Oh boy, another blog post inspired by the monologue ramblings of one Marc Maron in his podcast. WTF, WTF?
I’ve been listening to this podcast for years, but for some reason, it’s been resonating with me in new ways recently. Maybe that’s an example of what I’m about to discuss. Perhaps it’s an example of how we tend to pick out the messages we need from something we read or hear. We somehow tune in differently, whether it’s a song lyric that we suddenly feel connected to after several listens, a book that we’ve read once or more than once, or a podcast.
Maron’s monologue before his interview with Aaron Sorkin stuck to and with me. Like previous podcast monologues in the last four weeks, I transcribed a part of this one. Like other interviews, some part of me connected with what the guest said.
In talking about luck and timing
He talks about having bad luck. He’s self-deprecating. However, then he states,
I think the only luck that I really had, to be honest with you, was the timing of this podcast.
But what is “luck”? According to Google, “luck” is “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” But what is “chance”? According to Dictionary.com, “chance” is “the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: so “luck is a randomly” caused success or failure.
We all have “luck”
We all have “luck” of some sort. Sometimes it’s not so much luck as our own doing, without us realizing it. Sometimes we don’t realize how much our thoughts and actions are creating our situation. Sometimes the timing in the world is just right.
Some would say that everything happens when it’s meant to.
…when you think about people have helped you along during the way, why would they do that? It’s weird that most of the time the things that change your life are just people that choose to show up for you somehow, or to give you time, to give you attention, to give you some sort of lesson, but they don’t have to do that.
(Emphasis mine.) I love this statement. “People who choose to show up for you…give you time… attention… lesson… they don’t have to.”
Just ‘showing up’ is a significant act.
Time is a precious resource. The decision to give someone time, and the action of it, can be significant to another human being. The lesson need not be direct as in, “I’m going to teach you something”. The teaching doesn’t need to be in the form of a tutorial. The lesson can be an experience that you learn from.
Everyone you meet is a potential teacher.
Sometimes people feel compelled to help others. Maybe they have a specific reason for wanting to help — e.g. they identify with the person they’re helping, empathy — other times, they might not know why they feel guided to help. Maybe that’s an example of chance as well.
About “bookstore owner Gus”:
I don’t know why he chose to talk to me, but he did and it changed my life.
This hits me in the heart. Choosing to start a conversation can change a life. I mean, really.
If you really look at these moments in your life…the fortuitous moments are usually relationships, they’re meetings. They’re people that change your life and they don’t have to but sometimes they do. Yeah, you should have gratitude for that.
Get out there.
These are reasons to get out there and meet people. As I’ve been saying for years regarding networking events: You never know if you’ll meet your new best friend, your next business partner or the love of your life. I wrote that in a blog post in 2013 and I’d been saying it verbally and in written pieces for several years prior.
Also, gratitude is so important. Appreciate those people and be aware of their impact.
…you can do all the work, you can put all the work in and it might not manifest, man, because you need someone to go “Let me help you out.” “Let me give you a leg up”. Or, you need that weird bit of timing where you just sort of like if you got in the pocket.
Sometimes you need that nudge or that bit of help. Sometimes you need some information or a connection from someone.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Never be afraid to ask for help. If you’re in the position to help someone else, do it. There are exceptions to this, and you don’t need to help everyone. There are people who will take advantage and who will suck the energy out of you. Only help people if it feels right. You’ll know when it does.
Help for the sake of helping
One of my favourite quotes is one that I read on the side of a box of tea when I worked at a chain coffee shop when I was 19, 23 years ago:
To love for the sake of being loved is human, to love for the sake of loving is angelic.
To me, this is a distinction between ego and love. We’re all human and we all have the capacity to be angelic in this way.
Don’t help for the glory. Don’t help people because you believe that it’s good for your reputation (think inauthentic “corporate responsibility”). Don’t help someone you don’t want to help because you feel the need to be a martyr or to get Good Place points. (If you watch The Good Place, you know how that goes. If you don’t currently watch it, start as soon as you’re done reading this.)
Help because you have something to contribute. Help because you see someone in need.
