Out of the Void

Someday I want to look back and see the progress that I’ve made and smile. I want to see how far I’ve come. I want to see all the bridges behind me, all the ones I thought I’d never cross, all the ones far in the distance, even the ones that were burning leaving nothing but fresh grass on the banks. I want to look out from up top the hill and look into the valley of my life, raise my arms in victory “I made it!”. Someday, I’m going to be standing there, happy as hell. It’s going to feel like winning the best race of my life. It’s going to feel great!

I can see the path up the mountain. It is a steep trek. Some places look likes going up a sheer cliff. The distance feels so far away from where I want to get to. I need to get to. The mountain is forming. For a long time, there was no mountain. I was left in a void, aimless, wandering. Now, I’m standing on the valley floor. The heather is soft and sweet water flows down the mountain. Everything here is a beauty, picturesque. The distant mist fades midmorning undressing the mountain. The sunbeams around the peek and I stand watching. There! That is the place I must go. I can see the shape. I can feel the form. The damp air clings to my skin. My lungs draw in deeply of the green here and strength me.

The soft soil under my feet reminds me I need to take measured steps. I must take my walking stick with me. I must have the balance to go on. I must be prepared for it is unknown if I will come back this way again. Today, I will take stock of my resources. Today, I will plan to scale the mountain. I remember the feeling of victory and I will have it. Someday I will look down into the valley and see how far I have truly come. Today, I look for the first time towards the place I want to be.

Network and the 30-second elevator speech.

I’m a freelance writer and I don’t talk about it here on this blog. This is a first for me.  I jumped into the entrepreneurial pool back when I was in High School. I was dazzled by the allure of using my mind to create solutions to problems. I wanted the challenge of taking a product and developing a market for it. My dreams were giants. I’d get high off the scent of OfficeMax, though now I think it was mostly the toner ink causing that. I delighted in paper, ink pens, folders and file structures, whiteboards and yearly planners, highlighters and sticky notes. All the tools of the trade, right at my fingertips.

Failure is necessary for entrepreneurial success. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I started businesses where I was the only employee from opening to closing. I choose against incorporation so I don’t use the vaulted title of CEO. I’m just a sole proprietorship business owner. Each of my business collapsed. Each took a big chunk out of my financial life. I learned a great deal each time. I figured out why I failed each time. I can teach what I learned to anyone wanting to start their own business.

I am a small business consultant now. I am here to help you avoid the pitfalls in starting a small business in your first five years of existence. I can write all that copy and advertising material for your business, set up your workflow, tailor my suggestions for your industry and budget and if you need I can either help pre-screen a freelance personal assistant for your paperwork needs or for a limited time I can serve as a personal assistant for an additional fee on top of my consulting. I endeavour to be a full-service consultant according to your goals and business dreams. I will partnership with you to create your dream into reality.

Yet my greatest challenge, far greater than being an entrepreneurial member of society has been myself. Look at me! I have a ton of problems. I’ve failed so many times my ego thinks bandaids are a fashion statement! Embarking on a quest for enlightenment, I studied at the feet of the greatest people ever produced on this planet. Years, four years I studied at the feet of the greatest.

Now, I am profoundly humbled to offer to you what I have absorbed.
The first lesson is free.

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Mumford & Sons Friday Playlist

Popped up in my Spotify sending me reminiscing.

Too relatable, the regrets one must share.

My wilder mind still wanders broken streets seeking an endless love.

Did my love touch another? Did my love feel good? Oh, the untold stories…

Though you carry scars, love. Love Forever.

As The Notes drops

Popped up in my Spotify sending me reminiscing.
Too relatable, the regrets one must share.
My wilder mind still wanders broken streets seeking an endless love.
Did my love touch another? Did my love feel good? Oh, the untold stories…
Though you carry scars, love. Love Forever.

Tomorrow is a different moment.

There are days when I log into Twitter and I’m like “Thanos is a pussy. He only snapped half the universe. I could do a 99 and not even break a sweat.” And it’s at that point I log the hell off. Just way too much blood boiling insanity there and it sucks me in. I don’t like it.

