Tibetan monks creating a intricate mandala that they will soon wipe away and throw into a nearby river.
No matter your worldview, I think we can all agree that 2016 was a defining and likely transitional year in the United States of America. From politics (Clinton vs. Trump, moderates being squashed between the extreme “right” and the extreme “left,” to the passing of iconic celebrities (Prince, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, etc.), to radical, miserably unhappy short-sighted people, countries & groups (ISIS, Turkey, Syria, Russia), to witnessing some of the most generous acts of kindness towards refugees and others humanity has ever seen. Plus some pretty good comedy and music about all of the above!
I’m putting “changing the world” on pause for a bit to spend most of my energy on my kids, doing a good job at work, and keeping sane by spending time with my numerous great friends. Maybe if others did the same, we’d have less crazy, upset people in this world! #veryblessed
Life can be is challenging, and I’m grateful that I can randomly write my not so insightful thoughts on this blog. I’m grateful for good health, family, friends, an awesome job, as well as for cute animal photos and videos.
I’m not into new year resolutions any more, but I am into moving in a meandering, yet at the same time vague direction toward some positive outcomes. So, I’d like to make a point of having more music in my life by listening to more, writing lyrics, and creating melodies for at least one new song to complement the two already out there posted here and here.
And, of course, I’m going to try to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose a few pounds without giving up red wine, whisky, chocolate, cheese, peanuts, chips, or queso. 😀
Here’s to us all getting better at playing the crazy cards life deals us as well as continuing to learn & grow from the harrowing, yet joyful game of life.
Bring it on 2017…but please use wise and kind judgement when doing so!
It’s an unconventional title: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life(amazon link), but it’s an insightful, irreverent, and hilarious book that’s not too trite, sappy, or “duh, who doesn’t already know that!” kind of read. It seems to be about how so many of us get hung up on the wrong things and make ourselves and potentially others in our social solar system miserable. He helps the reader figure out what they really should give a f*ck about instead of wasting time and energy measuring their success or failures using other peoples metrics instead of their own.
He suggests if we go through life being uncertain about everything, including our adamant beliefs about ourselves and others, as well as accept our idiosyncrasies and human flaws, we will be much happier. I suck at directions, and that’s OK!
Those who are absolutely certain about things tend never to achieve lasting happiness because really, as most of us know, nothing is certain and disappointment is inevitable. As a person who practices yoga, self-learning, appreciates the teachings of the Buddha, was raised Episcopal/Southern Baptist, and performs much less mental self-flagellation than I used to, the concepts Manson discusses resonate with me.
It’s a much more upbeat read than the must read book Man’s Search for Meaning(amazon link) by Viktor Frankel, a psychiatrist who writes about concentration camp survivors. Those who made it through the experience (if they weren’t randomly killed) had something they really gave a f*ck about. Those who didn’t were more likely to be measuring success by using metrics that didn’t fit the situation in which they found themselves (i.e., the drastically unfortunate cards they were dealt). I think the lessons in Frankel’s and Manson’s books are similar, but Manson uses many more F-Bombs and has modernized it to address our current more whiny “first world problems,” because, fortunately, almost none of us Gen X’ers and Millennials had to survive a horrific concentration camp!
Other posts I’ve written on self-exploration that may be useful to new/future readers are:
Wow, I didn’t realize how much I wrote about this sappy, self-help, existential crisis stuff! But I think all that writing and creating of songs I did was better than doing the 100+ less emotionally, physically, spiritually, medically healthy things I could have done while processing all that painful personal growth, trying to stay a mostly sane mother, and not turning into a raging HULK. Haha! Thanks to my readers who actually read my ramblings and still remained readers! 😛
Based on who you ask and when you ask them, I am much happier, tolerant, understanding, and calmer (unless provoked/poked while I’m under duress!) than I used to be even 3 to 5 years ago, which likely explains why I post much less frequently. I’ve learned to tame some of those demons (who never fully disappear), set better boundaries (which Manson mentions in his book), be OK with my human failings by relying on GPS, and try to make better choices largely thanks to the kindness, support, and understanding of my numerous truly amazing friends and certain great family members. Just like Manson and most of us, I am constantly learning what to give a f*ck about based on where I am in life. I’ve gotten better at letting the rest of it flow on by just like the river in Siddhartha(amazon link) by Herman Hesse.
