Posts Tagged ‘Coaching’

I’ve been a quiet potato for a long time. April was really busy—work stuff, vacation, work stuff, life. I still had lots of thoughts in my head I wanted to get on paper—it just never happened as quickly as I wanted it to. Once May started I recommitted to setting aside more time to put cyber pen to cyber paper.

Clearly that didn’t happen.

May and June were really, REALLY tough coaching months. And since the stuff I work on with Coach Jim typically motivates much of my writing, I turned into a quiet potato.

If you’ve read much of my blog at all you’ll know that I almost ALWAYS write about how hard this coaching stuff is for me. How challenged I am. How rewarding it is while at the same time being one of the most difficult things I’ve done. And through all of that I keep writing about it. ‘Cause writing helps. 🙂

May and June were different. It was tough in a different way.

I didn’t recognize the difference at first. Jim has been coaching me though some self-esteem stuff. And that’s a gi-normous area of struggle for me. So when I first began noticing differences I assumed it was related to the subject matter. As time marched on I began to question that assumption. Just what was going on?

In a “typical” conversation with Jim I’ll laugh, cry (or at least get a little bleary-eyed), roll my eyes at something, and occasionally think “what planet is this guy from?!” I’m used to all of those reactions and understand most of them are some form of defense that I want to move beyond. So I try to see them, acknowledge them (silently), and move on. I found the conversations in May and June were different.

I found myself not looking forward to the calls at all. Maybe that could have been an early clue—previously no matter how difficult the subject matter I’d always looked forward to the calls. I found myself fighting frustrations before the conversations even started. I felt as though I wanted to resist everything Jim said. I wanted to “correct” everything he said. I found myself with really strong desires to swear profusely during the conversations. And not just the “light” words. Typically a “hell” or “d@mn” is as far as I go. In May and June I found myself frequently wanting to drop f bombs.

Whoa! Where the heck were those coming from?

Finally (better late than never!) I realized there was something else going on. Something bigger than the topic at hand was bothering me. So I sat down and thought about it. And looked back through my notes.

Aha! There was something bothering me! Jim had done something a little different in one of our conversations. He’d used a technique that gave him the exact result he was looking for at the time, but really stuck in my craw. (Does anyone use that expression anymore? LOL!) And I hadn’t realized how much it was bothering me.

Hmmmmmm….obviously I needed to clear the air. So I sent Jim an e-mail saying something like, “Hey next time we talk I want to spend some time talking about X. It’s getting in the way of our conversations and I’d like to address it.”
Being the excellent coach that he is, Jim readily agreed. “Sure Spudsie. We’ll make it the first thing on our agenda.”


I had some fears and concerns going into this conversation with Jim. I had no idea how he’d react or respond. I had no idea if I’d be able to express myself in a way that made sense to Jim. I didn’t know if I would be able to explain where my frustration was coming from. Or why it was bothering me so much. But even with these fears and concerns I noticed I didn’t have any of that active nervous energy I frequently get before going into new situations. Cool! I impressed myself!

What I had assumed would take only a portion (15 to 20 minutes maybe?) of our time ended up taking longer than we were scheduled to talk. (Apologies for running over the allotted Mrs. Coach Jim!!!) And I ended up feeling more frustrated thinking back on our conversation than I did before we talked.

Uh oh. That’s never good.

My “greatest” fear (or as I told Mr. Spuds my most “rational” fear lol) was not being able to explain myself. Not being able to articulate what I was feeling in a way that would make sense to Jim. I had talked about it with Mr. Spuds and he understood what I meant and why I was upset. So I thought explaining it to Jim would be doable—not easy, but at least possible. ‘Cause Mr. Spuds often looks at me as tho I’m speaking a foreign language when I talk about coaching stuff. If he understood me, Jim would surely understand me. Right?

Yeah…….ummmm……maybe not.

At the end of the call I felt I hadn’t been able to explain myself at all. (Bang head here.) How the heck did that happen???? Grrrrrr…… Jim made a suggestion of something else to try—another way of trying to put the pieces together. I agreed to try. That was Monday evening.

All day Tuesday I would think about it if I had a minute or two free. I’d roll it over in my mind and see what resonated. See how I felt. See what thoughts and feelings came pouring out of me. And I got wave after wave after wave after wave of frustration. And not much else.

Well….that’s not entirely true. I also got a headache.

I tried everything I could to get rid of the headache. Used all of the tools in my toolbelt. Breathe deeply. Tons and tons of water. Correct posture. Correct foods. Nothing worked. And I got hit with the worst migraine I’ve had in a year Tuesday night around 11 PM. I gotta tell ya…..I can’t think of many things worse than being curled up on the bathroom floor, crying uncontrollably—even though you know crying makes the head pain even worse—and having wave after wave of feeling like a failure hit you. Migraines are awful. Especially when they are completely stress induced.

Mr. Spuds helped me through it. He handed me Kleenex and listened. And even offered, “Do you want me to talk to Jim? “ Awwwww…how sweet. 🙂 He finally bundled me into bed and I managed to pass out more than fall asleep. Either way—I managed to get a few hours of rest.

On Wednesday I e-mailed Jim. “I’m a mess. This isn’t working. Let me try to say this one more time.”

A-ha! Evidently whatever words I used in the “I’m a mess” e-mail made sense. Yay! 🙂 Jim called me and said, “I think I understand. Is this what you are saying…..”

High fives all around! Yep—that’s it!

Truth be told, that follow-up conversation is pretty fuzzy in my memory. I was still in huge amounts of migraine pain. What I do remember is thinking, “Yes! You’ve got it!” And working to set some new ground-rules or expectations on both sides. Phew! That was more like what I had expected our Monday conversation to be like.

And now I’m back to looking forward to coaching conversations. I’m looking forward to crying, laughing, rolling my eyes, and somehow through it all making progress with someone who I know is on my side, someone who has my best interest in mind. Yay!! The good stuff!!!

So why write this since it all turned out so well? Good question.
Jim absolutely ROCKS as a coach!! (He also totally rocks as a Summer Reading List putter-togatherer…but that’s an entirely different blog post. ;-)) Working with him is one of the best things I’ve ever done—hands down. He constantly amazes me with his suggestions, with his patience, with his listening skills, with his creativity in working with me. The mind boggles! I hope some of that comes through in my blog stuff.

All of those things are knowns. They are givens. I don’t question them at all.

Maybe that’s why it was so difficult for me to recognize that something he had done wasn’t working for me. I’d never considered that I might know me better than Jim knows me. Well…duh! Stopping to think about it that makes perfect sense. I’m the one living in my skin, in my head, in my heart, in my spirit. Who else besides me is going to know when something doesn’t work??

I wanted to write about this as a reminder to myself that I have the right and the responsibility to speak up when I’m upset. When something has hurt me. When something isn’t working. Just like I did this time. No game playing. No pouting. No waiting to see if someone else notices I’m not the same. Just like I did this time—speak up as soon as I can articulate what’s bugging me. Kudos to me for doing that this time. And kudos to me for becoming aware of what to look out for in the future.

