Be remembered – Make your Mark

Life is interesting. We each only have one at a time, and yet we all know people who waste theirs waiting for it to begin.  I certainly have!

When I was growing up, the formula seemed pretty simple. You grow up, learn about life in school, along with things you need to know like math and writing and social studies and history and all that. You go to college because going to college means you get a degree, and nobody gets a good job without a degree. You might get married. You might have kids. You get a succession of better jobs until you are doing more of the things you want to, then finally you start doing what you were really meant to, and when you retire you can relax all day doing the things you always wanted to do but never had time for.

Not only is that model untrue for quite a few people these days, but it’s also a great waste of time! None of us know how long we’ll have. None of us know how successful we’ll be. Isn’t the main point of life making some kind of mark so we’ll be remembered?

Some people make their mark by having kids. Others do it by starting a charity. Others do it by defending their country. Others do it by having a business. Others do it by writing books, or making art, or writing wildly successful blogs. Others teach. Some people do a bit of all of these. Some do none of it but come up with some other interesting thing. Some wait, because life hasn’t really started.

Life started when we took our first breath.

Every day is a chance to live our dream, make our mark, follow our purpose. The key is making small steps. One day, I realized I was writing a bit every day and could put that effort into a book. I wrote a novel and published it several months later. I learned a lot about writing and publishing. The point isn’t that I wrote a novel, the point is that I did it in bits, by consistent effort. I”d thought previously “someday I’ll be a writer.” Since someday never came, I decided to become one.

We don’t have to wait till we “have it all together” to make our mark.

Since I have no idea how long I’ll live, and neither does anyone else, doesn’t it make sense to start shaping our lives how we want them? There’s always some small thing to do, even if we don’t have time, even if we don’t have money. Mindset is the truest key – if you are determined, you will make opportunities for yourself. Focus will allow you to see the little places where you can make your life a bit more like your ideal image of your life.

In the mean time, I’ll keep working on my blog. If I can touch even one or two people, inspire someone, help someone, or make someone think, then I’ll have made a mark.

Wondering where “Gray” features in this?  Well, in writing about this subject, I thought also of another poem all about making one’s mark – this snippet of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses:

Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

 

via Daily Prompt: Gray

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/gray/

Measuring the wisdom in the Holmes stories

I’m nearly done reading the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I tried reading them when I was a kid, and couldn’t really get into them. Now I find them fascinating, engaging, and most importantly, educational! I’m not claiming the main characters are paragons of virtue, no one would, however they have much to offer.  Here are some of the things I’ve found in these classic tales.

How best to rest
When they are tired from their adventures, or tired from being bored, Watson and Holmes rarely sit idle. They rest by doing other things. Even when taking long walks, they usually have some other objective. For instance, in one story they go off to a little cottage by the seashore. Though they are there for a rest, they spend their days studying ruins left by the Neolithic Celts and researching their linguistic roots. They are both certainly active and thinking, but they are not doing the things they did in the city. At the beginning of Doyle’s tales, Holmes said that idleness tires him more than activity.

Study the world around you
Over and over, both Holmes and Watson are portrayed as being interested in a variety of subjects. Holmes, for example, has a great interest in classical music, in archaeology, in art, in various subjects of science, handwriting analysis, chemistry, and many other things. Neither Holmes nor Watson waste an opportunity to observe and learn, although there are some things that Holmes admits he doesn’t need to know. Holmes is famous for deducing facts from careful observation, a feat that is only possible with knowledge about many varying subjects.

When you are stuck on a problem, put it aside for a while
When he’s having trouble solving a case, Holmes is frequently seen distracting himself. Though Watson has difficulty with this, Holmes is famous for setting his troubles aside and throwing himself deeply into some recreation such as music or his latest manuscript.

Don’t give up
Holmes often stays with a case, even when circumstances might indicate otherwise. He usually knows when there’s something to be found. Though he might stop and think for a time, or try different things, he doesn’t give up. He keeps questioning, gathering information, and research both likely and unlikely possibilities till he solves the mystery. This tenacity is something to be admired and emulated.

Do your job for passion rather than for fame
Though this sometimes frustrates Watson, Holmes usually solves his cases for the pure satisfaction of doing so. He enjoys the mental puzzle, the chase itself is the reward. When he’s on a really difficult case, he’s always full of energy. That’s true for anyone who has a true vocation, be it a hobby or a job. If you find that work you are most suited to, you will see similar effects.

Be patient
Holmes and Watson are both very patient, though Watson is less so. So long as he knows he’s “on the scent,” Holmes is endlessly patient – he is prepared to wait all night in a dark room, or creep around in the bushes in search of clues. Once, he even went without food and drink for three days so he could catch a criminal. Sure, it’s a fictional account, but it’s a great demonstration of what patience truly means.

Focus on facts rather than feelings
In the Holmes stories, facts are king. Even when others claim that a particular mystery is supernatural in origin, and everyone believes it, Holmes exhausts all mundane options first. It’s not that he says supernatural things are possible, but he makes sure there aren’t any more mundane possibilities. He doesn’t assume anything, and doesn’t let emotion or belief suffice when logic will serve better.

Be kind to your friends
Even though Holmes is famous for his dispassionate demeanor, he is still polite, courtly towards women, and good to his friends. He doesn’t let his unemotionalism make him bitter or overly cold.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Measure

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/measure/

Avoiding Controversy: Advice for Transsexuals

I was at a public event recently and saw several transgendered people. I shouldn’t have been able to spot them so easily but they made it really obvious. It made me think. Two in particular made very little effort to pass as female. They drew attention to themselves, stuck out like sore thumbs and sadly, looked like drag queens rather than women.

A transwoman is a real woman – according to her brain structure, that is. She’s trying to make her body and public image match how she feels inside. At least, she should be.

Too many transwomen seem to think they need to make a spectacle of themselves. Apparently certain individuals feel a need to be “loud and proud” about their transition. They often make little to no effort to truly pass as female.

They speak with loud, deep voices, they stand facing the toilet in the bathroom, they wear eye catching, loud clothing. They wear high heels even when six feet tall. They use vibrant, often badly applied makeup. Sometimes, some transwomen will think they can still wear jeans and traditionally masculine clothes. They try to wear a dress while they are sporting five o’clock shadow and no make up. All these things catch the eye and make their status obvious, when a little effort would avoid these problems.

Unfortunately, there are very serious consequences to their actions. Transwomen who don’t try to pass aren’t just making decisions for themselves, they are affecting many other people too. To put it bluntly, irresponsible transfolk draw negative attention to the community, and may even cause people to be beaten or murdered.

Consider the following scenario: There are several people who were born male but are making their best effort to fully become women. They work hard to pass as women. They moderate their voices, they dress in a feminine way, they act in feminine ways. They simply want to live their lives quietly, as women, and give no one any trouble. They don’t call attention to themselves, spending their time working, playing, and being normal people.

Picture now, in this scenario, what might happen if a masculine looking person who is six feet tall with a deep voice walks into a room with them. This person is wearing high heels, bright makeup, a badly stuffed bra, and is looking like a drag queen. She’ll probably freak out those who are intolerant, hateful, or fearful. She might even incite violence. At the least, she’ll inspire plenty of nasty comments. She’ll also draw attention to any person around her who is also sexually ambiguous.

Hypervigilance toward gender differences can lead to tragedy. It causes masculine looking women to be beaten and thrown out of bathrooms, as you can see if you’ve followed the news. A very poorly passing trans woman sensitizes bigoted individuals, pushes the issue into everyone’s faces, and frightens the intolerant into even more hypervigilance.

A transwoman who is busy “following her own bliss” and doesn’t take care with her appearance or actions not only puts others in danger, gives the entire community a bad name. They make people think all trans folk are drag queens, clowns, or circus side show acts. It’s very hard for someone such as myself to say “trans folk just want to live normal, civilized lives and blend in with society,” when there are so many six foot tall, inconsiderate, poorly passing “women” who think that it’s all a lark and figuratively jump up and down shouting “look at me! I’m trans! I’m trans!”

For women who truly are trying to transition, it isn’t a game for them, nor is it a joke. It’s a deadly serious choice between a painful, difficult, expensive process and inevitable suicide. Transwomen who make it all the way through gender transition have gone through more struggle and heartache than almost anyone else in the world. It takes tremendous courage and determination to be successful. The public perception of transition as a simple surgery is woefully inaccurate, in actuality it takes at least a year, including intensive counseling and hormone treatments.

If you’re trans, I cheer for you. If you support trans folk, I’m with you all the way. That’s why I wrote this article. I care about the trans community and I want everyone to be whole and free to achieve their own goals. We will never be free of hateful people, they’re everywhere, so why not do what we can to help each other and help ourselves at the same time?

Helpful tips:

For any transfolk who want to pass more successfully, I’d like to offer the following advice. I got it from friends of mine who are successful transwomen.

For the successful transsexual, the goal is to blend in to society.
The more gender cues you can display, the better. This is true no matter what direction you are going in, whether male to female or vice versa. Sometimes someone might spot you for one thing, such as a deep voice, but still decide you are bio female for other reasons – presence of breasts, wearing a skirt or dress, well applied makeup, etc.

Stay neat and clean. Bathe, groom yourself in a way that is appropriate.

Choose good role models. If you’re a man, don’t try to look and act like a low class thug, if you’re a women, don’t try to act like a cheap hooker. Transmen: Don’t be Al Bundy. Transwomen: Don’t be Peg Bundy. Instead, why not emulate people with real style and class?

Dress appropriately. Wear clothes that are classically masculine if you are a transman, or classically feminine if you are a transwoman. Don’t bother with loud designs or ambiguous clothing. No skinny jeans or stretch pants for a transman, no blue jeans or sloppy sweat shirts for a transwoman. The idea is to give people a good impression, with clear indications of what gender you are. Avoid loud, clashing fabrics or extreme styles. Go for a sylish but somewhat conservative look. Avoid extremes. Strive to be a lady or a gentleman.

Speaking of style and class, try always to be courteous and respectful to others. Not only will you be treated better, but even if you are spotted as trans, you will be a good ambassador for the rest of your community. Also, being polite doesn’t mean being a pushover. It means being assertive without being aggressive, and respectful of others.

Learn the skills appropriate for your gender, even if it’s a bit stereotypical. People sometimes rely on stereotypes to guide them though ambiguity. While a transwoman can retain any skill she had before transition, she should at least know how to talk about subjects regarding cooking and homemaking for example. A transman would do well to understand something about fixing things, building things, how a car works, and enough about sports so as not to appear a fool. In either case, research the things that everyone in your gender seems to know, and know them too. Besides, it can be a great deal of fun!

Do things the way others do, especially in the bathroom. If you’re a transman, don’t leave tampons around. If you still need them, be discreet. If you’re a transwoman, don’t face the toilet, but sit down to pee. If you have a hard time doing that, spend some quality time at home with a case of beer or other diuretic beverage and train yourself.

Never be a caricature. Stay balanced. When possible, take your cues from bio men and women, not other trans folk.

Alter your voice to match your gender, but don’t go overboard. Transmen, just deepen your voice a bit and use masculine word choices. Transwomen, don’t go falsetto. Instead, soften your voice, raise the pitch a bit, not the volume, and strive for smoothness. Always pay attention to what you are doing and how you are doing it. It does get easier with practice.

To all transwomen: I can’t emphasize this enough. You aren’t transitioning to become a transwoman or a drag queen – you’re transitioning to become a woman, in body as well as mind. Since you have the chance to remake yourself, why not be a lady, not a diva?

via Daily Prompt: Controversy

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/controversy/

 

To her last breath, she limits and binds

My grandmother is nearly 95.  She is getting more and more confused with her letters, which is to be expected.  Yet, the parts of her letters which are not confused indicate all that she has left in her mind – and that is fear and limitation.

I try to let her know what’s going on in my life.  My novels, my art, my quest for a fitter body.  She’s proud of me, and yet every time she says that she also suggests i do less.  I say I take a walk every day.  She says maybe I should make it shorter.  I say I’m doing art every day for Inktober.  She says maybe I should do some art and leave it for the rest day if I can’t finish.

It’s maddening!  This poor woman has spent her whole life lying to herself, praying for forgiveness, pinning her hopes on things she can’t control, giving up her  self control and her power, all while trying to control others with passive aggressiveness.

