The 5 Ds

No, not Dodgeball. Time management. And since I am often starved for time, I need to do this all too often. This applies when you’re presented with a choice of competing events for time.

I say 5, when the larger view is that there are only 4. I’ll explain the 4 first.

DO

The act of doing the task. Most people time this at the 2 minute mark, if you can get it done in that time, then do it. Being a good writer helps tremendously on this, as you can do more in 2 minutes. My personal bar is closer to 5 minutes, given the types of decisions I need to make and associated actions.

DEFER

Things that take longer to do but you don’t have time to do them. Work-related, this is a rather big pile. I have a fully booked schedule to track piles of activities, and a tracking sheet for outstanding items. Woooo is this a big pile.

DELETE

Most people struggle with this one. We are inundated with requests and many of them can be ignored. If I’m not in the TO field, I don’t need to do the work and I move on. I get dozens of requests from vendors to meet them, I ignore most of those too. I tend to hoard information though, so while I may ignore it, I don’t necessarily delete it.

DELEGATE

This doesn’t only apply to management roles. Let’s say I have repairs to do, I can do most of them myself but I know that the finishing work takes a PILE of time and I’d look at my mistakes for years. So I’ll end up paying someone to do that work for me. In group games, there’s a ton of delegation. Raid leaders know this all too well.

The Fifth

This is where people get stuck, and it’s the ability to decide. Too often people get paralyzed with a decision to make and end up not making one at all. There’s the flip side where people make decisions too hastily and come to regret the outcomes. The act itself is a skill, rather than an outcome, and everyone needs their own practice and set of rules. What I may delegate, another may do.

Back from vacation, I have ~750 emails to get through, which isn’t too bad at all compared to a normal work week. A lot of them are more of the FYI type, but there are a couple in there where I was tasked with work in the future. In a lot of cases, I will delete those actions because the folks can’t understand how an Out of Office / delegate system works. They will ask for a status update and I will just say “did you send it to my clearly indicated delegate?”. A small but important amount will be generic tasks, like performance target updates that are for a larger group, including me.

Over time I’ve become better at time management. Maybe a tad too good at times, and managing expectations becomes complicated. What I can do in 2 hours may take a team member a week to follow through. I know a guy who can put baseboards on an entire floor faster than a team of 5 amateurs can do it. The larger challenge them becomes in delegating, and ensuring the people who do need to do the work are trained/coached along so they get better over time. It takes time, but the payoff is immense. Less work for me, more experience for them, and we get to build a relationship from it.

And that’s my work goal for the rest of this calendar. In the personal space… that’s a really open question. More of a team game there.

Back Into the Fire

Two weeks of vacation isn’t enough – I’ll just put it as plain as that. The first week was all renovations, the second was rain pretty much every day. It wasn’t office work, granted, and I was able to disconnect from email/chat for that time, but it wasn’t what I’d consider a break. When I did get back to the house, the back to school stuff was needed, our fridge needs to be replaced, and my Raider laptop has 4 faulty keys. First world problems much.

The Laptop Keyboard

I have a GE75 Raider, it’s a bit over a year old. The ESC, ~, Y and numpad 5 are not working for some reason. I checked the mechanical parts, everything is fine. The backlight is fine too. I figure I’ll order a new keyboard and replace it. But the GE75 is too new, so I’m rather looking for replacement parts for a GE73 (1yr earlier model). Most ship from China, but I did find one at a reasonable price nearby.

I’ve built my own PCs for years. I’ve repaired numerous laptops. Keyboard on laptops are the absolute worst thing to replace, since you need to take everything out. The GE75 has 2 hidden screws, or hidden in a way that you can’t really get to them without taking more parts first. I was really hoping not to have to take the fan off, and just the board, but everything is glued to something else. The form factor is so small, there are cables connected to both sides of the main board, and I always felt like I was breaking something. Finally get to the keyboard case and there’s a damn shield covering it. One that’s set with plastic rivets. It’s impossible for me to repair without breaking a pile more.