I also wanted to write about this for anyone who wonders what it’s like working with a coach. Conflict (on some level) is inevitable. (Migraines are optional. ;-)) If you have the right coach (and it’s abundantly clear I have the right coach for me!) working through the conflict may take several tries, but in the end it’s totally worth it.



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(With thanks and apologies to Tina Turner for the title.  J)

The last couple of coaching conversations with Coach Jim have centered around revisiting/revamping/revising/reworking my goals.

When I started a year or so ago I had three goals originally and fairly quickly added a fourth.

The first three were pretty basic—one relates to my health, one relates to being more of an optimist (though I don’t really use the word optimist to describe myself—I told Jim it felt a little like calling myself a Republican—it just felt like something that would never be true!  ;-)), the third one relates to my emotions.

As it had been many moons since I had really looked at my goals they were probably over-due for some revisions.  I’ve made a number of changes in the past year and have progressed to the point where the goals as written weren’t really “big” enough for what I now want to do.

It was nice being able to go in and tweak them as needed!  It helped me see I have indeed made progress.  Who knew??  (Well…..I suppose everyone close to me knew…..I was probably the only one holding onto an old picture of myself.  LOL!)

The fourth goal kinda stumped me.  It originally read:

“I perceive myself as positively as others see me.  I am comfortable with myself and my emotions.  I allow myself to be vulnerable when appropriate and allow others to serve me or take care of me when necessary.”

A year ago it was a huge struggle for me to put even that much into writing.  It felt like a huge leap. 

I see it from a different perspective now.  It seems overly restrictive.  It seems somehow limiting.  It seems….well…it seems small.

While I haven’t achieved (for lack of a better word) this goal—oh heck no, I’m still far from it — I want more.  I’m not satisfied with that as my goal—I want something more all encompassing.

You know how from Einstein forward physicists (or at least some physicists) have been working to develop a unified field theory?  (You don’t?  Well check this out.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/everything.html)  They are searching for a single theory to tie two incredibly diverse fields/areas/whatevers of physics together.  They are searching for something bigger.  (Which, if you believe string theory may be an answer, ironically turns out to be something super small.  J)

I found myself wanting something similar.  No….not a string!  One unifying goal.  One goal for the big picture.  One goal that the other, more specific, goals fall under.  Something to tie everything together with a nice bright piece of ribbon—or string if you care to stay with the physics analogy.  Grin!

And I couldn’t quite come up with anything.  Actively thinking about it didn’t give me visible progress.  Letting it “stew” in the back of my mind was equally unproductive.  Trying to write about it produced lots of blank space on the page.

Hey!  I know!  I’ll talk with Coach Jim about it!  Cool…….maybe an actual out-loud conversation will help my brain find what I’m looking for. 

So I did.

Almost two weeks later I still don’t have my fourth goal fully developed.  AND I’m perfectly okay with that.  Talking with Jim helped me find the direction I want to go with my “unifying” goal.

As you can probably see from the original fourth goal, I don’t feel like I have an accurate view of myself.  I can tell you 3.2 million things I do wrong, or areas that “need” improvement.  But ask me something I do that I’m proud of?  Something I do well?  Yeah……not much material for those questions.  My vision of myself, my perception, is skewed.  I know that and it doesn’t sit well with me.

So originally I wanted to see myself as I am.  Flaws and all.

And now I realize that isn’t quite enough.  I want more.

I want to be comfortable with who I am.  I want to accept myself.

And that still isn’t quite enough.  I still want more.  The “unifying” goal is bigger than that.

So as I talked with Jim about all of this our conversation kept taking twists and turns…..which is normal and really cool!  It felt like the more I talked the more I realized that what I was saying wasn’t big enough.  It wasn’t hitting home. 

I talked about wanting to be kind to myself.

That wasn’t quite right.  So Jim kept asking, what else?  What other words?  What is bigger?

Hmmmmm….okay….I dunno….gentleness?  I want to be gentle with myself?

While that is true (I typically am harsher on myself than anyone else would ever be….long stories there….I’ll spare you the details.), it still wasn’t resonating with me.  Kind I felt I could claim—I could put that into a goal.  It wasn’t what I was looking for though.  I wanted more.  Gentleness didn’t sit well.  That seemed to feel like I wouldn’t hold myself accountable—that I would let myself “get away” with too much.  That wasn’t working.

Jim kept asking, what else?  What is bigger?

Hmmmmmmmmm……I don’t have a clue Jim!  Okay Spudise….keep going…..keep searching….keep tossing the nets wide and into new waters…..

Think.  Think.  Think. 


Pooh thinking





Okay….what encompasses kindness and aspects of gentleness and still allows me to hold myself accountable for the stuff I need to be accountable.  There’s got to be a word.  There’s got to be a concept.  Keep working your way through this.  Keep going.  What does that unknown concept look like in others?  What allows you to extend grace and at the same time hold other people accountable?

Whomp.  (How’s that for onomatopoeia???  ;-))  Right upside the head.  It hit me.

And it scared the livin daylight out of me!  Seriously.  It scared me.  I knew if I didn’t start talking immediately I’d chicken out.  So I started talking.    

“Blah…blah…blah….blah…I can’t even believe I’m about to say this Jim….it’s love.  Love is bigger than kindness and gentleness.  Love.  That’s what I’m looking for.  I want to be able to say ‘I love me.’ and not burst into tears at the thought.  Blah….blah….blah….”

(The “blah…”part is me stalling by the way.  J)

If this caught Jim a fraction as off-guard as it caught me he probably fell over and hit his head.  Seriously.  Self-love is NOT a topic I have ever wanted to discuss.  The mere mention of it a year ago had me in tears.  Jim asked me at one point if I could say “I love me.” which caused me to promptly burst into tears.

Could I speak the words?  Sure I could.  Speaking the words is easy.  Speaking them and meaning them?  Nope.  Couldn’t do that.  And speaking them without meaning them felt wrong—it felt like cheating—it felt like it was going against everything I had committed to when I decided to work with Jim.  I had committed to being honest.  I had committed to being open and not hiding.  And saying “I love me” when I clearly didn’t “love me” would be lying.  And I wasn’t about to lie.  I could NOT say the words and have any sincerity behind them.  I could not say them and have any truth in the statement.  So I chose not to say them.

The tears didn’t come from a physical inability to speak simple words.  The tears and drama (not that I would EVER admit to being even slightly dramatic ;-)) came from knowing and feeling that I couldn’t honestly say them. 

And here we are…..a scant year later….and I’m the one bringing it back into the conversation.  How bizarre is that?!

“Do you know what you just said Spudsie?”  Jim asked.

“Yeah…..blah…blah…blah…” Desperately trying to avoid talking about it.  Maybe if I just keep talking he’ll let me off the hook. 

Snort!  Fat chance with that Spudsie!  J

Jim kept talking about what a huge change that was from a year ago.  The more he talked the more I wanted to get away from it.  I just wasn’t ready to dive into it.  It’s still a brand new thought.  I didn’t want to think about the implications just yet.  Fortunately Jim’s really, really , REALLY terrific at saying things in a gentle way so that I can hear them for at least a fraction of a second.

Frankly I don’t really remember much of the coaching conversation after that point.  And we ended early because Jim could clearly tell I wasn’t really able to move forward at that point. That I’d hit my “maximum progress” point for the day.

So we talked about books for a few minutes.  And I LOVE talking about books!!  LOL!

Where am I now?  In terms of having a “formal” goal on paper….I’m no further than I was 2 weeks ago.  And that’s okay for now.  I’m still trying to be comfortable with the thought.  (And please, no Yoda quotes about “Do or do not.  There is no try.”  Grin!) 

So my starting point for my “unifying” goal is “I love me.”  I want to give it more definition…I want to give it measurableness (is that even a word??? Spell-check certainly doesn’t think so!)  I want to be able to define a little more what that looks like.  Okay…okay… I want to be able to begin to define what that looks like.  When you have nothing I suppose defining it “a little more” isn’t very precise.  LOL.

Goal number four.  The unifying goal.  I love me.

Can I do it?  I don’t know.  Maybe?  I think so.

And that’s a good place to begin.

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Back to the beginning for the potato.

In the two weeks after my last blog entry I found myself still locked in flight mode when trying to think about possibilities for the future.

I thought I had made a pretty good start with answering “How do I want to feel?”  Yet it didn’t really go anywhere after that.  I kept looking at my questions, thinking about them when they weren’t physically in front of me, and hitting a wall.

Coach Jim has helped me form the habit of trying to think of things as hitting a speed bump instead of hitting a wall.  It’s a really helpful visual!  Much more positive and manageable than a wall.  At least with speed bumps you know if you back up far enough and get enough momentum behind you you’ll be able to move forward over them.  With walls?  Not so much.

I kept trying to think of the screeching halt of forward movement as a speed bump.  I really did!  I gotta confess…..if it was a speed bump it was the world’s largest one.  Grin!  I couldn’t get over it.  I couldn’t find a way around it.  I couldn’t even see over it.  Very frustrating.

And I was NOT looking forward to the next conversation with Jim.  The ONE thing I want to be working on, the ONE thing I’m trying to focus on, the ONE thing I keep coming back to…..it keeps shoving me back.  I end up shutting down.  Getting stuck.  Not being able to pull back and see the picture from a different perspective.

So while I wasn’t looking forward to the conversation because I really, REALLY don’t enjoy admitting I haven’t been able to do something that on the surface seems to be really, REALLY simple…..at the same time I found myself really, REALLY looking forward to the conversation because I knew Jim would be able to help guide me through it.

I’d sent him an agenda prior to our conversation with three different items on it.  One of them was “general life direction.”  Jim asked, “So Spudsie, what topic do you want to start with today?”

“Well Jim, the one I don’t want to talk about is the one I think we should start with.  General life direction.  I keep hitting a wall.”

Am I the only one who does this?  I would rather have talked about ANYTHING other than my struggles (and self assessed failures) at thinking about my future.  Weather.  Sports.  Gardening.  Reading.  (Okay….that’s not a fair one.  I’d rather talk about books and reading with anyone anytime! LOL!) Even recipes for green bean casserole would have been preferable!  Yet “general life direction” is the topic I chose to talk about.  I figured if I was fighting it so much it was probably the one thing I needed to talk about.  (And really….who wants to exchange green bean casserole recipes anyway?!)

I told Jim I was stuck.  And he asked me a few questions to try and figure out exactly what I meant by “stuck.”  And he tried a different approach for getting me to talk about my thoughts for the future. 


No, not the 1980’s music group.  (Wake me up before you go-go…..opps….sorry…I distracted myself!)

That was the sound of a potato hitting a wall.  So maybe it was more of a SQUISH than a WHAM?

Okay.  Jim’s done this before.  He tried another approach.  Okay.  This one seems to be working better.


Hmmmmm.  Okay.  We got a little further with that one.  How about…..


Wow!  Who knew potatoes could bounce when they hit a wall????  That was impressive Spudsie!


Yeah.  Several different approaches.  Same results.  Shut down of any flow.  Of any momentum.

So Jim took a step back.  And asked more questions.  Hmmmm…..Spudsie doesn’t typically have problems talking about the past, so let’s ask her a history question about this topic.

“What’s the first time you remember having this reaction to thinking about the future?”

A-ha!  (Hey!  Another 1980’s music group!  It must be a theme tonight…)  This question I have an answer to .  My paperweight story!  I turned into a puddle of crying, starchy goop whenever I looked at my “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” paperweight.  That’s when I knew I needed help.

So we talked about that for a little while.  And then Jim asked, “So have you ever tried writing an answer to that question?”


Ummmmmmmm.  Gee.  Now I feel silly!  No I haven’t .  Sheesh…why didn’t I think of that?!  Writing has been the one place I seem to find answers while working with Jim.  (Well…..besides in the actual conversations of course!)  I start to write something and some odd neural connections start connecting in different and new ways.  Things aren’t as overwhelming.  They aren’t as scary.  They aren’t as difficult when I write about them.

And the paperweight question was the start of all of that.  And since it doesn’t scare me anymore, why not try to write out an answer?!  Jim!  You’re a genius!!  (That’s said in all seriousness by the way.)

So here’s an attempt to start to answer that question.

“What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?”

Number one.  Write a story/book.  Fiction.  I even know the general time period and a general theme-ish type thing I’m drawn to.  World War II and just after WWII era Germany.  Somehow tied in to Holocaust survivors. 

I would LOVE to do the research for this.  Research is something that really energizes me.  And there is so much raw emotion surrounding this subject that it helps me realize that emotions are a good thing—not something to be frightened of.  They can be something that strengthens you.  That carry you though the unbelievable horrors of war.   Of life.

A year ago I would NEVER have thought of this.  I scoffed at creativity.  Oh!  Not in other people.  I really admired it (and still do admire it) in others!  It was simply something I thought I didn’t possess.  And while creativity may not be something I feel I possess large quantities of, I definitely see sparks of it in myself.  My brain has had to come up with some really creative ways of dealing with some pretty lousy stuff to get me through to this point.  Now I want to see if I can redirect some of that ability in other directions.

Number two.  I would do something with animals.  Oh heck….who am I kidding?!  If I knew I could not fail I’d do something with birds—specifically penguins.  I’m serious!!  I love those crazy little flightless waterfowl!  When I volunteered as a docent at our local zoo I would watch them for hours at a time.  And at the end of my 3 hour “shift” I’d always have half a dozen stories to share with the zookeepers or with Mr. Spuds.  “Oh!  You wouldn’t believe Watson today!  And Tressel’s still refusing to eat—even when her dad dropped the whole fish right on her feet.  She just ignored it and kept begging for food!”

