Last night I decided to drive to Indianapolis because I’m seeing Les Miserables for the matinee show at Murat Theatre. However, given that I am a huge fan of St. Patty’s Day I decided to take in just a little bit of the revelry. One stop took me to the Broad Ripple BrewPub where I enjoyed this…Irish Stew. A hearty helping of beef, carrots, and potatoes stewed in a delicious beef stock. Yummy! I am always a fan of a hearty stew. I remember in my younger days frequently scarfing down the Dinty Moore Beef Stew. Chomping through 4 servings of a family sized can. I’m a stew guy. As such, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to order and eat Irish Stew on a day celebrating Irish heritage. Most stews have the tradition of combining locally essential and cheap meats and vegetables into a pot for slow, long cooking. A stew, by nature, will be filling, dense, and a solid foundation for a day of hard work, or in some cases, war. Filling. Essential. Foundational. Sounds like a metaphor to me! What’s in your stew? What are those essential ingredients that we need to fill us up and serve as our foundation for the day? Who are the people? Where are the places? What are the activities? Does our stew taste good? Is it filling enough? Does it provide a base for the day? Help make life delicious, what’s in your stew?
In the city of Toronto, in the neighborhood of West Queen West sits a cool hotel called the Gladstone. An old 19th century structure, today it serves as a hip, modern, boutique hotel. However, what’s more is that this 37 room spot for the neighborhood is also by the neighborhood. What I mean is that the bars and liquors are local. The fixtures and materials used are local. Art on the wall is by local artists. The rooms are designed and decorated individually by, you guessed it, locals. A living, breathing example of the power of creativity, connection, and community. What can happen when you bring diverse people together in a way that allows them to showcase their unique skills, abilities, or ways of thinking. The result can be something really special. Are you a connector? Do you thrive in knowing what people can offer to you, one another, or each other? I think as an athlete I was taught to simultaneously get things done on my own and cooperate with others. As an entrepreneur, you are often required early on to wear all of the hats that are required to run a business (large or small). As such, I can get caught up in just doing things on my own, putting my head down, and not always reaching out to share the load. Of course this is fine sometimes, but it can be at the cost of bringing other unique talents and mindsets into the space. Staying at the Gladstone reminded me that there is another way, the Gladstone Way…and it’s pretty hip.
While walking out into the parking lot of Lifetime Fitness this morning, this crown caught my eye. It was broken, dirty, and obviously quite weathered. I could imagine that, at the time, a child was crying, distressed and upset about the fact that her/his crown had fallen, broken, and, if at home, was seemingly lost. For a period of time this child may have been inconsolable. Perhaps unable to conceive life could return to normalcy upon losing the crown. Yet, my mind then took me to a day or month, or even just an hour later, when the child did return to normal. They coped with the fall, the break, the loss, they enacted some form of resiliency, and they moved on. They effectively dealt with something that just a few moments earlier seemed like the worst possible thing on earth that could have happened. Yet, they prevailed, they survived, they kept living. Sometimes our crown falls doesn’t it? Sometimes it breaks. Sometimes we lose it. And we too feel like it could be the end of the world. That life as we know couldn’t possibly be the same. We might be crying, distressed, upset, and inconsolable. Certainly in that moment we can embrace the intensity of emotion that a fall, break, or loss can elicit and we can also acknowledge that we too can, and will, press on. Let that reminder catch your eye the next time your crown breaks.
