Decision Paralysis

Decision Paralysis

Buying toothpaste is hard. I mean, there’s Crest, Aquafresh, Colgate, Tom’s Natural Crap-Tasting Paste….
And then there’s tartar control, whitening, fluoride-injected, plaque-fighting, breath-blasting, and on and on and on!

On top of that, price is also a consideration. Does this “value pack” really have any sort of value, or is it just a sales gimmick? Or what about the coupon pasted to the front of the carton, urging cost-conscious shoppers to, “Save Now!”

A trip to your local, big-box variety store’s toothpaste section will likely span an entire wall and six racks of shelves. This kind of experience leaves me glaze-eyed and full of anxiety.  Which one should I pick? Oh my god, what if I pick the wrong one?!?! What if it doesn’t leave my mouth clean or kill gingivitis? What if when I smile, friends and strangers alike see mounds of gross plaque stuck between my teeth??? What if my teeth aren’t glistening?!?

Prozac, anyone?!?

I have Decision Paralysis. 

Deciding between a seemingly unlimited number of choices for even the dumbest of things like toothpaste brings me anxiety. 

So imagine the complexity of starting an online business. 

This is my current project. And while I have a really good handle on the service I’m going to offer, I have ZERO website-building savvy. And I kinda need a website to build my business. 

And so I asked around a little.  Should I build the site with Weebly? After all, Weebly was founded by a couple of Penn State grads. I should support the cause, right?!? Or maybe WordPress? And if WordPress, wordpress.org or WordPress.com?  Yes, there is a difference. A big one. Should I use Kajabi? Thinkific? Iy-yi-yi…I don’t know!

Sound foreign? Join the club!

Then there’s this thing called a domain name. Well where do I get one of those, and what is it, and why do I need it? And I should get a private or shared SSL certificate. Huh? And make sure my site is “SEO”. Say what?!?

A host. 

A server. 

Wait. Am I managing a restaurant?!?

What is all this crap?!?

So I asked Google. 

Googs provided some answers, but then more decisions had to be made. 

Turns out that there are multiple providers of the aforementioned “thingees”. GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, Hostgator, Bluehost. And of course, this stuff that I don’t really understand but really need doesn’t come without a price, so then cost comparisons had to be made. 

And when I’d had enough of my own Decision Paralysis, I threw my hands up in the air, and surrendered to the possibility that whatever I choose, I might make a mistake. 

I might choose incorrectly. 

My site, my business might suck. 

It could go horribly wrong. 

But it could also go terrifically right. 

It might offer me the financial freedom I have craved in order to get out from under a boatload of paper grading that I must endure in my primary work. 

It might offer me the opportunity to travel. 

And to be a bonafide “business woman”, not that there’s anything wrong with being a “professor,” but I just want to spread my career wings. 

You see, the danger of Decision Paralysis is that sometimes, we can get so bogged down with comparing choices that we completely forget to–or put off– decide (deciding). To choose. 

To face the fear of failure, and just plow through it anyway, and to just have faith that it will all work out for the best. 

So I picked GoDaddy. My site’s domain name and managed WordPress.org platform and SSL certificate and globbity glob gibberish boombah is “all-inclusive” with my GoDaddy subscription. Or something like that. I don’t really know. But I’m about to find out. 

Buying toothpaste is hard. 

But not as hard as having to replace a mouthful of teeth if I’d never bought the toothpaste in the first place. 

Part Three of Three: Albert Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Daughter

Part Three of Three: Albert Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Daughter

I’ve been seeing someone.

 A psychiatrist.  Or a psychologist. Or therapist.  Or something like that.  I don’t know what she is, actually.   I’ve been seeing someone who’s trying to help me figure out my shit, okay?!? I’ve got some demons that I’m not so proud of, and I’m trying to expose them and learn from them and move forward from them.  

