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Friday, March 31, 2006
Let it out... 
You can get relief through laughter or through tears... it's just that laughter is the sunny side.

.........................

I'm in the middle of a very busy time, so I was really glad that I had bought tickets several weeks ago to see some comedy tonight. Dame Edna is doing a limited performance at the Ahmanson Theater in downtown Los Angeles. For half price, it was well worth the evening.

I saw 'her' many years ago in New York, when I bought $15 SRO seats, and was allowed to sit in the 15th row orchestra (I sound kinda cheap, don't I?)... and the show has very much the same feel to it. Some slow moments which are forgiven by wildly funny moments of improv.

The highlights of the evening was when the audience sang happy birthday to an audience member's father on the phone... and Edna brought up a rather elderly man from the audience, dressed him in leather and he read from a script, "I'm not like other men, please turn over..." It may have been planned or an accident, but the audience roared when Dame Edna lost it and had to take a drink.

Tomorrow, a Saturday, I'll be back in the office to keep myself on track for my deadlines... but I'm ok with that. I know that there's quiet times coming up again after this is done, and I plan on rewarding myself then.

Til then, grab life by the stem, possums!


11:23 PM


Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Create your own reality. 
Reality looks different on the surface...

..........................

I get to create my own reality every day... literally. Today I got to be a train conductor (who says I have to grow up?)

Yesterday, sitting in front of a green screen, in an outfit that fit a version of me ten years ago, I smiled and worked my way through a lot of technical jargon set to a friendly traveling theme.

Today, I plopped in a picture, tweaked a knob here... moved a slider there... and voila, I'm on the train; the sunshine streaming through the window as we zoomed along the countryside.

I love modern technology!

Yet what it's got me thinking about today is our-good-friend "Reality." What is it anyway? We often doubt things until we see them with our own eyes... and yet, if that's true, then I really am a train conductor, right?

We can't really trust what we see. From our viewpoint, rabbits come out of hats and Jedi's fight the dreaded Empire.

It's not that what we see if FALSE, but rather it's merely just our perspective. It's the way we see life. Now that's pretty significant right there, since it's what we see, and what we believe, that shapes our experience of life. That's no small thing.

The only problem we run into is when we take OUR viewpoint to be THE viewpoint. When we start to think we're right and everyone else is wrong, it gives us permission to be cruel to other people. "Mean" is just nasty!

So by coming to see that reality is but an illusion, we get one step closer to the Truth.

What Is is... everything else is just a free ride.


10:04 PM


Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Pre-sure 
Don't let pre-ception set your future.

...........................

Ran into one of those perception issues again today. It was small enough that I could head it off at the pass, but significant enough that it had to be dealt with.

A peer, trying to cover her own overcrunched schedule, voiced concern to our boss that my new software might enlongate the process... thus causing us to miss deadlines. How conveeeeenient.

Well, I explained that it wasn't any longer than what we've been doing so far, since it replaces the tool not the time. In fact, I suspect that it will shorten the time, but it's too early to tell... and too early to make assumptions.

Yet these assumptions have a strange way of becoming 'standard procedures' at the office. It's not uncommon for us to go back to some antiquated way, which takes twice as long, because the new way is unknown. (In fact, it took six months to convince management that it was a network glitch and not the software; for something that later became their favorite toy).

I think I made myself clear... but I will now have to work extra long hours to prove that it doesn't take long at all :-)

The amount of work is still overly aggressive, yet I will have to meet each and every deadline; in order to prevent someone else's misconception from becoming my misfortune.

As long as I have perserverence and proper perspective, it can and will be donoe.


10:30 PM


Sunday, March 26, 2006
Enjoy nothing... 
If you don't enjoy anything, at least try to enjoy nothing.

........................

My parent's trip went off pretty much as I had expected. We did what we set out to do... and they didn't want to do all that much more. It's not that they're really easy to please, as much as nothing really pleases them anymore... So they choose to do nothing.

It would be one thing if they could relax and enjoy the quiet, but they break their silence with loud TV and snide remarks to one another. They don't realize that with every snipe at one another, they chip away at the golden time they have left. I attempt to remind them of that fact, but they just shrug if off as if the advice is for the other one.

If I can't get the message across to them, at least I can take it to my own heart. I can enjoy all the moments I have left... whether it be 50 more years or 50 more minutes... to not let silence get between me and those I love... more give me the urge to fill it up with madness.

They say that youth is wasted on the young... well sometimes old age is wasted on the old.

Life is a terrible thing to waste.

Live it while you still know how.


11:43 AM


Thursday, March 23, 2006
Pressurize... 
Pressure isn't all bad. After all, that's how diamonds are made.

