Archive for the 'RL happenings' Category

Reassembling Your Cat

We all know that cats are very good at relaxing. Sometimes, however, your cat may relax so much that it appears boneless and it may have trouble getting itself back to a more standard appearance. At such times, you may need to offer a little assistance.

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When your cat has relaxed too far, you need to push all of the stray parts together gently, combing them in a pile until they begin to cohere. This may take ahwile as the individual hairs can be quite resistant to rejoining the gestalt. Be patient, gentle and persevere. It MAY take hours.

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Congratulations! You have reassembled your cat!! BUT you are not done yet. You must assure that the reassembled cat is in proper alignment. Adjust the cat until it is at the proper angle. Remember to be gentle and patient as you do not want the newly reassembled cat to fragment.

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Once the cat has been aligned properly, allow it to rest undisturbed. This allows the recombination to strengthen and increases the likelihood that the cat will maintain its standard appearance. If you have any stray pieces left over after you have reassembled the cat, you may remove them once the cat has left the work area of its own volition. A newly recombined cat may decide to discard some hairs or whiskers as it settles into its new condition.

My First Client

It’s official. Okay, it’s almost official. I haven’t yet finished the coaching course – I have to finish the book and pass the test. I’ve done all of the other requirements. But those 2 requirements are dependent solely on me – I don’t need anyone else to get them done. Today I finished the last requirement that needed other people participating. The course had 10 online group sessions. We’ve a large group – nearly 40 people meeting online (we’ve lost a few since the first class). As I mentioned in an earlier post, we get sent into breakout rooms – 3 or 4 of us together. Someone must coach, someone must be the coachee, and the other observes. I’ve been an observer for the first 8 sessions. I WAS about to volunteer to coach once, but I got elbowed aside quite strongly (virtually, mind you) by someone else who felt he absolutely needed to coach. *grin*

Last session I was the coachee. I’ve been fairly snarky about being a coachee. My feeling was that there was nothing one of my classmates could do for me that I couldn’t do already with my “Howard-in-my-head“. After all, I KNEW what the problem was, I KNEW I had to find a non-confrontational way to discuss it with the person in question, I KNEW that what was holding me up was what words I would use to speak to her directly. It was obviously just a matter of me thinking about the wording, trying out sentences and seeing which felt ‘right’. But I had to be a coachee and B had to be a coach. I even started my session with him being snarky (at least I felt it was condescending and snarky, I’m not sure if B felt that way) – explaining that I *KNEW* what had to be done. B did not let that bother him. He had me state my issue and what I wanted to accomplish today: I have a coworker who speaks very very very softly on all of our team calls, and I can’t hear her, and I get frustrated and embarrassed having to ask her to repeat everything, and even then I don’t always hear her. I’ve asked coworkers to move the microphone near her, I’ve instant messaged them to find out what she said, suggested to our manager that he have EVERYONE use the video and not just audio (maybe I’d be better at reading lips). *laughing* Even TYPING this the frustration returns.

Well, we only get about 15 minutes for these triad coaching sessions. We were almost to the end when B asked me what ended up being the pivotal question: What can you do NOW to address this? I started to answer him by saying “nothing, I can’t do anything until I see her in person”. And WHAM!!! It hit me. Right in mid-sentence. I did NOT have to wait to see her in person. I could EMAIL her!! Or I could IM her right before the next meeting (due later that day). This did NOT have to be done in person. You’re reading this and saying – well, could it be any more obvious???? The answer is no, it really isn’t obvious when it is YOUR issue. One thing that I have learned for sure from this coaching course is how grateful we all are for the space of time where we can think, reflect, take time. We spend a lot of effort getting things done and not as much time exploring all the aspects. I’ve learned that when I coach, the thing my coachees seem to appreciate most is the space to think and then speak.

Sharing a situation, describing a problem to another, always seems to let more light on something even when we’ve been sure there are no shadows left. Certainly I’ve experienced it over and over when I was still writing code. I’d hit a bug, be stuck. I’d start to talk to my coworker explaining the issue and as I articulated the details to her, I could see the problem clear as day. Or maybe you’ve had a conversation with a friend where you were talking about some problem or complaint, and the friend mentions some simple solution that you had never even considered. It’s the old you can’t see the forest for the trees – if you are too close, you can’t see the whole.

I was THRILLED with my coaching session with B. I will tell you that I utilized the solution that *I* came up with just this week. I sent an email shortly before the team call to the other 2 women on the call, explaining that I had a hard time hearing, and women’s voices were the most difficult for me, and could they please make sure that the microphones were well distributed around the table and could they please be sure to sit near one. OMG. They wrote back, said they would, they did, and I heard everything. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or demanding or as if I was insulting the person I can’t hear, because by doing it in a common email, I felt I diffused any sort of implication of personal attack. It was great.

