That First Tiny Step

You have a dream. OK! Fine! You have a few dreams, but let’s pick just one. What’s it like? What are… the symptoms?

Hello, America. Do you suffer from something that is any or all of the following?

Well then, America, you have a dream!

Scrum is great for breaking down an epic-sized, daunting thing into a story-sized, conquerable thing, and then openly managing that. The ScrumMaster in me would sit you down, and after 5 seconds stand back up and walk with you to a whiteboard, since those are fun, then help you construct a Product Backlog based on your vision, prioritize that list, then draw a line in the sand on the whiteboard and bellow, “Behold, O America, for the next fortnight, sallyeth thee forth and kick ass,” while pointing to the stuff above that line.

Now, America, I do look forward to our date over Spanish lattes to bust through this in a fun-filled manner, sallyething thee forth ‘n’ all, but until then, ask yourself: What is that first tiny step towards my condition dream? What’ll get me that tiniest bit closer? What takes almost no time and no effort, yet dips my toe in the water?

This’ll of course depend on the disease dream. For me, that first tiny step was purchasing the following KORG Kaoss Pad 3.

Schuper Schweet, I know. How does this affect my dream?

  • It is still large – that’s how they tend to be.
  • It is not as far away, I just brought it closer.
  • It is clearer, since I have a tool with which to work.
  • It is still exciting – that’s how they tend to be.
  • It is less out of my league and more in my gym bag next to my desk in my apartment.
  • It is still possibly too awesome, and I’m getting a better handle of it, since this one piece fits in my hands.

Sallyeth thee forth and kick ass – take that first tiny step.

Style Over Fashion

As soon as I started pinning on Pinterest, I found myself browsing like a mother-trucker. Do you know how truckers of mothers browse? At first thoroughly. Antepenultimately rabidly. Penultimately unrelentingly. Ultimately embarrassingly: I browsed all of the Men’s Fashion section. It took a whole evening, but I powered through to its anti-climactic end, at which point I slumped back in my chair and contemplated the meaning of life.

Just kidding. I contemplated Fashion. And Style. And what it all means. And by ‘all’, I mean just those two things. I was struck down and dumb after the at times visually orgasmic click-fest because… because… wow, this is ultimately embarrassing… I felt like a fraud.

Why am I looking at Men’s Fashion? Seriously. Why the heck am I perusing all of it?

Check it out for yourself. You see guys in skinny jeans – not exactly flattering, in my opinion. You see guys in full-on mountain-man beards – something I can’t currently pull off. You see those shoes with the two buckles like you’re some modified Geppetto – I don’t make puppets. You see cardigans like you’re Mr. Rogers – I cried after he died, so no, they make me sad.

This is fashionable. It also makes me puke a little in my mouth. So unless I’m dressing up like a hipster for Halloween, it ain’t happenin’ – sorry ladies.

So if this stuff is fashionable, or so says Pinterest users, and it’s not clicking with me, then why do I continue to subject myself to shudder-inducing visuals?

I continue to veg out because I’m looking for what I like. So what do I like? (Do you even care?) You see Oxford wing-tip shoes with the thin laces. You see bow-ties. You see creative cuff links. You see other fun accessories.

So if this stuff is fashionable, too, and it doesn’t make me puke a little in my mouth, or anywhere else for that matter, and yet (stay with me, here) there is other stuff that does… it’s all fashion, yet it elicits two very different reactions. Why is this?

Enter the dragon the second word: style. I’m not looking for any ol’ style. I’m not looking for the currently popular style. And I’m definitely not looking for the slender part of a pistil – I’m not into plant porn. I’m looking for my style, the stuff that resonates with me, the stuff that feels like forms of me. I’m looking for… me. (Wow, that’s deep.) And I’m looking for me on Pinterest of all places.

Assumptions: I’m characterizing ‘fashion’ as ephemeral and ‘style’ as essential. Thus, I’m not looking for the fleeting & crowd-sourced, but the everlasting & self-sourced.

Are you looking for your style? Are you looking like a mother-trucker?

Don’t Label Me, Bro

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, and all the ships at sea, I present to you a classic. This quote is legen – wait for it –

We are what we frequently do. – Aristotle

DARY! How do you like them apples? This is a favorite of mine ’cause I come back to it when I find myself doing a lot of something I later somewhat regret (plowing through episodes of ‘How I Met Your Mother’), or when I find myself saying I’m something that I don’t think I am (as a Biomedical Engineer, I’m not researching commercially available tissue engineered skin equivalents, I’m testing medical devices), or when I find myself saying I’m something I later realize I actually am (I’m a blogger? I’m guess I’m right…).

It starts harmlessly. You meet a friend of a friend, or start chatting up your neighbor at the cafe counter. Eventually, “Hey man, so what do you do?” blurts out. You answer the question by sharing your day job (or lying) and possibly your hobbies or whatever you do in your down-time.

It ends harmfully. Stop right there. Take a step back. Listen to yourself answering that question. Those things you just said that you do? You are those things.