...........................

The entire office is abuzz with activity. I'm not the only one who has to get ready for this big class that's coming up next month. It was decided that the class should be cut down by one day, while adding an extra day of training (for those bad at math, that's five days of class in three days)

So the missing days have to be made up by online stuff.

And all that online stuff has to be made up.

And so the pressure is on, and everyone is in a panic heightened sense of awareness.

I only have about 11 videos to shoot, edit and post in a week... that's not too bad, is it?

What's good is that no one is really that stressed out (although I can't be 100% certain of that because I'm not their pharmacist) We're all just focused on our long lists and doing the best we can.

........................

Now to add to this, my folks are coming into town for a condo inspection visit. It's the first time in a long time that they've been in my town together (usually only my Mom comes to LA on her own, or I meet them in some other city that's not-LA). It's the opposite of the class... with them I have more time than activities. So far all they want to do is see the La Brea Tar Pits and Walmart. Whoo Hoo!!! (I guess with those choices, they must be easy to please)

I'll try to keep "blogging" on my list of to do's... but you know about those "best laid plans." We might just be diamonds roughing it for a lil bit.


7:45 PM


Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Spring forward... 
Renewal begins with a big "Let Go"

...................

Although the weather might betray it, this is the first day of Spring (on this half of the world anyway, the other half is enjoying the first day of Fall). It's such a season of hope, because even if there's snow on the ground, or dark clouds in the air, we know that soon, it'll all give way to renewed life.

Remember all those Disney flicks that show the baby bears coming out of the cave and the wolf pups running among the flowers as that deep voice goes on about how Spring hopes eternal? Well, that's only if you're old enough, I suppose... for everyone else, it's Sponge Bob or some such.

Anyhoo... this is a good time to dust off those Winter Blues, and start planning for Spring Cleaning... not the physical type (though that'll come later, I'm sure) but rather internally.

If we've been holding up inside our shells lately, it's good to break it off so that we can grow free. There're people that have been dragging us down, tasks that have gone unanswered; goals that are too dusty to even tell what they are anymore. Let 'em go!

As for me right now, I'm starting to leave behind the quiet lull after the last big project. I knew it was coming... with every delayed this and postponed that, no one ever mentioned a deadline moving. I can see the swells from here... so it looks like I'll be skipping the Spring and going straight into the giant waves of Summer.

I'm not looking forward to everything hitting at once, but if all goes well, the burst of creativity will be like a field of wild flowers when it's done.

So here's to springing forward... let's go!


10:22 PM


Friday, March 17, 2006
All I need... 
I have all I need to move from this moment forward...

..............................

So I finally got to see the "Promise Land" that everyone at work was talking about... a TV-like Studio in our Dallas office that supposedly outshines everything I have in my little studio back home. Everyone who had seen it filled my head with expectations... that's probably why it's kind of like when you go home again; where everything doesn't seem as big and shiny as you remember.

Don't get me wrong... very nice people, very nice space; they're doing a great job and more power to them. It's just that I already have all that I need to move from this point forward. They may be one or two rooms ahead of me, but when it comes to the final product, my work is on par with theirs. They have the same issues to deal with that I do, and they just get to go to another room to fix it.

While some others I spoke with found this a reason to gloat (because we can do more with less) I didn't see the need for that either. What matters is the doing, not who's better or can do more. In the end, it's what we do with what we have.

It's about going from here... right here, right now; not the past, nor about the future that we can only dream of. Where am I now? And what have I got to take me to tomorrow?

That theme ran through the studio tour; it ran through a strategic meeting with my boss afterwards and straight on into evening with a friend.

I finally got a chance to spend time with PJ, whom I had met last year, but didn't get the honor of his company until tonight. His Southern Hospitality made me feel welcome; his charm, and thoughtful conversation cemented our friendship. He smiled the whole time, happy to take me all over Creation (and construction, which seems to be a staple of Dallas these days).

We had dinner in an old church and walked around a neighborhood full of history, and a few ghosts. I had seen a place in a vision a few weeks back and this one looked exactly like it from the outside (though different on the inside). A few facts seemed right, so I'll have to check into it a bit further before I can confirm anything.

We then settled into one of the many Starbucks before venturing off to his neck of the woods, a much more active part of Dallas than the area I've been staying. Going to where the locals go is definitely the way to make for a more enjoyable trip.

Plus all the while, PJ and I had great philosophical discussions on goals (of which he has a number of really good ones that are easy to reach, and I hope are equally as rewarding).

And what was the main conclusion of our discussions?

That we have everything we need to move from this moment forward.

Everything else, like his friendship, is just a gift.