The more I watch the birds from my bedroom window the more I realize that birds are birds are birds.  The sparrows do so many of the same things the penguins did.  (Well no kidding Spudster!  They are both BIRDS!! J) It’s really cool to watch them and be able to understand why they are doing what they are doing.  Hmmmm…that probably doesn’t make much sense.  You’ll just have to trust me!

I know this one isn’t really specific.  I’m not sure exactly what I would do—I just know I’d find SOMETHING (other than being a zookeeper) penguin related.  Maybe lead tours to take other “penguin freaks” like me to visit them in their natural environments?  That’d be super cool!

Number three.  I would eat, drink and sleep books.  Again, I’m serious.  I love to read.  Love, love, love, LOVE IT!!!  What I’m missing now is someone to share that with.  Mr. Spuds is allergic to books.  Or at least that’s what he claims!  😉  He will read one or two books if he’s having a really good year.  Me?  I’ll read one or two a weekend! 

I’ve found a couple of outlets for my “You will not BELIEVE how amazing this book is!” thoughts.  But it’s not enough.  I haven’t found anyone locally who wants to read some of the same books at the same time and talk about them.  Sigh.  It’s frustrating to have all of these thoughts in my head and no “easy” way to see if anyone else agrees. 

So maybe I could start writing more “formal” reviews.  (As if any writing I do is “formal”!  LOL)  Or start trying to find a book club, or form a book club, or I dunno…..just do something to get more conversations going about books.  Goodreads is awesome!  And The Next Best Book Club within Goodreads is an awesome group for sharing book thoughts!  I still find myself struggling to communicate all of the thoughts I have about a book in a few paragraphs.  I find myself wanting to stop in the middle of a chapter and have a face to face conversation or a phone conversation with someone, ANYONE…….  “Hey in chapter 23 when Tom Builder went into that cathedral for the first time did it make you think of…..”  (Ahem.  Jim… just in case you missed that, it was a reference to “Pillars of the Earth.”  😉 No pressure or anything!)

Where was I?  Oh yeah…giving my coach grief because he hasn’t read “Pillars” yet.

What?  That’s not what I was talking about?  Are you sure???  J

Anyway, I’d do something talking about amazing books.  And amazing authors.  And discovering new ones.  And the classics.

Number four.  God.  I’d devote my life to God……………… and become a nun.  Although since I’m not Catholic that’s probably going to be a problem.

Okay.  The nun part won’t work obviously.  But whatever I do with my life it has to be something that can help bring glory to God.  To help me share with people how amazing God is and all of the amazing things he’s done in my life.  And is doing in my life.

I suppose this really should be number one…but I’m writing stream-of-conscious-ly and not in order of importance.  God’s definitely got to be an integral part of whatever I do.  And whatever I do needs to help bring me closer to him—to help me learn more about him.

So number four doesn’t really answer the paperweight question.  And that’s okay.  Because whatever answer I give God will be at the center of it.

Number five.  Food and traveling.  I’d do something involving eating food and traveling.

I could be the female version of Anthony Bourdain!  Without the past heroin habit.  Or the cooking skills.  Or the running-your-own-business skills.  Or the publishing connections.

Sigh.  Okay.  So I’m probably not gonna be the next Tony Bourdain am I?  LOL!  J

He does inspire me though.  I love that the voice in his books is the same as his voice in the TV show “No Reservations.”  When I read his books I can hear him talking.  I love that!  I’m not reading a lecture, I’m reading a conversation.  Even Mr. Spuds read a collection of his writings and enjoyed them.  So that’s saying something about his talent as a writer!

If I knew I could not fail (or go broke trying!) I’d develop my palate.  I’d learn to distinguish more flavors.  I’d be the judge on “Iron Chef” who articulates exactly why they love the fresh flavor of the mint in the dish rather than the judge who simply exclaims “This is amazing!!!!”  (BTW, thanks for that example Jim.  It’s really stuck with me!)  With each chef-prepared meal I eat I think I learn a little more about flavors and how they work together.  And it’s really fun!!

And traveling to new place is a blast!  Of course by the time Mr. Spuds and I actually visit them they aren’t really “new” to me…..I’ve researched them to bits and typically have a folder full of possible places to visit, to dine, to explore.  (That’s my capital J-ness coming through loud and clear!)

Number six.  Helping people.  Again, that’s not overly specific is it?  There are sooooo many people in the world hurting, searching, looking, in need and in want of help.  I just want to do something to make their lives easier.  To help them find peace.  To find calm.  To find motivation.  To give them hope. 

As much as I love animals (and trust me on this, I LOVE animals) if given the choice of contributing to a charity that helps animals or a charity that helps people—I chose the charity that helps people every time. 

So maybe I could take my administrative/organizational type skills and use them in an environment that helps people.  A non-profit organization with a mission that inspires me. 

The thought of that energizes me less than the other things I’ve written about—yet it would be better than what I’m doing now.  Hmmmmm…..it’s far more practical and far less energizing.

Number seven.  I’d pick winning lottery numbers.

What?????  Oh come on……it answers the question perfectly!  If I knew I could not fail I’d buy lottery tickets with the winning numbers before they were selected.  Wouldn’t you??

Number eight.  I’d talk for a living.  Yeah….I know ……the potato who communicates with her friends through e-mail rather than the phone or in person wants to talk for a living.

Scoff all you want.  I really enjoy talking to groups of people (or individuals) about topics I’m passionate about.  Back to the docent days…..I loved talking to the zoo visitors about the penguins.  It really energized me to give my 30 second “These are Humboldt penguins and here are a few amazing facts you may not know about them” spiel.  And then to talk one on one with guests who had more question?  It totally fired me up!!


A year ago I was in a puddle just looking at the question.  What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

And now I have eight (okay…..technically seven since picking lottery numbers doesn’t really count) different answers!  Wow.  Wow.  Really.  WOW!

So now where do I go?

As always……to be continued.  (That one’s for you Bob!)

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I’m playing hooky from work right now.  Shhhhhhh….don’t tell anyone!!  😉

Although…if I stop to think about it…..it’s not really a secret.  After all, work will notice I’m not at work because…..well…because I’m not there.  And I told my team I was leaving after lunch.  So I guess it’s not really a secret or anything…..hmmmmm….. 

Still.  It feels more free-ing to say I’m playing hooky. So let’s just keep this between us, okay?  J

Why am I home from work?  Why did I abandon my co-workers today?  I’m soooo glad you asked.

I had another coaching call with Coach Jim last night.  And (once again) it’s thrown me for a loop.  (You’d think I’d be used to that by now wouldn’t ya?!?  LOL!)  And I wasn’t really focusing on work today while I was at the office.  I wasn’t really being productive at all.  My mind kept wandering.  So I made a deal with myself—focus and be productive until lunch time and then leave and come home and write.

Ta-da!  So here I am.  Grin!

So what’s thrown me for a loop this time?  (Or perhaps I’m simply in a perpetual loop???  Or am I just loopy??  LOL!)

Without saying too much (and Heaven forbid I say “too” much on a fairly anonymous blog!) I’m trying to have conversations with Jim that help me explore what direction I want to take my life.  Or what direction I want my life to take me.  Or “what I want to do when I grow up.” 

