Archive for August, 2009

A to-do list tattoo

Many of you know my fondness for to-do lists via a post I wrote. If not, check out the post.  As the addiction seemed to get more out of control and seemingly adding less value to my life, I have been foregoing them more and more. I now utilize them for immediate tasks that need accomplishing within the next half day or by the end of the day.  And no, I no longer have a list for work, school, home, weekend, and all the other delineations one could have.

As a fan of Unclutterer, admittedly more so for the workspace of the week post on Fridays than anything else, a recent post on the to-do-list tattoo caught my eye.  Upon seeing it, I was immediately transported back to North Allegheny high school in Wexford, Pennsylvania. I used this method constantly!  At the end of a class, I would write whatever was due the next day on my hand. Or at least the subject so that I knew homework needed to be done that night.  It would have been helpful to have that handy ink-safe pen!  The only challenge posed to this method was swimming class, otherwise, I was often set.

Of course, comments by others think it ridiculous, frivolous waste of money, or offer alternatives. The one that struck me as another interesting concept for my high school days would be the Wrist Reminder.  The Pittsburgh Post Gazette shares this one and again, I am struck by the creativity of it.  Sorry folks, but in high school, once that bell rang, I lost a lot of what was said as I raced to the next class.  I was often left wondering at the end of the day what I was supposed to do that night to turn in the following day.  As a consequence, I was often doing homework in the previous class for the one upcoming. That is no recipe for learning!

Of course, now, with cell phones, you could draft a text or email each day of the assignments. Or use the task list. Or the notes list. Or use the “old-fashioned” pen and paper method of a day planner.  Me, the palm and ink method got me by just fine!

August 24, 2009 at 9:24 am Leave a comment

Life is Amazing

Doesn’t it amaze you that …

  • rainbows exist?
  • we can create human life?
  • we can fly?
  • we can travel across the world anytime we want?
  • there are pyramids?
  • we can go spelunking?
  • animals can learn and communicate?
  • the sun can shine while it snows?
  • we can do anything we want to?

August 21, 2009 at 9:50 am Leave a comment

What do you think?

You may think that an odd question, but how often do you ask yourself that question and then really think about the answer? Here are some questions that seem to be floating around ‘out there’ in the deep recesses of my brain …

  • Do you ever wonder what carbon footprint you are leaving behind?
  • What kind of leader are you?
  • What will be your legacy?
  • What do you want to be remembered for most?
  • If you have regrets, why don’t you either put them behind you or make them right?
  • How much should you give to charity?
  • Is it really better to give than receive?
  • Do nice guys or gals really finish last?

These are just a few of the many questions I think about (believe me, I have a ton more floating around in my head) from time to time. But what I like most is giving myself the time to just ponder what I think about the question related to me. Invariably, I start thinking about the world and others in it.  Next thing you know, there is a call to action for me.

What inspires you to act? I would love to know! Anissa

August 20, 2009 at 2:50 pm Leave a comment

The Art of Nonconformity and Twitter

I seem to hear two things about Twitter lately.  First, those that say they have no idea what it is or what is the point. And ultimately think it’s a waste of time. The others love it and are either just getting used to it or are die-hard converts.

I am in the second camp. I have been using it since I don’t know even know when. I have met some great people through the site that I have subsequently met in person. I have also been able to talk with some researchers in the field of positive psychology that previously the closest I had gotten to them was by reading their research or their books.   To me, Twitter is an awesome tool to connect, socialize, share, network, or brand build. Or all of the above.  I use it mostly for connecting and sharing, especially when it comes to all things Omaha.

I was a fly on the wall of the SXSW conference, through all of the connections I have that were there for the conference earlier this year.  Now, I get to see some of these same persons vying for a spot at next year’s SXSW as panelists.  By the way, please vote for Silicon Prairie to be one of those panelists!

Recently, I have become attached to @chrisguillebeau and his blog, The Art of NonConformity.  He shares his tips for traveling, as well as great bargains he uncovers. He shares other awesome tips, such as how to use the social web to your advantage.  He is a very unique voice and I have enjoyed reading his stuff. I would never have learned of him if it weren’t for twitter.  For those of you interested in his latest offering about getting your message out to the world, click here.  Check out his latest post on authenticity. It’s a heckuva lot better than a post I wrote on the same topic a few years ago.

