HVAC Design: The Musical

Lights up on an empty stage. Only silence.

The sound of an air handling unit powering on is heard from stage left.

Act I

“You and Me Live Efficiently” – Thermostats, Zone Dampers

“That’s Not Per Code” – The ASHRAE Dancers

“I’m just Designed this Way” – Air Duct

“I’ll Cover You” – The Building Envelope, Air Duct (Duet)

Act II

“The Right Direction” – Diffuser and Grill

“You and Me Live Efficiently (Reprise)” – LEED, Controls

“Stuck on You” – Coanda Effect

“The Winding Road Ahead” – Chillers, Coils, Sensible Heat, Latent Heat

“I Have to Find my Way” – Centrifugal Force

 

The Platypus Theory: 5 Ways to Beat Frustration

We’ve all been there. It’s the end of the day with zero resources to pour into any obstacle as you’re just trying to complete your night in peace. However, someone didn’t record your favorite show for you and it’s the ONE thing you ask! Or you’re driving home on a familiar route and someone is taking FOREVER to turn!

1. Perspective

Probably one of the best things you can do is rotate your perspective just a tad. Look behind the wheel of your transgressor instead of yelling at the driver.

2. Gratitude

Change that bad attitude into gratitude. Instead of being frustrated, see if you can name something you are thankful for within the situation.

E.g.-

Person A: Why didn’t you record Cake Boss!? They made a cake for the president of Mexico and I wanted to see how they got it across the border!

Person A with Gratitude: Hey, I should just be thankful for someone to talk to and the technology of TIVO! And TV! And electricity! 

3. Blame Blame for your Perpetual Problems

Every time you blame someone, a baby platypus cries. 

Blame puts a metaphorical blinder on so that every word is received through a filter of blame, and everything you hear will try to fuel your perception of blame. You’ll only be listening for evidence of blame.

If we take a step back, we’ll be able to think more clearly about the situation.

E.g. 

Person A: Why didn’t you record my petty show Cake Boss?

Cue the baby platypus crying.

Person A sans Blame: Oh, I’ll just catch that same episode in probably an hour on the same channel, or I could easily find it online!

4. Think of Platypus

Firstly, you can’t maintain frustration with a platypus in mind. It’s a fact. Think of their duck bill, webbed feet, and badger-like body. If there were a specific purpose for their existence, it would be to ease human frustration just with the mere thought of them.

5. Count to 10

Literally give yourself a time out before you do anything stupid. 

That was a really great decision and I stand by my impulsive acts.-Said no one ever.

Giving yourself just those 10 seconds lowers your frustration and allows you to lower the stakes in the situation. While counting, re-think on numbers 1, 2, 3, and ESPECIALLY 4. 

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Elected Official Barbie

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Don’t miss out girls, it’s Elected Official Barbie!

She doesn’t let those high-heels slow her down when she’s running for office.

She wants to be taken seriously, just like her other candidates next to her including Mermaid Barbie and Summer Beach Barbie.

She’s a multi-tasking role model, tanning lotion and blackberry included!

She believes in equality for all. Everyone looks the same, dresses the same, and shares the same hobbies.

You can brush her hair, but don’t brush aside her policy on municipality support for multi-generational funding.

She agrees with border controls. Everyone stays in their own box. That’s what border control is, right?

She believes in the sanctity of Barbie and Ken marriage, because that’s just the way Jamie has always played dolls.

Moving on a Budget: 4 Things to Think About When Changing Locations

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I’ll be moving in June, and I have a big interest in saving as much money as I can. I already know the cost will include much of my time, but I want to minimize the amount of resources spent on the move.

Here are some ways to save on your next move:

1. Packing it up

Reuse boxes from your past moves or others’ past moves. My most successful gathering of boxes is from retail stores. Retail stores recycle their boxes, so they’re happy to give them to you for free.

2. Transportation of Yo’ Junk

Yes, it’s an arduous task to move everything.

First off, minimize the amount of stuff you currently have before you move it and never use it again. Think of donating anything or throwing it out.

Instead of hiring movers, use this time as an opportunity to bond with family and friends. Buy them lunch after they help you move.

Instead of renting a truck, borrow a friend’s truck. Again, bribe them with food. Maybe your friends like Red Robin. Now’s your chance to learn if they do!

3. Create a Money Diet

Outline in an Excel Spreadsheet the money coming in and the money needed for bills. Make sure to plan your move-out accordingly. Be wary in committing to high rent with an unforeseeable income, although tempting. Remember that commitment is sometimes a rush and spontaneous. Thoroughly look over reviews of the apartment or home or neighborhood. Also check the move-in costs for your future place. Sometimes there are administrative fees, deposits, and breathing fees. Research all the fees involved in the move-in process. This will save you money in the long-run.

