moving forward

Earlier this week I alluded to the “rabbit’s hole” I speak of in this post.  In honor of a new era,  I’m reposting this piece, a favorite of mine:

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting alone in a crowd, anxiously searching for a familiar face.

I was expecting a friend–until her text  told me not to. Now I was faced with sitting by myself at a celebratory service that would no doubt be an emotional, spiritual, uplifting experience (it was). I started looking for anyone I might know, a bit nervous but not wanting to seem so.

Thankfully, someone did appear, a more than gregarious man, well-known for being a bit of a character.  I’d only met him once for all of thirty seconds, but I didn’t hesitate to call out his name and invite him to join me. He did, and it made that service a whole heck of a lot of fun.

It wasn’t until days later it hit me:

this was not only the first time I’d had the courage to do something that bold, but I hadn’t thought twice about it. For years I’d sat alone in services and what-have-you, often because I was too frightened to reach out to someone and ask them to join me.

This was another significant change in me I could count as the result of terrible betrayal.

All my life I struggled with being pushed around by co-workers, boyfriends, classmates, even family. I simply could not stand up for myself. Try as I might, I was unable to say what needed to be said, or even imagine what that should be. Instead I would stand there, dumbstruck, humiliated and frustrated.

I desperately wanted the ability to detect when others were pushing me around.

That is, if I were sharp enough to see what was going on. Sometimes I’d be pushed pretty far before I realized it.

When that happened, I was left with shrinking further or getting back at people, although more often than not they brought on their own trouble with their back-handed behavior. I didn’t like dealing with things either way, however, it never felt good.

Instead, I desperately wanted the ability to detect when others were pushing me around and belittling me long before it got out of hand. More than that, I wanted to project an attitude that precluded demeaning treatment. I just couldn’t come by it. I had no idea how it worked.

Eventually I was pushed down a rabbits’ hole into a hell that wouldn’t end,

and it was that experience (a story requiring too much detail to go into here) that finally gave me the insight and ability to stay ahead of those who would defeat me. It took a long time, well after the peak of the horror, to fully develop the skills to face others with confidence and enough of a take-it-or-leave-it attitude that I could claim victory. Have I fully stepped away from the problem? Likely not, but I’ve figured out what steps to take.

I also realize I need to use those circumstances to my advantage, to work toward bringing me to a point where I can say, “well, I wouldn’t want to go through that again, but I’m glad it happened.”

I’m not sure when, if ever, I’ll be there, but I look to the good that’s come of out this, and it has been substantial. I used to resent being told “everything happens for a reason.”  While I believe good can come from bad, that doesn’t justify the bad.

I like what Dumas had to say. It acknowledges the bad, but gives proper credit to an overwhelming and affirming end result:

“Women are never so strong as after their defeat.”
― Alexandre Dumas, Queen Margot, or Marguerite de Valois

blue sky balloons

I hate that it took such drastic circumstances to bring about this change for me, and I sometimes wonder, if those events hadn’t conspired, would I still be where I was then, or would I have found another way to grow to where I am today?

I don’t want those responsible for my plight to believe there’s any justification to their actions. Likely they would have preferred I was left in defeat and despair anyway. Is success the best revenge? I don’t know that I’m seeking revenge, but success is by far the best outcome.


Image Credits: Butterfly field (Field of Daisies) © adimas – Fotolia; (Butterfly) © ecco — Fotolia; Balloons Flying High (Sky Background) © Andrii Salivon – Fotolia; (Balloons) © JRB – Fotolia.

Perception

This was one of those weeks.

I’m working a temp job now, one I think I’d like to last awhile. It’s an interesting group I work with, primarily young…and poor. I’m doing admin work, but my desk is smack dab in the middle of a warehouse.

There are a handful of people my age, a few older, but for the most part, of the 120 or so employees there, more than 100 are probably under 35, if not under 30. We get along fine. I’m grateful the man who hired me looked at my skill set and not my wrinkles.

