Keep Going…

SupermanOnce again its the Friday before a long holiday weekend. So I’ve done the next best thing to a super short post- a post with lots of picture!

Since I’ve started school in 2011 I’ve had to find a lot of ways to kick my own ass into motivation when things get hard (every day). I look to my quote journal and to find words to keep me going and the ones I went back to over and over were all from songs. So, I thought over break to keep my skills sharp I did a project to illustrate them a little.

The first one on top, is from the song, “Superman” from REM. Every time I got close to finishing something and needed a little push to go further, I would listen to this one. It reminded me that I’ve come really far and at little bit more is no big deal.

Clouds for MountainsThis is from the Andrew Bird song, Danse Caribe. I had this album forever and never listened to it. Then one night I was looking for something kind of laid back to put on while I did homework. I fell in love and this line jumped out at me. How often when facing an unfamiliar situation do we think it’s going to be the worst thing mankind has ever faced and then, when it’s over, realize the anticipation was far worse than the situation itself? If you are like me, probably a lot.
The Cave lyricThis is probably the one that ran through my head more than any other, but every time I tried to illustrate it, it didn’t look right. I don’t know if it’s just so important to me that nothing I create can measure up or what, but I just went black and white with texture so it wouldn’t be left out.

You knew I couldn’t get through this without some Ray LaMontagne, didn’t you? Below is from his song, “Empty” and originally I was just going to do the first one. But after it was finished, it looked like the title page to a well-worn old timey book you’d find in the bottom of a stack at the flea market. So, I decided to illustrate a few more “pages” of the song.
Empty disasters chest
Since it’s New Year’s and we’re far apart, I’ll raise a virtual Manhattan in your honor. Wishing you all the health, happiness and love that 2013 has to give. May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you and heaven accept you!

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It’s Christmas!

Emmet Otter

My husband thinks Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie ever, but Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas will forever hold that title.

Since it’s the friday before Christmas, a long weekend AND the Mayan apocalypse , I’m under no delusion that anyone will actually spend time reading here this week. So I’m going to make it real quick. I wish you peace and joy this Christmas and thank you from the very bottom of my heart for reading and commenting on my blog. May your cookies be plentiful, your in-laws be pleasant(ish), and your egg nog spiked mightily. If nothing else, remember, “Serenity Now!”

I Don’t Like Talking To Me

The Cave lyric

This line from the song, “The Cave” has been my mantra whenever I need to push a little further.

Several weeks ago I had a conversation with a classmate and I just haven’t been able to get out of my head. Without going into details, she asked me for advice and every suggestion I gave was met with a “Yeeeeeaaaaah, but…” and then a monologue on why that won’t work because her circumstances are so radically different then mine (they aren’t). I was left frustrated and thinking, “Well, why did you even ask me?”  Then that jerk “reality” slapped me in the face and I realized I do the exact same thing when I am like when I’m- ahem- not open to suggestion. It was like being face-to-face with a part of yourself that you not only don’t like very much, but try really hard to ignore. I immediately wanted to call everyone who has ever offered me advice and apologize.

But it got me wondering why we resist help when we ask for it? Do we really think we know better? Or that our problem is so completely unique that no one could know the trouble’s we’ve seen? Or maybe we’re afraid of taking that leap to real, lasting change? I think I’ve always been working with that last one. Even if you are doing something crappy, at least you know what to expect day after day. The devil you know is better then the one you don’t, as they say. Not only is change scary, but it takes a commitment and hard work. Without those two things our goals are only daydreams.

I’m not going to lie, the hard work stinks about 90% of the time, but satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment that comes with achieving your goals is so worth it and, between me and you, it’s addictive. For real. I was never much of a goal setter until the last few years. Actually, that’s not right. I was a goal setter. I wasn’t a goal achiever. Not that I’m out filming “Be Rich, Like Me!”  infomercials from my yacht flanked by my cabin boys, Keanu Reeves and Adrien Brody (don’t judge, you have your imaginary celebrity boyfriends and I have mine), but the first few little goals got met and then it was like, “Now what?” So, I set a couple new ones and work towards those. Trust me, they don’t have to be major things or even very fixed. Lately I’ve been trying to add a minute on to each interval I run per week (like this week it’s a 6 minute interval, next week a 7 and so on). Sometimes I have to extend the deadline or I just can’t  muster the energy.  But even if it’s 3 times a week, it’s that much more then the week before and all of it adds up. Now, if I don’t have a goal to work towards, I feel kind of lost.

Back to the topic at hand, this conversation also got me wondering about how much good advice I tossed out over the years because I thought I knew better or the other person didn’t know what they were talking about or I was afraid to change. I’m sure it’s a ton, but I’m also sure everyone else has done the same thing. It made me think of that saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” I used to wonder where my “teacher” was or wish for someone to tell me, “You need to do this, this, and this and your life will be awesome!” But here’s the thing, those teachers, they’re not just people who stand at the front of the classroom. They’re all around us. They “appear” because we become aware enough to recognize the lessons they are teaching us- whether they even know they are teaching or not. The person I was talking to taught me a huge lesson about myself even though they didn’t mean to.

