I used to keep a cartoon on my desk at the office, it read: “I only have one nerve left and you are getting on it!” Funny, that slogan takes on a whole new meaning when you have shingles.
Not to worry, I’m not whining. In fact, I am blessed. Given the spectrum of possible suffering, I got off easy with a mild case. Just like I had a mild case of chicken pox as a child, so mild no one in my family ever remembered my having them, but the shingles confirm I did.
Seems everybody remembers when my sister got chicken pox. She was just a baby and she didn't have a spot without a pock. She had to wear protective gloves so she couldn’t scratch herself. Bless her heart. I pray she takes advantage of the new shingles vaccine. I encourage all Bravehearts over 60 to do so.
My point is, everything in life is relative. I’m learning more and more whatever we’re facing it could be so much worse. So much worse. I am beginning to really expand my “Attitude of Gratitude” to embrace all things – even the unpleasant stuff – by remembering whatever we face we learn from, and everything is so much better than it could be.
I end every email with, “Man, we are so blessed”, and I’m reminded again today how very much we are!
My relatively brief, 13 mile morning commute has been a foreseeable frustration for me. I allowed that to happen. Every morning, you can count on it; traffic will come to a screeching halt at the intersection of our one Expressway and the other major highway. Happens every morning.
For some inexplicable reason the drivers making this commute along side me day after day slam on their brakes in awe and wonder as the junction approaches. Like it’s a brand new deal each day. Son of a gun, who put THAT there?
Now I’m a real blonde, and I admit every day is REALLY new for me, but c’mon!?! Thus, the source of my anger, frustration, and resentment. I would get upset before I ever left the house in anticipation of the morning melee, full-knowing it would occur just as I expected it would. I am never disappointed.
Now for some bizarre reason I decided to change my tune this morning. I was just tired of getting myself all psyched up and tense over the inevitable. So – in keeping with yesterday’s blog – I determined I would “embrace it all”. I would look forward to the commute with eagerness and anticipation and await with a positive frame of mine what idiocy might occur today.
Surprisingly, I had a great ride to work. Oh, nothing changed. The fool that likes to thread his vehicle between everyone else’s when there just isn’t room was at it. True to form he caused three near-misses. But I was delighted to see that for all his efforts he lane-changed his way into the wrong one – his lane got held up by some matter, all the others he’d weaved in and out of moved smoothly ahead. I passed him with great glee.
My point is I can’t change the circumstances one bit. But I get let go of the tension and watch with eagerness and excitement to see how the Universe, with her own calm and creative aplomb, sets things in order. I don’t have to run the world or even oversee morning traffic. If I’ll try, I can go with the flow. With glee!
When I was in direct sales there was a period of time where I introduced my services to the community most directly – door to door. “Face to Face” the company liked to call it. Prior to my exposure to GPS, this often involved finding my way in a hit or miss manner. I got lost a lot!
One day, having exhausted the cul de sac I had targeted, I was more than ready to get out of Dodge. I was disoriented in the new locale, not paying attention, and I backed right into a culvert. A deep one.
It didn’t take me more than eleven seconds to realize I was nicely entrenched and was going to have to call a wrecker for assistance.
Notice how quickly I reasoned to the only logical conclusion? When you drive yourself into the ditch your instinct is to get out of it.
I learned a lot that afternoon. I learned that a career in direct sales was probably not my best life choice. I learned to keep the name of a reputable towing service on speed dial on my cell phone. I learned to keep my cell phone battery charged. I learned that some instincts are primal and universal. They effect survival.
My point is at some stage we all realize we’ve driven ourselves into a ditch. I haven’t known anyone that meant to. That doesn’t mean we have to stay there. Get out. And if you need assistance getting out? By all means ask for it.
As the nice burly wrecker-driver told me, controlling his paroxysms of laughter, “It’s alright, Lady. Everybody gets stuck some time.”
For one of the best treatments on the topic, may I suggest Beth Moore’s “Get Out of the Pit” - Integrity Publishers, a Division of Thomas Nelson, 2007.
Those Yard Turtles get you every time. There you are, walking along, minding your own business, and wham. There’s the yard turtle, right in front of you!
Well, that’s the life lesson my puppy Rex taught me this morning. We were doing just that, minding our own business walking along and WHAM-M-m-mmm, there he was, Yard Turtle – scared Rex to pieces!
Now, me? I’m laughing so hard I can’t stand it, but Rex is a mess, pulling on the leash, trying to activate his cloak of invisibility, whimpering and making himself small, hiding behind me.
Rex has never had to face a yard turtle.
But bless his heart, he did. I gave him some time, and eventually he approached it and using great caution, gave it a good sniff, and sensing no threat, a good bite. With a snort and a sneeze he turned around and came back to me with a satisfied, “Handled, that!” look.
Rex reminds me that the best way to tackle most challenges is straight on. Oh, we might whimper at first, but hiding doesn’t solve a thing, and most times, when we face what we fear the most, it’s not so bad after all.
As we walked away I noticed just a little spring in Rex’s step. Yep, that’s the best part of facing and overcoming a fear - that super duper feeling when it’s over!
And speaking of facing the challenge, I encourage you to check out the "From Can't to Can" Community, where we'll be setting and achieving some audacious goals. Just go to the Community tab here, and click on "From Can't to Can!"
I have a small photo album, the kind you could carry in a purse, that has all my most precious pictures in it – my nearest and dearest loved ones, in black and white and color. I can’t find it.
A couple of weeks ago I went on one of my famous clean up and clean out reorganization frenzies. They are terrifically productive but inevitably something always winds up lost.
Correction – not “lost”. Misplaced. Or replaced. Or situated so cleverly I have no idea what I did with it.
I remember thinking, “Oh, these are precious, I shouldn’t have this lying around anywhere. I need to put it up somewhere safe”. Well, it’s certainly secure – even I can’t find it.
I’m an expert at losing things. Fortunately I know that higher mind, or guardian angels, or the universal finder-of-lost-things is pretty good at recovery operations.
Usually, when I relax and stop searching whatever I have misplaced turns up.
Comforting to know, like precious inanimates, even mere mortals are never really lost. Maybe displaced, misplaced, or replaced – but the recovery specialist will find us. And you never know where we’ll turn up.
It gladdens me to know that my son-puppy, Rex is psychologically healthy, with a good sense of boundaries, and apparently, limits.
Unlike his more compulsive mistress, Rex knows when to say, “that’s enough”. He has limits on his food, treats, sleep, and clearly, training.
We are in the last hurdles of doggie obedience class and of course I want us to ace the final that’s coming up in two weeks. My dream may be in jeopardy.
Last night we were trying to master two new tricks. The first one was SHAKE. Once we discovered Rex is right handed, er – pawed, he caught on right away, soon perfecting the move and refining it. We were all impressed when he demonstrated the two-paw crossover where he’ll clasp your hand between both his front paws. (Like his mistress, an overachiever!)
All that left us was ROLLEE POLLEE ROLL OVER. Personally, I was hoping we were finally getting to the BRING MOMIE SOME COFFEE PLEASE part. Maybe that comes later.
Now Rex tried to tell us he was through with the training for the day. He resisted politely. Shook his head decisively. Sat on his butt and became immovable. (Wonder where he learned that?) Unfortunately, the trainer was insistent that we learn one more thing. Rex whimpered, refused the treat, and looked at the guy with a pleading, “I REALLY REALLY don’t want to look” but the pro continued.
And then Rex peed. Class dismissed.
As a human who just discovered that “enough” really is a word (it’s in Wikipedia and everything) the pup reminds me that limits are good, and that I could do a better job of setting and communicating my own as well as respecting the ones other people (and puppies) set.
I guess sometimes you just need to know when to say when.
But when it comes to goal setting? There are no limits. Take a look at the "From Can't to Can" Community where we will be setting and achieving some audacious "Sky's the Only Limit" goals!
Not that many years I go I was looking forward to my tenth birthday. It was a big one – double digits – and my Dad, the love of my life was taking me out on a big girl date.
I remember EVERY detail, the restaurant, what we ordered, how my mother chose that day to cut all of my hair off to just ¼ inch around. I looked like a boy. A boy in military school. I was crestfallen.
There was no way I could go out to dinner looking like THAT. Here’s where the cool, “Dad’s really are Superheros” part comes in. When Dad came home and saw the follicle carnage he did a visable recoil. Then, as I burst into tears he came right over, got on one knee and said, “I don’t care what your hair looks like. I am still taking the most beautiful girl in the world out and I will be proud to have you on my arm.” Luckily that was before pre-teens wore mascara.
So off we went, to a very nice restaurant with white tablecloths and napkins. The waitstaff fawned all over me. I had on a red velvet dress and a corsage from my Dad – white carnations – and if I’m real still I can still smell them.
We had coffee before dinner – it was a really grown up thing to do, and he sang the lyrics: “I love coffee, I love tea, I love the Java Jive and it loves me…” Of course that sent me into paroxyms of giggles – Java Jive – to me that sounded so silly.
That was a pretty memorable birthday. As my friend Joe likes to say, “a Zenith moment”.
I’ll never forget that night and how a Father’s love could turn a geeky prepubescent dweeb into a Princess. That’s when I learned about magic!
So? No matter how your day starts, know that it can always finish well… sometimes all it takes is a little… magic!!!!!!!!
Coming from Southern California I was raised with the correct descriptor for that well-saged whitebread crumb product that fills the cavernous void of a traditional holiday turkey – STUFFING.
My friends from the American South have tried to argue the appropriate term is DRESSING, which we all know is something you do to get ready for the day. No sage about it. But then, what do they know, they put chicken in theirs and use corn bread. Wrong on so many levels.
Okay – I’m half teasing. What do I know? Thanksgiving was always celebrated at a Restaurant, with fruit cocktail and nuts I never ate, and potatoes which made up for that, and hot apple cider with cinnamon sticks. Other than the nightmarish scene where my sister put her retainer in said same mashed potatoes, this was always the one occasion where everyone in my (we put the dys in functional) family chose to get along.
Let no one come between a fella and his bird. Dad was always in good spirits or had enough gin gimlet spirits he was in good humor, and usually my sister and I were on good behavior.
Which brings me to my point. Let’s call a moratorium on holiday squabbling. Let’s agree to disagree and recognize that probably no one is going to pick the last Thursday in November to have that much-needed change in political affiliation, few folks are going to undergo personality transplants, and we’re all probably just as weird as the next guy, one fork over.
So, c’mon. Get thankful. Celebrate the fact you have as many gathered around you willing to put up with you as you do. And if you find yourself on the lonesome side this holiday, I bet there’s someone else a little lonesome-er. Make some room in your heart and at your table. There’s always room for one more. And, pass the stuffing.
Check back tomorrow where I'll be covering the hotly debated topic: "How to Prepare a Thanksgiving Turkey"
Stuffing, in its place, is perfection! In a plush toy, as you can see, it’s adorable! In a turkey, be it oyster, sage, or cornbread, it’s simply scrumptious. In a pillow, at the end of an exhausting day, it’s absolutely divine. But when it comes to emotions? Stuffing just isn’t the answer. I should know! I’m stuffed my share.
You know how dirt is really helpful in a garden but on the living room carpet, not so much? Emotions are sort of like that. Out in the open, in the light of day, they are generally healthy and conducive to positive communication. But let them get all smushed up and buried inside the psyche? Not good at all.
Funny, I always thought holding things in was a way of exhibiting maturity – of maintaining control. I thought if my external façade was cool, calm, and collected the inside would eventually follow suit. But just like the steam in the proverbial pressure cooker, one way or the other, it’s going to come out.
Seldom have I ever really just lost it, though a distant memory involving my dining room table, myself atop it, and my own voice at full decibels comes to mind. Usually I just snipe – letting any pent up nastiness leak out in fits and starts, usually concerning situations unrelated to the resentments seething within.
“What’swithher?” Could have been my Indian name for many years.
For years I’ve been coaching women to “find their voice”. At first it just meant modulating the pitch and timbre in their speech but now it’s the whole enchilada – volume, tone, vocal chords, and content.
As I’ve helped others find their voices I somehow stumbled across my own. The one I’ve muffled and medicated, stifled, and silenced.
To be sure, when I do use that voice I’m not nearly as cute as the stuffed animal in the photo here. But it’s been great to see that when I do express myself openly and authentically planets haven’t imploded and the earth seems to stay on its axis. Reason enough to keep my stuffing where it belongs!
Okay, since I thought ALL Thanksgiving meals came with a maitre d', I’m probably not your “go to person” for help with the holidays. I don’t want to tell you how old I was before I even attempted a bird on my own. It wasn’t pretty. One look at that bag of guts and I was making reservations, looking for linen tablecloths, and calling out: “Garçon!”
