What Kind of Seeker are You?

31 10 2015
It's roomier than it appears.

It’s roomier than it appears.

Happy Halloween. This is not going to be even remotely related to Halloween in case you’re wondering…unless you can  make the connection between seeking for new sources of candy and seeking for a home.

As some of you who follow me or my blog may know, I have been in the incredibly relaxing and ever life-affirming process of selling my house. (I just read a Facebook post that Harvard says sarcasm is good for you so hold on lads and lasses.)

It’s a pain in the ass. I’m not a slob but I’m not a “my house is staged and ready for showing on a daily basis” guy either, particularly with two kids who feel compelled to leave a trail of everything they do everywhere.

In today’s over digital day and age, I have the benefit (read: misfortune) of getting almost “real-time” feedback every time some realtor shows my house. It is really interesting. I was under the impression that most people that look at homes look at the layout, the neighborhood, how recent some of the rooms are (kitchen, bathroom), whether they like it and then decide from there. Most people want to put their own imprimatur (fancy for “imprint”) on their home – often redecorating, repainting etc.

Apparently, there is a large contingent, (at least where I live), of people who, if they don’t immediately like every single thing the moment they walk in the house, they are not interested. That is fine by me. It’s your money. However, it made me think about the way in which we seek out those people, things and experiences that ultimately surround and define us.

There are two types and I have witnessed both of these at work, in friendships and as of late, during political debates.

The Visionary –  You look for potential. Does this person I am meeting have some backstory that may be interesting? Is there something there that is at least worth spending more than 30 seconds with before I pre-judge? Does this house seem to fit my basic needs and, given the right price, the right type of personal touch, I can see myself in this home? Do these jeans make my butt really look fat or am I looking in the wrong type of mirror? You get the point – that type of thing.

The Checklister – You look for all the things that are wrong. Does this person just reiterate all the things I have always said about people “like them”? Does this house have too many things that aren’t the way I would do them? Do these jeans come from a store that I wouldn’t get caught dead in even though if you put them in Nordstrom’s rack and jacked up the price three fold, I would buy them? I think you get the point with this one, too.

You can see where I am leaning here. I can’t help but feel that in today’s over “twitterized” environment where opinions are formed in less time than it takes to make a bowel movement (you’re welcome for the analogy) and judgements are made even faster, we fail to see the true potential of places, experiences, and most importantly, people. It’s just not good.

You don’t have to buy my house. You don’t have to like working with me or even be my friend. But, in the future, when you keep complaining that it’s hard to find just the right place to live, work always sucks or it’s always hard to connect with people like you, you may want to think about potential rather than things to be fixed – and that includes ourselves, too. Be a visionary. It’s a lot more fun – for everyone.

So, be honest – what type of seeker are you?

Until next time,

Marc





Bullying, Looking in the Mirror & Changing Leaves

30 10 2015

Another lesson from one of my kids..

Another lesson from one of my kids..

I had a conference with my daughter’s Gifted Teacher today to review her progress in the program and so far in her 7th grade school year. The project they have to work on this year is in developing a Public Service Announcement (PSA). My son did one two years ago against smoking and my daughter has chosen bullying as her topic – writing, directing and acting in the final product.

In discussing this, her teachers said that, whereas at other times my daughter might take her time to figure out a topic or strategy, this time, she knew what she was going to do for her PSA as soon as she was asked. Her teacher asked her how she knew so quickly. Apparently, my daughter explained to her that she had witnessed someone getting bullied in the hall and felt bad for not intervening. She wants to finish her PSA and then show it to that student.

My daughter has a high level of empathy and this moved me a lot. Who hasn’t been in a situation before where you should have spoken up but didn’t for whatever reason? This is a 12 year old girl and she was able to both acknowledge this and do something about it.

I can’t say I blame her. My mouth has gotten me into trouble in the past. Over the past decade or so, as I have let wisdom take a front seat instead of back seat, I have been much better about letting things go or just trying to measure my words, though I have a long way to go – as my soon-to-be-ex (or her mother) will attest to, I am sure.

I understand where my daughter is coming from. She’s a little thing. She doesn’t bother anyone. She’s a good student. She is not Rizzo from Grease. I am not a non-confrontational person by nature but it made me think about what types of bullying we deal with as adults and how do we stand up for ourselves or others, especially when there are big things at stake like jobs, marriages or other types of relationships?