I’ll be interested to see how Manson’s views change if/after he has kids. Those new humans can cause you to question your entire life in a mostly sleep deprived state as well as pummel your a$$ affirming how little we really know/understand about ourselves or tiny humans! He also discusses the “fear of death” in his book. Ironically, I fear pain more than I fear death. I fear dying before my kids are on their own, and I can’t even think about anything bad happening to them because then I might as well be dead.
I highly suggest you read this book because I care enough about all of you (even if I don’t know you) that I don’t want you to embody this quote: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” – Henry David Thoreau from Walden.
It’s been over 7 years since I submitted a panel idea to SxSW Interactive and now the time has come to do it again. You may wonder why or you may not care at all, but nonetheless I’m letting you know about it. 🙂
Please vote, comment on, and share our panel idea: Customer Differentiation in Competitive Marketsbefore September 2, 2016. We’d love to have the opportunity to share our collective wisdom on how to create, build, and maintain a highly successful customer focused organization using the knowledge and tools available today. Comments on the panel picker are important because they help the selection committee assess audience engagement.
The really fun, engaging, and knowledgeable speakers are:
I’d love to be able to repeat the SxSW panel experience to help others build great customer focused organizations thereby resulting in not only great customer engagement but also fantastic employee engagement. Happy Customers = Happy Employees = Happy Customers!
Gracias. Thank You. Xie Xie.
P.S. Thanks to all my readers, colleagues, and friends who voted for the panel, Building A Web Business After Hours, oh those many years ago. It was selected, we presented in a very large room to hundreds of people, and it got great reviews.
When will the human race truly understand, feel, and appreciate this profound, yet basic sentiment that Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and many others have known and stated so many times? My son was 5 miles from the senseless shootings in Dallas (Barack Obama in a White House update) last night.
I haven’t posted in a long while for a few reasons, but mostly because I was not strongly motivated to do so until right now.
Peace has to come from inside each of us. We must “be the change we wish to see in the world!” – Mahatma Gandhi
Wow, it took me until February 20 to actually write a New Years post. Happy 2016!
After joining a WordPress hosting company, I thought I might have a bit more time to blog, but getting ramped up takes time. So far so good and so far very busy! There are lots of things going on at work and in my life, but most of you probably wouldn’t be too interested in hearing all about that stuff, so here are some fun & interesting articles that people have sent me or I’ve randomly discovered:
Several managers where I work just completed some Arbinger leadership training, and I really enjoyed it! Our senior execs will be going through the training in the next couple of weeks as well, so I’m looking forward to having a common language to share as we help grow the business to the next level.
Below are links on Amazon to two books that are published by the Arbinger Institute. I read the first one a few years ago and am in the middle of the second one. They are written in story/fable format which I very much prefer when reading business books because it makes it much easier to read and seem less “preachy.”
I think many of us are very blessed to be when and where we are right now in the timeline of human existence. There are others of us who still seem to be living in the dark ages of hate and anger. And sadly, many still living in poverty, financially and/or emotionally. I wish for them and us the continued light of compassion, understanding, and psychic freedom that has helped humanity get through dark times before. May we continue to arrive on the other side of turmoil & change more enlightened and connected than before.
I think Thanksgiving is one of the best US holidays because it forces us to pause from our busy lives and take time to be grateful for the many things we have such as health, happiness, people who love us, people we love, physical & spiritual wealth, friends, family, and comfortable homes no matter what they may look like. There are others who have far less (like the boy in the photo), and ironically they might feel and act more thankful than we do sometimes.
Those of you who subscribe to my blog by email may have noticed that an email was sent with the five most recent blog posts I wrote. It was apparently a byproduct from migrating my blog from one host (GoDaddy) to another (WP Engine). I recently joined WP Engine so I have the opportunity to take advantage of hosting my WordPress blog on a hugely better platform for WordPress sites!
