Posts Tagged With: Self-improvement

Consistency redefined.

A few days ago I blogged about being the most inconsistent person in the universe.

I said I was okay with that….  but I’m reconsidering.

I think that I have always seen the word “consistent” to mean something good, but always as something that I couldn’t achieve.  I happen to be, for better or worse, a person of extremes.  I go all in, then I lose interest and drop completely out.  I have done this with fitness, with hobbies, with topics that interest me, with TV shows… you name it.  However, I have always seen consistency as meaning that once you decide to do something you just do it.  And you don’t stop.

I have a good friend whom I have always considered to be the most consistent person I have ever met.  She decides she is going to do something, and she just does it.  And I watch in awe.  I’ve seen her do this with running, with education, with photography…

Project 365, if you aren’t aware of it, is a photography project where you take a photo a day for a year.  She started this project with me a while back, I dropped out after a few months, and she’s finishing up her THIRD YEAR!!!  She took one look at that concept and said, “Project 365?  Ha!!  Try project 1095!!  Bwahahaha!!”.

I’m not kidding when I say that I am absolutely in awe of this type of consistency.  She’s amazing.

However, I think that I have always seen this as THE definition of consistency.  And I have always paled in comparison.  And since I see consistency as good, and I see this as the definition of consistency, I see my approach towards things as a failure.  I failed at Project 365, just like I fail at other things in my life.  Like I failed at fitness, because as soon as my schedule wouldn’t allow for my current level of activity, I used it as an excuse to give up altogether.  Because when I attempted to document my year by taking a photo a day, I got angry and gave up when I missed just one photo.

I’m okay with being inconsistent when consistency has such a strict definition.  That’s just not me.  It’s not how I operate.  And it’s okay to admit your weaknesses, so I’m cool with that.  But I don’t think consistency necessarily has to have such a strict definition.

Instead of just accepting that I am “inconsistent”, I think I’m going to try and redefine the word “consistent”.  I’m going to start viewing the term in a much broader context.

Instead of believing that I am a failure at photographically documenting my year by taking “a photo a day”, I’m going to accept that documenting my year might not require exactly 365 photos.  If I end the year with 200 that give a clear and honest picture of my year…  well…  that’s good enough.

I don’t normally make New Years Resolutions, but I think this year I am going to try and be more “consistent”…  just using the new definition, that’s all.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The person you don’t call

I have had a lot of friends, and I have lost a lot of friends.  Friends come and go, it’s just a fact of life.  Someone once told me that relationships are funny things…  sometimes they just fall apart.  People change, grow in different directions, lose touch.

Sometimes relationships end in emotionally violent ways.  I’ve had my fair share of those endings…  and then some.

Some friendships just sort of drift off into nothing, with no rhyme or reason, they just disappear.  One day you find yourself wondering, “what happened to so-and-so?”  That’s happened to me as well… at least a couple times.

Through all of these friendships, though, one thing has been a constant in my life.

I am the person you don’t call.

You don’t check up on me.  You don’t pop in and post a “Hey, how are you?” on my Facebook wall.  I don’t find messages from you in my email inbox.  You don’t text me.

What little contact between us that you actually initiate…  most, if not all, of it seems pretty shallow.

A Christmas card that makes me feel like I am just a name in your address book.

A “Happy Birthday” post on my wall when we all know that Facebook reminded you.

Phone calls only when you think I might be able to do something for you.  Like you need to fly somewhere and you think I might be able to get you a cheap ticket…  that’s a pretty common one.

There are a few exceptions to this.  I have one long term relationship that consists of almost no real contact between us but is strong enough to withstand the distance, and a relatively new relationship that has grown very close very quickly and consists of regular contact.  And, of course, I have to mention my husband…  someone who contacts me multiple times a day, every day, and even though I sometimes get irritated when his phone calls constantly interrupt my reading, TV shows, and/or blog post writing…  I love him that much more for calling all the time anyway.

But for the most part, no matter how I try and build friendships, it almost always comes down to this…  I put in a lot of effort until I tire of it…  then I sit back and wait to see if you will reach out to me… and then it all just falls apart.  Because you never reach out to me.  So when I stop reaching out to you, there just isn’t anything left to keep it going.

I think that I have often put more into relationships than was necessary or appropriate, and I think that I often have much higher expectations of others than I should, and I think that, sometimes, I want more from people than they are able to give.  It has taken me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t do these things.  It’s taken me so long to figure out that I should not expect anything from anyone and I should just allow relationships to follow whatever path they are destined to follow without getting too wrapped up in them.  Without asking much.  Without expecting anything.

But, on the other hand, if everyone took this stand offish approach, how would any relationship ever progress anywhere??

A couple years ago I just dropped the expectations.  Sometimes I still get offended or upset.  Then I remind myself that I am judging unfairly.  That this person meant no harm to me.  And I should accept people for who they are and for where they are in their life and in their relationships.  And I let it go…

If you are reading this and you actually know me, please don’t take this as a guilt trip.  Don’t take this as a cue to call me…  I am generally a quiet person who likes to spend time alone; sudden phone calls from everyone would just piss me off, quite frankly.  And I have to wonder if maybe…  just maybe… the fact that I like to just be alone sometimes is a vibe I am subconsciously giving off to others.  Maybe… just maybe…  I only want others to reach out to me because I am lacking self-esteem in certain areas and I am hoping for some sort of validation…  validation that needs to come from me, not you, anyway.

I’ll leave you with this…

Freeing myself from worrying about what other people are thinking in terms of my relationship to them has freed up some space in my mind to focus on other things… like where I am at with myself.

In the list of qualities that I am okay with vs. ones that I need to change?

I’m okay with being the person you don’t call.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The most inconsistent person in the universe.

It has been over a year since I have posted on this blog.

It has been a year and a half since I mentioned that others expected me to give up on blogging, and I vowed to continue.  Though, to my credit, I did end the blog by clarifying that there was no guarantee that I actually would…

It has also been a year and a half since I posted about how determined I was to work my way through the “Simple Living Manifesto”.  The 72 steps to a simpler life.  I completed step one: Create a list of the 4-5 things that are most important to you.  Not only have I made no progress on the rest of the manifesto’s 72 steps, but I have actually moved backwards on a few of the 4-5 important things I listed.

My health and fitness goals have resulted in a sixty pound weight gain.

I have taken less pictures of my family, a lot less, even though I stated I would be taking more.

Blogging??  I said that I would keep up with this blog?!?!  Ha!

Lately I have been struggling with the conflict between the person I am and the person I want to be.  Figuring out which qualities are ones that can be lived with vs. ones that really need to be changed isn’t easy.  I’ll probably have more on that later, but for now I have decided that being the most inconsistent person in the universe…

I’m okay with that.

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Discuss Politics!! But first…

I know this is going to be hard to believe, but I actually had a really interesting and enjoyable conversation about politics last night.  What makes this even more shocking is that the conversation was with someone who has drastically different views than I do.  We actually disagreed, but managed to do so in a rational and respectful manner.

I bet you didn’t even know that was possible…  Typically the second politics comes up in a conversation everyone involved gets defensive and the discussion quickly deteriorates into an argument.  An argument in which both sides refuse to even listen to or consider the perspective of the other, choosing instead to talk louder and louder to try and drown out the other person’s voice.

I should know.  I’ve tried to have many such conversations, and I have very rarely succeeded.  There are a few things that bother me about this, not the least of which is the fact that I really enjoy a good, intelligent political discussion and I find that I can so rarely engage in one.  Most political conversation is completely unproductive and not worth the time.

Which brings me to the most important reason this situation bothers me: the discussion is typically completely unproductive.  See, in my opinion, conversation should have benefits other than just the benefits that come from social contacts in general.  Political conversation… honest, open, political conversation… conversation where both sides are actually willing to consider the possibility that they may be wrong, has the potential to make a real difference in our society and for our country.  Generally in political discussions I find myself up against an opponent who spews biased nonsense with no ability to back up their opinions with facts or even with thoughts of their own.

We are each individually responsible for helping to make this country great by being involved in our political system, and everything we do to be involved… protesting, writing our representatives, even just showing up at the polls and voting intelligently… it all makes a difference.  We all must work together to make a difference and to find a compromise that will work for the country as a whole.  If only we could make that happen.

So, what is it that is getting in the way of productive political discussion among individual citizens?

I’m sure there are a number of factors, but I think I have pinpointed a big one. While resolving it probably won’t entirely solve the problem, it could be a good starting point if we could get enough people to understand it and put it into action.

We all have to stop trusting the media and learn to do our own research.  I don’t care what your favorite news source is, it’s not entirely neutral.  Everyone has a bias, the only difference is the extent of that bias or how extreme the views of that source are.  The bias, as much as we’d like for it not to be, is ALWAYS THERE.  And I am not saying you have to completely shun your favorite news source, they all provide some useful information and perspectives in this seemingly never ending search for the facts.

I’m saying that you should be reading ALL of the sources.  Not all at once, of course.  Not even all of the content on all of the sources.  Who has the time for that? Personally I read CNN, BBC, Fox News, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, and my local news website.  And I watch… Jon Stewart!  But there’s also ABC, MSNBC, and any number of other websites you can check out.

No matter what sources you choose, I truly believe that when coming to conclusions regarding political issues, you should be looking to see what the various sources say, and you should be comparing what those sources say to the actual facts of the issue at hand.

I know… I know… sounds crazy.

But since, as I noted above, so many people just don’t know where to start.  I have put together what I hope is a simple to follow, common sense guide to researching political issues and articles.  Read it.  Comment on it.  Help me improve it or expand it.

Looking forward to discussing politics with you!!

Categories: Government & Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Me… A Programmer??

I read very few tech blogs.  I just don’t like to read tech stuff.  I know that probably seems strange coming from a computer programmer… but it’s true.  I’m possibly the least technical *technical* person you’ll ever meet.

