Five-Minute Friday: Contradiction

I’m increasingly interested in the concept of “both/and,” and I wish I had heard about it earlier. Maybe I did and dismissed it, too difficult a dichotomy to understand. Now, though, I see it not only as an alternative to “either/or” but really THE TRUTH.

I’m thinking of the #MeToo movement. People can be BOTH kind, generous, friendly AND predatory. People can be BOTH supportive AND sexist. For that matter, people can be BOTH advocates of social justice AND racist.

Adopting a “both/and” mentality allows me to see so much more than I could with an “either/or” outlook.

Yesterday, my brother-in-law and I enjoyed an unexpectedly long car ride (thank you, Boston traffic – how I haven’t missed you!). We get along well and are similar in a lot of ways. In the span of a roughly 15-mile ride, we discussed parenting, death, writing, Stephen King, and work (not specifics, but more philosophical ideas about paychecks and such), among other things.

In the context of this conversation, he gave me a book rec, Everything is Horrible and Wonderful. It’s a memoir written by a sister after her brother (a writer for Parks and Rec) died of a heroin overdose. I obviously have not read the book yet, but the title alone appeals to me because, really, isn’t this true about just about everything that matters in life?

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Five-Minute Friday: Fraud

(Note: “Five-Minute Friday” is an activity adapted from Kate Motaung’s blog. Each week, I use https://randomwordgenerator.com/ and write for five minutes straight with the word as a prompt, free-write style with no editing and no over-thinking.)

I will be 40 in less than 6 months, and I am wondering when I finally stop feeling like a fraud. Will it magically disappear at 40? I had a friend who, when she turned 50, said her colleagues told her she could now start saying, ‘F— you, I’m 50,” a phrase to be uttered as her excuse for saying no to whatever she didn’t want to do, for letting go of whatever she didn’t want to hold, for finally being able to declare unabashedly that she didn’t give a f— any more.

Can I use that for 40?

Fraud. Imposter. Imposter syndrome – the underlying feeling like you don’t really deserve your job/status/title/life because you somehow haven’t earned it. You don’t fit the mold of the woman/mom/boss/business person you think exists.

Of course, the kicker is that we all feel this way to an extent. There IS no one-way to be or do something, really.

I’m currently reading a really thought-provoking book, Old in Art School. The author is a 64 when she decides to leave her life in academia – a chaired professorship in history at Princeton, no less – to return to art school as an undergrad…and then continue on in an MFA program at RISD. Despite her impressive academic pedigree, her experiences as a woman, as a black woman, as an “older” black woman render her an outsider in art school. The fact that she has published books, one that lands her an interview on The Colbert Report during her stint at RISD, counts for nothing.

She feels like a fraud.

I’m only 2/3 of the way through, but I’m guessing she doesn’t find a way to nix that feeling by the end because I’m not sure any of us ever really do.

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(Featured image is one of Painter’s works, the author of Old in Art School.)

Who’s on Your Board?

20180716_172758At the Creative Problem Solving Institute I’ve attended for the past two years, one of the tools to inspire new thinking about a challenge is to imagine how someone else would solve it. A set of BrainNoodling cards I purchased promotes this idea; it contains 40 cards featuring different people whose lives and values prompt questions for you to apply to your life, like this one on Mother Teresa.

I’m taking this idea and appointing myself a Board of Directors. (Yes, I know it’s mid-July, and this activity seems better suited for the start of the year, but as someone in education, summer is when I hit the reset button, so July ’18 – July ’19 it is. Plus, this is my board, and I can appoint them when I wish.)

Apparently, this concept of a personal board of directors is not original. Forbes talked about it in February, though theirs is more reality-based than mine. They suggest you pick people you have regular contact with, people who check off different criteria such as one in your field, someone who can introduce you to others, one who will critique you, etc. I think it’s great advice, and maybe someday I will take it.

But for my first Board of Directors, I’ve picked people whose lives can inform and inspire my specific goals for the next 12 months. Though it would be phenomenal if I could, I will not physically meet with them for regular check-ins; out of the 6 people on my board, 3 are dead, and 4 of them wouldn’t even know who I am.

Instead, it’s up to me to remind myself of their purpose and, if all goes well, my board members will guide me with their spirits. In no particular order, here’s who I’ve picked and why:

BoardWEB

P!nk, for her body positivity, down to Earth parenting/marriage views, commitment to artistry and creativity, and for her athleticism.

My dad, for always wanting what’s best for me, for our shared values, for his fatherly wisdom, and for his undying (ha!) support.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for her inclusive concept of feminism, her dedication to her craft, and for her reminders to reject (and not write) the “single story.”

Brené Brown, for her urging to choose courage over comfort, her guidance on bravery and necessary conversations, her love of research, and for her belief in creativity and vulnerability.

Mamie Till, for her strength and ability to channel her grief for good, her faith and devotion to her son, and for championing Civil Rights and challenging the status quo with grace and tenacity.

Donald Murray, for his generosity, his reminders to write a line a day, and for his dedication to his family.

My list of runners-up for future consideration is long, but these are the people who can best challenge me and cheer me on to reach my current goals.

I think this is a worthy exercise, but even if you don’t do it to the extent I am, I’m curious: If you were to appoint your own Board of Directors, who would be on it and why?