Thoughts From My Office

Let’s start by showing you what’s currently on our chalkboard wall:

This was L’s idea, and although I think he meant it as a joke, I am fully committed. What gets measured gets managed, after all.

It’s also worth noting that — well, two things, the first thing is that the tally marks are only taking up a small corner of our chalkboard wall, the rest of the wall is filled with quotes and notes from (vaccinated) friends and so on, and the second thing is that what this tally chart is really saying is number of days spent mindfully.

Because mindfulness puts you on the correct path, not the overcorrect one.

Everyday mindfulness sounds like it might take a lot of work (“everyday mindfulness” also sounds like a bestselling book title, I wonder if it already exists) but it doesn’t seem like spending your days mindfully would take that much more out of you than spending them mindlessly. Especially since — as I’ve mentioned before — guessing takes more effort than knowing.

And yesterday, which we both tried to spend as mindfully as possible, turned out to be one of the best days L and I have ever had together. It was remarkable enough that we both remarked on it, at the end. ❤️

Anyway.

On to where I got published this week!

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Don’t Write Alone | Catapult

Job Opportunities for Writers: April 30, 2021

We post roundups of writing and literary jobs once a week. Here’s our list for April 30, 2021.

Upcoming Submission Opportunities: April 30, 2021

We post submission roundups once a week. Here’s our list of literary magazines and freelance opportunities for April 30, 2021.

On Overcorrection, Part Three

The good news, since you always want to start with good news, is that I’ve been able to complete a lot of the stuff on my to-do list this week.

I memorized the bit of Ravel I wanted to memorize, I polished the 16 measures of Mozart I aimed to polish, I’m currently in the process of learning and memorizing the recapitulation section of the third movement of the Mozart (which means that I’ll have the entire K332 sonata memorized fairly soon, and two of the three movements close to performance-ready), I finished reading Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, I am currently using the techniques in Make it Stick in both my piano practice and my chess study, and…

Well…

I mean, the bad news is…

I HAVEN’T STOPPED OVERCORRECTING.

Perhaps one cannot stop overcorrecting in a single week (when I read this to L, he said “that in it itself would be an overcorrection”). Not even if one puts one’s mind to it.

And the thing is, even when one does put one’s mind to it, overcorrection happens without thinking.

That is, overcorrection happens even when you’re trying to think about avoiding overcorrecting, because you’re not actually thinking critically about the thing you’re about to overcorrect.

You’re thinking in a more general “thou shalt not” sense, and not in a specific “what, in this moment, constitutes an awareness-based adjustment vs. an overcorrection” sense.


This week, my tendency to overcorrect manifested in the form of people-pleasing — or, since overcorrection doesn’t actually work, an attempt to people-please that didn’t end up pleasing anybody.

Especially because I can’t keep a secret to save my life, and my own displeasure at having done something that turned out to be somewhat futile quickly became apparent.

Since I can’t keep a secret to save my life, I’ll have to tell you what it was.

Basically, I spent yesterday afternoon making a cake instead of practicing the piano. I was trying to practice in the moments while the cake was baking, except I had never made this cake before and had adjusted the recipe based on a gift-of-the-Magi-esque misunderstanding (I thought L didn’t like his cakes too sweet and L thought I didn’t like my cakes too sweet, and so I spent way too much time chopping up dates to use in lieu of sugar when both of us would have been happier with the cake in the recipe), so I would practice for five minutes and then go check on the cake (still mushy in the center) and then I would go practice again and then go check on the cake (still mushy, and now the center’s collapsed a bit) and so on.

So I was annoyed because this cake that I didn’t actually want was getting in the way of what I actually wanted, which was to have spent a good hour learning Mozart.

I was annoyed that I felt like I had to performatively eat a slice of this cake, even though I didn’t really want any cake (and even though it did in fact give me indigestion), because if you say “I don’t want cake” — well, it certainly puts into question why you spent the afternoon making one.

