Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Travel Combines the Familiar with the Unexpected

Last month I went to spring training and Harry Potter world for the first time. Both were a thrill because they combine elements I love with new twists.

David Price in Red Sox uniform
 (a little disorienting),
starting against Pirates
I've watched major league teams play and been to minor league parks but never saw the two combined. The vibe is relaxed, players talk with fans and for the price of a nosebleed seat during regular reason I could rest my elbows on a front row third base seat. 

I've also loved the Harry Potter books, seen the movies and been to theme parks but never had a convergence of all three like at Universal. The this is the closest I may come to walking through a movie set, one with goods in the stores and regular people pouring the butterbeer. 

Medium-fun during rain delay
at Phillies game
I loved simply being there, soaking up the details. During a downpour the Phillies and Yankees played through I sat on a vendor's cooler eating nachos and keeping score, wiping the card with a napkin, sipping my first ginger beer between innings. At Universal Mark and I compared the Hog's Head on one side of Universal (Islands of Adventure's Hogsmeade) with the Leaky Cauldron on the other (the Studio's Diagon Alley)--repeatedly--and it's hard to imagine a time I was happier. 

The immersive experience is part of the pleasure but another is the way nothing is exactly as you'd imagined. The goblins of Gringott's were stern but kinder than expected. The Phillies Mikael Franco was more intimidating in person, and funnier. 

Butterbeer (of course): one is plenty
There was also no learning curve where I tried to figure out how to get where and do what because everything in JK Rowling's inspired world is one-off to begin with--the bus is normal but the driver has a shrunken head on one shoulder. The modern-day students of Hogwarts wear Oxford-like academic gowns but carry wands and write with quills. 

Dragon on the bank.
Mash-ups like these make for a comfortably unfamiliar world, where similarities to "normal" life help us slip in unannounced but the differences hold us fascinated, shocked we never thought about what it would be like to have our mail delivered by owl. 

This seems to me the ideal way to travel anywhere, without enough common ground to make minor details like train times and police whistles make sense but enough surprising details to make sitting on a corner with a drink (indian chai? thai iced tea? japanese bubble tea? italian espresso? mexican coffee? british cream tea?) gripping stuff. 

Sunrise in New England is solitary
while sunset on Florida Gulf Coast
is communal and it's all good
I find travel where I don't understand what's going on or know what I'm doing highly stressful and there's no enjoyment there. And travel that I've done a number of times borders on boring.The sweet spot is the comfortably unfamiliar of going for a walk at dawn with my daughter and finding the Gulf-side beach where we were staying had a view of only sunset. Shocking for girls who grew up on the East Coast where the beaches always faced the orange-pink dawn. 

And fun, and a challenge to get back out there at sunset and check out the color differences. 

'Twas cheerful bliss, and addictive. I'm collecting ideas and books for travel at lightning speed.

I mean fastball speed.

I mean Quidditch fast. 

Love, Lisa

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Personality Type and Pressure

Today is my husband's last day working for Walmart, and hooray and booyah and yippee for that.

Seriously, it's been bad. After working for the company for seven years, the last five years as an assistant manager, last month he was put on a schedule of 1pm to 1am every(!) Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, indefinitely. Then asked to work various Mondays and Wednesdays as well. Tuesdays were all his except for the dozen or two texts he needed to respond to. 

And his schedule was only his fourth-worst work problem. So yeah, moving on. Even a Type A employee has his or her limits.

But the busyness of his job is something he'll miss. His current store does $60 million a year and Mark was often the only manager in the building. That broke down to 30k an hour in sales on some weekends, which is a flipping crazy amount of business. I went there once (the store is in South Norwalk, CT) and could not get down the front end of the store because 20 registers were all going with 8-10 people in each line. Cars and taxis were out front blocking the fire lanes, kids were running through the place shrieking, overhead announcements called for cleanups and fitting room keys and Assistant Manager Mark every half minute or so. I'd brought him lunch and he opened it mid-aisle, grabbed a piece of fruit saying that's all he'd have time for until things died down in 6-8 hours. 

from Backdrop Fantastic
Your basic circus, one he liked being ringmaster of, much of the time (see my prior post "Ode to my Walmart Assistant Manager at Christmas")

So when interviewing for new jobs and the question came up about "How do you handle pressure in a work situation" he smiled and said "when the walls all collapse, I'm the last man standing, organizing the cleanup crew and getting things back on track." 

This is a guy who feels pressure as the wind at his back, pushing him forward. 

The "Type A" personality  was originally described more than 50 years ago as the workaholic who
from "16 Tips for Dating a Type A Personality"
developed coronary heart disease at a rate double more laid-back ("Type B") peers. And indeed Mark had heart surgery last year, though it was a valve rather than CHD more typically related to stress. But more recent research has found that when taught (and using) stress management skills (like these) Type A's are just as happy as those more Type B.

Sure, a lot of stress management skills for Type A's are basic Type B go-to's (live in the moment, feel the joy, life is good) but iType A's give them a new twist, making their innate conscientiousness a sane and passionate pursuit of excellence rather than a mindless ambition for "more." Over time (and with effort), self-awareness and maturity build more "positive" Type A traits over negative into a high level of life satisfaction.

Positive Type A Traits
Negative Type A Traits
·       Focus
·       Impatience
·       Drive
·       Frustration
·       Extroversion
·       Perfectionism
·       Leadership
·       Demanding
·       Goal-orientation
·       Dismissive
·       Self-discipline
·       Short-tempered

Because who doesn't want to be the master of their own universe?
As long as you have the occasional weekend off to enjoy the view from the mountain top :).

Buy link and blog for this adorable new book
(that REI should stock :))
So the great and funny irony is that Mark's new job is with REI, an absolute bastion of Type B people. The manager who's been most involved in his hiring has been touching base every few days to remind him how "super happy" they all were to have him joining their team and how they chose his start date on a day they could have a group "welcome" and give him the "true REI experience" of putting people first and getting them outdoors to love life.

"Super happy?" he finally said after she'd repeated the phrase on each call.

"I'm going to have to stop saying that to you, aren't I?" she said.

He smiled and said no, he'd find a way to adapt to positivity.

Because Type B people are mostly impervious to pressure and generally super happy. If Type A folks want the wind behind them to double their speed (and Type D people feel it as a headwind getting them stuck), Type B people feel the crosswind, might lick and stick up a finger to note the direction out of curiosity, but they don't change course based on external pressure. They are who they are, they do what they do, and they note with amusement all the scurrying others do to get somewhere else when the way to enjoy life is to be happy right where you are.

And they're right.

So are Type A's who methodically pursue their dreams in steadfast, persistent, gritty (see Angela Duckworth article here) and undeterred fashion.

Because wherever they are on their goal-driven path is exactly where they want to be too :).

Love, Lisa