Which brings me to one of my most wonderful and memorable Thanksgivings – a traditional one, held at the home of a woman who’d managed similar feasts for more than forty years – SHE is your go to person.
I love her to pieces because she is so adept. She has a gift for effortless entertaining, pulls off the most complicated repast without breaking a sweat and seems to have everything under control. I covet her calm!
So I was thrilled when she invited me to join her for Thanksgiving. WOW! This was going to be like getting an internship with Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse!
It was about four o’clock Thanksgiving Eve when she said to those of us gathered about the fireplace, “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go prepare the turkey.”
Smart mouth that I am, I said, “No need, he’ll find out soon enough.” And that was that. In an instant the small gathering of loved ones had grasped the same visual – a perplexed and befuddled bird awaiting his fate in a cold kitchen. Soon everyone was chiming in. So to the best of my recollection, this is how you prepare the Thanksgiving bird:
“Break it to him gently.”
“Or don’t tell him at all, keep him in suspense.”
“Okay, Mr. Bird, be calm and this will go easier for you.”
"Be Still, I'm just going to spread a little of this on you so you don't burn.'
“Listen, Turkey, this is going to hurt me a lot more than it’s going to hurt you.”
“Now, at first you are going to feel a prick, it may sting a little. That’s just the meat thermometer, pay it no mind.”
“So at first, you’re going to feel a little warm, then you’ll probably get a little drowsy.”
“Okay, let’s just open you up…”
“Don’t fight me, it won’t help.”
Starting with the first comment there was laughter. Then with each add on, some more. As you can imagine, as the conversation got wilder and more out of hand, the giggles got louder and the belly laughs harder. It is one of my greatest memories of collective laugh- till-you-cry and beg-for-mercy guffaws.
I wish each and every one of you one at least one Hallmark moment of laughter with the ones you love.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe my table’s ready…
Call it whimsy, Karma or the Caprice of Fate – but the Universe gave me a morning dog. Make no mistake, animals like humans have a definite Circadian rhythm and this pup’s hums with daybreak.
Great – that’s two for three in this household – as I married, I said married, a morning person. The only difference between my mate’s behavior and that of my pooch is my pup hasn’t learned how to whistle. Give him time.
Ever since I’ve known my mate he has greeted the day with a smile, enthusiasm, and when the mood so struck, a song. Yikes! And he hooked up with a lass that thought “a.m.” stands for “a’int moving.”
And I have improved! I no longer bite anyone’s head off when the sun rises. When the alarm goes off, I don’t. (I’ll give you a sec to get that one.)
Everyone has their own moods and swings, my friend and writing partner Caren, (Caren4U on this site) calls them her “genius hours”. Hers happen to be at daybreak too. (Aaack, it’s a conspiracy!) Right about the time I wish I could go to bed she’s getting up and filling reams of paper with sharp, well-crafted prose. If I were to write at that unbecoming hour it would probably be on a paper towel and it would read: “C-O-F-F-E-E.”
I am a nocturnal. I start winding up as my household starts nodding off. Societal constraints and most employment opportunities dictate that I rise with the rest of the world. And, while I don’t whistle, I do smile.
How could I not? If you could see this puppy’s face as he bounds out of his crate and jumps four feet straight up in the air to greet the day. His whole expression reads: “I can’t wait!! Bring it!”
Bring it, indeed! And some coffee too, while you’re at it.
That was the sum and substance of the latest explanation for why my desktop computer went out. And no-o-o-o-o-o, I didn’t spill a beverage on it, either. Geesh. Drown one laptop and folks never let you forget about it.
“Was it something I did?”
“No,” Computer Guy said with a shrug. “They just go out.”
Huh. Based on my history with computers they go out more than I did in College. Makes me crazy. Not that having any kind of explanation would make the fact that it was dead, all my unsaved material obliterated, any easier.
Isn’t it funny how, even when we KNOW a “Why” won’t help, we still want one?
Particularly on the big issues, the life changers, we want a why. Sometimes it seems like the more the “Why” matters the less we’re likely to get one. I think it’s a rule.
Sometimes there is no why and you just move on.
Sometimes even when you get one the why, you still just have to move on.
Maybe there are questions with no answers so we learn to move on. Let go. It makes me feel better when I’m pestered by nasty life annoyances to think there’s a lesson in it.
Remember when the kids were toddlers and they went through that annoying phase where they wouldn’t eat anything you put in front of them? Remember how frustrating that was?
Well I don’t!
I never had toddlers.
However, the Universe in its infinite wisdom apparently did not want me to miss a single life experience and so I was blessed three months ago when Rex the strong-willed puppy entered my calm and ordered world.
Now I make no secret of the fact that I am a work in progress, a human with a long way to go in the behavioral improvement department. I battle my own strong will, control issues, and impatience every day.
More so, these days.
So. As the alarm goes off, which is now puppy-whining, not melodic, in the wee hours of morning, I de-crate Rex, stumble to the garage and stand there like a fool while he consumes his repast of dry dog food. Specialty dog food mind you. The high priced, scientifically formulated lamb and rice brand I’ve been guilted in to. Nothing’s too good for my boy.
Except he no longer likes it. It bores him. Or eating bores him. Or he’s teething. Or most probably, he gets a big kick out of watching Mommie do all these insane behaviors to try and get him to dig in.
I even worked with his personal trainer last week on this, (don’t start) using the command: “Take it”.
So there I was this morning, hadn't even had my coffee, down on my knees, well actually, all fours, (I said, don’t start) trying to coax Rex to eat, when I realized I am, in fact, a nut case.
I looked up at Rex, pleading with him to eat, and I swear his expression read: “Man, lady, you are a trip.”
Okay, no one likes to be scoffed at – particularly in that position – I got up, picked up his food bowl, put it up, stuck him in his crate, and with all the maturity I’ve learned to date uttered, “Take THAT!”
As I type this I’m reminded that always, always, the ruler of the planets has a tremendous sense of humor and infinite patience in teaching us divine lessons like release and submission. Me, Miss Control Freak, Miss Want it My Way still has a lot to learn. Rex wasn’t sent to my ordered, structured world to be taught so much as to teach.
It’s been said that no one knows us like family. Okay, I’ll go with that. They may not know us better, but they do have some insights gleaned from many years of proximity.
My sister and I grew up in the same house and shared the same bedroom for sixteen years. I think we still hold the copyright for the term “Sibling Rivalry”. We’ve had some tough go’s.
But we also shared a lot of good times, cultivated some happy memories, kept more than a few secrets. For a time, we were close the way two sisters two years apart can be.
But life intervenes and folks grow apart, especially two hardwired so completely different as she and I. The ongoing debate at our house was always which of us was left on the doorstep.
And yet, the same life that can separate can reunite – it’s a mystery I’ve seen play out many times. The Grand Reconciler really wants us to be close to one another.
And though we are geographically distant, New England to South Texas, our hearts are never more in tune than at Christmas. My sister is a rare soul that carries the Christmas spirit around all year long, but in December? She absolutely explodes in childlike glee and delight.
As close as we were and as we are, she knows in this respect we are dissimilar. I have to work especially hard to ward off the gloomies this time of year. I know full well I am not alone –
So this week, Stacey gave my battle with the seasonal blues a direct strategic assault – she sent a reminder of her love for me -- the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The one from the 1965 holiday classic we watched at least a dozen times together, and most years since, apart.
It’s funny about love. When you get a big old dose of it, all you want to do is run out and share it.
And as a wise guy once said: “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
It has been a pleasure answering my phone this week! It seems all my friends are on a roll – enjoying a fabulous week of joy, prosperity and good fortune. Everyone I’m talking to is doing great! Better than great!
I think if you’ve had the opportunity to occupy this planet very long you recognize this as a rare, awesome, and remarkable happenstance.
And they are happy in celebrating for all sorts of reasons. One is enjoying a passionate romance with a new flame; another is having a stellar week at work – all the effort and industry of the past year seems to be paying off all at once. Another received good news on the health front, another is achieving all kinds of personal breakthroughs.
Frankly, I’m running low on superlatives!
“Great News! That’s wonderful! Terrific! High Time! Fabulous! Super! Outstanding!”
And hey, they haven’t cornered the market on good. Rex, the puppy with ADD, sailed through the Final Exam in his Beginner’s Obedience Class. Okay, virtually sailed. To be honest, he choked on “Leave it”. The lad’s not one to leave morsels for the taking. Aside from that, he passed with flying colors.
All is good with the ones I love. Yippee doesn’t seem to express it, so I’ll stick with mental cartwheels, profound gratitude, and keep my Thesaurus handy!