Picture it this way. Take those things, turn them into job-title-looking nouns, and then list them, comma-separated, below your name on your imaginary business card. You now have a few words associated with your name, letterally supporting your nominal identification. It’s one thing to think about the things you do each day and each week, but to take those same things and turn them into labels for yourself is like transforming the question, “What did you do Wednesday night?” into, “What kind of animal are you?”

After another look at those words below your name on your imaginary business card, how do they make you feel? Do you like them? Do you want them associated with your name? I mention labels, and I hear an instant backlash of, “You don’t KNOW me! I can’t be pigeon-holed into neat categories! I’m more complex than that! I’m more than that!” I’m sure you are. I’m sure you’re a great listener, a loyal friend, a fun-loving step-ish-mother to your fiance’s kid who you see every other weekend. But would you say you do those things with high frequency? Would you seriously say you are those things if you met somebody? Is that how you want to be remembered (besides smelling nice – it’s Vetiver by Givency)?

Those few words… if you don’t like any of ’em, what would you rather they be? Have an idea? I guess you better do that with some frequency. I’ll be honest, it’s harsher for me to read this than it is to write this. So now that I’ve found a life vector I’m happy with, I’ve refined my ‘product’ vision, written up ScrumOfOne stories that I’m getting done, and am focusing on the following platitude, which I’m taking on as more of a platypus an attitude:

Do more and more of fewer things, but more important things, and get better and better at each of them.

Those few words… how do you like yours?

How do you like them apples?

One Epic Thing Before You Die

Chicken feet. Ever had?

I’m pretty sure it’s a calorie-neutral food, since it takes as much energy to EAT it as there is IN it. It’s pretty fatty, lot of little bones, or cartilage, or whatever. Not sure why it’s a part of Dim Sum, but that’s what was offered this past weekend, and I’ve never had it, and you only live twice, right?

And then, somehow, the topic of whaling came up in our party of 13 – not entirely surprising (oh, it was from outfitting barbs at the end of the chopsticks, turning them into little harpoons). Anyway, my buddy says, before he dies, he wants to go on a whaling expedition and kill a whale himself. And then feed his family, friends, and a village. And himself. That’s pretty manly stuff, I’ll admit. He follows up this declaration with:

You’ve gotta do one epic thing before you die.

And then it hit me – I have had red bean ice cream before.

And then something way more significant hit me – what would mine be? It was exhilarating to think about. Killing a large beast to feed hundreds (dozens?) is both epic and bad-ass, but just not my cup of green tea. It doesn’t drive me. It doesn’t get me jumping out of bed, “Alright, Captain Ahab, time to whale for fish, or fish for whale, or just… whale. Whatever. I’m hungry.”

And then I thought a little more about the construct of his remark… one epic thing… one epic thing. Let’s address the grandiosity of the thing before the singularity of it. It’s gotta be big. BIG. Bordering on ridiculous. RIDICULOUS. Aim for the bleachers. Sure, there are fewer people after the over-sized goal, and the nature of those things is that the pay-off is larger. Yet, is this what we mean by epic? If my understanding of epic is correct, maybe we really mean something hella-crazy-wikked cool, or whatever the kids say nowadays after I yell at them to get off my lawn as I wave my harpoon cane. I’m going to fathom that whatever this thing is for me, it’s the most cool/epic if it most aligns with my purpose / life path.

And then there’s the one-ness of it. One? ONE? Only one epic thing? After I accomplish this singular event… that’s it? Is everything downhill from there? I can’t ever do that again? Do I spend the rest of my life saying, “Yeah, I did that one epic thing back then, yep, I’m awesome,” or another chest-pounding phrase? Or do I just feel it as an other-dimensional warmth and confidence to do whatever since I pulled off that one epic thing? The idea of the best being behind me is semi-depressing. Here’s an ideal: do the epic thing not just once, but each day / all the time.

And then we can turn the “one epic thing” into the “all the time awesome thing”.

And then… you die.

Bow Ties and Shoelaces

Time for a new identity!

Or not.

Maybe you just came out of a relationship. (You cut your hair / sport a goatee / get your ear pierced.) Maybe you moved town. (You look for a new set of friends.) Maybe you’re digging deeper into or taking on a new hobby. (You try on a relevant persona.) Maybe I found my voice and direction in life. (I buy bow ties and shoelaces.)

It’s funny how it happens. I’ve heard it said, and I’m sure you’ve experienced it: there is an inner change that is reflected externally. What appeals to you evolves and you take on new things that make you say, “This isn’t something I would normally do! This isn’t me!” And yet, here I am, buying bow ties, an article of clothing I have not worn since performing at piano recitals as a kid. And yet, here I am, buying shoelaces, because, well, I’m suddenly inclined to wear bright colored laces with darker shoes. (If this becomes a thing, you read it here, first!) Both these inspired and fun style changes are happening right after finding my life vector.

Tell me I’m not the only one experiencing this.