I don’t want to be told to do less, to pace myself, that it’s okay if I don’t finish today.  That’s what held me down and that’s what I’m setting myself free of.  I don’t want to be held down anymore.  I want to fly.

If by some miracle, despite all lack of medical care, I were to reach the ripe old age of 95 – and I were also to have a younger woman I called granddaughter – I would want to tell her “you go!  Do your best!  I’m proud of you!  Fly high!”

From the Trenches: Tips for Managers

How do you become a good boss?

My employer is going through a lot of changes due to a recent buyout and it’s made me think a lot about this question. I’ve seen so many problems come up that could have all been solved with a little more of this:
Communication.

Communication can make or break a company. It is one of the primary drivers of employee satisfaction. There can be any number of problems with a company but I know the reason why, and it’s a good one, then it’s amazing what I’ll put up with.

Here’s an example of how this works.

Recently the company started enforcing a strict clean desk policy. My supoervisor told me about this in a brusque way without any explanation. Naturally, I disliked the policy, because I didn’t know the cause.

If my supervisor had taken even thirty seconds to say “We have this new policy and here’s why, can you help me out with this?” I would have been willing, even happy to help. Because the supervisor just told me what to do and not why, I had no chance to become engaged or even want to help out. Result: grumpy employee, grumpy supervisor.

I don’t advocate sugarcoating all information, or undue explanations for everything, however a successful manager will always treat their employees with respect. It doesn’t take brown-nosing or false compliments, it just takes an upright, honest attitude.

More tips for Managers and Supervisors:

Be engaged with your employees. Know how they are doing. Show interest.

Understand the material that your employees understand. That way you know their challenges.

Always recognize success and show interest.

Only reprimand employees in private. When doing so, be honest but not brutal.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Listen as well as talk.

Develop a team mentality. Instead of saying “do this,” say “this is what needs to happen and why. How can you help me do this?” Obviously that might not always be possible but it’s possible more times than you’d think.

Keep your worries at home. Don’t let them color your behavior.

Don’t play favorites. Develop everyone.

A good habit to give up – giving up!

What if you never gave up on anything? What if giving up was not an option? How much could we achieve?

When I was young, I wasn’t taught perseverance. I was taught, unwittingly, that it was okay to give up. Nobody make me finish certain things or taught me how to overcome my fears. I didn’t learn deep down that I could make myself succeed if I just – gave up on giving up.

Countless unfinished projects litter my history, coupled with neat little stacks of regret. This craft project, that puzzle, this video game, that story, that class project, that fear…

I find myself tempted to self castigate. As if that helped anyone achieve anything! So I try to resist that temptation. Instead, I remind myself that being persistent isn’t so hard – if you take it one step at a time, one more try, one more little wiggle forward. If you fall down, get back up. It’s okay to fail. Learn from every failure and eventually you fill find success.

Winston Churchill famously said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  He should know, he had a lot of struggle in his life on his way to success and he never stopped trying – even though he wasn’t always dealt the best hand.

 

Here are some other great quotes about perseverance!

 

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

-Winston Churchill

 

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”

– Amelia Earhart

 

“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

– Jacob A. Riis

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

– Albert Einstein

“A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”

 – B. F. Skinner

“Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.”

 – Louis Pasteur

Daily Prompt: Youth – Do You Feel Young?

via Daily Prompt: Youth

 

I’ve heard it said that you’re only as young as you feel.  There’s how you feel in your body, of course.  Do you feel creaky?  Limber?  Pained?  Strong?  Since starting to exercise again, I feel younger physically than I did a year ago. Even six months ago, I felt sluggish and my back hurt most of the time.  Amazing how much difference even twenty pounds can make.  Even though I’m still in the obese range, my blood pressure is lower, my back doesn’t hurt as much, and I feel younger.  It makes me want to lose more and become stronger.  Exercise helps me shed my premature age.

Youth is a mental state as well.  You can be naturally young due to age, you can freeze in time at a certain point, perhaps sixteen or twenty, and not age from there.  You can be eighty and enjoy a second childhood – whether from dementia or enlightenment.  I aim for a conscious maturity, though I never want to devolve into ossification.  I stay active, mentally and physically.  I want to be like the willow, strong and supple throughout my life.

How old do you feel?

How old do you want to feel?