We have a really easy-to-use migration tool/plugin, so moving my now over eight (yes, 8!) year old blog over to the WP Engine hosting platform was simple. Maybe now I will finally be able to write more often about business, parenting, life, and music (hopeful emoji). I may even change the name of my blog to one that is easier to pronounce once I think of a better alternative. 😀 Suggestions are welcome!
I’m excited to be working at WP Engine. The company is well beyond the start-up phase but still very entrepreneurial at heart. So far it seems to have a wonderfully collaborative, energetic, hard working, caring, and get-things-done culture…which is my kind of vibe!
Tibetan monks creating an intricate mandala they will soon wipe away to illustrate impermanence. Later they will throw the colored sand into a nearby river and start the process over again.
Life seems to have a lot of rejection, failure, and unmet expectations in between occasions of blissful acceptance, success, peace, and happiness.
But it’s all part of the human experience and according to Pema Chodrin we need to Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown (Amazon link). I heard about the book from Seth Godin’s blog post Failing, again. It’s a quick, easy read with a nice analogy of how we build resilience, understanding, and acceptance over time as we get better at dealing with the big waves that life sends us that sometimes knock us down. We struggle to get back up only to experience the next big wave trying to knock us down again! I also recently read her book Practicing Peace in Times of War (Amazon link) and found it insightful.
The Top 5 Stressful Situations (1. Death of a loved one, 2. Divorce, 3. Moving, 4. Major Illness, and 5. Job Loss) can leave us feeling like a failure and/or rejected. I’ve experienced 4 of those 5 events personally and two of them at the same time. [major stress emoji] Based on my experience, it takes a great support network, a positive attitude, and not being afraid to ask for help (even if you ask for it in an imperfect way) to navigate these life changes and come out the other end with most of your mental faculties still in tact. 😀 You learn pretty quickly who your friends really are during those tough times. And if you take the time to learn from those experiences, you build resiliency to weather the next big wave and are able to help others get back up too!
Here are some great articles I’ve read recently that can help all of us put feelings of rejection, failure, and lack of confidence into perspective.
The Confidence Gap – The Atlantic. This article discusses the unique challenges even the most talented and accomplished women face on the topic of confidence.
On Marrying the Wrong Person – The Book of Life. Will the way we pick our spouses evolve yet again? I hope so. This article discusses how we should pick our mate. The method they suggest makes more sense than how we humans have typically done so in the last thousands of years.
The findings are relevant for politics, business, criminal justice, and personal relationships. It helps scratch the surface of how we as humans justify our decisions, beliefs, and acts even when it’s not in our or others best interest to do so. As with most things, the actions and behaviors we think are protecting us can end up harming us and others. The book can cause you to question your and other people’s past actions as well as see events through a different lens. Good learning is not always happiness and sunshine, it’s often uncomfortable, embarrassing, painful, and daunting. Such is the human existence!
It certainly helped me gain insight into my own self-justifications as well as identifying others in theirs. The things we do to avoid admitting mistakes and feeling “less than” or “losing face” can be astounding, when a simple: “You were right. I made a mistake.” can go a long way towards healing wounds, finding solutions, and avoiding further damage. Things can deescalate even faster if the other side isn’t too caught up in their own self-justifications so they can hear you, communicate openly, and stop justifying their own story as to why they are right and someone/something else is wrong.
In many cases of conflict, it often seems like the “truth is somewhere in the middle.” Open, empathetic communication can go a long way in getting things back on a more positive track, but as human history has proven that is not easy to do.
Obviously, I highly recommend this book since I’m blogging about it. If you read it, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment or sending a tweet to @aruni.
What a historic week it’s been here in the United States of America! Whether you agree or don’t agree on the rulings, the research, the findings, the laws, and/or the songs sung, I think we can all agree that it was historic. Check out Fred Wilson’s post called What A Week for a better write-up than I have time to create about the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rulings on the Affordable Health Care Act, Marriage Equality, and President Obama singing Amazing Grace at Clementa Pinckney‘s funeral.
My absolute favorite hymn is Amazing Grace. I sing it to my kids often. To hear President Obama unexpectedly sing it with a voice less than the almost perfect ones we typically hear on mass media, reminded me how vulnerable and human (not perfect) we all are. We all deserve and should offer grace and forgiveness to others. I think it took courage for him to sing that wonderful hymn (video link embedded below) for so many reasons.
Here’s to experiencing more amazing grace for our country and the world…
I have not been involved in the day to day activities or in many of the big achievements since it’s founding because I chose to take more of a behind the scenes role. I gave birth (and have the illustrative scars) to the kids who inspired it’s creation, so I think that counts for something. 😀
I decided to take care of myself and our kids while my ex husband and others did much of the heavy lifting to get us where we are today. The kids seem reasonably well adjusted despite the chaos, and they have benefited greatly from being able to attend MIS! I guess we will know if they turned out alright if they are sane in their 30’s.
It has been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy having a lot of fun as well as re-learning lessons that I should have learned the first time! Lesson learning is tricky because each time the situation seems to have slightly different variables and different people involved so you unwittingly let your guard down thinking you should give the people and the new scenario the benefit of the doubt. But then boom, you get a little blindsided. In hindsight it is much easier to spot the red herring. [insert red herring emoji] However, the recovery time is faster, you see the signs earlier which means you don’t put your guard down as much, your good friends become greater friends, the experience makes you stronger, there’s a lot of red wine involved, and hopefully someone gets just a wee bit wiser.
I remember a time in high school where I was trying to tell someone who was about 5 years older than me “something about my life” (just like the Indigo Girls Closer To Fine song begins). He was a college aged Sunday school teacher. I was in awe of him for some reason that I can’t exactly recall why now. When he saw that I was struggling, he said “some things are better off left unsaid.” I figured he was older and wiser, so after he said that I decided not to tell him what I was trying to confess about my atypical life. I’m not sure if it would have changed the course of my life if I had told him, but I wonder to this day if it might have.
Although most people who know me think I’m fairly outspoken and direct, I believe I’ve left many critical things unsaid or unwritten leaving some to think I did not have thoughts or feelings about certain things or maybe even cared. I try to be as open as I can with my kids so they always know I care about them and love them even if I’m upset about something. I hope they always know that. I cherish the fact they still tell me they love me…sometimes even unprompted!
I’ve only had one person in my life tell me that I wore my heart on my sleeve, but I think that may be because he was the only person who saw it “standing there” or maybe he liked the shirt I was wearing that day. 🙂 It reminded me of the lyric by Barenaked Ladies in One Week: “I have a tendency to wear my mind on my sleeve. I have a history of losing my shirt.” I think at that time in my life I was desperately wishing I could change into a sleeveless shirt because having an exposed heart on your sleeve is a really weird sensation!
What prompted this random post you might ask? I was looking at the posts I started that are saved in the Draft section of my blog and was wondering whether it was good or bad that those went unwritten (or should I say unpublished)? I’ll never know. It also made me wonder about what people don’t say at work to their bosses, to their employees, or to their co-workers as well as at home to their spouses, kids, parents, friends, love interests, etc. Are they/we afraid to say what’s really on their/our mind for fear of being fired, punished, judged as stupid, abandoned, or something else? Or maybe they/we just don’t care.
Chances are if I had published those draft posts, I would have forgotten by now that I did.
I don’t often publish promotional content on my blog, but when someone reached out to me for this campaign that goes through the end of March 2015, I thought it was worth sharing. You can help an entrepreneurial woman towards achieving her dream by checking this opportunity to help via Kiva.org out. Please watch the video and read the information about how you can participate below.
More than seven billion people live on Earth. That’s seven billion hearts beating. Seven billion bodies breathing. Seven billion minds creating thoughts and ideas all over the world. Yet, so many face struggle everyday all around us. Even so, there is one thing that will never cease to be created regardless of the struggles: dreams. Dreams created from the the slums of a bustling gray city, to the parched land of a an isolated farm, to the refugee camps of a war-torn nation.
On March 8, we honor the dreams of a group of people who have been told not to dream. A group of people who have been told “they can’t” more times than they have been told “they can.” A group who has faced abuse for being born the way they are. A group of people commodified and enslaved. A group who brings life into this world, but who are often powerless over their own. We honor women.
To celebrate International Women’s Day – and the days that follow – Kiva has launched Kiva.org/Dreams to spotlight the power of women because it’s their dreams that make our world better.