What is normal? According to Webster, normal is “conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected.” Though what is normal for you, might not be normal for me. What is normal in this country, might not be normal in another country. What was normal in the 90’s, might not be normal in 2018. As such, normal is quite a relative term that can depend upon and be influenced by person, place, and time. So depending on when, where, or who we’re comparing ourselves too, there is a chance that everything we do, think, or feel is potentially not normal to someone else, some other place, or some other period. If this is the case, then why did normal become such an important benchmark? If every one, every time, and every place, has a somewhat different interpretation of what is normal, then aren’t we setting ourselves up for significant frustration and confusion? We see it all the time. Arguing about different perspectives. Ostracizing someone because they’re “off.” Giving myself a hard time for wearing stonewashed jeans as a teen. Claiming in defense that we’re right…they’re wrong. We’re the normal ones, they’re the weird ones. Yet, at the exact same time…they’re thinking the same thing about us! So who is right? Normal person 1…or normal person 2? Place A or Place B? Decade in the past or current time? Perhaps we shouldn’t worry so much about being normal and instead just enjoy being ourselves and appreciating others. Because after all, none of us are normal.
Last week I did a photo shoot for some new website and marketing materials. Out of the 120 awesome shots that @nickfancher captured, these are my four worst. These are the ones when I feel that I look the most weird, my thighs are the most big, or my man bun looks the most creepy. What’s interesting is that even these “worst” ones don’t look too bad. These “worst” ones also make the good ones look even better. Finally, out of 120 photos, it would make statistical sense that some percentage are going to fall flat or not turn out. Nice little group of life lessons there! Things don’t always look as bad as they seem. Bad times help us appreciate the good times. Finally, out of 365 days, 100 performances, or 50 at bats, were going to have a stinker, a butchered song, or a strike out. It’s just statistics. So next time we’re experiencing something that is “the worse”, appreciate it for what it is, maintain perspective, do the math, and post it where it belongs…in the whole collection of good, bad, wild, tame, happy, sad, progressive, and regressive experiences known as life.
This picture was taken at the Barcelo Riveria Maya indoor mall. I was down there with friends for the Crash My Playa country music concert. As is the case at most all-inclusive resorts they want to provide entertainment throughout the course of the day. One of the afternoon entertainers was this guy – an incredible saxophone player performing a mix of original jams and sax-heavy covers, all while riding a hover board. Now, playing a saxophone seems difficult enough to me, but then to add on whimsical hover board choreography!?!? Now we’re talking! And even if the multi-tasking involved with saxxing and hovering isn’t terribly difficult if you are talented in either/both, it certainly allowed this guy to stand out. I mean I am writing a blog about him 6-weeks later. There are many saxophone players. Good saxophone players. But, how many scoot around on a hover board while the play? That is unique and as a result he stood out. How can I stand out? There are many psychologists. Good psychologists. How can I stand out? What other talents might I have that when added to the mix can set me apart from others? To make me memorable. Many of us are already doing great things in our personal or professional lives that are equivalent to the playing of a saxophone. Yet, what can we do to give a little more, add another element, to stand out in what we do or who we are in a positive way. Maybe it’s marketing, a change in personal branding, another skill set, customer service, going the extra mile. The options are unlimited. Though if we want to stand out, we need to ask ourselves…can we hover too?
I like the concept of washing your hands free and clean of something. Whether it’s a stressful job, a toxic relationship, or some other responsibility that is bringing you down. Washing your hands clean promotes a mindset of letting it go and moving on. Ah, moving on…sounds nice doesn’t it. I contend that sometimes we might wash our hands of something, but the residue, mess, and funk of it is still sitting in our human sinks. Why? Because we haven’t REALLY moved on. We haven’t really let things fully drain. As such, our future thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are impacted by this clogged up sink. It doesn’t allow a free flow and we’re left living in a puddle of our own filth. The solution…unclog the pipe. To truly get over those things that we, in theory, washed away, we need to fully process them through. Understand them, their impact, and ways to effectively manage their potential re-emergence in the future. Therapy, journaling, meditation, yoga, and other forms of cognitive, emotional, and physical “movement” helps rattle the drain and allow the “gray” water to release. Are you clogged? Have you thought you washed your hands clean, but yet you’re standing in your own residue? Is it time to let it drain?
Everything happens for a reason.
If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.
Just gotta have faith.
