Browsing the archives for the Change tag

Continuous Change

Change, family, Life as it is, Mistakes, Spiritual Journey

A very long time ago, I was introduced to the idea of continuous improvement – or to use the japanese term, kaizen. Nowadays it means a lot of formal processes and is an integral part in LEAN processes and Six Sigma and such, but when I first heard it 25 years ago, I only knew it was a powerful idea about continuous improvement – and that it had possibilities in work or in one’s life.

I’d love to tell you that I embraced it, and lived it fully, and give you a field report of what its like to have lived 25 years of continuous change. But I can’t.

Circles and Neon

My problem with continuous improvement – or even slight improvement – is that it involves change. And like Monk once said, “I don’t mind change, as long as I am not there when it happens.” And when I am busy trying to not make any mistakes, or do that perfectionism thing, I become rigid and inflexible – and so I resist change. And then that continuous improvement thing just can’t breathe and dies.

But this is on my mind at the moment for a few reasons. First, I am about to experience a significant amount of change in my life as my daughter will return home soon. And secondly, I have recently come to the realization that change is an intrinsic part of improvement.

My son and I have been living together alone for most of the past year, since my daughter was hospitalized. And while it hasn’t been perfect, it has – for the most part – worked. That is, it has worked in a way that is a change from the way things did not work when last my daughter lived here. So as much joy as I feel to have my wonderful daughter back in my daily life, I also feel some fear of the unknown.

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
–Confucius

Things were not working well before, and then things did work, and that move from not working to working is both a change and an improvement. This next change is coming – and it can be an improvement. (While all improvement must be a change, not all change is an improvement.)

So as I have considered this and looked at it, and given myself permission to feel the feelings as long as it doesn’t keep me from getting things done that need to happen for this to work, I thought I would share some of the ideas that I am having on the subject:

  • I am the author of my life and so I can write this next chapter – or at least outline and start it – the way I think it could go. This is a rejection to the passivity that I used to have to change, and means I have a chance to influence the change to be an improvement. Maybe even a big improvement.
  • The only place I can author this change is in my choices of what I do. I don’t get to choose for anyone else what they will do. Trust me, I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. But my own choices, that is where the rubber meets the road.
  • Some of the changes coming may be changes I will really enjoy. Like going to the symphony with my daughter again and shooting with our cameras.
  • Some of the changes I may not enjoy. I don’t like the decions that others make sometimes. And where that conflicts with my boundaries and my responsibilities as a parent, I sometimes must choose to do things I would rather not do – or in a more basic form, I don’t want to live through some of the things I have had to live through in the past.
  • I have chosen to embrace change – to be open to its possibilities. It feels frightening – but only in that way that doing the right thing seems to stir fear up for me.

So that is where I am. I have finally come to the realization that I will never have the sort of life that gets better and better every day unless I have a life that keeps improving. And continuous improvement really just means continuous change (that we hope will be positive more times than not).

If today is going to be better than yesterday, then I need to let the day change to let that happen. (Otherwise it would be the same, you know?)

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.
–Author Unknown

How about you and change? How do you handle it? Are you comfortable with it? What gets you through the times when lots of things all change at once?

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Merely Changing the Mask

Change, Life as it is

Recent visitors will see a new look to merewisdom.org as I updated the theme for the first time since 2006. This is a change to the outward appearances of the site, much like changing masks. The outside changes, but the inside stays the same.

Mask by Tim Pratt

In addition to the change in the theme, I am trying a few things to make who I am when I am not typing here become more visible to you. In effect, showing more of my footprints as I wander the web, making mistakes sometimes, and trying always to learn from them. I am also trying to put into practice something I have been learning, that is that constant improvement must mean constant change.

Changes have been made in the comments now as well. You may now not only reply to what I have to say, but also to one another so that you may converse and share wisdom between yourselves rather than merely interact with me. And trust me, the wisdom of some of the people who have honored me with their visits and their comments is great indeed. so take a moment and comment on something you like – either from me or from another visitor.

Sometimes the search for a right outward appearance takes a while, but when it works, it can help transform the inside as well. Consider for a moment this poem by Tim Pratt:

Mask

Feathers and paint, kohl sticks and smeared
pigments, cerulean blue beads, scales
and links of chain mail heaped on a rough
wooden table in a narrow room, four
hurricane lamps lighting it up. This is
the maskmaker’s workshop on the avenue
of greater dreaming, a place only open
at night.

I have come to find a new
face and body, a truer expression
than the one I see in the mirror. Here is
the Lakota ghost shirt, feathered and white
and clacking, and stone jars of pale
face paint. Here is the zippered leather
mask of a fetishist; it gives me a chill
because I think it can only destroy
identity, not reveal a deeper one. I move on, to
Carnival masks, a crocodile headdress I linger
over but know is not mine, a harlequin’s
cloth face of fixed hilarity, a beautiful
smooth gold mask of the sun. These all have
power, but none are mine.

