Can I just preface this post by reminding everyone that I travel....a lot....for work? That fact translates to: long periods of waiting for an airplane, sitting in a cab, waiting longer for a plane, hanging out in hotel rooms, waiting even longer for a plane....you get the drill. Sounds like I'm making an excuse for a bit of "crazy" in which I engage. Well, I am.
In addition to working on my book for Corwin Press which will be out in print in a couple of weeks, I am trying to mentor doctoral students at Walden University, write another book, keep up with a blog, be a consultant for the Danielson Group, be a consultant for Waterford Early Learning, going to the gym each day, learning to play golf, and....oh yes, be a good wife to Dave and a good mother to the three Labs.
Do I have time to play games on my phone? Not really but every once in a while, I have down time that can't be spent working on my next project. So, I made the fatal error of looking for a game app on my phone. There it was, My Talking Tom, a game that said it involved a kitten and helping it live a full life. Sounds easy, mindless and maybe even a little fun. Maybe I have to help get the kitten to find a mouse or maybe I have to get the kitten to run away from a puppy in record time.
Oh no......that would be way too easy and involve little or no commitment. As I opened the downloaded app, it introduced me to my new kitten and said I was now responsible for feeding it, taking it to the bathroom, putting it to bed, and playing games with it. Oh well, I said, some of the games I could play with it seemed like mindless time-passers. Au contraire. I have to earn enough points in the games to BUY FOOD for the kitten or My Tom will perish!!! I also saw almost immediately that I had to take him to the bathroom (complete with a stall he hides behind, no less---he is a modest kitten, after all) at regular intervals.
I suddenly recalled the anxiety I felt in high school when we were suddenly thrust into parenting role by having to keep an egg safe for several days while mean boys tried to crack our eggs to show we were bad parents.
I told myself last night I simply couldn't handle the pressure of worrying about a silly animated cat....until I had just taken a break during my training for administrators today when I heard a tiny "Mew" come from the table where I had put my purse, etc. As I stepped closer, I was mortified to realize it was my phone! And on it was a message: "I have to go to the bathroom" next to the icon of a kitten. Tom was mewing at me!! I quickly took him to the bathroom (what? you couldn't think I would leave him hanging) and succeeded in missing my own restroom break.
I have been reminded of how we should examine our priorities. When we say, "I don't have time to work out", what we're really saying is, "I'm making time for other things that are more important." How do we spend any precious few minutes we have? I try to read a Bible verse or meditation each morning but every once in a while, I think, "I don't really have time." That's simply not true. I am putting my time into something else, be it going back to sleep for a few more minutes, having a bowl of cereal while I check my email, or any number of things.
Just for today, perhaps we should examine our priorities. I certainly am going to examine mine and promptly remove this kitten app that is rapidly consuming my life. <mew> What was that? Oh, I have to run, now. My kitten just said he's hungry and I need to feed him.
Are you watching the Emmy awards? I love the "Man on the Street" bit in which Seth Meyers is standing right there and they ask unknowing, random folks on the street who is hosting the Emmys, and folks can't figure out the answer. I laugh out loud at scenarios such as that because I see the highest level of humor in everyday people with everyday reactions.
The Emmys stand out to me in one other way, as well. As an award recipient comes up to accept their statuette, people laud and cheer for them. But after their 45 seconds, music starts playing to remind folks to cease and desist their talking. The music increases in volume if they keep going too much longer.
I was thinking: what would happen if this was the way of the world in everyday life?
Imagine a group of advertising execs sitting around a table pitching a new advertising idea and one person is monopolizing the conversation. All of a sudden, from out of nowhere comes the sound of lilting music....and the person took the cue and winded down their diatribe.
Maybe you even can imagine the same happening when politicians get up to speak.
The problem, of course, is that in real life, when people drone on, the only sounds you might hear are the sighs of the rest of the folks around them as well as perhaps the eyes rolling around them. In fact, there is a high degree of need for each of us to self-monitor our own talk. Are we talking too much in groups or do we sit back and let others do the talking? In the best case scenario, full participation coupled with self-monitoring is optimal.
Why not, just for today, imagine we have our own internal Emmy music that can begin playing in our heads before we drone on too long? It might make what we do say more effective and keep others listening with both ears.
Happy Communicating and I hope you noticed I wrapped this blog up before my music cue could begin....
I love facilitating workshops with adult learners, particularly with those who are eager to learn and ready to put in some hard work! This week on Long Island, I am completely spoiled by the level of participation by the administrators with whom I am working. So, it is no small wonder that I have smiled a lot today. A lot.
But there have been three things that have made me laugh out loud just in the few hours since I finished teaching today.
First of all, I went to the front desk of my absolutely beautiful hotel and conference center in Glen Cove, New York and told the front desk agent I appreciated all of her help in securing a room for me while a television series was being filmed here this week. She smiled and said, "Your name is Dr. Arneson, right?" Wow! I was impressed. I had checked in a few hours before and she remembered me! "That is impressive that you remember that" I complimented. She sheepishly looked at me and admitted, "I have to be honest. You are wearing your nametag still" Handslap to forehead and I laughed outloud. My life lesson for the day? Be aware at all times. Having said that, I still stand by complimenting her. She did a good job and everyone deserves an "attaboy" for a job well done.
