Thursday, January 8, 2009

Laughter, the Best Medicine

After a stressful post-vacation week back at work, I had a conversation that really cheered me up. In fact, I had one today and one yesterday. In both conversations I had a good laugh: a whole series of laughs.

(Thanks, I needed that.)

So this post goes out to all of you who make people laugh. You rock!

Unfortunately, some of the best comedy comes at the expense of another. Both of my recent encounters with humor had to do with individuals who were recounting their personal series of unfortunate events. They weren't earth shattering unfortunate events, just very funny. (Sad, pathetic, funny.)

I'll give one example: a fellow teacher was sniffing a bit at lunch. Because I'm sensitive and caring, I inquire, and sure enough she has a cold, and it's getting worse, not better. Ahhhh. So sorry.

How bad is it? Her eyes were watering.

How bad is that? She couldn't focus well enough for the students to use their whiteboards to show their answers. As a result she had to get a lot of verbal answers.

But it gets worse?

Her ears were getting stuffy, so she couldn't hear too well. Ahhhh.
How bad is that? She couldn't hear the students in the back of her classroom, so the class spent the day answering in unison. (Now that's funny.)

Her head was throbbing, her ears were stuffed, her eyes were watering, and it gets worse...

She couldn't take any medication because she's pregnant. Ouch!

(Now, partially why this is so funny is because it's so pathetic. My heart went out to my co-worker, but the more we talked, the more I laughed. And it gets worse.)

She was sick, getting sicker, and she was very tired because she was working on 4 or 5 hours sleep. Why?

Because Mid-Eastern Christmas was the night before, and she and her Middle-Eastern husband had to attend an annual trip to church with his family: from 9 pm to midnight. And then a traditional family dinner at her mother-in-law's. She got home at 1:30 am. And she didn't sleep very well.

How sad is that? (And funny, to hear her tell it.)

Her only remedy was to go workout at a gym after work. (Yes, that was her solution.) Although she felt worse after the workout, she slept well and came back feeling a bit better the next day.

(I, ever the sensitive one, noticed, inquired, and complimented her on her improved health. We smiled and laughed again.)

I don't know why it is that watching or listening to the foibles of friends is just so darned entertaining, but it is.

Often enough I provide the foibles, so it's fun to see someone else outdo my mishaps. It's funny when they do, and it helps me put my problems in perspective.

Sometimes it sucks to be me, but sometimes, it sucks to be you! And that's just funny.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Adapt or Die!

Changes at work made me want to take up arms, so I cleverly began to read a chapter called “Gaining Control Over Change” from my Secrets of Consulting book by Gerald M. Weinberg.

I expected to get some good advice on how to get people to see things my way, instead Jerry informed me that the best way get changed is to resist change. His answer to managing change was to embrace it.

Another name for embracing change is adaptation. Jerry points out that some organisms adapt in order to survive an increasingly hostile environment. This is also called evolution. Hmmm…

I can manage change by embracing change in an adaptive manner. (Or I can become a dinosaur. And perhaps extinct.)

Those who resist change often begin to act in ways that make them change a lot. Rats. That’s what I’m trying to avoid: big change.

Amazingly, Jerry’s advice on embracing small change in order to survive was comforting. It wasn’t the answer I wanted, but it was one I needed.

That’s why I went to Jerry’s book. He knows stuff.

(Pictures are from an outing Dec. 27th 2008 at the Fullerton Arboretum)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fear, panic, and hysteria!

Some things just bug me. You know the type of thing that gets under your skin, makes you wake up at night, makes you compose arguments, makes you crazy?

I've been fighting that feeling a bit, so I liked this quote from a Daily Slang widgit:

Snow hysteria: When the populace's fear of a snowstorm creates traffic jams and general panic way before any flakes even fall. Usually turns out to be a totally disproportionate response to a minor snowstorm.

We don't get snow hysteria in So Cal. (It was 38 degrees last night: brrrrr.)

But I fight these things: work hysteria and relationship hysteria. (These things don't require snow.)

What helped me in the quote above was this phrase: "Usually turns out to be a totally disproportionate response to a minor snowstorm."

Ahhhh... a totally disproportionate response to a minor event.

That's what I sometimes fight. I forget what the cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy says: Don’t Panic!

Just thinking that my response might be totally disproportionate helped me get a bit more perspective and a bit more relaxed, less hysterical.

Note to self: Beware of allowing minor fears escalate into a disproportionate response of panic and mild hysteria. Beware of snow hysteria and its look-a-like cousins.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year... "New" Sofas from CraigsList

I often check myself to make sure I'm practicing what I preach. Yesterday I talked of ringing out the old year and ringing in the new. Well, I followed up that meditation with some action: I got some "new" sofas.

It began innocently enough: I was checking CraigsList in preparation to selling my daughter's 1967 VW bug. But as one thing leads to another, I looked at VWs, but then lamps, then living rooms, then sofas, then living room sets. I found a nice set of used leather sofas for $425. How good a deal was that? Very good.

We got a 6' sofa, a 5' love seat, two large overstuffed chairs, and an end table.

Of course as one thing leads to another, it also meant that I had to rearrange patio furniture, promote one sofa to the patio, another sofa to the closed in patio, and two sofas to the garage until trash day.

Then there was the problem of picking up the new sofas after withdrawing cash the night before. I rented a truck, contacted my nephew, picked up the truck, picked up my nephew, picked up the sofas, paid for the sofas, transported and unloaded the sofas, and then rearranged furniture for a bit. (Then I returned my nephew!)

The new year has brought a new look to my living room and several other rooms. How sweet it is! (Now I have to keep the cats from "breaking in" the new sofas.)

If you've never used CraigsList, check it out. You can get some good deals. But beware... good deals can lead to a goodly amount of work!

Today, I'm back to work after a two week, fun filled, action packed vacation. And it's a good thing... I can use the rest.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday Morning: New Year

Yesterday I did a lot of reading, mostly researching a question of word origin for a friend's blog. In the course of my research I rediscovered a website/blog that I had heard about some years ago. That blog's New Year's post contained a poem about ringing in the New Year, but it also makes reference to ringing out the Old Year. (Ring in the New Year -- a link to a poem that reflects hope and shows how little things have changed over the years.)

I like the idea of ringing out the old year. Annual vista points are important, but I feel that there is an imbalance: too much reminiscence, not enough call to action, too much melancholy and not enough hopeful determination, too much looking back and not enough looking forward. What are we to do?

One of my favorite phrases from the Bible is one that says, "forgetting those things which are behind, I press on..." (This is also a good excuse for being forgetful.)

The context is an older Christian, writing from a Roman jail cell, contemplating his future.

I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize.

My friends, I don't feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead.

I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done.

What I like in this is that forgetting what is behind is an option. We learn from the past, treasure the memories, but we don't live there. We don't live in the future either, but the future inspires us to move forward in the present.

Sometimes it feels like my "get up and go" got up and went. So I return to passages such as the one quoted above to inspire me to live large in the coming year. To ring out the old, to ring in the new, and to "run with patience" the course marked out for me. See you on the jogging path of life!

Happy Sunday!