The ‘gap’ offers answers

Over the past several months as I pondered the future of the Field of Steve podcast, I decided I wanted the main “Field of Steve” page to be the podcast page. That meant I would need to take this blog and give it a new address. I knew that would be FieldofSteve.com/blog. Not a real stretch.

The stretch for a guy like me, though, is in handling the IT work necessary to make the change. One day I might have someone handle the web presence. But a successful $300 Kickstarter campaign doesn’t quite get me there. So I do this work myself.

Some of the first steps came easy. I created a subdirectory, a task not at all within my comfort zone. Then I struggled, but figured out how to load WordPress onto that directory and export all the content from one site to another. I messed up, though, when I tried to delete the content from the old site and ended up deleting all of it. And I probably wasted an hour trying in vain, struggling to think of a solution, to fix the problem.

Eventually I stepped away from the task, calling on something I remembered reading from Deepak Chopra in Creating Affluence. Here it is from the audio version:

“Perhaps you recall an instance when you were trying to remember a name, and you struggled and struggled but with no success. Finally you let go of your attachment to the outcome and then a little while later the name flashed across the screen of your consciousness.

“This is the mechanics for the fulfillment of any desire. When you were struggling to recall the name the mind was very active and turbulent. But ultimately, out of fatigue and frustration ,you let go and the mind became quiet, and slowly quieter. And perhaps so quiet that it was almost still and you slipped into the gap, where you released your desire and soon it was handed to you.”

This is called “stepping into the gap” between thoughts. You stop fixating on the task and solutions appear. You might not know how this works, but you know it does.

I went downstairs, got a snack and parked myself in front of the TV for the final three episodes of The West Wing. Sometime during all of that, and I can’t recall how, the term “uninstall” came to me. When the shows were over I went upstairs and found out how to uninstall the WordPress blogs from both places, then reinstalled it and put all the content back.

It took just a few minutes.

The second issue came with moving the podcast from TheNarrativeArts.com to FieldofSteve.com. At one point I thought I would have to essentially recreate every page, including loading the podcasts from my computer to the site. Knowing that would take way more time then I already wanted to on a night I was already up way too late, I threw up and “under construction” notice on the page and linked to the blog and the place where the old podcasts were.

Yesterday at the day job, while working on something else I began wondering if it could be as simple as dragging folders from one place to another. I went home and tried it.

It was.

By stepping away from the task I had stepped into the gap between thoughts and twice found solutions I couldn’t get through struggle.

You need instructions? Chopra provided them:

Step 1: You slip into the gap between thoughts. The gap is the window, the corridor, the transformational vortex through which the personal psyche communicates with the cosmic psyche.

Step 2: You have a clear intention of a clear goal in the gap.

Step 3: You relinquish you attachment to the outcome, because chasing the outcome or getting attached to it entails coming out of the gap.

Step 4: You let the universe handle the details.

Another New York story

More than 20 years ago Bart Hatch, a friend and coworker, and I wandered around parts of Times Square looking for the place another coworker and friend of ours, Brian Watkins, had been killed the week before. I talked about that in the first story on this podcast. It’s a story worth hearing. It was a moment when I discovered the gigantic size of New York City’s heart.

Also worth hearing is this story at the end of this post, one from The Moth that was rebroadcast on Sunday, March 24. It’s another story that shows you how special New York City is.

Growing up near Los Angeles I wanted to believe my hometown was the greatest in the U.S. For that reason I resented New York City. Now, years later and living near Seattle, I’ve changed my mind about New York. I want the Yankees to be good, and I suppose I want them to win it all every once in a while. That way I can justify my hatred for them. In 1996 I had reached a point where I felt sorry for the Yanks. That is no way to feel about the signature team from the city I see as the center of the universe. I love New York. I don’t believe I would ever want to live there, but I am so glad so many people do. That many people in such a small place creates the kind of humanity you find from someone like Ed Gavagan.