I end up offline for a while, letting the soft notes of whatever is cued up in Spotify to lull me away. I zen. I get back to all sunshine and roses; loving the world and everybody. I go watch the hummingbirds buzz by. I end up euphoric and in love with everything.

Both are my realities. Both are authentically me. Diametric opposites.

I tend to err on the side of Love. Grateful I wasn’t given the power of the snap for I am sure, any excuse would do, no matter who carried such a burden.

In a few more hours my husband will be flying back to me. I’ll be teasing him with pretty little lies that one day might not be such a lie. We know this game well. I do it because I watch how he lights up and come alive. He makes it easy to feel the sunshine and zen. I still struggle with it deep inside. There is a conflict and I am learning to avoid nurturing a hurt.

It’s a simple hurt.

“Please, let me take your boots off.”

“No. I can do it. I don’t like it when you act like a slave.”

This is the place I don’t want to go to after my husband comes home. Right now I’m on the verge of tears because I realise, there is no one there but me to take care of me.

You Are Full of It.

This is a lightly edited reposting of a “thing” I posted on FetLife.

Coercive power structures.

Lots of things in life just don’t translate. I would hope that most can recognize the dangers of a group pressuring an individual to conform to group standards, but I won’t hold my breath. I’m not into that kind of breath play.

Today on Fet, there has been a number of interesting posts about handling criticism, from group to individual level. My ax is totally ground on the group level.

I’ll make this super simple. So you’re the group leader and you want to ban someone. I hope you have some sort of rules, bylaws, something to reference so when you inform the person of their ban, you then cite the problem issue.

That’s it. Done. Don’t drag it out. You don’t want that person around anyway. That’s what banning is. But that’s not how I see it being used.

What I am seeing is this; Group says…if you don’t do this x, y and z then we will exclude you for x amount of time or until you change and comply with x, y, and z and by the way, none of this is covered in the bylaws, rules or anywhere. That sends a clear ass message-submit or leave. Well, Fuck You.

And organizers wonder why some people get seriously ticked the fuck off?
Fix your rules and bylaws. Stay on target. Don’t flinch.

But wait, that’s not the real issue here, is it? That action is like ban-lite or even a pre-ban, isn’t it? It’s the, you broke a rule and get slapped on the wrist, say your sorry and come get hugs. But that’s not the issue, not really.

It’s deeper than that. Much deeper. Some things are clear cut. I don’t want a known rapist attending a munch I organize. I won’t invite a stalker to my house for an event. And I’m a dick. I won’t let the drama brigade cross my threshold. That’s all me, an individual dealing with other individuals. But groups are a creature weird, different and strange and already screwed up.

Small Group Dynamics aka. “the local community”

The larger the group structure, the greater the power plays it contains.

Humans are weird. There is a general lack of consense for social norms, for traditions, for values: group or individual, for any number of things. But they form groups to set a standard in the things the group finds important. And then they enforce their own values and rules upon its members. Most of the time, this is agreed upon. Sometimes, someone takes exception. And this leads to a second factor dealing with bans.

You are a Heretic. Shame! Shame! Shame!

Ah, so you’re the one facing a group ban. You stepped on someone’s toes. You threaten to upset the power structure and naturally, you were removed from the group. Sorry, but your lack of foresight led to this. Really, does anyone believe that when Martin Luther nailed his points on the church door, that the church wouldn’t strike back and strike back hard? It was just the hill he felt was worth dying on.

And it split the group. Welcome to the next level of group evolution. Congratulations, you just birthed a splinter group. If you fail to act fast and with love and humility you just might lose any control of your ideological child. Eh, well, groups rarely make good parents. It can happen. Maybe it can happen to you. Worth a shot? Make a friend now so you don’t have an enemy later, hmm?

The Takeaway

You can only do so much. You can’t stop peoples’ dickish behavior. You can set boundaries, ie. rules. You can hold those boundaries, ie. enforce the rules. Too often, anything more than that or less than that creates the dreaded drama monster. That drama monster can eat the entire community for breakfast.

TL/DR

It takes a Dick to herd cats. It takes a Dick with rules to run a community.
And some Dick’s just aren’t worth dealing with.

Yup. No advice here, none given. Just commentary.

In the Aftermath

GooglePlus is closed.

