Wild and Unpredictable

Max and I were watching The Maltese Falcon together last night for about the seventh or eighth time. Something stirred in me when Brigid O’Shaughnessy said to Sam Spade, “You do such wild and unpredictable things.” I did a wild and unpredictable thing yesterday morning.

Todd Payne, my life coach, thinks I am extremely risk averse. I would like to quibble with him, but really cannot. The only really wild and unpredictable thing I ever did before now was buying a house and moving across the country when I retired. It felt like a cataclysmic event, but I know most people do things like that all the time. When it comes to everyday life, I am even more staid. I like spontaneity, but I like my spontaneity to be planned and scheduled. I like adventure, but I like my adventure to be carefully controlled. I think risk of litigation is a powerful moderating force in our society. When I contemplate doing something scary, I consider whether I could successfully sue the entity offering me the scary option if something goes amiss. If it seems likely that I would prevail, I figure the entity offering me the option must be confident that no tragedy will occur.

Yesterday, though, I slipped my leash and ran hellbent for leather off the trail. I went to pick up my new eyeglasses.

After I picked up the glasses, I realized that I have been wearing spectacles for over 50 years. That just seems inconceivable to me. Fifty years seems like such a long time. I guess I never thought about wearing glasses this long when I got my first pair of brown-rimmed cats-eye spectacles in the sixth grade. I estimate that I have worn at least fifty different frames since that time, counting both regular glasses and sunglasses. The number of frames I have tried on in that period must count into the hundreds. That is wild.

The other thing I noticed is that all those frames, especially those in the past 20 years, have been pretty similar. I always pick sunglass frames for durability because I am hard on sunglasses, so they do not really count. The regular glasses are my fashion statement. The regular glasses have always been smallish rectangular metal frames in some shade of gold, silver, pink, or blue. Once I had lilac, which was a real walk on the wild side. My goal was to have frames that were like eyeshadow. You were not really supposed to notice the glasses themselves, but the color and shine were supposed to enhance the beauty of my eyes.

This time, though, I was wild AND unpredictable. My new glasses are rose gold metal. They are large, squoval, and funky. They are unlike any other glasses I have ever owned. It is impossible not to notice them. Rather than serving as eyeshadow, they are more like jewelry for my face. I love them.

What is happening to me? The next thing you know, I will be ziplining. Oh yeah, I did that already.

What is the most wild and unpredictable thing you have ever done? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a wild and unpredictable day!

Terri/Dorry 😊


One bleak December day back in the mid-1980s, my boss’ boss asked me to come to her office. At the time, I was working in a just-a-smidgeon-above entry level position for a major governmental agency. I was a technician of the law. My job was to help people who were having trouble solving problems within the normal system. My parents had also worked for governmental agencies, and I knew the meaning of hierarchy. I had a healthy respect for bureaucracy. Therefore, my anxiety antenna went into overdrive when I received the call from the mid-level manager. For the sake of convenience, let’s call her Patty.

I cautiously toddled on over to Patty’s “office.”  In those days, the workplace was experimenting with open concepts and cubicles. Even a second-level manager would not merit an “office” with walls and a door. To create some semblance of privacy, someone pushed together an elaborate system of cubicle walling to make a “cone of silence” with no top on it.

As it turned out, Patty was not summoning me to give me the ax or anything equally tragic. In fact, she was asking me if I would take on an acting manager role for four weeks- the last two weeks of the current year and the first two weeks of the new year. The agency was even willing to give me a temporary promotion and raise to compensate me for assuming this additional duty. I was flattered, but also surprised. Patty registered my shock and wanted to salvage the situation, so she reached over the desk and carefully pushed my jaw shut.

“We really thought you would be such a great person to do this because you are so calm and unflappable,” Patty explained.

Calm? Unflappable? Me? There was a never a more flappable person on the face of the earth. Way to ratchet up the pressure, Patty.

I agreed to take on the assignment, but I told Patty that I planned a few days off after the first of the year. My then husband and I were taking a short vacation for the first time in four years. I had worked out the timing with the New Year’s holiday and a weekend so I would only have to take off two workdays. Patty’s face dropped. She began to make noises designed to convince me to cancel the trip. I guess I won that negotiation without even knowing it was a negotiation. I had no intention of bailing on the trip. My husband was a full-time student, so was only able to go during the holiday break. I had not taken off any vacation time in my four years of employment with the agency. I needed this time off very badly. Left without a fallback position, Patty agreed that I could take my two days off but made me promise that the weekly statistics for the department would not tank while I was gone.

This, of course, was a totally worthless promise. There is no way to guarantee a statistical outcome, especially for a period during which one is not working. On the other hand, being as flappable as I have always been, I immediately began devising a strategy to maximize my odds. In retrospect, I know that the whole scenario was toothless. After all, what could they do to me if the weekly statistics did tank while I was gone? Take away my birthday? None of this rational line of thought entered my head.

Anyway, my strategy involved scheduling out all the cases that would probably close in a two-week period. I also evaluated all the other cases in the inventory to see if there were any criteria we could apply to make them closable. Then, I devised a calendar for closing the cases during the entire time I would be acting manager to make sure that the proper balance of old and new cases closed in a given week so that the average number of days on closed cases and the percentage of closing inventory that was over 30 days old would be within acceptable limits. Scratch that. Not “acceptable” limits. Ridiculously low limits so that, in case I screwed up the math, we would still be okay. In other words, I manipulated the statistics. I also schooled my coworkers/temporary subordinates on how to manipulate the statistics in my absence if anything went astray.

Flappability is a great motivator. Some people call it “drive” and praise it as a desirable quality. In my case, it is simply nervous energy wrapped in fear of confrontation. As much as I have matured in the forty or so years since this episode, I am afraid that I still struggle to find the calm… before the storm or otherwise. As hard as I work to keep things in perspective and evaluate situations from a rational point of view, I am afraid flappability is something with which I just must live. I guess I might as well embrace it.

I plan and schedule everything. I am facilitating a brainstorming session at church in a couple of weeks. I have prepared a PowerPoint presentation for it. We made dinner reservations for a trip to Las Vegas… four-and-a-half months from now. On my first trip to Disney World, I spent a whole night awake worrying about what to do the next day because it might rain. When I was working on a simulated project as part of a management training class, I came to the class with a rolling suitcase of supporting information. I am, if I had to put it in one word, ridiculous.

I am also prepared. I am also dependable. I am also generous with my efforts. I am also typically successful in implementing anything I set out to do. Flappability works for me a lot of the time. On the other hand, there is a cost to my central nervous system. The key is to figure out the risk/benefit analysis in each situation. In most cases, I could conserve a lot of the energy I expend on anxiety by demonstrating a little wisdom as to when flapping works for me and when it works against me.

Flapping is not all bad. I must flap if I am going to fly. The trick is figuring out when and how to flap that will propel me forward, not cause me to crash and burn.

Are you a flapper? What do you do to control your flappability to keep it working for you instead of against you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Fly high today!

Terri/Dorry 😊

But, Body, What Have You Done For Me Lately?

The Body Positive Movement, which advocates for all people to feel beautiful in their bodies, suggests that an important step in reaching that goal is to recognize the amazingly wonderful things their unique bodies do. For instance, most women can say that their bodies have done this incredible thing of growing and delivering a human being. Another example is being able to recognize that a set of “muscular” gams means your body is strong enough to hike and climb mountains. I am still trying to identify the unique wonders of my body. I do not think being the last person to survive a famine is what they mean- especially with my pancreas. I would probably fall into a diabetic coma long before I starved to death.

Recently, I did realize one amazing story my body tells. I have a highly talented immune system, well-honed at producing kick-ass antibodies. I believe I have mentioned that my COVID19 vaccine experience has been a little extreme. Things were not too bad after the first shot, but the second and third dose ran roughshod over me like the English army ran over Scotland in Braveheart. The good news is that the reaction lasted only 24-48 hours rather than centuries.

Last week, I went to get my annual booster. Based on past experience, I figured I was in for a day or so of body aches, fever, headache, lethargy, and all around yuckiness. When the shot went in my arm, I barely felt it. As the day progressed, I felt pretty good. I ran some errands and began to think my body had finally learned not to call in the biological Green Berets in response to a little simulated COVID RNA. No such luck. By the time I went to bed, my arm was more sore than it had been after any of the other doses and the rest of my body was echoing the aches. I could barely move. The next day, I understood that the COVID vaccine continues to be really, really pissed off by anything even remotely resembling the coronavirus. Yay, me! It took me being out of bed about fifteen minutes before I was certain I would be going back to bed and spending the remainder of the day there. 

Not only did I hurt in every molecule of my body, I had zero energy. My degree of lethargy was so stifling, I could not even abide the thought of eating. Digestion just seemed like too much work. The time I did not spend asleep, I spent largely staring into space.

On Sunday, I had a full complement of activities planned. In fact, I had a few extra items on the agenda. When the alarm went off, I thought I was good. In keeping with prior experience, I expected to wake up like a new woman after a day and a half of feeling crappy. I did not feel too bad, so I got dressed and began my marathon day. About halfway through Sunday school (the second of my six activities planned for the day), I realized that I was not good. My back was starting to feel like knives were sticking into it again and the energy I regained while asleep seeped out of me in buckets. I felt like an old cell phone battery. The little battery icon is all green when you pull it off the power source, but the battery is too old to actually hold a charge for longer than a minute and a half. My battery looked green when I set out to church, but within a half hour it was clear that the only thing that was green was my face.

I ended up going home, immediately flopping down on the couch, and falling asleep for two hours. Then, I got up and went into my bedroom. There, I slept for another hour or so and spent the rest of the afternoon staring into space.

A little later in the evening, I began to feel more perky and actually did a little walking. This morning, except for the large red, swollen, overheated lump on my arm, I feel like me again. Me with more antibodies, apparently.

Good job, Body!

What does your body do especially well? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a (body)positive day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