Not all bullying is as direct as having your books knocked out of your hand at your locker in the middle school hall. Sometimes it is being told that you are not good enough or don’t know enough or don’t fit in – either directly or through a veil of arrogance. Sometimes we bully ourselves with our thoughts and actions (or lack thereof). So, how do we combat these?

The first thing is to be able to say to ourselves that not only is bullying happening but we don’t have to accept it. Then, you have to speak up. In some fashion. You have to politely interrupt the discussion – at the conference table, at the dinner table or in your own head – and state your opinion, correct the misperception and then move on. This “move on” part is the most difficult because this is where we confront our fears and ultimately, bullying is all about intimidation and fear.

Move on. Understand that you don’t want to be surrounded by people who are there to bully you – subtly or directly. Understand that you are not a sum of what others see or perceive but the thoughts you allow to enter and grow. This means you may need work toward a better job, better relationship or better self-awareness (or all three).

I took a walk after work yesterday and the color of the leaves in the Northeast this year are beautiful. I am not sure that a leaf gets to choose it’s color or vibrancy any more than we can choose our true nature but I do know that there are many factors that are influential – the amount of rainfall, soil moisture, summer and autumn weather, as examples. We have a lot of influential factors, as well, but it is not easy. It is up to us to manage our thoughts, assumptions and, for me, response to fear in a way that lets us show our true colors and vibrancy. That’s the best response to bullying – from others or ourselves – that I know of.

Until next time,

Marc





Giving Up or Giving In?

29 10 2015

Sometimes it's good to give in. This isn't one of them.

Sometimes it’s good to give in. This isn’t one of them.

I haven’t been feeling so great about my work ethic the past week or so. I know that it’s because after months of working with some great colleagues to “save” the program we are working on, the end seems near. I think we all feel it.

The truth is, though I am getting done what I need to, I am focused on all the tactical stuff now – the “things” that have to get done and much less (if at all) on the strategy – the ways in which we try to get others on board, think “big picture”, and make it work.

I like to work. I have had some pretty awful “assignments” but as long as I get to work with some good people and we’re in it together, I’m pretty good. That’s where a strong sense of humility and an even stronger sense of humor is critical. I’ll put in all kinds of hours even if the challenge seems overwhelming and dire, even if I know, in my heart of hearts, that it won’t help me get ahead. However, as soon as there’s a failure to collaborate or listen – to me or anyone – that’s when it gets difficult. I don’t know how any relationship – professional or personal – sustains without some bilateral listening skills.

That being said, I have been thinking that I  am just “giving up”. You know how it goes – there’s no sense  in killing myself for something that no one wants, etc. etc – you get the picture. In an effort to try and figure out what is really going on, I did some deep thinking about my situation the past couple of days. It’s pretty simple. I’m frustrated. I’m disheartened. I’m disappointed. And, I don’t want to feel that anymore.

I am still doing my work. I am still working with the team. I haven’t given up. But, I have given in.

For me, giving in is a much better option than giving up. Giving up seems catastrophic and invasively personal whereas giving in feels more like a compromise – like I’m still in the game or something but with reconfigured expectations.

I think I could give in to a lot more things. This is the same thing as realizing that most of life is not really in our control. It doesn’t mean that we can’t impact the direction or outcome but it does mean that we have to offer up a certain level of acceptance that there may be a better option between fight and flight. 

Now, on the flip side, all I have to do is give up some of the things that I am all too quick to give in to – midnight Vienna Mocha Chip ice cream comes to mind.

How about you? Anything you can give in to, instead of giving up, and maybe ease the burn a little?

Until next time, Marc





Don’t Come In

28 10 2015
When else am I going to be able to use an image like this?

When else am I going to be able to use an image like this? It’s a mother, not a father, but we do have the same hair.

I feel like the fact that there are technical difficulties right now as I sit here with my boy watching the World Series is a higher authority telling me to not let myself off the hook for writing tonight. So here it goes.

Tonight, I wanted to write about a text that I got from my daughter yesterday after dinner.

She plays field hockey, which just ended today, and on a weekly basis, a different parent sponsors a “pasta party” where the girls all gather to celebrate field hockey, friendship and homework procrastination.

I usually pull up with the other parents and walk to whatever opening I can find – a garage door, a front door, the back yard – and look for my daughter and her ponytail amidst a sea of other middle school girls with ponytails.

Yesterday, I was given strict notice by my daughter that she would text me when she needs to get picked up, rather than the agreed upon time of 7:30 unless I hear otherwise. I relented since it was the final party and they were celebrating her coach, who was very, very good.

We started our text exchange at 7:35 PM:

Her: “can u pick me up?”

Me: “On my way !”

Her: “k…..tell me when your outside. dont come in” (lack of punctuation excused)

Me: “Here”

Her: “don’t come in”

I’m not sure if you got it but she really, really did not want me to come in. I get it but I had to ask her why? She told me what I already knew – she didn’t want to me to “embarrass” her. (Who? Me?) I get it.

The irony was not lost on me that she and I are on different ends of the spectrum. She is defining herself, setting boundaries as any good teenager should and deciding who gets past the velvet rope and who stays behind. I, on the other hand, am finally taking the step to define myself as I am but saying “everyone come in and see because this is how I roll.” It’s an age thing and for us to take each other’s approach would be more like “Freaky Friday”.

It’s hard as a parent to see your kids silo off where, when and how they want you in their lives. It’s growth and it’s expected. It’s healthy but it’s hard. For me, I have been framing it in a different light, though. It seems that this is another force out of my control that is telling me that I have to think about myself and my needs more, too. It’s too easy for me to distract myself from my insecurities by relying on my role as a father. Being a dad is difficult but it’s also an easy distraction from facing who I really am sometimes. Believe it or not, it’s easier to get all the kids’ games, practices and rehearsals on a calendar than put it aside and force myself to write or anything else that I need to do to move the other parts of me forward.

I am not sure if this makes sense or not. I truly am figuring this all out in real-time, day by day, sometimes minute by minute. I miss those moments of parenting that escape as kids grow up. I am no less close to them, perhaps closer. It’s just the normal independence that all parents hope to see comes with the price of loosing both time with them and those long-lost parts of you that may have existed before they did. Maybe long down the road, we will merge again and when I’m visiting my kids in college, I’ll get that text that tells me where their apartment is followed by “come in.”

Until next time,

Marc





Support Vs. Tolerance

27 10 2015
This is a ribbon, not support.

This is a just a ribbon.

This is not going to be a “feel good” blog but I hope it at least provokes some thought.

I was in a bad mood today. I don’t know why. I’m in a bad mood now, too.

I’m trying to calm my nerves with a glass of wine, which probably isn’t helping.

I was ok until my son came home from school and needed his laptop for homework which was at his mother’s house, all of 2 miles away. I was working and she refused to drop it off. This is another “standing my ground” thing of hers lately and while I have tried to let this stuff pass, it got to me today. Maybe it was my cold. Maybe it was my thinking about job loss. Whatever it was, it got to me badly.

We both work from home some days during the week and we both live close to each other. It is impossible to not put the kids in the middle when these types of things happen, regardless of how hard either of us might work at it. Or at least that’s the case for me. I have tried to not make this my kids’ issue because it is not their fault at all that they even have to think of crap like this – navigating hauling their stuff between places depending on where they are staying. This is not the time to teach responsibility to a kid and if we have to haul them and their stuff back and forth, then, at least in my opinion, we have to grow up, be adults and do it for them. They never asked for this. It was hard for me to hold my frustration about this in, too, and that certainly didn’t help matters with my kids.

Truth be told, the amount of time I spent stewing over whether or not to get in the car with my son and make the 5 minute trek for him to get his stuff, was far beyond the actual time it took to just get it over with. There is no co-parenting with my ex other than her managerial disposition toward me as “permitted” through email. This is not co-parenting and where this is a lack of co-parenting or co-anything, there is a lack of support, in this case – for my kids. (And the frustration grows.)