For a long time, I have not recognized these demons that have laid dormant inside of me because in my “past life,” I was too busy being caught up in someone else’s life.  I never really paid much attention to myself because I didn’t even matter to myself.  It was this someone else’s needs that I allowed to matter above my own, all day, every day.  Since that person has been out of my life, I’ve been smacked in the face with some of my own personal crap.  It’s not very comfortable, sometimes, finding out that these things exist inside of me.  But I’m learning to manage them.  I’m learning to identify fears and patterns and recognize that I’m playing old patterns and I’m allowing–sometimes– fear to get in the way of my success– both personally and professionally.

 Currently, I’m working on this nagging fear of not being “good enough.” I’m not a good enough teacher, friend, “plus one”, sister, daughter, cousin, whatever…I’m just not “good enough.”   And so I’ve been reflecting on my life, trying to figure out where this feeling (or false belief) comes from, and trying to have some compassion for myself, and forgiving myself for having these feelings, and even giving myself a bit of a hug and learning that “I’m okay” in spite of– and maybe because of– my past interaction  with life in general.  

This three part series is about some of those discoveries– my earliest memories of not feeling good enough.  This is the conclusion to that series.  Part one can be found here: Mr. Meckis and His Amazing Technicolor Art Projects and part two here: Coach T and His Amazing Technicolor Lady Lions.

Continue reading “Part Three of Three: Albert Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Daughter”

Part Two of Three: Coach T and His Amazing Technicolor Lady Lions

Part Two of Three: Coach T and His Amazing Technicolor Lady Lions

I’ve been seeing someone.

 A psychiatrist.  Or a psychologist. Or therapist.  Or something like that.  I don’t know what she is, actually.   I’ve been seeing someone who’s trying to help me figure out my shit, okay?!? I’ve got some demons that I’m not so proud of, and I’m trying to expose them and learn from them and move forward from them.  

For a long time, I have not recognized these demons that have laid dormant inside of me because in my “past life,” I was too busy being caught up in someone else’s life.  I never really paid much attention to myself because I didn’t even matter to myself.  It was this someone else’s needs that I allowed to matter above my own, all day, every day.  Since that person has been out of my life, I’ve been smacked in the face with some of my own personal crap.  It’s not very comfortable, sometimes, finding out that these things exist inside of me.  But I’m learning to manage them.  I’m learning to identify fears and patterns and recognize that I’m playing old patterns and I’m allowing–sometimes– fear to get in the way of my success– both personally and professionally.

 Currently, I’m working on this nagging fear of not being “good enough.” I’m not a good enough teacher, friend, “plus one”, sister, daughter, cousin, whatever…I’m just not “good enough.”   And so I’ve been reflecting on my life, trying to figure out where this feeling (or false belief) comes from, and trying to have some compassion for myself, and forgiving myself for having these feelings, and even giving myself a bit of a hug and learning that “I’m okay” in spite of– and maybe because of– my past interaction  with life in general.  

This three part series is about some of those discoveries– my earliest memories of not feeling good enough.  The series will end with how I’ve learned to deal with those demons, what actually might have been happening in these moments that I describe,  and what I now tell myself when these demons pop up in my current life. Part one can be found here: Mr. Meckis and His Technicolor Art Projects

Continue reading “Part Two of Three: Coach T and His Amazing Technicolor Lady Lions”

Part One of Three: Mr. Meckis and His Amazing Technicolor Art Projects

I’ve been seeing someone.

 A psychiatrist.  Or a psychologist. Or therapist.  Or something like that.  I don’t know what she is, actually.   I’ve been seeing someone who’s trying to help me figure out my shit, okay?!? I’ve got some demons that I’m not so proud of, and I’m trying to expose them and learn from them and move forward from them.  

For a long time, I have not recognized these demons that have laid dormant inside of me because in my “past life,” I was too busy being caught up in someone else’s life.  I never really paid much attention to myself because I didn’t even matter to myself.  It was this someone else’s needs that I allowed to matter above my own, all day, every day.  Since that person has been out of my life, I’ve been smacked in the face with some of my own personal crap.  It’s not very comfortable, sometimes, finding out that these things exist inside of me.  But I’m learning to manage them.  I’m learning to identify fears and patterns and recognize that I’m playing old patterns and I’m allowing–sometimes– fear to get in the way of my success– both personally and professionally.