Anyway, the facility manager jokingly told me he thought I was about 33. I don’t kid myself; I know he was joking. But later that day while in line to pay a bill, I was asked for my birthdate, and after giving it, the young man in line behind me said, “Ma’am, I would’ve guessed you to be about 35.”

So I was feeling pretty good.

At church today, I was sitting in back with a woman, her daughter and 4-month-old grandson. I’d never met them before, and this adorable little baby was smiling and flirting with me. Of course I smiled back, and the baby’s grandma asked me, “do your grandchildren live in the area?”

I was so startled, I just said no. I don’t have any grandchildren. I don’t have any children. And yes, friends my age all pretty much have a passel of grandbabies, but no one has ever assumed I was a grandma before.

Where does the truth lie? How old do I look?

Autumn walk
How do we view those around us?

Several years ago, when I was working as a reporter, I covered the local community theater group’s most recent production, and got a wonderful photo during rehearsal of the lead actress. It turned out she’d had some Top 40 hits years ago (don’t ask me what), so I ended up doing a story just about her.

When I interviewed her, I mentioned the photo I’d taken earlier. She frowned.

I asked if she had been unhappy with it, and she said no, it was a good photo. She paused, and added, “I just didn’t think I looked that old.”

I look in the mirror and I trust I see an honest reflection of what I look like, but I know I don’t see myself as others do. That carries over to other aspects of my life as well. I don’t know how people perceive me. I have a pretty good self-image, and I believe I understand my strengths and weaknesses. But I have no idea how I’m viewed by my co-workers, for example.

I’m not talking age here. I’m talking how they see me as a person. Serious or flighty? I can pretty much guarantee they’ll say nice, but how does that translate?

Right before I sat down to write this, I had stopped in the grocery store and ran into a former boss, someone who would have heard lies and rumors about me from a few years back. I was immediately on guard.

No worries. He spun around so quickly it was like a blur. I passed him in the parking lot a few minutes later, and he ignored me.

How does he view me, in light of the falsehoods I know he’s heard?

Girl with a jug

It isn’t something I worry about or feel any great concern over. I have people who know me and love me, and what anyone thinks of me is their business. How they see me is colored by how they see themselves.

I just wonder about it sometimes.

What is important to me is honesty with myself, accepting myself, forgiving myself, improving myself. I want to be better when I turn 60 than I am today.

That’s not too far away…better get on it.


Image credits: © maiko62 – stock.adobe.com

moving forward

Some of you have seen this already, but here’s a post from a couple of years ago that means a lot to me. By the way, thanks to those of you who have been following my blog that long!

My World With Words

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting alone in a crowd, anxiously searching for a familiar face.

I was expecting a friend — until her text  told me not to. Now I was faced with sitting by myself at a celebratory service that would no doubt be an emotional, spiritual, uplifting experience (it was). I started looking for anyone I might know, a bit nervous but not wanting to seem so.

Thankfully, someone did appear, a more than gregarious man, well-known for being a bit of a character.  I’d only met him once for all of thirty seconds, but I didn’t hesitate to call out his name and invite him to join me. He did, and it made that service a whole heck of a lot of fun.

It wasn’t until days later it hit me:

this was not only the first time I’d had the courage to do…

View original post 582 more words

Hidden Truths, Secret Sorrows

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Our face is a mask, sometimes opaque, sometimes transparent.

Recently a friend of mine was taking an online test about reading emotions, and not doing too well. She was frustrated. I suspect the test was flawed in multiple ways, and even if she did read the emotions correctly, there’s never any way to be certain of the reason for the feelings. We can’t read minds, and we don’t know all that is happening in anyone’s life.

Someone may smile at something we said because it ties in with a conversation they had only a moment before. We’re unaware of what was said, however, and think they’re smiling inappropriately at our tale, and become frustrated. It happens everyday.

That’s a simple misunderstanding. Just as we don’t know what is spoken in the moments before we join a discussion, we most often have no way of fully knowing what’s happening in the lives of those around us. People are discreet enough generally to keep their private lives private, and sometimes they do so almost to a fault.