That seems simple enough, right?  Nothing too complex.  Yeah…right!! 

I’ve wanted to start this conversation for a year and have intentionally set it aside.  Partially because there was other stuff I wanted to start working on first, and partially because it sends me into a total and complete “flight” mode the minute I start thinking about it.


(Some of you may have heard this story before.  Please bear with me.  I’ll try to keep it short.)

What initially sent me looking for help from Jim was (in part) my reaction to the paperweight on my desk.  (Hey!  I’ve never claimed to be anything close to “normal” so this really shouldn’t surprise anyone too much!  ;-))   The weight bears the question, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

I purchased the weight thinking it would help motivate and encourage me to take a fresh look at what I wanted to do with my life.  Where I wanted to go.  The possibilities that might be right in front of me.  Instead I slumped into a puddle of teary-eyed goop (starchy goop at that!) whenever I stopped to read it and think about it.

I simply had no clue how to answer the question.  Didn’t even know how to start thinking about how to answer the question.  “What would I do?  I have no flippin’ clue!”  I couldn’t come up with a single thing.

While I’m no longer in that emotionally locked place, I still struggle with the concept.  With the question.

(By the way, my non-serious answer to the question now is, “Go to Vegas and play Craps for a living baby!”  LOL!  Hey…at least I can give a non-serious answer.  That’s some type of progress right?  J)

I thought I’d moved along enough to be ready to at least start the conversation.  And now I’m not so sure.  

We’re starting off with the most basic of questions.  Approaching it with no expectations.  No known outcomes.  No “I need to see X,Y and Z or it won’t be right” type of thinking.  Nothing’s off the table.  (Although I’m evidently too old to be Miss America.  Pfffffffffffff!  ;-))   And I’m still tied in knots.

Jim helped me come up with a list of questions to think about.  Or more accurately I came up with 4 questions and Jim supplied the rest.  Sigh.  I struggle to wrap my brain around how to even start any of this!  I have a hard time coming up with questions without feeling a panic-filled need to immediately answer them.  Ugh.

The questions I’m supposed to be pondering are along the lines of:  What do you want to do?  What energizes you?  What skills do you want to use?  What brings you joy?  (Hey!  I have a list of 125 plus things that bring me joy!!)  What kind of people do you want to work with?  Do you want to serve?

Basic questions right?  Nothing too complex.  No wrong answers.  No expectations.  Simply questions.

And still I find myself hyperventilating and feeling sick to my stomach.

Really Spudsie.  This isn’t that difficult.  They are just questions.  It’s not like I’m expected to give answers on par with the Oracle at Delphi.  Come on Spuds.  Relax.

Deep breath.

Another deep breath.

I’m supposed to be brainstorming answers.  And/or additional questions.  Anything and everything that comes to mind.  Toss it all out on the table.

And instead of doing that I find myself curled in a ball underneath my desk, thinking maybe what I’m doing with my life now isn’t so bad after all.  Really.  It’s not bad.  I’ve made it this far right?  I can keep grinding out day after day…hour after hour….literally minute after minute, right? 


But that’s not what I want to do.  I want to do something different.  Something more.  Something that brings at least moments of joy and satisfaction and fulfillment into my life—instead of only and always draining them away.

So I need to do this.  I want to do this.  I choose to do this.  I choose to try and think about these questions.

I’m just not sure how.

“What do I want to do?”  Well…gee….if I knew that I wouldn’t be in this complete “flight” mode would I?!  I don’t have a clue!

Okay Spuds.  That’s not overly helpful.  What else do ya have?

“What do I want to do?”  Something that brings at least moments of joy, satisfaction and fulfillment into my life.  There.  Is that better?

Okay.  Better.  What else?

“What do I want to do?”  ANYTHING other than have this conversation!  Sorry.  (Sheepish grin)  I know…that’s not helpful.  Okay. 

(Minutes ticking by…)

“What do I want to do?”  I want to re-phrase the question.  I want to change it up a little.  How about…..

“How do you want to feel?”  Bear with me.  This isn’t a cop-out.  I think I can start here and move forward a little easier.  Maybe.

“How do you want to feel?”  I want to feel excited to start each day.  (Or at least the majority of them!  LOL!)  I want to feel like Jack London, er…Martin Eden in “Martin Eden” by Jack London.  Martin begrudged his body every hour of sleep he had to “give in” to.  Martin wanted to live every moment, every instant, every second to its fullest.  Sleep deprived him of activity, of action of movement, of progress, of experiences.  He wanted all of it to the fullest and resented the time he had to give up for his body to recharge.

Yeah….that’s what I want!  I want to run at the start of each day on the balls of my feet…not wanting to lose a second!  (Which is far different from the counting of seconds left until I can leave that I find myself doing now.)

When Mr. Spuds asks me, “So Spudsie how was your day?” I want to have excitement in my voice when I say, “Oh!  You wouldn’t believe what happened today!”  Even if it’s just telling him stories of the hours I spent on cleaning the shower floor and how sparkling white it now is, I want to have that energy because what I’m doing is fulfilling, is uplifting, is overall worth it!

So, “how do I want to feel?”  I want to feel energized and excited, looking at every day as a series of amazing opportunities and adventures.  (Again, even if those “adventures” are as simple as cleaning!) 

Okay.  That’s pretty cool.  At least I have some idea of how I want to feel. 

Now I suppose I need to turn my attention to what energizes me. 

Hmmmm…….I’m beginning to think this is gonna take awhile…..stay tuned.

To be continued.


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Last week I cried.

That in itself isn’t all that unusual.  But what I did while crying was unusual for me.

Last Monday evening I had a coaching call with Coach Jim.  I’ve written about it once already here.  And in the middle of the “should” conversation I was crying.  Not a delicate, sniffle, sniffle, blink away the tears kind of crying.  Oh no.  It was the “wipe my nose on my sleeve because there isn’t enough time to get to a Kleenex box-and even if there were time I don’t have the energy to spare from my weeping to reach the box” type of crying.  (How’s that for a description of something you’d rather not have a mental image of?!?  ;-))

Crying while on the phone with Jim is nothing new.  He frequently gets me to stretch emotionally pretty far beyond where I’m comfortable—and that’s a great thing!  A great thing that makes me cry typically.  So while crying on the phone with Jim is nothing new, this one has stuck with me.   It was a pretty major fear I was facing that made me cry.

For “brevity’s” sake I’m not going to re-hash the entire conversation.  (Please…hold your applause.  J) Basically Jim was trying to help me see something about myself.  And the words he used screamed in my brain, “This is a bad thing!  This is not how a good potato carries herself.  Acting like this is wrong!”

Now Jim wasn’t saying anything judgmentally, I simply was hearing it judgmentally.  He was asking the question, “How would these conversations go if you didn’t think people should respond in a certain way?”  (Whoops!  There I go again….re-hashing the conversation….)   He wanted me to consider how much more relaxed and at ease I could be in the conversation if I let go of my expectations.

