Day 320: Just begun is half done

I’ve been putting off a project at work for over two years, and I may have even blogged about it before. It’s one of my least favorite things to do, so I kept pushing it to the bottom of my to-do list. Tomorrow, the project is due, without fail, and so it’s been a bit of a stressful week. Oh, don’t think that I’ve put it off completely to finish up this week. I’ve been working on it for months, but it’s one of those projects that never ends. It’s back and forth with legal teams; it’s internal debates between departments; it’s revisions and more revisions, and then more and more approvals to gain.

I’m talking about totally revamping a 150-page policy manual.


I don’t like policy in the first place. I’ve always colored outside the lines and think that every black and white has gray mixed in. So to trudge through the legalese of this manual was tough.

I don’t like formal language. I’ve rewritten the policy manual in every day language, but to do that, I had to trudge through a bunch of legal blah-blah-blah.

I don’t like wordiness. We combined some redundant policies and cut some policies out altogether.  I got the 150 pages down to 102. Whew!

This week, I’ve been trying to finalize the formatting, but even that has been a trial. My version of Word has been terribly buggy, so when I got all the formatting of policy numbers complete, it changed some other formatting, like spacing, so when I went to fix the spacing, the policy numbering got damaged. I had to do them over and over several times.

When I left the office today, I felt I had the policy numbering in a solid pace. I saved the document, and closed out of it, just in case there was something in the cache that was messing up my changes. Tomorrow, when I go in, I’ll have to re-do the footers, and fix one final thing in the headers, and this document should be ready to post. This will be a sweet one to cross off my list because now that it’s been overhauled, I shouldn’t have to touch it again. The HR team can update any policies on a 1-by-1 basis over the next few years. And I happily turn this one over to them.

DAY 320 HOMEWORK: Do you have a project that has been hanging over your head for a while? Break out an hour or two, or even a few hours every day, to knock it out. You’ll feel much better when you’re done. I know I will be celebrating this time tomorrow!


Day 319: Up and Down

My son showed me a video tonight that documented a social experiment related to everyone following suit, for no known reason. Here’s how it went:

A “victim” went into a doctor’s office full of “patients” who were all in on the experiment. Soon, a beep sounded, and all the “patients” stood up and sat back down. After several rounds of everyone standing up at the beep and sitting again, the “victim” decided she had better stand up and sit back down with the group. She didn’t ask why they were doing it, and she didn’t know why she was doing it, but she kept it up, even as one-by-one, all the “patients” got called out of the waiting room.

Even with the waiting room empty of all the “patients,” the victim continued standing up and sitting down. All by herself. Without knowing why.

Next, other “victims” came into the waiting room, and they joined this original “victim” with the process of standing up and sitting down. One asked her why, but she only said that it was what everyone else was doing. Down to the last “victim” who took longer to participate, but even he eventually gave in to the peer pressure of standing up and sitting down at the beep.

Frankly, I was surprised that the girl kept up the experiment when she was alone. I figured I might give in to the peer pressure after a while, but I thought I wouldn’t keep it up when I was alone. But I’m truly not sure. I mean, if everyone else is looking at their phones, how often do I pull out my phone to start looking at something, anything, too. There’s a powerful pull that sucks you in. I can resist, but it’s hard. And this social experiment reminded me of why. The pull to be accepted is most often stronger than knowledge or will, and sometimes, even determination.

DAY 319 HOMEWORK: Examine your own behaviors. Are you aware of when you get sucked in to behaving like those around you? Maybe you need to be the opposite of the majority, and start a pull toward nonconformity. See how many join you in being like no one else. After all, we are unique, so we should stop behaving like we aren’t.




Day 318: Going for a ride

I haven’t seen the color of the sunrise for a long time. I used to be a pretty good morning person, but I do like to sleep, and so the thoughts of early morning aren’t necessarily on the top of my head these days. Nevertheless, my niece had to be to work by six, and so I got up to help her get there.

My niece is actually in the process of buying a car. She found one that she fell in love with, and you’d think it would be a shiny little thing, but she fell in love with a 1988 Cadillac. A boat. A tank. Whatever you want to call it, it makes her break out into a huge smile every time she talks about it. We took it for a drive the other day, and it was smooth, after all these years. Of course, we’re having a mechanic look it over for issues before we trade in her hard-earned money for it, but it’s hard not to support her on it when she’s so giddy about her ride.

The young man who is selling the car was such a pleasant kid. He said the car was his grandfather’s and he had inherited it when his grandfather passed away 2 years ago. He spoke of the car fondly, and said his grandpa only drove the car to church and to Dollar General. That’s why the old gal has such low mileage on it. Oh, it’s got its age spots and a few deep scars, but for all its long life in car years, it actually sounded young at heart and felt more homey than my two-month old zippy car. Mine is a baby in comparison (an adorable baby, coos his mother fondly).

I asked my niece if she really wanted such an old boxy car, and she said yes, that she can park next to people and not worry about whether someone dings her doors or not. She feels safe in the large car, and she did her research to see what other owners were saying about that type of car. I admired her viewpoint and her enthusiasm for this car that was a source of nostalgia for its current owner. She loves the idea of buying from someone who has attachment to the car, not for the car’s sake, but because of the love of his grandfather.

I hope the mechanic comes back with no deal breakers because it would be a shame, after all this love, to let the car go, and it would be a bigger shame to break her heart. Hopefully, it will all go well and she gets her ride soon.

DAY 318 HOMEWORK: We’re doing due diligence on this car to make sure it will be the best buy it possibly can be. That’s not what I did with that quiz the other day. In thinking about that silly judgment call, I might have waited to blog about the car, in case it turns out to be a lemon. But, I’m trying to show my new way of thinking…it’s ok to get things wrong. Hopefully, this one will turn out perfectly for her. Homework? Just pray that my niece gets a good, safe car and that it might even turn out to be the desire of her heart: an old Caddy.

Day 317: Taking out the garbage

Yesterday, my daughter-in-love and I spent a good long time deep cleaning the kitchen. We pulled out appliances, washed windows, cleaned out some garbage, organized some areas. It really needed a good cleaning, and it felt good to work on it. Afterwards, we had several bags of garbage to take out, and several bags of recycling. We got most of the bags out, but one was only half-full, and I thought it was a recycling bag, so I left it sitting there so we could round up any other plastics that needed to go out.

Today, when we got home from church, there was something smelling terribly. I thought it was from the recent trash we took out, so I sprayed some smelly stuff around, and headed out to take some photos downtown Nashville for work. We were gone an hour or so, and when we got home, I was surprised to find that the spray hadn’t worked. It actually smelled worse than it had earlier. So I walked around to see if I could tell where the smell was coming from. Maybe a mouse died in the air ducts or something?

I started in the fridge. That wasn’t likely since we had cleaned out the day before…but hey, stranger things have happened. The smell wasn’t in the fridge. I sniffed the garbage can. Nothing there. We moved through the bedrooms to see if that was where the smell radiated from. Nope! I went back to the laundry room where the garbage had been sitting, and it wasn’t even smelling in there. I finally walked to the half-bag of “recyclables” and immediately knew I had found the culprit. I dug through the bag a bit and realized it wasn’t plastics and cardboard after all. It was real garbage and I had thrown a bag of kale away the day before that was getting wilty. By now, it was in full-blown rotten mode. Gagging my way out of the house to the garbage can, I finally got the horrid smell out of my home.

I came back in and sprayed the smelly stuff again. As I did, I got thinking about how our attitudes can be somewhat like that bag of “recyclables.” We can find ourselves with an irritation that we stuff down inside, and we let it sit there. We can make our outsides look and smell good, but if that irritation festers, it can smell up everything about us. We have to deal with the attitude in order for things to be back to a place where everyone isn’t gagging around us.

DAY 317 HOMEWORK: It’s ok to have a smelly attitude sometimes. That’s life. Stuff wilts. Stuff can even go rotten. But it’s best to deal with the attitude early so it doesn’t affect everyone around you. Any attitudes that you need to take out? Better do it now.

Day 316: Sucker for a scrap

Sometimes you just get sucked in. Someone makes a comment on social media, and another person argues, and pretty soon more people join in the conversation to defend one side or another. I’ll admit: sometimes I read the posts for a while. They can be entertaining. It doesn’t matter if it’s about politics or a bad business review, or someone simply complaining about other people complaining. It’s easy to get sucked in to the drama, but really? I mean, why even waste the time to read about how silly people sound?

I saw two such debates online tonight. One was political and one was about a local restaurant’s service. Neither made me want to pick a side, and in fact, they made me want to get off social media right away.

People often post one post on top of another, and it’s almost like I can hear them getting louder and louder with each post. It’s quite uncomfortable, and so I don’t even know why I page through them. If I even spend two minutes looking through the comments, that’s two minutes totally wasted. No edification comes from it, whatsoever. I know some people read those things because it can get funny, but mostly, I find it to be sad. It’s the state of the human heart bleeding all over a newsfeed.

Writing isn’t the place to argue or debate. It’s nearly impossible to get intonation from words alone. What someone meant as concern can appear to be smart-alecky, or what another meant to be help can sound as attacking. Even if the author apologizes, it can sound something contrary to what was truly meant, so my advice? Just let it go. You won’t change anyone’s point of view in a 100-character post. If you see something that gets your blood boiling, let it go. If you don’t, you end up sounding like the irritable one, and your influence will go out the window.