So for you who don’t understand it, think it useless or a time waster, that’s fine. But me, I have been able to talk to and meet some amazing people, which has greatly enhanced my world.

August 18, 2009 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

What I don’t get…

This is in response to a post I wrote last month, except now my head is going in a new direction.

What I don’t get is why:

  • some parents talk about how much they need a break from their kids and then ten seconds after they get a break, they whine about how much they miss their kids?  Why not just embrace the ‘you’ time and appreciate the precious moment presented to you?
  • some employees whine about their jobs incessantly but do nothing to change their environment or their circumstances? Why not give something a try and see if things get better and if that doesn’t work, try something else? What do you have to lose?
  • negative nellies just don’t keep their mouths shut? Didn’t Captain Kangaroo teach you anything? or Robert Fulghum?
  • some people believe security and comfort are more important than personal well-being, i.e. your happiness?
  • some people always take the same worn out path, looking forlorn toward other paths, never to be taken? Why not either embrace where you are or go for it?

I read somewhere that when you notice things about others that you don’t like or annoy you, it is really that you are noticing something that exists within you.

This really gave me pause and decided to see if this really applied to me.  I don’t have kids, so the first bullet doesn’t apply to me.  I like my jobs (all 4 of them).  There are aspects that I don’t like, but some I cannot change so the bothersome quality is no longer bothersome to me. The other aspects, I do work on to make better. I am trying.  I am not a negative nelly and actually do my best to spread happiness and cheer through inane jokes, my laughter and other hilarity.  I am a picker-upper not a bring’em-downer.

As for security and comfort, nope, not true. Anymore.  Ask me that question ten years ago and yes, that was me. Now, nope. I have done too much out of my comfort zone lately to agree with that. Could do I more though? Yes, absolutely. This is one area I very much need to continue focusing on. This kind of relates to the last bullet about not taking chances. I have taken my share over the past ten years, but again, this is still an area I need to focus on. For the last two bullets, there are still some things I would like to do that I haven’t.  The desire is there but not the action. So, hmm, maybe there is a little something to that saying after all!

August 15, 2009 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

It was a very good year …

1969. It was a VERY good year.  Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Huge.  Out of this world huge.  The space program was supported by the country and it was a time of great pride.  Then there was Woodstock. How could you not think of Woodstock, especially with the new movie coming out. By the way, the book it was based on was a good read.  Another big event – I was born. See, told you, it was a very good year!   Here are some really cool facts about 1969 that you know, with a few thrown in you might not know:

  • The first men on Moon, Neil Armstrong & Edwin Aldrin, Apollo 11
  • Woodstock Festival held in NY August 15 to August 18th
  • Supreme Court rules that the 1st Amendment applies to public schools.  Pop quiz – what’s the 1st Amendment?
  • 1st temporary artificial heart
  • The first test flight of the supersonic Concorde
  • 1st flight of the Boeing 747
  • 1st Wendy’s opens
  • Last public performance of the Beatles, Paul marries Linda, John marries Yoko
  • Last issue of Saturday Evening Post – no more Normal Rockwell covers
  • Phil Esposito becomes first NHL Player to score 100 points in a season
  • Golda Meir becomes Israel’s 4th Prime Minister
  • New York Yankees’ Mickey Mantle announces his retirement from baseball
  • Hurricane Camille strikes U.S. Gulf Coast kills 255
  • Charles Manson commits Tate-LaBianca murders
  • Mary Jo Kopechne dies at 28, in Ted Kennedy’s car
  • “Sesame Street” premieres on PBS
  • First ATM
  • Wal-Mart incorporates
  • GAP is founded

That’s right, 1969 was a very good year indeed and these are just some of the big highlights. There are many, many more.  Looking back at history can be an educative experience and not everyone likes those. But it can also be incredibly fun and enlightening too.  Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane with me!

August 14, 2009 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

Are you uncommon?

We all have our quirks and idiosyncrasies.  This is what makes each of us who we are. It is also what can drive each of us batty, but that’s another discussion!

Over the past ten years, I have noticed one thing about myself that others think is really uncommon and they find me quite odd for it.  I do not like being given grades.  I know, many people would love to get an A by doing little work, or doing the minimum.  Not me.  I noticed this most profoundly in my MBA program.  One professor in particular didn’t give feedback on papers, just your grade and a small comment, like good job (B) or great job (A).  It got to the point in which we all realized that she had made her mind about each of us early on based on our participation, our personality, and our first paper submission. After that, you were branded. If you happened to be branded as an A student, this was how things would go for you in every class you took with her.

