Monday, June 20, 2011

Writing & Writings

Yet another day finds me writing for the hell of it. Writing for it’s own sake. Just typing random words as they come to mind. Getting irritated with Microsoft Word for trying to convince me that my grammar is bad. Like I’m going to trust the company who created Windows. Cause that’s certainly an example of something done right . . .

I want to write. Yet I do so aimlessly. I suppose I could be working on my novel, but that sounds like more effort than I actually want to put into writing at the moment. It’s hard to motivate myself to do so. There are so many other things that are easier. Like rambling on about the subject.

I actually have two novels and a television script on my life agenda. One of the novels is a full-fledged fantasy novel that works as an alternate origin story for Peter Pan. That’s the one I’m working on right now. The second is a military sci-fi romance. In the love story sense, not smut. That one is about an alien invasion that features Earth as a lost colony of a galactic empire. And, of course, finding the love of your life after six years only to ship out the next day. Oh, and discover you have a telempathic daughter; who’s being used as a weapon.

The television show is called Angelus, and is totally unrelated to Angel from the Buffy series. The Angelus are the descendants of mortals and fallen angels. The premise being that when God cast the angels from heaven, some of them chose to Fall for mortal lovers. Their descendants have been all the great leaders in history. It takes place in the modern era. The main character is the only descendant left with a bloodline strong enough to access the powers of the Angelus. In the first episode his guardian angel voluntarily Falls in order to warn and protect him. He is being hunted because, classically, he is the only one who can stop the demons from releasing a more powerful demon/the devil into the world. There’s an extended cast of characters.

I suppose there’s more than that, really. I have every intention of putting together a book of poems based on the work of Albert Camus, specifically The Myth of Sisyphus. I imagine some Zen and Positive Pysch concepts will make their way into that one too. I also want to write at least a chapbook that features my Sun and Moon “story”. I’ll include my poem by the same name at the end to give you a better idea.

There are, of course, the many songs and lyrics I’ve written; and the vast body of poetry. With some exceptions, I’ll probably leave most of that as a trail that leads to my current work. As I get better with the guitar, I’ll revisit some of the lyrics I’ve not put to music yet, and I’ll continue playing the one’s I like at open mic nights from time to time. Sometime soon I’ll start playing with a guy I know who does a great job with the solo/lead/first guitar part while I stick to the rhythm/second guitar. I should call him.

On another note, dancing continues to be an important part of my life and I’m pleased with the people and opportunities it brings. I’d like to think it’s made me a new friend and I look forward to teaching her to dance, going sailing and horseback riding with her. In conversation or activity, I feel it will be time well spent.

Enough for now. Writing done.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


It’s said that part of living a fully realized life is to do things for others. That doesn’t mean you have to rush out to the nearest soup kitchen or animal shelter and start volunteering. You can, if that’s what you’re moved to do. For me, that type of volunteering isn’t the right answer. What we have to realize is that the right answer is different for everyone.

So what’s my answer? It isn’t that I don’t want to help people. I actually really enjoy helping people. But what I love is sharing the things I’m passionate about. I want to share those things and pass my love fore them on to others. I have done my share of volunteering. However, the majority of my volunteer experience is made up of the over 90 hours of teaching swing dance for a non-profit organization in Moscow, Idaho. That total doesn’t include the half hour early I arrived in order to open and set up the venue almost every week that I taught, (and many weeks when someone else did). Dance is something I’m passionate about it and I love helping others learn it. Many of those people were inspired to take it up as a hobby and passion all their own. I continue to teach today, spending an hour and a half each week teaching whoever cares to show up for my small swing class at a local coffee shop. I do charge $3 a person, but I don’t do it for the money.

