I Don’t Care

I have lived alone for most of my adult life. I know how to buy and sell houses, find a plumber, locate the nearest ER, cook for myself, do almost everything for myself. I cannot however manage to get my clothes on right-side out.  At least twice a month I look down and notice, hours into my day, that my shirt is inside out. 

I work from home and frequently zoom but even on days I am out in the world. One memorable time I had just started a new job as a high school counselor. A few hours into the today I had my jacket off and was in a crowded hallway filled with lanky, stinky, loud adolescents and some over wrought faculty when I got a tap on my shoulder. A soft-spoken English teacher I knew slightly leaned over and whispered in my ear my shirt was on inside out. He looked positively stricken with embarrassment having to tell me. Or maybe he was embarrassed for me, I don’t know. Clearly, he hated to be the bearer of bad news in such a public place. He watched me with sympathy as his words sunk in. I reached over my shoulder to feel my tag at the back of my neck like a ticket for the hapless train I was aboard, and I burst out laughing. He was startled and I assured him it happened all the time and thanked him and shrugged it off in search of a bathroom to ameliorate my clothing debacle.

In my 30’s, at least one day a week while munching on my peanut butter toast and drinking coffee on the way to work, startling at a stop sign to remember to check my shirt’s orientation. When dressing and doing many things I am not always focused on the task at hand. That has led to some early embarrassment and later humor. I understand many people think that having your shirt inside out, a rogue chunk of hair darting off at a crazy angle, or a wrinkle or two on clothes and faces are embarrassing things and cringe at them. Those are not my people, not my tribe. I used to embarrass easily when I was younger but since I was embarrassing myself on a regular basis, like all things, I got better at it. Better at not caring when it was something silly to be embarrassed about, a mistake, a misstep and bumble, stumble and stomach rumble. I do love alliteration.

There is so much more I don’t care about as I get older because the things, I do care about matter so much more. I have less and less time on this planet and how I use it is the only thing that matters. 

The things that have slid way down the list of worries and embarrassment are things having to do with …My face, my soft body, wrinkles, weird clothes moments, bodily functions, wedgies, being wrong, mistakes, being understood, being right, being cool, being liked by people I don’t know or don’t care to know. The not caring list is exhaustive as it should be. This was not an overnight slide. Those who know me, know that when I was younger, I was hyper vigilant with a plan A, B, C, D and scripts for them all so I would not face embarrassment, look stupid or silly. The more I accepted my human frailty of being a goof ball the more head space I opened up for more important things. 

I teach my students not to do anything they wouldn’t want their grandmother to know about or they wouldn’t want on a billboard in their hometown. That focus helps identify choices that might cause embarrassment. Everything else is just being human and living in avoidance of being embarrassed is NOT living. It is a recreation of a life for daytime TV on public access stations. Meaning that it is a facsimile of life, a faded paper copy, it is a waste of time, energy, worry, anxiety etc. Letting go of what others are thinking, of worrying about being embarrassed is a brick-by-brick dismantling of what media might be telling us. So, it means we must put down our phones sometimes and have good, real conversations with the people who matter. Then go out into the world and do cool, fun, worthwhile things. Don’t look over your shoulder in real life or digitally to see who is following you just do it and then go do something else. The freedom this brings you is intoxicating, I promise! The stories that cause embarrassment for most people are just funny stories, they are lovely human bits of humor, humility, joy and chagrin all wrapped up together. The people who love me, love me because of who I am not despite of who I am. I am betting the same is true for you…

To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to trueroadtraveler@com or send me a note at trueroadtraveler@gmail.com

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to quirkandcircumstances.com

Follow me on Instagram @kbfreeburg

Posted in celebrate, Change, choices, Enjoyment, Fear, foundation of change, Health and Wellness, humor, Joy, Learning, mind shifts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do you see?

Years ago, when my nieces were small maybe seven and ten, and phones were landlines, they and my sister and I went on an adventure. My idea was to go to the Catskill Game Farm, a smallish rural petting zoo back then. This zoo consisted of mostly benign animals including 17 kinds of deer and lamas, alpacas which you would feed little stinky nuggets from your hand. The girls had been there before but my twist this time was each of us were going to have a disposable camera for this tour and shoot the roll throughout the day. I would develop the film and we would have a viewing party for us. I thought it would make the trip more engaging for us all.  I thought it would be fun and a better distraction than just feeding fat deer, I didn’t think much more about it.

After I had the rolls developed and we all piled on the squishy green sofa in their living room we went through each roll one by one with the photographer adding some bits of insight and inviting comments. It was hilarious and eye opening. The pictures had a good bit of subject overlap, deer, deer, deer eye, deer poop, lama, lama, lama, turkey, unidentifiable poop. That being said, how we saw them and shot them was so vastly different. That did not include skill, we are talking point and shoot here. It was all perspective, perception and poop.  Yes, I was the only one who took a picture of a smashed Budweiser can jammed in a fork in a spindly tree, but I am an artist who likes to drink, what can I say. 

