The Cost of Crazy

I hope this is not a sign of age, yet lately it seems as though the world has gone crazy. I suspect a great deal of my perception is based upon all the negative stories and images available thanks to hyper competitive media sources. For the past several weeks I've been afraid to access a screen anywhere (including online) because of all the "Zombie" stories and images.

Since elementary school when I first saw the infomercial of a frying egg ("this is your brain on drugs"), I've been pretty aware that drugs are bad.bad.bad. So why are people still making such dumb choices? Although there will always be terrible stories to tell, my repulsion is in why the media is showing such graphic imagery without providing a choice as to whether we want to see it or not. Are ratings so important - and what does it say about us as humans that so many of us are clearly clicking on these links (or they wouldn't keep providing them).

I used to love scary movies - before they became grotesque. Now I refuse to watch any scary movie. Remember the campy thrillers from the 70s and 80s? The suspense building up to a crescendo while you tensed in dread for the moment when the bad guy was going to jump out and kill teenagers about to "make hay"? Today's villain makes Jason look like a boy scout. It seems as though cinematography and technology have advanced dramatically and many images and story lines include a ton of realistic gore/horror as well as a callous disregard for human life or boundaries. I believe the Blair Witch Project was the movie that cured any interest I will ever have in scary movies (I know, I know but we saw it opening night with friends before word got out that it was a 100% fake documentary. The last five seconds of that movie had me sleepless for weeks.)

Yet I can choose to see a film - bloody images and stories plastered on newsy web sites feel much more intrusive as I am not expecting to see them pop up. Some of these sites are not offering a link with a warning - which limits my choices. Whereas I could visit a site and not choose to select, see or read about cannibalism or murder (title tag only), now my choice is being narrowed to whether or not to visit the site period.

This is also why reality TV has no interest to me. I already know how terrible people can be. I don't need to witness how heinous people can be when trapped on an island, a house or on a stage. We watched five seconds of a funniest videos show last week and it has changed considerably from when it first came out. A lot meaner. A grown-up hitting a kid in the head with a bat is not funny. Anyone getting truly hurt where they can't get up is NOT funny.

To be honest, we began watching the Bad News Bears recently with our son when I had to turn it off. PG apparently meant rated R in the 70s. Another indication of how our sensibilities have changed. It seems we have always had a penchant for the dark side yet our thoughts as to what is appropriate for general audiences has shifted. I'd like to declare that I am not a prude, nor am I a cowering flower. There are shows with violence I will watch because the content is intelligent and keeps me guessing plots. I just want to preserve the boundaries of decency and respect for human suffering.

If I do turn a screen on, it is not an indication of interest in bloody images and news featuring the worst stories imaginable (and some that are not.) There is a cost to all this crazy. Numerous studies indicate that teenage anxiety and depression have risen dramatically in the last 10 years. My hope is that the youngest generations will be turned off by the extremism of our current media culture. Although not a fan of censorship, today's unprecedented access to data requires a certain self discipline in what we fuel our minds with. History has shown a societal cycle of returning to grace after periods of more callous dissolution. It typically started with smaller voices declaring that it was enough - today it may be as simple as turning away from the things unhealthy to our spirits, including toxic people and programming. At the end of the day, the cost of crazy is a voluntary price.

When to Divorce Your Work Spouse

Divorce is never easy. When it is someone you work with, it can be downright traumatic. Occasionally there are even "custody" arrangements of direct reports or a polarization of colleagues to work through. A work spouse can be a man or a woman, same or differing gender. It is the person you work closely with and typically someone similar enough in personality to create chemistry (the unromantic variety) yet different in ways that allow you to complete each other. For example, one may be great with numbers while the other is great with presentations. Perhaps one is more big picture while the other craves a life of details. In short, this relationship is a partnership of sorts.

A work spouse is a blessing and a curse. There is true value in actually enjoying the time spent with work colleagues - often this time is much greater than we spend with our own spouses and family. There is a camaraderie in sharing work stories and lunches with someone who you can also share your personal life with. Someone who remembers your birthday, anniversary, your birth stories and how you like your coffee. Who knows your mood by the way you say "Good Morning" - or not. Who you can borrow a lint brush from or check for salad between teeth before a meeting. Someone that picks up the slack on bad days and who challenges you to do your best every day.