I read a blog today asking readers to share their story of how they wound up working in software development.  And since over the past few days I have been reading blogs (and especially comments on said blogs) that made me question my worth in the programming world and wonder if I learned to code for the right reasons, I thought I would take this opportunity to explain exactly how and why I ended up where I did.

I’ll start by saying that I like coding alright.  I don’t dread going to work, I enjoy working with the people I work with, I get really excited when I solve a particularly difficult or frustrating problem, and I ♥ the feeling of satisfaction that I get when I make users happy by making their work day just a tad bit easier.

I don’t love writing code.

Unlike so many programmers, I didn’t grow up writing code.  I did not find at a young age that I was fascinated by how the computer worked, I never cared to take things apart and put them back together, and I have never EVER written code for fun.  It’s not a hobby for me, it’s a job.

I never wanted to be a programmer.

So how did it happen? Let me explain…

I had my first child when I was 18, and I had my second at 19.  When I found myself, at 21 years old, trying to support two young children while working at a Walmart snack bar, struggling to put food on the table, wondering where the rent money was going to come from and living in fear of when the electric company would show up to shut off our power, I realized I had to do something.  Never one to just resign myself to the idea that “this is just how it is”, I opted to fix the problem instead.  I guess you could say this was my first real attempt at problem solving, a skill that actually comes in really handy in the world of software development!

I picked up a catalog for the local community college and attempted to choose a career path.  I narrowed it down to three.

  1. Psychology – I have always been fascinated with people and how they think, so anything to do with psychology or sociology = perfect.  Plus I have always had a desire to help others, so a career in counseling or social services would have been a fabulous fit.
  2. Accounting – Loved it in high school (but realized after one college level class that it sucked, so it’s a good thing I didn’t pick this one!).
  3. Computers – Because it paid well with minimal education and it appeared to be where the future was at.

Yes, you read that right.  I selected computers NOT because I was so enthralled with my families first home computer that I spent hours writing my own games in BASIC (I only vaguely remember my families first home computer, and I had little to no interest in writing code back then),  but because it paid well with minimal education and seemed like it had solid long-term potential.

You also have to keep in mind that my goal in going to school was to be able to support my family.  That’s it.  It’s what I needed, and I chose the best course of action based on the end goal.  When you have young children to care for, and you want to ensure that the lights always turn on when they flip the switch and water comes out when they turn on the faucet, what you WANT becomes rather insignificant!

You have got to admit, it’s a logical decision.  Programmers are logical people.

Even at this point I had NOT chosen programming.  I was planning on getting into networking, or desktop work, help desk maybe.  Programming was not even a possibility.  But one of the classes I had to take was an introductory class in my first semester that included two weeks of programming at the end of the course.  When week one was done… I HATED IT!  I crabbed and complained and fought against it tooth and nail.  I informed the instructor that I had no intention of being a programmer and there was NO REASON for me to learn this crap!

Honestly, I didn’t understand it.  It made no sense.  Absolutely no sense at all.  I was lost, confused, frustrated, and getting angry.

Then the instructor said to me: “The computer is never going to do anything that you don’t explicitly tell it to do.”

And it clicked.

I can’t even explain why that worked, but it was like she had flipped a switch and suddenly there was understanding.  I just got it.  It miraculously made sense.

Ever since then I just understand code I read code like almost I’m reading English.  I can’t explain why, I just do, it seems simple to me.  I’ve moved easily from one language to another with little to no training and zero time spent coding at home.  I have been successful as a programmer for about 15 years now, and I have never worked a job where users, co-workers, and bosses weren’t extremely happy with the work that I have done.  I have never received a bad review.  I’ve never lost a job because I sucked at it, and I was with my last company for over seven years.

Those of you who are “real programmers”, who question why someone who can’t answer basic technical questions or whip out a few simple lines of code in an interview would even bother applying for a programming job…

I can’t answer the technical questions in interviews.  Not because I can’t write code, but because I don’t have to know what something is called in order to do it.  I can’t typically whip out a few lines of code in an interview, but it’s not because I’m not a good programmer, it’s because I tend to be nervous in interviews and I am always wondering if there is a trick in there somewhere…  especially if the request is super simple.

For a number of years I have questioned my own ability as a programmer, and it was primarily because I find myself surrounded by people who talk the talk, and who trip me up with terminology.  People who have certifications, and in some cases, an unhealthy amount of arrogance to go along with it.  I have encountered those who seem to thoroughly enjoy throwing their knowledge around and trying to make themselves seem superior.  And in the past it has always succeeded in making me feel…  small.

Truth is, I’ve come to find out, I’m a damn good programmer.  It took me 15 years to reach this level of confidence and be able to explain this to people without fear that they would judge me as incompetent.  I know that I’m not incompetent now; In the past I wouldn’t even have been able to write this blog.

And I don’t believe for a second that I’m all that unique; I’m sure there are actually a lot of us who don’t quite fit the mold.  I just wish I knew where they are! 

Hello?  Am I right??  Are you out there somewhere??

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot, Geeky Me O.o | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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