I’m laughing my way through The Mane Squeeze by Shelly Laurenston. I needed something light and distracting to offset all the emotion of the last couple of weeks, and I’m enjoying the lions and tigers and bears. Oh, my. Especially the bears—who shift into large, gorgeous hunks. Yep, it’s definitely working for me; takes my mind off the fact that I’m no longer a high school mom. And I had a birthday stuck in the middle of the graduation festivities, so I’m feeling old as dirt. Luckily, I’m not too old to enjoy a hot, sexy bear shifter and his tough-as-nails hybrid mate, in this case a tigon—half lion and half tiger. From Philly. Doesn’t get any tougher than that. Except maybe an uber-diva from Manhattan. Apparently, we have a lot in common.
Turns out that hybrid shifters are particularly susceptible to distraction. Me too. Look—something shiny! I have the attention span of a gnat; focus is always a challenge. I’m all over the place. And while being endlessly curious (like the bear shifter) and easily distracted (like the hybrid) might mean that I will have adventures analogous to my fantastical buddies, I’m not sure whether such characteristics are good or bad as a full human in the real world. As with most things, it’s probably a little of both.
Being easily distracted means I need to allow extra time—lots of it—to accomplish simple tasks. Once I get into it, I’m quick. But getting to it is a bit of an issue. Look—something shiny! It takes me quite a while to get into the zone to produce something tangible—like this blog, for example or my actual work. “Look—a squirrel!” I’ve learned to build that squirrel time into the equation when planning my schedule. Such acceptance has come with age and has saved me a lot of missed appointments and frustration. It’s just the way things—my things—are.
Being easily distracted means that conversations can digress quickly and last for hours, even days. It can mean dirty looks from my husband, who is used to my ways but does not share them. And it means that I’m a disaster at long meetings or other events that require extended stints of sitting, like online training or protracted meals. I fidget. I squirm. I see a lot of things that are shiny. I change the cross of my legs sixteen times a minute. I doodle. I make faces and bite my nails. I stare at people, which makes them uncomfortable when I’m just trying to remain engaged: life moves more slowly than my attention. I can, of course, make an effort when required and pretend I’m normal and can sit still. But’s it a lie.
On the other hand, there are advantages to my “affliction.” As the hybrids in The Mane Squeeze know, distractibility is the other side of intellectual motivation; it’s also a wellspring of creativity. I can put two and two together and make a convincing case for five. I notice everything—and am willing to offer my observations to any who will listen. I can flit from one thought to another in an aggressively nonlinear manner. This enables me to think of things others often don’t.
I’m lucky to work for two people who, like me, often see distractingly shiny objects. One of them I’ve known since we were both peons, and the other is a recent, happy surprise. It usually means that there’s no such thing as a quick conversation. But it also means that we can get into really interesting discussions with unexpected destinations. It’s fun to work with people who understand the allure of shiny things and who don’t get upset at the serpentine road less travelled. It makes for purposeful work and meaningful contributions to the greater good. I’m totally down with that.
People like me take the circuitous route and find treasures along the way. Because the shiny thing could be a diamond in the rough that we’d miss it if we weren’t always on the lookout with our well-developed peripheral vision. In the shifter world, such attributes make for great combatants. Gwen and Blayne kick serious ass as roller derby queens and mean street fighters. In our world, they make for great leaders and the all-important first follower. I’m a first follower who can recognize a leader with good ideas or a viable vision and become an early adopter. This has been good in many ways. I’ve been able to reinvent myself professionally several times. I’m also rarely bored, because as soon as monotony threatens, I move on to greener pastures. There are so many sparkly things in both truth and fantasy, just waiting for me to notice them. And if I’ve got more breadth than depth, that’s all right. So do my shifter friends and the people I work for, so it’s all good. And for those who aren’t like me, that’s okay too. Different strokes for different folks. It’s just that I want all my strokes to be shiny, not dull.