I have a friend who was dealing with her mother’s Alzheimer’s last year, and I never knew until shortly before her mom died. She and I had been working on a project together and I’d wondered why she’d lost her enthusiasm for it. Was it something I said? Had I been too controlling? I can get stuck in my ways. Now, that could have been the case, but more likely, she simply had other priorities.

She kept up a brave face around me, and maybe wondered why I never asked how her mom was doing. You see, others knew. I didn’t. Perhaps I should have known. We live in a communication age, but our own personal interactions frequently suffer from presumptions and assumptions all around. We rely too much on expectations and, as I alluded to above, expressions of emotion.

How we view our peers and others around us is more than just reading facial expressions, of course.

As well as how they view us. We’re born with a look that defines us, or helps others think they can define us. We grow and mature and that look changes and develops with us, but never truly reflects all that we are. It limits our definition of ourselves to other people.

When I was in high school, I peripherally was friends with a young woman, a year older than I, who to this day I’d have to say was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. Another woman in my group described her by saying, “she looks like a cover girl, only she hasn’t been airbrushed.” The only person to come close to matching her beauty (and it may be a tie) was her younger sister.
woman eyes with flower, color pencil drawing, eye contact. Computer collage.
But beauty had its price. Let me add here these were two of the nicest, most sincere women you’d ever meet as well, and their parents were great people. Yet despite all the kindness they’d show to others, they were subject to vicious rumors and gossip simply because of petty jealousy. They faced other problems directly related to their looks, such as expectations from men when they were far too young to handle that sort of thing, and so on. It wasn’t fair.

The older girl, my friend, was often cautious around other people, knowing what they would be saying as soon as she left the room. That in turn led to talk she was “stuck-up” because she’d be reluctant to open up to someone new, or even those she knew well enough already.

We make judgments sometimes to feel in control of a situation. If we understand what’s going on, we can deal with it, so we seek an answer — and run the risk of being horribly wrong.

How do we discern a person’s heart?

Respecting another’s privacy is an important value to many of us, and in doing so, we also must respect we will likely give up some knowledge we may find useful, whether we have a right to it or not. That knowledge includes the ability, at times, to fully understand someone’s painful history and appreciate their distant behavior as a symptom of that aching within themselves.

I do believe we should, in general, live with an attitude every person is far more complex than we can recognize when we first meet them. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt, understanding we don’t know what secret sorrows they face, is the gracious thing to do.

Having that open mind and open heart, giving others a chance to reveal themselves, will help teach us the perception and insight we seek. It is immensely rewarding to be the one who discovers the cold and bitter outsider is a warm, kind person waiting to be loved.

Yes, we must always use discretion when reaching out to others to save ourselves from being taken advantage of by manipulative and greedy people. A slow and steady approach of grace with the counsel of others is always wise.

Grace, wisdom, warmth of spirit. Gifts of human kindness that can change the world.

Oil painting nature grass flowers- yellow dandelions

 


Image Credits: (Masks) © tereks — Fotolia; (Face) © jozefklopacka — Fotolia; (Flowers) © nongkran-ch — Fotolia

The Truth Within

Three years ago I almost lost a good friend, largely over a misunderstanding.

Another friend stepped in and tried to straighten things out, and in doing so, made the already shaky relationship we had that much worse.

Female figures handmade oil painting on canvasShe chastised me for committing an offense I truly couldn’t see I was guilty of having done, citing a conversation I’d had with her husband as another example. By this time, I’d reconciled with the first woman, so I asked for her perspective about what our mutual friend had told me. I was concerned I might be blind to what would be a fairly significant problem.

She didn’t see the issue the same way, but I remained aware of this potential flaw in my character. Eventually I realized the problem was more likely something I’d already known about my second friend. She will not only defend her husband regardless of what he’s done (and for the most part, I can’t fault her for that), she will lash out at other people who dare to challenge him.

