Home And My People

tmp_5400-travel-quote-1-21-141032489725Being new to Houston, I was amused to find out there is a “Houston, we have a problem” festival! Hmm… somebody has a sense of humor. Good omen :-)

I hit my new city last Friday. Yes, I missed the floods. No, I did not miss the heat and the humidity and from what everyone tells me, “I ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

But really, how much can the weather influence any of our decisions? (OK, I know – it can and it does, but I am being positively upbeat here). So, Houston, here I am – yet another city in my book of cities I’ve lived in.

Newness does not bother me. I have lived in many continents and countries, and I wear a watch that shows multiple time zones. I’m really good at calculating time differences as my mother and so many of my friends live thousands of miles away, and I usually start getting birthday wishes several hours before my birthday, from friends farther east than me.

I am a TCK a.k.a Third Culture Kid. Over the years, I have learned to adjust and adapt and enjoy the ride of the bumpy transition to the “foreigness,” the new, the unknown. For me, the move is simply a boost to my thirst for exploring new things. Yes, there is uncertainty and anxiety and a certain dose of adrenaline for conquering yet another milestone on my internal mapping.

Plenty of difficulties from making sure the phone has enough battery or you can plug it into a car charger as you drive everywhere with Google Maps; your anchor safe zones need to be reinvented so you can feel safe in certain routines which will take some time to fall back into the normalcy of the daily schedule; your best friend is sleeping when you wake up and vice versa so you have to wait to share whatever news…

It’s not easy but having my son and his family here and especially the new guy in my life – my six month old grandson – makes it worth trying.

I miss my other home. I miss all the people I love – my people – who are not close by. I miss the blue Aegean waters, the sunsets, the views and hundreds of little and bigger things. And then, I also cherish these things I find here which are not over there, on the other side, the other home on the other side of the Atlantic and my other set of homies on the West Coast where my daughter now is.

But over the years, I’ve learned that home is not a place, only where the people you love, are. And I am so grateful to have my people … anywhere they are.

 

Lies, Truths, Life

“How good of a liar are you?” I was giving a talk last week in front of a group of smart young aspiring entrepreneurs – and we were discussing the pros and cons of opening up to people you don’t really know. I challenged them while asking them to lie. Yes, lie!

While we all lie – from little lies to bigger lies to twists and turns and small distortions which end up making the conventional parts of our lives – we also learn to cut through the BS of small talk, boasting, “politicking” and spin. And in order to know the truth and what’s real you need to experience the lie. The exercise was not a morality test but an experiment in getting out of your comfort zone, listening, being bold, being you while keeping your shyness. It was a debate on the axioms “cash is king” versus “people are kings.” It was all about business – yet the art of business cannot be an art without the people who make art out of their business.

Pamela Meyer, author of Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception gives her analysis in her TED talk:

“… When you combine the science of recognizing deception with the art of looking, listening, you exempt yourself from collaborating in a lie. You start up that path of being just a little bit more explicit, because you signal to everyone around you, you say, “Hey, my world, our world, it’s going to be an honest one. My world is going to be one where truth is strengthened and falsehood is recognized and marginalized.” And when you do that, the ground around you starts to shift just a little bit…”

So, just learn to shift through the sand – pause and think and never take anything for granted. But don’t neglect to shut out negativity: 100 people could tell you how freaking amazing you look today, but if one person says you look like crap, those 100 positive messages won’t matter. And it’s up to you to figure out those truths that matter and the lies that don’t.

Change

changeGreeks were loud and clear yesterday. Political ideologies aside, they voted for change.

The range of emotions is interestingly distended.  Elation, fear, excitement, trepidation, anger, disappointment. It’s understandable: It’s a huge change and it will take time to adjust and absorb the transitory loss of balance.

Dodging risks and seeking rewards are prioritized differently by different people. Some of us are less risk averse than others. In my book, I don’t want “to be neither scared stiff by too much novelty and change nor bored by too little.”

Winifred Gallagher’s New: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change” gives some interesting perspective.

“…Like individuals, societies struggle to balance the need to survive, which prioritizes safety and stability, with the desire to thrive, which requires stimulation and exploration. For most of history, this tug-of-war has inclined cultural change, like the biological sort, to occur not in a smooth progression but in an uneven, unpredictable process, of fits and starts that scientists call punctuated equilibrium. Something new, whether climate change, an important tool such as the plow or computer, or a political upheaval, prompts a period of innovation that takes a society to the next level…”

So, while the dizziness from the sleepless election night has not yet faded, manage the fear of the newness. Make sure you give yourself time to think. Try and understand if you’re talking about something you really know something about or if you’re just regurgitating some talking head you heard on the news last night or this morning. Especially that…

Uncertainty: Just like rock-climbing

A friend sent me something about dyno today – a movement in rock climbing where the climber must let go of everything, leaping through mid-air in order to surpass an otherwise insurmountable obstacle. Sscareince I am not a rock-climber I took it figuratively and did my usual imaginary leap. After all, this is the Age of Uncertainty.

Living in Greece the feeling is exacerbated by political and economic turmoil and impending change. National elections this coming Sunday is all we all talk about. Yes, the public agenda is dominated by possibilities, exit polls, prognostications, doomsday scenarios, “Grexit” speculation and future outcomes. And the cacophony of politicians is deafening while our brains are desperate for some quiet time to reflect and regroup.

And here comes the rock-climbing and the jump, the dyno, the forward movement on the hard rocky surface of our reality. We each have our own dyno move inside us. Take it as the equivalent rock-climbing ‘thing,” our risk, our leap, our bet with our own limits.

“…If you have ever had the chance to watch elite climbers, you can see that their climbing looks graceful, effortless, almost like a surreal dance. How can they hold onto seemingly nothing at impossibly steep angles? How do they move from those unimaginable positions to other equally unimaginable positions further up the wall? ­­Aside from having a very advanced level of fitness, they have mastered several essential skillsets that allow them to climb in the most effective ways possible. Fine-tuning these skillsets, or techniques, allows them to ascend through a series of moves with optimum efficiency. The utilization of energy in the most efficient manner is the driving principle behind elite climbing technique…”

So, what will it take to take advantage of our own energy? Won’t life will go on regardless of the election outcome? We will do what we all must do to go on.

While crystal balls tend to be inaccurate plenty of times, our own intuition, awareness, flexibility, creativity and consideration of alternatives and possibilities can help us. The better we understand the forces that shape our lives, the better we can exercise some control over them. The pain is unavoidable and sometimes necessary. People change when the pain of the status quo becomes greater than the fear of making the change. And yes, the possibility of crashing down hard is real.

But maybe once in a while, just think like a rock climber – and try practicing your own dynamic jump.

Grandparent Dilemma

thano and baby

Meet my brand new grandson with his dad!

He was born less than two days ago, a healthy 8lbs 1 oz little boy. I skyped into the birth room a few minutes after his birth. Not being there to share in the joy of holding him was weirdly painful, the feeling of a bottomless pit in the depths of my core. He is my son’s son; he is my first grandchild and I wasn’t there because we live a continent away and we had planned the trip around the delivery date – of course not knowing exactly when he would arrive. I will be there in a couple of days but this – now – seems so not enough!

Not being present in your kid’s most important moment is one of the hardest and most painful choices a parent can make. And this is not as innocent as all the ballet and soccer games you might have missed because of meetings going overboard.

Having kids very young is fantastic (it was for me). However, this also implies that the role of grand parenting has gone from the traditional model of white haired benevolent old grannies and grandpas to active middle-aged folks who have other obligations, responsibilities and as an extension, choices to make. And hence, the grandparents’ dilemma!

I think about him and my son and daughter-in-law all the time, living in their timezone – carrying around my cell with all the gadgets and the portable technology that allows me to be hooked into their lives.

Hindsight is easy and beating yourself over something that was done is not helpful so I am trying to get some sense into me as I am writing this. I love my son – and raising him to value his family and his child the way he does is partly attributed to the way he was raised. I am proud of him for who he is, his vulnerabilities, his tenderness, protectiveness and toughness. He fell in love with his son – and he brings tears to my eyes as he is describing his perfect baby to me. I teased him yesterday saying that my son was much better looking than his. He simply answered: “Just wait till you hold him.” I raised him to be wise. I know he is right and I can’t wait to admit it.

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