Category: personal

Losing Your Temper

Yesterday, I lost my temper. I don’t do it very often, but it’s been known to happen from time to time. This time in particular, it was over something as silly as me getting upset that a package hadn’t been signed for at home. We’d been waiting for something from UPS, and I’d been frustrated that it was something we had to sign for, even though we were never home when they were trying to deliver it. But yesterday, my kids were going to be home the whole day, so I thought we’d be in the clear.

And then I heard it didn’t get signed for.

It’s not like I went into full-out Hulk mode. I didn’t yell or scream. I just got really snippy and rude, which is how you can tell when I’ve lost my temper. So why did this set me off?

Some of it was logistical. If the UPS package didn’t get delivered, I was worried I was going to have to go to Augusta to pick it up, or that it would be returned to the sender, and I have to worry about getting that ironed out. Normally, those sorts of things wouldn’t stress me out too much, but they’re not the only stressors I have in my life at the moment.

I haven’t been sleeping well. I haven’t been following my diet as well as I’d like (due to stress, mainly). I’ve had too much on my plate. Things at work, things with writing, things with church, things at home. There are just all sorts of small to medium sized problems that add up until I get to the point that I want control over everything I can have control over, just so that I feel like I have some control at all.

So when a problem I thought was controlled ended up not being controlled . . . I didn’t take it well.

What do you do when you lose your temper? For me, I go away and calm down. Easy to do when I’m at work and my kids are at home. So I gave myself an hour. Focused on getting other things done, and then called and apologized over the phone. The great news? The package ended up getting dropped off by UPS on the way back, so all troubles were avoided.

I feel stupid that I lost my temper, of course. I don’t like being rude and snippy to people. (Especially not my family, who are the ones I usually lose my temper with, ironically.) But at the same time, I’m okay with it. I’m okay showing my kids that their dad does, indeed, lose his cool, and (more importantly) showing them an example of what to do when you do or say something you regret. Apologize. Don’t blame. Take responsibility.

And move on.

Anyway. Just a slice of life that I thought I’d share with you all today. Have a great weekend, all!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

I Fought the Deer and the Deer Won

Really, it’s more remarkable that I’ve been able to go 11.5 years in Maine without hitting a deer with my car. (The turkey, of course, is another story.) But my remarkable string of deer-free driving came to an abrupt end last Friday.

In my defense, it took two of them to take me out. Clearly the word had gone out that I was about to go for the record or something, because two deer crouched on the shoulder, waiting. Watching. All set to spring out as soon as they saw my red Prius barreling down the road at a little over 55mph.

When the time was right, they sprang. One out in front covering the left side of the road, and the other slightly behind to make sure I couldn’t swerve to safety. No. They were dead set on me getting some fur on fender action that day. I saw them make their move, and I slammed on my brakes to try to avoid them. I didn’t swerve. You don’t swerve in a car unless not swerving is going to kill you. (If, say, you’re about to hit a moose. A deer? Not swerving.)

The front deer hit my driver side light, smashing it with what must have been a very satisfying crunch. Sort of like how I crunched through ice encrusted puddles on my way to work today. I had braked enough that I didn’t do too much damage to the deer. It bounded off along with its buddy, no doubt giving each other deer high fives all the way.

I pulled to the shoulder and looked around. Assessed the scene. No deer that I could see. (The police in Maine like you to hang around in deer related accidents if the deer are still by the side of the road, dying or dead. On the plus side, you also get to keep the deer in those cases. Though I’m not quite sure what I would have done in my Prius. Strapped it to the hood as a warning to any other deer,?) I drove back along the road, checking to see if the beast had just flopped down dead somehow, but no. It was clear.

My headlight was not so lucky. Speaking from experience, it takes less than 24 hours for a policeman in Maine to pull you over for having only one working headlight. Lucky for me, I’d left the piece of deer hide lodged in my headlight-remnants, so it was clear I wasn’t making things up. He gave me a warning.

I took the car for an estimate. Just over $2,000 to fix. So today’s blog post is brought to you by the letters I, N, S, U, R, A, N, (again), C, and E.

Drive safe out there, folks. The deer are unionizing.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

How Do You Deal with Disappointment?

Disappointment. We’ve all had it, and I don’t think any of us really enjoy it. (I mean, that’s kind of tied up in the definition of it, right? If you’re happy you’re disappointed, then you can’t be disappointed . . .)

I’ve experienced plenty of disappointment in my life, whether it was the first time I asked a girl to a dance and she turned me down or the time I applied to doctoral programs and didn’t get into any of them. Disappointment is a part of life, and learning to handle it is an important part of the maturation process, sadly. You’re not always going to get what you want.

One of my least favorite parts of being an author is just how multifaceted disappointment can be in the field. You’re never really free of it at any point in a project. You write a book. You think it’s great. Your agent doesn’t like it at all. Disappointment. Or your agent likes it, and you submit it to editors, and none of them like it. Disappointment. Or one of them likes it, and you finally publish it, but the reviewers or the readers don’t like it. Disappointment. Or most people like it, but you still come across a review from a reader who hated it.

At any point in time, putting your work out there to get feedback from others will almost inevitably lead you to disappointment at some point in the future.

I’ve gotten better at handling it, of course. In my everyday life, it’s easier to steel myself for disappointment ahead of time. I typically know when something’s coming up that might be a letdown, and I can prepare accordingly. But when you’ve submitted a manuscript to 15 or 20 editors, you’re never sure when they’ll get back to you. Checking email becomes a precarious thing, as you might have a rejection waiting for you at any time. Even then, though, you get used to it. Have enough projects out there, and any single rejection loses some of its sting. (Like the time I received a rejection for MEMORY THIEF after it had already been published. That was not a disappointment.)

Even then, there are new and exciting ways for you to be disappointed. I’d sold MEMORY THIEF and had back and forth letters with my editor about the revision, and then the publishing house that bought it closed. That was a big disappointment. Yesterday, a project that I’d already dismissed in my head suddenly popped back up in a big way on my radar, as an editor expressed interest in acquiring it. Things were looking great, and I couldn’t help but start getting my hopes up.

Until the book didn’t make it through the acquisitions meeting. (The editor had liked it, but the other editors . . . had not.)

Thankfully, I’ve been through this enough now that I know one thing that inevitably seems to cure disappointment for me: time. I know the feeling I have when I first find out about a let down, and I know that feeling subsides over time. It becomes less important. I move my focus to other things. In writing, often the best cure for me is to dive into a different project. To always have something new to focus on.

How about you? How do you handle disappointments in your life?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

What Do You Wear to Work?

I’ve written and asked about lots of different things people do: what their schedule is like, what they eat, what they do, etc. But it occurred to me just now that I haven’t asked you all what you wear to work. Why do I wonder this? I’ve been wearing a grey zip-up fleece for when it’s been cold in my office for the last several years (at least), and I’m beginning to think it’s time to switch things up a bit, but I’m not sure what I want to switch to.

At my work there’s not much in the way of a dress code. No shorts. No t-shirts. Outside of that, though, it’s pretty much wide open. I wear blue jeans and a golf shirt to work most days. Every now and then if I feel like I need to be dressier, I’ll wear a long sleeved button down shirt, but I just realized that I haven’t even done that in at least a few years. (Probably around the time I got the promotion to director.)

At campus, you’ll see a wide range of clothing on employees. Some of actual uniforms (like Facilities workers). Some come in shorts and a t-shirt. Some wear suits. Most of it is business casual, including jeans. No complaints from me: I like to be comfortable, and I’m happy I can work at a job where I can wear what I’d probably like to wear anyway. (I switched from button down short sleeve shirts to golf shirts a couple of years ago. They’re great. Lightweight, kind of dressy, and I don’t need to worry about ironing them if I hang them up.)

So that’s me. What about you? What do you wear? Is it by choice, or by requirement? And if you wanted to wear something that’s a bit dressier (but not very) in terms of an extra layer to add on cold days at work, what would you go for?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

External vs. Internal Motivation

I’ve been thinking the last week or two about what makes us do the things we do, and for me, much of it breaks down to external or internal motivation. Internal motivation comes when you personally decide to do something and then just go out and do it. External motivation comes when you’re forced to do something by any other means. This could be due to legal requirements, family pressure, societal norms, and things like that.

Typically, the only things I’m able to really motivate myself to do through internal motivation are the things I want to do anyway. I like watching television shows enough that there’s not really any need for me to find any external motivation to watch as much as I can. I love playing games, and so there’s no need for me to do anything extra to get that done, either.

Then there are the things we’re generally forced to do. Going to work each day. Obeying laws. Getting up each morning to take people to early morning seminary. These are things that, when left to our own devices each day, we might not be so quick to do. (Though ideally each of us wants to obey most laws and be dependable people at work.) But it’s okay, because society has a whole ton of externally motivating mechanisms to keep everyone doing these things. Paychecks really help. So do strict consequences for breaking the law.

Sometimes when I’m struggling to do something that I want to do in theory (though in practice I’m falling short), I come up with externally motivating factors and put them in place to get me to kick things into gear. I’ll tell people about a goal I have, and then I’ll report back regularly on it. I’ll throw in some monetary goals, or some kind of specific reward. But when you get down to it, all those things I put into place are really just variations of internal motivation as well, aren’t they? Because after all, they rely on me continuing to tell people about those goals and my failure to meet them. I have to decide to want to do it. I suppose you could arrange something where someone else is automatically informed about what you’re doing, and then they agree to impose consequences on their own, but that’s getting pretty convoluted.

So how do you go from being externally motivated to being internally motivated? Are there any tricks I’m missing? Because the only thing I can really think of is developing stronger will power. Just making a decision inside you to stick to a goal or make a change and have it be a lasting decision. Having your will power take the driver’s seat instead of your instincts. Conquering your id.

I suppose these are all basic philosophical questions people have been asking forever. So maybe it’s no wonder I still think about them, both in terms of how I can improve myself and how I can help my kids to improve.

So . . . do you have anything to add to the discussion? What methods have you found helpful?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.



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