Of course, there are other many other reasons to take an action that might change someone’s life, but I’ll leave those up to you consider.
And then we come close to Maron’s conclusion. Although I edited a bunch of his words out (I transcribed 5 minutes of speaking), a lot of this was in the context of getting his podcast made. He began podcasting at a time when podcasts had been around for a while, but there weren’t many of them. “The best luck we ever had was we put this podcast up when the landscape was pretty sparse. It was still sort of the wild frontier.”, he said.
Maron carved out a niche. The timing was right in the podcast space. The timing was right.
The Venn diagram of idea and timing worked out and numerous elements collided to make it the ideal communication platform for him. Furthermore,
The cosmic timing of my incredible bottoming out financially and emotionally just happened to coincide with amazing opportunity of getting this thing [blog] out there. That was fortuitous. but, there’s also those relationships… lot of times those are work relationships. A lot of times you have belief in each other and you know, you want to work together, but sometimes there’s just some people that drop into your life.
It’s funny — Maron stutters and changes direction often enough that I don’t know if the above is meant as, “You know you want to work together” or “you know, you want to work together”, with the “you know” in the second version being a filler phrase. I say this as an observation related to interpretation, rather than as a judgment. But yeah, people drop into your life. It might sound too spiritual for your taste (or not), but I’ve long believed that people come into ourselves for a reason, at the right time.
There’s even a song in Wicked about it, called For Good.
They don’t have to help you. They don’t know that they’re helping you and they changed the entire fucking direction of it. thank those people if you know who they are and you still can.
All of that was relevant to Maron’s previously recorded interview with Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin talked about various people who influenced him, including the late writer William Goldman, who wrote the original screenplays for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men”. He also wrote The Princess Bride — both the novel and the screenplay. Upon reading the novel, it surprised me to discover that the film had almost exactly replicated it, complete with the sick boy played in the movie by Fred Savage.
One of my favourite movies.
Of one example of Goldman’s help, Sorkin and Maron had this exchange:
AS: “If that’s all that he would have done…”
MM: “That would have been enough”.
AS, in the Jewiest moment of the interview: “What do we say? Dayenu. It would have been sufficient.” (Those are video links. Read more on Wikipedia.)
Who’s touched your life?
Thank those people and be those people. Pay it forward. If you have something to give, give it. And if you don’t think you have something to give, you probably do.
You can have a profound impact on someone else, whether you’re aware of that impact or not.
Earlier this week I realized that I was three episodes behind on Marc Maron’s podcast and that fellow Toronto Jew Howie Mandel was the first the of the three interviewees that I missed.
You can find the podcast here, and you can see the WTFPod tweet about it here.
I’ve been listening to Marc’s monologues recently because I got invested in his life during his six-minute segment about leaving social media. The gold in this one wasn’t in the monologue, though. At least, not for me. (Though if I were in L.A., maybe I would check out the art exhibit of his girlfriend “Sarah the Painter.”)
It was with Howie and the life lesson wisdom that a human in their 60s brings.
Before I get to that though (and I’m making this article a bit disjointed on purpose), there’s a story that Howie told Marc that is lore around my old neighborhood. I remember hearing the story during my high school years — the same high school he’d attended decades earlier (and that a kid named Aubrey — who raps under the name of Drake — later attended). And so, it was relatable to me, like listening to an uncle tell old stories of his youth.
Furthermore, I love it when Marc Jews it up. It feels familiar. I connect with it. And when Maron mentioned the Jewish communities of Toronto and Montreal I wanted to respond with comments about Vancouver and Winnipeg.
I also like it when podcasts carry messages.
That quotation that I put up top came from Mr. Mandel. I stopped my walk and made a note. I expected that I’d take more notes.
I’ve written about discomfort several times recently, here and in other places (often time I either cross-post or modify articles for various audiences).
I called one post, “On Allowing Discomfort”. I often title my posts “On [theme], the way that episodes of Friends were titled, “The One With…”
I touched on the theme of discomfort here, where I shared the following:
Discomfort isn’t bad. We shouldn’t fear it. Fighting against discomfort can lead to suffering, which we don’t want. Discomfort helps us navigate the world and helps us improve our lives.