I also do my part through awareness of the people around me. I like to share the things I love with people I think will gain from them at least half as much as I myself did. One way I do this is through sharing books that have changed my life. It’s more than saying, “you should read this book.” Usually it’s, “here, have my copy.” and I simply order a new one. Sometimes it’s a link to an article to a blog or specific article that I think suits the moment or the person’s situation. Offer what you have, offer what you love and remember that it’s okay if your gift doesn’t inspire someone else the way it inspired you. When it does, it’s all worth it. But don’t be pushy.

Finally, what I’ve realized, and possibly what I’ve known all along is that I want to help people for a living. I want to help people connect and lead fuller, better lives. Until recently, I didn’t know how I was going to do that and I drifted through job posting after job posting unsatisfied with the offerings. Non-profits seemed like good causes, but weren’t the cause for me. And while I currently work in the corporate headquarters of a major women’s fashion retailer, just helping someone else make more money has never appealed to me. Yet it was here that I had the opportunity for exploration that helped me discover what I want to be doing: Applied Positive Psychology. I want to help organizations and the people in them work together to create an environment that boosts productivity through better leadership and better employee satisfaction. I’m even looking at a way to make dance a part of that. How awesome would that be?

I’ve found my calling and a way to help others that’s personally satisfying. There’s something out there for everyone. Don’t worry if you can’t bring yourself to march for cancer or ring a bell for the Salvation Army. Don’t beat yourself up if the Peace Corps isn’t the path for you.  Find out what is it that you’re passionate about sharing and do it in a way that suits YOU. Every spark you light in a student or peer is a step toward a fully realized self. And if you make a living off it, that’s ok too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's Your Question?

I recently finished reading Drive by Daniel Pink. At the end of the book Pink includes a series of exercises and readings that can help you identify what motivates you, gives you a sense of purpose, etc. (Yes, I know you’re supposed to have three examples before an etc. If you want more, go read the book. You should anyway.) =) One of the most striking exercises is the “What’s Your Sentence?” exercise, one that caught the imagination of many of his readers.

In a nutshell, what you do is: “Take your life, take what you want to do and distill it into a single sentence.”

Daniel Pink’s sentence is, “He wrote books that helped people see their world a little more clearly and live their lives a little more fully.”

I’m still thinking about my sentence but I want it to go something like, “Through his passions he helped people grow as social individuals.”

The passions in my sentence are varied: dance, positive psychology (my newest passion), and teaching are probably the top three. Even those have subcategories, however. What do I love about dance? It’s fun and gets the body moving, engages the brain and leads easily to a flow state. But moreso, it’s about connection with yourself and another human being and it’s about communicating clearly with that other person and playing/engaging with them. Every dance is a story and a conversation and your willingness to play makes it more fun and more engaging. What I love about positive psych is even more in-depth.

Through dance and applied positive psychology I can teach these things and more. I can help people become better leaders. I can help them become better social individuals. I define a social individual as someone connected to themselves and others in a positive way. There are few people who prize individuality as much as I do, but we can all see the flaws inherent in a society in which individualism is defined better as narcissism combined with an overbearing sense of entitlement. We can only survive as individuals so much as that individuality improves our interactions with those around us. Human beings have both individual needs and social needs, both of which must be met to achieve a sense of well-being.

I’m excited about moving toward a future in which my sentence defines me more and more every day.

So there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s ask:

What’s your sentence?

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Yesterday I figured out what I want to do with my life. It’s kind of an overwhelming joyfear ( but lifted my spirits through the roof. Yesterday was a great day and has carried over into today. And with my field of choice, hopefully that mood will carry into the rest of my life.

It all started with Zen Habits. I don’t remember how I discovered Zen Habits, but through Leo Babauta’s exceptionally popular blog about simplifying and building a better life, I found Goodlife Zen, another blog that promotes personal well-being, self-improvement and a Zen lifestyle. On one of the first posts I read on Goodlife Zen I came across a video of a seminar given by Daniel Pink. The video was about intrinsic motivation and how the carrot and stick version of motivation our society doesn’t really work. (It does work, but only for certain types of tasks and only to a certain point.)