Next, I went out for a walk on the grounds of this absolutely stunning hotel. I walked down by the water's edge, enjoying being outside after a long but rewarding day of training. Always on the lookout for dog-lovers (especially when missing my sweet three Lab girls at home), I noticed a Golden Retriever and a lady walking. As I got closer, I had to laugh outloud. The lady was walking independent of the dog. The dog had its own leash in its mouth. Love it!! Life lesson #2? Let's teach our youth (and pets, if we can) to do the right thing even when we aren't holding on tightly to the reins.
As I returned from town to get some dinner, I noticed even more action around the front of the hotel. They are filming the CBS series "Madame Secretary" here and there are caterers, actors, equipment operators, sound guys, directors, and more Hollywood folks than you can shake a stick at. As I walked to the front entrance, I heard a hush following someone calling out "Quiet on the set." And that is when I noticed all the signs that had been put up since I left saying "Quiet--filming in progress". I almost laughed out loud as I realized I was seeing lights and actors actually filming a scene for this series, and I almost walked into it. Life lesson #3? Be on your best behavior at all times, because you never know when someone (or the American television viewing audience) may be watching.
I hope you have found something today that makes you laugh outloud.
Let me preface this blog post by saying that most everything I find myself venting about (translated: whining about) now sounds like a first - world problem. But stick with me and call it as you see it.
I travel a good bit to the east coast for work. What that means is, as someone who lives in Arizona, I have to get up extremely early. As my former priest in the Episcopal Church used to say, "Nothing good happens between 1:00 and 4:00 in the morning." You got that right, Father! At the top of the list of "nothing good happens" is getting out of bed at 3:30 in the morning when our normally boundless bundles of energy (aka our 3 Labs) are openly snoring under the covers. But I love what I do (not the getting up before the Dunkin' Donuts guy even thinks about doughnuts, but the educational consulting), so I do it with a smile (maybe it resembles a grimace, but what would you know? No other sane person is up at that time of the morning to see it).
From Tucson, I typically have to "hop" through L.A., Denver, or Houston to get to the Northeast. Today was an L.A. kind of morning. I got to L.A. at 7:30 and my next flight to Baltimore was scheduled to leave at 9:00. "Scheduled to leave...." is the operative phrase. Well, technically, we did leave.....the gate.....to sit on the tarmac for one hour. (are you already shouting "This is a first world problem, Shelly, especially since you are sitting in first-class watching an episode of 'The Walking Dead'"?)
Okay, but here is the reason we sat on said tarmac for one hour.
Pilot: "Folks, this is your captain speaking from the flightdeck. We are going to pull over and park for a few minutes because we just received word that there is a line of thunderstorms in Baltimore passing through and they want us to wait a bit before taking off."
Hmmmmmm...... (thus, the name of the blog post).....last time I checked Googlemaps (and trust me, I do it all the time to find out where the nearest place is to my hotel that I can get a fountain diet coke), L.A. is across the country....literally five hours away....from Baltimore. Isn't there a chance that little line of storms might pass before we fly clear across the continental U.S??
But, as I sat there, incredulous, I thought to myself, "Shelly, you need to seek first to understand. They actually fly a bit more than you do. They may know a few things you do not about how air traffic may be affected if we take off now."
This whole notion of seeking first to understand is such a critical piece in communication. We might likely want to seek first to understand before jumping to conclusions in any communication scenario, lest we find ourselves overlooking a perfectly good reason for something.
Just for today, perhaps we should consider practicing "seeking first to understand". Now, I am going to go pack an umbrella for the thunderstorm that passed through an hour ago.
On my girlfriend trip to the mountains last week, I was lamenting not being able to find a fountain diet coke readily available. Angelle sweetly (really!) pointed out to me that this is what is now considered a first-world problem. Jil and I both asked, "A what?" until we realized the implications. Someone in much less comfortable circumstances would never complain about such a thing.
I was humbled......and then reminded of Dave's admonition to me several years ago. We had been skiing in Lake Tahoe when I twisted my knee, which resulted in a fall that very nearly resulted in me pushing Dave onto a Double Diamond Black run when I slid into him (a great baseball move---not so much for a ski move). After riding down the mountain wrapped up like a bright yellow burrito on a toboggan, I was taken to the first aid department, where a "doctor" who looked like he could be my son proclaimed, "Well, it's not broken." I expressed my optimism, emitting a feeble "yea!!" Young Doogie Howser looked at me with a pitiful look that said, "I'm so sorry you didn't get the same medical school training I got" and actually said, "You wish it was broken. I have a strong feeling it is a torn ACL and that is NOT good." So much for optimism. After ACL repair surgery (that resulted in an "oops" when my surgeon fractured my kneecap, a kneecap that then had to be wired together for 6 weeks), I had months of physical therapy in front of me. When I complained (maybe just a little bit) about not being able to work out during those months, Dave looked at me one day and said, "Hey, at least you still have your legs." Really? Yes, really. First world problem, right?
What are your favorite examples of first-world problems? Please share because they really do sound humorous when we talk about them --- getting it out there that we are human.
*Maybe you complained that you had to park your new car so far across the parking lot from the store (at least you have a car, right?)
*Maybe you whined because your gourmet dinner out was a bit salty. (not everyone gets to eat out, right?)
*Maybe you lamented because you have to get up so early to drive to work (not everyone has a job, right?)
*Maybe I have done all of these at one time or another.
Maybe, just for today, we need to be reminded (if you need to borrow Dave to do the reminding, he is really good at it---trust me) of how grateful we should truly be if we have our good health and a bit of happiness.
Happy Communicating, and now I have to go re-pack my carry-on bag, because even though I got upgraded to First Class for my flight back home tomorrow morning, I got a seat that has no under-seat storage. What a bummer. :)