Choices

A friend of mine readily admits some of her fondest memories involve watching “Pretty Little Liars” with her grandmother. Her nana.

Nana told me she had no interest in the program, but it was a way to spend time with her youngest grandchild on a regular basis. Despite her lack of concern for the fate of the various characters, she could handily talk through any given plot line from the show. Heather, her granddaughter, would proudly ask Nana a question about the series, and Nana would give a complete answer, smiling as she relayed the tale.

I’ve written before about the right or wrong of spending time doing something you don’t enjoy for the sake of one you care about. I believe sometimes you suck it up and go to the shower you’d rather avoid, because your love for the cousin who’s being honored is greater than your disdain for ditzy party games.

I understand the thinking of those who say “life is too short for me to do something like (fill in the blank), no matter who’s involved,” and in some ways I endorse it. There are certainly multiple opportunities to honor a loved one (and if there truly is only one chance, consider that fact carefully).

How do we balance looking out for ourselves first without being unnecessarily selfish? With children, it’s an easier decision. Sometimes the best way to build trust with a child is to watch a television show they love or read aloud a book that sends you screaming.

It would be a rare situation where I’d watch The Young and the Restless just to make a roommate happy. And yet, that’s exactly what happened nearly 30 years ago. My then-roommate and I weren’t getting along. We liked and respected each other, but living together presented challenges. We also had one television set between us. Compromise was essential.

We agreed to air the taped episodes two nights a week, and reluctantly I joined her. I never did embrace soap opera fandom, but watching and safely gossiping about those shows created a bond. We are friends to this day.

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In today’s world this example is a bit moot. With the ability to watch your favorite program at your leisure on your choice of devices, you can easily distance yourself from the undesirable family member or roommate.

But where does that get you?

I offer no answers, only questions to ponder. When is being selfish cutting yourself off from healthy relationships? On the flip side, when is it saving you from an antagonistic experience?

Life is full of choices, and the answers so often are ambiguous. The thinking process, however, needn’t be so vague. Ultimately, the decision is yours. And sometimes taking care of others is taking care of yourself.


Image Credits: © stock.adobe.com

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illogical things are happening everyday

A college dropout – me? The National Merit Scholar, the one who dreamed about higher education?

problemThat didn’t make any sense.

Yet the first go-around, that’s what happened. I took on too much and burned out. Few close to me disputed the wisdom of my choice, but all agreed I should try again when I was ready.

It took three years to be ready, but when I was, I was. The second time, at a different university, was the charm, and when it comes to charm, no one had more than my ultra-geeky Logic professor.

Many of my fellow students foolishly and vocally didn’t see the need for Logic 101.

Actually, he wasn’t even a professor at the time; it was his first teaching experience after graduating with a doctorate in Philosophy.

He faced formidable odds. This was before today’s plethora of news programs with self-proclaimed experts whose statements deserve challenge at every turn. Many, if not most, of my fellow students foolishly and vocally didn’t see the need for Logic 101.

For me, initially it was a requirement to plough through, rather than something to grab hold of and internalize.  It turned out I couldn’t wait for the each class and the concepts I would take in. Today, I consciously apply what I learned on a regular basis.

You’d be surprised when you listen how many “experts” seem to forget, or perhaps ignore, logic.

For those unclear about what you learn in a logic course, it starts with this: “All cats are animals, but not all animals are cats”. You’d be surprised when you listen how many of the aforementioned “experts” seem to forget, or perhaps deliberately ignore, that logic.

To take the cats-animals-cats thinking a bit further, something like “Most (specific political party devotees) believe this…but not everyone who believes that is a (specific political party supporter)” escapes them.

Or, for sports fans, “if we’d scored that touchdown in the second quarter, we would have won.” Nuh-uh. Any real fan of football knows each play builds on the previous one, and scoring that touchdown would have created a different game. (Scoring a field goal without penalty in the last second, I’ll give you that one, even though technically the rule of logic wouldn’t).

So when you hear the pundits say, “my candidate in the last election never would have created the mess we’re in,” that simply is poor reasoning. You don’t know what your candidate might have done. But all sides smugly say it, or something similar, on a regular basis.

I’ll give you, in this last election, and after the last year, it’s hard to imagine any other candidate would have created the mess we’re in. But that’s speculation based on facts, not an absolute truth. It can’t be. It never happened.

That sort of simple logic is violated on a regular basis. Other practical elements are equally good to know.

Okay, I can’t necessarily apply anything I learned in that course to the logic of my decision to drop out the first time. Yet it clearly was the right choice. Or was it? I’ll never know, logically speaking, because I’ll never know what would have happened if I stuck with it.


image credit: Question marks © tiero – Dollar Photo Club; Black Hole © vchalup — stock.adobe.com

 

Words in the Wind

Today, while in the ladies room, I heard two co-workers talking. One was crying.

“I told her I got back together with him because I married him,” she sobbed. “I thought maybe he’d changed.”

Well, you can guess the rest of the story. He hasn’t changed.

“I know I’m a good person. I’m doing things I don’t want to do because of him.”

As I stepped up to the sink to wash my hands, I said to her, “you remember who you are and don’t let anyone change that.” She nodded, and opened up about what was happening. I listened.

