A little help from my… friend?

Quick anecdote for you (I’ll draw it out a little to set the stage) that I’ve been meaning to share for quite some time now. (Probably a year… running theme.)

We live in Manhattan. Up-uptown Manhattan, where the rents are still affordable, although not really. And my daughter goes to school pretty far downtown where the rents are obscene. Not stratospheric, but obscene. It’s about a 5 mile trip, and by New York standards, actually I guess by any standards, having a 5 mile commute to your local zoned public school is a hike. And every day, we take that hike on the subway. Good times.

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Is cat media in Minecraft as compelling?

Recently I, ashamedly, got a little lazy and started giving my smartphone to my daughter as soon as we got in the subway car so she could play Minecraft and make our commute as placid as possible. But I’ve gotten better, I swear. She now reads two books to me before she gets to play any games. Regardless, at some point, every morning, she’s got my phone in her hand.

Anecdote within an anecdote: I won’t go so far and be so dramatic to suggest I feel naked without my phone, but when I don’t have it, I notice it. Specifically, since I don’t wear a watch anymore, I rely on my phone for the time. And when every minute is precious in pursuit of avoiding the dreaded “late pass” (remember those?) I need to be decisive on whether to switch to the express to save 7 minutes or stick it out on the local for simplicity’s sake. And to make that decision, I need to know the time. So I ask. Most of the time I get a confused look as if I’m asking them to interpret a New York City parking sign. The remaining few are shocked that someone’s actually asked them for the time – I guess after all, if the shoe was on the other foot, I haven’t been asked for the time in 17 years so perhaps both reactions are totally legitimate. And then the scramble – most, if not all, of these people are already looking down at their phone with the time in clear site, yet start fumbling around trying to find their watch, and then realizing they can just look right back where they where looking… high comedy. Every time.

So my daughter’s sitting and playing on my phone. And I’m standing in front of her, watching her play. All of a sudden I see a text pop up up on the screen. My daughter quickly decides it wasn’t important enough to interrupt her game, so she quickly clicks “Ignore” and continues on.

Me: “Sweetie, you can’t do that. Now Daddy doesn’t know who messaged him.”

And then, without skipping a beat, the random guy sitting next to her chimes in:

“It was from Kevin.”

Me: “Thanks man.”

“Living just enough, just enough for the city.”

And scene.

World it’s on.

 

 

 

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I Figured It Out

You’ll be proud of me to know I did it! (Cue up “Climb Every Mountain”.)

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It’s literally been one full year since my last post! One full year since I told you how awesome I feel when I publish a blog post, and that my goal was to start writing on a regular basis. And… voila, here it is! One full year later. At least I’m consistent though. (Editor’s note: I did start this post in November so technically, well, um, now it’s one year and a month.) 

My new year’s resolution will be to do a better job managing your expectations; I’m pretty sure at some point in this post I’ll strongly hint another post is right around the corner, but I suggest you not hold your breath unless you have enormous lungs and can do so until November of 2016. (Salesperson alert: under-promise/over-deliver strategy. Of course I would ultimately have to deliver to make good on that strategy.)

I had a real crappy day the other day. I mean it was bad and I couldn’t snap out of it. Completely down on everything, including myself, which was the worst part of it. You know that character that walks around with the rain clouds directly above them and only them? That was me. I tried forcing a smile, which is my go-to technique for snapping out of it but it never works, but yet I always try. So I wallow in my misery and hope something organically comes my way to turn it around. That or the end of the day.

I’m reading Seth Godin’s, “What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn)” and as it happens, that day, I read the page where he talks about setting the mood whenangled-cover_large 2 you’re not in the mood. He offers up a quick hypothetical – if you’re in a crummy mood but all of sudden you get a call from a best friend telling you how much you’re appreciated and/or you come home to a surprise party in your honor, that would surely change you. And if that’s all it takes (metaphorically), why would you ever have a lousy day but better yet, why would you let anyone else have one! I got it.

I was committed to making my party look like picking up my daughter from school. Usually after the first 2 minutes of seeing her, hugging her and telling her I love her, the challenge is on: trying to get her from school to home with the least amount of resistance. Crowded trains, transfer dilemmas, whining, hunger, and time. But I decided that day I was just going to go with it and be in the moment with her. Drop all the baggage and enjoy our time together. We had a great train ride home, reading and (watching her) playing Minecraft, and an even better time out to dinner at Dinosaur BBQ.

I can affect the way I feel. And I can affect others, too.

I recognized, courtesy of Seth’s book, that I am mood fixer, and can and should be doing this for others. But in order to do this, I need to be good to go in my own head first. Being a mood fixer requires one to focus outward. Really make it about others and do for them. Because crummy moods are about oneself. And equal and opposite to cancel out would be making it about others. There’s the solution! And I know this because when I volunteer, during and after, I, selfishly, feel amazing.

I try to volunteer at least once a year – sometimes I team lead an effort through New York Cares, which extends over a period of time, and sometimes I pop in on Behind the Book. That’s not enough. I’m setting another goal for this year. More volunteering and making a difference in my life by making a difference in others’. World it’s on…