Wednesday, December 13, 2017

     Yesterday, two things happened which reminded me why human behavior fascinates me and, occasionally, reinstates my faith in humanity.

     I took a dear friend to lunch for her birthday. She is considerably younger, more beautiful, more athletically gifted and more compassionate than me. All of these traits make me admire her rather than be jealous of her. Why? Because she is humble and she deeply cares about people. We had a lovely birthday sharing of our recent accomplishments and our various experiences with other women. She spoke of a couple who challenge her, and I responded with my sincere “Why would you allow that?” boundary mantra. When we are so compassionate and kind to others at the expense of our own enjoyment or serenity, then we need to think twice. 

     Needy people will cling but only if we let them. Boundaries should be a course that pairs with conflict resolution offered from kindergarten through 12th grade. I never learned about boundaries, and once I understood them, I realized how few I had. 

      A second experience last night reminded me of how comfortable people are in their own skin—a trait that took me well over 50 years to own. I engaged in a Mastermind session on Zoom with two friends. My one incredible friend who facilitated is just so comfortable with herself. I watch her and so wish I could be like that. She laid on a bed with her head on her pillow as she ran our meeting. I couldn’t believe it. Could I have done that? Never. Why? I don’t know? I grew up so self-conscious that it was even hard for me to look at myself on the monitor much less lie back in an “Ah, yes” position. The meeting went very well, and I closed my computer musing about how different we all are. 

     I am a student of human behavior. I am fascinated by people with traits that I loathe or envy. I keep asking myself how they got that way. How do people grow up not caring what others think of them? Is this good or bad? How can beautiful people not see their own beauty and those with incredible talent not recognize their gifts? Why do so many women believe they are not “enough?” 

     It’s so ironic that a man told me years ago that he could never be married to me because I was “too much.” I always thought I wasn’t “enough,” so I didn’t get that at all. He probably meant that I had too much energy, too much drive and I made him tired. Who knows? He was my very handsome doctor, and as a newly single woman, it gave me pause. What is “too much?” and how did I grow up to believe I wasn’t “enough?” 


      One of the ideas that came out of our Mastermind group last night was a challenge for me to one day give a keynote Ted Talk entitled something like “Embrace Your Struggles: Reinventing Yourself From the Empty Nest.” This idea is a mere seedling, but I’m going to give it some serious thought. Maybe I just need to set some boundaries and go lie back on my pillow. Zoom!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

     













     


















     

     Think about your Christmas when you were 5, 10, 15, 30. Where was the magic? Was there any? Have you recreated that magic for yourself and your children? Is there magic in the holiday? What made it magical? Santa? Jesus? Your parents? Things? 

     As I look back to the days when a doll or a box of plastic dishes made my face light up and my heart race, I ask myself what it was about those “things” that inspired my excitement. Was it the things, or was it what led up to the gift inside the shiny-wrapping? Or was it being at my beloved grandparents home where all the attention focused on me and my sister? 

     Memory is funny and fickle. When I close my eyes and see the one image that constantly comes back every year at this time, it’s the one I just described. I was in the spotlight (in my mind), and the noise around me was the adults’ waiting to see that expression on my face. I never disappointed, but neither did they. A chorus of “Ohhhhh, look how beautiful!” echoed as I gently lifted the plastic tea pot and tiny cups and saucers one by one out of the pink box. 

     The magic that my grandmother created that Christmas Eve will never leave me. It’s a feeling now, not an event. As I prepare for my four little grand-daughters to arrive for the first time at our home, I would give anything to give them a magical memory like that to take into their adulthood. Can magic be created? I don’t know. We’ll see. I do know there is magic in the love I was given, and I will have no problem recreating that for my little cherubs. 

     What do they want? No dolls. No plastic dishes. They want books, art supplies, Nom noms. I am grateful they don’t want gift cards yet. There is little magic in a gift card, no matter how good a deal it buys. I am more interested in creating the feeling, not the gift. So how will I do that? 
There are many ideas floating around in my head, but I can predict what will happen. Whatever plan I come up with will not be the magic. The magic will come from a moment I cannot imagine. It will be a different magical moment for each of them depending on what they are seeing with their innocent eyes. It might be watching their grandfather play his guitar or hugging my teddy bear. It might be seeing the baby alligator in the pond across the way or choosing their favorite ornament on the Christmas tree and making up a story about it. Who knows?


    I know one thing. My magic will be in them this Christmas. Nothing can disappoint me, because I know I cannot orchestrate their three-day visit. I will revel in this slice of life as I thank the Lord I am here with them healthy enough and young enough to witness it all from tantrums to tickles. Santa, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Monday, December 11, 2017

   




     If you go out for dinner with friends to a favorite restaurant and have a lovely evening and a good meal, that’s all there is to say. Not much excitement or interest in that story. If, au contraire, you have an experience like six of us did last night, it’s a story.

     Four of us arrived to meet the other couple who were already seated at a large table for eight. Knowing Mr. Wonderful wouldn’t want to have to shout down the tabletop to be heard, we asked to be moved to a large booth. The restaurant was about 1/8  full. We moved to the booth, and the waiter came to introduce himself. He was a nice man with a very thick barely-understandable accent. He poured water and offered no menus. We asked for the menus. He brought three for six of us. A few minutes later, he returned with the rest. After at least ten minutes, he returned to take our orders. My friend said, “We’d like to order cocktails first.” Surprised, he said, “Ok. What would you like?” I went through my tedious drill explaining my non-alcoholic-in-a-wine-glass-no-ice cocktail. Mr. W. said, “Are there any specials?” He said, “Oh, yes,” and he went on to describe them. I could only comprehend about a third of what he said, but, fortunately, none of them appealed to me. He left to go get the drinks. In the meantime, we all perused the two menus he gave us, one of which was a $30 Prix Fixe. Three of us decided on that menu. Ready to order, we waited. We waited. 

     Finally, the manger approached to tell us the waiter was confused, and we couldn’t order from the Prix Fixe menu. It was only available until 7:00. It was quarter after. My friend chirped, “Excuse me, we have been sitting here for at least a half an hour.” He mumbled something about the computer was locked, and he couldn’t adjust it. The more assertive of the group just stared at him in disbelief, and finally one of them said something about that not being acceptable. He stammered and said maybe he could fix it, but it would be “a few minutes.” With no pad or pen in hand, he asked us to repeat our drink order. This, of course, meant I had to repeat my complicated spiel. Finally, after several minutes, the drinks appeared. Miraculously, mine was correct.

     A young bus boy brought the bread basket and oil. I asked him for butter. He disappeared never to be seen again. 

     Finally, our meals arrived. The outside of my cedar plank salmon looked like it came out of the California wildfire, but amazingly, the inside was moist and delicious. When the waiter came back a few seconds later to fill the water glasses, he knocked one over, and the water went all over the table (before we began to eat), and it spilled on one of our male friend’a lap. He was not happy. Fortunately, for the waiter, he is a very mild-mannered gentleman, so he said nothing other than, “It’s in my lap.” We all threw our napkins on the table and gave him the extras, while the waiter disappeared. When he returned with more napkins that he grabbed from neighboring tables, he never apologized. I think he was too embarrassed. 

     Still no butter.

     By this time, we were waiting for our checks. After they arrived, I held my breath and asked the waiter to take our picture. He did, and although you need a magnifying glass to see us, it turned out ok. 


     Do you want to hear about our dinner a few nights earlier that was perfect in a lovely restaurant with no incidents. Of course, you don’t. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

     Whenever I dread going to a party, I have the time of my life. Does that ever happen to you? Now the obvious question is, “Why dread going to a party?” For me, the sans alcool laisse à désirer! So I had myself 2.3 ounces of 14 Hands Cab, and the evening was delightful. 

     In less than two hours at our neighborhood holiday gathering, I learned where I can do Hot Yoga, how I can hire a man to clean our house, found a friend to bike with early in the morning, discovered a lovely neighbor living three houses away, got informed about the status of the real estate market in Florida and met several people from the Midwest. I even spoke a little French with a nice lady named Valerie. 

     Holiday gatherings can be tedious sometimes, for those of us who cannot indulge in the grapes. Everyone gets “happy” quickly, and, although I start out naturally happy, I find that, at a certain point, peoples’ behavior changes, and I am often left out of the “grape zone.” I remember that zone well, and I loved it, but health has taken priority, so I try to be dry-glib.

     It’s been a year and half since we moved to Florida. Mr. Wonderful took me kicking and screaming. He would have to take me the same way after such a short time here if he wanted me to go somewhere else. Our experience in this beautiful sunny state has been awesome, and I am very grateful to the kind people I’ve met who have made it that way for me. It’s not the weather that convinced me to head to his “dream” world; it was the culture. Professional theatres, outstanding musical ensembles, stimulating lectures, fascinating workshops—-we have it all here, and I’ve just scratched the surface of what’s available. 

    We take ourselves wherever we go. I learned that years ago. If we are basically happy and adaptable, it doesn’t matter where we live or travel; we can be happy. If we embrace instead of withdraw, the world is a candy store. I choose to get involved. I choose to go the extra mile to make things pleasant. It doesn’t always work, but certainly doing the opposite is a sure road to misery. 

     I’ve learned that we are all so different, and our idea of “busy,” “wonderful” and “fulfilled,” is unique to each of us. I am not an athlete, so I don’t spend 95% of my time out in the sun. I am not a game player, so I don’t spend hours playing bridge or mahjong. I don’t knit or quilt, so I’m not creating crafts. These are all enjoyable for many women in my age bracket, but they are not for me. That doesn’t make them better or worse; tastes are just different. Most women aren’t re-inventing themselves in the way I am, and that’s fine. For me, I must do what my “wiring” demands. If you love what you do, keep doing it as long as you can. That goes for those in the work force too. If you can’t wait to get to work in the morning, don’t quit until you absolutely have to. This is called purpose and quality of life. We all deserve it.

     I hope this holiday finds you passionate about you purpose, devoted to being kind to all and especially to yourself, and dreading some parties but finding some wonderful treasures when you get there.


     

Friday, December 8, 2017

           SEXUAL HARASSMENT- Here's the Rub


     I don’t know if there’s any significance in the “har” (her?)and “ass” in the above term, but it seems like “ual” (you all) you gentle?men seem to find our cheeks enticing. I wonder if any of you thought about whether one pinch was worth an entire career. Hmm. I contend, however, that perhaps the pendulum has now swung a bit too far, and it needs to find its equilibrium somehow. I know one thing:  I wouldn’t want to be a man for the next several months. If you look at a woman the wrong way, you could be jobless, homeless, and Lord knows what else “less.” 

      Will we soon hear about the reverse trend:  women being asked to step down from their high positions because they copped their own feel? This may be old news by the time this tome is published, but it is an interesting concept. This all begs the question of intent. Did these men “intend” to take it to the finish line when they poised for the pinch, or were they just being friendly?

      How do you instruct your pubescent children? How do you explain to a 12-year-old boy that sex is the best thing since sliced bread, but don’t get caught. How do you word the “intent” part? “If you intend to do the dirty, make sure no one’s watching, and pay her off so she doesn’t come after you thirty years later.” What do you mean, “dirty?” No, it’s not dirty, until the lawyers get involved, and then dirt is only foreplay in the legal process that makes all lawyers rich.

      Oh, my. We are losing senators faster than the lawyers can deposit their retainers.
Soon, we’ll be down to three people running our country rather than one with a bunch of followers and fanatics. Grandpa would have said, “What’s this world coming to?” That was in 1953. 

     Since Adam and Eve, the Apple has been polished, rotted and eaten. Steve Jobs just took it and ran with it. Fortunately, he didn’t feel up any female farmers along the way (at least as far as we know). As long as boys will be boys, the sexual harassment issue will be alive and well in every state, city, village and borough in the country. So what’s a girl to do?

     *See POP (Power of the . . . ) 

      

Thursday, December 7, 2017

    




     Have you ever had to “walk on egg shells?” It ain’t easy or pleasant. My shells have been crushed more than once, and it is no pretty sight. We all know what this means. Someone or several someones in our lives are so prickly, over-sensitive or angry that if we look at them the wrong way, or say anything that could go through their filter cock-eyed, they are instantly furious, and the damage is already done. So, what’s the answer? Zip-it? I have done some major zipping in my day, and the holidays seem to exacerbate these incidents.

      For your family gathering, whether it’s eight around the table or 100 in the hall, there may just be one of those around whom you must walk on eggshells. For your sakes, I hope this is not so, but I fear many of us are plagued by these feelings. Some of us are the reason. 

     I zip it in certain situations, but this is not necessarily good. When I zip it, I am withholding my own feelings about something that may just come out in another context when I least expect it myself. If it doesn’t come out, it is festering into a giant scrambled egg casserole in my psyche. Sometimes it’s caused by the guy who brings home the bacon. 

      People who cause us to walk on these shells have either been hurt or angered by something in their past that has not been resolved. These are their issues, not ours, unless we’re the ones who caused the anger. If that’s the case, we are equally at fault for not working through it with the person. Of course, it’s easier to leave the elephant in the middle of the room no matter how big he is. 


     Do you have an elephant in the middle of your room? Is he a huge circus type or is he a newborn but growing quickly? In either case, good luck with that. I guess we all have to decide whether to face the animal standing there or zip our tongues bloody. Neither seem like pleasant options while unwrapping Christmas gifts. 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

                                                                             
                                         1300 

     Today, as I write this 1300th blog, I think back to all the years I didn’t write because a family friend, then the Editor of the local newspaper, made fun of my writing, He labeled it “doggerel.” I was 13; he was forty something. Yes, the poem I sent him was trite, but that three-syllable word in big red letters across my innocent attempt at poetry scarred me for years. I had a complex about my writing until I finished grad school when I realized I could not have succeeded and received a Masters Degree if I couldn’t write.

    Still into my late 30s, I carried this insecurity, always afraid I’d bore someone, or they’d think “How does she think she can write?” When I began winning awards at my Toastmasters speech competitions, I was again reminded that if I could win by what I wrote, I must be able to write. Gradually, I gained confidence in my speaking skills (due to the speeches I composed), and I came out of my complex. Even today, however, that word haunts me.

     As I get ready to self-publish my third volume of humorous essays and to perform my fourth one-woman show, I have proven that even if he was right, and maybe it’s a bit “doggerel,” I can write, and people seem to enjoy what I have to say. Some have even used words like “inspirational,” “hilarious” and “memorable.” Yay, me. 

     This isn’t about yay me; it’s about thank you. Thank you for reading my daily musings, and thank you for your occasional compliments that mean so much. 

     It’s so easy to criticize until we try to walk in the person’s shoes. I am pretty sure most of you out there cannot walk in mine, mainly because they are four-inch sticks which require a major amount of vanity and balance. In any case, thank you, and have a wonderful day!