Archive for the Comfort Zone Category

Better Late Than Never

Posted in Comfort Zone, Community, Fun, Relationships, Self Improvement, Social on August 14, 2012 by cklaslan

Ok, so it’s been a while since I posted to my blog… a long while.  I am definitely due.

Wow, it’s been 9 months and a lot has happened, so let me give you the Cliff Notes version.

1) The subject of the last blog turned out to be a liar, flake, and a complete fake who stomped all over my feelings and heart and has yet to even offer a single word of sorrow, regret, explanation, or made any attempt at anything close to an apology

2) I got a new job!

3) I moved to New York City!  Yup this Southern boy has transplanted to the Northeast.  Check back later to see how I survive winter.

I got a great job offer and moved up here in Apr and settled into Hell’s Kitchen in June.  I live on 42nd street just 3 blocks from Times Square!  NYC is an amazing city and I love it here.  My affection for coffee has increased since moving as there is obviously an abundance of Starbucks but also tons of quaint, local, coffeehouses as well.

I’ve been here only  4 months and I’ve already learned a few things :

1) There are fakes and flakes everywhere.  It’s not the city, it’s the human race, and in 4 short months I’ve already met my fair share of them!

2) NYC is very cliquish!! There are so many groups, cliques, and circles of friends that are already well established and they seem to resist new people.  Oh they will tweet you out the ass, but God forbid you actually want to meet them.  I can’t tell you how many people I’ve added and have even added me on Twitter and Facebook and will tweet me daily and/or weekly but make no effort to put a real person to it.  I absolutely do not understand that.  I’d much rather meet someone for real.  That being said in a few cases, I have managed to break through the “no new people” walls and met a couple of cool people that are “keepers”.

3) If someone does say the want or will meet you, don’t you put ounce of stock into that until you actually seem them face to face.

4) Atlanta is hotter but you feel it more in NYC because you’re out in it longer.  Yes in Atlanta it gets
90/100 in Aug/Sept but let’s face it you are only in the heat the 3 minutes it takes to walk from your air conditioned office to your air conditioned car.  NYC may only be 85 in Aug but you have a 10 minute walk to/from the train, not to mention the 10 minute wait in the train station where its 90 degrees and 85% humidity.  Bring on the Fall !!!

5) I do amazingly well on my own.  Having had roommates/partners in house for the previous 13 years I adjusted fairly quickly to being back on my own.  I fill my time exploring the city, running, working out, and taking photos.  Yes, I’ve become an Instagram whore — you can see my photos at http://statigr.am/midtowncoffee.  The TV is hardly ever on.  Oh and I got my website back up too!  It’s at http://www.keithlowry.me/

6) I have a lot to offer someone.  Being back on my own, and having to meet people on my own made me realize I’m a very trusting, caring, enthusiastic, out going, funny, sensitive, romantic, honest, fun, adventurous person!  It’s amazing how all that comes out when you have to meet people on your own merits.  When you already have a circle of friends, it’s easy to meet people thru them (by word of mouth) and not have to do that much.  But when you’re on your own you have to work harder to meet people. and at least for me, that brings out more of my personality

I guess that’s all for now.  I do hope to blog more frequently as I explore the city, learn more about myself, continue to settle into this great and awesome city.

Stay tuned!

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betterME Day 31 : Holy Crap, I did it.

Posted in Comfort Zone, Empowerment, Self Improvement, Welcome on June 30, 2011 by cklaslan

30 days, 30 posts, 30 challenges. Some were hard (letting people go), some were easy (a day of rest).  Some where very successful (decluttering my inbox, random acts of kindness), others did not have the level of results I would have wanted (social skydiving, improving weaknesses).  Others led to long term goals (learning sign language, running a half marathon).

Over the last 30 days I learned that if I stretch my limits a little at I time there are many more things I can do — talking to strangers, yoga, making a conscious effort to smile and be happy.

So what next?  I don’t wanna stop.  I’m curious to see what else I can do and make myself better (and those around me).  But how?

The daily challenges were cool.  But I’m not sure doing something for 1 day is too much of a challenge for anyone.  I will finish this week with some random daily challenges but going forward the focus will be on challenges that last for a week.  I will revisit some of the daily challenges and see if I can get the same results when doing it for an entire week.  I also have a list of new challenges that are more appropriate for a weeklong try :

  • no snooze button for a week
  • no coffee for a week
  • go vegetarian for a week
  • take the stairs everyday
  • reduce sarcasm (haha)
  • learn a new word each day

At the end of the next 4-6 challenges I’ll re-evaluate again and perhaps go to month-long challenges.  Who knows?  As long as I feel I’m making myself better I’ll keep this up.  I still may be asking some of you to join and I’d still appreciate any suggestions of your own as well as your comments.

A reminder the challenge for this week is to start going green and I am still researching all the ways thats possible, that make sense.  There are a of “green methods” that arent’ really that beneficial.  On the home front we have purchased a lot of floor fans and upped the thermostat to 73 (used to 68).

 

betterME Day 26 : That’s Outside My Boat

Posted in Comfort Zone, Control, Empowerment, Encouragement, Limits, Relationships, Self Improvement, Social, Stress on June 26, 2011 by cklaslan

Yesterday’s challenge was to list things that I could not control and start learning ways to accept that and be happy with them.

I’m not a control freak.   But I often do hold myself accountable for things beyond my limits.  Before my list, an explanation of the title of today’s blog.

Charlie Jones is a sportscaster who has covered several Olympic games in his long career. At the 1996 games in Atlanta, he was assigned to announce the rowing, canoeing, and kayaking events — a situation that left him less than thrilled, since it was broadcast at 7am and the venue was an hour’s drive from Atlanta. What Jones discovered, however, was that it ended up being one the most memorable sports events in his career, because he gained a chance to understand the mental workings of these Olympic athletes.

Preparing for the broadcast, Jones interviewed the rowers and asked them about conditions such as rain, strong winds, or breaking an oar. Each time the response was the same: “That’s outside my boat.” After hearing the same answer again and again, Jones realized that these Olympic athletes had a remarkable focus. In their attempt to win an Olympic medal, he writes, “They were interested only in what they could control… and that was what was going on inside their boat.” Everything else was beyond their control, and not worth the expense of mental energy that would distract them from their ultimate goal.

So, whats outside my boat? For the most part this is a fairly easy thing for me to do.  Those of you that know me know I am an incredible optimist and I am forever saying “stop worrying about things that aren’t in your control”.  And if it is something in control you shouldn’t worry about it either you should do something about it.

On the other hand, accepting that you can’t control something can be a different story.  One big thing popped into my mind immediately : I can’t control how other people react or treat me.  You see, I consider myself a good person.  I put other people first, I treat everyone well and I give my all for those I know.  At times I naively expect the same thing back and am often frustrated when that doesn’t happen.  For a reference point see the day 2 blog entry.

So in those situations I shouldn’t waste time wondering what I did, why they react negatively and what I could have done differently.  What I should do is realize I can’t control what and how they feel.  All I can do is be me and if they don’t like it then so be it.  Time to move on.  As a friend of mine says : “NEXT”.

So when you find yourself in situations where you can’t control the outcome, find a positive way to focus your energy and thoughts.  This is also a great way to keep stress down in your life.  It will put you in a better mood and those around you as well (yes most everyone can tell when someone else is stressed out).

Here are some other things I came up with that I can’t control and have to learn to deal with :

* Physical limitations : I can’t play basketball.  I just don’t have the skills or the height. And I’m ok with that. But what I can do I’m gonna do the best I can.

* Criticism/Rejection : Kind of like above, I can’t control when some likes or doesn’t like me or doesn’t like what I do or say, or even my body of work.  Again all I can do is the best I can and be happy with that.  However I will choose to surround myself with people that believe in me and will encourage me.  If someone doesn’t like you, accept it and NEXT them. 🙂

* Someone else’s choices : Not everyone has the same upbringing, morals, experience, and background.  Some people will make mistakes, over and over again, even when they ask for advice.  All you can do is be there for them and support them when you can.  If that doesn’t work then sometimes hard choices have to be made and it may be time to move on.

* As silly as it sounds, I can’t control traffic.  It’s part of living in Atlanta.  Sometimes a 15 minute trip turns into a 30 minute or 45 minute or even longer trip.  Getting stressed and complaining about it won’t make the traffic go away.

So what’s the purpose of this?  By realizing what I can’t control means I can focus my energy on things I CAN control and where I can make a difference.  That, my friend, is called EMPOWERMENT.  And that is what betterME is about — getting myself into a position where I make choices and put myself in places instead of relying on others.

So what’s on your list?  What can’t you control that you have to learn to deal with?  I wanna hear from ya !!  I challenge you to reply right now.  It takes less than a minute.  DO IT!  🙂

And for today the challenge is to have a day of rest!

And the weekly challenge for the coming week starting tomorrow is to Go Green where possible.

OK folks, heading into the last week and I feel good.  Thoughts?  Comments?  Other suggestions/challenges?


BTW, if you liked that “What’s in your boat” story check out the whole book.  It’s called “That’s Outside My Boat : Letting Go of What You Can’t Control” by Charles Jones.  You can get it at amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/Thats-Outside-My-Boat-Letting/dp/0740711628

betterME Day 22 : The Best Laid Plans…

Posted in Comfort Zone on June 21, 2011 by cklaslan

The challenge before me was to do something spontaneous.

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. — E.E. Cummings

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  — Lao Tzu

Those of you that know me know that isn’t exactly my forte.  I like a plan.  I like to know what’s going on.  I like to know times, dates, and places.  I like to have backup plans. LOL  I start planning dinner before lunch. LOL  I even look online at the menu to start thinking about what I want to eat.

So today I tried to let go of that as much as possible.  For lunch I told my client just to take me somewhere.  I let the cashier suggest something for me and went with it (she suggested a chicken flatbread pizza that was amazing).

I had some spare time so when I got to the hotel I decided to go explore the University of Florida campus.  I ended up at the football stadium.  As I was walking around I saw a group of about 10 people stretching, they saw I was watching, and told me they were about to do stadium steps.  If you don’t know what that is, it’s kind of what it sounds like : down an aisle of steps, over, up an aisle of steps, over, down, etc.  So I decided to join in.  That’s about as spontaneous as it gets for me.  I wasn’t dressed for it (and by the way it was about 97 degrees).  I could only do about 20 mins worth but it was kinda fun and it was a great workout – if you want a leg workout run stadium steps.  Afterwards my legs were quite wobbly.  Keep in mind I’d already run 3.5 miles this morning.

I came back to the hotel, showered, and went to the north campus and just found a place that looked busy – you know what they say – a good crowd means good food.  I narrowed my menu choices to 3 items and let my waitress pick the top choice.  I also let her pick my drink.

So for most of the day, I was operating without a plan.  Not uber spontaneous, but very much so by my standards and a variation from my norm.  All in all it was a nice, relaxing day and I enjoyed all of it.

Tomorrow the task of the day : stop a bad habit. HaHa – wow, which one to pick.

So I’m three weeks into betterME.  Im still out of town for work so I will do a recap tomorrow.  For now, get up, get out, and go something you’ve wanted to do, spontaneously.

I still welcome your thoughts, comments, suggestions, and words of wisdom.  Of course you’re free to challenge to break out of my “need” for plans and get me to break out and do something random.

betterME Day 16 : Here’s to Blanden

Posted in Comfort Zone, Giving, Social on June 15, 2011 by cklaslan

So the challenge for the day was to say the name of people I speak to, in particular new people I meet.  This actually is a principal mentioned often by Dale Carnegie.   Have you ever noticed that when someone uses your name you pay more attention to them?  You feel happier?   Well, the same goes for everybody.  Try it out.  Find out someone’s name and use it and they will pay more attention to you.  They will make more eye contact.  Saying someone’s name also helps you remember them.

So I set out to learn the name of people I came in contact with today.  Not hard in today’s world as most everyone wears a name tag.

So here’s to Mary, the Park N Ride driver, Chevalia and Danny, the Delta agents who checked me in and to Thomas the gate agent (more on him later).  Here’s also to Laurie at the Hertz desk.   There was also Sequoia at Seattle’s Best Coffee and Sarah at the front desk of the Hilton.  And of course there was Tiffany, my server at The Swamp where I ate dinner.

And definitely here’s to Blandan, the flight attendant for my flight from ATL to GNV who made the safety speech one of the most entertaining I’ve heard in a long time.  He must have used 10 different voices and spoke really slow to blazing fast and all speeds in between.

He started by saying “Welcome aboard flight 5489 to Gainesville.  If Gainesville isn’t your final destination… it is now”.   While demonstrating the proper use of the oxygen masks he said “If you are seated next to someone who needs assistance putting their mask on, put your mask on first then watch them panic”.

When I spoke someone’s name, thanked them by name, or addressed them by name, I did notice a difference.  The did seem to pay more attention.  They smiled, and they seemed more responsive.  You like it when someone calls you by name — it makes you feel special.  So why not do the same for others?

A little update on the weekly challenge to pay-it-forward and do random acts of kindness.  At the airport gate I was asked to move seats (prior to boarding) so a family could sit together… this meant giving up my comfy aisle seat for a window seat.  But since it was a short flight (45 mins) I didn’t mind.  In the end someone else asked me to switch and I ended up getting an aisle seat anyway.  Also when I was eating there were some locals who had started a collection for the Alabama storm victims.  I had a couple of dollars that had been in my wallet for weeks so I put them in the boot.

So things are progressing nicely.  The challenge for tomorrow is :

* Think before you speak

Well that one’s going to be fun since tomorrow I’m at a client site completing a stressful project.

Keep it coming folks.  Questions? Comments!  Suggestions!!  Challenges!  Send em my way!

betterME Day 5 : Social Skydiving

Posted in Comfort Zone, Social on June 5, 2011 by cklaslan

I can have a conversation with anyone… about anything… as long as they are the one to come up to me and start the conversation.

Yesterday’s challenge was to Social Skydive for 3-5 mins.  If you don’t know what Social Skydiving is its the act of talking to random strangers.  For me this means getting out of my comfort zone.

For this challenge talking to someone in the line of their work doesn’t constitue a stranger such as talking to the barista, the clerk at the gym, the ATM (haha), etc.

For this challenge I had to be the one to start the conversation.

Yesterday was a busy day so I was working a lot and didn’t get to commit to this challenge as much as I wanted so I’m not going to mark it complete so it can come back up again.

I did get to social skydive twice though but both times it never got past real surface level chat.

I talked with a drifter in Starbucks.  I’m calling him a drifter instead of homeless because he was decently dressed, had reading glasses, though I doubt they were his, and a cellphone, though I’m not sure it worked.  He came into Starbucks and sat across from me and I just started off with a smile and “HI”.  He greeted me back and then said “I can’t afford no Starbucks but I just needed to get out of the heat”.  I continued a minute or two of idle chatter as he read the newspaper and ate coldcuts from the bag he was carrying.  I didn’t learn his name or where he was from, but I’d say we chatted for maybe 3 minutes.

A little later another guy sat across from me and started staring at my shoes (I was wearing my Vibram Five Toed Shoes).  I could tell he was interested so I just spoke up and asked if he’d seen them before.  He replied by asking if I thought they were comfortable.  Honestly the conversation revolved only about my shoes but we did talk for a good 5 mins as I explained how they were designed to emulate barefoot running.  He asked questions about running, any pain I might get from them, etc.

So nothing major, but I did at least initiate to conversations.  Small steps.   When I started betterME I wanted to do things that got me out of my comfort zone.  I didn’t say I had to jump out of it all at once.  🙂

So I think I made moderate success but definitely need to keep practicing this one.  I’ve never been one to just right out talk to someone I don’t know even at bars or parties.  That’s probably one reason I don’t really meet new people when I’m out and about.  If they come up to me and say “hi” first it’s a different story.  You’d think the person that says that one little word first wouldn’t make any difference to me, and I don’t think it does.  I just have to get past that in my head.   This challenge I will do again.

RNG says today’s challenge is

* Round up unused clothes and donate them for others to use.

I need some ideas for next week.  Please feel free to post your own ideas for  challenges.  Now that you’ve seen a few days worth you know the kinds of things I’m looking to do.