I had all the rest of the lessons about myself written and ready to roll onto this page, but sadly my laptop crashed on me. So, I suppose, my last life lesson to learn, before I turn 50, is that I am flexible.
I can be ready for anything at any time. That’s not to say I’ll like whatever I have to face. I should have washed my mouth out with soap, the words that flew outta there when I realized my laptop was gone with all its files.
No, I didn’t back up my files. Yes, it’s all my fault. Yes, I’m incredibly angry with myself, but no there’s nothing I can do to bring them back. Will I spend my time dwelling on it? No. That’s not productive and it would certainly do nothing for my state of mind. So, flexible.
I am rewriting my script. I am skirting around the corner that wasn’t there yesterday. I can’t say if I was born this way or learned to be flexible because life gave it to me to learn. Either way, it doesn’t make sense to me to roll around in self-pity, ever. I’d much rather pick myself up, dust off the last remnants of sadness/anger/frustration and move the hell on.
I learn best when I get dirty. It’s true. That explains why I chose nursing as a career. It’s a dirtier job than you might expect; don’t let those bright colored scrubs and white shoes fool you. I’ve been, literally, up to my elbows in humanity as a nurse – physically, emotionally. It’s tough. But being hands on is the only way I know how to do.
I can listen to an interesting lecture for hours and be totally engaged. Problem is, by the time I get home and take off my coat I’ve forgotten probably ¾ of what was said. I’ll have the gist of it, but not much more. How frustrating, too, because in group settings there’s always one funny little story to be retold after and I forget them right along with everything else. I love telling funny little stories, too!
But if I’m working, hand-on, on a problem or project while listening to a lecture about it, I’ll have no trouble remembering it. Likewise, if I write notes during a lecture I’ll be more likely to remember what was said better.
There’s an old adage that says when you DO something you remember it, and I’m sure there’s truth to it. But, it’s also true that different people have different learning preferences. Some would rather watch a video because they’re visual learners. Some would really rather just listen. Me? I have to get in there and get dirty.
This type of learning is also referred to kinesthetic (meaning movement and muscle engagement) or experiential. It’s a sweet treat for me to think of learning as a whole body activity. Immersion in a subject is the best way to learn it, though, so it shouldn’t surprise me that I would find this pleasing. I also like the picture in my head of me diving into a pond filled with knowledge and just swimming through it, floating on it, splashing in it. How great would that be?
I suppose learning hands-on is another way that I hold onto my propensity to be child-like. Children learn with their whole bodies. They have to, right? At the moment of birth babies are plunged into this whole new world and can’t help but experience all those brand new sensations with their entire being. I try to imagine what that would be like as an adult. It sounds a little overwhelming, but that’s an experiment I’d definitely sign up for.
Now, having spent this bit of time writing about learning hands-on, I’m ready to run out into the woods and explore a fallen leaf or the crook of a tree. I guess I gotta get off this plane, first 😉
“Child-like curiosity” It’s one of my favorite phrases and I hope to always keep mine.
Today I went on an internet hunt for ways to remain ever curious. I found some pretty great stuff, so of course I have to share.
Curiosity.com: This site’s tagline is “Learn Every Day” and I love that. Each day these folks post little informational blurbs about all kinds of interesting things. Then you have the option to click through and learn more. The facts are referenced to respected sites like National Geographic and Cambridge University, too, so it’s not crap.
Here’s an example of what I learned today: How many poppy seeds are too many? Because heroine is made of poppy seeds and you wouldn’t want to OD on a bagel or anything.
The site is apparently attached to a free mobile app, so you can access these interesting little factoids while standing in line at the grocery store. It’s better than checking Facebook for the 12th time in the past hour, right?
Oh, and in case you were interested, you shouldn’t eat more than a teaspoon of poppy seeds for every seven pounds of body weight. I don’t know about you, but I don’t even know where to find that much poppy seed in one place anyway, so I think I’m safe.
BabyCenter.com had some valuable tips for how parents can encourage their children’s curiosity. I was able to flip them a bit and apply them to myself.
Turn small outings into adventures. Say you have to go to the grocery store, make a pact with yourself to smile at every single person you pass. Mentally count how many smile back! It’s a great way to discover just how much your own smile can brighten someone else’s day. Especially if that grouchy looking old guy with a limp catches you smiling at him. You might get a wink in return!
Slow down. If you move too fast you miss the most fascinating sights. When I walk out in the desert, I walk very slowly and with my eyes trained to the tiniest details. I have photo upon photo of the sweetest little desert wild flowers that I would otherwise have missed.
Let each question lead to a quest. I’ve learned so much about geology since moving to the Las Vegas area four years ago. The mountains here are made of many different types of rock and were formed by different geological activities. Out driving or hiking in all this stark beauty just begged for me to study more, and that’s exactly what I did. I even found an old guidebook that maps out roads to follow in the area and pinpoints different land masses. Score!
That’s just a short list of the tips on the site. Please! Click that link up there and check out the rest of them 🙂
Even Forbes is down with curious. Their article discusses how to “think like a genius” by embracing curiosity. While I’m not a huge fan of Forbes and the ideas that no matter what we do we should always yearn for bigger, better, louder, whatever, I like the focus here. Basically, the article is about how we should keep asking WHY.
Adults get fixed into patterns of thinking. Like if I have always parted my hair on the right it means that’s just how it should be. Except that I have could part my hair on the opposite side of my head any morning I choose. Why do I drive to work on the same road to work? Why should I be nice to that mean lady when she’s never nice to me?
Simple questions like that, and their simple investigation for answers, can lead to habit changing behavior. Maybe eventually they’ll lead you to think, “Why do I keep this same boring job when there are so many more interesting jobs in the world?” Or maybe you’ll just learn that you’ve always parted your hair on the right because you have a weird cowlick on the left side and it makes your hair look all wonky. That’s also possible.
And that’s my point, I think, in the end. Anything is possible. But you have to be open to anything, open to see all those possibilities. So take off those blinders and practice being that curious little tyke you used to be!
I live my life as though I am one big experiment. See, if I’m an experiment, I can’t expect to get things right. It takes a load of stress off me because experiments aren’t about getting it right. They’re about discovery. What better way to look at life than as a big project of self-discovery where right and wrong don’t matter?
I’m not talking moral choices of right and wrong, to be clear. Sure there are the rare few who do “bad” things just to feel what it’s like, but that’s out of character for me. I’m referring to what’s right and wrong as personal choices. Like, how do I want to live my life? Make a living? Spend my time with? Make a life?
I see the path that I’ve walked to this point as a giant spiral, slowly turning in, moving closer and closer to the center of… me. My core self, I suppose. I spot the same sights over and over as I move, and by sights I mean issues/life challenges. At each turn, though, I see them from a different perspective and with different experiences under my belt. So, in essence, I learn the same things about myself over and over, but each time the learning is more in-depth and nuanced.
I imagine some would think that sort of relearning is too tedious. And reading it over, it sounds it. Or maybe that I’m incredibly hard headed because I, apparently, need to get clobbered by the same life lesson time after time before I finally learn. There’s at least a grain of truth in that, too, most likely.
Ultimately, though, this is the form my life has taken. I don’t see a need to fight it. So I’ll just keep moving in this life’s spiral, experimenting and filling my days with discovery.
I can think of worse ways to spend my time…
I try hard to be a thoughtful person. It seems easy for some people to do what’s thoughtful and just be that way all day, everyday. It’s not for me. I try, but I wish it were more automatic. So with that in mind, here are seven reminders for how I can work to be a more thoughtful person:
Which is a perfect place to end this list, because, well, I know darn well as hard as I try, some days I will be a thoughtless cur. And the best thing I can do at the end of those days is know that I have another chance to be the kind and thoughtful person I want to be tomorrow.
All of my life experiences put together could surely have converged to break me, heart and soul. But I am a strong woman, and I am fortunate for it.
If I were a religious person, I might believe the words “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength but with your testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” I’ve never read the bible, though, and I only have a vague idea of who Paul was. For that and some other reasons, God quotes are not my thing. Buddha is more my speed:
He is able who thinks he is able.
I am strong, not because God thinks so. I am strong because I think so. I feel that so much more deeply. I am responsible for who and what I am. And I choose strong.
I absolutely have my weak moments. I’ve stumbled and fallen. I doubt myself all the time, but ultimately I know that I will face any challenge I come to and find a way to come away from it whole. Plus, hopefully, I’ll come out stronger and wiser in the mix.
It’s interesting, I think, that this time in history, we are made to believe that strength should be a constant. As though, no matter what we face we must prevail. From the moment a life trial begins, it’s already on the way to its end because we are/must be just that strong. It’s a dangerous construct, that one is.
I cannot be strong 100 percent of the time. I am not a robot. I am a living, malleable, emotional human being. With that comes the fact that I will have moments of strength equally with moments of weakness. The part that matters is who I become in the end.
I may be weak today or tomorrow, or for all of next month, but ultimately I must become stronger. Why is that? Because I choose it. And I have the power to make it so.
I am a tactile person. Or, if you prefer, touchy-feely. This is not to say I am a casual hugger. I don’t like when people think that because you’ve met you could be or should be friends that you surely will be and, so, a hug is in order. I don’t abide that sort of behavior. Though, that’s probably more a function of my definition of friend vs acquaintance than it is about whether or not I’m tactile.
I receive great pleasure in touch. I don’t mean sexual pleasure, although it is a bonus. It’s just that my tactile senses are hyper-aware, maybe. I’ve been scolded at more than one museum for touching the smooth, ancient marble of a sculpture – I just can’t contain myself. I MUST touch it. I experience things best through my sense of touch. And what better way to experience ancient art than to touch it?
As soon as I see a sign or hear a warning “Do Not Touch” I must. I need to know why. A waitress brings a plate and warns, “Don’t touch it, it’s super hot!” What is my reaction? I touch it to judge for myself, dammit. Of course I do.
I know that most people feel most deeply through their fingertips, but I adore using the palms of my hands. Maybe because they are used less often, so are more sensitive? Or maybe because when I use the palms of my hands I feel an emotional connection. And yes, I understand how odd that sounds. I might have an emotional connection to my table? Well, my table does a lot: It holds my coffee cup in the mornings. It holds all manner of clutter that land on it throughout the day, and without complaint mind you. It doesn’t complain if I forget to give it a good scrubbing. Plus, I like the feel of the bitty ridges of the laminate surface.
Beyond my table, though, my heightened tactile sense takes me to wonderful places. I touch the leaves and flowers and rocks of the forest. To touch nature is to touch the divine. I poke the sharp spines of the Acacia trees as I pass them by on a hike. They are a wicked form of protection. Then, there is the pleasure I get when I stroke the soft hair of my love’s forearm. What pure feelings of love and contentment, right there in the palm of my hand, and on the tips of my fingers. Intense and intimate, like sex, but appropriate in any setting.
I’m actually a little disappointed to think that others don’t have these same intense feelings when they touch things. But maybe, in the end, that’s not so bad. We’d be like a planetful of people rolling on X. How would we ever wage wars or hate people or —
Oh, wait. On second thought…
I am a sensitive soul. I care deeply, I feel deeply, I hurt deeply, I enjoy deeply…
I have been accused, in the past, of being overly sensitive and I understand why. I honestly do. Caring deeply about a person or a political issue, or whatever, means that I commit 100% to any discussion I have about said person or issue. I’ll get loud and adamant during the discussion and this makes people uncomfortable, because “Hey, it’s not a big deal.”
But it is. To me.
And that is not a bad thing. If I care about you in the least, I care deeply. I can’t help it, I can’t change it; it’s simply a fact of my life. I take things more seriously than most people because of my sensitivity, and that’s okay. I would feel like half the person I am if I cared less than I do now.
I won’t apologize for being my sensitive self. Nor should you feel that I should. In the same way I shouldn’t feel like you ought to feel more than you do. We should have variety in everything, right? Not just ice cream flavors.
When it comes to being labeled “overly” sensitive, I really am about being judged for it. The reason is, is that I appreciate the depths of feeling I am capable of. But if I could trade it for less pain I wouldn’t. Ever. If I am to be allowed my extreme joys, I have to tolerate the sorrows.
Honestly, it’s a lot easier to do since I decided I didn’t give a good goddam if anyone else was okay with it or not. My feelings are none of anybody’s business but mine.
I’m having a difficult time describing how and why I am a protector. Maybe it’s because the trait is too ingrained to be able to tease it out to analyze. But to put it plainly, I protect the people I love. Not because they can’t do it for themselves, not because I have to fill a weakness of theirs, and not because without me they would be lost. I know my limitations. I don’t hold myself up as some all-powerful guardian of good and right. But in my mind, you protect those you love from harm. Period. I suppose I could say I believe it’s part of my “job” as a loving human being.
In the end, maybe I’m having a hard time with this one because it’s just that simple. Isn’t that the truth? Some of the simplest concepts are the hardest to put into words.
I am drawn to abandonment. My camera takes me to abandoned places and I am compelled to document all the things left alone, to rot. My pen writes fictional charcters and places, abandoned by those who used to love, used to care. My mind wanders to real and imagined scenes of abandonment, perhaps too frequently. And I wonder.
Why this obsession?
As a little girl I used to mourn the loss of friends who were simply leaving after a long weekend visit. I don’t quite remember, but did I worry I’d never see them again? Or did I think they were leaving me, behind? I remember the tears, and I remember hiding, around the corner, behind the door. Just out of eyesight, but still within earshot of the last closing of the front door.
We fear being unloved, unlovable. There is safety in number. Humans are social beings. We crave companionship, like the drowning crave a cool breath of air.
It is not aloneness that scares me. I am content with myself. It’s my fear of undeservedness. But undeserving of what, I cannot say.
Instead I write. Raw tales. Complicated characters. Imperfect people and places and scenes. And if I write them well enough, maybe I can find, finally, all that I deserve.