Usually, messages come to us repeatedly when we need to hear them. I didn’t think I needed to hear this one, but it has resonated.
I used to avoid pain as much as possible, but I know that it’s a tool for growth. I also know that if you don’t run from difficult situations, you can find a beautiful peace on the other side. I’ve experienced this.
There have been times during which anticipated consequences or fear of the unknown have kept me from leaving uncomfortable situations, and while I wish that I’d dealt with the fear differently, the perseverance has been a teacher and situations have resolved in positive ways. I’m glad that I didn’t give up and walk away.
Knowing when to remain vs. when walk away* from a situation is difficult, and we don’t always make the right decision. I do believe that the choices we make at the moment are often those that are right for us. Those moments are where we’re meant to be because they’re opportunities for learning and growth. Of course, we should leave dangerous situations, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Sure, my words can apply to perceived dangers and threats, but I don’t want to address real harm here. (Don’t stay in an abusive situation.)
Instead of reaching for instant relief — physical or emotional — ask what the discomfort of pain is about. Is your headache the result of dehydration? Drink water. Is your arm sore because of the way you slept? Consider your bedding situation. Are you experiencing fatigue? Consider what you ate, how you slept, what your stress level is and other contributing factors.
Do you feel awkward because you’re triggered into a negative memory? Deal with that.
Sometimes all you need to do is address the root cause. Other times you need physical relief. Drink water AND take ibuprofen. Address your immune system and take the decongestant if you need it. Journal out your feelings. Communicate. Exercises. Do all the things. But first, allow yourself to feel.
I can relate this to bagels
Yesterday I got frustrated while making keto-friendly bagels. My fat head dough was crumbly, and I couldn’t roll it out. I thought I’d ruined the mixture and failed this baking project. I spent a few moments contemplating what to do.
I persevered. I rolled out the portions I could. The pieces that fell apart upon rolling into ropes got re-formed into biscuit shapes into which I poked a hole with the end of a wooden spoon.
To my surprise, they turned out okay. They’re quite tasty. The one I cut in half yesterday cut cleanly. The one I worked with today was crumbly but was delicious when I fried it in bacon fat. (Isn’t everything?)
I was glad that I persevered instead of throwing the damn bowl of fat head dough out. That dough is my new metaphor.
Mandel made this statement near the beginning of the interview. I thought there might be more to it than that, but there wasn’t. Still, the concept was significant and came back near the end without being named.
Both comedians shared stories about overcoming shows that went poorly. Comedians are regularly thrust into these situations. When they’re tanking on stage they need to be resilient and then move on to the next gig. Quitting the business is an option but quitting mid-job (mid-activity) is not.
The rest of us can learn from it.
That’s it. Not my best article, but Mandel's statement about discomfort inspired me want to write about it.
I’ve been mulling this post over in my head now for a couple of weeks. When it was still a draft in my head, I thought that very little would be devoted to the past, but that the past deserved some attention. Then I started typing, and now it’s clear that I was working through shit. As long as it is, large chunks of Draft 1 were axed.
Feel free to stop reading here. I won’t mind.
This is a 12-minute read. Honestly, if you’re not into other people’s self-reflection, or mine specifically, skip this post or jump around the table of contents.
A note to those reading this on Finding Health & Wellness:
The most significant part of this post for this audience is the section in which I make an announcement about my coaching program.
I drafted this in Google Docs and on Medium first.
With stories/posts that appear on Medium and my website’s blog, I often start on my site and import to Medium. However, the latest WordPress release is a c*nt that causes me rage, and it doesn’t play nicely with Grammarly.
Spoiler alert: In 2019 I’ll be writing blog posts on Medium or in Google Docs first. For long posts like this, the advantage of WordPress is the ability to create bookmarks.
2018 — Work/career
The relief of a job loss with the leftover scraps of shitty feelings
I spent much of 2018 obsessing over the job contract that ended in December 2017, earlier than its original end date.
The loss of income while moving from apartment to house with double the rent was stressful. At various times I’ve been annoyed because my old employer kept my personal property. Losing the job itself was a relief because by the end of the first month it was clear that it wasn’t the place for me.