So if you’ve given me advice ever, I apologize. From now on I promise to be more open to it….most of the time sometimes once in a while maybe.

Let’s Not Hang Out Sometime or Introverts Try To Network

owlPeople argue me this point all the time, but I am an introvert. I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality test and it comes back INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling Judging). I actually took it several times over a period of years trying to get a new personality. Nope, INFJ every time. Granted, I’m very low on the introvert scale, but still have both feet firmly in Introvertville. When people think of introverts, they think of shy, quiet, weirdos who live in their parents basement playing World of Warcraft all day, which, is so not true of me. I live in a condo. But doing a little research, I found that I actually did fit the introvert- specifically the INFJ- profile pretty closely.

There are a lot of misconceptions about introverts (*see above), but the main difference is that extraverts get their energy being around people and external stimuli while introverts get their energy from solitary environments and internal stimuli. Extraverts work out what to say by speaking, while introverts will have an internal dialogue first. In other words, extraverts are always talking to you and introverts are always talking to themselves. Introverts prefer to get the feel of a situation or group before jumping in and afterwards they need some time alone to recharge. This is definitely true for me. I’ve been known to flee like I stole something from places with too much going on. If I can’t flee, I end up shutting down and shutting up, because too much information is coming in at once and with my own internal dialogue (at that point it’s something like, “OH MY GOD!!! MAKE IT STOP!!!”) it’s too much to process. It’s not like I have some kind of freakout or “what’s wrong with that lady?” episode. I am still myself- it’s just with one foot (and my mind) pointed towards the exit.

Which brings me to this week’s book review, Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed and Underconnected by Devora Zach. After a conversation with one of my teachers about the importance of networking and my, ahem, reluctance to do it (the exact quote, “But it’s icky!”), I figured I would handle this the introvert way: get a book.

If you are an introvert or just want to understand introverts better (like why 9 times out of 10 we say, “No” when you first ask us to go somewhere), this is so totally the book for you. The gist of the book is that the vast majority of networking “rules” are written for extraverts and that’s why introverts- who make up 30-50% of the population- think they aren’t good at networking, but by tapping into our natural abilities we can turn that around. This little book (192 pages) is packed with fantastic practical advice and humor. One tip I loved was when you’re at a big event and get close to your tolerance limit, find a quiet place to be alone for a few minutes. I guess because it goes against my natural instinct to flee as if escaping a burning building, this simple solution escaped me.

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says if you want someone to like you, get them talking about themselves. Devora Zach points out that because introverts are usually not comfortable talking about themselves and are natural observers, that this is an area where they can excel.

If you are an introvert, make the most of your fabulous talents. Most introverts are more comfortable asking questions then revealing  personal information. Tap into your high level of focus, combine deep listening with well-formed questions and you need never again be at a loss for conversation. Furthermore, your astute attention to subtle verbal and non-verbal (such as eye contact and full attention) information provides communication cues that allow you to gather a tremendous amount of data about others while networking.

She follows this up with a practical tip:

When ever possible, replace why with how or what. Consider replacing, “Why did you leave your job?” with “What led you to make a career change?” Thoughtful questions build rapport.

She goes on to give tactics for surviving a networking event that includes having a realistic, concrete goal for the event. Introverts probably aren’t going to talk to every attendee, but meeting a specific set number of new people gives you something to work towards. Also, she provides some conversation starters and some graceful conversation exit strategies.

BUT…

The single greatest piece of advice in this book applies to both introverts and extraverts and is worth the $9.99. Because it’s Festivus, I’m going to give it to you for free! Most introverts are awful at self-promotion. Talking about ourselves and/or our achievements goes against our instincts, but without this skill, it’s hard to get where we want to go. Zach’s advice: write a 30 second advertisement for yourself. Since it is prepared and practiced ahead of time, we are not put on the spot when the inevitable “tell me about yourself” comes up. Plus, it can be adapted to whatever situation you find yourself in.

Much of our distaste for networking comes from believing that we will be perceived as fake or disingenuous. But here’s the thing, if you are funny, warm, kind, generous, happy, (and I know all my readers are those things, as well as, exceptionally good looking) that will come through, because you can’t not be those things. Ms. Zach says it like this:

Far more compelling is the discovery of your personality. This includes physical presence, sincerity, and attitude. Most listeners are not even aware that they’re soaking in this information through these less overt indicators. Yet these components form most of the basis for the listener’s decision whether to continue the conversation – and the potential relationship.

It’s said that for people to know you, they have to see you. So let people see you. It doesn’t mean be an introvert acting as an extravert, because on some level people will sense the incongruence between your inside and outside . It means be yourself, go at your own pace and find what works for you.

By the end of the book, I no longer thought, “But it’s icky!” Networking seems to be an acquired taste, but not completely repellant. I’ve said before that the things I do now were always possible, I just didn’t know it. I think networking is something I have to put in that same category. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if it had a different name- something more human and less mechanical sounding. I thought about this for a little while (8 seconds) and all I could come up with was, “Happy Friend Making Time” and that sounds like a Japanese gameshow that may or may not involve live sharks. So, I’ll have to think about this some more. I was going to use this song for musical accompaniment this week for no other reason that I love that album. But on second thought, I think this song is perfect: