A Fresher Perspective

Nov 27, 2019 | Learning

Craving Adventure

My friend Mitch Mitchell asked me why I do this—why I rip apart my blog and start over every few years. My first thought was, “Beats moving.”

I’m told that when I was about seven, and we had lived in our new house for six months or so, I asked my parents when we were going to move again. No, I’m not a military brat; I don’t recall much about our previous moves. I just liked fresh starts and new adventures, even then.

But I was a child. They sheltered me from the more annoying aspects of change—the packing, the cleaning, the logistics of moving house. Change was easy, for me. Change represented a vast unknown, something to be embraced.

I never had any fear of change.

Variety’s the Very Spice of Life

Variety’s the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavour.”

William Cowper
The Task, Book 2. The Timepiece

Change Can Be Challenging

Can we ever really appreciate the easy wins?

I grew up and learned to both dread and appreciate the challenge of change – to dread the drudgery of change-as-busywork, but also to enjoy the well-earned rewards of a worthwhile challenge. One of the most worthwhile challenges involved in change is that of learning new things. Another is being able to smile, with smug satisfaction, at the naysayers. The ones who said, “It can’t be done.”

Unlike many people, I don’t have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into new technologies and new ways of doing things, provided they’re an improvement on the old. I’ll work ten times harder to automate or change a process that’s tedious than the effort involved in just doing it the old way. The words, “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” are an infuriating excuse.

One of my first jobs was to learn the report distribution system at a major oil company. At first, this was fun. I learned how to use machinery that sliced pinfeed holes off the edges of three-foot stacks of computer printouts, and I learned how to operate another machine that separated the carbon and printed paper from “multipart forms,” not just forms, but those three-foot stacks of paper printouts, printed on an impact printer. After doing this, I would sit down to the mind-numbingly boring work of breaking out bits of reports using a letter opener, and sometimes I would bag those bits up in sheets of plastic, then use a large heat sealer to create the “bags” that they’d be shipped to their recipients in. It didn’t take long before terminal boredom set in.

In fact, I almost didn’t get that job; the supervisor told me, during my interview, that his only concern was that, with my college degree, I’d be bored to tears and quit within a week or two.

I told him I wasn’t a quitter. And I promised him 6-12 months, even if I hated the job. I just wanted to work. He gave me a chance, and I stayed nearly ten years.

What he didn’t tell me, though, was that I was being trained to loathe the job I’d been hired to do, in order to “evangelize” an automated report distribution system that was being developed.

It worked. I sold that thing like my sanity depended on it, and found creative ways to convince the folks who thought it would leave them out of a job that, if they got on board with the automation and learned new ways of doing things, they’d be more valuable than ever.

But change-as-busywork is boring. I don’t fear change; I fear boredom. It is wasted effort, and I’m quite capable of wasting effort in more enjoyable ways! Some might argue that redesigning this website is one of those ways.

William Cowper was not really extolling the virtues of change when he wrote that quotable line about variety. He continues, as follows:

“…We have run
Through every change that fancy, at the loom
Exhausted, has had genius to supply,
And, studious of mutation still, discard
A real elegance, a little used,
For monstrous novelty and strange disguise.
We sacrifice to dress, till household joys
And comforts cease. Dress drains our cellar dry,
And keeps our larder lean; puts out our fires,
And introduces hunger, frost, and woe,
Where peace and hospitality might reign.

William Cowper
The Task, Book 2. The Timepiece

This poem is not irrelevant to the redesign of this blog. I have no desire to sacrifice a real elegance for monstrous novelty and strange disguise. That would be the antithesis of what I hope to accomplish.

I have never found hunger, frost, and woe particularly inspiring. Nor is exhaustion, and the feeling of being “a little used.” Get up from the loom, fill the well with novel experiences, lest whatever fancy “genius” might once have supplied runs dry. Already, my son has begun reciting numbers: “Three,” or “Eleven,” or “Five” to point out the number of times I’ve repeated the same stories. If it were old age or senility, it would be excusable; unfortunately, I’ve just run out of new material.

In a few months, I will retire from a career that’s spanned over 20 years in fields as varied as teaching, online game development, training, technical writing, online help and web design, text analytics, social media, project management and more. Oh, however will I fill the days and hours? And where will I fill them, once the corporate cubicle walls fall away?

I’ve considered eating bonbons and crafting crocheted Voodoo dolls, but probably won’t. In the coming year, I intend to rediscover household joys and comforts, stoking the fires of imagination with good books, given the luxury of time to read and truly savor them. I’ll “play tourist” in my own home town, and travel far from home as well. Maybe I’ll take pleasure in writing fiction, again.

Having learned to tend a garden without killing anything, I’ll plant the seeds of learning in order to feed my brain, even if it means making peace with Elegant Themes’ exasperating page builder, Divi, in order to create an online place where hospitality might reign. I am nothing, if not stubborn.

Life should be like a good book, don’t you think? One where we hungrily devour each new chapter, and cannot bear to put it down for sleep.


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Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


  1. Holly Jahangiri

    I’ve turned the new site live, but there are a lot of empty spaces, still – there’s only one post, so the menu items are just a hint of things planned for the future. Try not to fall into a black hole.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…A Fresher PerspectiveMy Profile

  2. Marian Allen

    I just unsubscribed from all your other blogs and subscribed to this one. You’ve certainly dragged ME kicking and screaming into new engagements and learning experiences, and for that, I thank you.
    Marian Allen recently posted…Chickie’s Quilt #Caturday #TipperAndChickieMy Profile

  3. Mitch Mitchell

    First, thanks for the mention and the explanation. It’s still goofy but we’ll go with that. 🙂

    Second, you’ll figure out what to do with yourself, as long as you’re not eating weird stuff on the regular (tripe; ick!). My contracts these days are far and in between, yet my days seem to fly by fast and I’m certainly not sitting in front of the TV all day (though I do sit at the computer way too much). Inevitably, we do what we’ve done, just in different ways.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…You Can’t Just Be “Comfortable”My Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      But you contradicted yourself, there – I have always, ALWAYS, “eaten weird stuff on the regular” (and the Vietnamese have figured out how to make tripe anything but icky – try it in Pho, it’s seriously fine, there!) so if it’s inevitable that we “do what we’ve done, just in different ways” it probably means more of it but now you’ve cursed me with death by weird foods! LOL (You know, because THAT would be different.) Actually, I am a bit envious of the way Anthony Bourdain made a career of traveling and eating weird foods. Seems like I have big shoes to fill, there, and only about a tenth of the credentials needed to do it.