4. Ditch the Money Pits

While going over your new money diet, get rid of any unnecessary purchases and expenses. Where is all your money going?

Credit card interest? Purses? Starbucks? Clothes? Get rid of it. It’s holding you back.

What are some other ways we can save money when moving? What do you do for furniture and food?

Also, who’s available mid-June* in Arizona to move me from the first** floor***? Free lunch is involved****.

*It’s late June.

**It’s the second floor.

***It’s actually the third floor.

****It’s not.

He’s Just Not That Into You, Snow White: Reasons Why my Fairytale Friends Don’t Get Along

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Once Upon a Time tells the tale of a town called Storybrooke filled with fairytale characters who were cursed to live in our real-world without any recollection of the past. Among the familiar characters is Snow White, Prince Charming, Red Riding Hood, Rumplestiltskin, and last and least an Evil Queen.

The show progresses quickly; but, of course, I continue to watch for strictly educational and academic purposes. And the escapism. And Rumplestiltskin, he’s too cool.

One of the reoccurring stories in the series is the constant tension and struggle for Snow White and Prince Charming to find each other in this cursed real-world. They have no memories of their love at first sight, marriage, or even their child. We see various flashbacks of the past fairytale world while we progress through their relationship in the real-world.

Honey, it’s not going to work. Give up, Snow.

But whyyy nottttt?

Hush down, me on my bed hugging my pillow episode after episode even though people are telling me to go outside and get some fresh air.

If we were to read past the “happily ever after” in the fairytales, I guarantee most marriages would fail. They should end the stories with, “happily ever after…for now.”

First of all, in the Fairytale universe, physical obstacles get in the way of Snow White and Prince Charming, the manipulative King, an Evil Queen, an apple. Well, in the real-world, we have to deal with all that and then some.  The two struggle through these obstacles in the fairytale to be with the one they love after only meeting each other a couple times. If I told my mom I’m going to risk my life in an enchanted forest for some dude I just met, she’d be like, “girl, you crazy, let’s go to Paradise Bakery instead.”

Fairytale land represents idealism. In the real-world, it’s a “honeymoon” phase where everything is perfect, and you fall in love with the idea of someone filling in the blanks with things that appeal to your desires. However, sometimes people will hear the phrase, “I don’t know you anymore”, “You’re not the person I married”, or “I always thought you liked Twilight!” This is because it takes time to get to know the real person. In order to truly know and love a person, you must first see them at their weak moments, their strong moments, their ashamed moments, and understand their reactions to obstacles in their life.

Let’s now imagine Snow White and Prince Charming in an argument over differing opinions on same-sex marriage or what to do when the toothpaste is nearing empty. These things matter, and you need to experience them before you marry. That’s why Mary Margaret and David Nolan are struggling so much in the real-world with no physical barriers. The only thing in the way of them being together is themselves. It can’t always be love at first sight.

One other item that makes fairytale world so easy to throw around “I love you”s is the very romanticized environment they live in. Sure, it’s easy to not get so irritated with your love interest when that’s the only thing you have to worry about. You live in a castle with maids and gold goblets. There is literally nothing to worry about when it comes to princesses and princes. The prince needs to see his wife without make-up. Or better yet, see her the next morning when she fell asleep in her make-up.

However, in the real-world, it’s more difficult for us because we have priorities, responsibilities, and a desire to develop ourselves into more productive individuals rather than marrying someone so we can combine our kingdom’s resources. Well, sometimes we marry for resources; but we certainly do not live as luxurious as fairytale characters.

These fairytales are dangerous to our worldview, giving us false hope of a “meant to be” or “true love” ending. The truth is, my television friends can’t seem to get it right in the real-world because they’ve never had to actually think about getting to know the other person while dealing with actual hardships.

7 Reasons Spending Time Alone Can be Awesome

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I recently had the opportunity to take myself out to dinner and a movie.

On my misadventure, I noticed some pretty interesting benefits to some “me-time”.

1. Eating at a table for one allows you to answer several questions from people.

Do you know when your other party will arrive? Did you need more chips and salsa? Are you at the right Macayo’s?

2. Sitting alone gives you an opportunity to eat without apprehension, allowing yourself to shove many more chips into your face than you even thought possible.

I’ll take that chip refill, please.

3. My evening sans people was actually full of interesting unwanted interactions with people.

Do you have any change? Miss, what time is it? Are you finished with those chips?

4. You get your choice on the night’s activities.

 You choose where to eat, what movie to see, and where to cry alone!

5. During your time alone, you’ll get to catch up on people-watching.

You’ll see 8 kids walk into Coldstone screaming I WANT MAC AND CHEESE, kids with headphones in their ears at dinner while they play on their iPhone that I didn’t get until I was 22, and you’ll even get to see a couple break-up!

