boredom. You can thank me later.)

I have a kid who is amazing. AMAZING. (Well, two amazing kids, but I'm talking about one at the moment.) He is popular, smart, creative, intuitive, and hysterically funny. He wrote skits for a school variety show and loves to make "movies", complete with scripting and direction. And yet, if he was matched up with my other son in a game of "let's solve the math problem" I don' know that I would buy a ticket.

(Not that there wouldn't be a show, it just wouldn't be fun to watch.)

Now, the jokster is smart. Really smart. The boy gets the "You are so smart!" compliment all the time. ...And I get the "He is so smart!" compliment, too. As for math? Well, he qualified for Advanced Placement math. Like I said, he's "really smart". But with my other kid? It would have been an unfair match. My other amazing son easily comprehended the concept of square roots and exponents in kindergarten and was doing algebraic equations in first grade. He was nine when he came to me and announced, "Mom, I finally understand calculus." Oh, after reading about it for an hour at the bookstore? Oh, ok... The funny thing is after that hour he could explain it to me in depth. He really did understand the concept. That boy goes on about math the way I go on about... Well, the way I go on. So as brilliant as both boys are in math, is it still a fair comparison?

Now ask me about the math whiz's refined social abilities. (On second thought...)

So, I ask you... Who is the genius? The answer is: Both.

Here is the list of what are generally considered as the Multiple Intelligences, a theory which was developed in the early to mid-eighties.

Linguistic intelligence ("word smart"):
Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
Musical intelligence ("music smart")
Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")

Now, this explains a lot, when you think about it. It explains why a person with seemingly "average intelligence" can have brilliant success. That IQ test I mentioned? It focuses on the top two. But what about the rest?

What about the people who are brilliant with plants? Among other things like you know... Curing diseases and feeding people, little stuff like that, plants are a wonderful renewable source of energy. (Those plants... Love them.)

(Have I mentioned that my younger son has said he wants to be a botanist in the field of medical research? Yeah, like I said, two amazing kids...)

What about people who know how to negotiate? Can get along with just about anyone? What about those people who are so diplomatic that they are sought out in times of crisis? Those with "people smarts" are the ones who are quickly promoted and get to go to the best parties. Those people have value, you know... Geniuses.

Can you imagine what your life would be like without music? I don't watch TV so without music my life would be, uh, quiet. (Mostly.) Music evokes emotion, and emotion is good. (Despite what you may have learned in your childhood.)

Math, literary and spatial geniuses... All important fields. The spatial geniuses theorize in ways that no one else can, the math geniuses prove them right, and the literary geniuses put it all on paper.

Unfortunately, there are so many people out there who "feel dumb." My son, the one who is popular and intuitive and creative? I sort of think he used to feel dumb about math around his brother. But remember what I said about his qualification for advanced placement math? His belief system about his intellect had nothing to with reality. I kept him out of AP math, so somehow he didn't realize he had qualified like his buddies did. What he didn't know was that he qualified for every AP class for the grade. I left him in some, but I had to draw the line somewhere so he could have a life that existed outside of schoolwork. (I'll let him thank me when he's 40.)

Just because a person believes something, doesn't make it so.

(Well, and the truth is that it doesn't mean it's not so, either.... Only that belief does not create a contrasting reality.)

Ok, a lot can be said for the power of positive thinking, law of attraction, all of that. Hey. If you know the first thing about me, it's probably that I appreciate a good theory, and the philosophy that universal energy is something which transfers between objects in order to... Well, there I go. Ok, determination through belief can accomplish a lot. But that's not what I'm talking about here...

How many people have not realized their full potential because they thought they weren't smart enough? How many people dropped out of college because they thought low grades meant stupidity, instead of boredom? How many people think that a lack of financial success in their current profession is an indication that there couldn't be financial success in a more preferred occupation? I have a pretty prolific online presence and get contacted fairly frequently. For those who know me on a personal level, my online stuff adds another dimension to what they think they know about me. But to those who don't know me... I hear comments where assumptions are made about this or that, and I think, oh boy. I just don't have the heart to say 'hey... I really ain't that great'. (Well, and I'm not that ''bad'', either, let's just get that clear...!) The belief that I am my personna is... Well, it's faulty.

But how many people put all their faith in one basket, trying to force a round peg into a square hole, instead of finding the shortest path from point A to point B? Regardless of beliefs, societal/cultural "rules", shoulds, and ought-tos, decide what you really enjoy, and go do it. (Whatever your "it" is.) You genius, you...

My creative genius has come to terms with the fact that he and his brother are different. People are stronger in areas and not as strong in others. I'm glad to see that he is comfortable in his own skin, happy with the intelligences he has. I'm proud of who he is, was and is becoming. Both of my boys. Like little lights.

So, if I go back and consider the original compliment "You are so smart!" how seriously can I take that? If there are eight "intelligences", where do I stack up? Hey, I'm pretty smart, I hear... I'll measure up, I'm sure.

Nature. I like nature. Love it, in fact....But I might not be so kind to it? I was asked once, maybe you should just get silk plants..? Some people think it's cool that around my house I have plants growing out of pretty bottles and jars. I see it as practical. Hey, they never need watering. Problem solved. (But please don't ask me about the grass in my yard.)

I do think I am "self-smart", but no one gets me anyway, so I won't bother explaining that one. Now, people smart? Well, I don't get most other people so maybe I couldn't explain that one if I tried. (Ok, cross another one off the list.)

Music. I have played a few instruments in my life. Oh, list them in order? Um, ok... Violin, piano, flute, drums, guitar... No, I'm not musically talented... I haven't found one yet that I can play with any level of skill. Probably has a little something to do with not being able to read music. (Oh yeah, see how smart I am now...?)

Body smart? Um... Well I guess my weaknesses and strengths might be a washout on that one.

Spatial, number/reasoning... Yeah, I'm good on those.

Word smart? Um... I don't want to talk about it.

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