11:21 PM


Monday, March 13, 2006
Ask 
We often get what we ask for, we just forget to be specific.

.......................

Another evening of dinner and deep conversation.

It's interesting to talk to people who are struggling to find their way... their choice of words; the things they focus on; the things they don't.

As I tried to get her through the maze of her life, I made a lot of mental notes (besides just "I gotta blog about this!")... because it helps me to think of these things as well.

First off, we manifest what we think about. When all we think about are the things that are stopping us, that's all we're going to get.

Everyone has a burden that they have to carry. We have to decide if we're going to carry that weight, let it stop us... or drop it so we can fly. Everything else is just a detail. It doesn't matter how intense or how prolonged it is, we either let it stop us, or we deal with it and move on. It isn't easy (and I'm never going to say it will be)... but that's the skinny.

Focus on the goal... and don't let anything stop you.

And be flexible enough to realize that you might just have what you asked for. We often set our standards for 'success' so specific that we miss the celebration of our lives.

My dream was to act... and then write, produce and direct. I had to give up that dream, because I needed to "make a living" ... I gave in and joined the corporate world... and now all I do all day is act... and write... and produce... and hey!

OK, so it's NOT the way I wanted it... but guess what, it's everything I wanted to do.

But of course that meant I had to give up my other dreams. I mean, I certainly couldn't keep doing my spirituality and enlightening and motivating other people. I mean, who has time to do articles, and cartoons and blogs... hey!

In the early 90's I started in a company as a text processor and ended up the producer of all their training videos. In 2000, I started as a web designer and am now the producer of the training videos. How does this happen?

Some people will call it "luck" (I hear that a lot, but never from the people it happens to) ... and, you know what, no... sure there's a bit of luck thrown in there, but luck is only the coming together of everything whose time has come.

For me, it was the constant push for video. It became a running joke. "Oh there's Stuart again... video, video, video!" Til one day they needed video... then it became video.... Stu! Stu! Stu!"

Patience, Persistence and Preparation.

That's luck.

And then our conversations drifted onto all the competition and all the people who AREN'T making it and how tough it is for everyone... and I just kept saying "yeah, so?" There's no such thing.... it doesn't matter. I really don't care how many other people want what I want. That's their goals. This is just about me and MY goals. Either I go after my goals, or I don't... either I achieve my goals, or I don't. The same with everyone else. But if you focus on them, that's where you're heading. If you focus on your goals, then that's where you're heading.

Everything else is an excuse.

And success has no excuses.

So which do you want?

Ask for it.


10:35 PM


Sunday, March 12, 2006
Butterflies 
Even if a butterfly's wings cause hurricanes someplace else, its world is still pretty calm and enjoyable.

................................

This weekend was more about being a social butterfly; filled with brunches and dinners out... and malls. Just basically taking it easy and enjoying the company of people.

Didn't I have tons to do? Heck, I always have tons to do. I noticed the world didn't end.

Some of the conversations were silly, others were very reflective. I sort of repeated my speech to a friend who's going through a very similar situation at her work, as people have at mine. It was still good to repeat it... not only cause she needed to hear it tonight... but I needed to hear it again too.

Succeed because it's what you do... because of you, and despite them if need be.

There was also a pleasant mix of ages at times, so the conversations turned philosophical; reflective about what it means to be in your 40's.

The common thread was that you start to become more comfortable with yourself ("come into your own" one would say). You start to care more about your own purpose in life and worry less about what other people are going to think about you. By then you also have other people who need your attention more than you need attention on yourself (which is often all you have in your 20's).

I also added another reason why you start to feel a bit more comfortable being you in your 40's... because you realized that the world didn't end like you thought it would. You didn't die when the homework was late, or when dinner was late. You didn't die when your heart was breaking (sure felt like it then though, didn't it?) You didn't even die when others close to you did die. It hurt (it might still hurt) but your life went on.

So you learn to live because you realized you didn't die.

And you start to live because you realize that you will.

So each moment gets more precious, however more fleeting it becomes.

And hurricanes not withstanding, you learn to flap your wings ever so gently and enjoy the flowers just a little bit more.


11:42 PM


Friday, March 10, 2006
Above average 
When you undervalue people, they will rise to the level of your own mediocrity.

..........................

A co-worker just her yearly review for the first time... so her wounds were fresh when she opened up to me. She hadn't had the years of confusing CorpSpeak that sounded like something from 1984. She had never encountered having her score lowered because they decided to 'raise the bar' ... she struggled to understand something that the rest of us have learned to shrug off.

"What did she mean by telling me 'well, I expect great things from you, that's why I gave you a 3 (out of a possible 5)'?" she questioned. "Me? MEEEE? I'm at least a '4' and she knows it!"

I couldn't explain it to her any more than I could my old team; who excelled at what they did, but could never get higher that a 3-point-something because of 'high expectations' and bell curves.

The problem with the system (as I have always said) is that it doesn't set up its expectations for the JOB, then judge the people accordingly. It sets its expectations to the PERSON... so if I expect you to slack and you do, or I expect you to do great work and you do; none matter... since I expected it, you both get a '3.'

So I sat there and watched her go through what all the other excellent people went through before her. "Then why should I even try?" and "they give me a 3, I'll give them a '3' level of work."

Once again, they've succeeded in pushing someone down into the status quo. Oh, they say they don't want to do that... they want to INSPIRE the people (the 'most valuable resources') to greatness. They just don't know how to do it.

So I gave her the speech I've given many times before...

Do it for yourself.
You are not the system, even as you are affected by it. You do good work because you don't expect to do anything less.

Accept their system.
You can try to fight it; or you can try to change it (many of us have tried) but you can also come to accept it. History has shown that a '3' means you get to keep your job, let's you go about your business as usual. A 3.4 means they like you, they really really like you. If anyone gets a '5' on any of their sub-scores, it means that they're either new or that their manager has gone through a lot of pain from their management and fought to keep it (probably at the expense of their own review).

Save up a few surprises.
Don't be a Talker, be a Doer. If you talk too early, someone will punish you for not following through. If you create something that is distinctly yours (so you get the credit for it) but you don't tell anyone until it can surprise everyone; chances are you'll do well (because you exceeded expectations, see?)

She eventually worked her way around to justifying her time here... saying she got benefits that weren't monetary... but she did admit that the relationship she had with her manager was now somehow tarnished.

I told her that I understood... I really did understand (in ways I hope she never has to).

The best thing to do is to succeed from your own core, from your set of principles and not from someone else's guidelines that aren't straight enough to walk on.

Acceptance is giving in... it's never giving up.


12:14 PM


Thursday, March 09, 2006
Watch your tongue 
Speaking with a forked tongue can be as sharp as a knife.

...........................

Today's theme seems to be about tongues... literally and figuratively.

Literally because I must've bitten my at some point during the night. It's a bit swollen and tender and I have to be careful not to make it a part of my meal when I eat (don't you hate it when that happens?)

The other meaning of the message is because of something I came across by accident. I had to find some prerecorded lessons in our online library for another project I'm working on. There was a whole bunch to choose from, being that they've recorded this lesson several times, so I was glad to have such a wealth of material at my disposal.

Clicking on the first one, I noticed that there was 12 minutes before the first graphic was supposed to show up, so I figured the instructor just turned it on and didn't start right away. Well, he did turn it on... but he didn't know it...

If he did, he probably wouldn't have been talking to someone on the phone... about someone... and something... in not so nice of words.

Let me say that this is a nice guy, really is. I like and respect him a whole bunch... and this was a 'mistake'... and he was talking out of great frustration over something or other...

So what to do?

Do you delete it and hope no one noticed? Do you delete it and just tell him to be careful next time? Or do you follow company's strict policies to inform management? After all, this might not be the only "oopsy" and he might not be the only one. If EVERYONE recorded their private moments and it's out there for the whole company to see, aren't you obligated to escalate it to the proper authorities?

It's a tough question... and I'm sure based on who you ask, the answer will be different each time.

You certainly don't want the guy to be in trouble over it... but you don't want the company to be in trouble either.

So... what would you do?


8:17 PM


Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Live it here... 
Live your life where you are.

........................

I was reading some comments that were posted on IntentBlog (a site founded by Deepak Chopra among others) when I saw this one:
Here's something my guru used to tell me - you are not a saint when you go sit in the mountains and meditate, for there is no anger to control, no provocations to overcome. You are a guru when you are constantly provoked and prodded and pushed to lose your cool, when you can live amongst humanity and its unreasonableness and still be a saint.
And it really resonated with things I've said for many years now.

As I was growing up, going through my self discovery phase I wondered about joining the isolation of your stereotypical gurus. Was I heading towards a mountaintop? Could I see the light among the street lamps of the big city?

Of course I could. I knew I didn't want to live alone and just think about my navel. Sure, my navel is cute and all, but it's just not enough to hold my attention beyond the occasional lint discovery.

I love people... and want to be among them. I am neither more or less enlightened among the stars as among the Starbucks. We carry ourselves wherever we go. The light shines from us, whether we sit in the dark or on the sun-drenched beaches of Southern California (which is what I did).

Is it challenging, like the quote indicates? Of course it is! But if you want to live life, where else but here?


4:55 PM


Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Steady as she goes... 
Slow & Steady is still progress...

...............

I'm... still... working... on... all... my... projects... and... what... not... it's... just... going... kinda... sloooooooooow.

Kind of like that Bugs Bunny Episode where the mad scientist is chasing Bugs in slow motion ("Coooooome... baaaaaack... heeeeeere... raaaaaaaaabit...").

I don't mind really, being that it was so hectic last month... but at this pace I feel like I should be fanning myself in 90 degree weather on the back porch with a mint julep in my hand.

Some people have even remarked that I seem to be going slower than usual, so I guess part of this mud-like movement is part of my own doing. It's just that (as usual) my resources (as 'help' is referred to in the CorpWorld) are simply unavailable. It's me and only me... and it's just no incentive to push it when it's all uphill and the load is all on my back.

As long as I'm still climbing... well... that's... good... enough... for... me.


9:37 PM


Sunday, March 05, 2006
Abundance... 
Abundance comes from what we put in, not what we take out.

............................

Well, after removing the science experiments -- formerly known as 'leftovers' -- from my refrigerator, I realized I really had nothing around to eat.

It was time to prepare my weapons (Mastercard and Visa) and head out on the hunt (Trader Joes and Costco). I joined the other hunters and gatherers in search fresh salmon (Buy before 3/12) and much needed supplies(anything half off with coupon). Taking only what I could carry (in a shopping cart the size of Wyoming) to load onto my trusty steed (a Ford Escape) and travel far (1.7 miles) back to my abode... to add to my coffers (Amana Frostfree Fridge).

I like living in the modern age... but that's another story...

Looking at the well stocked fridge at the end of the day, there was a certain sense of abundance. A comfort level of not knowing that I'll be starving for at least until the leftovers take over again.

But it was more than just a sense of abundance, but one of humility as well. I felt my mortality knowing that I relied on them for my life. I was happy that I am able to pay for them with money I've earned... and I sent out well wishes for those that are not as fortunate as I have been lately.

All this from Orange Juice and Frozen Corn.

Abundance is just a sense of balance... that what you need is what you've got... and for the moment, that's really really good.


10:50 PM


Saturday, March 04, 2006
Details 
The details seem small when they're here... but huge when they're missing.

............................

I moved into my new condo back in June of last year and have stared at those cavernous gaps between the crown molding and ceiling forever... forever I tell you!

Actually it wasn't such a big deal, really. Still looked nice... just unfinished. I certainly had bigger things to deal with. It's not like I was staring at those GYNORMOUS shadows that looked like the Grand Canyon with this burning desire to fill it in the middle of the night. I was fine, really.

Well, I've been slowly tackling it over the weekends and although I'm only half way done, I feel very accomplished. I look up there and see NOTHING... and that's exactly what I wanted.

But as I sit comfortably, scraping caulk off my shoes and admiring my work, it's got me thinking about details... all those little things in our life that, by themselves, don't seem to matter all that much... yet taken all together, make all the difference in the world.

When you look down upon the Earth at all these billions of little details, it's hard to imagine that one teeny, little detail would be missed if it wasn't there. Well trust me, you didn't see those HUMONGOUS CHASMS in my wall. It'd be missed.

You matter, my lil details... you matter.


10:26 PM


Thursday, March 02, 2006
Home 
Sometimes the way back home is the long and winding road.

........................

Home is where my day was. I just decided that I wanted something different, and that I could do the same stuff I do at home as I do at work. (I found it difficult to connect to the network, but that's another story) It was very reminiscent of those years of self-employment, which had its good points and its bad points.

I miss those days.

Just not enough.

I've come quite a long way... especially since last year. Especially since last year. Especially...

It has been a long and winding road since last year at this time... and I was reminded of it when I received an "early edition" of my yearly review. It came in an email in order to be ready for tomorrow morning's meeting.

The other day, a friend asked me if I ever get sad (guess my daily thoughts have all been cheery lately); and I said "of course I do!" and explained that I have my moments, but they pass fairly quickly.

It wasn't like that last year. Last year, the sadness lingered like a storm... or an annoying rash. I was facing one of the lowest moments in my life and knew I had to find my way out of it... find my way back home.

Looking at a much better review; almost a tribute to my achievements, I think I finally exhaled.

It's certainly not a time to relax... but it is a time to re-evaluate my goals from where I stand NOW and not from where I stood THEN. This ground is more solid, a better place to build.

The road behind was paved with good intentions. The road ahead can be paved with gold; as long as I step forward carrying the richness that lies within.


9:46 PM


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