In this case, in my conversation with this man, we’d disagreed about an issue I strongly believe in. Typically with him I let go, even when I know he’s spouting baloney, because it isn’t worth it to disagree. This time, however, I stepped in it, rather than around it. I don’t apologize for that. I should have done it more often.

You can’t trust the “constructive criticism” that comes from a woman who is defending her husband, no matter how sincere she might be, or might think she is being, in trying to help a challenging situation.

Which brings it all back around to my response to her comments about this perceived flaw. I was inspired to write about this after reading K E Garland’s post, Monday Notes: Agreement #2, in which she discusses the second of the Four Agreements (from the book of the same name): “never take anything personally.”

The crux of this agreement is we take neither criticism nor praise personally, because it reflects the other individual’s state of mind, which can change with the wind.

I believe we should weigh what others say, both the good and the bad, but ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves what the truth is in any given situation.

lovely woman handmade oil painting on canvasHigh school was a challenging time for me, and there were plenty of days my appearance showed the depression, anger and hurt I was feeling so deeply. I could always count on my friends Leigh and Sue to compliment my hair or tell me I’d lost weight on those days. Trust me, the compliments reflected their kindness, not the truth about my hairstyle or figure.

Most of the time, our friends aren’t as transparent as Leigh and Sue were (and I’m thankful to this day for their friendship). But, on the flip side of my bad hair days in adolescence, if I know my new haircut is flattering, the faint praise of someone whose opinion I value shouldn’t throw me. She may be sinking underneath some pain she isn’t willing to share.

Trusting yourself is a scary thing. If you’re going to be truly honest, you know you have blinders. Still, that same honesty can save you when others are less faithful to the situation.

Be true to yourself.


Image Credits: (All) © RomanBen — Bigstock

Mission Accomplished (so stop trying to get it done)

I have a recurring dream…one I hear many people share with me.

Or some variation of it. It’s the “education” dream, the one in which it’s finals weeks and you haven’t been to class all semester. (I think my first time through college, I may have actually lived that dream during my final term.)

Nervous Pop Art Young Woman Biting her Nails. Vector illustrationMy dream is a little different. In it, I have once again returned to college. I’m working toward a second bachelor’s degree (although in what is never clear). Yet try as I might, I continually fail most, if not all, of my classes. I cannot grasp the subject matter, cannot conquer the topic. Sometimes, I wait too long to drop the classes, and I know I’m going to get failing grades.

There is a sense of repeated defeat, a feeling I should just give in to the fact I’m not meant to have a college degree.

Except…I have one, a bachelor’s in journalism. At some point in my dream, I stop worrying about my current failures. I’ve already succeeded. Why am I even putting myself through this mayhem?

I’ve never bothered to determine what is going on in my life that triggers this dream, although the message is pretty clear. Don’t be afraid of the future. You’ve already proven yourself in the past, and you have the tools to do it again.

I like that I resolve this issue so easily while I’m sleeping. I think it’s experience talking.

I was talking to my cousin today. He’s more than 20 years younger than I am, which puts him in his mid-30s, old enough to have gained some perspective on life’s trials and tribulations himself.

He recently removed himself from a situation that was leading to trouble, and I’m proud of him. He has not only lived through some challenging times, he’s put those difficulties to good use in his life. He doesn’t want to relive what is best left in the past.

I’m sure when I was his age, I’d learned a few lessons myself, but when I look back on that era of my life, I typically see repeated failures. How will I view what I’m living through now in the years to come?

Fotolia_120458963_XSHardly the question to fret over, I know. What I should be asking myself is, what are you learning from the past, and how are you applying it to your life today?

There are lessons I should be learning, steps I should be taking to conquer my demons. It’s not always easy to break convenient habits.

But I’m not going to repeat another class if I don’t have to do so. There are better ways I can improve my life.

Onward…


Image Credits: © ivector — Fotolia

Quirky, Quality, Goofy

Once, in junior high, in that typical, foolish, heartbreaking way we all seem to have of discovering the truth about our true love’s feelings, my best friend asked the boy of my dreams if he liked me.