So now I need to find a shop that can do the work for me.

Stardew Valley

I use gaming as stress management. I picked up Stardew Valley for my tablet a while ago, never really got into it. Given the past few weeks, I took it for a spin.

It’s certainly calming. Managing energy levels to get through a day is a fun set of constraints. It’s impossible to lose, which is also good for stress. What it has a bit too much of is breadth to start. There are so, so many objectives that are possible, and nearly all of them are gated behind multiple days of work. They are optional, but they often unlock some other activity – like a greenhouse that grows plants year long.

The gameplay is such that you always get that “one more day” drive. Nearly every action can be automated in some manner, but that requires materials/money. Getting that also takes time and months of in-game effort. The systems are intertwined, and not easily explained, making wiki almost mandatory.

Not saying that’s a bad thing, just that sometimes I end up hitting a wall cause I can’t figure out how the next step completes. Say like a fish that only shows up when raining in the summer, at night, at a lake. How am I supposed to know that?

It is fun to discover new things. Realizing that almost everything has a value aside from money. It’s a drastic departure from most modern games, what with the grey/green/purple quality info. Once into the groove, things start working out.

I’m starting Spring in year 2 now. I understand enough of the mechanics now to close out the community Center this year and those extra unlocks. It’s fun setting up long term goals, then the short term ones as steps.

Plus it has fishing.

Impromptu Vacation

After going full bore and filling every weekend with something, I was finally able to negotiate some time off. 2 weeks worth of full break mode. A few hours after I had confirmed it, my wife sends me a picture of the cottage and it’s leaky roof. And some carpenter ants having fun under a large window set. Guess the vacation would be postponed.

The first weekend was some friends helping get the demo & framing done. The supporting joists were rotten, a separate set of windows was crooked, and an inside wall had suffered years of water damage. All of Saturday was fixing the exterior, straightening the wall, levelling the windows, insulating, and closing up with OSB/Tyvek. The large window repairs included cutting 8” of the floor. The ceiling over the dining area was full of years of mouse trappings. Holy moley. Sunday was setting new window trim for the siding. And then watching the roof repairs not work as expected and it leak inside the house.

Monday was more roof repairs and fixing the interior wall. I should mention it was a load bearing wall, and right on the load. Father-in-law is more than handy and it was a day and a half of work to get it sorted out. The good news is that even with the hose spraying the roof, the leaks are gone.

Tuesday was clean up work outside, shoring up the retaining wall in the crawl space, caulking and filling in holes.

Wednesday was about rebuilding the interior finish. Some white pine tongue & groove, over a cedar plank to cover the cut floor. The rad was going to cover the plank anyhow. With the large wood shortages around, we opted for some 1×5” pine trim. Looks pretty good.

Thursday was about finishing the ceiling in the dining area that had leaked. That was a very cathartic part of the project since its the room we tend to spend the most time in. The same large trim is on the ceiling, just as on the window trim. It’s a different look on the windows, since they are not the same size (off an 1 1/2”), but it still retains the cottage / wood look.

Friday was OFF, as was Saturday. Sunday was mostly off, but we needed to expand the size of the door on the shed by about 9”. A shed that’s 30+ years old, and far from level. Building on anything that’s not level is really hard, cause there’s no easy cuts, everything must be eyeballed. We opted to shore up some parts, shave some parts, and make it as level as possible.

Things that are left to do this week:

  • Put up the vinyl (should be here for next weekend)
  • Rebuild 2 access doors to the crawl space (4×4), including the framing)
  • Add some panels and caps to the extended shed door to close off the gaps
  • Install a 4×8 wood panel sheet on a rebuilt wall
  • Install quarter round in the living/dining room ceilings
  • Spread out the fill that’s in a few piles around to level the yard, which includes removing a good half ton of river rock (we have a homemade shaker)

And before end of season

  • Install some new rain gutters
  • Replace the roof
  • Install a vent in the crawl space

The end goal is that most people won’t see a large difference in the cottage, except some new colours. We will see doors that close level, windows that slide level, less water all over the place, and a shed door that is miles easier to get into / out of.