 Currently, I’m working on this nagging fear of not being “good enough.” I’m not a good enough teacher, friend, “plus one”, sister, daughter, cousin, whatever…I’m just not “good enough.”   And so I’ve been reflecting on my life, trying to figure out where this feeling (or false belief) comes from, and trying to have some compassion for myself, and forgiving myself for having these feelings, and even giving myself a bit of a hug and learning that “I’m okay” in spite of– and maybe because of– my past interaction  with life in general.  

This three part series is about some of those discoveries– my earliest memories of not feeling good enough.  The series will end with how I’ve learned to deal with those demons, what actually might have been happening in these moments that I describe,  and what I now tell myself when these demons pop up in my current life. Continue reading “Part One of Three: Mr. Meckis and His Amazing Technicolor Art Projects”

An English-Speaking American White Girl in Punta Cana: Primer Tiempo

imageMy sister and I recently travelled to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. To be honest, initially I wasn’t overly excited to be going there. I embrace new situations and adventures, and I say “yes” to nearly every opportunity, and I did say yes to this too, but I was scared to death. I’d never been out of the country, let alone to a third world country, and I was actually scared. Feeling scared is not completely foreign to me, but this was a new kind of fear– one I wasn’t certain I knew how to handle.

After a long day of connecting flights, we’d finally arrived. We passed through immigration and customs before getting to our final gate where we were greeted by Dominican heat and humidity. The Punta Cana International Airport is mostly outdoors. Its roofs are made of thatch. Although it had some modern conveniences inside, it was becoming more and more abundantly clear that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. And naturally, everyone spoke Spanish. I took a little Spanish in high school, but I certainly didn’t remember much more than hola and bueno. Immediately, I was out of my English-speaking comfort zone as this was something I’d never seen, felt, or experienced. My anxiety continued to rise.

Frantically, I began to text some loved ones back home of my arrival. My efforts proved futile, as I was unable to connect with anyone. The anxiety continued to rise. And I also grew disgusted with myself for my abundant reliance on technology to “feel connected”.

We were on a group trip, so we had plenty of experienced travelers with us, but that didn’t seem to subside the unease that continued to grow in the pit of my stomach. A bus would take us to our resort, and it was during that ride that I began to feel a very heightened sense of my own white, middle class privilege.

The road was long and dark. Dominican locals on mopeds and other travelers accompanied us on the 70 mph speed limit “highway,” but they were few and far between. There were no street lights, traffic lights, or convenience stores along the way. No Starbucks on every other block. There were very few four-wheeled vehicles. There was darkness. And what seemed to be desolation, although of this I could not be certain because it was after 10:00 pm.

And still, in spite of being a part of a group, in spite of having my older sister sitting beside me, I’d never felt so alone and scared at the same time.

Things seemed to improve as our bus rolled up to the gated resort. Palm trees illuminated by twinkle lights lead our way to the grand hall where we would check into our rooms. The check in procedure was antiquated by American standards, as there was no computerized check in, rather our reservations had been tracked on form documents that had been typewritten. Resort personnel filed the paper documents in wooden file cabinets rather than in a nebulous iCloud. Wifi, I was quickly coming to learn, would likely be sketchy.

When we arrived in our room, my anxiety had piqued, and I began to cry. Over and over, I apologized to my sister because I didn’t know why I was crying; in fact, I was laughing at myself through my tears because I couldn’t pinpoint what in the hell was wrong with me. Why was I crying?!? Here I was, on the vacation of a lifetime; a trip I hadn’t even had to pay for; a sunny island where all I’d be asked to do was relax. And that was part of the problem– I don’t know how to relax. I’ve spent most of my life always “on”. What would happen to me if I gave up total control? If I allowed myself to let my hair down and really take in my new environment? If I allowed the discomfort to transform me rather than trap me?

I’d decided on the former. I wanted to transform.

To be continued…

Newton’s Third Law as it Relates to Love

I’m currently at a crossroads.  And I feel like the only way to get wherever it is that I need to get is to write about it; to share my story, or at least the parts that I’m most comfortable sharing with others.  So yesterday, and the day before, I began to write, to process, in my journal about this latest curve ball.