This really bothered me.  I know I am a big geek because I actually want to learn, but I also want real feedback. I want my professor to be genuine in their feedback about how I could have done better or could have enhanced my point better, etc. if that was the case. I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t something to comment on when in other classes, I was getting comments on my papers about these very things.  To be honest, once you get to grad school, grades really do become less important and it is more about the learning and the application. The application to your current job or for many, to a future job is paramount; not that getting all A’s isn’t a nice thing too!

But it gets worse in doctoral programs, or at least in some. I have seen more professors give grades than who give comments and are invested in challenging the student to go further and think deeper.  In the recent past, I submitted a paper in which I highlighted a date so that not only could I verify that I entered it correctly, but to make sure the source was updated if needed on the reference page.  This was not noticed or caught, nor graded down for not only not checking but not updating my source on the reference page. Based on the grading rubric, I should have lost points for this. I did not.  My paper received all of the possible points that it could.  I should be elated right?  Instead, I wonder if the professor even read my paper. Had he read any of them? I was getting 100’s on every paper I submitted. This seems impossible to me.  Although I have been given compliments on my academic writing ability, this seems too good to be true.

What I am left with is doubt about my papers.  Are they hitting the mark? Am I applying the principles and theories with relevant support?  But more than this, even more than being given a grade, I am disappointed in the professor. I have lost respect in him.  I no longer see him as an educator. And as an educator myself, this is a big blow.

Some of my friends know, based on a prior rant, that I have been questioning my doctoral program.  The goal in achieving this was to push myself to learn more, to research different paths based on some of my organizational questions, and to ensure my ability to teach at the university level (not just as I am now, but through retirement).  These goals have not changed, but my motivation to achieve them in the current setting sure has.  I wish I could be less uncommon and just push myself intrinsically to meet these goals and let the other stuff go. Or maybe I need to become even more uncommon and ignore the grades aspect (extrinsic motivation) and focus on my own goals.  Ahh, but that is just not me.

August 13, 2009 at 9:28 pm 2 comments

Do you have a voice?

I know, you are thinking, of course I have a voice. Duh, Anissa.  I don’t mean your physical voice that you use to speak with every day. I am referring to the voice in your head.  Do you have one? Is it positive? Negative? Reassuring? Nagging? Doubtful?

Do you know your voice well? Do you listen to it?  What does it tell you? Do you agree or disagree, or do you resign yourself to listening?

I used to have the most pessimistic, negative voice in my head. It was always telling me how worthless, inconsequential, and useless I was.  My voice was not at all reassuring or positive or encouraging of me at all. There was not an ounce of support from my voice, ever.  Interestingly, I could be extremely positive, encouraging, supportive and reassuring for others.  Shoot, I could do that a 1000x over for someone else. Sometimes for people I barely knew!  But for myself, nope, negative all the way.

This was the voice I lived with growing up and into early adulthood.  Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.  Around the time I turned 30, I started to realize that the problem was not external factors like family, or work, or friends, but within me.  I was an adult now. I was married with a mortgage.  The choices I made were mine now and could not be blamed externally anymore.  That ole victim mentality needed to go and so did that negative voice that told me I was a worthless human who didn’t deserve to be on this planet; neither was a helpful way to go about living.

Taking on these two issues is pretty big but I can tell you that after almost nine years, I no longer blame others for anything or everything that goes wrong in my world.  I must admit, not much goes wrong anymore, but when it does, I look at myself and start wondering where I went wrong so I don’t repeat the mistake.  If need be, I apologize if what I did affected someone else. That alone was something I never did growing up, ever. I would be defensive and avoid ever saying I was sorry. I also never told people that I cared about them or loved them. Now, if I feel it, I say it.  Everyone should know that they are loved and appreciated.

As for the voice in my head, it’s no longer harsh with me.  On rare occasions, Negative Nelly will come out and try to play, but it never lasts long.  The voice in my head is very close to what I believe in my heart.  I am someone who deserves to be here. I do have a life worth living. I am someone who matters in this world. I may not always know my purpose, but I have enjoyed the exploration!  The voice in my head has been a great guide for me over the past few years and because of it, I listen more and more. I don’t know about you, but my inner voice is more aligned with me than ever before and believe it has helped me to become a more contented person.

