4 Interventions for May

You know, I didn’t make any progress to speak of on the four interventions for April, except for the thing of listing daily fears.  So I’m going to continue that one, and continue three more from April.

Here’s the May lineup:

  • List Every Day the things you were afraid of that day
  • Be Interesting when you enter the stage
  • Learn to Love the Phone
  • Speak Truth to Power

Fear of Criticism and Counter-Measures

As I track the daily fear parade – and it’s even hard to remember fears from that same day, although not as hard as trying to be aware of them in advance – one theme that’s emerging is I am very afraid of criticism, or maybe even I am afraid of how angry I get when I get criticized.

Not sure which of these makes more sense.  My kneejerk reaction to criticism is: incoming harm.  And my immediate reaction is to lash back at the person delivering it, with sarcasm and witty retorts if not with blows.

I want to watch this a bit more – and hopefully be aware of it in the moment increasingly – before I come to conclusions about what it is and what to do about it, but it seems like a daily recurring thread of fear, and hence, daily recurring oppty for chutzpah.

Chutzpah and Fitness

I read something this morning, an inspirational quote on the website of a local Quantified Self gym, which was trying to tie fitness to work/life balance:

Life is crazy. We all know it. Juggling several things all at the same time. I’m proving that no matter what is happening in my life, my fitness gives me the physical and mental balance to take everything in stride — and enjoy it!

I know; that’s nuts; fitting in fitness does more to clobber your work-life balance than almost anything, especially when you get to be my age and the jogging, stretching, resting, flexing, flossing, just pile up to an unholy percentage of each day.

But there was something to it as well: feeling fit makes you feel better, which makes you feel more equal to things.  It fuels your chutzpah.

More on Being Mindful of Fear

OK, so I’m writing down, more or less at the end of the day, all the things I can recall being afraid of that day:

  • Losing my job
  • People who are angry with me because I’m wronging them, or so they think
  • Strangers
  • Neighborhoods I haven’t been to

But a) it’s hard to remember this stuff, even that day, and b) it doesn’t seem to make me any more mindful when fear happens, at the moment of fear.  Well, maybe a tiny bit more mindful, but nothing game-changing.

I’ll stick with it, and see if the mindfulness just comes more slowly than I would like.

Breakfast for Dinner Last Night

Scrambled eggs with chives and cheese, and bacon.  Hardly noteworthy except for two ingredients:

  • Zingerman’s Jowl Bacon, made from the pork cheek rather than the belly.  I know people are all over re-discovering bacon, but this was unusual and pretty damn good.
  • First chives of the season from my re-purposed gas grill herb garden (I had hoped to include a picture, but can’t find it in my labyrinthine picture archive

Richard Branson and Other Chutzpah Gods

Richard Branson dares to do all kinds of things, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

So did Baba Ram Dass (aka Richard Alpert).  “Wherever you are, there you are,” was his watchword.  In other words, make the best of your situation.

Neither of these guys is (or was) trying to “execute a chutzpah agenda.”  They were trying to live out the idea that their Self had a narrative that had to be discovered and “honored”.

My Tuna Noodle “Casserole”

I was home alone last night.  Debbie was in California.  Everyone else – of course – over the hill and far away.

I got it in my head to make a tuna noodle casserole.

Here’s how it was.  I bought a boatload of canned tuna some weeks ago as part of a low-carb diet notion, and have to keep reminding myself of ways to use them up.  So tuna.  Then I saw some yogurt in the fridge, so I looked up “canned tuna and yogurt” in Epicurious and a couple of other online sources.  Got not so much.  But relaxing the criteria to a mere “canned tuna” surfaced, as you might imagine, a number of cuts at tuna noodle casserole.

I noticed at this point that there was maybe a cup of leftover pasta from Debbie’s and my last meal together, so things were beginning to look good.  And I even found a can of Campbells Cream of Celery soup in the basement.  The fundamentals were in place.

Ultimately, I just improvised.  I put together canned tuna, used pasta, cream of celery soup, grated cheddar cheese (had that too), canned sliced olives, frozen peas, and, as a Crummy flourish, a couple of tablespoons of harissa.


Here’s how it looked coming out of the oven (not the best picture, sorry).

Actually pretty tasty.

“Growing a Pair” as a Partial Synonym for Building Chutzpah

As discussed last week, I’ve been tracking chutzpah-related traffic online.  And I’ve found a lot of co-occurrence between “chutzpah” and “growing a pair”, or, as inoveryourhead.net puts it, “Growing some @#$%ing balls”.

I’ve been wrestling with the idea – maybe I just have too much time to think – of what the difference is between chutzpah, at least the way I’ve been using it, and growing a pair.

I think I have an idea.

“Chutzpah” has to do with getting something you want regardless of what it takes.  Obviously, one thing it “takes” or might “take” is getting someone else out of the way.  But that’s not the point; the point is getting what you want.

“Growing a pair” puts the idea of besting the other person front and center.  Showing balls is specifically edging someone else out of the way, whether to get something you want or for some other purpose.

Close, but not exactly the same.

Let’s Start by Writing Down What I Was Afraid of Today

Between Saturday and Monday I got peeved by my lack of traction on being aware of what I was afraid of.

So I resolved to write down every day the things I could remember that had made me afraid.

So I’ve been doing that this week.  3-4 things a day.

Talking on the phone has got to be one of the hugest (most huge?) things on the list.  So I’ll need a Supplementary Intervention about the phone to try to get moving off my stuck point of emailing people I should be phoning because my chutzpah levels are too low to phone.

We’ll see.

Who Is Thought to Have Chutzpah?

As part of the Project, I’ve been monitoring the online world (well, really only Twitter, although I suppose should add LinkedIn and Facebook) for “chutzpah”.

I can’t help but notice that a disproportionate number of references to chutzpah concern politicians and athletes.

Makes sense, I suppose.  Politicians are constantly flirting with shamelessness, which brings them into chutzpah territory and beyond as a normal occurrence.  And athletes need to establish their turf, like herdsmen or feuding mountain clansmen.  Big Body Language is part of chutzpah kindergarten for athletes.

But there isn’t much Twitter traffic about chutzpah among celebrities, who also seem to border on politicians and athletes.