Several times I have tried to explain, directly or indirectly, that we both have to compromise and make decisions, many of which are uncomfortable, for the sake of the kids. We have to be their main support system, or should be, anyway. I realized today, in my maddening state of frustration, that some people are simply not capable of playing a supportive role. My ex never was. She was always tolerating things. To be honest, I think it was the best she could do. We all have deficits of some sort coming into relationships, some greater than others. Hers was coming from a family that was not supportive of each other. Mine was coming from a family that were not amongst the greatest of communicators. It’s not a blame thing. It’s just the way it is.

Today really stuck with me and before I knew it, I made this about me – hard to admit, but it’s the truth. I grieved for the fact that I never had a partner who really supported me. To support someone is to show true love. I know as a parent that I support things that my kids want to do because I love them and respect them. I want them to do the best they can in what they are passionate about.

I have had a good run so far but if I am going to be totally honest, I never had anyone really close to me that asked me “Marc, what do you want out of life?” I think they already knew that the answer was not in their comfort zone and was too scary for them to consider. I have met so many people who took risks and forged their own path early on and I lived in a well of fear so deep, listening to others rather than myself. I never learned to support myself rather than looking for someone to support me.

This was evident in my childhood, my formative years and I carried it into my marriage, also. Some say that comedy led to my divorce. I think it saved me. It was perhaps my first real step to supporting myself.

When I did so, though, I was naive. I thought my wife would be proud of a husband that was trying something new. I never compromised my role as husband or father. But there was no support, only tolerance. I remember, in an argument, her claiming that she supported my comedy by “letting” me do it, (go to a show, etc). If you “let” someone do something, you are tolerating them. If you help them get there (physically, morally or otherwise), you are supporting them.

This is something that I am trying to get better at myself, with my kids, with other people and more importantly, myself.

If you really support the troops, it’s more than a yellow, magnetic ribbon on your trunk. If you really support something, it’s got to be more than words or a symbolic token of your support. Are you really being supportive of those you love, including yourself? Or, maybe, are you just being tolerant.

Until next time,

Marc

Thanks for reading. You can sign up on this site (right hand side) to get this blog automatically delivered to your in-box. Also, please consider following me on Twitter @MarcKaye1.





While We’re Young

26 10 2015
Here I go again with hokey metaphors.

Here I go again with hokey metaphors.

I have been battling a cold all weekend. It was officially a cold on Friday in between two amazing comedy shows at Butch Bradley’s Comedy Hideaway in Atlantic City, NJ that I got to perform in which will go down as one of the most memorable days thus far in my comedy career. Not only were the shows and the comics so much fun, but also, I even got to hang with two of the finalists & the winner from Last Comic Standing (Dominique, Ian Bagg and Clayton English) who were so great. I watched every episode and to just talk to them like comics do, was fantastic. This cold was was totally worth it!

However, by this afternoon, after sitting through both my son’s baseball game and my daughter’s play, I was ready to just sit down and watch a movie, a feel-good, comedy. So, I rented “While We’re Young” with Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. They play a 40’s something, married couple who befriend a couple in their 20s and bring up issues of time lost, regaining youthful moments, dealing with aging and accepting harsh realities.

I enjoyed it but it did not leave me with the “ease of mind” feeling I was hoping for, especially in the midst of just trying to forget about this cold. I think it was the character that Ben Stiller played. I have never met Stiller but there is something about him and the way he portrays his vulnerabilities in movies that makes me very uncomfortable – mainly because I feel like I am watching myself.

His portrayal brought up an insecurity that I have about myself and my age. I don’t feel any differently in my 40s than I did in my 20s. I feel a little bit wiser, calmer, more reflective and in some cases, more anxious to do and see things, but not different with respect to my level of restlessness or discovery. I think discovery is crucial and keeps people feeling young. 

Comedy, more than any other part of my life, has afforded me to forge some great friendships with people regardless of age, many of whom are definitely younger than myself. I never feel an age gap (nor do I with friends who are older) other than the occasional references to 70s or 80s shows or things that are more generational in nature. 

My insecurities about aging are mine. They are not thrust upon me by anyone other than myself. After the movie, I sat and really tried to understand what I was feeling and where it was coming from. The first thought that came to mind was that I didn’t want anyone to think of me as one of those people who were “trying to be or act young”. That’s not me and I am not even sure what that means anymore. I do know that part of the reason I am attracted to more urban environments is because the more traditional lines of age, class – almost anything, are blurred much more and I feel more comfortable and less judgmental about myself.

