The Struggles of a Midwest Spring-Summer

In my area, we don’t really get a clear spring season. There is about a week between what your body knows as “impossibly cold” and “impossibly hot” that sometimes has pleasantly cool, yet somehow sunny days.

The thing that confirms that Spring actually is trying to happen are the very windy days. Windy as in Wizard of Oz, sweep away your house, constantly blow your skirt over your head windy. Spring-Summer (my affectionate term for our “spring”) is also confirmed by temperatures that go from a cool 68F in the morning to a blazing 91F by midday.

But don’t let my natural Sauce Pot tone of vocie fool you. I really love this weather. Here are a few of my favorite parts:

  • The birds that return to sharing their morning songs
  • Grilled pineapple and salmon skewers
  • Sparkling water with a key lime squeezed into it
  • Dogs that sit in the pooling sunlight and turn their noses to the interesting winds
  • The smell of sunscreen
  • Walking through the local rose gardens (and the orchid house)
  • Green wine on restaurant patios — bonus for having some friends along

Excuses abound for gathering people in Spring-Summer, too.

  • Concerts
  • Beer fests
  • BBQ fests
  • Bacon fests
  • Hanging Out in My Friend’s Backyard fests*

So welcome, Spring-Summer, and please don’t rain down tornados and torrential rain this year.

~ Much love, Josepha

* That is made up, technically, but you also know just what I mean.

Enclothed Cognition

I work in a company that is fully remote, and one of the things most commonly touted as a perk is the ability to work in an environment of your own choosing. You can work from the sofa or from a desk. You can work with music playing or in complete silence. You can work surrounded by people or you can work 8 hours solo.

But one of the things that comes up most often as a perk, is freedom to dress as you choose. Being free from the judgmental eyes of your differently-dressed colleagues, and therefore free to dress however you choose, can be a liberating prospect.

I tried briefly to dress casually but, having mostly worked in corporate spaces before, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t really preparing myself for work.

Turns out, this wasn’t in my mind. It’s independently observable enough, that it even has a name: enclothed cognition.

As a bonus, the very act of getting ready every day adds to your daily routine which has proven benefits for your mental health, productivity, and probably lots more. ūüôā

On Poetry: Light the World

Light the World¬†by Ingrid St√∂lzel is a piece commissioned in honor of Te Deum‘s 10th season. The world premier was November 11, 2017 and, in case you missed it, here is a recording.

The text is by Robert Bode, and I have been finding it truly fascinating in its complexity.

May the Mother in us comfort us
And the Father in us protect us;
May the Daughter in us bring us Hope
And the Son within us bring us Joy.

May the Dancer in us move us
And the Poet inspire our Song.
May the Explorer embolden us
And the Artist honor the Beauty that holds us.

May we all be Creators and Priests and Nurses and Heroes,
And may our Song lift beyond these walls
To light the world.

On the face of it, this poem is about honoring the various parts of who we are and letting those parts inspire us to greatness (or change, or wholeness). But then this:

May we all be Creators and Priests and Nurses and Heroes,
And my our Song lift beyond these walls
To light the world.

The final couplet puts creative and healing roles into the same breath, which is a wonderful reminder that heroes are around us every day. That heroes are not always caped and masked and covered in spandex. It then reminds us that however we affect the world with our Song, however we help to create and heal in this world, we should hope that it radiates out into the world like light.

I remind myself daily that I should always strive to “shed light, not heat”. Knowledge (and joy and love and inspiration) only increases the more we share it with others. I know that it’s not my role in life to hold selfishly to my light and let others simply feel the heat of it. It is my role to share it and in doing so increase what I have through others.

If you haven’t listened to the piece yet, you should. If you already listened to it once, maybe listen to it again!

On Poetry: i thank you God for most this amazing

When I’m not busy making the world a better place through technology, I sometimes have disjointed thoughts about poetry. Its construction, its meaning, and the general overlay. Here’s a little e.e. cummings to round out your week.

i thank you God for most this amazing

If you’re not familiar with this poem, I’ll suggest a few things first:

  1. Visit the link above and read it.
  2. Listen to this recording of e.e. cummings himself reading it.
  3. Keep the poem open in a new tab so it’s easy to get to.

For starters, I think from the colon through the second stanza is one massive parenthetical phrase about the indescribable amazement that is the world we’re in.

And that the first line relates directly to the third stanza (though would be hollow without the second). Still, though, that third stanza also has all those parentheticals in it.

So its skeleton is “how should any human being doubt You”.

how should [tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing] any [‚ÄĒlifted from the no
of all nothing‚ÄĒ] human (merely) being
doubt [unimaginable] You?

And that final couplet is how, when you consider the amazingness of the planet, your eyes and ears can’t help but be opened to the reality of God.

Thus ends an abridged look at the really dense reading that is an e.e. cummings poem.

The Courage of Failing Publicly

When I was in high school, I once refused to do something that my friends were doing because I knew I wouldn’t like the outcome. When pressed about how I knew and asked “Have you ever tried?” my response was this:

I don’t have time to learn from only my own mistakes.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the notion that in order to know what will and won’t happen one has to personally do all the dirty work of learning.

Knowing this about me, it’s less surprising to hear that I’ve spent a lot of time lately encouraging those around me to “fail publicly”. It’s not an easy call to make, of course. No one likes being wrong, let alone being wrong where everyone can see you. The idea behind it is this: if something doesn’t go as planned,¬†and others can see it, then they can help find a stronger solution.

But there are two chances for discomfort here that I rarely, if ever, acknowledge. Boldly doing something in front of people while knowing that it could go badly is a clear risk. It doesn’t matter what that something is, public imperfection is terrifying. The other discomfort comes after that, though.

Failing publicly has no benefit to us, although it still might to others, if we¬†are not able to learn from it. Growth is never something that comes easy and, if we aren’t open to the idea that something needs to be fixed, personal growth¬†can be stopped in its tracks entirely.

I work on¬†projects that, when done well, are intensely public and open. I have made so many mistakes during my time working on them and witnessed even more than I have made. I didn’t start out with the willingness to share my failings and I think that other people could have learned from me… even if I couldn’t have learned from myself at the time.

So… Note to Self – Do what you can with what you’ve got and let people see where you don’t have what it takes. Someone else might have exactly what is¬†needed to get the job done.

Election Results 2016

 

don-t-forget-though-that-no-matter-which-side-josepha-haden-chomphosy

Everyone has¬†really strong feelings about last night’s outcome. I’ve seen posts ranging from anger and betrayal to joyful exuberance.¬†Embrace the freedom of speech we have here and learn how to open your mind to understanding. The path to a brighter future necessarily has to include us all, whether we agree or not, and we won’t get there by refusing to listen.

Winter Hibernation

As the year comes¬†to a close, I (like many people) have begun to think about what the current year brought and what I’d like to do differently in the coming year.

This year has brought about a lot of changes and as a result I have more to think about than I have in years prior. One of the major changes is how much of my time is now spent online. I spent a lot of time online before, technically, but now that my job is added to the mix it has really made it clear how much time I spend talking to people through computers. I think the only reasonable experiment to add on this year is a little unplugging.

I’m armed with a fresh new planner, board games to the teeth, and family that is always up for a heated debate, so I figure that’ll get me through the week.

But don’t hold me to it. It’s an experiment, not a rule.

 

Immortality, Space, and Doctor Who

First, let’s rip the bandaid right off this post’s title.¬†I don’t plan to talk about The Doctor.¬†He was merely an afterthought in this conversation that happened, naturally, over beers with friends at our local bar. Join me as I recreate this short and silly thought experiment.

Practical Problems with Immortality

Imagine for a moment, that you will live forever¬†(not in the “immortality of all matter” way, but in the science fiction way). ¬†At some point, you will witness the desctruction of your world the world you inhabit, either by natural¬†entropy¬†or by unnatural catastrophe.

A miracle occurs, or you are immortal, and you emerge unscathed.

So there you are. Floating about in space (ignore the part where you’re in a vacuum, we’re not trying to make sense of living forever right now). Eventually everything you had with you that was manufactured disintegrates. As the conversation went on it was decided that, given that you have nothing to do but think you would¬†become increasingly intelligent.¬†Let the record show that I diverged here, insisting that you would panic and become increasingly neurotic. Having thoughts without any way to conduct subsequent research does not a genius make.

The thought experiment ended thusly: any immortal, given enough time, will wind up drifting forever in space clad in nothing but their own brilliance.

At which point, I mentioned that this never happened to The Doctor who is, by all fictional accounts, both a variety of immortal and independently brilliant.

Feel free to discuss this with your families over the holidays!

WordCamp US 2015

WordCamp US is over and I’m watching scores of recap posts slide by on my feed. I don’t have a recap of the content,¬†which will 100% not cause anyone to miss vital information, but I do have a recap of my experience.

It was my invitation to this event last year that changed everything. In my five year plan (yes, I have my own five year plan) one of my major goals was to¬†speak at WordCamp San Francisco, a place where the cream of the¬†WordPress crop¬†could be found. My plan had that set for 2016, so when I got to check that off my list in 2014 I admit that I wasn’t sure what to do next in that arena. My time spent at WordCamp San Francisco and the accompanying events was the most enriching experience I’d had to date. Thinking back on it, and the renewed admiration I had for this community, I couldn’t imagine that this year would be any less fantastic.

Which brings me to WordCamp US.

I spent much of my time¬†with contributors and collaborators who build and guide the WordPress project and my heart and mind have been irrevocably expanded. This may seem like an incredibly difficult way to spend a week, but I truly feel more invigorated for it. Being around this community, even if it’s a small subset, always reminds me of just how wonderful they are.

What do I love so much about them? I have a short list here.

  • They are¬†giving, but self-aware. Most don’t give more than they have, but all of them give what they absolutely can.
  • They are¬†passionate.¬†We don’t all have matching things we’re¬†passionate about, but that only makes¬†me want to hear about what they love so deeply.
  • They¬†question¬†things when they don’t know or don’t agree. The willingness¬†to question where you are, no matter how you arrived there, is an admirable thing and one that takes an immense amount of courage.
  • They look out for each other. I have no other things to say about this one. It’s just wonderful and true.

There are other things of course. There are things that aren’t so great, too, because we’re all people. People are delightfully complex no matter how well they work together.

So, here’s to all you wonderful WordPressers out there. May you never cease to amaze.