By visiting Kiva.org/Dreams, you can back a dream by choosing a woman whom Kiva should lend $25 to. There is no cost to you. By choosing her, you help her to follow her dream of starting or growing her business, sending her children to school, and ultimately, gaining financial independence.
When women have the resources to make their dreams a reality, the world changes. More children go to school, more food is grown, and nations are more peaceful and prosperous. A case in point: if women farmers had equal access to farming assets and finance, they could increase their crop yields up to 30% and 150 million people who go hungry every day would be able to eat.
Kiva.org is the world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform for social good with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Since 2005, Kiva and their growing global community of 1.3 million lenders have crowdfunded more than $675 million in microloans, backing the dreams of 1.6 million people.
By contributing to the success of an entrepreneurial woman who has overcome obstacles, we discover so much more about our own resiliency, possibility, and potential. Each of us has a part to play.
Together we can make dreams a reality for thousands of women around the world. So in honor of International Women’s Day and the power of women, back a dream at Kiva.org/Dreams.
Happy New Year! I thought I’d get a new post out before the 15th of January, but here we are half way through the first month of 2015!
My boss shared this link: The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs (Tenacity, Passion, Tolerance of Ambiguity, Vision, Self-belief, Flexibility, and Rule-breaking) with our team a while back. I was surprised that they said most entrepreneurs weren’t neurotic. I’ve met more than a few neurotic entrepreneurs and have felt like one myself at times…maybe they define it differently than I have seen others exhibit it.
There are so many moving parts to a new business that I think it helps to be able to multitask, but sometimes it hurts a business too. A friend sent me the article below about the Supertasker test that helps you figure out if you are one of the 2% of the people in the world who can actually multitask vs. ineffectively task switch. It made me wonder who those supertaskers were and if they could do the same thing they were able to do with two kids in the back seat asking you every 5 minutes to look at something, change the radio station, or telling their sibling to quit making some noise or the other. 🙂 Check out these articles:
Entrepreneurs can be a little conflicted at times. Some of us are very analytical and logical. Some are very creative (artistic, musical, etc.) and conceptual. Some are both. For those of us who cross the corpus callosum often, it can cause some interesting right brain/left brain integration challenges and short circuits. I know this from personal existential experiences…we can sometimes be misunderstood. We know how to use a spreadsheet, but all of our ideas and feelings can’t always be confined to a logical process of deduction. Maybe it’s like wearing bi- or tri-focals when the switch happens…seconds or sometimes hours or days of disorientation?
Back in March 2014, I put two Songs In The Wild and although I’m light years away from being rich off of them, the experience and the journey of creation were huge learning experiences for me. I think creating music is an entrepreneurial endeavor fraught with danger, risk, fear of rejection, as well as a low chance of a big or any payback.
My kids created iMovie videos of my two songs in the wild: Save Me From Myself (YouTube) and Soul Escape (YouTube) a month or so ago and I’m finally finding the time to blog about them. They did a great job under a lot of pressure, with very little direction from me on a very low budget. I gave them an extension on their mini-contract because we wanted to use photos from our recent trip to Sri Lanka. We had some breakdowns in negotiations and delayed deliverables (mostly due to my lack of proper oversight of the process), and I had to tell them that whining, crying, and feigning ignorance doesn’t help when you are trying to finalize a deal. 🙂 A good life lesson!
The videos will hopefully make you smile and laugh at the sometimes random, funny images they chose for the songs. I love them and I love that they and their friends have told me (they could have been lying to protect mom’s fragile ego) they liked the songs. A couple of my son’s friends even purchased them on iTunes! Please watch the videos and let me know what you think. They are embedded below and are on YouTube. Thank you in advance for taking the time to watch and listen to them! Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MetaphorMania
Co-written by Aruni S. Gunasegaram (lyrics & singing) and Brett Jason Wintermeyer (musical arrangement). Produced, arranged, & recorded by Ron Wikso. Chris Tondre (Guitars and Bass), Derek Morris (Keyboards), Chad and Natasha Hudson (Background Vocals), Ron Wikso (Drums). Album cover designs by Marla Shane .