Yesterday Valentalae told me about this utterly amazing documentary.

It's called "Best and Most Beautiful Things."

It's about a legally blind, autistic girl named Michelle Smith.  As it happens, she's an age player.  As it also happens, she listens to the podcast.

If you're listening carefully, you can hear her talk about and quote something Valentalae often says, about non-consensual ageplay.  And then later on, she quotes something I often say, too.  

You go watch the whole thing, and see if you can catch where.  I won't spoil it for you.

This documentary is utterly brilliant.  It shows the very real life of a very real person.  She's not some sort of plucky-yet-disabled low budget superhero (thanks Vee, for giving me that verbiage).  She loses her stuff.  And sometimes, she loses her shit.

She's blessedly, wonderfully, perfectly imperfect.  Just like everyone.

That's kind of the point of the whole documentary.  I'm glad it exists, and that she does.  She's an awesome person.

If you want to watch it, it's on Netflix, PBS has it to show for a while, and I know it's coming to iTunes, if it hasn't already.

 

"The miracle isn't that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the Courage to Start.  -John J. Bingham."

"The miracle isn't that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the Courage to Start.  -John J. Bingham."

This is my favorite fridge magnet.  It's a quote by John Bingham, the runner also known as "The Penguin."

John used to be morbidly obese, a smoker, and in a lot of trouble health-wise.  He took up running, no matter that he was (and is) a very slow runner, and it changed his whole life.

He's called The Penguin because while in his head he feels like he looks like a gazelle when he runs, the reality is more that he looks like a waddling penguin.

John doesn't take himself too seriously.  He's great like that.

Anyhow, this magnet is a famous quote of his, and I find it inspiring in my life, over and over.

I have a lot of stuff going on in my life.  I have a demanding job, a rich and varied home life with a big polyamorous family, a podcast, a side business, the books I write, and just my life in general.

Sometimes it sounds exhausting when I read the list aloud to others.  But you know what?  It's great.  I love that I'm ambitious in my life, that I'm always moving towards more.

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AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

So, as I've often said in my day job I'm a developer.  I've done different technologies over the years, and for several now I've worked with Java, and related languages.  

A big part of that is working with servers to serve up Java web applications. Typically those servers are some form of UNIX box.  

System administration and that sort of back-end command line stuff has previously been a tough go for me.  I didn't have a lot of training in it, and at previous jobs I'd got some degree of grief for my lack of knowledge about it. 

Really, when you look at the sorts of things you do in the back end, it's not rocket science. Mostly you copy files to the box, work with their permissions, bring up and down services, monitor log files, that sort of thing.  

Fear made me look at a text command line like it looked like this

Fear made me look at a text command line like it looked like this

But as I said, I had got some grief from previous co-workers and superiors even over my unfamiliarity. 

That grief had instilled in me some shame and fear. But I've been really focused on moving through and past it recently, and today I absolutely did. 

I did about a dozen needed tasks on a test stack today, and some of them were things I had to teach myself on the spot, with help from some great websites.  

I did it with gusto. 

Something I've taught many of my coaching clients is that there's a really big difference between  saying can't  and don't . 

When you say you can't do something you mean ever.  In a word, bullshit. And it's toxic bullshit at that. How do you know you can never ever do something?  People learn new things, get better at things, all the time. 

On the other hand, when you say you don't do something, you mean you don't do it right now. But maybe you will do it. Maybe you did it before and may one day to come, do it again.

Who knows?  "Don't" is the gateway to infinite possibilities. 

Today I stopped even that. I switched from don't to do. I ssh'ed and scp'ed and chowned and chmodded like a champ.  I wrote with .vi.  I viewed my history. I took command of my command line. 

It felt great.  

A close friend of mine got some awful news today.  She texted me, asking if I wanted to have lunch, and shared said news.

I texted her back immediately and said I was going to get her a milkshake.

When I first heard about it, my whole body thrummed like a high tension wire being hit with a baseball bat.  My stomach knotted.  My head pounded.  My empathy-flight-or-fight mechanism went off, hard.

I'm a sensitive sort.  At first I was going to say "sensitive snowflake", but then I corrected myself, because that's a value judgment, and a nasty one.

I've been listening to Brené Brown's The Power of Vulnerability lately, and learning a lot from it.  One thing I've learned is that there's this social filter in place, especially in men, where we tend to see ourselves as either Viking or Victim.  