In the movie, like many, what seems as one thing really turns out to not be that way and stereotypes and assumptions get challenged. There’s a line in there by the young female character played by Amanda Seyfried. In referring to conversation she had with her young husband, she comments that would often wonder how they were going to get old and it turns out – just like everyone else.

To me, that was the key takeaway. The process of aging is so much more than a physical one. If that’s all it is than we have truly wasted this amazing opportunity to learn, evolve, regenerate and learn again. It’s pretty amazing. It reminded me of a conversation I had with Dominique, one of the Last Comic Standing finalists, just this weekend. I was talking to her about how hard it is for me to do comedy in some of the rooms that are just hip 25-30 year olds. She said to keep doing my thing and gave me some great advice. Basically, she told me why it’s great to be doing comedy at my age and that, really, it doesn’t matter. I have to keep doing it. She was right.

I guess I have to start to think of myself like a tree. My trunk ages every year – that’s the physical core of who I am. At the same time, though, I grow new branches and leaves so I get the benefit of a more developed core – nutrients, stability and security while also creating new growth.

It sounds hokey – blame it on the cold. But that’s what I’m going with.

Until next time,

Marc

Thanks for reading and if you want, sign up to get my blog automatically delivered to your inbox right her on this site! You can also follow me on Twitter @MarcKaye1. 





There are no coincidences

22 10 2015
There are no coincidences - but lots of choices.

There are no coincidences – but lots of choices.

2015: This year isn’t even over and it still keeps coming – divorce, house that won’t sell, money leaping from my savings account at a rate that would astonish even Superman and today – news that my job may not be long for this world.

It is overwhelming for sure and there is a part of me that asks, “well, surely he must have done something to get to this point.” That’s me judging myself. I listened to a podcast this week about happiness and it reminded me that those of us that judge ourselves are also more likely to judge others. I didn’t like that. I like to think of myself as open minded. Truth is that as hard as I am on myself, I probably take that with me when I observe others, too, without even knowing it.

So, in an effort to turn this around, I tried re-framing all this stuff that seems to be collecting at once. Divorce happens. It sucks. I was not the perfect husband but I really did try my best. I was present. I was engaged. I was there. And I still failed in some capacity. I don’t think there’s any higher karmic purpose for this particular divorce. I think it just falls into the “shit happens” category.

As for the house – well, that’s a by-product of said divorce and a market that seems to be stagnant (at least at this time of year).

What about my cash flow (or outflow as it might be)? Well, two teens, a divorce and single handedly paying for a Bat Mitzvah seems to explain that. Thankfully, I at least was able to pay for stuff I had to.

Finally, the job? Well, considering I have been at my currently employer for 13 1/2 years, I think it’s been a good run. I have to pick myself up for the next chapter…right after this 2nd glass of wine…I promise.

I look at all this in the midst of two kids who are thriving and I am happy. I am actually happy. Nervous? For sure. Unsettled? Without a doubt. Contemplative? Always.

But, I am blessed with family, friends and health. The rest is gravy. I am not an overly spiritual person (though I try at times) but I do believe that perhaps the “universe” is pushing me in a new direction for a reason that has yet to be identified. I don’t believe in coincidence. All these seemingly tough life events happening at the same time cannot be a coincidence. If it were, I think I would have to convince myself that I was one of those dudes with a black cloud hanging over his head. You know – the guy you meet at the kid’s baseball game and think “I am so glad I’m not him.” That’s not me, though. As “put upon” as it may seem to others, I had years – many years – where things seemed to just go fine, or at least with little drama. Maybe 2015 is just the year for me to transition to whatever comes next.

I am pretty sure I know who I am. Someone said that I am pretty open and raw in this blog – in a cautious way. I don’t want to be otherwise. Maybe one day my kids will read this stuff and realize it’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s not a sign of weakness. Maybe someone will read it and feel that way before then. If not, it doesn’t matter.

I feel that in 5 years I am going to look back at this time and where I am at that point and be humbled in a way that I have yet to experience. It is frightening. But the best part of fear is that you have to make a choice. You have to retreat or you have to face it. There are no other options. A decision has to be made.

I’m going to face it. 

Until next time,

Marc








%d bloggers like this: