Comfort-zone shakeup

Many years back, in another blogging life, I wrote a series of posts called “neverdones.” I made a list of cool things I’d never done, and…

Wellllll… OK, some of them were just plain weird or perhaps even boring and not really cool, but that’s just splitting hairs. You know the ones — those unruly grey hairs that keep birthing themselves out of my right temple.

Anyway.

Once a month, I’d do something I’d never done and then write about it. Posts included joining a gang of casual acquaintances (who are now great friends) for a night-caching romp through the mountains… visiting Biltmore… donating blood… rappelling… running my first 5K… being a volunteer coach for an awesome group of runners… getting a pedicure… driving a stick shift… and completing my first extreme geocache.

My neverdones, at first meant to just be fun and something to do, turned out to be a source of inspiration and courage and confidence and all sorts of other good-for-ya shenanigans. The things I did were not always monumental, but they were all new experiences. The practice kept me curious, open, humble, youthful.

And I’m white-knuckling that ‘youthful’ thing like it’s the last breath of mountain-fresh air on our round blue planet.

Since the year I did my neverdones, I’ve kept up the practice of tackling new activities. I ran a 10K… began attending Buddhist meditation sessions… completed not one but two 6-week-long afterwork bootcamp courses… and raised my hand to volunteer with TEDxGreenville, a whompin’ smart, creative, energized group of movers-n-shakers.

So I’ve kept it up, just not regularly. And I haven’t continued writing about them.

To be clear, neverdones are not not not my bucket-list things-to-do-before-I-die items. They are simply tools to help me laugh and learn and grow. Nothing more. I don’t have a bucket list, because there’s nothing that I feel like I should do in order to have lived a fulfilled life. I’m good.

Hmmmm, interesting. My asides tonight have a slightly geriatric flavor. Subconscious angst, perhaps?

Soooo. Have you guessed it yet? Yep, I’m going to reinstate those grin-happy neverdones. I miss the adventures and the internal push they give me to stretch myself. First step is to make a list of ideas…….can you think of anything else?

get a tattoo
go on a backpacking excursion
camp overnight on the beach
go on a cruise
paint a mural
do a mud run
enter flight school
play paintball
go zorbing
write a story based on family history
video my mom telling stories
do match.com
visit Yellowstone
go to a Mac conference
stay in an ice hotel
skydive
visit Iceland
plant a garden
see the northern lights
take a wine tasting class
hop in the car and go on a long roadtrip — no planning
do 100 girly-knee pushups — in a row, no stopping
do 50 buff-boy pushups — in a row, no stopping
be a member of a TV show audience
do Vegas
see a live drag queen show
visit an active volcano
fly to the edge of space in a supersonic jet
write my will
attend a scifi convention
experience zero gravity
drive a race car — fast
go on a safari
make a pilgrimage
knit something naughty
volunteer during a holiday
take a fiction writing class
see the redwood trees in California
do a legal drug in Amsterdam
build an elaborate sandcastle
wax a body part
pierce an unusual body part
karaoke
smoke a peace pipe
enter a juried art show
design my own apparel, then make it
script & shoot a short movie
earn a masters degree
visit Stonehenge
throw a dart on a map and travel where it lands
make paper
write a book
visit the Grand Canyon
ride in a hot air balloon
attend a yoga/meditation weekend retreat
ride an animal bigger than a horse
attend Burning Man
take a multi-day train trip
visit the flagship Apple store in NYC
drive the Pacific Coast Highway

Photofun 4

I’ve been toying with getting back into the blogging habit. Here’s a supereasy new beginning — my fave photo of the week! I loved, loooooved the lightplay in the old barn, and the blues and greens in the floorboards were happy surprises when I looked at the images later on my laptop.

The photo was taken on Cedar Mountain, NC, during a work retreat. Ben Keys, warmhearted retired founder of Keys Printing in Greenville, was our gracious host.

Warm fuzzies at work #10

I have a confession to make. I’ve been feelin’ an ever-so-slight propaganda vibe in these work gratitude posts. Don’t get me wrong — every last spankin’ one of my items has been true. But my college journalism training has been nudging uncomfortably at the back of my head, whispering things like, “You know you’re not telling the whole story” and “Yeah, that’s great, but….there’s a but, you know.”

While I can’t remember the exact reason we were asked to participate in this exercise — it has something to do with a task given to directors, managers, and supervisors in a leadership development retreat — I do get the WHY of it. People who focus on positive things are happier. Period. The emotions and feelings you get out of life are the emotions and feelings you put into it. Your attitude about your life is ALL about focus. Every person on the planet has good times, frustrating times, buoyant times, and heartbreaking times. Will you keep your eye on the great things while looking for the lessons learned from the not-so-great things? Or will you keep an eye on the negative situations and events while viewing the great times as flukes?

What you feed, grows.

Of specific importance to our bosses and their bosses is that employees who focus on positive things are happier, more productive, and more compliant. Everyone buzzes along, content and grateful and laughy and agreeable.

I agree.

See? I’m being agreeable.

But….

I know you know it’s coming….

