September 1, 2020
Two weekends back, here in the Bay Area of California, before the wildfires, it was 100 degrees inside and I have no AC in my apartment. Lots of fans were going non-stop for days. And, on a Friday afternoon about 3pm with no one available to come until Monday, I found swarming termites in my bathroom. On that Saturday morning, my computer battery went red and announced to me, “Service recommended.” No Apple Genius Bar appointments available near me for the next week or more. Reader, don’t panic. All will be well. Actually, all was already well. (And still is…)
My work in the world (and within myself), is to help us all develop our ability to not be subject to the moment – to its whipping us around and bruising us. But instead, to help us all develop an ability to see the challenges as outside ourselves and to make decisions about those challenges – to determine what could be our next right action. This shift, from being subject to an experience to being able to see it more objectively, is not a simple one. Especially in the heat. Especially when things are honestly outside your control. And that’s where the title of this newsletter comes in. Ah, I love a good metaphor.
Madonna was right and is right. As the song ‘Vogue’ says, ‘get up on the dance floor.’ Be in your life. Thich Nhat Hahn says a little bit differently. “If you miss the present moment you miss your appointment with life. That is very serious.” So yeah, I am ‘getting up on the dance floor’ as I shelter in place – I am buying another fan and a spray for the termites and so much more. I am committing to be in my life.
AND, this ‘dance floor’ stance is but one I can take. I have choices. I know that going to another place (aka the balcony) to gain perspective and see things differently is the key to keeping my sanity. Perspective matters. By looking down from the balcony at that weekend’s ‘challenges’ came a realization that the weather will change, the termites will eventually be escorted off the property, and my computer will recover.
Externalizing experiences is key. Changing your relationship to the event matters.
Will this matter in a month? A year?
Does this have as much significance if I look at it from, not just the balcony, but from even farther up, like at 30,000 feet?
Is there something I can take action on today that would change my situation?
Does this say anything about me as a human being and how I live my life or is this just something that could happen to another person just as easily?
What would you say is the title of this experience if it was a chapter in your book of life?
It is what it is, until it isn’t. Let’s go to the balcony. Come with me.
If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to email me at Jennifer@jenniferabrams.com. I look forward to hearing from you!
These writers and interesting human beings have designed some really cool newsletters. I receive some of them weekly and some daily. They bring me spiritual connection, provide creative writing prompts, and send me on an intellectual journey.
Girls’ Night In
“Girls’ Night In touches on foundational topics of taking care such as mental health, creating friendships, unwinding, and yes, we’ll throw in the occasional loungewear rec. We champion diverse perspectives and “community care” as self-care…Welcome to our cozy corner of the internet.”
Molly Caro May
“I’m obsessed with where language meets animal body meets resolution as group and individual.”
The Red Hand Flies
The Guardian wrote, “In September the Australian songwriter Nick Cave told email subscribers of his plan to communicate outside “some of the more conventional ways of getting information across”. Cave wanted to deepen further this engagement and so invited “questions or comments, observations or inspirations” from fans and he’d answer in a series of mail drops titled The Red Hand Files. “You can ask me anything,” he told readers. “Like the Conversations with events there will be no moderator. This will be between you and me. Let’s see what happens.”
Daily Cuppa Go
From the “About Me” page: Hello, folks. My name is Rick Johnson. I am a reader, writer, and human being striving each day to become a more competent world citizen. Daily Cuppa Go is my one-person “virtual coffeehouse” offering a menu of thoughts and feelings about striving to live a decent, just, and humanely spiritual life. It’s basically a notebook of ideas, images, music, and conversations that help me get going each day and keep moving forward. Think of Daily Cuppa Go as your local corner coffeehouse where you can get a warm comfortable drink, enjoy the vibe, meet new ideas, and reflect on questions that guns and credit cards cannot answer.
About Jennifer Abrams
Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's latest book is Swimming in the Deep End: Four Foundational Skills for Leading Successful School Initiatives. Her previous publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.
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Honest, Humane and Growth-Producing
“Our school’s work with Jennifer Abrams has sown the seeds of stronger communication skills among the adults in the building. This has only served to strengthen the integrity of communication between staff and students as well. We’ve added her language to our expectations: honest, humane, and growth-producing conversations occur regularly.”