The Need for Work-Life Balance

work life balance

Subject: Incident in your office

Dear Mr. Moon,

It happened again! And this time I know who did it. I unlocked your office door, and Bob was standing on your desk with a big grin on his face. He buttoned up his pants, jumped down from the desk, and walked right past me. He must have a key!

I’m sorry, Sir, but when I cleaned it up, the smell was so terrible, I hurled! Unfortunately, I stained a whole bunch of your papers. Don’t worry though! When my shift was over, I went home, got a hair dryer and came back. After I dried the pages, I read them, and the text is still clear. I didn’t know you’re being sued for a million dollars!

I have some good news! Before I came to work today, I dug up a Chrysanthemum Morifolium from my garden, and put in a pot on your desk to absorb the odour. Your office no longer smells now, but there are a quite a few flying insects.

Tomorrow, I’m going to come in early, and hide under your desk, so I can catch Bob in the act! I’ll take a photo, so you have proof. Man, that photo is going to be ugly. I’ll probably hurl again.

I was hoping you might give me bonus pay because cleaning your desk isn’t in my job description. I’d like a small raise if you don’t mind. Maybe 50 cents an hour?

Hope you’re having a great holiday!


Subject: Incident in your office


This is your fourth email to me! Why do you email me every day to tell me the same damn thing? If Bob sh—t on my desk, I’ll deal with him when I get back. This isn’t that important. It could have waited.

To be honest, I don’t even believe you. Bob doesn’t have the key to my office. I have the key. It’s likely you made up this sh—t story because you want more money from me.

When I hired you as the janitor, I thought I made it clear. If there is a real emergency, employees can call me, but they are not allowed to email me when I’m on vacation. Since my heart attack, I’ve been practicing work-life balance. I don’t want to think about work while I’m away!

Lastly, staff are not permitted to read papers on my desk! When you start your shift on Monday, I want to speak to you.



The Man Who Repelled Women with Cologne


Subject: No Longer Buying Your Cologne

Dear Calvin Klein,

I’m 33 years old, and I loved all your men’s colognes. I really did. Every morning, I sprayed Eternity Intense on my lower jaw and wrists; then I left my apartment. The smell was so intoxicating, I felt incredibly sexy. I became hopeful I could finally find a girlfriend!

But a month ago, something shocking happened. I switched to Obsessed; then I walked to the bus stop, and saw a 250-pound woman standing beside the bus shelter. In her mid-20s, she had a double chin, high heels, and was wearing a tight-fitting red lace bodycon dress.

Feeling an overwhelming attraction to her, I raised my chest high, pulled my stomach in, and approached her with pouty lips, but before I could speak, she twisted her face and cried, “Oh, my God!” Then she turned and trotted down the street!

I’ve never been rejected like this before. Women have often said to me: “I don’t feel like dancing right now”, “I don’t drink coffee”, and “I don’t want a man in my life.” However, no woman has ever said, “Oh, my God!” and walked away from me. Did I stink? How could that be? I was wearing Obsessed.

My self-confidence was badly shaken, but I remembered the words of a Zen Master: “If women keep rejecting you, it might be because there is something wrong with you, but if you stare at a cloud for ten hours, you will be okay.” Comforted by this saying, I went home, sat on my balcony, and stared at the sky for a very long time.

A week later, I switched back to Eternity Intense, and went looking for love again. I took a bus downtown, and saw a Russian woman sitting in the back seat. She was ten years older than me, had a shaved head, and was missing half her teeth, yet I felt strangely attracted to her. I couldn’t resist her she-devil smile!

As soon as I sat beside her, she cried, “O net, ne snova!” which means: “Oh, no, not again!” Then she opened her purse and put a face mask on. I was mortified. Two women in one week repelled by how I smell! How was this possible?

I asked the woman why she wore a mask. She explained how cologne makes her face hurt really bad. My jaw dropped, and my heart was pierced! At that moment, I knew what I had to do.

When I returned to my apartment, I opened all my bottles of cologne, took one last sniff of each, then flushed them down the toilet. I cried a little because I love how great I smell, but I will not cause anyone pain by wearing cologne in public!

Sadly, Olga—the woman I met on the bus—broke up with me a week ago. She said, “Roger, you stink bad!” It’s all Olga’s fault though. The she-devil put a love spell on me! Whenever I fall in love, I get so nervous, I sweat like a horse!

I have a request to make of your company. Since Olga dumped me, every woman I’ve asked out has turned me down! Can you create a natural cologne that smells like chocolate? A majority of women love chocolate more than sex, so if I smell like a chocolate bar, I believe it will increase my chances of finding a girlfriend.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours truly,

Roger Tuckerman

The Idealistic Dreamer: Risking Everything with No Plan B

dreamer roadThere are two types of dreamers: the realist and the idealist. While a realist sets an achievable goal, an idealist is more likely to pursue a pipe dream: “an idea or plan that is impossible or very unlikely to happen.”1 They can become obsessed with their dream, overestimate their chances of success, and make foolish decisions. An idealistic dreamer is often willing to risk everything—no matter what the cost or consequences—and has no plan B.

An idealist is “someone who believes that very good things can be achieved, often when this does not seem likely to others.”2 They imagine the “perfect life” they want to have and set out to achieve it. Unfortunately, not all that the mind preconceives can be achieved. Some dreams are pipe dreams that can never be realized no matter how hard a person tries.

The bigger the dream, the more passion and excitement it can awaken in a person’s heart. A strong desire to achieve one’s dream is important because it propels a person to take action. However, when an idealist has a dream, their desire to make it a reality can go beyond normal ambition. Their dream can turn into an obsession: “an idea with which the mind is continually and involuntarily preoccupied.”3

Obsession with a dream can impair a person’s ability to think logically. Consumed by their desire to achieve their dream, the idealist will make foolish decisions. Common mistakes include spending all their money, borrowing money from family or friends, and quitting their job or refusing to apply for one. The idealistic dreamer fails to consider the consequences if their dream doesn’t come true.

It is natural to be inspired by stories of people who achieved what seemed impossible. These stories give the idealist hope that their dream can come true too. However, for every story of someone who achieved the impossible, there are countless untold stories of people who tried and failed. Although the idealist may be right that their dream is possible, it may not be that probable.

An unrealistic hope can cause the idealist to misjudge their chances of success. They may overestimate their abilities, not realizing they could face competition from people with even greater abilities. They may engage in magical thinking: the idea that anything is possible if you believe it will happen.4 Although it is important to have hope in the pursuit of a dream, obsession with a pipe dream can be a way to avoid facing reality.

If the idealist becomes “high” on hope, and confident that their dream will come true, they are often willing to risk everything to achieve it. The pursuit of a dream always involves some degree of risk; however, an idealistic dreamer is like a gambling addict in a casino. The gambler risks all his savings to win big, but if he isn’t lucky at the card table, he will lose it all. Like the gambler, the idealist takes a large risk to achieve something with a low chance of happening. Sadly, the more that they risk, the more they are likely to lose in the end.

In contrast to the idealist, a realist “hedges” against risk.5 A realist considers options that will increase their future alternatives. For instance, if they work part-time while pursuing their dream, they won’t run out of money as quickly. A realist makes choices that will increase their future alternatives, so they can still have a quality life if they decide to stop pursuing their dream.

A realist can still “dream big”, but they are not willing to risk everything if the dream has a low chance of coming true. Instead, they will pursue their dream part-time until they have a greater chance of success. Later, if they pursue their dream full-time, they set a deadline, and are ready to implement plan B once the deadline passes. In contrast, an idealist has no deadline for achieving their dream, and continues to pursue it at all costs. They only think about plan B if they have no other choice, usually when they run out of money.

When a person has a dream, it gives meaning and purpose to their life. Whether a realist or an idealist, the greatest danger in pursuing a dream is to turn it into an idol: “a statue … worshipped by people who believe that it is a god.”6 Although no one makes their dream a literal god, it can become a substitute. A dream becomes an idol when it is all that a person lives for, when they exalt it above and beyond any other person or priority in their life. If the dreamer idolizes their dream, the desire for its fulfillment can become linked to their identity and self-worth. In the end, if the dream proves unattainable—and they spent many years of their life pursuing it—their identity and self-worth may implode.


  1. Cambridge Dictionary, s.v. “Pipe dream.” Accessed August 25, 2017,
  2. Cambridge Dictionary, s.v. “Idealist.” Accessed August 25, 2017,
  3. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, Eighth edition, s.v. “Obsession.” Accessed August 22, 2017,
  4. Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition, s.v. “Magical thinking.” Accessed November 17, 2017,
  5. Investopedia, s.v. “Hedging for Beginners: A Guide.” Accessed August 28, 2017,
  6. Collins Dictionary, s.v. “Idol.” Accessed September 7, 2017,

Seven Symptoms of Mania: Homeland “The Vest” (2011)


In Homeland “The Vest”, Carrie (Claire Danes), who is bipolar, has a manic episode. When on her medication, Carrie has a track record of forming accurate judgments in her work as a C.I.A. agent. However, when she goes off her medication, and becomes manic, no one believes what she says. An unexpected theme in “The Vest” is that people who experience mania can still have an accurate perception of reality.

A manic episode is an “abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy, lasting at least one week…”1 When Saul (Mandy Patinkin) visits Carrie at the hospital, he is visibly stunned by her changed personality. Carrie is irate that the nurses do not have a green pen. Later, her mood is euphoric—in one shot, she smiles gleefully for no apparent reason.

In addition to an abnormal change in mood, there are seven major symptoms that can manifest during a manic episode. These include “pressure to keep talking”, “flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing”, “decreased need for sleep”, “increase in goal-directed activity”, “distractibility”, “inflated self-esteem or grandiosity”, and “excessive involvement in activities that have a high potential for painful consequenes.”2 In “The Vest”, Carrie displays six of the major symptoms of mania.

The first symptom of Carrie’s mania is she talks at a very fast pace. When Saul visits her at the hospital, he tells her: “You’re not yourself. You’re talking very fast. Your thoughts are running together.” Carrie’s thoughts are moving faster than her ability to speak.

With racing thoughts, Carrie has a “flight of ideas” and a unique revelation. She tells Saul “there is a bigger, pernicious, Abu Nazir-worthy plot…” Saul doubts what Carrie says, but she is convinced that another terrorist attack is imminent even though she has no evidence.

After her release from the hospital, Carrie has a “decreased need for sleep” and an “increase in goal-directed activity.” She studies and color-codes boxes of classified documents until late in the evening, and only gets tired when she is given medication.

Although Carrie has a singular focus on stopping another terrorist attack, she is easily distracted. When her sister Maggie (Amy Hargreaves) stops in traffic, Carrie impulsively gets out of the vehicle, crosses the street, and is nearly hit by a car. As she stares at the plants sprouting from the soil, she has a revelation that this is analogous to a coming terrorist attack. To Maggie, Carrie is living in a world of her own, seemingly divorced from reality.

The sixth major symptom of mania is grandiosity: an “unrealistic and exaggerated concept of self-worth, importance … and ability.”3 Carrie believes that she is right, and that everyone else is wrong. Her father, Frank (James Rebhorn), tells her: “Feels good out there, doesn’t it? Like you’re the Queen of the world.” To Frank, Carrie’s behavior is grandiose. She has overestimated her abilities as a C.I.A. agent.

The final outcome of Carrie’s manic episode is ironic: The person experiencing mania has more insight and understanding than people who are in a normal state of mind. Later in the series, there is a terrorist attack, just as Carrie predicted. This is the one aspect in which Carrie’s manic episode is atypical. When a person becomes manic, they are absolutely convinced that their revelations are right, but in reality, they are often wrong.


  1. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5 (Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013), 124.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Medical Dictionary, s.v. “grandiosity,” accessed November 9, 2017,