DAY 316 HOMEWORK: If you like to read through those dramatic threads, do yourself a favor and close out of the program. You’ll gain time in your day, and your mind may even stay less irritable. If you’re tempted to argue though a post, do yourself an even bigger favor: just scroll on by and retrain yourself not to take the bait. You’ll be better off for it!

Day 315: Deception

Wow! Do I feel silly! Yesterday, I was all excited by a little quiz that matched my Myers-Briggs test, and now I feel a little like the Emperor must have felt when the child cried out that he didn’t have any clothes on, when he had been sold on the linens he had purchased as the purest silk. Like the Emperor, I convinced those around me that the quiz was right on, and I had convinced myself that I had found one that wasn’t silly. I was deceived, and I deceived others.

Truth is, everybody I know who took the test got the exact same results as I did. Probably somebody could get a variation, but it’s a good thing none of us paid to take that quiz, or staked some kingdom on the results!

As I got to thinking about that deception, I reflected on how easily it is to be mislead by people. I know it’s been going on for a long, long time, but today’s technology can make anything seem good, right, and true. My niece has been looking for an old, but reliable car for not much money, and man, it sure has been hard to trust what people are saying. How can we possibly know that something is going to be good enough for her or not? It has to be reliable enough for her to make an 8-hour road trip home, if needed, so we can’t just get any car. And most people are getting rid of their cars because there’s something that’s not quite right about them.

The other thing I reminded myself about is that I’m not going to be right all of the time. That’s what this past year’s journey has been about for me. Instead of being mortified that I got sucked in by a little quiz that doesn’t really mean much, and that I could wax poetic about it, I can now laugh it off, and say, “Oh, well!” It was just for fun anyway. There was some truth to it for me, but it was truly generic enough that it could apply to most anyone. So lesson learned: trust my gut…those internet quizzes are mostly a waste of time. That’s OK,  so long as I only expose myself to my small group of followers, who I also know will show me grace and laugh at the silliness with me.

DAY 315 HOMEWORK: How are you doing on your journey? Are you letting go of the need to be perfect? Can you laugh at your “heartfelt” mistake, and refuse to let it define you? Keep walking with me, and we’ll get there together.

Day 314: Analysis, not paralysis

I don’t usually take quizzes on social media. Many of them are silly. What type of dog would you be? What was your role in a previous life (Ha!)? If you were a princess, what color would your pony be? They usually make less sense to me than a story problem in math. But today I saw one that intrigued me.

I’ve written before about my love for psychological thinking. I love studying Strengthsfinder, or Myers-Briggs, or any number of analyses. When I take these types of assessments, I’m always amazed at how similar they are, and how accurately they end up describing my personality. Not really sure how that happens, but the psychology behind some of them can somehow make them spot on.

Today’s test was something similar to that. It was a Play Buzz quiz on defining personality characteristics. In the test, there were maybe 10 questions and they were all related to photos. Pick the photo that makes you feel X. What emotion does this photo evoke? I went through the quiz and thoughtfully responded. This was the assessment:

You are sensitive, melancholic, and a perfectionist
(Ha! And I thought I’d made progress on that one!)

You are a very emotional, caring and dedicated person.
You believe that there is a bigger picture in life,
one that we can’t really see, but we can feel (Very true!).

Although you tend to get melancholic,
your ability to empathize for others is a true gift
and you possess a sort of kindness that is rare. 

Both the Strengthsfinder and Myers-Briggs has my empathy off the charts. (I’m quite sure I’ve blogged about that before…remember, too much of a strength can truly be a weakness. It’s one I have to keep an eye on.)

Anyway, I found this short assessment to be quite on target. And even though I went back and forth on the melancholic descriptor, because I’m quite an optimist, I probably would agree that I have melancholic tendencies. And one other note I saw on melancholy tied it to being pensive, and I’m very much a thinking person (it’s called intellection in Strengthsfinder…it sounds like smart, but it’s the need to let your brain process on something for a while…that’s definitely me.)

Looks like I’ve got some more work to do on my perfectionistic tendencies; nevertheless, I am who I am, and I know that I was crafted this way for a purpose. I enjoy working through each day to figure out that purpose. Empathizing with others helps me to be caring and kind, and I know that my parents instilled dedication for (or being committed to something), and maybe that’s where I see optimism. I know I can accomplish things, and I can carry through to completion. It’s a matter of the will for me.

I enjoyed that little quiz, and pondered it throughout the day. After tumbling around in my head, I figured I’d better share it with you, and finally let it out to be free.

DAY 314 HOMEWORK: Most of those silly quizzes aren’t worth the time, but sometimes you can find one that might prove valuable. If you have a Strengthsfinder or Myers-Briggs assessment, a fun social media quiz might just confirm a few things for you. Throw out the junk and hold on to the parts are honorable.