And then I was annoyed because I wasn’t the kind of generous person who could make and present a cake, freely, to the person she loved — except it turned out that L didn’t really want the cake either.

He had only mentioned it in a general sense (“I liked that carrot cake your mom made, maybe we should make one the next time we have a bunch of shredded carrots”) and didn’t want to eat an obligation-cake any more than I wanted to make him one.

We talked about that for a long time last night.


What was the overcorrection here?

First, assuming that having extra shredded carrots meant that I had to make a carrot cake right that minute, even though I had already had plenty of other plans for those minutes. (We could have put those extra shredded carrots into salads or something.)

Second, assuming that I had to come up with a dates-instead-of-sugar recipe, although L and I both admitted that we had played ourselves on that one (that is, we’d both said “it’s good that these desserts aren’t too sweet” when it would have been very, very good if they had been sweeter).

Third — and most importantly — giving up something I wanted in order to give someone else what I thought they wanted.

How is that last one an overcorrection?

Because the correct path is the one that gives you what you want and need, which frees you to give the best parts of yourself to someone else.

L didn’t get the best parts of me last night, because I swerved away from them.

Today, I’m going to keep my little metaphorical car pointed towards the person — and the life — I know we both love. ❤️


After I read this to L, he added both the following insights and permission to share them:

When we put ourselves at a deficit for any reason, we make ourselves less of the person we want to be, and less of the person who is in fact a loved one.

What is the best gift we can give for people? The example of our happiness — not just our happiness, but our excitement for things. Our enthusiasm. Everybody’s supposed to be what they are, because we draw strength from one another and we draw the most strength when we know what people are.

Your number one thing is not to do a bunch of stuff for others, especially if it puts you a deficit. Your number one thing is to be what you want to be. We want to be part of a group of good, happy people, because that’s when we’re at our best.

Gosh I love that man. ❤️❤️❤️

Creativity Thrives in Community

Danielle Taschereau Mamers is a researcher at McMaster University, where she studies politics and media. She has expertise in settler colonial history, decolonization, and environmental politics. Taschereau Mamers has written about bison conservation for The Conversation, and has also been published in the Journal of Narrative Politics and Settler Colonial Studies.

For the past three years, I have been writing with others — not collaboratively, but in community. As a writer and researcher, my work is often solitary. By joining together with a small group of fellow writers and scholars, our writing practices have thrived. Working in community is the single best thing I have done for my creative practice.

In the fall of 2018, I was passing days alone in my office, surrounded by stacks of books, overflowing notebooks, and half-empty coffee cups. It was far from romantic. Adrift and mostly miserable, I needed creative companionship. I reached out to other women working out of the same research centre, who were also in solitary office spaces and similarly struggling with overwhelming writing projects. Perhaps, I ventured, we could write together, at the same time and in the same space? 

We started as a small group of four, meeting for two hours every Thursday morning. For the better part of a year, we soaked up the small luxury of having access to a well-lit conference room and fancy espresso machine at the centre. Each week, we assembled our laptops, reference materials, and drafts around the small table and declared our intentions to one another. Small statements of tasks that we could reasonably complete during our two-hour session. These tasks often felt trivial in the face of a book or dissertation manuscript: drafting a paragraph, summarizing an article, inputting revisions. Yet, as the year stretched on, the work we did together accumulated. Our projects inched closer to completion. 

That big projects are the accumulation of smaller components is hardly a revelation. The magic of our writing group is the articulation and celebration of those minor tasks as goals in and of themselves. Speaking aloud to one another what we would do and then checking in at the end of our two-hour work session, we were not just writing. We were also giving  narrative accounts of how our writing processes unfolded, and learning from one another the many ways in which writing can unfold. 

Working in these focused blocks helped me reckon with one of my biggest challenges: my sense of just how long writing takes. As a graduate student, I was forever dispirited by the bold lists of projects and deadlines I would set out for myself. Each day there would be much left undone, endlessly pushed forward to the next day. From week to week, semester to semester, my sense of what I wanted to accomplish was increasingly distant from what I was able to get done. I promised myself over and over again to work faster and more efficiently and for longer stretches. 