Oh, and get some fishing in too!

The High Road

The problem with the high road is that so few people take it.

Over the years I’ve learned to split off things that matter, and things that don’t.  That also applies to people.  I know what’s important to me, what makes those around me happy, and that’s really enough to get me through the day.  I trust the people close to me, enough to have honest conversations on pretty much any topic.  I’m more than willing to help people out… last weekend the plans changed from playing golf to building a shed, and I didn’t really see an issue with that.

I noted earlier that I have been fortunate to own and have access to other cottages.  Access to those other cottages means that I can let people use mine.  This year, a lot of people are under cabin fever, so that’s a boon to them.

Prior context – we took a weekend to lift the cottage and install some weeping tile (~250′).  The doors close better.  Water weeps better.  Some parts of the cottage necessarily have new gaps that we’re going to discover.

The first group had a blast.  They went through a cord and a half of wood in something like 3 days (if you burn wood, you know how crazy that is).  No issues, came back, and things were super clean and orderly.

Second group also had a great time.  We got a few messages from them about things they did – like finding a wasp’s nest, or a light fixture not working.  They even attempted to change the light.  They are also super clean and make sure things are as they left.

Fifth group is great.  They just needed some time away from the city and some calm.  No challenges.

Fourth group encountered some challenges.  The BBQ was missing some gas, and even then wasn’t rolling 100%.  There was a communication challenge as well, related to the third group.  Still, a rather good experience

The third.  While there, the messages were great, no issues.  I’m not sure what happened between group 3 and 4, but that didn’t go as smoothly as it could have.  Not bad, just not as smooth as all the others.  We did get a follow-up from group 3 afterwards.  That was a weird one.  Some out of left field comments on the maintenance of the cottage.  A point that there was a leak inside the cottage during the rain.  Things that make you go “hmmm”.  Especially considering the weekend of gold/shed building would have moved to repairing this issue ASAP.

The highroad in this is what happens after my stomach turns to knots and I take a dozen deep breaths.  I would have absolutely taken a different approach than group 3, and some of the comments are without any weight.  It’s a cottage.  I really don’t care what one group thinks of cosmetics, when I have no issues with 4 others.  The high road here is to thank them for the information, let others know there may be some issues to look out for, and then head up on the weekend to do the necessary investigation / repairs.   The roof was already planned to be redone in the fall, when it wasn’t a heat wave.  Siding was another project to do, and then there’s some landscaping to close out the fall and finalize in early spring.

I guess I’m getting more mature.  When I was younger I’d have no issues letting my opinions be shared.  But there’s no real end point here than two sides that don’t agree on something banal. Or maybe I’m just tired of the energy required to have those arguments.  On to the next project.

Back in the Saddle

I am extremely fortunate to both own, and have access to other cottages.  I’d guess I’ve only slept in my own bed 5 times in the last 6 weeks.  While I’m thankful to be back in my own bed, I can say I did enjoy the experience all the same.  The only downside was that I didn’t get any time off in that span.  Some things at work popped up, and I had to cancel/defer the planned time off .  It sucks massively when you have to work while the kids and friends are spending days in the sun/water having a blast.  The evenings were good though – more than good given the work stress.  I’m happy I do have a job, but the work/life stuff isn’t all that pleasant at the moment.

There’s something to be said about being so busy you can’t really think straight.  A firefighter putting out a blaze isn’t worry about their credit card balance, right?  Well, eventually things stop being on fire and bills start showing up.  My team’s response to COVID has had some significant costs, but the real financial kicker is the use of all the services.  We blew through a year’s worth of budget in 2-3 months, so I need to find more money, and soon.  Compounded by annual budget cycles, all I’m seeing now is requests for funding.  Making that even worse is that the key people to make sense of those files are as burnt out as I am (or worse) and we all need a good break.  We need some light to shine before the regular September rush starts us all back again.

That rough aside, I do have to say I’ve more than enjoyed the time I have had with my family these past few months.  Seeing both my kids grow before my eyes is something I could never buy.  Camping out under the stars, tubing like madwomen, seeing them interact and help other kids to learn new skills.. all of it amazing to see.  And my wife’s ability to manage the household chaos while I’m neck deep in work.  Holy crud she can make things happen.  “We need to work on the cottage foundation”.  2 days later, the equipment is rented, the material bought, and time blocked to do the work. 4 days after that, ALL the work is done.   Never would have happened with anyone else, just a machine.

This week is going to be a rest week.  Finally mow the lawn.  Get some sleep.  Drink (a bit) less beer.  Then likely get back at it the weeks that follow until the chaos of the school year begins.

Inference

Since the last post was on communication, this post continues that trend as it’s a part that  frankly appears to be an art more than a skill.

Inference is often just reading between the lines.  For a person receiving a message, they need to understand both the speaker’s intent and be attentive to the message.  For a person giving a message, they need to manage the expectations of the audience.

I still recall an old example from uni, based on a sentence structure.  The italics represent the focus on a given word, then the inference from the statement.  First the base statement.

  • You should not steal these books.

Simple enough.  Don’t steal those books. Let’s focus on each word now.

  • You should not steal theses books.

Infer that you shouldn’t do this, but someone else can.

  • You should not steal these books.

Infers this is a suggestion only. If it was must not, then you can’t at all.  But if you have a good reason, then do so.

  • You should not steal these books.

Don’t steal them, but you can burn them, take them, draw in them, etc…

  • You should not steal these books.

Those other ones are OK.

Inflection & Tone

As much as it’s what’s said, it’s how it’s said that really matters.  The verbal aspect applies  a significant amount of context and impact to a given message.  The non-verbal items also add a lot, as you can tell from facial expression and hand gestures where the key points are of a given message.  I’ve often said there’s more in a raised eyebrow than there is in a book.

Monotone orators, or those with nasal inflections make for tough speakers.  There’s only so much Ben Stein I can take in a day.

Brevity vs. Discourse

The length of a message also has a lot of inference.  Very short messages are often seen as poignant and commanding.  They are important.  Very long messages that meander (like Grampa Simpson) lose the audience’s attention and key bits are just ignored.  The quality of the speaker has a huge impact on the value of that time.  Great storytellers could go for hours and I’d be at edge of seat.  Poor speakers I’ve had enough after 5 minutes.  The “umm, ok, ahh,like” speakers drive me right up the wall.  I try to give a lot of feedback on this part of oration to my team members… it makes a world of difference.

Written Form

I would hope that in all our mind’s eye we have a picture of a good speaker and a poor one.  From a writing perspective, we all have our own preferences.  The above items still apply, where the method of the message has a larger impact than the subject.  Simple things like italics, semi-colons… heck, even just the number of words in a given sentence do more for me than the material.  It’s sort of like food.  It could taste amazing, but if it doesn’t look good, then I won’t enjoy it.

Infer

Back to the actual subject now.  There are multiple levers to get a message across, and the giver intends and how the receiver captures.  Even if everyone posted on the same topic, every blogger would have their own interpretation and message.  Some prefer to add a lot of screenshots to get a point across, others prefer walls of text.  Some clearly do a QA parse, others it’s first draft every time.  When a blogger differs from their “normal” style, it’s quite interesting to read through.  Yet the key here is that most bloggers I read are not trying to sway any particular opinion, they don’t have an agenda, they are just sharing cause they want to.  Big difference from traditional print, or even online news (Buzzfeed’s eternal search for clicks).

I could go into the subtleties of writing, where there are hidden messages in the actual message.  But that’s borderline spin, and I think we all have enough of that on a daily basis.  For this post, it’s just about being conscious of a writer’s style, and how that style itself frames a given message.

 

Communication Skills

The gamer stereotype of basement dwellers was fairly accurate in the early 90s/00s.  The explosion of acceptable geek, online communities, and now streaming has flipped that around.  Likely the most communicative people you find are going to be gamers.  Sort of begs the question if the issue was the people, or the medium.  I’d like to think it’s both.

Gamers traditionally want to share, rather than hear the sound of their own voice.  LAN parties, D&D sessions and whatnot.  Traditional media is one way, lacking any true sense of feedback or dialogue.  Bring in the interwebs and now there are platforms to share, and kablooey, here we are.  Social media was birthed from that mindset.  (Another topic as to what it’s warped into.)

I work in an IT field.  Communication skills are, for the most part, lacking.  Oh, they are all over social media, but they’ve modified their methods to fit the tool.  If it isn’t done in 140 characters, the interest is lost. The concept of long form, or complex dialogue is not something new hires have experience.  And because they generally value their online identity more than the message, they take a fair a lot of insult at any pushback.  It’s hard to block your boss after all.

Just the general concept of thinking before speaking seems to be a lost art.  I can see it in their eyes, all of a sudden they realize what’s come out and silence comes along, or some stuttering.  I don’t mind thinking out loud, that’s a good way to build up an idea with other people. But there are parts of a person’s life that I really don’t need to know about.

I’m clearly getting old here.  I’m in the middle of the workforce in terms of age, but there are many more generations of communications younger than me than older.  Google is older than some of my employees.  And I have students that are as old as Facebook.  Means that when I’m having a large group session, I need to apply a half dozen communication techniques to make sure everyone gets it.

There’s some irony to this topic appearing on a blog, as the audience is likely going to be people who already present long form ideas.   It’s one of the many reason I still blog, keeping that part of the brain active without it being loaded with work-related items.  It’s just an interesting fact that I’ve come to realize… as much as I spent effort building ideas, I spend quite a bit of effort communicating them.  Cause even the best idea in the world won’t go anywhere if people aren’t hearing about it.

Shadowlands – Meh

Legion worked primarily because it was a fresh breath of air on the WoD structure.  It had a big focus on the world and story, added new life to dungeons (with keys), and had a pile of horizontal stuff along the way.  The main gaps were around the abundance of RNG on game-changing items (good vs. bad legendaries).  There were challenges when it came to alts, and even larger challenges when it came to different specs.

BfA rubbed the wrong way because rather than build on that model, it opted to add multiple levels of RNG to pretty much every system.  Instead of targeting vertical progression, a wide swath of activities actually had a negative progress curve. The balance from launch improved the RNG, dramatically.  Multiple activities provide progress towards goals, which is mechanically solid.  What remains is Blizz’s frankly bonkers approach to balancing those options.  Multi-spec characters really took a beating here, since skills were locked into gear.  Felt like time travel.

Which brings me to Shadowlands.

There are multiple systems here that appear solid at the conceptual level.  It appears to be the merger of factions and talents, which seems a somewhat logical point in 2020.  It appears to provide rewards outside the gear, also good.  It has a visible progress line, compared to a roll of the die for the next upgrade, great.

Where the gap is for me, and from various blogs I appear to not be alone, is in the Blizz approach to balancing these choices.  Sure, there’s the meta, and there will always be a meta.  It’s 2020 for crying out loud.  No, what I’m getting at is that the illusion of choice due to poor balancing.  If your job is healing, then there are no choices but those that increase healing.  If you need movement for 1 fight out of 10, but it takes you a week to get access to that skill… well then you don’t take that skill.