“Well, kind of,” he said, “but she’s kind of, you know, different?”

I was crushed. It was, after all, junior high, and I wanted to fit in. Flash forward twenty years, and I’m breaking up with my boyfriend. He’s apparently still in junior high and feels a need to hurt me in as many ways as possibly during our final discussion.

But he’s unsuccessful, in part because he starts out with this: “you’re kind of offbeat, you know? Different?”

Nailed it, possibly for the first time in our relationship. Finally seemed to show some sort of understanding of who I am. A little offbeat, beat of a different drummer, all that.

Except as one wise man once told me, everyone who’s anti-establishment is anti-establishment in the same way, and the same holds true with being offbeat.  It’s not as different as all that. It’s just another way of being in this world.

It’s taken me a long time to finally appreciate that with all my quirks, my socialgirl faux pas, my awkward moments — and those are bountiful — I’m still at heart someone who offers more than she takes, and that is immensely valuable in today’s world.

My friends like me for all of quirks, qualities and goofy ways. They like me despite my screw ups and because of my kind heart and sense of humor. They are quality people, so I’ve begun to see myself as one, too.

You are known by the company you keep, and you know who your friends are when trouble washes over you. My friends have proven my best qualities, time and again.

So here I stand, and here I stay.

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Image Credits: © UBE — Fotolia

The Only Thing Exterminated Here is the Death Penalty 

In my last job, we weren’t allowed to kill the bugs.

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At the Inn at Bella Vista, this little one is safe.

Okay, it’s a bed & breakfast, so they had an exterminator come out on a regular basis for the comfort of their guests, but if a wasp flew into the dining room, you called Bill. He’d show up with the bug jar, capture the wasp and set it free.

Which is all well and good, but in my house, you take out the Raid.

The mice were saved, too, whenever possible. One such soul, Rodney, kept coming back, even though Bill would capture him in one of those humane traps and take him far into the woods in back. I’m not sure how he knew it was Rodney every time, but they developed a bond of sorts.

Sorry, Walter, little Rodney can’t play today.

I couldn’t help myself. I offered to bring over my cat, Walter, for a play date with Rodney. That suggestion was met with a wounded look from Bill.

Despite my jokes, I respect Bill’s philosophy. It comes as a direct result of his time serving as a Marine in Vietnam and a police officer in Little Rock in the 70s. He’s seen enough killing and death.

He tells stories of his time on the force, but never as a Marine in combat. Something true of many, if not most, servicemen and women. What they witnessed, and took part in, during war is not something they want to remember or repeat, in words or actions.

Instead, some, like Bill, try to make sense of what happened by protecting all innocents. Bless the beasts and the children, as they used to say. A phrase born of a country at war. Where are the protest songs today?

We become the people we are today in part by our response or reaction to what happened yesterday. Ideally, it is a response, a chosen way of thinking and being. But what happens when you are thrown into a situation for which you are never prepared, then asked to live with the resulting emotions? The guilt, the shame of an inexplicable experience may result in burying your thoughts and beliefs about what happened. You lose a part of yourself.

There is hope.

Believe in yourself, the person you know yourself to be in spite of the thoughts that hammer at your brain. Seek out the support of others. Never give up in your search for better.

This life is far from perfect. But it is what we’re given for a time, so never give in to the worst. Let the better part of life win.


Image Credit: (bee and flower)courtesy of Pixabay; (hand and butterfly) © Bigstock.com

There’s Always Tomorrow

Oh, the promises I make myself.

finish-meNearly twenty years ago, I bought some beautiful wool fabric, fully intending to make a jacket out of it. Three years ago I bought a pattern, and since then I have slowly progressed to the finish…I swore I’d finish it last year, then gave up when the weather got too warm in the spring. This fall, I told myself. Absolutely this fall.

Of course each time I pick it up, I have to re-read the instructions to figure out what comes next. Then I get discouraged, and give up.

