Sometimes I Sort for Same!

There’s a concept in the field of Neuro-linguistic Programming that says that some of us sort for same and others sort for different. 

All boiled down, it basically means that some people prefer things they way they’ve always been. Tradition. Routine.

And others prefer variety and novelty and things we’ve never done before.

At least that’s the way I learned it.

With all due respect to my learned teachers, I think there’s something they forgot to mention.

Most of us do both! Here are a couple of examples I know best.

When it comes to music, I sort for same. I’ve actually had the same CD in my car for about five years! And I have about three choices for painting alone times. All of which I’ve known for at least 20 years.

Bill, on the other hand, sorts for almost everything when it comes to music, as long as it’s loud.

Food is a whole different deal.

I sort for variety. Novelty. Local food. Ethnic food. Darn near everything except snake, octopus, or bugs. As long as it doesn’t come in a cardboard box with cartoon characters on the label.

The Legendary Husband sorts for same in food. Same restaurants. Same order. (The “Bill Special”!)

Recently, I’ve had a new experience with food. You see, right around Thanksgiving last year, one of my favorite restaurants was closed due to smoke and water damage from a nearby fire.

I’ve really missed them! Noodle Decatur. 

As you probably guessed, noodle dishes. Bowls. Soups. All really good. (If you leave out the tofu!)

And, even better, dumplings. Just a few, for appetizers. If we’re telling the truth, fried pork dumplings.

And, best of all, sushi. Really, really, really good sushi.

I’ve tried other sushi, of course, in the long months Noodle has been closed. Finally, I gave up. And took to checking at least once a week to see when “the permit problems” would be resolved and I could, once again, have the food I missed so much.

Same order. Every time. Which is extremely sort for same-ish for me!

You guessed it… they’re open again!

Lunch. Virtually unchanged menu. Some of the same staff. (And some new guys learning to fold napkins.)

New tables. A bit more pared down decor.

Dumplings, yes. And my favorite sushi roll.

And I am, kind of oddly for me, relieved.

Which is, I guess, variety of a sort!

I tell you this story today, in the middle of my happy dance, knowing that if you’ve been hanging around for a while, you may have heard some of this before. That’s okay, though. You see, I think there’s an important reminder in here.

First, to borrow a bit of language from Bill Harris, most of us have more than one strategy for handling things, like choices.

Last week, after my fall, my strategy for dealing with food was pretty much whatever hurt least to reach. Today, an excursion to the land of familiar and comforting. Often… as often as possible… exploring new things. (Italian, house-made pasta with fresh shaved truffles comes to mind!)

And food isn’t the only thing for which we have strategies. How to mow the lawn. Or pay the bills. If it’s working, great. (Until your bank changes its system!)

Have you had the same argument 27 times with the same person?

Or backed into your trash can once a month for 3 years?

It might be time for some new strategies.

The good news is that we don’t have to give up the old ones to add new ones. Sometimes we just need some more choices.

Just now, after about 17 coats of paint (!) I’m developing a new strategy for hair on one of  my paintings. It didn’t happen all at once, this new strategy. It happened by going back, again and again, and listening to the outcome from each attempt. By learning from experiences that didn’t quite work and not giving in to old voices whispering “failure”.

I’m headed back to the studio next. Some different. A bit more same. A lot more learning.

And, it’s entirely possible that when my friend comes for lunch tomorrow, we may be back at Noodle!

Chunking It Down

Here’s something about me you may or may not know:

I’m addicted to The West Wing.

Somewhere, deep in those seven seasons of what may just be the greatest TV ever, there is a message that is, apparently, still not through with me. So, around and around I go, each season after the other, all in a spiral, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. Listening, still.

I’ve thought about that a lot since my Pilgrimage journey began a couple of weeks ago. Unlike The West Wing, where I imagine that  I know exactly what’s coming and when, I have no idea where this experience is headed. And with each step I find myself deciding, over and over again, to keep going. To accept the ancient truth that all journeys happen one step at a time and we don’t know what’s next, even when we think we do.

I’ve also thought a lot about how we learn. How we change. How we grow.

Several of my various gurus and wizards through the years would contend that one powerful way we learn is through the process of modeling. Simply, finding somebody who’s doing what we want to learn and watching their process until we can break it down into tiny chunks. Then we “just” do what they do.

According to the experts, it works for just about everything. “Just about” being, I think, the key to the concept.

It is, in fact, possible to watch Mario Batali make pasta on foodie tv until you have each step figured out, and all the ingredients, and then practice often enough that your hands learn what everything is supposed to feel like and you wind up with truly excellent pasta.

Some things may not be quite so possible. For example, when I was in high school I had the unlikely notion that I wanted to learn to pole vault. Really!

Now, if we were to ask the experts, they’d say that, with intense modeling, I could indeed learn to pole vault.

I applaud the theory. I just think that it ignores the realities of six knee surgeries, some debatably reliable lower back discs, and at least a couple of the laws of physics.

It is possible, as I’m doing now, to watch really gifted people who’ve spent years breaking down the steps of painting with a certain outcome in mind and begin, against all odds, to paint yourself.

Painting, at least in an intentional process like the one I am learning, also involves a lot of pondering. And layers of meaning. (A lot like quilting!)

What are we hoping for? What are we trying to express? What might be better because of what we’ve put on a canvas?

Which reminds me of another use of that word, modeling.

Sometimes it does mean watching somebody else, chunking it down, and practicing what we have observed.

The grandmother in me knows that it works the other way, too.

What am I modeling for my girls? (Or my dogs, for that matter?)

What are any of us modeling for our world?

And how, exactly, do we do that?

I suspect the answer looks different for all of us.

But what if the underlying reason was a celebration of something along the lines of openness, justice, inclusion, peace-making, love, or maybe just weeping with the people in Texas?

What if, as much as humanly possible, we walked about the world each day modeling that?

I know. I sound like a hippy-dippy, tree-hugging, soup-making grandmother wandering my world in Newf proof, paint stained clothes.

I’m ok with that. That is who I am. At least, it’s who I’m learning to be! (Some days, perhaps, rather slowly.)

Every moment is a new chance to practice!

Which reminds me of one of those things I wouldn’t personally have planned quite this way, though it seems to be true, regardless:

In order to feel differently, we have to do something different!

(Just in case you needed a reminder like I did!)

’tis the season for meta-narratives!

Bill and I were out for lunch. A nice change from the ongoing Furniture Yahtzee game. Also, warm and dry, which was definitely not true outside.

As we left, we passed a sign a lot like the one above. I wanted to stop and take a photo but the traffic (on a six lane road) was terrible. It was very grey and still raining. So, I decided to make my own. I’ll need your help, though. The actual sign had garlands of gold tinsel all across the top. If you’d just imagine them into picture, that would be great.


Now, I suspect that many of you are wondering why this sign? Why now? And perhaps, WTF??? I hear you.

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Truth time? For lots of people, Mothers’ Day is hard. Think about it. Perhaps your mom has passed on, as mine has. Perhaps your kids and grandkids are far away. Perhaps you’re a single Dad who is being both parents at once. Perhaps your family did not work in the way you needed it to. Perhaps you, or dear friends of yours, have lost children, or wished for them and not had them. Perhaps your children are suffering in their own lives. Perhaps… Perhaps… Perhaps…

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Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach