Kiss off, please.

I’m in a bad mood so I thought I’d blog.

My bad mood doesn’t have anything to do with world events. Well, not directly. I mean, yes, our country is a hot mess, and, yes, I think most people on social media are cowards, but no, they are not the fountainhead of my bad mood.

Everything else is though.

It’s been a rough day (and a rough few weeks). I Googled “how to dip off the radar” and here’s how the results came back:

  • “Find your sweet spot and incorporate regular breaks into your year.” (*me, useless)
  • “’Under the radar’ is a clear dip powder for nails.” (*me, WTF?)
  • And my favorite, “Someone who wanted to steal the Malaysia Airlines jet could theoretically shut off the transponder and dip down to an altitude of 5,000 feet.” (*me, woopsie…)

Thanks, Google.

What do you do when your ambition exceeds your patience? You know what? I take that question back. My mood has nothing to do with ambition or patience. Or… directly, anyway. But I do want to tell pretty much everyone in my life to kiss off. Is that bad? How terrible of a person does this make me? That I want to tell everyone I know to go away?

I know what I’m not: I’m not a convenience. I’m not a robot. I’m not anyone’s motivation. I’m not cheating death. I’m not making a modern career. I’m not feeding the flame. I’m not known for what I love. I’m not baring all. I’m not expecting things. I’m not depressed. I’m not feeling all of life’s problems. I’m not always right. I’m not always wrong. I’m not breaking bad.

I am: Looking for more trees and less cactus. Wanting to write more and market less. Experience more and watch less. Breathe more and grunt less. Get hurt more and stay safe less. Hang on the bottom rung more and climb less. I want outrageous ideas. I want every bit, handpicked.

I think it’s time for a new chapter. I think it’s time for something bold. Now I’ve heard what people have said about me in the past. That I’m overbearing and even self-destructive. Well, good thing I have immense regenerative abilities, eh? I promise you I can grow back a new tail!

This next season I think is going to be all about extremes, intensity, obsession and desires. Some very serious feelings are bothering me right now.

First order of business might be to get this bad mood in check. I mean, I don’t think I want everyone to kiss off. It just sounds good.

I think.

There once was a minnow.

Do you suppose it’s terrible to talk about yourself or anything positive (or negative) that doesn’t happen to be about world events?

With everything that is going on in our world today, I feel pretty guilty writing about myself …yet here I am.

I just accepted a position with a company that will pay me a lot of money. They believe I am “a talented and gifted writer and strategist” at the “top of my game.”

Talented? Shakespeare doesn’t live here, folks.

Gifted?? Not inept, but far from masterly.

At the top of my game? Sure, if we’re talking minor league.

(My cover letter is pretty awesome, though. It begins this way: I consider myself a Swiss-army knife of strategic disciplines. I know writing and editing as much as I know business strategy. I am also a left and right-brain thinker. I believe in turning over every stone (in a piece of writing and every campaign), then polishing it so the whole thing sparkles majestically.)

***

Imposter Syndrome is real, but so isn’t my vision of greatness in work. Can one transcend self-limitations and be extraordinary when it matters most? The president of Ukraine proves it’s possible. No, I’m not comparing myself to President Zelenskyy. But some people are meant to rise higher in life. Some people have an unwavering attitude of gratitude and grit. They achieve this growth mindset and thereby achieve their moonshot dreams. I’m not even sure I know what my moonshot dreams are. And grit? I might have had nerve… back in my 20s. And do I want to rise higher in life? I’m getting old. I’m getting tired. I’m very comfortable in this mid-level area where I don’t have to work extraordinarily hard to maintain my innate drive to be excellent.

Now, a story about a pike.

***

Pikes are pretty forgettable fish unless you’re a smaller fish, in which case pikes are downright troublesome. (That’s what you call a creature that eats you alive.)

Scientists dropped some tiny minnows into a tank containing a single pike in an experiment. Predictably, the pike ate the minnows immediately. But then, a funny thing happened. The scientists lowered in the next group of minnows inside a glass cup. The pike, who couldn’t even begin to grasp the concept of glass and, using his tiny brain, began to smash up against the cup in chase of the minnows. He did this for hours until finally, he drifted to the bottom of the tank, dejected.

Then, the scientists removed the glass cup, and the minnows swam freely all around the tank, undisturbed by the pike. Tasty little morsels swimming right under his nose, and he didn’t move so much as an inch.

This is what scientists today call “learned helplessness.”

Learned helplessness is a condition in which a person (or animal) suffers from a sense of powerlessness due to traumatic events or persistent failure. It’s the reason we believe a situation is either unchangeable or inescapable.

What does this have to do with my new job and colossal paycheck?

Learned helplessness is also a form of thinking that we are a certain way, so we can’t do certain things. A job that pays a hefty salary usually comes with hefty accountabilities and responsibilities, right? Hiring managers don’t typically offer large salaries to entry-level employees. No, I’m not entry-level, but the idea that my salary has jumped as high as it did in one move makes me wonder what accountabilities I’m in for. Better yet, am I qualified for?

Back to the pike. He couldn’t get those minnows, so to him, he was destined to never eat another minnow again. I’m a bit like the pike today. I never pulled in this salary, and I’m reasonably sure I’m not that “level” of an employee. Hmm, how can I better tie this together? Try this: tasty little morsels are swimming right in front of our noses, evidence and ideas that suggest we should make certain choices or try certain things. But we don’t budge. We discount or overlook them. Like our ornery friend the pike, we’ve been trained into believing we are helpless in a situation – or in my case, not worthy of such a large salary.

This story runs in my head as I walk into my new job. And it’s the story that’s been running in my head for years. I think I’m suffering from a specific case of learned helplessness. Thanks to years of cultural norms beating a particular message into my brain, it was learned.

So, the appropriate next question is, if we learned something, can we un-learn it?

Yes! We can un-learn our sense of learned helplessness. How we view things may have calcified thanks to a previous narrative. Still, we can and should seek to change that narrative when we recognize our current story is limiting us. In other words, we can tell a better story in our heads, which then affects how we approach our work.

Unlike the pike, we aren’t running into the glass so much as other barriers. Every time we come up against one, we try to make sense of the moment. We explain the world to ourselves. The more we explain setbacks and obstacles, the more the explanation calcifies in our minds. If we aren’t careful, a pessimistic description can harden our worldview. We then suffer from learned helplessness.

We all do something complicated and daunting in our work, no matter what we create: content, companies, cultures, change in society. It’s daunting to think the product of our minds must be good enough to resonate with others, cut through the noise and spark action, and create movements, businesses, and legacies. That alone is daunting enough, but making matters worse is often how we explain the world in our own minds.

But if we knew about learned helplessness and how it formed, and if we could dissect our own explanations of the world, then maybe we could better control the way we see that next task or opportunity or challenge. We can harness our internal narrative for forwarding momentum and avoid falling victim to the tricks our minds play on us, causing us to shrink for the moment. We can un-learn any helplessness we feel and learn to show up better in our work and lives.

Perhaps I never pulled in a big salary because my work wasn’t worthy, but employers didn’t value it. And therefore, neither did I.

I guess what I’m trying to say is even though the world is in disarray, we shouldn’t put our own story on hold for fear of sounding self-consumed. We shouldn’t think we need only to speak the story of world events. In fact, in the end, the most important story we tell is the one we tell ourselves.

Career in a box.

office cubicles

 

I once started in a new job, and by Day 2, I knew I’d made a colossal mistake.

Sitting in a leadership team meeting, I cracked a silly joke. The room went silent, and everyone stared at me like I’d grown another head. I thought, “Ohhhhh, this will not end well.” Four months of frustration later, I am done.

I will never work somewhere that I can’t bring my whole self, stupid jokes and all. As I job hunt, I’ve made a litmus test: my new favorite laptop sticker, which is silly, and I LOVE it. It’s from a dog rescue that funds vet bills for people who can’t pay them. If I ever find myself in a situation where I’d be tempted to peel this off before an in-person meeting… the deal’s off.

***

We often feel our emotions are blended to bits from our jobs. We sprint, run, jog, then walk; we heave, collapse, and lurch ourselves barely over the finish line to realize a new quarter, a new project, a goal, a new deadline to meet, or a problem to solve. Sometimes, it’s all we can do to stagger to our feet again. The voices in our heads start to creep in: “Just settle. Just do it that old, boring, outdated way, and nobody would question it.”

We send messages to others that we think, say, and do what they expect us to think, say, and do regardless of what our intuition is urging us to BE.

In these moments, when we feel like we’re just eking by, or else we really need a win or a confidence boost, it’s so tempting to do something dangerous: conform. A career in a box.

So, let me ask you: have you ever stood there, needing a win, maybe a bit more confidence, and perhaps a goddamn break from it all … and so you showed up as someone other than your true self?

Yeah.

Me, too.

But I think there’s good news for us.

Great work requires your true self and your actual beliefs to come through forcefully. Don’t couch them. Your actual quirks coming out from where they’ve been hiding.

Your work. Your way.

Your career. Your choice.

Your life. Your script.

What “one” is supposed to do is rarely what you are supposed to do. People around you, even people similar to you, are not YOU. However, finding out what path works best for you is squarely on your shoulders. It’s on each of us, and we’re entirely on the hook to figure it out and pursue it. Nobody else will do it for us, and nobody else is coming.

Maybe you really want to open the CAREER IN A BOX. That’s great! Some people like knowing each step ahead of them. Fantastic! The important part is that you know that about yourself.

But while some people want a paint-by-numbers career straight from the box, I tried that, and I was miserable. I realized (thanks in no small part to lots of thrashing in the wrong jobs in my 20s and 30s and 40s) I want a blank canvas career instead. And if I don’t like how this painting starts to look, I’ll just toss it aside and grab a new canvas.

Maybe you are part of a circle of loving friends who do exactly what you do, or maybe your loved ones don’t exactly understand what you do. (That’s me, as you might suspect. A description of my friends and me sound like the setup to a bad joke. “A doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an accountant, and a [whatever the hell Lisa is] walk into a bar…”)

Because you can’t really use a single word to sum up my work, I say “writer” most often.

Whatever the hell Lisa is.”

What I “is” is me.

(I did it, Dad. I wrote the best sentence of my life.)

What I am… is me. It’s all I can be. It’s all I’ll ever be. So I may as well stop lying to myself and get on with being it. People say “to each their own,” so we each may as well own it. If you really love the pomp and circumstance, sing the song. If you really love The Simpsons, buy the poster. But do it for yourself, not someone else, and not because you were told it’s what you’re “supposed to do.”

The expectations of others become crutches on which we lean when our confidence wavers. In moments of uncertainty or struggle, it’s tempting to stuff down our quirks and our convictions and show up to work acting like someone else.

No matter how uncertain or scared, or stressed you feel, I implore you don’t obsess over what someone like you is supposed to do. Obsess over what YOU are supposed to do. That’s a lifelong pursuit, but it’s well worth a lifetime.

Know who you are. Know why you do this work.

It’s your career.

Do it your way.

So here’s hoping everyone out there brings their awesome, authentic, whole selves to whatever it is you’re doing. Oh, and tell your dog I said hi.

When my daily horoscope forces me to action, I blow it. Sheesh.

My horoscope this morning read: Shine your light on the lives of others and dazzle them with your colorful conversation.

Hmm. What to say, what to say? Colorful. No pressure. Dazzle. No pressure. Shine, eh? …

Maybe I could talk about the open border crisis and how the Republicans are still asking the dumb question: “Why isn’t the Biden administration doing anything to close our borders?” I believe Tucker already told us why 11 months ago. Pay better attention, Republicans.