The “but.”

It’s just that an overtly Pollyanna-ish outlook feels at times……well, dishonest. Not to mention neglectful, in a poke-your-head-in-the-sand sort of way. I like to spike my optimism with a dash of reality and proactive determination.

For example, at work it is true that “tough questions” are solicited and admirable efforts are made to solve problems….and I appreciate this. But have problems been defined correctly? Have root issues been addressed, or is it that symptoms have been elevated to issue status? In my opinion, nails have been hit on their proverbial heads at times….. but, at other times….well. Not.

Am I grateful that our offices are downtown and I have a sunshiny window beside my desk? Absolutely. But the cubicle environment can often be disruptive and claustrophobic and decidedly unproductive. Am I grateful that GHS has adopted an informal “work/life balance” stance? Yup. 100 percent. But it’s being spun as innovative when it stopped being innovative years ago.

I’m not complaining. As corporate jobs go, mine is tippitytop first-rate. I recognize that we are all human, for heaven’s sake — even middle management all the way through the upperupper echelon. It ROCKS that hearts really do seem to be in the right place. Perhaps I am too sensitive to “spin” considering the industry I’m in, but I worry that forced optimism will prevent us from addressing REAL problems in order to make a REAL, positive difference.

That’s all.

Let’s see……I’ve got two more grateful items to go before I complete my required list of 15 (phooey, by the way, to you guys who did not correct my math in the very first warm-fuzzies post). And here they are — no ifs, ands, or buts.

Well, mostly no buts.

Sigh….OK, there are buts. And ands.

But some of my buts have buts, and ands aren’t really that bad.

No ifs, though!

I’m grateful for the team members who share my desire to create high quality work. With such an overbearing emphasis nowadays on price and speed, attention to excellence seems to be dying a slow, tragic, choking death. Today’s tolerance for mediocrity, sloppiness, and inconsistency in design and messaging makes me a little sad. Ohhhh, wait…. that sentence seems to be a segue into a but, doesn’t it? Well, never mind the but. The point is that I LOVE working with other creatives — Steven, Gary, Nancy, and Jeanine — who have the same ethic, understand my internal struggles, and help to hash out possible solutions.

I’m grateful for our massage chairs! This one almost doesn’t count, because it’s not like Greenville Hospital System would’ve been so frivolous as to buy these things for us. Purchased by the previous tenants in our office space, they were worked in as part of the leasing deal. They ARE just down the hall, however, and I am unapologetically grateful for them. At my Mac for hours and hours each day, I visit the one in the back hallway a few times a week so that those firm little relentless “thumbs” can work a little magic on my tightnesses. Some people are creeped out by them, because “who knows WHAT has been DONE on those chairs,” but I don’t care — embracing the cooties around me will just make me stronger, right? Other people think the action presses too hard, but I’ve experimented with positions and leverage in an effort to increase the pressure to a masochistic level. For example, if you roll slightly to one side, lean toward your shoulder a little, and tell the chair to do tiny circles in that highest upperback spot, it’ll dig into your neck muscles quite pleasurably.

As great as that feels, though, it doesn’t hold a candle to the moan-inducing glute maneuver I invented last year.

Warm fuzzies at work #9

I am grateful for my new underwear which is keepin’ my keester happy while sitting in front of my Mac. But just in case that’s deemed NOT to be work related, I decided to steal another co-worker’s gratitude. And it’s not really stealing. I’m wholeheartedly agreeing!

I am grateful for the sunshiny picture window right beside my desk. Life’s so much better when the sun’s shining on you, don’t ya think? It makes desk clutter seem downright cheerful, and it makes honeycrisp apples such a pretty, bright, go-get-em RED! Gray, dreary, depressing officedrab just doesn’t happen in our world.

Warm fuzzies at work #8

A year ago today, I was trying to comfort my mom, nephew, and brother-in-law while myself wrestling through some powerful emotions. My sister had died suddenly two days before, and, during the stereotypical calm before the storm, we were bracing ourselves for the visitation that evening and the funeral the next day. Dianna had spent several days at Self Regional Hospital in Greenwood following a scary midnight heart episode at home. While her condition was serious, we never dreamed it was really, truly life threatening — she was too stubborn to die, for heaven’s sake! If you knew her, you know exactly what I mean. :)

What does this have to do with work-related gratitude?

I’m grateful that, during times of crisis in each others’ lives, we pull together like family. I don’t have the words to describe my appreciation for the concern, love, and patience which poured from these people during my sister’s hospitalization and my family’s subsequent struggles. Many of us in the department have gone through very difficult times, and everyone always gathers ’round like protective moms, dads, brothers, and sisters. It reinforces my faith in human kindness.

Warm fuzzies at work #7

May I say “ditto”?

I’m grateful we can freelance overflow work. It’s the only way I’m able to keep my head above water….and, even so, once in awhile I’ll stay under a tad too long and come up gasping.

Warm fuzzies at work #6

I’m grateful for free coffee. Yeah, I know every decent employer in the whole entire nation serves this one up as a perk. But have you seen how much coffee I can drink??