We're either winning or losing.  Champ or Chump.

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It's a toxic fucking lie, filled with shame and expectation.  

After a few minutes of calming my breathing, expressing my sorrow to loved ones about my friend's situation, I did some self-care of my own.  I went and got some Oreos from our company kitchen. 

Funny thing about that.  Another lesson I picked up from the book is often we are able to see and appreciate vulnerability and the need for self-care in others, but struggle to see it in ourselves

I'm super focused on this sort of stuff lately.  Part of leveraging my own vulnerability, part of living in a whole-hearted way is placing value on my own self-care.  Oreos might not be the most nutritionally healthy choice at the moment, but they were absolutely a good emotional choice. 

Now I feel armed to go help my friend.  I've got my empathy close at hand. 

It's going to go well with that milkshake. 

 

 

 

This has been quite the day for my practice of gratitude.  

So, first of all, there's this particular envelope I've been waiting for.  Moving is an expensive proposition, and in the course of my move, I bent, and then honestly broke my budget really hard.  It caught me off guard.  As I joked to some close friends, for the past two weeks or so I've been so broke I could barely pay attention.

That's a tough thing for me to admit, because I place a whole lot of self-worth in my ability to be self-sufficient.  I had this narrative playing in my head that went something like this: "I'm a 45 year old technical professional, who makes a very good salary.  This sort of financial hiccough is beneath me."

There's a word for what I was doing with that narrative.  I was shaming myself.  

So, cue today.  First, the envelope I was waiting for arrived.  It was the return of my security deposit from my old house.  Well, most of it, anyhow.  Just the budget broken bone band-aid bonanza I was waiting for!  Plus, payday is right around the corner, too.  Whew!

I actually called the tiny post-office in the rinky-dink town I now live in, to intercept the envelope in my meandering errand-doing today.  It was my Big Errand, really.  I showed up at the post office around the time they told me to, but they hadn't found the envelope yet.  So they had me leave my phone number, and gave me that lovely small-southern-town-service of calling me to come get it when it was ready.

About two hours later I got the call, just before they were closing.  I really needed to get it today. But the traffic was awful and I got there about 20 minutes after closing.  On a whim, I knocked and someone inside who had waited just for me, because she knew I was close by answered and said she'd be right there!  

Amazing.

Not five minutes later I was envelope-in-hand, heading to the bank.  

In all this hustle and bustle of running errands, I also was listening to an amazing audiobook, Brené Brown's The Power of Vulnerability, which my friend Andrea had given to me.

The book is powerful.  It's the sort of good, hard book that is as wonderful as it is unpleasant.  It's about the relationship between vulnerability and shame in your life.

It made me cry, I mean real, out loud sobbing, at least four times today.  I saw in it so many things about myself, my life, what motivates me, and my own demons.  I am incredibly hard on myself.  I can be a perfectionist, which has a very big relationship to shame.  There's this part of the book where Brené talks about how she was super sick, amazingly, extremely like death's door sick, during a pregnancy, but wanted to bring work with her to the hospital, because "she doesn't get sick."

That sounded SO DAMN MUCH like my inner narrative about not making financial mistakes.

Cue tears.

A bit later she was talking about how people experience a sort of foreboding joy.  You are always waiting for that other shoe to drop.  Sure, work is going well, but... you might get fired.  Sure, your partner is spanking and diapering you, and told you how much they want to tie you up and tickle you like you've always wanted... but something bad is going to happen to them, or you.  (By the way, I really don't like tickling, it's just an example.)

There is however, an antidote to this sort of automatic mode of waiting for that damn shoe.  It's the actual, conscious practice of gratitude.

Let me say that again.  

The way you lean into joy, the way you live without succumbing to shame and fear is to make a daily practice of gratitude.

The same practice I've been doing in my life for a long time.  Sometimes I've been spot on with it, totally rocking it each day.  Other times I've let it go, and even though I've observed my gratitude to myself, I haven't written it down.

I'm not going to ding myself for that.  That's not what this is.  (Besides, perfectionism is self-shaming, remember?)  I'm just SO GRATEFUL that I'm aware of how healthy, life-affirming and good my practice of gratitude is, and once more, I'm all in on it.

Oh, I'm also kind of wrong about ageplay and community - but I'll get into that in another post, soon.