My brain translated his words into, “Think of how much better things could be if you didn’t demand that every single person you came in contact with was required to react in the exact manner you tell them to.  You are clearly trying to control people and situations where you have no control.  You are going into these conversations with the mindset of a self-centered brat.  You are making the conversation all about you.  And isn’t that what you always do?  Don’t you always put yourself in the center?  You never think of anyone other than yourself!”

Again, allow me to repeat myself.  Jim wasn’t saying ANYTHING judgmentally.  And he certainly wasn’t saying anything that I wrote in that last paragraph.  He was simply trying to open my mind to what possibilities might open up if I approached some conversations with a different mindset.  And my brain twisted that into the “….you selfish brat…” words.  Ugh.  No wonder I cried!

Actually, my brain’s translation wasn’t what caused the tears.  It was my reaction to them and how I acted on that reaction.  (Bear with me….I’m not sure this makes sense even to me right now…)

I spent twenty or so years being told by a parent how I wasn’t good enough.  How everything I did, said or thought was a failure.  And how I didn’t ever think of anyone besides myself.   And in those twenty years I learned to file those statements away as truth.  It was just who I was.  It was how I was.  And it was bad.  I was bad.  I didn’t argue—it would have been pointless.  I didn’t yell back.  I didn’t defend myself.  I simply accepted it.

As I’ve grown older I’ve been able to see those statements are not entirely true.  I’ve been able to pull slightly away from them. 

At the same time when a person in any type of authority role in my life (boss, preacher, teacher, etc.) has said anything similar I continued to accept it without argument.  Even if my brain argued, my lips were silent.  It just wasn’t worth arguing about.  It wasn’t worth defending myself.  (Maybe I wasn’t worth defending??)

And two surprising things happened when I “heard” Jim saying those same things.  (Again, keep in mind Jim didn’t actually say them….my brain mis-translated them.)

First of all, my mind blew a whistle, threw down the yellow flag, yelled “foul!”  My mind said….  “Nope.  That’s not true.  I was there for the conversations and I was not demanding that people responded in a certain way.  I had hoped they would, but I wasn’t going in arms-crossed, eyebrow cocked, arrogantly demanding special treatment.  You’re off base Jim.  I’m not the type of person you are saying I am.” 

There are often times Jim will say something about a reaction I have, something I say or something I do that I initially disagree with.  So I’ve learned to bite down my initial reaction of “Buzz!  Wrong answer Jim!” and try to really listen to what he’s saying.  Try to really see what he’s seeing.  After all, I’m working with him because I haven’t had much success fixing things on my own.  Fighting with him really isn’t going to be very helpful in learning to make different choices!

So while trying to continue the verbal conversation with Jim I was having a different conversation in my mind.  “Jim’s wrong.”  “Maybe not.  Just listen to him and think about it.”  “Nope.  He’s wrong.”  “Spudsie give it some time.  He’s telling you what he sees.”  “Okay. ……nope.  Still wrong.”  And that was surprising.  That I could say with some conviction (if only in my own mind) “I’m not bad.”

At this point neither the verbal conversation nor the mental conversation was making much progress.  For once the “I don’t agree with what I think Jim’s saying about me or my character” was getting louder instead of settling down.  I tried setting it aside and moving on with the verbal conversation with Jim, but I found I couldn’t. 

And that’s when the more surprising thing happened.  (Please note, there were no tears yet at this point.)  I actually spoke up.  I said, “Jim, I don’t think I agree with that.”

Now I’ve said those words before.  And typically come around to seeing things from Jim’s point of view.  But this was different.  This was scary.

This was a conversation with someone I hold in high regard.  And I thought he had just said to me, “You are totally self-centered and don’t care about anyone else!  You think the world revolves around you and need to just get over yourself!  You are just horrible.” 

And I disagreed with him.

And I spoke up.  I “defended” myself.  If you can call squeaking out between sobs, “I don’t think that’s what I did Jim” defending myself.  LOL! 

I gathered all of the potato courage I’d hidden in my little toes for years (betcha ya didn’t know potatoes had toes!) and said, “No.  That’s not me.  I’m not bad.  Don’t say those things about me.  Please don’t think them because they aren’t true.”   Well….I didn’t use those words….but that’s metaphorically what I was saying.

All sorts of fears had sprung to the surface.  “No.  Please no.  I can’t believe he just said that.  Of all people, not Jim.  Dear God in Heaven please don’t let him think that.  If Jim thinks that about me it must be true.  No.  Please no.  How can Jim possibly think I’m waltzing through life not giving a rat’s behind about anyone other than myself?  If that’s true, that makes every other bad thing ever said to me true.  I’m not worth anything.”

(Yeah……I go from neutral to out-of-control-self-doubt-and-fear in about.00000001 seconds.  Sigh.  It’s one of the things I’m working on.)

And in the middle of this HUGE mass of fear there was a little voice that said, “Hey Spuds.  You know that’s not true.  You know you’re worth something.  This is Jim.  You know Jim.  Jim is Jim—he’s not anyone else.  Jim is safe.  Talk to him.  Say something.  Disagree with him.  It’s okay.  This is a safe place.  Be open.”

And I spoke up.  Through almost blinding tears of fear, I squeaked out a few words.  And then a few more.  And then a few more.  All the while scared (nearly out of my wits) that Jim would say, “Sorry Spudsie.  You’re just not good enough.”  Fighting against the part of my mind that was yelling, “Quit talking!  Just accept he thinks you’re a selfish brat and move on.  Don’t disagree, it will just make things worse!  You’ll just get more heaped on you!  Quit!  QUIT!!!  You’re going to make it worse!”

And, of course, in the end talking did NOT make it worse.  It made it better!  (Who knew?!  LOL! J) 

So kudos to me for speaking (or was that squeaking? LOL) up.  Kudos to Spudsie for fighting through the fear.  That’s yet another step towards authentically being me.  Yay!

Man.  I hope it gets easier to do this in the future.  ‘Cause I barely got through it this time. 

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What a week!  I seem to be getting “hit” by a number of the out-of-my-control migraine triggers today.  Lousy weather (I’m guessing there was a change in pressure with the storm the came in and iced everything over), hormones jumping all over the place, stress from driving on ice, and lack of sound sleep.  No wonder my head hurts!  I’m hoping to stave off a true migraine and manage the pounding will-someone-please-close-the-curtains-so-there’s-not-so-much-light headache I have right now.

I’m amazed that January is almost over……and I haven’t been doped up on Immitrex at all!  (That’s rare for a January!)  In fact April was the last time I had to take any.  Well……if I’d remembered to pack them in July I would have taken them….but that’s an entirely different story.  Anyway, the multi-day migraines feel like ancient history.  Yay!  The headaches I’m left with are MUCH more manageable—and seem to be decreasing as well.  J  Happy days!  (Adding that to my joy journal!)

This week started with a pretty intense coaching conversation with Coach Jim.  Hmmmm…. “intense” isn’t exactly the word I’m looking for.  More like “oh my word- I want to yell STOP—but don’t want to stop the conversation—but don’t know if I can translate what’s in my gut into words that make sense—and even if they make sense to me will they make sense to Jim—and if they make sense to him will he hear what I’m trying to say instead of the words I use” type of thing.

Is there a single word for that?  (If there is I’ll bet it’s a German word—along the lines of doppelganger or schadenfreude —one “word” composed of several little words to encapsulate an entire concept.  I love German words like that!!)

But I digress.

So.  Tough conversation with Jim.  At least now I know a little better what Peter (of Biblical fame) felt like when he had the “do you love me” conversation with Jesus.  To paraphrase.. Peter’s conversation went something like this,

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Yes I love you!

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Yes, of course I love you!

Jesus:  Peter do you love me?

Peter:  Lord, you know I love you!

Now if you’ve never hear the story before that exchange doesn’t make any much sense at all.  I gotta say I agree with you!  In the version of the Bible I grew up reading the word “love” in both Jesus’ and Peter’s quotes was the same.  In the original Greek the word “love” was one word when Jesus used it and a different word when Peter used it.  Jesus was asking if Peter loved him with a total, complete, holding-nothing-back kind of love.  And Peter answered that he loved Jesus with a friendship kind of love.

Well….that’s oversimplifying it.  And to oversimplify it even more….it was like Jesus asking “Peter, do you love me?” and Peter answering, “You know I like you.” 

In the version of the Bible I grew up reading it was a confusing conversation to read.  “What on earth?!  Isn’t Jesus even listening to Peter’s answer?  He said ‘Yes’ so why does Jesus keep asking him the same thing over and over again????  I don’t get it!”

Monday I found myself in the middle of the same type of conversation with Jim.

We were talking about conversations I’d had with people over the past couple of weeks.  I had decided to try and open up about some fairly personal stuff and try to be a more authentic Spudsie.  For whatever reason (and there are a number of them) that doesn’t come easily to me, I have to make an effort.  And it feels as though it’s a fairly risky thing to do.  But if I wanna grow I’ve gotta stretch—despite some discomfort.

The conversations left me somewhat discouraged and I talked to Jim about it.  We talked about what I was hoping for when I started the conversations with other people.  I hoped the people I talked to would listen for understanding—instead of listening to react, or to “solve” my problems.   And since I was talking with people who I trust and truly care about me they (naturally) wanted to offer advice and try to fix what was bugging me.  Which was discouraging to me.

At some point in the conversation Jim asked me, “So what would it feel like if you went into these conversations without the expectation that the person you are talking with should react the way you want them to.”

Ummmm….hold the phone there Jim.  I don’t think I AM going in with the expectation that they SHOULD react in a certain way.  I’m hoping they will.  I’d like for them to.  It would be really, really nice if they did.  But I don’t think they SHOULD.

And that’s the point where the conversation got fuzzy.  LOL!

Jim:  So what would it feel like if you went into these conversations without the expectation that the person you are talking with should react the way you want them to?

Me:  (Really, really long pause)  I don’t have a clue how to answer that.  I don’t think I DO go in thinking they SHOULD react in a specific way.  It would be nice if they did.  If they chose to.  But I don’t assign that “SHOULD” to them.  It’s their choice.

Jim:  You’d like them to listen to understand, correct?

Me:  Yeppers.

Jim:  So what would it be like if you didn’t think they should do that?

Me:  ?!?!  But I don’t think I do think they SHOULD listen for understanding.  I’d like for them to.  I’m not requiring them to.

Jim:  So how would the conversation go differently if you didn’t think they should listen for understanding?

Me:  (tapping the microphone)….hello…..is this thing on??  Jim, I’m trying really hard to listen to what you are saying.  I just don’t think that’s what I’m doing.  Maybe I’m arguing semantics…….I don’t think I hold the belief that someone else SHOULD listen for understanding.  I would like for them to.  It would make the conversation easier for me.  But SHOULDs aren’t something I can put on someone else.  They have to choose how to listen.  I can’t assign a SHOULD to them.  And, truly, not to be argumentative, I don’t feel I go into conversations thinking someone else SHOULD react in a certain way.  It’s totally their choice.  I can’t dictate to them how they SHOULD listen or respond.  I don’t demand that of them.  I don’t start conversations with ‘here’s how you SHOULD treat me’ that sounds totally selfish….”

Jim:  Whoa there potato…..I think you’re right.  It’s semantics.  ‘Should’ is a pretty specific word/has a strong meaning for you.  I think we are saying the same thing—just using different words.  And is it wrong/a bad thing to be selfish?

Me:  Oh yeah, selfish isn’t good.  That’s a problem.  And SHOULD is a really powerful word for me.

And the conversation went on from there.  It probably doesn’t read as confusing as it was in person.  LOL!  And I’m paraphrasing what I remember of it….what I heard….not Jim’s exact words.  So a third party eavesdropping would probably have a completely different understanding of what was said.  Grin!  We worked through it and moved on.  It turns out we were really saying the same thing…..though I don’t know that Jim will ever use the word “should” in a conversation with me without having a flashback!  😉

Oddly enough the thing that has stuck with me about our conversation is the one thing he let go without a comment.  I’m pretty sure he was thinking it…..thinking it loudly enough that I heard it.  (Or maybe I’m reading waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much into nothing…which wouldn’t be a first for me!)  He didn’t say anything about my lightning quick “shelfish is bad” answer.  I think I may have detected the slightest pause while he had the internal debate “do I want to get off subject and talk about this now or just let it go for the moment?” but he didn’t say anything.

And I find myself wondering…..how does Jim define selfish?  Is it different than how I define it?  When he asks, “Is it wrong for Spudsie to be selfish?” does he mean what I hear? 

To me selfish is this.  I do what I want, what I think is good and right for me with NO REGARD for anyone else.  I do what I want regardless of the cost to anyone else.  I do what I want and the rest of the world be damned.  It’s all about me. ME.  ME.  ME.  I don’t care about anyone else but me.  If something I do hurts you—too bad!  Didn’t you hear?  It’s all about me.

And that’s bad.  That’s not good.  That’s…..well…that’s just selfish.  And wrong.

There are a lot of times when I make decisions that are in my own best interest.  There are times when I weigh my options and decide to choose what’s good for me over what might be equally good for someone else.  For example, spending an undisclosed (cough, cough, don’t ask!) amount of money on 3 purses and 2 wallets at the Kate Spade outlet store at Christmas was ALL about me!  Are there other things I could have used the money for?  Yep!  I could have donated it to one of the charities Mr. Spuds and I support.  I could have mailed it to my sister.  I could have spent it on bird food.  I could have donated it in someone’s name to a charity they support.  I could have bought my Happiness coach a Kindle!  (J)  There are a million other things I could have done with the money that would have helped someone else—that would have put their needs/interests in front of my own.  And still I chose to spend it on me! 