I finished my tweets, joining in with the voices watching G+ close for the final time. I knew that sense of community stayed together right till the very end. I had to go outside and just sit with myself for a bit. Everything had changed months ago but today was like being at the funeral, watching the casket being lowered into the ground and sharing that grief communally. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only one grieving. Yet, outside it’s a bright blue sky. The rest of life moves on but this moment, I can feel–it will define my future for years to come.

This isn’t my first Google closing. I was one the beta testers/contributors to GoogleBuzz. That closing was kinda meh. But then I got in on G+ in beta. One of the first to have a personalized address, brand account, business page, I was all in-a superfan of Google products. At first G+ was meh. I didn’t understand the purpose. I didn’t get the whole circle idea. It wasn’t a blog, or a forum and it didn’t act like a bulletin board. It was something different, I just didn’t know how to make use of its features. So I treated it like Twitter before Twitter came along. I used to advertise and grow my brand off Google and I found that frustrating. I wasn’t getting the engagement I wanted. Facebook was far more rewarding for engagement in those early days. I could see the use of a smaller business having a GooglePlus Business Page. It was tailor-made for that kind of engagement but there was nothing to drive that engagement. It felt, incomplete.

So I pushed my blog posts to G+ and called it a day for a long time. I used the business page as a central website for my businesses. And that was that. I ignored it for years. I assumed that it didn’t have the engagement I was looking for. I assumed it was a good idea that flopped. I assumed that all social media was supposed to cater to driving engagement and business. I assumed that ad revenue and traffic was all I needed to worry about. I was wrong.

GooglePlus was not a well-developed idea for driving business advertisement and engagement. It was instead an unusual design that was community oriented that encouraged engagement as was as disengagement. It was human-centric at its baseline core. GooglePlus was for all of us, to use or not as we choose. And those that choose, found a home unlike all the other social media platforms out there.

Five years ago I came back to GooglePlus and I dove in. I engaged. I contributed. I participated. I shared. I created. I was all in. I didn’t and still don’t care a wit about Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or SnapChat or any of the new ones like MeWe. Losing GooglePlus has broken my heart. I didn’t really think that was possible but now I know it is.

GooglePlus was the framework in which I connected with and found friends all around the Globe through shared interests. And that is the secret to GooglePlus and why us, the die-hard G+ loyal fans were there to the end. It’s why we tried to save it. It wasn’t the framework, not really, but the connections and the ability to make those connections easily that we were trying to save.

Somehow the designers of G+ hit upon the magic formula of community. By allowing the users to create groups and communities while having profile walls and a very nuanced privacy level the circles allowed the seeds of community to flourish. It wasn’t overnight. It was a slow proofing, like bread rising before it goes in the oven.

And yet there is nothing to replace it. I’ve wondered since the announcement that it was closing, just how much data is going to be lost. There is no Library of Alexandra for the Internet. I think such a task may be impossible. I wonder if G+ was becoming such. Today, an untold number of accounts of deceased users are gone, their works, words, thoughts, are all gone. I know of several dozen and I don’t know what to make of the implications of saving them all. I think I could accept a data wipe far easier than to lose the framework where I’ve lost all my connections with friends all around the world.

I do know today marks a new era on the Internet. I know very few realize it and it will take years for the effects to show. Things have changed. I don’t like social media as I had in the past. I don’t trust giant companies for even the most basic of things. I feel lost on the webs. My data is being sold all over the place and I’m making somebody a profit, we all are, and none of us is benefiting from it beyond free access to this and that. I feel the weight of the machine pressing down onto me, turning me into another cog instead of an individual who has dreams, hobbies, interests, and has this growing need to make connections with like-minded individuals. Today, the world feels smaller. Just a few months ago, I had the world at my fingertips. I could connect with someone all across the globe and often did. Today is the day I say goodbye to that era.

Today, I say goodbye to the dream that the Internet would connect humanity together. We did it. For a little while. GooglePlus was the WhitePages of this time, this era. And now it’s gone.

To my fellow GooglePlus’ers:

Fare thee well.
Though the sun sets,
morning will dawn again.
Hold on. Hold to lessons learned.
We are all One.
We are Humanity.
This Blue Planet is our Home.
Remember, We are One.
This is Our Community!