In writing and other creative work, the line between promising to work harder and haranguing oneself for not being enough is very fine. Over these years of not feeling smart enough, fast enough, or accomplished enough, it never occurred to me that my expectations were the problem. Writing in community, I’ve witnessed how common struggles with time and expectations are, while also coming to understand how different writers approach these issues. Together, we have found ways to be enough.

By working in community with other writers, I saw how others worked. Through our meetings, I listened to their descriptions of trouble with a particular paragraph or attempts to braid different narratives together or approaches to thorny peer-reviews. But alongside hearing different approaches to the writing process, I also came to better understand just how incrementally a manuscript comes together. More importantly, I saw that it wasn’t just me that wasn’t enough, but that the process is long for everyone. Settling into our consistent two-hour blocks, I set more modest goals and saw them through. While working in community hasn’t made me smarter or more efficient, it has taught me what I can do in two hours. Most importantly, our group has showed me how to consistently show up for modest writing goals. 

The onset of the pandemic coincided with moves across the country and new jobs. Our group moved online like the rest of the world. In a period that has brought isolation and distraction from creative practice for many, we have grown. An accumulation of modest goals and their celebration that began on Thursday mornings in a sunny conference room now unfolds two afternoons a week over zoom. 

When I hear writers and researchers express frustration over stalled projects or the loneliness of our vocation, I always suggest finding a writing group. Or making one. Finding just one other person makes a group. Drawing from the three years that our group has been writing together, I have four suggestions for building a writing community:

Be consistent. Set up a time and place where you will come together. We started with weekly morning meetings in a physical location that was comfortable and already a part of our working lives. Consistency needs flexibility. We check in seasonally to decide our meeting schedule. When we met in person, there was a season of shifting from Thursday to Friday mornings. When we no longer had access to the research centre conference room (and the pandemic meant we could no longer meet in person), we moved online and increased the frequency of our meetings. But as an online group, we are still together for two hours of co-writing where we hold space for modest goals and for celebrating their achievement.

Size matters. The size of our group is part of our success and key to being consistent. Our group has grown from four to eight over the years. It is small enough that we know each other and have come to know one another’s projects well. But it is big enough to withstand a couple of absences on a given week or season. In busy times when there have been just two members available, the consistency of community continues.

Prompt each other. After a few minutes of chatting at the start of each session, we write. Each session begins with a prompt: “In the next two hours, I will…” We finish this sentence aloud and then build on it with a few minutes of free writing. Sometimes we offer one another prompts to move the writing along. These include listing the key points we care about, writing out the things we do and do not know about a topic, or putting the feelings we have toward our work into words. Setting a timer and scribbling by hand together brings a special energy to getting started and to keeping going.

Create special sessions. Once a season, usually aligned with the beginning or end of an academic semester, our group holds longer retreats. We pick two or three days where we meet for full days and set larger, but still achievable goals. Along with focused writing sessions, we take lunch breaks together and build in brief yoga sessions to keep up morale. Whether in person or online, we conclude retreats with a celebratory happy hour. 

The impact of this community practice has been profound. Between us, we have completed book manuscripts, submitted articles, begun creative writing pursuits, and made headway on stalled dissertations. By working side-by-side (and now, screen-by-screen), we have learned the productive limits of two hours. When shared, these two-hour increments expand in ways that have made us better writers, committed to our craft and to each other.

Chopin Work-Showing

Turns out making that to-do list yesterday was a very good idea… I’ve already memorized the two pages of Ravel, polished the 16 measures of Mozart, studied my grandmaster chess game, and recorded a bit of Chopin to show you what I’ve been working on lately.

As a point of comparison, here’s the last time I recorded the Chopin (on February 15):

I need to write more about everything I’ve been doing re: practice techniques, but I don’t have time at the moment.

Luckily, I put “write about practicing” on the to-do list yesterday — which means I’m going to try to make it happen later this week. ❤️

Monday Morning To-Do List

This week I want to:

Complete all of my freelance work (this is a given, I’ve only missed two deadlines in my 10+ years of freelancing [one because my apartment flooded and one because of last summer’s derecho {aka inland hurricane}])

Memorize the first two pages of La Valse, which I’ve been putting off because L and I keep saying “those pages are so easy, we can do them whenever,” well WHENEVER IS THIS WEEK

Record myself playing either the Chopin nocturne or one of the movements of Mozart K332, since I haven’t shown my work in forever and FOREVER IS ALSO THIS WEEK

Split my Mozart practice sessions between “problem-solving the 16 measures of mmt 1 that are still uncertain” and “memorizing the recapitulation in mmt 3”

Finish reading Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (almost done) and The Inner Game of Music (barely done because I keep wanting to do all of the exercises [also maybe I should just buy the book instead of perpetually renewing it at the library {but I really should finish reading it first to make sure}])

Write a blog post about using the interleaving technique mentioned in both Make it Stick and Inner Game to improve/expedite the learning process

Write another blog post about overcorrection and all of the stuff L and I have been talking about lately

ACTUALLY NOT OVERCORRECT, like, in my own life (we know what has been proved to work and what happens when you deviate too far above or below [nearly always above] what has been proved to work in an attempt to get something else to work faster)

Write Tara K. Shepersky a letter, since it’s my turn to send one (btw did you know you can write Tara letters as part of her PenPal Project, she is a very good correspondent)

Study one grandmaster chess game (currently R. Hubner – L. Portisch Brussels 1986 [also yes I am reading Neil McDonald’s Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking])

Play one game of chess with L

Make two new origami animals with L (we’re studying Robert Lang’s Origami Zoo, if you’re curious)

GO TO THE LAKE WITH L — we are planning our first trip for next weekend ❤️❤️❤️

Thoughts From My Office

I think the thing that I feel the most embarrassedly-guilty about, in the life that L and I have constructed for ourselves, is that I get to take a nap every day.

It is the ultimate game-changer (to borrow a cliché).

It makes everything else in my life work.

Basically, I borrowed this idea from Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, which is that you could divide your day up into two parts: the work half and the play half.

So I get up at 6 a.m., do a bunch of freelance work, have breakfast with L, give myself a 60-90 minute piano practice session, finish off my freelance work, eat lunch, and then take a half-hour nap.

That’s my first day.

The second day starts around 2:30 p.m. and lasts until about 11 p.m.. It includes walking, biking, reading, a second piano practice session if possible, and plenty of time spent with L.

It’s essentially a weekend day, EVERY DAY.

I’ve been doing this schedule in secret for a while, since there was this period of time in which I was changing my writing/eating/sleeping routine every few days to try to figure out what might work best, and I didn’t want to post about this latest iteration until I was sure it was going to stick.

It is VERY VERY VERY going to stick.

(You realize — I mean, you don’t realize, because I haven’t told you — that I can write a 1,500-word freelance assignment in one fluid swoop [to borrow yet another cliché] between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m.. If I were writing the same article in the afternoon, it would take literally twice as long.)

I can already barely imagine any other way of life, in the sense that I will do everything in my power to maintain this particular way of life — and if you’re the kind of freelancer who can swing this kind of schedule, consider it highly recommended.

With that in mind, HERE IS WHERE I GOT PUBLISHED THIS WEEK:

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Job Opportunities for Writers: April 23, 2021

We post roundups of writing and literary jobs once a week. Here’s our list for April 23, 2021.

Upcoming Submission Opportunities: April 23, 2021

We post submission roundups once a week. Here’s our list of literary magazines and freelance opportunities for April 23, 2021.

My First Post-Vaccination Outing

I ended Tuesday’s post (“On Overcorrection, Part Two”) with a question:

It makes me wonder if choosing the correct path (vs. the overcorrect one) is easier when you’re working with someone you trust and/or love.

I am pretty sure I have the answer to that, but I’m not sure I want to write about it yet.

Instead, I want to write about what happened yesterday afternoon, when I went to a coffee shop for the first time in over a year.


I got the Johnson & Johnson (aka “Janssen”) vaccine on Tuesday, April 6.

According to the CDC, maximum protection kicks in at two weeks — so I marked Wednesday, April 21 on the calendar, and then I decided to mark the date by buying myself a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop that had been shipping me bags of small-batch, single-origin coffee since I moved in with L last summer.

I’d never been inside this coffee shop.* It was the only thing I could think about, the entire night before I went; how it might be like it used to be, even though it couldn’t possibly be like it used to be, even though the only thing I wanted was to go into a coffee shop full of people and noise and good smells and the opportunity to start a conversation, even though that was a substitute for what I actually wanted, which was for things to be like they were before.

I know, by the way, that things will never be like they were before. Things rarely are; especially after illness. We are all changed. We are all still changing.

Except for the parts of us that remain, resolutely, the same.

Because I rarely started conversations in coffee shops even when I used to go on a more regular basis. Not unless I was meeting someone there on purpose. Not unless I saw someone I knew well enough to say anything beyond “Hello!”

And I didn’t say anything to the person who was working the counter beyond what was absolutely essential to getting the coffee transaction completed, plus a brief pleasantry about how I hadn’t heard ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” in forever. We were both masked, and I didn’t want to linger long enough to make anyone feel anxious or uncomfortable, but I doubt I would have started an actual conversation even if there had never been a pandemic.

Even if there had been anyone else in the coffee shop besides me and the person working there.

I drank my coffee outside, under an awning, as it started to rain.

Then I went back home and cried, because it hadn’t been what I wanted — and because the reason it hadn’t been what I wanted was partly the pandemic and partly me.


I should have waited until L and I could have gone together. It was one of those deals where I didn’t tell him much about what I was doing and why I was doing it, because I knew that if I opened my mouth I would let the fantasy escape — and I had to protect my own delusions, for whatever reason, until I understood them on my own terms.

But when I did tell him, he and I had a very interesting conversation that he has told me I will have to write about someday, first because he always says that the purpose of life is to learn something and pass it on, and second because it ties right in with everything else I’ve been asking this week — whether two people, when they love and trust each other, can help each other become better.

Not just at correcting vs. overcorrecting, but at everything.

And I’m pretty sure I already have the answer to that. ❤️

*Fun fact: I am currently living in a mid-sized Midwestern town about 20 miles from the tiny town in which I grew up. Since I moved in with L during the pandemic, I found myself in the interesting situation of living in a place that I used to know like the back of my hand — while being completely unable to experience both the parts I remembered and the parts that had changed. That’s why I had never been inside this particular coffee shop, and one of the reasons I was so excited to go.

How a Teacher Turned a Comms Habit into a Full-Time Gig

After spending 16 years in public education as a special education classroom teacher and district support specialist, Tim Villegas turned his communications habit into a full-time career. He is the Director of Communications for MCIE, Editor-in-chief of Think Inclusive, and hosts the Think Inclusive Podcast. He also freelances while working on a book about his journey from being an inclusive education skeptic to becoming a self-proclaimed inclusionist.

My first PR job was for an indie record label nestled in a second-floor office above the main drag of a sleepy suburb close to Los Angeles.

The president of the label handed me a phone book and a sheet of paper with dates and locations. “Here you go, book us a tour.”

I spent the next few weeks during off times from my studies at the university, cold-calling venues up the Pacific Coast to book our indie rock band tour.

It was a tough gig. But you know what? I loved every minute of it. There was something magical about using my conversational skills to convince other people to take a chance with booking our band.

Little did I know that my next official communications job would be as Director of Communications for a nonprofit — or that it would take 20 years of experience and education to get me there.

Initially, I went to school to become a counselor — but there weren’t too many jobs right out of college for Psychology majors. As a stopgap, I took a position at an organization that worked with young autistic children and realized that I had a knack for teaching kids. That’s when fate took over. 

When my job led me into a public school to support one of our clients, I surveyed the educators around me, and thought “I could do that!” The advice given to me was to become a substitute teacher and see if it was something I wanted to do. And I did! That year, I applied to a local teaching credential program. Within 18 months, I obtained a provisional teaching certificate so I could get a job as a teacher.

When interviewing for my first job as a special education teacher, I remember saying “I think special education has a PR problem.” Before taking my first courses in my teacher education program, I had no idea what it took to be a teacher — and working with students with disabilities was still a mystery to me and everyone else I knew. 

Not only did most people not know what teachers do, but it also seemed to me that there was a significant disconnect between what my teaching credential program taught me and the reality of public schools. My program was supposed to prepare me to work in schools, but the inclusive values instilled in me — that students (with and without disabilities) should be educated together, not in separate classrooms — were not evident with my first employer.

As it turns out, segregating too many students with disabilities into separate classrooms has been a big problem since the federal government passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1990. The United States has definitely made progress since then, but not enough. 

Although I had some allies, many people did not understand my passion for inclusion. It wasn’t until I moved from California to Georgia that I found the problems present in my first teaching job were very similar in my new job. I had the idea of creating a blog to share my thoughts about how educators could do a better job of including students with disabilities in general education.

I started a Twitter and Tumblr account as I was preparing to present at a disability rights conference near Atlanta, GA. Once I began writing and sharing, I realized how powerful social media could be — and how my writing could help connect me to like-minded individuals. 

A friend helped me set up my first domain, ThinkInclusive.us, and I was off and running, reading everything I could about blogging and website design. I asked friends that I met through social media to write blog posts centered around inclusive education. Shortly after that, I started a podcast to interview people who are actively working to change educational and societal systems to be more inclusive.

Promoting the blog and podcast felt very similar to the days when I worked for the record label — except this time, I was armed with the internet.

I kept up my side hustle for eight years; teaching during the day, and blogging, editing, and podcasting by night. I’m not going to lie. It was exhausting, and there were many times I took long breaks. A few times, I even said I would quit. But every time I was tempted to hang up my keyboard, I would listen to the whisper inside of me to keep going — and I am so glad I did.

Today, my comms habit has turned into a full-blown gig as the Director of Communications for a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and sustaining inclusive education. I’m writing, editing, and podcasting every day, and I wonder what my younger self would think if I told him what I was doing now. 

I’m grateful for everyone who ever told me not to give up. If there is one takeaway from this, it’s that you should always make your passions part of your journey. If writing is what gets you up in the morning, don’t let go of it. You might just find yourself back where you started, home.

On Overcorrection, Part Two

I promised you a second post on overcorrection, so I feel like I ought to come up with one —

And I was almost going to tell you this story about an overcorrection I had been making, and then (thanks to my own thinking and writing about the subject last week) decided to no longer make, and the problem resolved itself with awareness+gentleness+time (as I knew it would) rather than the quick fix, better-WORSE-better-WORSE swings that would probably have happened had I tried to overcorrect in the way I usually do.

Except that story involves my bowels, and nobody wants to read about my bowels.

But you might want to read the response that writer and lawyer Pia Owens sent me after the first overcorrection post went up: “I was hoping you would say don’t worry about overcorrection, it’s normal and you’ll overcorrect in the other direction and eventually come to an equilibrium.”

I do agree that overcorrection is either normal or typical, even though I dislike using both of those words in this situation because I’d like to imagine a world in which overcorrection is not the automatic and/or expected response.

Because I don’t think that overcorrecting in one direction, and then overcorrecting in the other direction, eventually gets you to an equilibrium — I mean, it might, but it won’t be the equilibrium you want.