I keep using the word balance, but we only ever think of one side of that scale – the one we are evaluating.  The measure on the opposite end is even more important.  If I am balancing a skill, we all have to agree on what’s the counterweight, the baseline.  Blizz has a habit of making that weight equal to 100% optimal use in mythic difficulty.  They will eventually reduce that, but it takes time.  The amount of time that takes, and the level, directly impacts the importance of the meta.

Further, the internal testing/beta process is clearly broken.  The massive nerfs applied to corruption effects once live show that clearly. Everyone was given a choice between a tactical nuke, and a rake.  I get that nothing is perfect, I more than get that.  That’s my everyday life, ugh.  You need to iterate, that’s normal.  But BfA didn’t have a single system that launched in an “acceptable” state, everything felt rushed.  I will be the first to admit that nearly every system improved over time, but that level of improvement is typicall in the beta process… not live.

My newsfeed has a ton of Shadowlands stuff.   Beta is live.  Core systems (like conduits) are already going back to the drawing board.  The speed of that change means that Blizz didn’t really think it was going to fly anyhow.  The selling features of this expansion are really twofold.  That this covenant system works (and is therefore balanced) and that the Maw has some sort of attraction to do on a regular basis.  As of now, in beta, where the excitement should be high, it’s instead very muted.  It’s very reminiscent of the BfA beta vibe.

Maybe we do end up with the A/B cycle of good/bad expansions.  I hope so more for Blizzard’s sake than my own.  There are a lot of eyes on this expansion, and if the cash cow that is WoW no longer produces, we are all aware that Mr. Kotick is more than willing to take action to solve it.  Way too many people lose in that event.

Anxiety

Let’s just get to it.  I have anxiety.  You have anxiety.  Everyone has anxiety.  It’s normal.  The difference between us is how that anxiety is triggered, and what we do about it.  This post is primarily a result of Belghast’s.

Anxiety is the fear of what’s to come, and you’re stressful reaction to that idea.  There are some more common things, like a job interview, a first date, a performance.  The outcome of that activity is likely to have some “major” consequences and your mind just goes racing at all the options.  Some people decide to focus on the worst outcomes, others get paralyzed with all the options, others end up in this rabbit hole of outcomes.  Like a first date goes well and they are thinking about kid names.

I used to suffer tremendously from anxiety.  It wasn’t debilitating, to the point where I didn’t take action.  It was to the point where my mind just wouldn’t shut off.  It was like being in one of those amusement funhouse mirror mazes.  I’d see infinite copies of me, in all sorts of situations.  I’d navigate through it, find the one I wanted to be, and sort of “took over” that role.  The best analogy I can apply to this is that me, as a core, stayed the same.  What happened was that I applied a sort of filter onto the core, and let certain aspects through given the particular issue.  So the hard-ass version of me in areas where I needed to exert control, but otherwise would be put aside.

The challenge here is that I started depending on some roles more than others.  Instead of picking the “best” role for a given problem, I’d pick one that was easier and hit it at like, 80%.  Not through laziness, but sheer exhaustion from having so many roles asking different levels of energy.  I got really far in life using that model, but reached a point where it just wasn’t sustainable.  People around me were suffering for those impacts.

I went and got counselling.  Won’t sugar coat it, it took a while to find one I liked.  Most were OK.  Some were just horrible.  My wife has one, and we shared her for couples counselling.  She’s ok, but I really struggle to take advice on child raising from someone without kids.  I did eventually find someone who shared some life experiences and followed the Adler train of thought on psychology.

This whole thing coincided with a really rough patch in my relationship with my wife, and a burnout at work.  Life gave me a few hints about it, but life never really gives up.  Either you learn, or it just hits harder the next time.  I went to counselling, I made an effort to be honest, and a larger effort to take it all seriously.  I had help setting new priorities, applying different techniques.  I refocused on what mattered, and learned to accept “what’s the worst that can happen, and can I live with it”.  That mindset liberated me.

