I love languages and have studied many. In seminary I got to study Hebrew. It’s the closest language to pure poetry that I’ve encountered. (Greek, on the other hand, is an excellent language if you want to be a lawyer; very precise.) I love organizing things and see organization as a spiritual practice; separating, defining, distinguishing things. I would agree that there is something holy about separation, making something distinct, having its own being. In spiritual matters there is always that tension between connection and separation. God in the first creation story in Genesis makes various aspects of beingness separate and distinct. Above our washer and dryer I used to have a cartoon that showed God whistling while separating the laundry, light from dark.

And speaking of holy separation: a separate home office with a door you can close is a wonderful thing! My office doesn’t have a door, but it’s at a far end of the house; not a lot of traffic except for my two office cats. However, it is around the corner from the kitchen, so I’ll hear important stuff like if a cellophane bag is crinkling and anyone’s making a yummy sound. Then I have to get up and see if somebody is snacking on something really good, that they ought to share with me. (The chocolate stash is often getting raided at these moments.)

I’ve shut off almost all notifications on my devices as well. And, it is bliss to be able to turn off my work phone at the end of the day.

Paper systems! I love those, too. Some years ago I got annoyed at keeping up with apps (and all their dependent devices, and environs, etc etc) and started moving more of my personal organizational processes to paper. It has helped immensely, not least because electronic devices have so many distractions at hand. Since it is my personal system, I have the liberty to be quirky about it. I can see where paper systems would be difficult with a large shared project like managing school finances. I used to be the network administrator for a medical records system with a practice that was transitioning from paper to electronic. If nothing else, paper sure takes up a ton of space, and is hard to back up. Did you see any advantages to the paper system, or anything it could do that was difficult to translate to an online process?

Super powers…. it is embarrassing to admit that the super power I’ve always wanted is to be physically coordinated. I don’t have an intuitive sense of where my body is in space, in relation to other things, which is why all of my sports are solo ones (yoga, hiking). I have to think daily puzzles through, like: “Anna is standing next to the car door with a tote bag, a backpack, a purse, and a coffee thermos that she may, or may not, have remembered to seal shut. It rained, so the ground is muddy. After she unlocks the car door, in what order should she place the bags inside, and place the coffee in the drink slot, without spilling something, dropping something in the mud, or injuring herself with hot coffee or an untimely door slam?” Yeah. It’s that bad.

The super power I have? I never lost the childlike ability to get absorbed in watching or looking at something. Bees entering and exiting a ground nest. Sunrise. Light patterns on the wall. Shadows on water. One of those tiny red mites traversing a board. Dust motes floating in sunlight. Patterns in flooring. Leaves blowing around in a breeze. People’s faces. Dogs, birds, plants, mushrooms. I can find something that I think is interesting or beautiful, anywhere I go. Sometimes it makes me late for things, though. I discovered it by getting in trouble for being “too slow,” or late. However: being a witness to the beauty in this world is my super power, and I will not renounce it. It is a wonderful way to go through life.

And, how about you? What is the super power you wish you had? And what is the one you do have, and how did you discover it?


Hi Anna,

It’s been a bit of a crazy month so I’m a little late to this one.

I think paper works great when you don’t have a system yet. Trying to solve new problems, or try things out, organizing something fresh. The phrase “blank canvas” sticks with us, though few of us are painters, for a reason. But paper really does fall down when collaborating with others or trying to learn from information. Paper can organize you, but paper is woefully inadequate as data. I think a core problem that folks have using software to do their work is that they mistake the needs of lots of organizations to generate data with their need to organize themselves. Quite often, digital systems are actually pretty poor at helping us organize ourselves, but they’re great at generating data that’s easy to share and summarize and learn from in larger groups.

Proprioception is such an interesting superpower choice. I can see how its lack impacts you day to day, but I wonder what a super version of proprioception would mean. Perhaps something like the Bene Gesserit and their precise control over their bodies leading to being great fighters but also things like controlling fertility and fighting against poisons or disease…

Being a keen observer and being able to watch — wow what a great power, and it makes sense given your current profession. As someone who has to consciously remind myself to watch and be in the moment, much like you have to think through the sequence of unburdening yourself as you enter the car, that seems like a great super power. A friend of mine has been making it her personal project to notice great service and then contact companies and managers to make sure they know that the people who helped them did a great job. It’s a simple thing I’m certain is leaving great feelings everywhere in her wake, but it all starts with even spending the time to notice a kindness. Noticing nature and the world around us is critical, but witnessing people may be all the more so. I find both challenging at times. Cis het white guy with a healthy dose of anxiety and main character syndrome over here.

I’ve always wanted telekinesis— the full kind that includes lifting oneself to fly, but importantly, the ability to physically control and manipulate the environment around me. It just seems to cover the full gambit of utility and fun. It’s an incredibly flexible power.

But my real power is the fast accumulation of moderate expertise. I am the type of person that can be placed in most rooms and listen to experts discuss a problem and quickly organize what’s happening, restate the problem more clearly for the folks in the room, and often even see steps to solutions. I can build up a knowledge of jargon quite fast. People often think I have significantly more experience and expertise with whatever it is I’m encountering, because I seem to be able to burrow to understanding fast. I think it’s a combination of systems and strategy thinking— I pretty quickly figure out what information is unimportant, and I often start to see the whys of things. Once you can see the structure and design of something, it’s fairly easy to follow to its conclusions. That’s the best I can describe it— maybe I’d call it something like “meta-structural awareness”. I can see what the human designers of any system were thinking, fast.

I’ve been traveling a lot this month, so I’ve missed a bit of my favorite time of year— the transition into fall. I’m looking forward to two weeks at home as we start to put on coats and sweaters and the air gets a little crisp. I need to create some space over the next couple of weeks to spend time outside. It’s been too chaotic lately, and I don’t want to miss one of the few falls I get to experience in my life. What’s something you should be putting aside time for right now?