What Happens When One of Your Coworkers Dies

Poignant. Unfortunately, a lot of us can relate. It does include some foul language just as a caveat.

Originally posted on The Billfold

 

The first thing that happens is someone tells you.

It’s Tuesday, it’s February, it’s my first day back at work after a week on vacation. I notice the candle in the foyer just as the whoosh of the door blows it out. They never did that for my birthday, I think as I walk past reception.

This is my job. It’s a publisher, we make coffee table books about movies, architecture, political issues that lend themselves to stock photography. Most of us think of ourselves as writers, though that is not really what we do anymore.

Dominic is the one who tells me. He and Naomi are here already, sitting at opposite desks, leaning in like they’re playing Battleship. Dominic bikes here from some distant suburb I’ve never heard of, then showers and changes into the same thing every day: pressed white shirt…

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The 5 Worst Things You Can Say To A Blogger

Good stuff!

A Morning Grouch

So, I’m no blogging genius.  When I first started blogging I had zero idea of the etiquette, cultish followings, or blogging cliques that existed.  I pretty much started this as a procrastination tool.  I’m still half-assed and hardly an expert; I have been dragging my feet even getting my self-hosted site up and running (does that even make sense?) because I have almost zero clue where to start (but dammit, I will learn, eventually.  I will).  But even with all that, I am starting to get some idea of what the blogging world is all about.

There are some phrases non-bloggers may or may not realize are not a good idea to say to someone who blogs:

1.  I read your blog. With no follow-up.  Oh. Thank you? You read it. But you didn’t say what it was exactly that you read. Or if you liked it. Or hated it. Or if it…

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Solid Gold

Of all of the countless hours I have spent in front of the TV, of all of the challenging, thought-provoking shows I have seen particularly in the past five or six years where several shows have surpassed theatrical releases in terms of quality, I would have to say no television show has had more impact on my life than Solid Gold. What’s that, the devil I say? No, I said “Solid Gold”. Sounds nothing like “the devil”, try to pay attention, all right? Sorry, that’s not a great way to start out, I apologize. Okay, back to the topic. How could this schlocky, glittery chronicle of the fall of disco in the early 80s have such a profound impact on me? Well, let’s start with the Solid Gold dancers. I can thank them and their histrionic interpretative dances for affirming my sexual preference at a young impressionable age. While obviously I had not the vocabulary to express it at the time, the dancers affirmed my heterosexuality (not that I’m bragging ohhh look at me I’m soooo straight!”. It’s just that this group of performers with wind-blown hair wore such tight, shiny spandex that it was all on display right there. By about the 5 second mark of “Hurt so Good” you pretty much knew which team you were on. Secondly, the show introduced me to my musical hero Bruce Springsteen. Though this did not register as clearly at the time. I remember watching a montage of men women and children lip syncing “Hungry Heart” while watching the show. However, all I knew at the time was “I like this song” followed by “how did all of these people get their voices to sound like the same guy”. Okay, so I wasn’t the brightest kid, I think for the most part I have caught up. Then, about four years later when I was rocking out to “Born in the USA” I could be heard to say “wait, you mean this isn’t his first album?”. Again, caught up. Finally, Solid Gold told me the truth even when it hurt to hear it. You see, I was a huge Beatles fan even at that young age and sadly (for countless reasons, of course) John Lennon was shot and killed on my ninth birthday. Somehow, I did not find this out until the day after my birthday party when I learned of it on guess which show. I think my family had all the best intentions in shielding me from this news. However, it was Solid Gold who sat me down and told me the truth. In the end, what more can we ask of a television show?

Resiliency

Tonight, the tragic deaths by suicide of two coworkers and friends has led me to really think about what could occur in a person’s life that would lead them to make that choice. While there can be obvious precipitating factors such as terminal illness these factors were not apparent in either of these cases and both were widely described as “shocking” even by those who had worked with the two men closely for years. As a mental health therapist, these events seem especially unnatural as we are regularly called upon to assess the risk of suicide in those in our care and to respond accordingly by treating the underlying distress.

That we could be blindsided by these events is, to say the least, a sobering reminder of the complex and turbulent nature of suffering and the dazzling ability of many to obscure it in themselves. It remains extremely difficult to predict who will make this choice despite the fact that several common factors have been identified. This post is in no way meant to be an attempt to devalue any risk assessment or protocol based upon identification of and response to these common factors. Such evidence-based protocols are an invaluable tool for clinicians and no doubt save many, many lives.

Tonight I just feel compelled to share my thoughts about the concept of resiliency. It seems to me that this characteristic is so crucial to each person’s ability to survive and to thrive and we must find ways to connect with it. To me, resiliency is that primal force in all of us that allowed us to endure our darkest days and to not lose hope. I believe it is something we are born with and may well be the thing that separates a person who ends his or her life or the person who faced with similar circumstances does not. I believe a stronger emphasis should be placed on resiliency in providing treatment. However, as this seems to be largely a genetic trait, how can this be done effectively? My inclination now is to work to connect with that resiliency in others and to eliminate those defenses and distractions that only serve to isolate the person further. The world will drag you down, it will degrade and demean you. It will take everything you have find ways to take more. There have been tragedies and will be yet others. However, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “what lies behind us and what lies before us our tiny matters compared to what lies within us”. That is what can never be taken from you. If only we could all find ways to tap into that when we needed to. It can be done and I believe it is worth it. Not only that, but I believe it is truly a matter of life and death.

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What it has taken me 33 years to learn

The Justin McElroy Institute

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-You can be funny and kind or funny and cruel. The second one is easier, but the first one is worth it.

-Dip the french fry in the Frosty. Go on, try it.

-Habit is a powerful force we forget about until it’s turned against us. Be careful which ones you create.

-You will remember the most embarrassing crap you do in your life forever and in perfect clarity. Everyone else will remember the kindest things you do. It all comes out in the wash.

-If you’re doing a remote podcast, it’s worth it to record audio locally and mix it together. Trust me on this one.

-You’re the only one who can let go of your grudges. It’s worth it, I promise. They’re not doing you any good.

-Doing the good, brave, kind things can feel silly if you let your internal critic get in the way. Reminder: No…

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Howdy

Hello all…longtime surfer first time blogger. Tune in for deep thoughts about shallow things, strong opinions mainly about pop culture and perhaps a moment of catharsis or two if you are into that sort of thing.