I knew people saw life differently and witnesses are notoriously bad at recounting what happened, which made this that much more fascinating. I thought it would be a lark, but it turned out to reveal more about the people I loved, why they liked what they liked, what they thought was beautiful, funny, gross and how they expressed those things visually. It brought home in the most solid way possible that the only way I might really understand what someone is seeing, thinking, knowing, is to ask them. Even if we are in the same room watching the same thing play out. Our collective experiences, beliefs, preferences, knowledge, prejudices, aesthetic, shape everything no matter how old we are. 

So, without asking, I don’t know what someone is thinking, or knows, or feels. Unless they ask for what they want or need, again, I don’t know and neither does anyone else. We need to ask each other what is going on and not make up stories in our head about what they meant when they said they were “tired.” None of this shit about I should know, or they should know what I am thinking. NOBODY knows what we are thinking or feeling without us having the courage to speak it, to tell them. We are not living in a world of mind readers and if we were… listening to our laundry list of mental gymnastics and bullshit is not interesting to anyone except those who know us and care for us and then only minimally.  

It is our birthright to feel our emotions, it is our responsibility to feel them, process them, talk about them if we want but we cannot blame someone else for our reaction . Most especially if our reaction is a trigger that has far more to do with us than them. On a side note, If our reaction is bigger than the event, it is tied to our past not what just happened. We are human, we emote. Emotions are important guides for us to understand what the hell is going on under the surface, they portend our actions, and are excellent ways to decode the mystery of us. What we feel and think are important, and it is up to us to communicate when we want people to understand something. 

We all are in the same world, with very different knowledge and experiences all of which shape how we move through it. Asking about someone’s view and how they came to it is a tool of curiosity, of being interested in their intent. Listening to understand and not just respond is the first step here. Just listen, ask questions, and think about it. Don’t compare experiences, don’t bogart the moment just try to listen. This is also very different than jumping to conclusions, dismissing someone who has a different opinion because of a story we made up about them. 

Listening to my nieces talk about their pictures, the experience of capturing what they were seeing and why they chose it was a lovely window into who they are. I highly recommend asking someone what they think, feel or understand from what they are experiencing even if you are in the same room, town, state and country. Being able to do this is difficult but it is the only way to create better relationships, connections, communities and real belonging. 

To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to trueroadtraveler@com or send me a note at trueroadtraveler@gmail.com

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to quirkandcircumstances.com

Follow me on Instagram @kbfreeburg


Posted in Being Open, Change, curiosity, Enjoyment, foundation of change, humor, Learning, Listening, mind shifts, Play, Summmer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do-Overs

There are important skills and practices we learn as children that are incredibly valuable. Some of those skills we continue to use into adulthood and some that should follow us, don’t. Practices like looking both ways before we cross the street, sharing, taking turns and blaming the dog or grandma when you fart, have traveled with us to adulthood. The practice of the Do Over we learned and enjoyed unfortunately has not.

For those who never learned or have forgotten – a Do Over is a chance to do something again because you messed up the first time you did it. Most importantly, there was no recrimination, stigma, loosing face, feeling awkward… essentially include all the words that make us feel shitty here. A Do Over was just part of being a kid, no big deal. We all took advantage of a Do Over. How perfectly sane is that?

When and how did we lose this lovely practice as we came into adulthood? Do Overs allow us to omit the sense of failure when we are not our best, when we are learning, when we are struggling. It invites in grace and humility and normalizes what learning and messing up really are. I make a mistake, I learned something from it, and I try again… no harm, no foul. 

Do Overs allow for stigma free learning, creating, inventing, being brave for trying new experiences. We need the grace that a Do Over delivers us when we are vulnerable. It affords us time, space, and community support to grow. This would normalize what we know to be a natural learning curve and allow us to embrace that journey without hiding, feeling stupid and denial. How different would schools, workplaces and our homes be if we brought back Do Overs?

How wonderful would it be if in a meeting, on a project, in the classroom, at the dinner table we could all call a Do Over, take a moment, a breath, invite in grace and take another whack at it? Sign me up!

To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to trueroadtraveler@com or send me a note at trueroadtraveler@gmail.com

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to quirkandcircumstances.com

Follow me on Instagram @kbfreeburg


Posted in Being Open, Change, choices, curiosity, foundation of change, Health and Wellness, intent, Learning, Uncategorized, Vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I never always…

Two words that raise a red flag for me are Always and Never. They alert me that the speaker, even when it is myself, is about to tell a story. That story is a construct, a myth that we have built to support something that is not true. It is something we may use as lore, a basis for decisions and support who we want to be as opposed to who we really are… regardless it is not true. 

Let me explain. Rarely if ever does something organically always or never happen to us without our influence. If I were to flip a coin it roughly comes out 50/50, I say roughly because every study has outliers where things go awry. When something always or never happens to us we are the common denominator. Let me say that again because it is important, we are the reason for our Always and Nevers. We have architected something to always or never happen to reinforce a belief we hold, a story we tell ourselves that is false.

Our choices and behaviors feed that Always and Never monster, but we have control of those choices. If these choices and behaviors are something we are not happy with, we need to look underneath the surface at our beliefs about ourselves, others and our past, especially our family of origin. What myths and stories were told to us about who we were in our childhood that might not be true, or we have outgrown?  What outdated works-self story have we told ourselves that is no longer true? What projection of others have we believed that there is no evidence for or that was manufactured to manipulate us? 