Figuring out how to go from unspecific, impatient, results-based swings to specific, patient, solutions-based adjustments is what gets you to the correct equilibrium.

It’s really the “problem solving is the process of going from guessing to knowing” thing again.


So personal finance, since that is the easiest example to start with:

Overcorrection looks like this:

I AM NOT ACHIEVING MY FINANCIAL GOALS, TIME TO CUT ALL DISCRETIONARY SPENDING FOREVER!

*cutting all discretionary spending forever reveals itself to be completely unsustainable*

MY GOALS CAN WAIT, TIME TO DO SOME EXTRA DISCRETIONARY SPENDING TO MAKE UP FOR ALL THE STUFF I DENIED MYSELF LAST WEEK!

Yes, the two overcorrections do in fact cancel each other out and you will eventually reach what you might call an equilibrium.

Except that kind of equilibrium just puts you back where you started.

The kind of equilibrium you’re looking for requires a change — in your habits, in your behavior, and quite possibly in the way you think about yourself and the world around you.

A long-term, sustainable change that helps move you closer to the goal you’re trying to achieve — or the person you’re hoping to become.


Here’s another example.

There’s a tendency, when two people approach a situation that they know might lead to conflict, for a push to be followed by either a push back or a pull away.

You can visualize this one, especially if I tell you exactly how to visualize it:

Two people, standing in front of each other and staring eye-to-eye.

One pushes, and the other pushes back — or maybe one pushes, the other pulls away, and the person who pushed reaches out to pull the person who pulled away back into the discussion.

Either way, these two people swing precariously back and forth, overcorrecting in one direction and then another. They might do the whole anger-anger-anger-anger-“let’s agree to let it go” thing. They might do the anger-apology-resentment thing, which will no doubt lead to a rehash of this argument a week or so down the line. They might even do the anger-apology-“let’s agree to let it go” thing, which sounds like it’s a winning scenario because you end up reaching equilibrium, but it’s an equilibrium that puts you right back where you started.

Your problem hasn’t been solved; it hasn’t even been addressed, not seriously. Your relationship hasn’t grown; not in the way it could if one or both of you agree to stop glaring at each other and start, as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry put it, “looking outward in the same direction.”

Or, as I put it earlier this year: The only thing that is real between two people is what they create together.

That kind of co-creation requires awareness, time, humility, openness, and a shared agreement to look for solutions rather than results.

It’s the correct path, not the overcorrect one — and it will lead to an entirely new equilibrium, if you let it.


When I read the first draft of this post to L, he said “they’re going to think we’re fighting.”

We’re not. Our days are pretty much golden, from beginning to end. (I often joke “Time for the best part of the day” whenever we switch from something we love doing, like drinking coffee and tea together, to something else we love doing, like playing the piano together.)

But we are working, both of us, on figuring out how to get to the truth of things — which is almost as important as getting to the truth of things.

Tonight, for example, we’re going to talk about when (or how often) we should play through the piano duet we’re learning (vs. practicing, woodshedding, solving problems). Does playing before you’re ready reinforce mistakes that you’ll have to unlearn later, or does it give you the opportunity to do a high-level assessment of the piece and take notes of the parts that need the most work? Is it a good way to practice listening to each other, or does the fact that part of your brain is stuck on “I’m still guessing my way through this section” make it impossible to listen to each other?

We don’t see eye-to-eye on this, which means we’re probably not looking at the same thing.

And I am delighted to see what we discover together, because we’re probably going to come up with some way to change what we’re doing that will get us closer to both “our goal of learning La Valse” and “the musicians/duet partners we want to become.”

(I’m also delighted that I found an example of correct vs. overcorrect from my own life that had nothing to do with my bowels.)

It makes me wonder if choosing the correct path (vs. the overcorrect one) is easier when you’re working with someone you trust and/or love.

Maybe I’ll write about that later this week, after L and I have taken some time to test the theory. ❤️