Today was FINALLY my turn to be a coach in the triad. *Laughing* It’s very hard to be the coachee at times, and come up with a problem you want to discuss with someone listening, and also knowing you have only 10 minutes to talk. I’ve found, therefore, that I need to give the coachee sufficient time to tell enough of the story so I could hear what was the core of the issue. Then there is the whole aspect of trust and embarrassment – will the person listening judge me or betray me? I felt I was handling the conversation well, although there were several sentences I wanted to rephrase (and did) as soon as I said them. I felt I did manage to keep quiet and give her space to respond, and that I asked open questions that would make her think. I tried to follow the model we were given. I wasn’t sure we were going to come up with an action plan, but just as we got the 1 minute warning to return to the group, she came up with a solution she felt she could implement right away.

We returned to the group and our facilitator was asking for feedback. One of the best parts of blogging is that I can “brag”. My blog, my words, no one makes you read it. *grin* In many other aspects of my life I do try to avoid singing my own praises. (And honestly, there ARE so many things to praise when you are as wonderful as I am. *grin*) But here’s what the rest of my triad had to say in the open group chat:

From ‘Observer’ to Everyone:
It was good experience as an observer. Our Coach was so calm and asking very good question.
From Coachee to Everyone:
Ahuva was my coach, and made me feel very comfortable. Thank you so much Ahuva!
From Observer to Everyone:
I totally agree. She was excellent.

*blush* But oh yeah, you know I am feeling good about that. The facilitator read it and called it out, too. Even more exciting – my coachee IM’d me to tell me she had already acted on her solution and thanked me again. 
I praised her and told her she was very welcome, and offered to continue coaching with her if she wished (an offer I did make to my 2 test coachees as well). She was immediately enthusiastic and said she would love to have me coach her and she sent a meeting invitation for us to continue.

So I may not have my course badge yet, but I have a coachee. 🙂

Yet More Headlines – and a TWEET

It’s been awhile since I last shared with you the headlines that cause me to stop in my virtual tracks, shake my head, and wonder why people do what they do. Here they are, in reverse chronological order. I keep a running list, and I put the most recent at the top. Sometimes I go back and look at them to judge if they have aged sufficiently for posting. But the first one in the list made me realize this morning that, seriously, we need to have a chat.

People are putting tampon-shaped speakers in their vaginas so their unborn babies can hear music
I can’t even begin to write what I want to say about this. There are SO MANY things wrong with this from MY perspective. Let me say only that Beethoven’s mother did NOT shove a speaker up her vagina and Beethoven (and Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Hayden, et alia) seemed to learn and appreciate music without any difficulty.

A company called Music In Baby says its Babypod device, which it sells for $150, is designed to help unborn babies “perceive sounds like we do” since it’s placed in the vagina, where tissue and material from the womb normally prevent fetuses from hearing sounds as humans do.
It’s true that babies hear sound differently from inside the womb, but research has not found that unborn babies benefit from hearing sounds, like music, the way we do.

A woman’s infection turned out to be bees living in her eye, feeding on her tears
This is pure science fiction horror, except it’s real. I can’t even think how to describe my feelings about this one, except to say every time I see the words I shudder.

…such bees nest near graves and in fallen trees, so chances of coming across them while hiking in the mountains are high,
Assuming that sand or dirt had gotten into her eye, she said that she cleaned her eye with water at the time.
During the press conference, Dr Hung said: “I saw something that looked like insect legs, so I pulled them out under a microscope slowly, and one at a time without damaging their bodies.”
sweat bees are attracted to perspiration and have a tendency to land on humans to obtain moisture and salts from their sweat,

Naked protesters showed up to Parliament and glued their bums to security glass
I have a friend and former coworker who posts this kind of headline all the time – of antics in Florida that are “only in Florida”. I think this article qualifies for that collection.

The week is young, and there have already been bare-assed protesters in the U.K.’s House of Commons.
To be sure, the 12 protesters that showed up for a Brexit debate Monday night had nothing to do with debates surrounding alternative proposals to leave the EU. They came, instead, to highlight climate change.
Monday wasn’t much better, with MPs attempting to debate a deal while the protesters glued their buttocks to the security glass walling of gallery visitors from politicians. They were removed about 30 minutes after they arrived. In some circumstances, security officers had to use soap and water to remove the glue. One MP seemed relatively pleased with the ordeal.
“Parliament just got a little more nuts,” Tory MP James Heappey wrote on Twitter Monday.
All 12 protesters were arrested for “outraging public decency,” according to the Mirror.

Why you should never release your pet goldfish into the wild

Goldfish are invading lakes and streams worldwide, and it’s all our fault.
For starters, goldfish are smarter than you might think. They have a memory span of at least 3 months which means you can teach them tricks like this. They also can tell the difference between Stravinsky and Bach.

Please note that the goldfish can appreciate the music without having speakers in their mothers’ vaginas.

And for some of these headlines – you need to click through on your own.  🙂

A woman was shot at close range, but it was her underwire bra that nearly killed her
I lied – I have to share these sentences from the article with you: The surgeon thought it might be “some kind of detonation device” and summoned a nearby police officer, Duggan said. “We’re always thinking in medicine of worst-case scenarios,” she added. … “There’s no question in anybody’s minds … that [wearing an underwire bra] was what just exponentially increased her injury pattern,” Duggan said.

Tooth pulled from inside man’s nose after losing sense of smell
You’ll have to click through to see if it was the man or the tooth that lost sense of smell. *grin*

 Singing mice could offer clues about how human brains manage conversation
High in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, there’s a species of mouse that sings call-and-response duets, similar to the high-speed back and forth humans engage in with conversation.

 I leave you with this final observation:

The bushtucker trial meal of sauteed testicle from a bull called Boris was tastier than Theresa had expected…

Words to Live By

There has been a lot happening in my life. Some good, some not as good. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on what I learned in all those years of behavioral therapy. 🙂 Yes, yes, how to behave. 🙂 Although I doubt I’ll win any blue ribbons for best in show. *grin*

I just finished reading an article that came up in my Twitter feed: The key to loving your job in the age of burnout by Cassie Werber. I don’t usually read these articles. I’m not burned out (yet) and I rather like my job and my work. I clicked through on this one because the associated image was interesting. It looked like footprints on water, but had to be mud or sand, but there was someone on the dock next to the footprints. 🙂 It was the picture – I thought if I could see it more clearly I’d be sure of the substance. I’m still not 100% sure of the photo and I’m not sure I am completely comfortable with some of the observations in the article about the nature of work, the gig economy, part-time versus full-time employment, and bespoke careers. That may be because of my age and experience. But I do know that there are several key observations that I consider “truths” to a happier life.

“More and more, our sense of self is connected to the kind of person we believe ourselves to be—a combination of profession and meaning—and not to our place of work. In this, we’re reverting to an earlier mode: before we had companies and careers, we had professions (for example, stone mason) and tasks (build a bridge.)”

Yes, absolutely yes. My corollary to this is that we need to appreciate ourselves and value ourselves in order to be confident and content. To phrase that differently: other people cannot ‘fix’ us. Happiness (contentment) begins within. The foundation is internal, not external. Yes, other people and external factors can make us unhappy, sad, stressed and other negative and bad things. But if we can see that as OUTSIDE of our core, we have the strength and belief to keep going and not despair. Or so it is for me.

“Despair, and railing against the unfairness of the system, are both reasonable. Many people, globally, do not have the freedom to choose. Some work situations—losing your job through no fault of your own, being bullied, suffering discrimination—are certainly unfair. But the narrative of entitlement to a fulfilling job obscures the fact that it’s not our job’s job to be meaningful. It’s our job to find meaning in what we do. Some of us have the option of changing our work situation if that becomes absolutely imperative. But we can also change the narrative we choose to explain our work to the world and to ourselves—and in so doing, change our experience.” (Boldface my addition to highlight the text.)

WORDS! The words we choose to express ourselves and describe our situation make so much difference. I used to say such things as: “I can’t STAND IT ANYMORE”, “This is killing me”, “I HATE him”. It’s very hard to feel as if I can make a change when I use such absolutes. I’ve learned to dial the emotion back a notch: “It is so frustrating when this happens”, “This is so uncomfortable”, “That behavior is not enjoyable”. The latter group of phrases gives me room to maneuver. Did anything about the external situation change? No. But how I perceived it did. I can handle frustration and discomfort. Those are normal experiences.

“… the difference between finding a situation bearable—possibly, indeed, happy—and unbearable is about whether we experience ourselves as performing a willing sacrifice, or simply as suffering. When working hard tips over into working too hard, or with too little reward, sacrifice has slipped into suffering. … “Sacrifice might be hurtful and exhausting, but it is a conscious choice,” he writes. “Suffering is the result of feeling that we cannot slow down or else we will be shamed and lose control. Sacrifice makes us who we are. Suffering keeps us captive.””

You need to read all of the article to understand the “because” part of sacrifice. We sacrifice for a goal. We tell ourselves a narrative to put the sacrifice in context, to make us feel that the ‘suffering’ is bearable and acceptable because of the end goal. We have choices. There are at least 2 choices in this sacrifice/suffering discussion. The first choice is that we choose the language to describe it, we CHOOSE whether we make it a sacrifice or suffering. The 2nd choice is the harder one. We can choose to change the situation (leave the job, leave the relationship, not fix the roof). I used to argue this one over and over and over and over. “It’s NOT a choice” I’d scream, “I HAVE to fix the roof if it leaks!!!” And Howard would say, “No you don’t. You can let it leak.” And I’d point out that the wood would rot, the house fall down and on and on. And he’d reply that it was a choice I was making – to NOT let the wood rot. There are obviously practicalities involved. But there is also a choice, when you stop, breathe and look at it. Once you frame it as a choice, it’s easier to confront. If you can confront it, you may also see how you might bring about an actual change, not only an emotional perspective change.

One of my former co-workers, Jim De Piante, had fantastic presentations about managers and project management. I have always remembered something he said (and my apologies to Jim for any mistakes in the quoting): “Think of your management as your client.” That change in wording shifts the perspective radically. It goes back to the point that words matter. It goes to the point we have a choice. The difference in connotation between ‘client’ and ‘boss’ is HUGE. When we have clients, we are in the driver’s seat, helping to make our clients successful. When we have a boss, we are powerless with no buy-in to the outcome. I think of this approach whenever I have the endless tracking and administrative work that comes with being part of a huge corporation.

“Unreasonable conditions and real misery need to be met with concrete changes. But other conditions, Petriglieri says, can be radically changed by reframing what we expect from ourselves—and how we see what we do with our days in the context of our lives as a whole. “There’s some pain that needs a solution, and some pain that needs a story,” Petriglieri says.”

Tell yourself a story, and choose your words with care. 🙂

This Might Be a Book Review

I’m reading a book. I am completely engrossed in it. When I stop reading, I am thinking about the characters, wondering what happens next. It’s not that they are DOING anything exciting. They are living their lives. If you asked me what this book is about, I think I’d be hard-pressed to make it sound like something you should read. It’s about a family of 4 children whose father dies suddenly when they, and he, are quite young, and about how they grow up and who they become.

I’m reading the book much too quickly, I know. I can see the parts where I should slow down and savor the words, but I can’t. I want to go back and be with them and know what happens. I’m hoping for a resolution. Mysteries have resolutions. Do lives have resolutions? That’s probably a question I should stop and ponder. The book has many lines that are worth pondering. I’m so impatient. I may have to go back and read parts of this again, because I’m sure there is more here than I’m getting on the first read.

I have forced myself away from the book at this point because there are things I need to do in my tangible world, and I really need to pull my attention out of my head and into something else. And that is ANOTHER reason why I know I should be slowing down. As I thought about how intensely I’m experiencing this story, I began to write this post. When I thought about how I’d describe it, I realized that it could be a story about my mother. My mother’s father died when she and he were both very young. I don’t think she ever recovered emotionally from that. I had a flash of – not insight – but more shift of perspective about my mother. Although I’ve always felt I understood what happened to her, and how it impacted her, I shifted and thought of her as a ‘story’. It changes nothing, really, except for making her childhood and her pain and the damage more intense because it distanced it from me. It wasn’t about ME anymore but about this third party, this other, and while it didn’t change a lot, I think I maybe should use this perspective sometimes to understand how death in one generation ripples on and on and on. I knew that too. I don’t think I’m doing a good job of explaining why it feels like a shift of perspective and understanding to see my mother as not my mother but as a character in a story. We react differently to constructs than we do to the flesh-and-blood parts of our lives.

the last romanticsI don’t know how close to the end I am because I’m using a new kind of book reader. I’m using something called “Bookshout”. It does have an app but you can also read the book via a web browser and that’s how I’ve been reading the book. On an app you can see the number of pages, % left in the book, and other such information. The web browser gives me the number of pages in the current chapter and that is it. Have you noticed that I have not yet NAMED this book? That’s because although I’m completely engrossed in it, I have no idea what it is called. The web browser does not display the name anywhere on the screen. *grin* So although I know I knew the name when I ordered it, I had long since forgotten it when I started writing this. *laughing* I had to go look it up on my order.

I wrote this post in what felt like a headlong rush, all in one breath. I’ve been on my reading hiatus now for several hours. I suspect that when I go back, I will again be totally bound by the words. I think I don’t even care anymore how it ends. I think that even if the ending somehow manages to disappoint me (which I do not believe will be the case), this book is still a fantastic read. I want to have it in paper form. I want to pick up this book in my hands, let it fall open anywhere and start reading it again. I want to hold it and feel it and look at the print while I think about what they are saying and feeling.