By tuning our ears to hearing the Never and Always leads us to question what really is going on, what is true and real. Listening for these red flags allows us to peer into the windows of ourselves and others. It can give us some idea of what is causing friction and discomfort in ourselves in that who we think we are or shouldbe is misaligned with our true self. It is that misalignment that causes us pain, depression, anxiety and to question our worth. 

As a side note, when we hear the word should it is also a red flag that our or someone else’s motivation is about external influences not internal. The should’s in our lives are about making decisions for others not ourselves. It indicates that this is something I think I need to do for others in societies terms of conformity which runs contrary to who we are and what we want. 

Years ago, someone I knew said all their previous partners “were always difficult or crazy”. I looked at them and laughed, shaking my head. Then I asked, “what was the common denominator?” They were stunned, like I had hit them in the head with a 2×4. They had not even seen their hand in the pattern they had created, over and over for years. Perhaps it was easier to lie to themselves and not look at the hard stuff, choosing to believe it was bad luck, or an entire sex was unbalanced. Talk about crazy…

There is no denying our hand in architecting our results when things Always and Never happen to us. The good part of this realization is we are able to start listening for these red flags and recognize that we are orchestrating something we may not want. We may begin to see we are perpetuating an old wound, an outdated belief, or we are avoiding something scary like an opportunity. Adjusting our behavior can give us a more desired outcome and support healthy change, learning, and growth…all of that is scary stuff. 

Making conscious choices gives us a life that feeds us, helps us to grow and bloom focused on intent and our passions. To use reasoning, instead of myth to open up our world helps us

to create more honest relationships with ourselves and others. Therefore, building deeper and more satisfying relationships and connections with the world around us. Watching out for our Never and Always, helps to point us in the right direction. It is like having a little decoder ring for ourselves to solve the wonder and mystery of us.

Cheers- Kyra

To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to trueroadtraveler@com or send me a note at trueroadtraveler@gmail.com

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to quirkandcircumstances.com

Follow me on Instagram @kbfreeburg

Posted in Change, choices, foundation of change, Happiness, Health and Wellness, intent, Learning, Listening, mind shifts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perfect Enemy

I know a lot of folks who work hard at being perfect and/or normal. Both of these things are fiction and if they weren’t, would you want to sit next to someone who is normal and perfect at a wedding? For me, the answer is no, in fact it is hell no. Voltaire said, “perfect is the enemy of good.”  Yes, because perfect is a construct, it’s subjective, and again fiction… not unlike one size fits all.

Perfect is the enemy of progress, we get stuck trying to get something to fit to an ideal or esthetic that we believe will deliver us to perfection. Doing that stops the creative flow, discovery, learning and growth. Perfect is the enemy of all those things including compassion, happiness and the stuff that makes life worth living. I am not saying don’t strive for an ideal, what I am saying is have it be a benchmark on the way to what unfolds into something wholly and wonderfully yours.

Me, I strive for authenticity, which is a very over used word, but it fits in the moment. What I want to work at is to take what I feel and see on the inside and distill it, capturing my thoughts, my quirks, my individual vision of the world and share that as best as I can. I believe we are more similar than different so when I tell my messy truth it resonates more with others than when it is manicured and manipulated. Hopefully my messy truth opens a door to others embracing theirs, maybe even normalizing it. Making our imperfect selves the real prize.

Knowing who we are and what makes us tick is the gift. The opening to this is not shrinking from the idea we are flawed, messy and cranky humans who are full of contradictions, petty lies and great compassion. Settling into the potpourri of our uniqueness is where the good stuff is. Our connection to ourselves is our gateway to building good connections to others. Perfect is the enemy of that connection to self and others and can lead us to feeling lonely, that we are faking it and that we are not enough.

When we start making choices from our inner guidance system rather than outside influences, we start to come into alignment with who we are and our purpose in this world. Aligning our core values with our actions creates a harmony within us which trickles out into the world. Like throwing a pebble into a pond and watching those concentric circles ripple out.

Being in alignment with my values leads me to action which then creates a reaction and progress down my path. This is the dance with the universe that I do: I take a step and then it takes a step. I have found these steps are usually out of my comfort zone, pushing me to grow and change for the better and always lead me to more joy. Taking our values and direction from the outside world when we are seeking perfection through social media feeds and what others deem to be valuable will only lead us further away from ourselves and our true road and happiness.

What the pursuit of perfection gets us is anxious, self-loathing and miserable. Making choices based on crowd sourcing data leaves us depleted because we are seeking alignment with something other than ourselves. We are our own source of power, passion and energy which comes from plugging into ourselves, nature, the universe and drawing it in like water and air. In doing this our actions lead us to tribe, to true community, to those who align with the same values, passions and purpose. That community then naturally support each other in a symbiotic way along the journey.

Perfect is the enemy because it is a huckster, it leads us further and further away from ourselves. We are being led to believe that those in the marketing department have the answer for us if we look this way, sound this way, dress this way our lives will be better. Nope we will just be someone else who is not too happy and poorer for the journey. Perfect is the enemy because it deprives us the chance to fall in love with all of who we are, to give voice to our unique view, to explore the world and ourselves in a genuine way. Letting go of what we “should” be allows us to just be our beautiful, funny, thoughtful, creative, cranky, lumpy human selves and deeply connect to each other. What an amazing gift that is…

Cheers, Kyra

To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to trueroadtraveler@com or send me a note at trueroadtraveler@gmail.com

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to quirkandcircumstances.com

Posted in Change, choices, foundation of change, Happiness, Health and Wellness, Learning, mind shifts, Play, Stress, Stressed Out, truth, Vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monkey Glands and Such

When I hear that someone has died, I always want to know how. I am not sure why, it’s almost like I think there is a giant menu for deaths so I can know my options when the time comes. It’s like that old joke; I want to pass like my grandmother did, peacefully in her sleep. Unlike the passenger in her car.

Maybe this morbid curiosity was born out of the house I grew up in. Both my grandmother and mother loved movies, old movies in particular. My sisters and I grew up watching the screwball comedies of the 30’s and 40’s with Kathrine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Rosaland Russel and William Powel. As we watched these, and other great films, we got tons of backstory and grizzly gossip on each actor provided by my grandmother and mother who were avid fans of movie star magazines in the day.  For us, they were the original Entertainment Tonight and TMZ. We’d hear how people died and who they had affairs with. While watching Jean Harlow in Dinner at Eight we might hear she died of kidney failure and how it broke her fiancé William Powell’s heart. Learning that William Holden bled out in a hotel after falling was just another movie night at the Freeburg house.

Later my nieces Kaelea and Gillian were subjected to the same diatribe of facts when watching old movies with their mother and me. On road trips we would play the alphabet game with names of famous people i.e., the first person to go says Jean Harlow. The next person has to come up with a name starting with H, Henry Fonda. Our sick twist on this was if you knew how they died or any gossip you got bonus points. Generations of my family have useless, morbid movie gossip and trivia stuck in our heads. Perhaps we are horrible people, or maybe we have a gallows type humor for the tragic, twisted and awkwardly human aspects of life. We definitely could be both.

In my family we modify games, create moments and experiences to add weird twists solely to amuse ourselves and each other. As a teen I was enticed into jamming my lanky teenage body into an old mildewy mail carriers bag found in the basement during a contest to see who could get into the bag fastest. Once in, my sisters cinched the bag up and drug me to the front lawn and left me there to free myself. I heard my sisters footsteps recede as I desperately tried to expel myself from my canvas womb.  Their laughter was near hysterical as they moved away, and I heard the front door slam leaving me rolling there on our manicured suburban front lawn in a wild panic to escape. Whether it be teasing, torturing each other or inventing adventures were boredom lie, we were raised to create fun. Sometimes twisted, but none the less amusement was had by most, i.e., see above on being stuck in a mail bag rolling around on front lawn.

In later years that fun has consisted of wanting to bring back language and culture from the 30’s and 40’s, using words like gams and stems for legs, or calling a dopey person a mook. While my sister Chris was visiting me in San Diego, we decided we needed to bring back an old cocktail that had a crazy name. This was before the era of craft cocktails, mind you. We spent hours looking for the perfect drink while chatting. For it to be good it had to have tasty ingredients and a bizarre name that might elicit a reaction from the waitstaff. A bonus might be that it become popular again.

After much searching a Monkey Gland won. We could think of no funnier thing then to dress up, go to a fine dining establishment and ask the waiter for a couple of Monkey Glands. After settling into our plush seats our waitress asked if we would like to start with a cocktail. I asked her for a couple of Monkey Glands which is essentially gin, orange juice, grenadine and absinthe. No monkeys are harmed in the making of this cocktail. Unless of course they have trained monkey’s for bartenders. Though I think their penchant for throwing their own feces would hurt an A rating with the health department and trifle with the patrons dining experience, to say the least.

After I ordered our glands there was a long pause, in which our waitress’s eyes widened a hair and then she gave a small nod before returning to the bar. Watching them I could see the bartender shrug and pick up her phone and I imagine research how to make a Monkey Gland. We laughed and enjoyed the moment even if there was a subdued reaction. The fun was in the process of finding the drink, building it up in our heads, and ordering them. It was less about other people.  It was about exercising our sense of whimsey, humor and quirk. Finding small things that can make us laugh has been a great way to create a life that feeds us, that is playful and brings enjoyment, which has helped in dealing with stress and trauma. Finding fun and laughter between the drama, work and funk makes for a richer life. How we choose to articulate it doesn’t look like someone else’s life, but that is okay, it just has to fit us.

Creating ways to have fun, to play and own your weirdness is key to accepting yourself, your past, and your family. Knowing that we are all awkward, goofy and silly even as adults is a good first step. Ultimately, we want to appreciate and love who we really are and from that know our worth.  I think people believe that when they become an “adult” they should leave these things behind. That is a lie, our sense of play and humor are the things that sustain us, lead us to ourselves and deeper connection with others. Taking life too seriously is a mistake, it’s not like we get out alive. What we want in the end is to have lived a rich life, to love and be loved, to leave this place better than we found it. Whether that is a room, a job, or the planet. So why not on this short weird little journey enjoy it, relax into who you are, play a game and have a couple of Monkey Glands?

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to quirkandcircumstances.com

To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to trueroadtraveler.com or send me a note at trueroadtraveler@gmail.com

Posted in drinking, Enjoyment, Fun, Happiness, Health and Wellness, humor, Play, Stress | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Candyland

Years ago, my youngest sister, Amy, died of leukemia. She fought a good fight to ultimately succumb to it after only 10 months. She was brave and hilarious to the end, even in the face of some horrible, painful, very very scary stuff. There are five of us, no boys, just a small riot of former Freeburg girls and each of us tried our best to help her. We all know or have known someone who has or had cancer; it is an unwelcome familiarity. It is all too common, unimaginable except when it is happening to you. When it is you, that is what makes the surreal, real… this is not my beautiful life. 

During her fight with cancer, she had toxic chemicals being pumped into her body on a daily basis, her system reacting by giving her sores in her mouth, serious fevers, whole body racking chills that literally rattled her teeth, and so much more that I have no insight to as I was only on the sidelines. Sometimes those sidelines were states away, so in reality I know next to nothing. In this instance, to add insult to well, uh disease she lost her hair. Being bald for a guy is tough for a woman it is devastating.  Amy had a long thick mane of blonde hair; the rest of us got some serious recessive hair gene, its wispy, baby fine, bird downy, crap hair. One sister is so artful in managing her tresses that they almost look solid; I once referred to them as a Vegas act because the illusion is just that good.

When it came time for our first round of visits and subsequent presents, we brainstormed but for the most part went with things she had mentioned. Chris, the Vegas act coiffure, went with a whole bag of beauty: accoutrements for pedicures, body and face moisturizers, tweezers and a well-received electric razor. It seems that when your hair falls out during chemo it mostly all does, except the stuff you spend your adult life trying to remove. Its things like this that makes me believe the universe is absurd. Another sister, Susan, brought her a whole entire set of expensive mineral based make-up complete with a video. Amy watched it at least a half dozen times as there was a lot of blending, tapping and swirling to get on the first go around. She loved her gifts and each I believe helped make her feel more normal and whole. When she finally lost all of her hair she put out the word that she wanted great head gear, funny, pretty, the whole gambit of hats. The wig option was also in the works, they had come in a variety of hues from fire engine red, to California blonde with black roots, so maybe the latter is more trashy California blonde. Amy was blonde naturally then helped it along to strikingly streaky golden, so a good wig fit was difficult.

Amy was an eighth grade English teacher; she loved teaching, loved the kids and they in return loved her. One of the things she told friends and family was that she wanted an aviator helmet. The leather fly caps like snoopy wears on scrimmages with the Red Barron. She thought it would be great fun to teach in and the kids would get a kick out of it. I told her I would find her one no problem. A few searches via the internet and I had a black leather aviator cap ordered. I believed a fashion statement such as this required goggles, so I ordered a pair of them as well. It turned out that along with the purchase of her fly boy cap came a 12-15-page biography of a Vietnam veteran. So, she was able to toss out his memories as her own at such events as cocktail parties and the flushing of her chest pump by the nurses.

My sisters choose presents that Amy really needed, that had value in helping her pull back in some of her essence, her sense of Amyness, the bits that the chemo eroded. My gift to her was something preposterous, something she wanted not needed. I sent some whimsy, a laugh, and a good story. In the end it hit the mark which is all I cared about.

She went home after that round of chemo and we all waited for the results of a blood test to see which one of us would win the lottery for an almost all expense paid weeks’ vacation in a Tampa hospital for a stem cell transplant and a chance to be part of her cure. During that week she and I had a long chat about important things, pie and candy in particular. There is only so much white blood cell, platelets and infection talk you can have before one winds up in candyland. After a very long and involved conversation about our love of candy and concurring on the proper way to eat jujuy fruits in a theater, we agreed these advanced methods are not always common knowledge but best practices in jujuy eating. The procedure is you need to hold them up to the screen so you can see what color you are eating. Amy did this so she ate no black jujies, she hates black licorice. Not me, I love it and benefited that nobody in our house liked black licorice but me, so I got all the black jellybeans and didn’t have to trade for them. That left me fat and happy literally.  For me, the checking of jujuy color is that I don’t like to repeat flavors of my jujies when I can help it, it messes up a fine candy experience. After this discourse I decided to send her an 8lb bag of jujuy fruits. My note accompanying the gift expressed concern for her teeth, as both she and I need to hold the jujies in our hands for a minute or two to soften them up before eating them. This is to try to prevent the removal of fillings, cracked or damaged teeth and uh, the strong solidly entrenched teeth as well. Let’s face it jujuy is some strong stuff, softened it just leaves you hours of fine gummy goodness stuck to your enamel but in straight from the box hardness you are looking like a jack-o-lantern in no time.

My gift of the jujuy was received well. Amy left a message on my answering machine saying it was more like a 20lb bag of candy.   Seeing how they are small and light little suckers it must have been an unwieldy mass of nuggetized hardened corn syrup. She went on to say that she had squealed like a four-year-old when it had arrived. I can think of no better review of a gift than that. The bag it seems was sitting on the couch in an upright position as it was the size and weight of a toddler. She finished her message saying she was debating whether to dress it. I never heard If she did, as she was back in the hospital within a week or two for the next set of chemo.

Amy loved her presents, they made her laugh and I hope to feel loved, which she is. I am not very good at saying such things and hoped my gestures, such as aviator helmets, giant bags of candy, and dopy messages on her cell phone, conveyed that. I don’t think too many people say I love you, and when they do I fear most don’t really mean it, in particular when it is said easily. Perhaps that is just my prejudice or Samsonite cluttering reality. I think that when someone of few words, especially in the arena of feelings, says they love you, that that is a small miracle.

In the face of the unimaginable, of disease, and questions of mortality things like whimsy, laughter and quiet love do alright. Well, that and you can never underestimate the power of candy.

Cheers – Kyra

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to:  quirkandcircumstances.com

To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to: trueroadtraveler.com

Posted in candy, celebrate, Change, fellowship, Health and Wellness, humor, Play, Uncategorized, Vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amnesia, Baby Birds and Struggle

I suffer from amnesia, it’s a specific strain though. I constantly forget how uncomfortable, difficult and arduous my last transition and struggle was. When circumstances smooth out, I think, that wasn’t so bad. Not until I look at my journal, with my crazy, slanty, spidery writing from that period of time, do I remember. The journal spells out my months of second guessing, grasping, testing, assessing and floundering. I forget my complete lack of patience, my fickle trust, my flipping from feeling solid one minute and then a tower of Jell-O the next, and my obsessing over the crumbs not knowing that the whole sandwich is just out of site.

It is such a complete forgetting that it reminds me of a soap opera character in the 1980’s who wakes up in the hospital after a bonk on the head with complete memory loss. They are a blank slate. Was I an heiress? I have five children and a husband? I am a woman? Are these my hands and feet? That is me at the start of every big change.

My complete lack of forgetting would be comical if it were not so sad. Sad for the fact that I know it’s happened – but once in it I’m like aren’t we done with this bit yet? Can’t I skip to the less struggley, crazy making part of this transition?

The Universe’s answer is always an emphatic NO.  You are done, when you are done. It is a process.  It’s like baking a cake and thinking that turning up the oven to rush the process will be easier. It doesn’t net the desired results, it doesn’t work. The cake, if you can call it that, is burnt black on the outside and cake soup on the inside. Not unlike me trying to rush through a tough spot in the road with busy work, numbing or pushing through when I really need to just take a breath and pause. Growth happens in it own time, not mine and not yours.

Transitions and struggle take time, effort, patience, a boat load of humor and lots of self-compassion. I hate the process but love the result. I have to remind myself and go back to the analogy of a baby bird. A chick has to build muscles to break out of the shell. It has to push, peck, and struggle against that shell over and over to break free. In doing so it is building the muscles it needs to not only get out but to fly. If there is no muscle building through struggle there is no flight for any of us.

It is our pushing, pulling, trying things, resting, thinking, praying, learning and not giving up. I mean really, really not giving up through the ugly, feeling stupid, like a failure, out of my element. All the things that build my spiritual, physical, mental muscles for next adventure and flight.

I always want to rush ahead to the good part, the answers, the satisfaction, the enjoyment of the mastery. What I forget is that it’s all the “good part”. That when I am in it, I feel alive, creative in my small wins and frustrations. I get angry at my missteps- but always learning from them and jumping back in to try again. The struggle feeds my curiosity, creativity and spurs me on and yes it also makes me tired, cranky, and frustrated. Even hopeless sometimes. It is a careful balancing act to not let the negative feelings, perceived setbacks, and overwhelm discourage me for longer than is healthy. Making sure my small wins, and hard work is celebrated on its own merit knowing that these are the building blocks for my future.

It’s like going through a very long tunnel. I keep thinking ok, I will see the light soon, ok not yet, okay around the next curve, nope, is that a light, nope another train passing…. Then I think wait maybe I took the wrong tunnel? Maybe this won’t take me back into the sunlight? Maybe this is a mole tunnel? I don’t want to be a mole person, not that there is anything wrong with that, but I don’t want to live a mole life. All that fur seems itchy, it’s always dark and I hate grubs! Just as I am pushing through and obsessing about mole life, and how long it is taking to come out of the tunnel or from my shell, I break through into the sunlight.

It is the not giving up, the learning from the mistakes that make us strong. Celebrating the small incremental wins with gratitude and satisfaction help sustain and move us along in our struggle. Breaking giant goals into small manageable micro steps to feed those wins, feed that mastery of skill and build strength to what is to come. My knowledge on how I did it the last time only marginally helps in the current transition. Mostly because in the moment I feel awful and remembering is difficult.

When I do pause and take a deep breath, I remember the knowledge I gained last time and my bag of tools which helps. Things like taking care of myself and eating whole food and not too much; To move and stretch my body daily remembering that I process when I move, and it also helps calm my busy mind; To take time to rest, to clear my head out; To enjoy the daily silence which enables my mind to wander and play which leads to creative problem solving; To spend time in nature for my soul; To connect to the world around me and ground.

I have to remember to reach out to people who make me think, laugh and love where I am in the moment and myself. People who are thoughtful, funny and hold space for me nudging me past my amnesia pointing out my bag of tricks and tools, reminding me of my past struggles, breakthroughs and flights and rejoice in the ones to come. We are not alone. Not in struggle, not in sorrow not in anything if we are brave enough to reach out. We might be in our own eggshell working at busting out that is true. What we have to remember is the nest is full of eggs and we all breakthrough at different times. So there is community to support , to listen and to celebrate it all.