The job was terrible for my mental health and was one of the reasons that my depression and anxiety returned.
This wasn’t entirely a bad thing.
It was this job that inspired me to create my ADHD coaching program, a program that had been inside me for years. My ADHD symptoms came back, and I had to deal with them, and so I was inspired to help myself and others.
→This is an example of an uncomfortable situation being an opportunity for learning and growth.←
I’m grateful for that.
What I obsessed over, about the job, was less the job loss and more what lead to it. I gave it way too much energy in 2018. I spent way too much time reflecting on it.
I keep wavering about how much to stay publicly and with each draft of this post, it gets whittled away. I will say a little bit:
Depression and anxiety leave you vulnerable, with little energy to fight.
Manager issues. I use the “Jekyll & Hyde” analogy in private conversations.
Depression and anxiety leave you vulnerable, with little energy to fight. Now knowing what my manager's mood would be like on any given day kept me on edge for several months, which is horrible for mental and physical health. It taxes the immune system, for example. One indication of his mood was that if I overheard him in a stressful situation, it was time for me to duck and run.
There was gaslighting.
When facing off against my boss I often yelled at myself inside my head, watching myself surrender rather than assert myself as if I was viewing someone else’s life.
When faced with the options of a “Fight, flight or freeze” response, which happened regularly, I nearly always chose the latter two. This was no way to live.
I would take it day-by-day.
The final situation where shit hit the fan came after I made a decision that I still believe was the right one based on the information I had. For that, I have no regrets.
So, there was that, and I’ve finally made peace with it.
In 2018 I remembered how awesome I am, how qualified I am, how skilled I am.
After I left my day job, I devoted much more time to help build a restaurant. A few months ago I finally put that on my resume. I suppose that I’d previously thought that it didn’t count because it was my partner’s restaurant.
It very much counts. Here’s something that I’ve put on my resume and mention in job interviews for digital marketing roles: “Bums in seats” as the result of social media, newsletters and event planning. Real diners, people who spend money in exchange for food and drink, validate my experience more than metrics such as likes, comments and shares ever could.
I learned lots of lessons in 2018.
THE ELDER, DYING AS OLD PEOPLE DO
Almost a year ago, my grandmother died. She was months from turning 99. She had a good run. It was sad but not tragic, as her quality of life had been drastically reduced. It was undoubtedly her time. We thought it would come sooner. She completed the cycle of life. She was a fantastic woman. I loved my grandparents very much.
THE YOUNG WOMAN WHO COULD HAVE HAD A LONG LIFE
On May 31 I watched my niece on life support after her suicide attempt. She would have turned 23 in August. In my memory, I can see her face and her shoulders. I touched her and made a focused effort to memorize that moment. It wasn’t one that I wanted to forget.
Yes, I tried to help. Sometimes I wish I’d said or done more, although I don’t think that it would have resulted in a more favourable outcome.
She died amid the celebrity suicides. On the morning of her funeral on June 6, I learned that Kate Spade had similarly ended her life the day before. Anthony Bourdain’s suicide happened on June 8. I shared some thoughts at the time.
A short time later she appeared to me in a dream. Depending on your belief system, this was “just a dream,” or it was “a visit” from her spirit. Either way, she laughed joyfully and with amusement and told me that we were all overreacting. I said, “I love you.”
The next day, what amused me about the dream was this: In the dream, my niece tried to relay this message by phone, but the connection was poor. If there is an afterlife and she’s in it, no cell phone provider would provide coverage, especially mine.
I mentioned the suicide on Medium, never on Facebook. I told friends as part of a general life update rather than a huge piece of news. At the time, I didn’t want it to seem like I was only calling because of the death, even though that would have been acceptable.
My reasons for how I handled communicating the news included these:
-Everyone’s got their own feelings about suicide. Those feelings are personal. They might be controversial
-It wasn’t about me. When I imaged posting the news to Facebook, I envisioned an outpouring of condolences. While this might sound nice, I didn’t want that attention. I didn’t want it to be about me.
THERE’S NO “RIGHT” WAY TO PROCESS DEATH
I want to emphasize here that there are my own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Everyone should communicate news of a death in a way that they feel is right for them.
I chose not to share the incident on Facebook because I didn’t feel that I needed support or expressions of sympathy. I didn’t want to read about other people’s experiences with death. It didn’t seem helpful at that time. My niece being at peace is was felt — and still feels — important. It’s not about me.
Furthermore, I had experienced well-meaning words of support when someone close to me accidentally died when I was 20 and he was 21, when “social media” meant special interest “newsgroups” with names such as alt.tv.buffy. Many expressions of sympathy made me angry.
When supporters shared statements such as, “I know how you feel.” I wanted to tell them to go fuck themselves because they didn’t know how I felt and to say so sounded presumptuous to me. My feelings were mine.
I’ve since given this advice to people who have lost people close to them:
The grieving process is yours and yours alone
“Well-meaning people will say what sounds like stupid shit. It’s okay to want to tell them (including me) to go fuck themselves. It’s less okay to say it. The grieving process is yours and yours alone, and everyone experiences it differently.”
That said, I did appreciate those sentiments, and I was thankful for the gesture, and I know that there’s no “right” thing to say. Maybe acknowledging that there’s no right thing to say IS the right thing to say. With my niece’s death, I wanted to give little opportunity for people to say anything.
In retrospect, I think that I was afraid of having my feelings (my grieving process) and opinions (about suicide) judged, even by friends.
Of course, I know this is ridiculous.
I didn’t want to put friends in the position of not knowing what to say to me. I didn’t want them to feel awkward, so I took that on myself. This is what I often do.
I very much put other people’s feelings before my own, except for when I impulsively don’t. I’m learning to protect myself, though. More on that later, and enough talk of death!
The last thing I say here about my niece is that two and a half months later, three days before her birthday, she became an aunt. Her brother became a father. Her parents became first-time grandparents. They’re my family, and I still can’t imagine what it’s like to lose and gain like that. I do know that the baby is loved and that the baby’s parents will give him the best possible life. They live in another province, so I haven’t met the little man, but I can’t wait.
2018: A time of personal transformation
THE ENERGY SHIFT
In the last few months, I felt an energy shift. In late November I wrote this on Medium:
As I lay in a Restorative Yoga class on a Sunday night, two evenings after hanging out with a couple of friends that I met at my last “day job,” the following came to me with the noted emphasis: “I’m a leader. I’m a warrior. I’m a fucking leader.” I also “heard” the advice to step out of the shadow and into my greatness, to stop hiding myself and step into the light.
Impostor Syndrome is an ongoing challenge in my life.
→Late November really kicked off some transformation in my life.←
DISCOMFORT AS A TOOL FOR GROWTH
Days later I wrote pieces on my website blog and Medium blog about allowing discomfort. The post began as a flow of thoughts on Instagram, moved to Finding Health & Wellness, and then got imported and slightly altered for Medium.
The general idea: Discomfort isn’t bad. We shouldn’t fear it. Fighting against discomfort can lead to suffering, which we don’t want. Discomfort helps us navigate the world and helps us improve our lives.
Being sick with a cold became a metaphor for other areas of life.
BOUNDARIES & FRIENDSHIPS
I had an incident in late December that reminded me of my boundaries. This incident was the gift that kept on giving, in a good way. I consider it a turning point.
Like leftovers from meals, I found multiple ways to repurpose that lesson into other lessons. I gave that incident a lot of brain space for a couple of weeks — and especially in the first few days — but now, nearly a month later, it pops up only when relevant.
I am grateful for this.
Someone recently read my energy and such. She told me that I’m good at setting boundaries and always have been. I questioned it for a moment until she clarified it with, “You’re over here, they’re over there.” with accompanying gestures. I realized what she meant; I’ve always compartmentalized the people in my life. I don’t know why.
As a child, I found it weird when my “camp friends” mingled with my “school friends”. That’s changed in adulthood, especially as some of my work friends became personal friends. There might still be some separation, though. Everyone has “friends groups”, right?
I’ve always seen friendship as a continuum. Acquaintances at one end, besties on the other. That might be a boundary.