I guess what I’m saying is that I recommend this book, The Last Romantics, by Tara Conklin. 🙂

Not Quite A Book Review

a man with one of those facesOne of the bloggers that I follow often reviews books that he’s read. I love this idea, both from a reading point of view and a writing pov. That said, I don’t know that I would be an especially insightful reviewer. I am reading a book at the moment that got very good reviews. I’m not “getting it”. I think it might be satire. I have a feeling I’m very bad at satire. 🙂 If I know the topic well, I can recognize satire and enjoy it (or not, depending on the quality of the writing). If I don’t know the topic, and I’m not familiar with the author, I’m often quite lost as to how I’m ‘supposed’ to react. Many years ago a friend gave me one of Carl Hiassen‘s books, telling me that I would LOVE it because not only was it a mystery but it was funny. I don’t remember the book (it was YEARS ago) but I do remember wondering when the humor would happen. Given Hiassen’s success, I am apparently out of step with the reading public on this. I wonder if now that I’m older (much older) I’d better appreciate it.

I’m not always very good with irony, either, although that one might have definitely been because I was too young to appreciate it. I believe I might be the only living soul who didn’t love Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I have an acquaintance who has read it something like 10 times (seriously? aren’t there any other books you want to read????? the girl with all the giftswho has the TIME to read something 10 times??). Obviously this is also something that needs another attempt. I KNOW I had almost no sense of humor when I was younger. As I look at the first sentence of Pride and Prejudice now, the humor is completely clear.

There was another author I discovered many years ago and I really loved the writing, the characters and the plots. But she never allowed her recurring characters any happiness. Whenever she wrote them in a bit of joy, she made sure to destroy it in the next book. I really can’t keep reading that. I understand that no one has a perfect life. But most of us do find some sort of peace, even if not major joy. Our lives are not an unending stream of betrayals, loss, misery and guilt. Or maybe they are, but I don’t need to read it. I felt the same way about the TV series “Once Upon A Time“. I loved the premise, it started out great, and then no one ever got to be happy. Ever. That doesn’t work for me.

I read to relax and escape – I rarely read to better myself. I do a lot of things in my day-to-day living that better myself. *grin* Or so *I* think. *laughing* Feel free to disagree. Reading gives me a vacation and escape. I really enjoy mysteries, because that genre has the tradition of closure – we get to know “who did it” even if that person isn’t always brought to formal justice. 14 peter clinesI do like a good romance novel periodically because I know exactly what I’m getting and I can pretty much guarantee I’ll feel upbeat at the end of the book. Yes, it is better when it also includes good writing, believable characters and a good story, but if I can’t escape to a warm tropical beach sometimes escaping into the romance genre is a great escape. 🙂 I love historical novels too. Ask the folks who know my family about us and our dinner conversations (especially Hannibal and the elephants) and they will laugh and roll their eyes and say – oh yeah, them and history!

So what authors have I been reading in the last year or so and enjoying? Louise Penny (LOVE), Michael Connelly, Elly Griffiths, Faith Martin, Robert Galbraith (yes, I know who that is REALLY), Peter Grainger, and Charles Todd. There were 2 books I read digitally that I found so intriguing, and that I thought my son would enjoy, that I bought them in paperback for him as well: ‘The Girl With All the Gifts‘ by M.R. Carey and ‘14‘ by Peter Clines. I also enjoyed ‘Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel‘ by Robin Sloan. uprootedIt occurs to me that my brother-in-law might enjoy those 3 as well. I think they are all probably classified as science fiction or fantasy, but I don’t really think of them that way. There are aspects in all that step out of what we’d call ‘reality’, but the plots and characters are what capture my interest. I also recommend Naomi Novik’s “Uprooted” and “Spinning Silver“. Those 2 are classed as fantasy but again what makes them so interesting is not the fantasy part, but the people and relationships. I’d also recommend Caimh McDonnell‘s Bunny McGarry books. How can you NOT love a series that begins: “The first time somebody tried to kill him was an accident. The second time was deliberate.” It is a very funny series with strong characters.

As I said, this is not really a book review, but I do enjoy seeing what Donald has to say about what he is reading. I thought I’d toss out my opinions as well. Happy reading!

Cat Studies

cats enjoying the fireplace

Whiling away a raw rainy 1st day of Spring

a bath before sleeping

A bath before napping

Black cat with pillows

I like my pillows

let sleeping cats lie

Even asleep I am the cutest cat in the world, says WC. Note my pink ears and pink paw pads.


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