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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Paul Tevis

Entries in things i am doing (115)

Saturday
Aug082015

And Also

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

–Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

At the Agile Conference last week I recognized that I have a new speech pattern. I heard myself saying things like:

  • “I want to help the team, and also I want them to be independent.”
  • “That way of thinking about it doesn’t work for me, and also I’m curious to know more about it.”
  • “This conversation is not comfortable for me, and also I believe it’s important to have.”

I discovered that “and also” is my phrase for holding paradox unresolved. I found myself using it to connect two potentially contradictory statements and to affirm the truths within both of them. I used when I didn’t want to favor one statement over the other. I’ve talked before about avoiding the word “but”; this goes deeper than that. This is about not rushing to certainty, about being comfortable with the discomfort of ambiguity. This is about being willing to work through ideas in public, about more deeply collaborating by letting people look behind the curtain of my thinking process before things are fully formed. This is about letting go of “having the answers” or “being right” and instead being more aware of and honest about where I’m at. And this phrase helped clue me and others in to when I was doing that.

It’s an odd little thing, but there is.

Thursday
Jan012015

More of the Same

A year ago I said that my resolutions for 2014 were to be:

  • Present
  • Deliberate
  • Patient
  • Grateful

These, as it turns out, were a good idea. Did I do them 100% of the time? Nope. Did I do them more often than I had in the past? Yep. Were things better when I did them? Absolutely. That seems like success to me.

I think I’ll do them again, only this time, even more so.

Tuesday
Apr082014

Side Effects of Poetry May Include...

The last week has seen a revitalization of my poem-a-day project. I’ve been slowly increasing the complexity of the poetic forms I’ve been tackling, and for April I decided to go after sonnets (the Petrarchian variety, specifically). They’re tough, in no small part because they have a fixed meter, rhyme scheme, and length, which means you have to make the pieces fit just so. Unlike I can with, say, octosyllabic rhyming couplets, I can’t sit down and write a sonnet in one go; I need to chip away at it. Finding time to do that during a single day is a bit of a challenge, particularly if I don’t get started early. I seem to have figured a way that works for me: Before getting out of the shower in the morning, I have to have a subject for the poem and at least one line finished. That lets me stew on it all day, which is the trick that has gotten me through the last week’s worth of sonnets.

There’s been an unanticipated side effect of this: I have a lens that I see much of the day through. I’ve found that, because of their structure, sonnets work best when they present a point of view. Like models, they contain a piece of the truth. (My sense-making brain has been having a field day with this idea.) I write my best poems when I take a stand on something, and as I’ve been consciously doing that first thing in the morning, it’s been shaping how I experience the day.

It makes me wonder what else I should be including in my morning ritual.

Monday
Mar172014

Monday, Monday, Can't Help That Day

I was about to say this weekend was “low-key” until I realized it involved getting up a 6 AM on Saturday, driving for an hour and half, fighting for a good chunk of the day, learning basic calligraphy, having dinner, and then driving home. I guess that counts as low-key for us.

It was really nice to sleep in my own bed both nights this weekend, and to have all of Sunday at home, which — I suppose — is what made it feel low-key. I’m starting the week feeling recharged, which is awesome. I’m picking up some new responsibilities at work starting today, so I definitely needed that. I’m teaching at class at Collegium Caidis on Saturday, which has me a little freaked out, but I’ll get over that. There’s lots of good stuff on the horizon; I just need to be mindful about how I approach it.

Monday
Mar102014

How Good Was This Weekend?

I learned how to make bacon. That’s how good it was.

Last week was a whirlwind, with my trip to San Diego backed up against the West Coast Culinary Symposium. But every bit of it was worth it. While in our San Diego office, my partner-in-crime and I interviewed someone who we really want to work with. Not only is that exciting, the interview itself produced several a-ha moments for me that I’m trying to apply at work today. Follow that with a day-long workshop on retrospective techniques taught by Diana Larsen in a room full of like-minded people (about a quarter of whom I met at the Scrum Coaches Retreat last year), and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty satisfying professional week. And that only took me through Thursday evening.

Thursday night and Friday morning involved an amusing series of train rides to get me from San Diego to Riverside, where I met up with Gwen around noon. She was coming from home and picked me up on the way to the Symposium. We got there just at 3 PM, which was the earliest we were allowed to arrive, so apparently we timed that about right. The train rides and waiting time gave me a chance to almost completely catch up on my backlog of poetry, which took a huge weight off my mind. And then the weekend was spent eating too much, learning a ton (including the aforementioned lesson on bacon), and hanging with new and old friends. I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked to run court on Saturday night (though looking back on it, I was the logical choice) and even more pleased with the feedback that I got about how it went. When we got home on Sunday evening, I was tremendously satisfied with the week and ready to sleep in my own bed again.

So what’s on the slate for this week? I need to get started a slightly long-term craft project. Gwen and I need to decide if we’re going skiing or not (and if not, do we day-trip to an SCA event down at Camp Josepho). I’ve got travel logistics for a bunch of upcoming events that I should square away.

Oh, and we’ll need to try the bacon we started.