Or I could talk about the whole Joe Rogan thing. I can’t say I’ve been a loyal listener, but I have tuned in to Rogan now and then, depending on the guest and the topic. For instance, I listened to his 3 1/2-hour interview with Jewel. GREAT episode (#1724). I highly recommend listening to this one. But back to Spotify and the situation at hand … Be brave. Stay strong. Don’t cave.

Or I could ask you my burning chicken-and-egg question: Do you think your character is formed by how other’s see and describe you? Or is how people see and describe you formed by your character? During my childhood (and my early adulthood), my family, my teachers, pretty much all adults around me described me as timid.

Timid, adjective, showing a lack of courage or confidence; easily frightened.

I mean, when I’m told as a kid that I’m timid, then I must be timid, right? Probably why I grew up being a shy, walking people-pleaser. But tell me, would a timid person go toe-to-toe with a 6’2, 350lb German bully at the gym who invades my space? Yes, I got in his face (er, waist, but my eyes were glaring from an angle). Would a timid person call her boss out on a lie? (That was a dumb idea. I got fired over it.) Would a timid person turn on her camera on a Zoom call and spend an hour presenting a marketing strategy to the folks at Wendy’s? (The real, actual, legit big brand red pigtails, Wendy’s.)

I stopped being a people-pleaser years ago so have my actions changed the way people describe me? Or have I changed how I act because no one has called me timid in 25 years? Chicken? Egg? Nature? Nurture?

Or I could talk about my big news that’s happening in May. I’m moving home to Rhode Island. I’ve changed my mind several times over the last six months, but I think I’m sticking with – the move is on. Lots of reasons and lots of ah-ha moments, and yes, lots of meditation and looking for signs from the universe. Also, yes, I realize my daughter and granddaughter are here (and any day now my grandson will be, too), but maybe I was supposed to raise my daughter here so that she could grow up and bless me with the greatest granddaughter. And maybe Arizona was the necessary so she could meet the man of her dreams, fall in love, get married and bless me with a grandson. And maybe since all has been achieved it’s now OK to go home.

Or I can give you an update on the lactose intolerant, gluten free eating tennis player that I’m no longer seeing (at least he wasn’t a narcissist). I need you all to know that I tried. I really, really, really tried. I was calm. I communicated well. I was very accommodating to his many (maaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyy) needs. I listened. His love language (that effing book!!!) is touch (mine is not) (shocker) so I held his hand and did all the touchy feely cuddly things that he needed. I did all the shit – until I just couldn’t do the shit anymore…

Well, I suppose I can write about any one of these things, turning over every stone, then polishing it so the whole story sparkles majestically. Or I can wait till tomorrow’s horoscope and hopefully be let off the hook!

Mile 20

I’m running a marathon, and I’m at mile 20, and I’m tired.

This is the perfect segue. Kick me in the shins if you think otherwise.

Today.

It’s either like, ok, I’m using ALL my brain cells here, and the client doesn’t give a rat’s ass, or I’m using zero brain cells here.

There’s this story of a girl. She was 20 years old when she started writing her first novel. It took her 10 years to finish it. She was 30 when she hit the NY Times best seller list.

She was hailed a genius for the times. Her book was being made into a motion picture; it was translated into seven languages. Everyone wanted her on their talk show and podcast. She was on the news doing interviews almost daily. She won literary awards.

She had it all.

Ten years later — age 41 — and she was unable to write and finish another book. She had hundreds of starts, but not even a first chapter.

She went down this dark path of assumption. With decades left in her, she feared that anything she wrote from that point forward would be judged by the world as ‘the work that came after the freakish success of her first book’. She started to believe that it was exceedingly likely that her biggest success was behind her.

This led her to drink gin at 9am.

The lesson: Me, like she, needs to know to put a safe distance between myself and the anxiety if I want to continue to do the thing I love — and that’s writing. Distance between myself and what the reaction of that writing is going to be from now on.

(Also, if you really start to get into this gin thing, there is another realm: vintage gins.)

C*19: A new study is published—and the government is getting it all wrong

  1. A California school district is in the news for saying they will be testing students via temperature, nasal swab & BLOOD DRAW.
  2. Veep Harris is in the news for telling folks to start their Christmas shopping early to avoid possible global supply chain issues (which suggests more economic lockdowns may be on the horizon).
  3. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is in the news admitting that, as of yet, scientists have not been able to identify a vaccine that can stop variants in their tracks: “Every time that the variant appears in the world, our scientists are getting their hands around it. They are researching to see if this variant can escape the protection of our vaccine. We haven’t identified any yet…”
  4. Biden is in the news for (well, several reasons not limited to) urging corporations, private businesses and nonprofits to mandate employee vaccinations.

I want to look at this through an unbiased lens. I mean, I can be unbiased. I think.

I know none of us are truly unbiased, and I do have biases. One, maybe two. But I think if you read what I’m about to show you, number one, you’ll realize why I’m so biased, and number two, you’ll see that my biases are, indeed, founded. And my attempt is to deliver it in such a way that it does not tilt your biases, rather it informs and educates. (*fingers crossed emoji)

Just to be upfront, my biases (this word is already getting old): I believe we need to make health the main thing because healthy people are less vulnerable to ending up in the hospital or in ICU. And they’re surely less likely to suffer adverse health issues.

Here we go.

According to the research (see below for the link), out of 4.8 million hospitalized adults (over age 18) and across 800 different hospitals in the U.S., 540,000 individuals were hospitalized due to C*19.

(I would have thought this number would have been much higher.)

Of course there might be data that’s not included, and this research was only conducted from March 2020 to March 2021, but we’re talking about 11% of the hospitalization visits from 800 different hospitals were for C*19.

This new data found 94.9% of C*19 patients had the following common underlying health conditions (which most of us probably expect to be present) (except for number four) (and that all were highly preventable):

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Lipid imbalances
  3. Obesity
  4. Anxiety

In fact, the entire top 10 most prevalent conditions listed in this research were caused largely by people’s nutrition and lifestyle choices.

It’s been long known that underlying health conditions were risk factors for more severe infections and death, but this data from 540,000 infected patients across 800 different hospitals shares new insights.

NEW INSIGHTS. NEW INSIGHTS. NEW INSIGHTS. NEW INSIGHTS.

While it’s known that the number of underlying conditions that someone has increases the risk of death by several orders of magnitude, it’s important to know that 5.5% of all the hospitalized patients DID NOT HAVE one or more chronic health conditions. This says that half the C*19 hospitalizations included at least one, maybe more, pre-existing chronic health conditions.

The two conditions most strongly associated with risk of death were obesity and anxiety/fear-related disorders.

In fact, the strongest factor for death was obesity at 30% increased risk of death, and anxiety-based disorders at 28% increased risk of death.

This is where I have to pause and be critical of the bingeable fear-based messaging and propaganda, and misinformation from the main-stream media outlets.

Think back. Heck, look forward. A lot of people were so scared they didn’t leave their house, they sanitized, they wore masks and gloves, they had social-distancing hula hoops around them when they walked outside. I have to wonder if this unintended harm associated with the fear-based messaging can actually make people more susceptible to getting severely sick or even dying? I’ll let you decide what you think.

And then there is Diabetes with complication which shows 26% increased odds of death.

Figure 1 (above) shows the prevalence of the most frequent underlying health conditions in the sample of hospitalized patients.

What you’re seeing is this:

  • Essential Hypertension (and this means elevated levels of blood pressure) is prevalent in about 50% of individuals
  • Disorders of Lipid Metabolism (this involves cholesterol)
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes with Complication

You can read the list but look at all that’s at the top. This is preventable stuff.

Let’s get to what I find eye-popping and mind-blowing: Anxiety and fear-related disorders only made up about 20% of the most frequent underlying conditions, but they were strongly linked with death. Remember: 28% increased odds in terms of death. See above.

This is important to hit again regarding the unintended harms from the fear-based messaging and the disempowering information. What is the neurobiology of anxiety and the results of how our thoughts transmute specific messaging into our immune system? Anyone know that answer?

Constantly consuming fear-based messaging… death, dying, problems, the economy, the border, Afghanistan, Christmas shopping in August, and, and, and… all this can obviously contribute to anxiety – and now we’re seeing that anxiety is a frequently linked challenge here.

Eye-popping.

Figure 2 (above) shows the risk/ratio of death and the chances of going on a ventilator. What you’re looking at is:

  • Individuals that have no conditions compared to at least one pre-existing condition are 1.5x more likely to die.
  • Now compare individuals who have two to five pre-existing conditions compared to those who have none, we’re talking about 2.55x higher likelihood of death.
  • And here’s where it gets really interesting: some people have 10 or more conditions, and, yes, the prevalence of pre-existing conditions vary state from state (on the low end from 20% up to 63% depending on where you live), but individuals who have between six and 10 pre-existing conditions are 3.29x more likely to die compared to individuals who have none.

And I get it – you  might have bad genetics (which no one can control). Mom and dad gave you a bad deck of cards. Maybe you have an autoimmune disease that’s inheritable. Maybe you have asthma. Maybe you have a pre-existing condition you can’t control, but I find it hard to believe that if you have six or seven—or 10—that you can blame all of them on genetics.

I can also believe there might be a small percentage of people that do have maybe 2-5 conditions that are 100% inherited, but personally I think it’s much more likely that individuals who have multiple chronic conditions got them from their own nutrition, lack of exercise, lifestyle, and bad habits. ßbiases

You can blame genetics. You can blame information. You can blame the system. But really, we need to take ownership.

We all have access to information and to the internet. I mean this isn’t 1920. With that in mind, and while I do have compassion that some people are not actually getting health information, I believe this is why the CDC, WHO, our government, should all be disseminating the information. This should be the message. I mean, if the more [preventable] pre-existing conditions you have, the more likely you are to die or end up on a ventilator or in ICU, then why are we not talking about preventing death with good nutrition, sleep habits, exercise… ?

Unbiased/biased. How about just plain common sense. We need to prioritize health with proper nutrition, exercise, and a whole host of other preventative strategies. Yes, these are my biases and I’m critical of main-stream media networks because they have (for whatever reason) ignored health and omitted this entire topic in their reporting. I think it’s disingenuous and dishonest. And saying I’m critical of the government for their fear mongering might be the understatement of the century. But we could save so many lives if we make health the focal point rather than death.

Reference (published July 1, 2021):

Kompaniyets L, Pennington AF Goodman AB, Rosenblum HG, Belay B, Ko JY, et al. Underlying Medical Conditions and Severe Illness Among 540,667 Adults Hospitalized With Covid-19, March 2020-March 2021. PrevChronic Dis 2021; 18-210123

Do you love your problems? Because that would be helpful.

In the middle of a grinding conversation at work: “X wants to sell more lamps so if we find out what kind of wine their customers drink…” Pause. Pause. We’re thinking… thinking. Brows are furrowed. Or maybe just mine?

We’re working this RFP like a piece of gum, folks. There’s a lot of chewing going on but all we have to show for it is an achy jaw.  

“Hey, by the way everyone,” I raise my hand for pause and effect, “I just want you to know, I LOVE this shit. This is my idea of fun.” And we plod on.

(That’s right; no one can say I’m not going the distance with my calling!)

OK, so maybe not every meeting or interaction or event in our lives brings a monumental level of emotion or impact. And not every event is meant to shake up our lives in a big way. But some do.