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to quirkandcircumstances.com

To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to trueroadtraveler.com

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I Quit!

We are quitting our jobs in record numbers these days. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that we are hitting the highest ever recorded numbers of people quitting since they started tracking this in 2000. This past November alone 4.5 million people quit and in the first half of 2021 the estimate is about 25 million people. The reasons are many and complex in this new landscape we find ourselves in. I know from experience what quitting, leaving and starting over looks like. I have had about six careers thus far in my work tenure and I don’t know how many jobs. I am a serial flat leaver. For those who are unfamiliar with that childhood moniker it means someone stopped wanting to play with you, for the afternoon or maybe forever and they just left. That is me all over. Only now I am a pro at flat leaving and moving down the road to my new next.

I am a curious girl by nature and I love to learn, so these traits have been fuel for many of the career jumps I have taken. I worked in media for a film producer, the night manager at Electric Lady Studios. I moved on to Tech working at Apple and Sun Microsystem as Readiness Engineer, Business Manager, lots of different things. I was in tech for about 15 years and very successful financially and career wise but not so much in balance, happiness and fulfillment. I was 90 pounds overweight, having debilitating migraines every other week and having problems getting out of bed. Just because I was good at something didn’t make it interesting or engaging. I wanted to be paid for something I liked. Something that mattered to me. So, I blew up my life at 40 ran away and started over.

After my stint in tech, I took some time to figure out what I wanted, what would make me happy. Happy? I had no idea what would make me happy, that was fiction to me. I was however very clear what was making me unhappy so by removing those things I started to buoy. I moved from a negative place to a neutral one where I could access my curiosity which led to better choices. This eventually led me to happy, to balance, to ownership of the quality of my life.

While trying to figure all this out I took a job as a Special Investigator for a Federal Contractor, this was right after 9/11. Oh wait, 9/11 yes add trauma to the mix. Trauma peels back the layers of what is not important. Sound familiar COVID world community? As a Special Investigator I did background checks for folks applying for Federal jobs. I liked the freedom of working from home, the work was interesting, and my nosy self got to see the inside of stranger’s homes. I loved it but it was not a forever thing and over time even that fabulous badge was not worth the bureaucratic nonsense of government double speak.

I got my master’s in counseling and slid into K-12 education as a school counselor, which I loved until a move back to CA blocked that option in 2008. Oh wait, a financial crash, more trauma, more adapting, more change, more transition. In scrambling for what next, I started coaching.

A long time ago a new client asked what exactly I do? I thought about it a minute and told her this fable I had heard that explains it best:

A man falls down a hole and yells to passerby’s for help. The first person who stops is his doctor. The man yells to the doctor that he fell down a hole and can’t get out can the doctor help? The doctor says “of course,” writes a prescription and throws it down the hole and moves on. The man looks at the slip of paper and shakes his head and continues to yell for help. His clergyman stops by and he says, “Father I am stuck down this hole and can’t get out, can you help me?” The priest says, “Yes of course my son” and begins to pray over the hole, finishes and moves on. This happens all day with the mayor, his boss, everyone. Finally, close to dark his friend Tom comes along. “Tom,” the man says, “I am stuck down this hole and need help getting out.” Tom says “no problem” then jumps down the hole. The man is furious. “What are you doing, now we are both trapped down here!” Tom smiles at him and says “Nope, I have been down here before let me show you how to get out.” That is what I do. I have been down many holes in life including the unknown, the career jump, not knowing what would make me happy, the move to a new town, and going back to school later in life. While my hand holes and foot holes to climb out won’t be exactly the same as anyone else’s, the process is.

Eventually, I added working at a Non-profit located at San Diego State University to my coaching work. Which lead me to teaching and working in Career Services as a STEM Career Counselor until COVID.

Leaving, searching, making mistakes, getting better at something and then looking at what’s next is just growth: leaving what no longer serves and finding that next spot in the road. It’s not easy, pretty, or orderly but it’s hugely rewarding. Life is nothing but a series of transitions and subsequently growth, right? Joseph Campbell’s work around the Hero’s Journey is the plot to endless movies, books and our lives. Understanding we are each our own hero in our life, and the struggle and triumphs belong to us.

There is a difference between running from and running to. I learned with each career change what my transferable skills were. I was not starting again; I was stepping into a new arena and I was clear what I was bringing to each organization that I worked for. I learned who I was, what was important to me and where I wanted to make a difference. I curated my careers and my life to fit me. Quitting, taking another job, taking a break, having a breakdown are all things I have done. All of these stress filled little lumpy gifts from the universe made me stronger, happier and resilient. We get choice, and by the way, not choosing is a choice too. Staying still, suffering and being paralyzed happen but they should not be our long-term plan and a way of life.

Taking back my power, saying I quit, I am done, I am moving… is not about giving up in tough times. It is about accessing where I am after a period of time, after trying to adjust and tweak before coming to the conclusion that I am not happy, engaged and have outgrown where I am. It is not flighty, capricious or cowardly to leave, to quit and find something better. It is brave, full of vulnerability and nerve wracking. It is also liberating as well until the fear and the uncertainty kicks in, and that is where courage and faith come in handy. Trusting myself that at each turn in the road I have had the skills to figure out what I need to be successful and happy. Remembering I have figured it out before over and over so I will again….and so will you when your turn comes.
Cheers- Kyra

To read more of my work or subscribe to this blog go to quirkandcircumstances.com
To learn more about my Coaching practice and book a free sample session go to trueroadtraveler.com

Posted in Change, choices, Faith, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

OCC

Sometimes I have a problem looking past something annoying to the beauty beyond. This can happen both mentally and physically. These days instead of looking at my fabulous view of trees and sky out the front picture window it’s the two-inch beetle clinging to the outside glass that catches my eye, not unlike a fishing hook on a windy day. His tiny body is all I can see and when I manage to look past his little grey-black shell my eye always rolls back to him. Instead of thinking ahhh at the pink and blue clouds chasing each other across the sky I think ewww there’s another coming to meet him.

It doesn’t have to be a bug, another window had bird poop coiled like a baby albino tape worm at the top of the windowpane for four months. I finally had to drop the blinds an extra two inches so as not to see it when I looked out. But then, I noticed how the trajectory of rainwater altered direction down that window channeling rivets parted and rejoined mid pane, reminding me of the poop stationed above my gaze. What is wrong with me? Why do I fixate on such things? It is a constant wrestling of my focus back from the annoying, weird, or ugly to see the big picture over and over. And wrestle it I do, every time I catch myself fixated on the ick, or minuscule amount of what is not working, instead of all the things that are going really well and are beautiful.

I am an optimist, generally looking at the bright side of things and expect good things to happen even by chance. When I lived in San Diego sometimes, I would check my back steps just to see if someone left me a present. This was not on my birthday or anything I just thought… well you never know.  So, I’m not sure where this hyper-focus on the icky comes from exactly, but I am familiar with the neighborhood it resides. I told my sister years ago that my mind is like a bad neighborhood: I can’t spend too much time there alone.

Frank described me years ago as hyper vigilant. The amazing and insightful Frank is a psychiatrist who worked with scores of Apple employee’s like me. We passed around his contact information faster than the details of a good noodle restaurant. My hypervigilance at that time caused me to build, script and maintain a plan, A, B, C, D, E and F for any situation complete with dialogue for everyone involved. This was so no matter what went awry I was ready with a solution. These days I only have a plan A and half of a plan B, after that it’s up to the Universe, God, the Great Space Monkey whoever is up at bat at that moment.

I have learned through tough times that being prepared is great, but spending my life preparing for 90% of things that never happen is a waste of life force. The things that took me down, brought me to my knees I never saw coming and I still managed to do just fine. My skills and ability to problem solve, find resources and support was all I ever really needed.

That being said, I am still a preparedness person, a planner and a woman who loves a list.  I have to be watchful of my stress level and my predilection to hyper-fixate on tiny bugs and bird poop as mentioned above. I can release this laser focus, but only after recognizing I have slipped down the rabbit hole just a scooch and then procced to have a wrestling session with my brain. That ability to recognize how tightly wrapped I am is tricky. Getting tightly wrapped or hyper focused is a gradual change from when I go into ticking things off a list and plowing through work to tweaking the shit out of my life without taking a break, stepping away to play or taking care of myself in general.

In talking to a friend about his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) diagnosis, I realized my hyper fixation can be seen through this lens as well.  When stressed and over functioning it feels like I go past obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCB) but not quite into OCD a disorder level. When super stressed my tendencies run to upping my aesthetic: straightening, checking doors at night, adjust my canned goods with the labels facing out, tweaking towels to be an even length… everything is just a little more in order. I needed a term to describe this level, not a proper diagnosis level of life derailing but between OCB and OCD there should be a midpoint. Which we know in the alphabet is C, so was born OCC. It’s where I am when I am spinning a little too fast that is the wrong amount of extra.

What the C stands for in Obsessive Compulsive C….. I have not decided but it’s the perfect middle ground. Whether C turns out to be Continued, Circuitous, Circling, Concentrated, Controller, Cyclone, Cyclops because my single hyper fixated vision, I don’t know. I do know it sends off an alarm in my chest and gut to redirect my bossy, busy brain to pull back and emulate The Dude from The Big Lebowski.

I have learned ways to unhook from the spinning whether that be my eye, my heart or the biggest repeat offender my head. I do small Scarlet O’Hara exercises in distract and denial to interrupt the spinning, the what if’s, the mental gymnastics and rants. These exercises may be taking a walk where I can only think about my five senses: what I can see, hear, smell, taste, touch in that moment. There is no jumping forward or backward in my head. I have to stay right there. It’s a walking meditation of sorts forcing me into the moment.

Other times a conversation with someone who makes me laugh, a good book, as well as any kind of yoga, creativity, or something I can get lost in pulls me out of the spin. Even writing is a great way to exercise these demons and find humor in the ick, dark or stupid rattling around my brain.  I look through my bag of tricks for something or someone to help me break the spinning and break the cycle of negative fixation, the OCC, bugs and bird poop. Taking these steps is like doing a factory reset to my calmer, happy, Zen self but of course not before I write it down so I can pass along these images to you for maybe a laugh and then maybe you’ll think ick too.

Cheers- Kyra

For more information about my coaching go to Trueroadtraveler.com.

To read more of my writing go to Quirkandcircumstances.com

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