But I will finish it by Thanksgiving. I will wear it on Turkey Day.

bookAnd this book…I bought it about fifteen years ago…I pick it up periodically but never get very far. In fairness, I haven’t been reading like I used to, and I did read another two books I’ve had sitting on my shelf since the late 90s.

Then there’s the well-worn promise to lose weight. I only have about six pounds to lose, but I have a body type that shows every ounce, so it seems like more. (When I lost 40 pounds many years ago, more than one person swore I must have lost closer to 100. Like I wouldn’t have been bragging about that!) I don’t feel a need to lose it in a hurry, more a need to feel in control of my weight. I have a vision of myself grossly overweight, and it frightens me. Apparently not enough to put down those Pepperidge Farm salted caramel cookies, however. Yummy…too yummy.

So I avoid making promises to others. If I can’t honor what I’ve promised myself, how can I be expected to honor what I promise others?


Image Credits, header: (calendar) © stillfx — Fotolia; (clock) © Jakub Krechowicz — Fotolia

Promises

Perfectly Me

While my hand is healing, I’m bringing out some favorite posts from the past many of you may not have seen. This was first posted in December, 2015.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
― W.C. Field

rollerskating girl
Not me. Not now, not ever.

I can’t roller skate.  Nor can I bowl,  or do a pull-up. I don’t expect to ever be able to do any of those things, and they’re no longer important to me. At one time they were, and that stayed with me for way too long. But I’ve gotten over it and accepted my limitations.

I didn’t stop trying to learn how to bowl until I was in my 30s, when finally someone told me it was acceptable not to have that particular skill.

He didn’t word it quite like that, however. We were at a bowling alley with a group from church, and he was splitting his time between reading a book and talking to others.  When I mentioned what a terrible bowler I was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, with a laugh, “Who cares? It’s not something I want to be known for anyway.”

Okay, a bit snobby. It did lead me to think, however, is this really me? Is it a goal of mine to be a better bowler, or is everyone else in my circle telling me it should be?

There’s a point where you ceaselessly persevere, and there’s a point where you say, is that even a skill I truly want to master? I had no real interest in bowling, I’d just been told over and over not to give up, I could do it if I tried.

But I couldn’t. I tried and tried, and my body would not cooperate. What’s more, I likely never would have gotten to a point where, even if I could hold my own in a game, I would have looked forward to it. I did not want to bowl.

Once I figured out that hanging onto a group of friends whose main activities I didn’t enjoy was fruitless, I was a lot happier. It took some time, but gradually I developed friendships with people whose faces lit up when they talked about doing the same things I wanted to do.

happy dance girl
Yes, I know, this isn’t a waltz!

That’s not to say I’ll always avoid everything I’m not particularly good at doing. I would love to be able to dance, an old-fashioned waltz, perhaps, but it’s fair to say even at my best I won’t be entering any contests. That’s not my goal, at least not at this point. Right now I’d be happy to keep the beat.

(I have learned something about dancing over the years…call it sexist, or call it practical, but as we all know, men lead. With a strong lead, even a woman who isn’t a good dancer looks good. So half my battle will be finding the right partner.)

I’m not limiting myself only to friends who share my interests, either. Some of my best friends (a-hem) are bowlers, and good ones at that.

I don’t have to be the best, or even particularly good, at any given skill to enjoy doing it. I have my expert talents, and I have those I fumble with.  It’s that mix of abilities and experience that makes me who I am, perfectly me.

“Proper” Wisdom

A high school teacher once told me, “the true meaning of sophistication is knowing what to do in the situation you’re in.

Admittedly, that doesn’t make me any more sophisticated than with the popular definition, but it does give an added dimension to the ideas of sophistication, elegance and grace.

AdobeStock_96443843 [Converted] c geosap nbgHow many of us have been in a social situation in which we feel like a duck out of water, surrounded by graceful, sleek panthers? They slide from one individual to the next, mysterious, powerful and so, so pretty, while we waddle and quack.

Maybe the best thing to do is find a party for ducks. If true sophistication is knowing what to do where you are, maybe leaving is the most gracious option available to you.

That’s not failure. For one thing, some people are naturally more comfortable in a social situation. I’m generally not one of those people. I like my small groups and familiar situations. I can survive in a crowd, but I’m probably not having fun.

adobestock_101089233-convertedWhen to make an entrance, how to make an entrance, and when & how to exit are prime social skills. If you’ve got those down, record that under “elegance.”

And just think how awkward those panthers would feel at a party for ducks. Assuming they don’t eat us alive…

Image Credit: © Geosap — Fotolia
Elegant

Men, Pick Up Your Brooms!

Okay, in my place I use a Swiffer. As long as you contribute to the household chores, broom, Swiffer, it doesn’t matter. (I take that back…use the Swiffer. It gets up more dirt. You should know that.)

Turns out women are making great strides in the workplace…but not at home. They still do the majority of the housework, despite working just as many hours, with just as great a commute, as their male counterparts.

Young man doing the laundry
Sexiest man alive, according to my friends, is the man who does the laundry.

What makes it worse, to me, is that men actually gain self-esteem when they help out at home. Guess why. Because they see themselves as good guys, they kind who help out their women. Not entirely sure I’m fond of that reasoning, but for the moment, I’ll go with it, if it helps turn the tide. Sometimes you have to use what’s working against you to get things to work for you.

My married friends tell me their husbands are never sexier than when they’re doing the dishes. Unless it’s when they’re doing the laundry.

If it’s so easy to make their wives happy, why don’t the men do it more often?

Well, part of the problem is, they believe they are doing just as much as their wives. Yet study after study shows it simply isn’t true.

Another problem? Old attitudes die hard, and I suppose sports programming gets in the way, too. Sometimes the women are at fault, because the men say, “I’ll do it after…” and their wives get tired of waiting. I say, wait it out.

Especially if it’s laundry. Let him wash his own darn underwear. Oh wait, I see the flaw(s) in my thinking…

I don’t know the answer to this problem. Either the man gets it or he doesn’t, it seems, and yet despite my light tone in this piece it is a serious problem. Women are tired and depressed, and getting some help with housework actually would make a difference.

Changes need to be made. It’s as simple as choosing to make a decision that will make your spouse happier, healthier and more relaxed. And it isn’t that difficult to do a load of laundry or three, but when it comes on top of a day at work, a nightmare commute, getting dinner on the table…and off…not to mention caring for the the kids, it can push you over the edge.

broom-307172_640
Yeah, the Swiffer’s better.

I’m not saying all men do nothing. I’m sure most contribute to the household in some way. But by and large, the burden still falls on the women.

Take an honest assessment. Don’t look at how much you’re contributing, look at the other person. If their hours start to tally faster than your minutes, do something about it.

Like pick up a broom, er, Swiffer. Those things aren’t just for sweeping, they work for mopping, too.


Photo Credit: © dandaman — Fotolia

Outside Looking In

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this, know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
― Frida Kahlo

How many of us have sat silently at night, convinced we stand alone in the world in our oddness, and uncertain as to how to change? Fearing constant rejection throughout our lives?

Me at Four
Even at the age of four I felt like an outsider.

For years I lived my life that way, believing not only was I too far outside the norm to be accepted, but that I would never truly be loved, that I would be isolated from others all of my life.

I no longer feel that way, even though I know I stand alone in many ways. Well, perhaps not truly alone, there are others like me, but I’m not sure I know them. I’ve found a way to be myself in the world, and perhaps that makes me oblivious to the thoughts of others.

November 2014 family gathering 5x7
I’m doing better these days.

Well, truthfully, I have my moments, and in those times I wonder if I’m blind to my oddities the rest of the time. If that’s the case, there’s little I can do to change now. I am who I am and I don’t know any way to be any different.

I’m not ruled by those thoughts anymore. Perhaps I was overly sensitive to them before, and made things worse by behaving in a way that matched how I believed others saw me.