Here are six events that rocked my world — and I list these in the most pragmatically joyous sense:

  1. In 2012, I sent an email to 700+ employees that was meant to be read by only three regional chiefs. (In the words of the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, “You know, would I leave my Keith Richards hat with the silver skull on it, on the stool at the coffee shop at LaGuardia? I wouldn’t do that again. But overall, no, I don’t have any regrets.”)
  2. I chased after a boy and chased him away. (Once you feel you are avoided by someone, never disturb them again.)
  3. I wrote my will. (Nothing will grow you up faster.)
  4. I turned 40. (It was a fantastic year of sass & soul. I often mingle back and pretend I’m still in my prime. You can usually find me there on Tuesday’s.)
  5. I created a bucket list. (Before I had this list, I jumped out of a plane strapped to a guy with the nickname Frogger. Now I follow the list.)
  6. This event hasn’t happened yet, but it’s slated for May 2022. I’ll give you a hint: this.

Truth has become whatever you want it to be

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the guest quoted Brené Brown. I’ve never read her books or listened to her podcast, but I did catch her 2010 breakout TED Talk, The power of vulnerability. Back then, I immediately tagged her as an expert in all things human connection.

Remembering I have her in the category of ‘expert,’ plus the quote I had just heard, and it was plenty good for me to search up one of her podcasts. The one I listened to included both Tim Ferriss and Dax Shepard.

Tim Ferriss said something. His comment brought me to another podcast.

I proceeded down a long and torturous podcast rabbit hole.

Days (and so many ridiculous podcast hours) later, I listened to Megyn Kelly and former Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian.

Who cares how I got here, right? THIS is where it all gets good. (Everything before the ‘but’ doesn’t matter.)

Boghossian talks about “lived experience” and how it becomes a reality, regardless of the facts. His example and I won’t do it justice, so you may want to bring up the podcast on your own, was centered around the number of unarmed black men shot by police each year. One woman said the number is 22,700 (unarmed black men shot by police each year). Another woman said it’s 7,000 that are shot.

The fact (checkers) says that number is 13.

As if living in an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” doesn’t already make it hard to know what to believe, let’s throw in “lived experience” or “post-truth.”

According to the lived experiences of these two women, they set the number far, FAR outside the actual.

“My opinions are no longer things ripe for judgment and discussion, but rather they are opportunities for the fundamental aspects of myself to be “right” and to be considered “right” by the people around me.” ~ Kate Colombo

Gone are the days when people would say, I think. Now it’s, I feel. This language ultimately positions the speaker to regard his opinions less like ideas he’s informed with facts and more like personal truths. And, wham, there you have it. This form of discourse displaces the importance of truth and replaces it with “what is true for me.”

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Before today I would have said speaking my truth is acceptable and should be considered more honest than any mere statement of facts.

I’m not so sure anymore.

Can we speak our truth sometimes and have it received as truth, but other times default to actual facts for truth? Is that possible? Serious questions. I’m not choosing a side. I mean, our personal experience influences how we decide things, but is that just an illusion?

I guess the truth is, I don’t know what the truth is.

10 Things I stopped doing—and my life instantly got better.

  1. Buying cauliflower-based foods.
  2. Overthinking eye contact.
  3. Buying colored yoga pants.
  4. Re-reading emails after I sent them.
  5. Taking selfies with the front-facing camera.
  6. Texting while walking. (This is how “butch” became “bitch.”)
  7. Food prepping. (Food prepping takes 4 hours. Eating takes 3 seconds. Washing Tupperware takes 7 days and 7 nights.)
  8. Reading long Instagram captions. (When I stay on a post for too long the algorithm thinks because I read one inspirational meme, I want to read a thousand inspirational memes.)
  9. Trying to move things with my mind (and Googling “How to move things with my mind”).
  10. Humblebragging. (Like making lists and bragging about how happy I am.)

Happy October—the best month of the year. It’s finally fall in Arizona. Know what that means? Absolutely nothing. It’s still 90 degrees outside. Fun fact: Arizona is actually closer to the sun than the earth. I drove with my windows down tonight anyway. All the landscapers were out scalping and planting winter grass seed. Planting a winter lawn while it’s 90+ degrees doesn’t make much sense, but then again neither does Biscuits and Gravy flavored potato chips, and that’s apparently a thing that’s happening. Sometimes you just have to roll with it (and try not to barf). Really though, when the temperature shifts from 110 to 90 and we roll our windows down, we’re really no different than Midwesterners who wear shorts when it’s 40 degrees in March. So happy October. Fall is here!