Then I went on to say, “Sometimes we try so hard to make something work, and it just isn’t working. We try to change things, but there’s often something else going on with the other person, something we don’t know about. If someone else makes you feel bad, you need to walk away. Don’t try to figure it out and fix it. Walk away.”

I could see that had an impact. She heard me. Maybe, just maybe, something it took me a long time to learn can change things for her and make her life better now, while she’s still so young.

I’m not saying give up on marriage at the first struggle, but if there’s abuse, if someone is scared, it’s time to jump ship and swim for your life to safer shores.

We never know when what we’ve said changes someone’s life, or a part of it. Years ago I had lunch with a former colleague. He was struggling with a job he hated, and the weight of his despair was leaving him seriously depressed. I asked him the same thing someone else had asked me, and my answer had changed the course of my life.

“What you be doing if you were doing what you wanted to do?”

He didn’t answer me then, but I saw him a couple of years later. He bubbled over with enthusiasm.

“I thought about what you said, and I knew the answer. It changed the entire direction of my career. I have a job I love!” he told me. “Thank you!”

Really? Wow. Frankly, I didn’t even remember asking him that question, but I’m not surprised I did, knowing how it had affected me. What else have I said or done that has had a positive impact on someone else? (I ask forgiveness for things I’ve said or done that have hurt others.)

I hope my young co-worker makes the right decisions and moves on to greater things. I hope she holds out for a man who treats her right.

I hope my words make a difference.


Image Credit: © sunnychicka — stock.adobe.com

 

Rules, Respect, and Giving a Rip

There was a time when, with a carload of friends, I, as the driver, was caught in a stop-and-go situation in a parking ramp after a basketball game.

“Look!” my friend Kathy said, pointing at another car. “They’re going the opposite direction! Let’s do that!”

We should have, and I had a split second to decide. There was no law, no rule really, against it. Nothing would’ve happened other than getting out of that ramp an hour or so earlier. But I couldn’t do it. The signs told us which way to exit. Going the other way was wrong.

I can’t help myself. I’m a rule follower.

I’ll tell myself and everyone else I’m being respectful, but bottom line, I’m scared of getting in trouble.

You bet I follow the red light/green light rules. Always have, always will.
You bet I follow the red light/green light rules. Always have, always will.

I even make sure I’m going in the “Enter” door when I shop at Walmart, and veer to the other side if I find I’m headed for the “Exit” door by mistake. Keep in mind the automatic doors have sensors on both sides, and no one so much as blinks if you go through the “wrong” door. On your average shopping day, there’s no danger or inconvenience in entering through the exit door (on Black Friday, it is, of course, a different story).

This wouldn’t bother me so much if I didn’t feel like I was being controlled by these rules. That, I think, is the dividing line for me between what is right and what is compulsive. I do not, for example, compulsively follow traffic laws. I do it for two reasons: safety, and I don’t want to get a ticket.

No, make that three reasons. It’s the law. Following it is what you do.

When I was in college — the first time —

it was a VERY conservative school, and students could receive what were called “minutes” for infractions of a plethora of really stupid rules. I think breathing too loudly on Saturday morning before 10 a.m. was one of them.

You’d get three minutes per infringement, and if you flouted your rebellion to a point of getting 30 minutes, you received what was called a “campus”, and “volunteered” three hours of your time to the school pulling weeds or some such.

In the history of the school, only a handful of students had made it until graduation without any minutes. I could’ve been one of them, except for two things: 1) I didn’t graduate, and 2) one Saturday morning I slipped up and talked to another student in the bathroom before 10 a.m. (I almost wasn’t kidding above).

She talked to me first, but no matter. And she was an RA, so I was screwed.

It would’ve been good for me to blast my radio

after hours a night or two, or (really bad) show up after curfew (there may have been more serious consequences for that. And, oh yes, curfew). It would’ve been really good for me to kiss a guy on campus (again, I’m serious, a violation of school policy), but that rarely was an option anyway.

I say it would have been a good thing for me because I might have understood what I only now am fully grasping: breaking certain rules doesn’t make you a bad person, or even untrustworthy. There are boundaries and I probably held mine closer than was healthy.

Certainly I didn’t need to trap me and my friends in that parking garage for more than an hour. If I’d gone the wrong way, worst case scenario half the other cars might have followed me. As it was, my decision cast a pall on the evening; that’s what we always remembered about an otherwise fun night.

Who's in Charge smStill, old dogs, new tricks. Forget dogs — I should be like my cats. They (reluctantly) follow the few rules I absolutely enforce and don’t give a rip about much of anything I else I ask of them. Somehow they know what really matters. I rarely reprimand them, or think any less of them for their indifference.


Photo credit (stoplight): © Graphic Stock; (Kitty and Candy) © geosap — stock.adobe.com

 

What My Soul Knows

I have an important decision to make…and what I’m thinking of doing doesn’t feel right.

I won’t do it, no matter how logical may seem. I’ve learned my gut, my soul, has valuable things to say.

Seeking My WayIt’s almost as if logic and reasoning is the lazy way out sometimes, although I’ll never dismiss the necessity to reason through a life-changing or costly choice. Sometimes, however, what the prevailing wisdom might say is the right thing to do isn’t right for me.

When you know, down to your core, what you’re doing or about to do is wrong, it can be difficult to justify sometimes. The logic points one way, but the logic is missing some vital information.

There have been times when I’ve been told to trust people or trust a system I’m not familiar with, and my soul has known better. I knew once I was being led in the wrong direction by someone I should have been able to trust, desperately wanted to trust, and instead of saying, “this isn’t right,” I accepted his decisions. I was afraid not to; I had lost faith in too many people.

I should have let go. Ultimately, perhaps only a very short time later, my faith would have been restored. I likely would have found someone to trust, a person who could have provided me with the support and power I needed to rise above an impossible situation. Instead I let this individual lead me down a path where even more people betrayed me.

Q CatIt was a horrible lesson to learn. Rational thinking has its place, but you can never dismiss the weight of knowing you don’t have all the facts.

I’ll make my decisions in the future using all the resources available to me, the rational, the instinctive, and yes, the spiritual, for all of my major decisions need to be doused in prayer for wisdom.

Changing your life isn’t easy.


Images: © Geosap — stock.adobe.com

Better Choices, or, Better to Have Choices

Today, I’m grateful for CHOICES.

One of my blogging buddies, Deb, has a daily grateful post. It’s encouraging to read all she is grateful for, and while I don’t plan to copy her idea on a daily basis, today I’m saying, loud and clear, I’m grateful for all the choices I have in my life.

I can choose when I wake up in the morning, and when I go to bed at night. Yes, work and other obligations influence those choices, but the final decision is up to me. If I decide to stay up late to finish a captivating book, no one is going to challenge me.

clothes-2041864_640After I wake up, I can choose what I eat for breakfast and what I’m going to wear that day. Okay, work has this bizarre dress code — I have to wear black, white or grey — but outside of work, I can wear what I want to (well, some choices might get me arrested, but those aren’t my choices, anyway). I get to decide whether or not I want to wash my hair or work with what I’ve got.

My car, my precious little Prius, was my choice. The color was not — but I’m happy with it.

When I knit, I can choose what pattern I want to wool-1295262_640make and what yarn I want to use. There are more patterns out there that I like than I’ll ever be able to complete, and I’m grateful for that, as well. In theory, I can’t knit something I won’t like (nice theory, not always a reality!). But the abundance of beautiful patterns and even more beautiful yarns is awe-inspiring. And just plain inspiring.

Look at the multitude of blogs on WordPress alone — we have our choices of themes, and our choice of what to do with those themes once we choose the one that suits us best. We can easily switch to another, and no one can stop us.

filler-150980_640We can write about what we choose, and a lot of what we write about involves choices we have.

Best of all, I can choose how I will respond to all of life’s situations. It makes me who am I today and shapes who I will be tomorrow.

Over time I’ve learned from my previous choices, everything from what makeup looks best on me to what will truly bring me happiness in life. I’m grateful for the lessons learned from those choices, and for a life I can make better with stronger decisions.

I’ve listed basic choices here, but we all have simple and challenging decisions to make on a regular basis. When you get bogged down with having to choose, think of what a blessing the opportunity to decide for yourself is in this world.

Life isn’t easy, but it gets better. So do my choices.

Images courtesy of Pixabay. Thank you, Pixabay, for all the choices you offer, at no charge!

It All Adds Up the Same

I’ve spent some time, not a lot, but some, imagining what my life would be like now if I’d made different decisions.

It happens most often at night, when I’m alone and not much is on TV, none of the books I have appeal to me and I simply cannot play one more game of solitaire on my phone. I sit and ponder. What makes me who I am? My experience, my heart, my intentions, my choices? I suppose all of it.

night-at-homeSome of my worst decisions have led to the greatest breakthroughs in personal growth. Would I be a better person if I had not done such a foolish thing? 

Or would I be making the same mistakes, leaving myself with a level of immaturity I can’t get past? Or is it those mistakes that led to the unwise behavior in the first place? How do our thoughts, actions, beliefs and fate all play together?

The consequences we face are sometimes unknown, unforeseeable. There are those seemingly small errors in our ways that lead to lifelong reminders of that one errant deed, and potentially catastrophic actions that pass by almost unnoticed…and we forget…until there is a gentle reminder, and we breathe a sigh of relief that it didn’t happen the way it could have.

There are those who face mental illness, and they sometimes make what seem to them like logical decisions based on misperception because of the way their brain functions. I’m not talking criminal behavior here, although that certainly does apply, but day to day actions that have an impact on happiness and quality of life.

whats-up-little-bugI could overanalyze this, because here’s the bottom line: as much fun as it is to watch a movie where someone is given a chance to go back in time and change the path of their life, that would be a huge gamble. What if I hadn’t married the man who betrayed me and married the one who got away instead? You probably don’t know the second man any better than you knew the first when you married him. It could have been an entirely different sort of disaster.

I am who I am. If it hadn’t been this mistake, it would have been another. I still would be me. And I’m okay with that.


Image Credits: © sapunkele — fotolia


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