Furious? Give It a Day

I’m not proud of the fact that I have a bad temper, which is sometimes accompanied by such charming activities as:

  • Throwing things
  • Yelling
  • Swearing
  • Feeling hugely sorry for poor old me
  • Making all my cats hide until I calm down

There–I told you I wasn’t proud of it. For all I trumpet about being a good sport and trying to understand the other person, well–I don’t always take my own advice.

So, after years of painful mistakes and cringe-worthy memories of things I have said and done in anger, I have learned the following:

  • Recognize the anger (well, duh)
  • Place the anger properly (i.e., don’t assume that everything that makes you mad is the other person’s fault)
  • Understand that other people make mistakes–just as we do
  • Resist the temptation to call or email the person with whom you are angry
  • Most of all, MOST importantly–give your feelings a day. One day.

If one day isn’t enough, give it another. Follow this until you can address the situation sanely and without anger. If it takes a week or more, then that’s how long it should be.

Case in point: I ordered the most gorgeous bracelet; I had it custom-made for me. I chose all the elements and left it up to the artist to put them together. Two days later, I received it. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning and ripped the package open.

There it was–an absolute perfection of silver chain, luminous moonstones, and glowing pearls. It was, in a word, magnificent. I put it on, and, because of its chunkiness, I wasn’t able to fasten it.

Well–I had already had a lousy day, and was so looking forward to this marvelous creation and wanted to wear it right then. I complained long and loud about it and was ready to send an angry email to the seller and give him a piece of my angry mind.

I even called a friend who also makes jewelry and complained to her. She listened and agreed how frustrating it is to look forward to something and then not be able to wear it. Then she asked me if I was still mad.

I replied that damn right I was still mad! I could hear the smile in her voice as she said, “Why don’t you give this a day or two? You’ve had a couple of bad days, and you may be lumping this together with your disappointment that you can’t wear the bracelet right away.”

I was gobstruck–she was absolutely right; what I needed to do was to give it a day (or more) before contacting the artist. Now you would think I’d have the brains to figure that out, wouldn’t you? I mean, I was angry, not stupid. (Well, stupid mad, anyway.)

So, that’s what I’m did. I gave myself two days to cool off, then I contacted the artist and explained my issue. All I needed was three more links to give the bracelet more play, for which of course I offered to pay. And guess what–the artist wrote back and said he would gladly send me three more links–no charge! How great is that?

Lesson learned–you certainly have the right to go bat-crap crazy about something; just don’t act on it right away. I needed those two day to get over myself and think clearly. Thanks to my dear friend who suggested it, I gained a calmer state of mind and was better able to communicate. AND I didn’t throw anything! So the furious-at-first-glance thing? I’m making it a rule from now on to just give something that frustrates or angers me a day. Just one day.

(And hey–I used part of my angry time to vacuum the house. I was in a bad mood anyway, so why not?)

Don’t Let Your Pride Trip You Up

Pride’s a funny thing, you know–

And I’m the one who can tell you so.

I’ve let my pride make a fool of me,

And if you know me, you will see

That I am indeed a fool of sorts

And often a snarky author of rude retorts–

But I, like you, let my defenses down

And instead of weeping, acted the clown

But hearts are soft and easily bruised,

We all know this; it’s not new news–

So pride will indeed go before a fall,

When we didn’t even mean to, at all.

Let’s think beyond our own fear and pride,

And put our own old hurts aside.

Life is short but pain is long,

Worry not about who’s right or wrong,

But comfort where we can, and fast–

Lest we let too much time go past

Before we mend our ways and fences

And shed all our tired old pretenses.

Pride is just a little, mean thing

That often doesn’t mean anything

Important, true or real–

So let’s stop–and think and feel.

Let’s give each other a well-earned break

And put our hands out, smile and shake.

Life’s too short, we know it’s true–

Let’s not miss a moment of it feeling blue.

Life’s to live, not fuss and pout

So let’s all laugh, forgive; hugs all about!

From the Kindness Blog: 40 Simple Ways to Practice Kindness

Again, from the Kindness Blog (which is rapidly becoming my go-to site when I need some uplifting!), here is “40 Simple Ways to Practice Kindness,” by Mike O’Connor. This is a great “menu” for good karma and for just helping to life others up, including ourselves. Read on.

  1. “Smiles are irresistible. Don’t hesitate to smile warmly at friends, family, colleagues and even…strangers.
  2. Write hand-written thank-you notes. The notes don’t need to be an essay and people love to receive them. It’s the personal touch.
  3. If you use public transport, it’s busy and there are no free seats, be the first to stand-up and let a weary traveller, pregnant woman or elderly person take rest.
  4. Pay it forward – When you are in a coffee shop or café , maybe you could buy a coffee or cake in advance for the next customer that comes in. How tasty! Imagine what a sweet surprise that person will get when they discover that a kind stranger has paid it forward for them.
  5. When you see a homeless person, think about how you might be able to help them in some way. Buy a nutritious lunch. Ask them if there is anything that they need. Give them a warm coat. Share a conversation. Spend some time. Listen. Engage.
  6. That thing you’re going to sell. Why not give it away for free?
  7. Send flowers unexpectedly. No reason needed. Just because.
  8. Hold doors open. Even for people who are a little further away from the door than usual.
  9. Make your colleagues/classmates a hot-drink. Expect nothing in return. Well…maybe some doughnuts.
  10. Speaking of doughnuts…why not buy a bag  full and share them out in all directions.
  11. Pay compliments.
  12. Does someone owe you money? Forgive the debt.
  13. When a person is talking to you _really_ listen to them.
  14. Pass books on, especially the good ones or leave them in public places for others to find.
  15. Ask elderly neighbours if they need anything doing.
  16. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Regularly.
  17. When you are served in a shop, bar, restaurant etc, make eye contact and sincerely thank the employee for their help.
  18. Put coins in a meter, any meter, that’s about to expire.
  19. If you know that someone is particularly busy, offer to take their dog for a walk.
  20. When a thought of generosity arises within you, act on it. Don’t hold back. This is important.
  21. If someone is struggling with money problems, find a way to secretly help them if you can. If not secretly, out in front.
  22. Take a friend to dinner.
  23. Stand up for others.
  24. Stop complaining.
  25. Standing in a queue? Let someone go before you.
  26. Tell someone that they look nice.
  27. Volunteer some time to help a charity or perhaps a homeless shelter.
  28. Stop speaking ill of others. Let your words be kind.
  29. Forgive a driver for their error on the road or their road rage directed at you.
  30. Recycle.
  31. Think of the people in your life…what help do they need with chores or tasks? Don’t wait to be asked.
  32. Be the calm voice in a stressful situation.
  33. Donate to your favourite charity.
  34. Spend some time with a senior citizen living on their own.
  35. Teach a child something you wish you knew at that age.
  36. If a friend or family member is having a hard time, make sure they know that you are there for them and are available to talk and help.
  37. Give Blood.
  38. Donate to or volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
  39. Encourage someone to pursue their dream.
  40. “Please” and “Thank You”.”

Our Own Beauty

I’m glad that I am living in a time where our standards of beauty are becoming more, well–realistic. When we don’t define beauty as only belonging to the air-brushed, fluffed and buffed fashion magazine standards, we can enjoy an amazing array of beautiful people all around us. Real beauty starts from the belief and encouragement from our loved ones that we are beautiful as we are, that we feel in our bones that our beauty is unique to us alone. It flourishes when we believe ourselves to be beautiful.

There is an old saying that always makes me laugh; “Try looking at the doughnut and not the hole.” In other words, concentrate on all that is good and ignore those small things that aren’t.

When I look at pictures of my high school self, I can finally see that I was actually nice-looking, even beautiful. I couldn’t see it at the time because I was too busy moaning about all my imperfections (and who doesn’t have them?), plus I was young and kept comparing myself to others. I look back at that lovely smooth-faced girl, so young and graceful and strong, and finally appreciate who she was and is.

These days I find I can look far beyond wrinkles (which I got from years of smiling and laughing, by the way), my changed shape and my clothing and makeup styles (so much simpler these days!)–these days I can see my personality and individuality. The changes and growth I’ve experienced have changed me in every way. Things change with age, including our bodies and faces. In fact, if you view the changes with some humor, it makes it a whole lot easier.

For instance, while checking the back and sides of my hair this morning, I noticed that my neck is seriously pooping out. I’m beginning to look like a bullfrog with really nice hair. Oh well, that’s what scarves and necklaces are for. My formerly wide eyes are peering out from saggy eyelids, top and bottom. And let’s not even discuss  the state of my thighs! While still muscular, the skin hasn’t kept up and seems to have left its elasticity somewhere.

Now I know that there are solutions for all this. In fact, there is a very good plastic surgeon right in the next town over. But good grief, even you have the money to treat yourself to a eyelift-to-thigh make-over, where would it all end? Lift the brow and eyelids, and your neck looks worse. Tighten up the neck and the boobs look like poor relations. Upper arm flab? That needs to go as well. But then your stomach looks like a punctured air balloon. Fix that, and then there are the thighs to contend with. Oh, and then varicose veins.

So, do all that and you’d think you’d be all set for a few years, right? But you’d be wrong. No matter how much work you have done, there is precious little you can do about your elbow skin. When your arms are down, that puckery elbow skin just screams: “Look at ME! I’m old!!” You can’t win.

Here’s my personal plan to fight aging–or at least cover it up. By age 70 I plan to only wear colorful saris and graceful salwars; the theory being the less body parts shown, the better. I mean, look at fabulous Judi Dench from the recent Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel movies. She looks drop-dead fantastic. I’ll bet she despairs privately about her own saggy bits, but does she complain about it? I doubt it. AND can pull off the graceful afore-mentioned outfits as well.

So–beauty. It comes in all colors, sizes, ages, shapes, backgrounds and experiences. Some of have all our body parts, some are missing this, that, or the other thing, but we are unique and our beauty is special because it is our beauty. That, my friends, is beauty defined.

Our True *Provenance

If we listened hard enough before we were born, we might hear these words spoken to us alone:

“Here is wisdom, and try to remember this when you are old enough to understand:

1) For the many people that are kind and well-intentioned, there are just as many who are unkind and hateful. Be grateful for the kind ones and be forgiving of the hateful ones–they haven’t found their way yet.

2) Believe it or not, the parents you have are the parents you chose. Try to remember the reason why you chose them and why you needed them in order to do what you came into the world to do.

3) There is an endless amount of love and abundance waiting for you; waiting for everyone. Believe it, and let it come to you–there is no need to chase it.

4) There are going to be people who will love you on sight. There may be just as many who will hate you on sight. Be aware, but do not be afraid.

5) When you feel lost and alone and can’t see a way out of the darkness, believe that a hand will be there to guide you through–and it will appear.

6) You are here for a purpose. You are supposed to be here. You matter. Do not forget this.

7) You are loved beyond all time, all space, all memory and all reason. You can’t see them, but these words are engraved upon your heart.

8) There are going to be times in your life when you feel totally and completely overwhelmed. No direction will feel right to you, but this is when your true self appears: the answers are already inside you.

9) Remember that people who are hurting will hurt others. Be aware of their pain, help when you can, and stand back when you have to.

10) Love is a habit like any other. Make it your personal and number one priority. You will not know what is in another heart, but your habit of love may help open the way to hear it.”

It is a fact that there will be many times we will feel, as my grandmother used to say, “helpless, hopeless, handless;” feeling that we can do nothing right. You can count on failing plenty of times, but you can also count on succeeding many times, too. That’s just the way life is; some days you’re the windshield; some days you’re the bug.

But the good news is that we are here now, and each day is a new chance to pick up and start again. No matter how bad things get, the sun always comes up in the morning. We all came here to learn, to help, to love and to comfort. Sometimes our circumstances get in the way, but our purpose is to love and be loved and share that love. This is our provenance.

As we were told so long ago, do not forget this.

*Place of origin; source

The New Hampshire Fiddle Ensemble – a Transcendent Experience

I love music, and especially enjoy the strings. In my life so far, I’ve played guitar, banjo, flute, recorder, and just recently, ukulele. Mind you, I haven’t played them well at all, but I love them, and am currently taking ukulele lessons.

We spent the evening of April 11 enjoying the *New Hampshire Fiddle Ensemble in Exeter, NH. The musicians were people of all ages; as young as five and some as old as 84. The stage was crowded with fiddles, two big harps, guitars, banjos, a bass, a cello, mandolins, and a few ukuleles. The sound was magnificent! Everyone on stage was dressed in jeans and colorful vests, and the energy they had made it seem as though they are a big family. They played bluegrass, old country songs, Irish reels, folk songs, rock and roll, Scottish airs, early swing and ragtime and even a few old cowboy tunes. Many people sang along, and that was great, too.

What was most amazing to me was finding out that there is NO sheet music on stage–none. Everyone in the ensemble is plays by ear and memory. This is the old way of learning music, when tunes were played in families, memorized, and passed down through the generations. This amazing ensemble is coached by the incomparable **Ellen Carlson, who has performed on fiddle for over 30 years. Among other things, she is a member of the New Hampshire Council on the Arts, Artist in Education Program. Her desire is to “inspire people of all ages to play and to learn to enjoy the many facets of fiddling as well as making music together.”

As she explained during the concert, rehearsals involve a lot of “here; listen to this–now play it” sessions. When I think of the “paper-training” I went through early on–trying to figure out how to make the sheet music translate into actual music, and then singing in three different choruses in college (also using sheet music), it was hard to wrap my head around this simple but effective approach. But think of it–if the music’s in your head, you don’t need a sheet in front of you! Personally, I can’t read music; I never could. But I quickly learned by ear, and I don’t think that any of my choir directors ever caught on.

So, to hear all this amazing music and see the faces of the musicians as they reacted to it–to see how free they were to enjoy what they were playing (again, not hampered by sheet music)–well, it just knocked me out. As my own musical MO is to memorize chords as fast as I can, then memorize the sequence of them in the songs I want to play (and sing), this really resonated with me.

I have to say that this concert, with its friendly and welcoming feel, really captured all that is good about making music together. Please check out the web sites listed below for more information.

*Check them out on http://nhfiddleensemble.com/.

**EllenCarlson.com

Are The Wantsies as Good as the Havesies?

Did you ever see something that you absolutely fell in love with and that you wanted just because you wanted it? I am talking about impractical, wonderful, amazing, one-of-a-kind things that just enchant you. You look at them and that little “I want” buzzer goes off right behind your eyes and your knees get weak, and you breathe ‘ohhhhhh, I want that!’

Now we all know that kids regularly fall in love with stuff that they think they want because it’s right there in front of them in the toy store. As soon as they go up another aisle, they fall for something else and forget all about that first thing. I’m not talking about that kind of “wantsie”–I am speaking of the kind of thing you fall for so hard and so fast that you want to marry it.

For instance, my weakness is jewelry. When something strikes me as a real “me” piece, I want it. However, I’m not a complete idiot; I can easily fall right out of love with something if it costs more than I’m willing to pay. I don’t buy diamonds, or platinum or gold; silver is my choice. But that aside, when the wantsies grab me, my legs get weak and my mind grows dim.

So–once you have the wantsie and it becomes the havesie, is it worth it? For me, I’d say about 50/50. I used to be hooked on one of those very popular TV buy-anything-you-want shows. Just the hype alone would propel me into an attack of the wantsies. Once I called my order in, I would be in an absolute fever to get the item in the mail. When it finally arrived, I would slowly open it to reveal the thing I felt I couldn’t live without. Sometimes it was a real WOW, other times, not so much.

You know how it goes: it’s late at night, you’re alone in the house, you are feeling a bit sorry for yourself, you had one more glass of wine than usual, you called in and hey! You ended up on the air, talking with a host who was only too happy to sell you the wantsie you wanted. When it finally shows up, you may think, “what the hell did I order this for?” That situation is called the “one wine too many wantsie.”

As the years go by I have learned to wait myself out. I look at what I want, think about it, look through all my stuff to be sure I don’t already have something pretty much like it–think some more and then sleep on it. Maybe for a week. I try to review why I wanted it in the first place, asking myself such questions as “Are you feeling neglected and want to make yourself feel better?” “Do you feel you deserve something nice for all the hard work you do?” which leads naturally into this: “Dammit, no one appreciates all I do! I’m going to buy myself something!” Or “do you want it just because you want it?”

So, the afore-mentioned wantsie, after passing successfully through the above routine, now can move forward to the actual purchase. When I can look at it on my finger, my wrist or on my ears and say, “Now that’s what I wanted (insert a chorus here of ‘I’ll tell ya what I want/What I really really want” here).” And then I am happy and content…until another wantsie comes along.

And oh, how those wantsies want to be wanted!