Who else wants to change lanes?

First, I will tell you a story about something that happened to me in the past. Next, if I’m as talented as I think I am, I will connect that story with what is happening presently. And finally, because I think I am that talented, I’m going to bring it full circle and roll it into the future.

Once upon a time, in a land called Tucson, I picked up my father to drive him to the doctor’s office…

“You should get in the carpool lane.”

“I don’t want to get in the carpool lane.”

“WHY?”

“Well, because we’re going the same speed as the people in the carpool lane, plus it makes me nervous. Driving all fast next to the wall like that, and then not changing lanes if I feel like I want to. It’s restrictive. And if you drive next to the wall, you have to drive perfectly. If you drive in the middle lane, you have a little bit more room for error. And you can escape.”

Most people think this way. Most people think it’s perfectly sensible to drive in the carpool lane if two people are in the car. It’s like, “YAY! Carpool lane!” I’ve actually heard people get that excited.

I am not one of those people. As a matter of fact, I prefer to not even take the freeway. I’d instead take a longer, more scenic route because I may decide on the way to wherever I’m going that I don’t want to go there; I’d like to go somewhere else first. It’s much harder to make choices like that when you’re on the freeway. It becomes an ordeal.

My whole issue with driving in the carpool lane directly relates to the fact I like to have an escape mechanism. This also speaks loudly to the truth of my intense need to make choices: New choices. Different choices. Better choices. Choices. MY choices.

Being able to make choices is my way of maintaining my freedom. Everything I do, from the type of jobs I hold to the places I decide to live (which is a big one lately) to my nightly plans, etc., etc. My disdain for the carpool lane reveals how deep this is for me.

You may be thinking, well, what if you’re going to work? You can’t just decide to drive somewhere else first, or what if you have plans? You can’t just decide to change them because you feel like it. Well, I know that’s what you’d think. However, I often decide I’d instead like to do something else for that very reason — because I feel like it.

We have free will, so there really isn’t anything we have to do. We can make choices no matter what our spouses say, our bosses require, our president mandates. But lately, there are things that society or people have decided we have to do, which makes our will to stay free less simple to decide.

Our president is forcing our family, friends, coworkers, colleagues into making choices that some don’t want to make.

You guessed it, I’m talking V* mandates in the workplace. The people who do not want to take the V are being forced to decide to keep their job or lose their job. If you’re on the fence, being forced into a decision can be a great thing (but only if you’re stalled), or it can be an awful thing (even a selfish thing).

Let’s call it what it really is: forcible penetration of a medical instrument into a person’s body against their will to deliver chemicals they don’t want into it. This is no less than medical rape. I have the right to decide what goes into my body. You have the right to determine what goes into yours.

(Imagine the outrage if the government enforced weight loss mandates for the obese to relieve the health care system? And while I’m here, If I am forced to wear a mask to protect your health, I’m going to start slapping McDonald’s out of your hands too.)

Everything that subsequently happens in our lives is the result of choices. And those choices do change our experience, even if for a brief amount of time. I have to remind myself that we are never stuck. Even if we feel as if there is no way out, there is. Of course, if I had remembered this in the past, I’d have a list of more life lessons and experiences under my belt, but I do not in the absence of action.

I admit sometimes, I’m afraid the choices I make will affect me negatively. In turn, they’ll leave less room in the future for any option to make a different choice. It’s harder to veer in another direction when flying down the freeway than it is if you’re cruising on a country road.

But I suppose this is just fear, and fear is a thing you create. It isn’t an actual thing. Action is.

And boy do I see action rising in the air (shoutout to Southwest, holla!), and I predict a lot more action very soon.

Have you chosen your lane?