So what follows is my processing what I’m currently feeling….this is from my journal, dated May 13, 2015, yesterday:photo (2)

Was it Newton’s Third Law or the Theory of Relativity that talked about that equal and opposite reaction shit?  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction?  Something like that.  I think that’s Newton’s shit.  I think the Relativity one might be Einstein’s or one of those other geniuses.  Even that theory still applies to what I’m feeling: isn’t that the one that questions truth, at least if you allow his theory to branch out into philosophy and not just science?  I don’t know.  I think relativity is something about how someone’s “truth” is really not “truth” at all because there is no such thing as “truth.”  Or there’s that shit that goes something like this:  there are three sides to every story: his side, her side, and the truth.  Whatever…I’m digressing…

All I know is that love does not come without a cost.  That’s what’s reminding me of good old Newton– equal and opposite reaction shit.  Or something like that.  Love does not come without a cost and that cost is pain.  So before you invest too deeply, remember that what you invest does not always come back to you in the same way that you’d figured.  That sometimes, the reaction is one that hurts.  It will still be “equal”, but it might not be what you were hoping for.  

Even if all other signs seem to point in the right direction, even if everyone offers their positivity and continues to cheer for you and says that everything is going to be alright, and even if you believe that, still, sometimes the shit hits the fan and you feel a deep, burning, agonizing pain.  The kind of pain that makes you wonder if love was even worth it in the first place.  Right now, I don’t know the answer to that.  All I know is the rawness of this pain– the kind that swells your eyes, stains your cheeks with tears, chaps your lips because you’ve cried so much that you’ve managed to dehydrate yourself.  

The kind that puts you in bed, just begging to fall asleep for the whole day, an attempt to lessen the burden of pain, or maybe even avoid it.  

The kind that you know you could probably get past if you would just get up and do something productive; but you can’t because you feel paralyzed by your pain.  It hurts that bad.  The kind that tells you that maybe a hot bath would help to relax you.  

But the pain, it wins.  You stay in bed.  And you just cry.

Pain.  The kind that makes me scribble in my journal, hoping that in my rambling, I’ll find the light, the answer, the thing that will save me from this pain.  

The kind that rationalizes and then gets irrational.  

The kind that you wish would just go away.  Today.  

I seek no platitudes for my pain, just a simple nod of the head, an acknowledgement that pain exists today.  And that that pain came from  a choice to live again, to love again.

And while I wish that this pain would just go away, I know that it must not.  And it cannot.

Because that is the cost of love.  The cost of love is pain.  

And I have loved.  And I love.  

And I do not regret having love in my heart.  

So it should stand to reason in all my irrationalities that I’m creating in my head that I do not regret having this pain either.  

I just know that it exists.  

And that it hurts.

And that “I’m still here.”  

And the Lesson For Today Is:

So that was yesterday.

I still have that pain.  And my writing about it and admitting it here is my way of trying to find the light and trying to move forward.  I am not trying to mask it or run from it or avoid it; I still feel it.  And I do not regret having this pain or feel sorry for myself for having it either.

Because what I have experienced as a result of choosing to love has been something that I’d never dreamt possible.

It has been an amazing journey; I am hopeful that this journey continues, even if it needs to be in a different capacity.

In my journal only yesterday, I’d asked myself and didn’t know the answer to the question: is love worth it if it’s going to potentially bring you this kind of pain?

I know the answer today.

Yes.

Absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, 100%– yes.

Love is worth it.

I still hurt.

But also,  “I’m still here.”

Make sense?

On the Other Side

On the Other Side

This is how I imagine it all played out:

Doctors and nurses swirled about, checking monitors, pressures, beats, and breaths.

But he was fading.

Shock one, shock two… Nothing. Breathless. Pulseless.

And in the interim, a spirit was lifted up, being called by those who’d gone before him. Against their warning, he looked back on all those he’d leave behind. Saw us there, just outside the CAT scan room, huddled together, praying, tears lining the rims of our eyes and staining the apples of our cheeks, now grown pale in preparation and fear of what was to come.