This is who I am.


perfectly me

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
― W.C. Field

rollerskating girl
Not me. Not now, not ever.

I can’t roller skate.  Nor can I bowl,  or do a pull-up. I don’t expect to ever be able to do any of those things, and they’re no longer important to me. At one time they were, and that stayed with me for way too long. But I’ve gotten over it and accepted my limitations.

I didn’t stop trying to learn how to bowl until I was in my 30s, when finally someone told me it was acceptable not to have that particular skill.

He didn’t word it quite like that, however. We were at a bowling alley with a group from church, and he was splitting his time between reading a book and talking to others.  When I mentioned what a terrible bowler I was, he shrugged his shoulders and said, with a laugh, “Who cares? It’s not something I want to be known for anyway.”

Okay, a bit snobby. It did lead me to think, however, is this really me? Is it a goal of mine to be a better bowler, or is everyone else in my circle telling me it should be?

There’s a point where you ceaselessly persevere, and there’s a point where you say, is that even a skill I truly want to master? I had no real interest in bowling, I’d just been told over and over not to give up, I could do it if I tried.

But I couldn’t. I tried and tried, and my body would not cooperate. What’s more, I likely never would have gotten to a point where, even if I could hold my own in a game, I would have looked forward to it. I did not want to bowl.

Once I figured out that hanging onto a group of friends whose main activities I didn’t enjoy was fruitless, I was a lot happier. It took some time, but gradually I developed friendships with people whose faces lit up when they talked about doing the same things I wanted to do.

happy dance girl
I know, I know, this isn’t a waltz

That’s not to say I’ll always avoid everything I’m not particularly good at doing. I would love to be able to dance, an old-fashioned waltz, perhaps, but it’s fair to say even at my best I won’t be entering any contests. That’s not my goal, at least not at this point. Right now I’d be happy to keep the beat.

(I have learned something about dancing over the years…call it sexist, or call it practical, but as we all know, men lead. With a strong lead, even a woman who isn’t a good dancer looks good. So half my battle will be finding the right partner.)

I’m not limiting myself only to friends who share my interests, either. Some of my best friends (a-hem) are bowlers, and good ones at that.

I don’t have to be the best, or even particularly good, at any given skill to enjoy doing it. I have my expert talents, and I have those I fumble with.  It’s that mix of abilities and experience that makes me who I am, perfectly me.

your smile can light a dark path

Fresh out of high school, I was driving my shiny new Corolla on the freeway when a car passed by with a seemingly friendly honk.

Unsure as to its exact intent, I glanced over at the driver, who saluted me, while his passenger, likely his wife, leaned over and waved. I’d never seen them before, and as far as I know, haven’t met them since.

red car w sunburstThat split-second encounter sustained me for days.  I was struggling with a not-yet diagnosed mental disorder and falling into deep despair on a routine basis. My parents, now in the middle of their divorce and focused on their own lives, were distant and angry when I turned to them for encouragement. I had little in common with my siblings, and we weren’t much of a support system for each other.

So for strangers to reach out to me in that small way, for whatever unknown reason, meant a lot. What made it even more meaningful was the weary look on both faces of this couple, who had two curly-haired children asleep in car seats and luggage piled high in the back of their small out-of-state station wagon. As young as I was, I knew enough to feel for them, and to appreciate a friendly gesture made despite their own obvious fatigue.

I said a quick prayer for those people who would always be strangers to me, and over the years since, when they’ve come to mind, I’ve done the same again.

Happy And Sad Smileys Showing Emotions

I trust their small yet meaningful act of kindness has come back to them at times they needed it most. Who knows what road life has taken them on; mine certainly went nowhere near the path I anticipated.

A gracious word, a flagging but compassionate nod, an unexpected and sincere grin. Never doubt it: little things mean a lot, and your smile can light a dark path.


Image Credits: (outline of car) © GraphicStock.com; (smiling/frowning faces) © Stuart Miles — DollarPhotoClub.com