My son the pteridophobic

My son Apollo is a mega boy and fears little, but what he does fear he does so with gusto. He is 5 years old and doesn’t fear the street, backtalking us, arguing with his brother and sister and climbs trees with abandon. The fireworks we hear in our neighborhood scare him a little, but for most things he’s perfectly unaware of any danger. When we were in Las Vegas and Southern Utah he had no fear of the cactus.

Get him around ferns, however, and he is paralyzed.

The picture that goes with this post is from our Thursday trip to the former Elwha Dam, which was blasted to turn back into a river, restoring historic salmon runs. The trail runs about a half mile from the parking lot, the last half through a pretty thick forest filled with ferns.

We began walking through that part and Apollo began complaining loudly. I pushed him through one section that was lined with ferns, though none came close to touching them, and he yelled like he was being tortured.

He spent the rest of the walk, as you can see from the grainy picture, riding on the back of my wife. That didn’t stop him from complaining.

This happened once before, probably when he was 3. We were hiking a trail in South Kitsap and were almost done with it when he spotted ferns close to his walking path. I ended up carrying him but he continued to wail so loudly that other hikers who could hear us, but not see us, asked if everything was OK. We told the truth, that our son is afraid of ferns.

We are not quite sure where he got it. We have always suspected he was fed that fear from his older brother, Sascha, but Sascha denies it. I seem to remember some teasing about it when Apollo was 2 or so, but I can’t be certain where it started.

When we were done with the Elwha part of our adventure on Thursday I asked Apollo what I would have to give him to take a fern, pick it up and play with it. Sascha offered him a Rubik’s Cube. Apollo was having none of it. Later that day he willingly climbed higher peaks at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. We passed deer that were unafraid of humans, snow packs and went up trails that were a bit steep off to the sides. None of those things bothered Apollo in the least.

Until I started writing this post I was unaware there was an actual name for it. According to a story on Cracked.com, Sigmund Freud had the same fear. So does this woman, a nutritionist.

Nowhere could I find a way to cure Apollo of his phobia. In my head I’m thinking the promise of a good root beer might do it. That’s what got him eager to hike so much on Thursday. Years back I saw a guy help a woman with her fear of spiders by encouraging her to let one walk all over her hand. I can’t see that working for me with snakes. And if I pinned Apollo down and rubbed ferns all over him I don’t know if it would cure him or make him hate me forever.

Maybe I’ll just encourage him to live somewhere other than the Pacific Northwest when he’s older.

Anthropology replaces weight loss

This is exactly what I want on vacation, blue skies and different scenery. It's beautiful to boot.

The family and I are on a trip this week so there won’t be a weigh-in this week or next. I’m still conscious about my eating, but I’m also about to celebrate a birthday. That’s why we’re here. I wanted to be someplace unique for this one. We flew into Vegas on Saturday and drove up two hours to Hurricane, Utah, where Diana’s sister Debbie lives. It’s fun for the visit with family, but we also did a bit of sight-seeing and attempted to do some gawking.

Hurricane is between St. George and Zion National Park. On the way in I had seen the signs pointing to Colorado City, which is in Arizona. More importantly it is a major polygamist colony led by Warren Jeffs. I had visited the community when I was about 16 years old and on a trip with a bunch of other kids from church. We drove through town and saw kids outside. The girls all wore long dresses and didn’t look at any of us. It seemed strange. On Sunday I wanted to go back and see it again.

Here you can see one of the walls near what is likely a family compound in Colorado City, Ariz., which was formerly the base town for Warren Jeffs' polygamist sect.

The city doesn’t look that much different than I remember from 1978, but Debbie’s husband Dave was able to provide some insight I hadn’t heard before. For one, most of the homes remain in a perpetual state of being unfinished, apparently because there is some tax advantage to it. Many of the homes had huge cement fences surrounding them, providing all the appearance of a compound. Above the front doors to many of the homes were signs saying “Zion.” Dave also said he heard that the chosen members of Jeffs’ LDS sect were selected to go live within the walls of the Texas compound, that those who stayed in Colorado City or nearby Hilldale, Utah (There is no clear line marking the border between the two.) were the less chosen.

Virtually no one was out on the streets at all and no kids could be seen playing in backyards. It was eerily vacant, except for the occasional passing vehicle, often with women with the trademark hair that stands up above the forehead.

Eventually we found out where everyone was when he came upon a building surrounded by hundreds of newer model pickup trucks and large passenger vans. I assume this was church. Seemed like everyone in town was attending church at once. Maybe it was some kind of conference.

It’s kind of mean, I guess, that I was there to gawk, but it’s no different I suppose than going to Amish country.

The setting for the place is absolutely beautiful, nestled as it is against a backrop of red-rock mountains. The insular community isn’t eager to capitalize on that, though, so it’s not as if they welcome tourists or the curious like me.

Shedding a big guy — week 19

When I was in the marching band as a nerd trumpet player the only cool guys in the whole parade were the ones wielding these 25.8-pound bad boys.

This week’s slight weight gain is not worth too much concern. I was sick all week and not right in the head or the body. Usually it’s just the head that’s in my way. Though it gets annoying to be stuck where I am, it’s better than where I was, right? And as I said before, I won’t quit.

Perhaps that was nowhere more true than on the 5-mile run I did Saturday. Chances are I should have waited until Monday to do it, but I didn’t think of that until I was already finished with all five miles. And to be clear, I did finish. The last mile was brutally awful. I was in pain, though fortunately it wasn’t the injury pain, just the kind you get when you’re tired and you keep doing something. I hoped that pain would go away when I stopped and for the most part it did. The whole run I felt the remnants of my illness, but I took it easy from the get-go and after the first mile felt OK. I did feel the tiredness from the week’s work to get healthy, but I felt better than I thought I might. By mile 2 I was questioning the wisdom of a 5-mile commitment. Miles 3 and 4 became more tiring and painful, but mile 5 was the worst. I’m not sure it was worse than the night I did four miles and felt pain on my left side the last half mile, but it was spread out more.

Nonetheless, I did finish, made it to my car and though I was really tired and stiff the rest of the day, I knew the pain I had was not from an injury.

Always something there to remind me.

On Sunday my cousin, Seattle’s best real estate pro Michelle Macris, gave me a new piece of motivation. She couldn’t have known this, but for every 50 pounds I lose I’ve decided I get to buy myself a Dodger shirt. She brought me an XL Matt Kemp T-shirt. I’ll need to lose more than 50 to get there, but the shirt is now on my wall to remind me. That may inspire me more than the running!

Bottom Line:
Beginning weight: 404
This week’s weight: 382.2
Last week’s weight: 377.8
One week change: +0.4
Total weight lost: -25.8
Weight loss goal: 205
Percentage body weight goal: 50.5 percent
Percentage body weight lost: 6.4 percent
Percentage of goal lost: 12.6 percent
Plans for this week: Again with the midweek exercising.

Fun with the iPhone and a day off

This is my last of five days off and the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan was coming into town. I found a beach to pull out the iPhone, then went home and put this together in iMovie.

I hope to make more movies in the future, but they will not be like this at all. They will part of the storytelling work I want to expand. But I had to work with iMovie, since it’s not like the other video editing programs I have worked with before.

A Thanksgiving reality check

It is time for a Thanksgiving reality check.

• My body is about twice as heavy as it should be.
• My pay is about half of what I had hoped.
• I have a lot of gray hair, wrinkles and occasional skin tags.
• When I eat I have to consider what will go through me quicker.
• My kids argue with each other.
• I have yet to hit it big with my writing career.
• I have a history of investing years in things that in the end don’t turn out to be what I thought they were or what I hoped they would be.
• I have never seen Europe, Africa, or Asia.
• I have suffered the pains of seeing my candidates lose on election day.
• I have also suffered the pains of seeing my candidate win, then underperform.
• The car I drive would not be my first choice.
• The van my wife drives is not my first choice either.

And yet here is the reality that moves me the most. In years past I had a dream of life and the one I see today is almost exactly the one I dreamt of then.

For all of life’s challenges, I have the blessing of having chosen above me in marriage, knowing the love for a child and of a child, living in a place that rewards me every day with beauty, having a job that lives for me, having the passion to do that same work away from the workplace, having a $12.84 treadmill in the garage that helps me get healthier, having maintained my devotion to the Los Angeles Dodgers, having the ability to reconnect with cousins and old friends I had missed for about 30 years, having old and new friends who have decided to back me up in taking on one of my life’s biggest challenges, having employers who support my wishes, a wife who loves me even when I make it difficult and most importantly a faith that God knows who I am and loves me, and sent me here to experience all the things I’ve mentioned and forgotten.

I am blessed. I am rich. I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

No good reason for a break, but I’m taking one

I'm sure you can find plenty to do while I take a break.

The Narrative Arts Podcast will get a break for the next two weeks. This week there is no good reason. Next week is Thanksgiving, so that one is justified. The week after that I’m on vacation at work, so in theory I should take that week off from the podcast, but I think I will post a new episode then, and the week after. Then we will be done for the year.

During that time keep looking back here for updates on my weight and other items. I want to take the time off to focus on the book I wrote all those years ago to get it ready for republication.

If anyone knows how to fix websites, too, I could use a hand. I changed the settings to make it wider and the font bigger, thinking it would make the site more readable. The only trouble is I can’t seem to find the code for that spare piece of the header at the top of the page. I thirst for ideas.

If you want a great podcast to go listen to, I highly recommend you plug in your ear phones to the This American Life podcast “Very Tough Love.” I don’t think of TAL as hard-hitting journalism, but this show caused some real ripples. You can read all about it on the site. I may say more about it later if I can get an answer to a question I asked.

Talk to you again soon.

Seven ways to prepare your pregnant boss for parenthood

You are here.

Your boss has been there for you to offer you praise when you’ve done well and to not fire you when your work has almost ruined the company. The least you can do is to be there for her when she needs you most, when she is within months of welcoming a child into her home. Life will change for sure when the little one comes into her life, so it’s up to you as an employee to prepare her.

Here are a few tips for things I think you can do that will give your boss the training she needs for those days ahead when she finds herself listening to that crying baby on her first night home. Because of you, she won’t be tempted to say, “I can’t do this for 18 years.”

1. Find ways to interrupt her sleep. Post her phone number on a website frequented by people on the other side of the planet. Arrange for someone to drive by her house and honk, or ring the doorbell and run. Call her house from a pay phone in the middle of the night. Better yet, get a robo dialer to do it somehow. No sense you losing any sleep. You’re not the one preparing for parenthood.

2. Wait until she’s on the phone, then demand her attention. Say her name over and over after she gets into a conversation that looks like it will be lengthy. Repeat her name at normal volume, but frequently and regularly. Then say it loud. When she finally gives you attention, ask for something you know you can’t have, like an extra three weeks of vacation or a beer tap at your desk.

3. When she asks you to do something, act like it’s the worst possible thing she could have asked you to do. Don’t be afraid to be too dramatic. You’ll never be as dramatic as her kids. Say “Awwwwwwww!” for about four seconds and fluctuate the volume. Lie on the floor if you need to.

4. Start complaining for no reason and don’t let up. When she asks you why you’re in such a bad mood, get madder. If she tries to offer you something to help, get even more angry. Keep it up until she turns on the TV.

5. When she asks you about a task you agreed to do, be sure to act like you have no idea what she is talking about. Say you never got that assignment. If she has proof that you did agree to do the assignment, tell her one of your coworkers volunteered to do it for you. When your coworker protests, defend your position until you both get loud enough that your boss will find it more important to shut you both up than to punish you.

6. Another tactic for number 5 is to just say you forgot. Agree again to do it, then forget another time. Repeat.

7. Complain that she never brings in treats. Then when she does, be sure to emphasize how much you don’t like those. If she tries to bring in treats after that, eat them all before your coworkers get any.

These seven tips should help your boss plenty. They might also get you in trouble. If you need to, refer her to this website. Be sure to do that BEFORE you get fired. That might be important.