I've had two such "marriages" in my career, and what I know is that they tend to run their course, eventually evolving into friendships from afar. Ideally this will be caused by one person's promotion or transfer - or perhaps even a new job that effectively severs that every day connection. Less ideal is when the relationship begins to sour - leading to the type of resentful bitterness seen in the movie War of the Roses. Just as in a real marriage, this can begin with one person changing course and leaving the other person struggling with the change.

Emotional maturity and professionalism is the antidote to this type of negative energy. But what to do when a work marriage begins to truly sour? Although I have never had to deal with this, I know plenty of people who have. What I have observed is that it is usually best to simply sever all personal aspects of the relationship. Maintain a friendly manner yet keep all conversation topics to work related matters.

Unfortunately, such a transition can be awkward in the short term. Consistency is key and time will eventually lead to new connections and habits. Although the rewards of a healthy work relationship can be tremendous, severing ties with a once close partnership is uniquely challenging. Any conflicts play out in the place that pays your bills and puts food on your table. The good news is that, unlike a real marriage, your house, child custody and alimony is never on that table. Keeping a work spouse divorce in perspective is essential to successfully navigating the dissolution.

How to Begin an Awesome Day

the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me
by e. e. cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

    i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Beach Weather

So grateful for some recent R&R on the beach. Grateful for clear water, almost no pesky sea gulls and no crowds. Grateful for fun family time and the amazing dolphins we were lucky enough to spend a little time observing. Grateful for sing-a-longs, frozen cherries and lots of all natural vitamin D.

Mamma Bird

The sweet little birdhouse built by Monkey and Daddy in cubscouts is now home
to several little eggs. When they lifted the hinge to peer inside (they promise not to
going forward), little mamma didn't so much as flutter a feather.
She fixed them with a very stern "go away" glare until they dutifully closed her ceiling.
Mammas do love their babies...

Simple Pleasures

Ever notice that it is the simplest things that bring the most pleasure? I have been over the moon with the bountiful rose blooms we'd been so fortunate to have this month. I have them in charming little vases in nearly every room and have even been taking them into the office. They smell heavenly. Not sure why I've only taken photos of the orange blooms - the red and whites are just as delightful. Orange is just such a summer color, no?

I also LOVE the rain. I know some people feel blue with wet weather but I just feel energised. This past weekend we even played in the rain a bit before coming into hot showers and ice cold watermelon. See what I mean about simple pleasures? Even the pansies looked happy with the extra rain.

Star Wars Lego Death Star

Monkey really made out like a bandit this year for his birthday. The really wonderful thing is that he is so appreciative and sweet about it. We keep waiting for the only child entitlement phase to kick in - yet thus far he is just a really great kid who likes to share with friends. Except with this Lego Death Star thing. After watching a ton of YouTube videos with grown men building this in 16 hours, my guys gloated and high fived over assurances that they would complete it in two days.

It has been over a month and this is still what it looks like:

They blame it on a missing part. I prefer to think they are just prolonging the enjoyment...

Plants vs Zombies Birthday Cake!

I shared my uber talented friend L's cupcakes, but she also spoiled us by making this incredible birthday cake for Monkey, complete with the humerous note from the silly zombies. Our family has been addicted to this fun game and its hilarous how we all try to "help" each other win. You can see our new hermit crab in the picture as well. This is by far the coolest cake ever. We shared a few pictures and boom! She is a wonder - and the best part is that it was so delicious. I am talking ridiculously yummy. She's agreed to let me share her contact info with anyone interested in having her repeat her talented ways...

Plants Vs Zombies Cupcakes

My amazing friend L is so very talented - and also very generous. She bakes cakes as a side hobby and made these super fun cupcakes for Monkey's school friends on his birthday. Several adults (ahem) had to try one for quality control - yum-oh!

Everything Green!

Have to share these cool seeds I found at Wholefoods. I have no idea what we will be growing, but with names like Green Zebra Tomatoes and Kaleidoscope Carrots, we are eager to find out!