So, do you have a voice? What does it tell you?

August 10, 2009 at 1:13 pm 6 comments

Lives of quiet desperation

I watched the movie Revolutionary Road with a friend of mine who is married but lately having some challenges.  There are many issues on both sides and she realizes that the issues are not all hers, nor his. They will surely be fine as they have weathered much together and despite it all, have never seen two people more committed to each other, even after twenty years of marriage.

This movie packs a wallop when it comes to relationships, marriage, the American Dream, kids, and work.  Yes, it is set in the 50’s, but some of the discussions between April and Frank, the supposed ‘special’ couple everyone refers to, are no less relevant today.  Some of their debates (or fights) were impactful for me in terms of the language used and what they represented to me . For example:

Everything’s going out of focus …

Why do we have to live this delusion – resign from life – have kids …

Why aren’t we living life as if it matters?

It takes a backbone to lead the life you want, Frank

April to Frank: Who made these rules?

Hopeless emptiness of it all …

These are just the phrases that I remember off the top of my head!  I think they resonate with me because they are ones I hear from married friends at one time or another. I know I thought them plenty when I was married.  I never wanted kids and made that clear on my first date with the person who eventually became my husband.  But the world, and eventually he as well, decided that convention (having kids) was what we should be doing. I never agreed.  I too thought “who made these rules” and why must we all subscribe to them? Eventually this became a sore point for me in many ways and I began to sleepwalk through life a bit and definitely stopped living life like it mattered because in some ways, I didn’t think it did anymore.  I don’t blame him for this; I had equal responsibility for this issue.

For me, I felt confined in my marriage.  I believe he did too. I don’t think either of us was in the wrong, nor the right.  I know I wanted to do more, but didn’t.  It was never his fault.  It was mine for allowing myself to be swayed or for choosing comfort out of fear.  You can blame others all you want, but ultimately, the choice is always YOURS. What you end up doing, or not doing, it all comes down to you.

Eventually, I decided that I needed to lead the life I wanted. It takes courage to say that. Even more to do it.  I made some tough choices and I know others didn’t always agree or see them the way I did. But I eventually stopped listening to others in that way and found my own path. I would never have started my own company, gotten my masters degree, moved back to the Midwest, or done a hundred other little things had I not had the courage to start listening and acting upon my choices. To have a happy heart, which is what I have now, makes all the difference in the world to me in how I live and view the world.

I think it is in all of us to do this, even if we are married. It doesn’t take leaving someone to do this.  I think it’s important that you find your path and live it. Now and always.  Don’t lead a life of quiet desperation as Thoreau talks about.  Lead a life of joy, love, peace and harmony.  Yes, that means you will have disagreements and challenges along the way, but in the end, when you look back, it will be with a happy heart. That to me makes all the difference in life.

August 9, 2009 at 12:24 pm 2 comments

How do you spend your day?

I have noticed quite a few bloggers talking about this lately, including Stephen King in his Entertainment Weekly column and a mention in the New York Times regarding the topic.   So, how do you spend your day? It used to be that talk was solely about time spent watching tv and that our average in the US was about 5 hours a day. When you consider that you work at least 10 hours (commute time, lunch or errands and the actual work day) and we sleep for about seven, five hours of our day devoted to tv sure seems like a lot.

Some of my friends say that they aren’t actually watching tv, but it is on, like background music.  Interestingly, now the question has become how much time are we spending in front of a screen, be it tv, computer, iPhone, blackberry, etc.  There are many articles talking about how much time Gen X and even Boomers are spending online, with Facebook especially!

Some bloggers are now putting the kibosh on some of their online activities because their personal inventory led them to the conclusion that 4 hours of emailing a day is not the best use of their time. Or spending 3 hours a day on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites when they would rather be with their kids, friends, or pursuing their personal dreams. Others are indicating they have recently sold their tv’s and gotten rid of cable in favor of utilizing other avenues when a true viewing need arises.

What I love about the New York Times graphic is not only the entries of what we do, but when we do these activities with the most frequency. I enjoyed playing with the different buttons to see how things differed by age, degree, etc.  What kind of insights does it give you?

August 7, 2009 at 12:17 pm Leave a comment

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