Then the maskmaker
enters, a lush woman serene and regal as
the moon, her eyes blue and lively behind
a simple silver domino mask. “You want
to be a serpent,” she says, picking up
a length of python skin and putting it down
again. “Or an angel, above everything.” She lets
white silk run through her fingers. “Or
a manitou, with a face that shifts like the sky or
water, changing to fit your needs.” She shakes
her head.

“But you are not those things.” She lifts
a bundle wrapped in gray cobwebs. “You are a
spider. Lonely architect. Thought-maker. Weaver.
Moving in two worlds. Poison-head.” She unwraps
the webbing. I see segmented legs, glossy
black mandibles, and something scuttles under
the trapdoor of my heart. Not a lion, then, or
an eagle, but this feels right. She holds out the spider
mask, sticky filaments still trailing, and eases it
onto my face. I see with spider’s eyes, geometry
and possibility and vibrations in the air, corners
and spirals and prey. The legs on the mask wrap
tightly around my head and I

wake in my dusty bedroom,
looking at the corners where the ceiling meets
the walls, thinking

“I’ve never noticed how much
a spider’s eyes resemble diamonds.”

May these changes help weave a better community, and possibly break free our inner thought-maker as they are intended. May you find some glittering changes along the way as well. And please, if you find any comments left here as having helped you, or at least made you think, please leave a note to tell that visitor. And if I broke anything, please let me know as well. 🙂 Thanks!

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Cultivating Healthy Change (and Weight Loss)

Change, Life as it is

I had a strange experience yesterday and today, and since what came out of it fits with my concept for MereWisdom, I have decided to share it. For the past 10 weeks I have been participating in a weight-loss competition within my company. I jumped into it with gusto, using it as a catalyst to start making some changes, and i have been pretty successful. In fact, in the past 10 weeks, I have lost 48 pounds.

Healthy Lunch

This was announced yesterday to the company, and it identified me as the leader of the competition. In addition to several e-mails of congratulations, I also received an e-mail from one of our our accounting groups wanting to meet me and hear about how I did it. I was touched and flattered, and we had a good visit.

This morning, I found the following e-mail when I arrived at the office:

Good morning…

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, but your story really struck a chord with me yesterday when you came over to meet us. I am very interested in hearing more about your strategies, exercise regime, and such. I have been struggling with my weight for about 3 years now; trying to bring it down. I have been overweight for the last 11 years. I am not the heaviest I have ever been right now, and for that I am grateful.

Any suggestions you might have, words of wisdom, insight, etc. would not only be welcome, but greatly appreciated. Also, I would like to extend an offer of moral support. I realize you don’t know me, but it never hurts to reach out to people and let them know the support is there if they need it. I hope I am not out of line or make you uncomfortable by contacting you about this. If so, please do not hesitate to tell me. Thanks!

I thought about it for a while, and chuckled at the irony of my becoming an informal weight-loss coach, and wrote this reply during lunch.

I don’t mind at all, in fact I am both flattered and more motivated to keep going for myself as a result of the visit to y’all and your encouragement and request for support.

I could probably fill pages of what I have learned – whether that is from Weight Watchers, Overeater Anonymous, or Atkins over the years; so instead how about if I just help a little at a time, and you can ask for more, ask questions, say thanks which will encourage me to send more, or just say no thanks.

The first place I guess I should start is with what I call the “White Bread Warning”. It’s not an Atkins thing, believe it or not, it’s a consulting maxim I have used for years. In short, the warning states, “If you use the same recipe, you will get the same bread.”

Another way I have heard it said is, “If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.” And also there is the classic definition of insanity being to keep doing the same thing and hoping for different results.

Notice that none of this has anything to do with making a decision to change; it only addresses things that do change. A favorite parable of mine tells about the three frogs sitting on a lily pad on a hot summer day. One frog is so very hot and thinks about the cool water under the lily pad and decides to jump in and cool off. So how many frogs are left on the lily pad? The answer is three. The decision to jump in is not the same thing as jumping in.

This was big for me because I make lots of grandiose decisions and then don’t follow through. These lessons teach me that my decision means little – what I do is what matters.

Now when changing recipes, the key there is experience. What do I do that I know causes me to gain weight? I need to stop those recipes. What do I know from experience will help me lose weight? I need to use these recipes. It may not be easy, but it really is that simple.

There, that seems like a good bite-sized chunk of wisdom and experience, and it helps me to review it. What do you think?

Her reply said that she was putting my words on her refrigerator door. And I felt that if my words were good enough for that place of honor, then they might be good enough to share with you as well. It also makes me want to know what I can learn from my visitors here as well.

What do you do to help make changes in behavior that go beyond just having the intention to change?
Should I share more of my thoughts on this in the futurre on here?

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