6. You can pretend to be someone else!

I went around with a Southern accent pretending I was new in town after recently escaping an abusive relationship with my step-mother. Yeah, I was pretending. That was completely fiction. Heh. 

7. Spending time alone allowed me to reflect on my recent Television Show friends.

I really want Snow White and Prince Charming to find each other in Once Upon a Time, but THE STUPID EVIL QUEEN KEEPS GETTING IN THE WAY–HOW IS SHE EVERYWHERE–WHAT THE F?!

I’d highly recommend a night out by yourself. You get to appreciate your company when you have them, and you get to appreciate yourself and the company you can give to others.

Open this in March 2014: A Self-Addressed Self-Centered Letter

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March 2013

Let’s start with what you’re going through in the present.

Sometimes it feels like life grabs us, suffocating us with severity and wringing us dry of choice or decision.

And sometimes we have to know what is in our control and to take responsibility for the small amount of decisions we can make.

You’ve experienced this, the power of decision and the helplessness of others’ decisions.

Let’s focus on the future.

Whatever cards you’ve been dealt, your purpose now is to make the best of them. Know when to stay and know when to take risks based on your most recent experiences.

Do not let the struggles you have been through go to waste. Learn from them and fill them with purpose. Make them worth your while. Make them worth your tears so there will be less in the future.

Know your limits and know what you can control.

Understand that you are competent and you are deserving of love. Sometimes it is easy to forget. And the times we forget these simple truths are the most vulnerable times in our lives where we are most easily swayed and taken advantage.

Know that you have a supportive group of people in your social circle that care.

The times that we forget of our supportive social circle are the times they are in most need of us.

When you feel lost, start giving again. Opportunities grow from what efforts you give.

You will grow to be a strong person, a respected person. And if you believe that, all others will follow suit.

 

 

You’re Making a Mistake and You Won’t Listen to Me (Even Though I am Correct): Tips for Difficult Conversations

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Do you have a person (or maybe many people if you are unlucky) in your life that shutdown when you talk to them about seemingly deeper conversations or life advice? They came to you with a decision and you have counterpoints, but they refuse to listen and they “dig in” to their side as a defense mechanism?

Or maybe you have someone in your life who you feel is volatile, unpredictable in their reactions to your comments? Instead of shutting down like the first example, they lash out in aggression or emotions?

I think emotional intelligence is seen as unrealistic when it is the most important thing to grasp as human-beings. It’s what makes us higher level thinkers than animals. These primal reactions and first instincts are the basic animal skills needed for survival. In order to gain happiness, I’m asking that we challenge ourselves to negotiate or re-think our most immediate gut reaction or perception of a situation.

Specifically, there are times when we will see a need to give advice, judgment, or a seemingly related tale of when you went through a similar situation. Our goal stated aloud is to assist, help, relate, or to prevent mistakes. These are called autobiographical responses, according to Dr. Stephen Covey.

“I’m just trying to help.”

However, the way we are providing help is not coming across as help. In fact, our judgments, our personal advice, and our stories are pushing us away from the ones we love, without even trying!

The reason this occurs is that we are relating to them in the only way we know, by speaking from our own experiences and by thinking about how we would conduct the given situation. We’re grabbing on to an idea of “normal” or “correct”, and we are NOT letting go. No matter what. It doesn’t matter if you get upset. You’re just upset because I’m right, and that’s all that matters.

In conversation regarding opposing views, people sometimes can react by withdrawing or with aggression. These two reactions have changed the situation from talking with someone to talking to or at someone. It is no longer a conversation talking to someone who won’t react or is looking to defend or attack.

When it comes to talking to a volatile person or someone who just shuts-down when it seems they don’t want to hear it, the key to conversation is understanding. I’m going to ask that we clear our minds of any preconceived notions of this concept so that we may build a solid foundation for this core of communication. Trust me, if you master this and you are open to its technique, you will be able to talk with anyone. You will be able to get through a disagreement and not regret things that you said. You won’t dwell on what was said. You won’t cry at night because of how the conversation drifted from what you intended. If you’re sick of people “not listening to you”, I’ll share with you some significant strategies to empathetic listening that we can practice. You can’t control others, but you can control your own actions and reactions. 

What are the risks to trying these techniques? They’ll be a little outside your comfort zone, but you’ll gain an understanding of another person and a chance of strengthening that relationship. If that person just won’t listen to you regardless, what have you got to lose?

Fair warning to those who choose to join, you will be opened to a world of discomfort in your past and future interactions. You will need to be open to change and growth as an individual. These concepts will help you better understand what it means to relate to another person. They work well in professional settings and in building relationships; however, past friends are accustomed to your past behaviors and may react adversely to these new behaviors. Practice these behaviors with those who will want to practice with you.

1. Let’s Reflect

Reflect on a time where you were trying to persuade someone or to enlighten someone on possible consequences of their current or potential situation.

Did it go well? If so, why? No…why are you reading this. It sounds like you have it together.

In all seriousness, did it go well in the other person’s perception of the situation as well? Or did they withdraw from the conversation?

Or perhaps the conversation went poorly. First off, I’m sorry. That must have been difficult. What about the conversation was difficult? Were they not listening? Were you told you weren’t listening?

I’ll go over a couple of concepts that we can focus on to help with your situations.

2. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. 

It’s the fifth habit of highly effective people: Seek first to understand, then to be understood, as Dr. Stephen Covey states.

He goes on to describe in detail the basics of empathetic listening in regards to conversations, especially conflicting conversations.

“If you’re like most people, you probably seek first to be understood; you want to get your point across. And in doing so, you may ignore the other person completely, pretend that you’re listening, selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. So why does this happen? Because most people listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. You listen to yourself as you prepare in your mind what you are going to say, the questions you are going to ask, etc. You filter everything you hear through your life experiences, your frame of reference. You check what you hear against your autobiography and see how it measures up. And consequently, you decide prematurely what the other person means before he/she finishes communicating.” Dr. Stephen Covey

Empathetic listening is listening to someone without reacting personally. It is understanding that what they are saying is not a personal attack, and that they are overwhelmed with an emotion. This concept is mentioned as extremely important in The Power of Empathy by Arthur Ciaramicoli. 

3. Mirroring and Validating

Another vital concept, and sometimes the next step in the conversation is your response. This step is also described in The Power of Empathy. 

Mirroring and validating involves an acknowledgment in the other person’s feelings to provide a foundation of mutual understanding. This creates a closeness by allowing the other person to feel safe in their feelings.

For example, someone might say, “No one cares about me.” You might want to react with “You’re wrong, of course people care about you. How do you think that makes me feel?”

This reaction negates how the other is feeling. Try acknowledging their anger, sadness, or fear as a valid feeling, and remind them that you will be there for them when that feeling subsides.

If you react by becoming upset or negating how they are feeling, they will not trust talking with you because they do not first feel understood. They will not listen to you, because they do not feel understood. And if you are unwilling to understand you, you must be the bigger person in the meantime and return to empathetic listening and refrain from reacting personally. What they are saying is not a personal attack because they are acting in impulsive emotions. The best thing you can do is validate how they are feeling and help they by creating a safe environment for emotions.

Whether it is explicitly or not, try to tell them that you see how they feel.

Explicitly: That must be difficult. I can see you are frustrated. We’ll get through this together.

When someone confides in another about a situation and they take it personally or react adversely, that person will feel misunderstood because they are not trying to offend. They are frustrated, angry, or sad, and by someone taking it personally, they will feel even more frustrated, angry, sad, and now alone.

Try also to refrain from immediately reacting with advice when unsolicited. First seek to understand and to validate.

If you feel like asking questions to further understand the situation, ask open-ended, objective questions. Steer clear of questions beginning with Why. This prompts a defensive reaction.

4. Practice, Reflect, and Repeat

Do people learn how to throw and catch then stop showing up to practices? Do actors look over a script once and then perform the show?

Some do, but you must be different. You must practice these skills with those who will practice with you. Then when you fall into a bad habit, record and reflect on your trigger. What sparked your reaction and how can we better respond in the future? Keep a journal of your progress, recording your successes and your failures.

Reference Material:

Power of Empathy, Arthur Ciaramicoli

Communicating Forgiveness, Vincent Waldron and Douglas Kelley

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, Douglas Stone

That’s Not What I Meant!, Deborah Tannen

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey

AZ Women’s Theatre Pandora Festival

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I recently participated in an amazing experience, one I will never forget.

My script, Married to Marriage, was chosen for an Arizona Women’s Theatre Pandora Festival Showcase. This festival featured many local writers and actors with the help of this wonderful theatre company. It was an honor to be a  part of the list of talent involved. It was a surreal moment to see my play and to dream of calling myself a writer or a playwright someday.

This experience allowed me to be creative and brought my work to life, which was definitely something I got to cross off of a bucket list. I would encourage all to take the risks to be creative and submit to your local performance facilities, or audition for the facility you have always admired.

You can read more about the past event on Stage Mom Musings Blog. Her blog reviews some great performances and offers insight on the performing arts. It’s a great blog and an interesting read throughout.

Support local Arizona talent and performance by checking out Arizona Women’s Theatre’s website.

I’ve attached my play at the bottom of this blog if you are interested! Let me know what you think!

Married to Marriage

Married to Marriage is about a couple that decides to make a bet that involves wearing the other’s shoes in a metaphorical sense, but just for one day. The two are at opposite ends as far as idealism and realism in this 10 minute play.