I think that Facebook sometimes encourages people to believe that they’re closer to the “friend” end of the continuum when they’re really on the “acquaintance” end. The label “friends list” is wildly inaccurate. If a user has hundreds of “Facebook friends” there’s no way they can be personally connected with them all. And this is one of the reasons I’ve mostly left Facebook.
Truthfully, I spent a lot less time on Facebook in 2018 than in other years. I gave my attention to other activities, and then the number of notifications overwhelmed me. Time away from Facebook is more productive and has other positive effects. The link at the end of the previous paragraph explains more.
→Strutting Into 2019←
I’m bringing new energy and new self-awareness.
1) I’ve stopped trying to get coaching clients
I’ve finally acknowledged that I don’t want to coach people 1:1. I never wanted to. I knew this when I pursued my nutritionist certification. I knew this when I created my program. And yet, I offered personal coaching on my website and social media because I felt that it was the best way to help people.
I couldn’t fake it until I made it because I didn’t really want to make it.
I didn’t take the necessary actions to get clients because even when I thought that I “sort of maybe” wanted clients, I really didn’t. It would be inaccurate to say that I was half-assing my client acquisition activities, but maybe “73%-assing”?
→Acknowledging what you don’t want is huge and awesome.←
I haven’t abandoned my ADHD coaching program. I still very much believe in my system. I’m still going to work on written materials. I’m still going to teach the process. Writing and teaching are my strengths! I have ideas. After I’m done this post, which is taking several days to write, I’m going to create an action plan. I’m also in the process of creating a day planner.
I’m looking for a full-time job. I’ve recently had a bunch of interviews. I won’t reveal any more about that.
2) Multiple income streams
I know this will continue. I look forward to it. I need to be engaged in numerous activities. I need to be creative. Side hustles are necessary for me.
Big changes are coming. I feel inspired in a new way. I feel lighter. I feel the shift.
Also in late November, inspired by the birthday of one of my best friends, I acknowledged on Facebook that I don’t think I’m good at being a friend. “My brain tends to function as “out of sight, out of mind” and it is NOT deliberate,” I said. “ I feel that I don’t reach out to people enough,” I shared.
I assured my friends that I love them. I encouraged them to make plans with me.
I say this here rather than sharing it above because recently I’ve been making friends. I feel like at age 42 I might finally be getting the hang of this friendship thing again.
I suddenly feel more strongly tied with people whom I’ve known for years.
One friend moved closer, one invited me out, I went into semi-retirement with Facebook, and I feel more open.
I’ve also been talking to strangers more often. This is new to me, the shy one. I feel braver in social situations. I feel less socially awkward or don’t care if I am. Years ago I started verbally acknowledging when I felt awkward or very introverted, but recently I’ve experienced some breaking through it.
Once, in my mid-30s, I chatted with a stranger on the subway as she chaperoned a bunch of children on a school field trip. She used the phrase, “Fuck you forties.” Maybe this is it.
It’s all connected
This brings me to my 2019 “word”.
I wasn’t going to do a “word of the year” or any variation thereof. I didn’t want to engage in an exercise of trying to discover it.
However, it discovered me. It kept bashing me over the head, metaphorically of course.
This word kept coming up in my posts on Medium, in my website blog and personal Facebook posts.
When a word or concept keeps coming up, one must pay attention!
My goals for 2019 include more personal connection & shifting my energy and time towards productive activities. I will givemy fucks (time, attention) to what and whom I choose.
I will strive to have more offline play dates, like the days before the internet.
Books. Remember those?
Also, like the days before the internet, I will read more books. I’m currently reading The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight. The book was recommended by a friend. Before that, it was Think and Grow Rich.
I will continue to be grateful for the rough patches and lean into the discomfort, asking myself what I can learn from it before grabbing sweet relief. I want to listen to my body.
These aren’t “new year’s resolutions”, they are ongoing life skills.
I’m really looking forward to this year. There’s so much to do and learn. Fewer fucks to give, more attention to give to those things and people that matter. More meaningful moments, fewer empty moments.
If you’ve read this far, congratulations! I feel like I owe you a prize, but I give you lots of gratitude. 12 minutes out of your day is half of a sitcom.
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