In my line of work, this type of service counts are health services.  A portion of the costs were covered by work, and I footed the remainder of the bill.  I didn’t pay through the nose either – there are some insanely expensive options.  Makes little sense to create financial anxiety.  I understand that not everyone has my flexibility in this manner.  That said, if you’re in a position where you’re conscious of your mental health, there’s a darn good chance you have the means to address it.  If you’re worried about putting food on the table, mental health is not a priority – nor should it be.

In the world today, there’s more than enough to drive people over the edge.  It claws at our sanity.  But it’s a choice.  If the news is draining you, then you probably should stop reading the news for a bit.  If your social media feed gets your blood boiling, then you need to clean it up.  Everyone has that crazy uncle/aunt/friend who’s a few cards short of a deck.  Cutting Facebook entirely is massive peace of mind.  I rarely seek out things on Twitter.  I practice mindful meditation steps (I don’t sit on a mat for an hour), by taking a few minutes while I brush my teeth in the morning and evening.

This long post to come to a simple fact.  I am not alone.  You are not alone.  Everyone has challenges.  There are plenty of options out there to address them.  They will not show up to your door – and with a tiny amount of effort, it may end up changing your life for the better.

Imagine

I like to live in the near future, the spot where tomorrow’s ideas can be implemented and used.  It’s a practical lens to dreaming.  Rather than say “I wish I was a millionaire”, I’d go something like “I want a boat”.  I may not get one tomorrow, but I should be able to get one in a few months.

The upside to this approach is that all of my goals are achievable.  They may push me to uncomfortable limits, but I do get there.  Maybe I have to learn a new skill, maybe I have to make some new contacts.  It’s still doable, and the bar is far enough that I feel some level of content having reached it.

The downside to this approach is that the ideas are less grand, they are more restrictive.  There’s less freedom to explore an idea, because dreams are often gapped by the unpractical.

So let’s say I want to be an astronaut.  Awesome dream, every kid seems to go through that phase.  Well, I’d have to go back to school and get a double PHD.  I’d have to quit my job to do that in time, which would be a financial burden.  I’d spend less time with my family and having “fun” on a day to day basis.  The goal itself would demand too high a sacrifice.

Let’s say I just want to be a pilot.  Well that’s pretty simple, I just go an take some lessons, get enough training hours in the air, and bob’s your uncle.  Would cost a ton, but could dramatically save on travel time to the cottage up North.

The practical aspect of my brain causes me to put up guiderails on any idea generated.  Advantage that I can see permutations of a problem and can rapidly think of mitigations.  Work has honed that skill to a fine edge.  But it’s still there.  From a day to day view, this is fine.  It “grounds” the family to stability and structure, while still moving everything forward.

Yet I’m aware that it stifles creativity.  Not in the sense that ideas can’t gestate, but that the BIG ideas, the ones that are a little bit more on the crazy side, they just get dismissed unconsciously.  I need some meat on that idea, to feel it out in my brain, to see that it’s somewhere in the realm of possible.  This gets worse the more I know about a given subject, since I’m well versed in the variables to make something work.  The curse of experience as it were.

Which brings me to a larger point, of kids imaginations.  The general lack of constraint, of limits in a kid’s head is almost surreal.  They’ll think of a Liger and go “where can I find one”.  Or they’ll draw a picture of a dog in space and figure their own internal logistics to accomplish the feat.  A simple stick can be a lightsaber, a mattress and covers a fortress against monsters.  Just so many things that make you go “hmm”, then smile cause it doesn’t really matter if they enjoy it.  Then think back as to when you lost that spark.

It’s a rambling bit for sure.  I’ve spent the fair chunk of 4 months now, every day surrounded by these little lovable buggers.  You don’t quite realize the fun in an item until you’re given the chance to step back.  I need to train myself a bit more to get out of the way, and simply enjoy the ride, rather than the destination.  Realizing that kids have way more to teach us than we give them credit for.