We’ve heard these phrases. Whether based in religiosity, a fortune cookie, a wise mentor, or wherever, we’ve heard them and have used them to make meaning of a messy life, buffer against an un-preferred outcome, or reduce internal anxiety about an upcoming situation. Effective, sure. But there are limits to this. “Reason” didn’t get me through four years of college football. “Meant to be” didn’t write my dissertation. And “faith” didn’t start my private practice. Nope, a plan of attack, diligence, and action did. Though I can appreciate the support and well-being that these phrases and resulting perspective can offer, let’s not forget that at the end of the day, if we want something to happen, we have to do our part. We have to make a plan and take some steps. The success fairy doesn’t magically leave a new job under my pillow. Santa won’t bring me a college degree. The Easter Rabbit won’t ask out the girl at Starbucks for me. There’s no weight loss at the end of a rainbow. Nope, in addition to a little bit of faith, we need a whole lot of action. Even the Buddha mops.
One of my professional goals is to start expanding my psychological and performance services to individuals in the music industry. Obviously it can be tough to break into a new domain and start receiving referrals. So as one way to learn aspects of the music culture, the language, and some of the nuances I decided to enroll in a workshop on audio production at Groove U in Dublin, OH. I am three lessons in and it is highly apparent that mixing, much like many other things in life, is complicatedly simple. It’s simple in that every knob on a mixing board is a tool that will do something unique and specific to the sound being inputted. Essentially a tool box. The sound manipulation version of a screw that screws and a hammer that hammers. What becomes complicated is that to my un-trained ears most things sound pretty good, which makes it difficult to sort out knowing what to listen for, when to apply a particular tool, and to what extent. Tools that are well-applied create a great mix, and ultimately, a nice sounding song. Much like life. We are going to encounter things every day that need tweaked, turned, amplified, and muted. Fortunately, we have many tools to our disposal that can help us dial in to the type of life that we want to live. A gym for physical health. An accountant for financial health. A counselor for psychological health. Etc. The challenge is knowing when to apply these various tools and to what extent. Much like the sound board, every issue we have in life has a tool that, when applied correctly, can manage it. Are there things in your life that just aren’t sounding too good? Are things not vibing together…fitting together? What dials do you need to tweak or turn? What do you want to amplify? What do you need to mute? What tools do you need to apply? Is it time to mix it up?
Yesterday was a random busy day. Though I was off from work at Ohio State, I was running some errands, making some calls, and settling some things. As a result of this filled day, I also started thinking…a lot. Now, I am fortunate to have a busy mind. It helps with my creativity and promotes a dreamer / visionary type of mindset. Unfortunately this type of thinking is often at a rate that is much faster than my inner doer can keep up. Occasionally then, the mental engine starts to rev so high that I start to feel anxious and unsettled. For the most part, my awareness and practice of mindfulness helps me to just ride the wave of the turbulent, though temporary, mental tsunami. Though at other times I need a different method. Yesterday, in the middle of a Starbucks in Hilliard, I needed a different method. My mind was turning over at a rate that rendered useless any actual executive function. Essentially, I became a deer in my own headlights. I shorted out momentarily and needed to re-boot. How did I do this? I went to Spotify. Searched for “Guided Meditation.” Put my head down. And for the next 12 minutes, I focused on my breath, a calmer mind, and chilled the fuck down. It worked. I then had an online session with a client and I was good to go the rest of the evening. You see, I did this to myself. Worrying about upcoming presentations, answering emails promptly, and frantically performing a mental check-list about my future calendar. Essentially all stuff that the universe doesn’t care much about and things that I certainly won’t be too concerned with at age 80 when I’m sipping on ice awaiting my final breaths. But not in this moment. In this moment it was important and I had to think, worry, and over analyze about it. I got myself into it and I got myself out. I just had to have enough sense to take a moment to re-boot. Which I did. When I got too geared up, I put my head down, and I can always pick it back up in 12 minutes.