      • Mitch Mitchell

        I didn’t contradict; I was trying to save your foodie life! lol I assume it’s not going to work, especially since you threw pho at me. This is why I go out to eat by myself; no one trying to sneak anything new into my tightly controlled culinary loves.
        Mitch Mitchell recently posted…5 Things To Consider When A Break Isn’t A BreakMy Profile

        • Holly Jahangiri

          Oh, Mitch. I think you have adventurous friends so you can enjoy their antics risk free. Nothing wrong with that, either – especially if it keeps you reading my blog. (No worries; I have my limits. I will not be trying casu marzu in this lifetime, not even on a dare. OK, maybe any dare over $5 million USD, but not more than two tablespoons even with that on the table. That stuff can kill you, but at $5 million, I do have a family to think about. They’d be over there going, “Ewwww, no, gross, don’t do it! We can take care of ourselves JUST FINE… eww, eww, eww.” Seriously, I do have limits, but I think I can stomach more than they can, for the most part.)

          Oh, and I don’t SNEAK things into people’s food. Bad idea. Good reason for them to never trust you again. Do unto others and all – I would not trust anyone who’d do that to me! Now, try to talk you INTO TRYING NEW THINGS, sure – I haven’t given up on that and probably won’t.

  4. Jyothi Nair

    I love to change. I have recreated my websites so many times now. It all depends on the mood and state of mind I am in. So I can fully understand what you mean by boredom and the need for change.

    I am liking the new look of your website. Happy retirement to you.

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Thank you, Jyothi! I won’t be really “retired” till the end of March, but I am both excited at the prospect of handing over the reins to current projects at work, and having the time to begin and focus on some new ones of my OWN! 🙂

      I think Mitch (and a few others) would prefer I just apply a new design to the old blog, but I’ve learned from experience that that is usually just a painful recipe for having to recreate EVERYTHING from scratch (I can’t tell you how many past blogs I’ve just totally effed up doing that, but I CAN name a few of my techie friends who are relieved when I DO NOT DO THAT.)

  5. Corinne Rodrigues

    I love it. The font is so easy on the eye too.
    I’m an Army brat and love change – it’s in my DNA too it seems, because we’d come home from school once every few months to find our furniture rearranged or a new piece added. Mom loved changed too.
    I’ve had to promise my husband not to change my blog theme more than once a year!
    I think you’re going to enjoy your retired years, you seem excited about having time to yourself. Will stay tuned for how it pans out for you.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Live Life When You Have ItMy Profile

    • Holly Jahangiri

      Oh, yes, I am excited! So glad you like the font and readability! And thank you for fixing my link in the Facebook group – I was overeager in sharing that first post (fortunately hadn’t shared it TOO widely) and did it before setting the permalink structure to something more reasonable than the default. I tried just setting redirects, but that was more trouble than it was worth.

      Hahahah…I think once a year is a reasonable limit! I have not subjected my husband to any of my blogging nonsense, but have several blogging buddies who’d be happy if I set my personal limit somewhere between 3-5, maybe 10 years! J.P. Habaradas is top of that list, I’m sure. From him, I learned “If the plug-in says ‘caching,’ RUN FOR THE HILLS!” (He’s had to fix my world more than once, but not since I stopped trying to speed things up with some stupid caching plug-in!)

      I imagine it takes that spirit of adventure and love of change to be a happy military family. Not to mention a high degree of organization, skill in logistics, creative budgeting, and discipline. I’m sure it “builds character” in all.

      I think that my grandmother loved the change of interior decorating a little too much – to the point where I hardly EVER change/rearrange furniture, artwork, knick-knacks. I actually grew up thinking it was NORMAL to visit the wallpaper, carpet, and paint shops once a quarter. I played with paint chips and wallpaper swatches as a kid. But as an adult, I can’t even bear to look at those stores.

  6. Mitchell Allen

    Well, hello, Holly!

    I’m in.

    I am so happy for you–from the impending retirement, to your infectious joie de vivre. Tourism, gardening, writing, not going to work with that Lamborghini…

    Your grandmother’s love of change is something I can relate to. As a young teenager, I used to rearrange my bedroom furniture whenever I became bored with waking up to the same wall. Nowadays, change is all about sitting in a different chair at breakfast!

    Have fun doing the “short-timer’s count-down” and I’ll be stopping by to see what you get up to!


    Mitchell Allen recently posted…The World-wide EruvMy Profile

  7. Peter Wright

    As soon as I saw the subject line in my inbox, I had an idea a new blog was being hatched.
    It looks good and as I enjoy change too, I have subscribed.

    If it’s any consolation, in my supposedly post retirement years, I never have the problem of wondering how to fill the time.

    Quite the opposite. Too much to do.

    Best wishes for the new blog – and fulfilling retirement.



  1. Closing the Chapter, Beginning a New One! » A Fresh Perspective -
    […] Perspective, at https://jahangiri.us/2020. Curious about why I’m doing a redesign? Check out A Fresher Perspective at the new […]

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