To some that may seem selfish.  (Clark Kent-if you are reading I KNOW you are thinking I could have self-lessly spent it on Williams Sonoma stuff for you right?? J LOL!)  To me that wasn’t selfish.  My company did very well in 2008 and gave me a generous year-end bonus.  Mr. Spuds and I sat down and spent time deciding what to give to others, what to save, what to set aside for future unforeseen expenses, and what I could use as “new purse” money.  (Guess which category was my favorite)  It was a deliberate decision—where I weighed what I wanted and what others might need/want.  And I arrived at a balance that was acceptable for me.  I didn’t feel selfish or self centered in that decision.  I felt well balanced.

So the decision to spend the “new purse” money didn’t feel like a selfish one.  It took into account other people.  At the same time it was not a self-less decision.  Clearly I decided my wants ranked higher than the Columbus Zoo’s need for additional money for a Polar Bear exhibit, or for my former church’s need to pay off debt. 

If it wasn’t self-less and wasn’t selfish…..what was it?  How do I define it?

Hmmmmmmm…..I don’t know.  Maybe I need to redefine my words.

Is there a way I can re-define “selfish” to be something different than “it’s all about me I don’t care about you at all”?  Or is there a different word I can use?  Or a different way of looking at the concept?

One of the synonyms for selfish is egocentric—meaning (almost literally) “me at the center.”  And there are times where “me at the center” is how I have to make decisions.  If I made decisions that always had my company at the center I’d never leave the office.  If I made decisions that always have other people at the center I’d never spend the time and effort to work with a Happiness coach to work on growing.  If my decisions NEVER have me at the center I’d say “yes” to everything everyone asked me to do and never have time to keep any of the commitments.

And that’s no way to live.  Yech.  Clearly I need to choose to put myself at the center of some of my decisions—and I do.  So at times I’m egocentric.  So by definition does that mean at times I’m selfish?  Hmmmm….. “selfish” has such strong negative connotations for me I’m not sure I can redefine it that easily.   “Selfish” still feels like “it’s ALL about me all of the time” when in reality it’s only “ALL” about me when I choose to make decisions all about me.  Deliberately.  Intentionally.  With knowledge (and sometimes with a bit of sadness) that I’m giving up some of my ability to meet the desires of another person.

This is tough for me.

Or…………………… maybe instead of trying to redefine “selfish” I could stop reading so much into half-second pauses Jim has in our conversations.  😉  Hmmmmmm……..that might be easier!

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Evidently I’ve been missed.  Friends from Maine to Nashville to Colorado have been e-mailing, writing, and sending good wishes and encouragement my way recently.  (Who knew Supdsie was a nation-wide phenomenon?!  ;-))   And to a person they’ve all expressed some degree of concern at my blog absence.

First and foremost (does anyone besides me say that anymore???), than you sooooo much for the warm wishes, thoughts, cards (thanks Doctor!), etc.  Hmmmmm….I feel like I’m listening to a thank you card being read at the church where I grew up.  “Mr. Spuds and I would like to thank everyone in the congregation for the prayers, thoughts, cards and meals while we have been going through….”  Wait!  I didn’t get any meals from y’all!  Where are the meals???  LOL!!  Just kidding!  J

Seriously, thank you for your notes.  They are greatly appreciated.

I’m hanging there.  I’m not in the good mental/emotional place I want to me.  But I’m getting there.  And any progress is good!  I’m still working my way out of my funk and haven’t really felt like writing anything.  Haven’t felt like I had anything to say….other than grumbling.  And who wants to read a blog full of whining and complaining?  No one I can think of—with the possible exception of Grumpy, the dwarf. 

So, what’s new in this potato’s life?  Not much.  I’m still working with Coach Jim.  (Hiya Jim!)  I’ve watched a fair number of movies recently…..haven’t really been able to focus on books so I’ve tried to catch up.  I went to see “Doubt” by myself while Mr. Spuds was out of town.  That was probably the wrong movie to watch by myself—I wanted to sit down with people and talk about it as soon as it was over.  What was the symbolism with the light bulb?  How many different layers of doubt were explored?  Was one doubt stronger?  Did doubt “win” in the end?  Is anyone certain of anything?   Sigh.  But instead I went home and watched Dr. Who.  (Not an altogether bad thing!  Though I’m bummed that David Tennant is leaving the role………siiiiiiiiiigh….)

I’m trying to get back to my books.  I certainly have enough of them!  Mycroft is nowhere near full, but has a goodly number of unread books.

What’s that?  Who’s Mycroft?  Oh.  I forgot to mention it.  I’ve named my Kindle.  J  Yes, that does cement my total geek status.  And oddly enough, that’s a source of joy for me.  J

One of the things Coach Jim has me working on is a joy journal.  (Or something like that.  Maybe it’s a joy list?  I don’t remember.  I keep calling it a joy journal.  The alliteration flows much better than joy list.)

Jim has defined joy as, “Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness; the expression or manifestation of such feeling; a source or an object of pleasure or satisfaction.”  Basically (a gross oversimplification on my part here) joy is happiness on steroids. 

So I’ve spent a good deal of time this past week thinking about things that bring me (or have brought me) joy.  It’s been fun!  There are the “typical” joy laden things you might expect—vacations, a wedding, food, people, bird-watching, etc.  And today I added another item to the list.

“Pure government/pure politics”

Yeah…if my geek status wasn’t secured before it is now.  LOL!

I love what’s happening today.  I have a great sense of joy!  I took today off work to stay home and watch the inauguration.  The peaceful passing of power to a new leader is extraordinary.  It really is!  I’m grinning ear to ear and crying at the same time. 

I love listening to and watching the campaigns.  The debates are awesome!  It’s amazing how so many people who all want “what’s best for America” can have so many different views and opinions on just what is “best” for the country.  And they all believe it so passionately!  You can hear it in their voice tones as they argue on morning talk shows.  You can see it in their facial expressions as they listen to opponents express opposing views.  You can feel it if you are ever in a room with them.  It’s impressive.

And to watch today the way everyone comes together to pass power from one leader to the next, with no malice, with no (obvious) bitterness, with no hatred…..it’s a joyous occasion.  It’s one of the most incredible things about our nation.  There may be words used as weapons during campaigns, but in the end they all recognize what an impossible job it is to be President of the United States. 

I just love this stuff!  It’s not the fighting, it’s not the arguments, it’s not the “who can talk the loudest to be heard at the expense of anyone else with an idea.”  It’s pure government.  It’s altruistic. 

Yes, yes.  They all have egos beyond belief.  I get that.  But that makes it even more impressive to me.  They have to work to overcome those egos, or at least learn to set them aside.  Being President comes at a huge cost.  One most of us would not be willing to pay.  Or at least I wouldn’t.  How they manage to keep a hold of any sense of self in that role is beyond my understanding.  So many people talking in your ear—either telling you what they think you want to hear, or trying to find some way to get you to decide things the way they want them decided.  How do you discern truth?  How do you keep hold of your core values, your core self under such unbelievable pressure?

The mind boggles.

Days like today bring out the best in our government and in our politicians. 

And that brings me great joy.

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