Between Pink’s A Whole New MindDrive and a whirlwind of exploration in my free time I was introduced to Abraham Maslow, Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Unless you want to dislocate your jaw, I don’t recommend trying to pronounce that last one. ;) What do all these people have in common? They’re all big names in the field of Positive Psychology. And that’s what I want to do; I want to work in Applied Positive Psychology. I want to get a Master’s in A.P.P.  from the University of Pennsylvania. It so happens to be where Martin Seligman is in residence.

What does one do with a career in Applied Positive Psych? Well, it has uses in a variety of fields, from business to sports to education. It can help improve employee satisfaction, increase productivity, and through it, profitability. It can help improve learning and guide us toward personal satisfaction. All of that is something I want to be part of.

I won’t be applying for fall of 2012, but I’ll shoot for fall of 2013 at earliest and keep applying til I get in. Most of the coursework can be done without living in Penn. The description online says that the degree can handle commutes from anywhere on the globe. My first step is to make connections that can give me recommendations that show I’m committed to positive psych. I figure that will take the most time, which is why I’ve set my start date within the next two to three years. In the meantime, I’m going to start reading and writing about the topics. I started writing an article on the concept of flow, (total absorption in a task), for my company’s intranet but I’ve decided to hold off til I’ve done a little more research. My own copy of Drive is in the mail along with one of Csikszentmihalyi’s books on flow and Seligman’s books on Positive Psych.  

I’m content with that start and looking forward to immersion in the subject. By the time I start my Master’s work, I intend to know a fair amount about the subject and have my own ideas ready.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tis the East and Juliet is Blonde

I’ve started to realize that I unrealistically categorize women by hair color. Which doesn’t mean there’s a blonde joke coming up anytime soon. Well, maybe, since now that I mention it, I can’t resist.

Q: What do you call a smart blonde?
A: A Golden Retriever.

Right, now that that’s out of my system.

If you aren’t aware, I’m rather single at the moment. This time around, I’m constraining my dating to women between 21 and 30 (with leanings toward women 23-28). I’ve given in and dated a few too many twenty year olds and thus far it’s not been terribly satisfactory. Not really anyone’s fault, it’s simply that most young people don’t know what direction they want their life to go. Lord knows I didn’t at 20.  (Not to mention that whole finishing college and getting a job who knows where thing.) Those who think they do -often- discover that what they thought they wanted changes. I’ve known some wonderful young women, their lives just weren’t settled enough to make our relationship a real commitment. Anyway, that has little to do with hair color.

In my frequent online browsing of the limited choices in the surrounding area, I realized that I tend to immediately put pretty blondes on a pedestal and move on. As if something about being pretty and blonde meant that they’re more goddess than human and less likely to have easy, fun conversation or share interests with someone like me. I think I’ve unconsciously been doing this for a while now. Years, really. I don’t know that’s it’s fair to them, nor myself.

Brunettes, well, much more approachable. As if somehow being dark haired made them more “down to earth,” and more inclined to a kind nature. I like beauty in all shades, but something about dark hair sprawled across my pillow really appeals to me. Dark hair and blue eyes? Spectacular. Though I have navy pillowcases right now, so maybe blonde would be a nicer contrast. ;P

Finally, there’s the rare red head. I’m in the “red head’s are either one end of the spectrum or the other” camp, gorgeous or unpalatable. I do like red heads, much as I like Russian women. As if all red heads (and Russians,) are straightforward, direct and let you know when, what, why, and how angry they are with you. I will admit a preference to what I like to “Scandinavian red” over the Scots-Irish tint. Green eyes, blue eyes, it doesn’t matter. I’ve dated one and wanted to date another. Pretty good, for the aforementioned rarity.

So there you go, you are now equally aware of my natural inclination to stereotype how dateable a woman is by the color of her hair. Much as you do, I think that being aware of this will hopefully allow me to begin to let go of these pre-misconceptions. Bear with me, however, there’s history that led to these developments and habits are oh, so hard, to break.