Continue reading “On the Other Side”

Re-frame: Classic Metal

It happens every semester.  At the end of it, our students are encouraged to fill out what’s called an SRTE– Student Rating of Teacher Effectiveness (at least I think that’s what it stands for! LOL!!!) They are asked a number of questions about how well they believe they were taught by their instructor or professor.  The results from all participating students are then calculated and we are given a ranking across a number of different criteria.  There are two “umbrella” type criteria– our overall effectiveness as a teacher (named “quality of instructor”) and an overall assertion of the quality of the course.  Rankings are from 1 to 7, with 1 meaning, essentially, that you suck, and 7 meaning you’re the world’s greatest thing since sliced bread.

Now I’m not one to brag, but my “quality of instructor” score usually runs in the high 6’s.  One semester, I even got a whole 7!

But then I’ll run through the rest of the criteria to see how I “performed” in other areas.  And invariably, every semester, there is at least one student who apparently hated my guts.  Because this student breezes through the SRTE and gives me “1’s” on every single criteria.  Over and over, this student is saying to me, “you suck, I hate you; you suck, I hate you.”

But the rest of the students apparently LOVE me, if my overall average ends up being in the high 6’s, right?  And I should be amped about that, right?

Wrong.

Nope.

Instead, I fixate.

…On that one student who hated my guts.  Who thought I was incompetent.  Who thought I was the worst teacher in all of Penn State’s history.

I’m not the only one who fixates.  My colleagues talk about the same fixation.

Why is this our human nature?  Why do we focus on the negative and fail to celebrate the positive?  What social constructs support this kind of negative thinking?  It is so counter-productive.  And destructive.

There IS power in positive thinking.

The executives at Disney World have this figured out.  When “guests,” not “customers,” inquire with “cast members,” not “employees,” about what time the park “closes,” cast members are instructed to say, “The park is open until 8:00.” Disney uses associative language and positively connotated word choices to convey a message that is more enticing and welcoming.

I’ve learned from grief that I cannot focus on the negative because it is the negative that eats me apart.  It drags me down and makes me sink.

And so I’m learning to re-frame everything.

Instead of focusing on what I’ve lost, I strive to focus on what I’ve gained.  I’ve gained a tribe of individuals who have loved me and supported me throughout this whole process.  I’ve gained an insatiable desire to live and to live life to its fullest.  I’ve gained the capability to love even more freely– and even harder– than I did before.  I don’t have anger in my heart.  Grief, loss, taught me all of that.  And I’m learning to step away from those negative thoughts that come in every now and again; the ones that tell me that having a happy life is just not in my cards.

I’m learning to re-frame my thinking.

G. comes from a world that is totally different than mine.  I tease him by saying that his world is “classical” and mine is “metal,” using music genres to compare our differences.  And previously, I was intimidated by his “classical” world.  Thought that the two could never mesh.  If our lives are so very different, how could it ever possibly work?   I’d fixate on that.  And to this point, there has been no evidence of it not being able to work, but when the mind fixates, it will search for the “proof” until it convinces itself that its found “solid evidence,” that indeed, it will not work.

Well that’s not so healthy, is it?  Seems pretty counter-productive for someone who really wants to live and live life to the fullest.

So I changed my thinking.  And instead of being “intimidated,” I am now seeing his classical world as an “adventure,” like going on safari or a scavenger hunt or an exploration!  I hope that he also sees my “metal” world as an adventure too!  This could be– and so far, has been– a really, really wild ride, like being at Disney!  And that charges me.  It gives me the freedom to believe that I, too, deserve to be happy in this new life.  It gives me “permission” to have fun, to simply enjoy life, and to let love in and to breathe love into everything I do.

There IS power in positive thinking.

Maybe that one student who hated my guts was just confused, thinking that 1s were equivalent to the “highest ranking” and 7s were indicative of the “lowest quality.”  Or maybe she/he was drunk/high/half asleep/ when filling it out. It is possible, you know.  After all, they are college kids.  Or maybe she/he never came to class and just doesn’t care about a stupid SRTE.  Or maybe she/he is just a bully and hates everyone.

Who cares?!?!

Re-frame it.

Believe it.

Live it.