Sometimes You Don’t Need to Apologize

Does anyone else love reading http://www.etiquettehell.com as I do? In a nutshell, it’s all about situations where etiquette should be used but often isn’t. It’s sort of a cross between Dear Abby and the basic terms of etiquette that our parents and grandparents taught us.

I am often gobstruck by the rudeness and selfishness of some people. It appears that common decency and manners have truly gone by the wayside.

But one post on http://www.etiquettehell.com really rang true for me, which is why I am posting it here. As a young woman, I often let rudeness or even downright scary behavior go by the wayside because I was afraid of offending someone. What I didn’t think of back then was this: you do NOT have to put up rudeness, abuse or anything or anyone who makes you uncomfortable.

Read on and see if you agree.

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“I recently went on a date that left me feeling, for lack of a better word, icky.

My date with, let’s call him Jeff, was arranged by a friend. Jeff was an old buddy of her husband’s and had recently moved back into town. We texted back and forth and he seemed nice and polite, and we agreed to meet for a drink at a pub I know rather well. The date was for late in the evening as I had a work commitment and agreed to meet him afterward.

Jeff was already seated when I arrived. We ordered our drinks, and chatted while waiting for them to arrive. The conversation was odd, I’m not even sure how to describe it, but it was more like talking to a nervous fourteen year old than a man in his late thirties. I attributed it to first date jitters. He suggested a few times that we order some “entrees”, and I thought that a lot of food for so late in the evening. I eventually realized that he meant “appetizers”. I opted to stick with just a drink. He also suggested, several times, that we could go back to his place for a drink instead. Again, I declined.

When the waitress arrived with our drinks I removed my jacket to get more comfortable. Jeff very blatantly stared at my chest and said “WOW!” Now, I was not wearing anything revealing, and there was no reason (and there never should be) to make such a proclamation. I quickly pulled my jacket back on, told him that he had just made me very uncomfortable, and said a hasty good-night.

A younger me may have stuck around and finished my drink for fear of seeming impolite. I have learned that you do not need to keep yourself in an uncomfortable situation because of etiquette, and it is quite possible to exit such a situation gracefully.”

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My Granddaughters, My Teachers

I never had children of my own, but luckily I have granddaughters. I knew early on in my life that I was not “mom material;” I just couldn’t see it for me. I never felt that I just had to have children. I had all I could do to manage my own life; I felt I was too selfish to bring a child into the world.

As my friends married and had children, I enjoyed visiting them and playing with them. But always when I left I would be in awe of mothers and fathers everywhere. I don’t care what anyone says—raising a child to be a good, decent person is hard work.

Each and every time the Crankee Yankee and I visit our grandgirls we are willing slaves to whatever they want to do. Ava, who is in the first grade, always wants me to hear her read out loud. As an avid reader myself, I rejoice inside at every word. When she comes to a word she can’t pronounce, we sound it out together.

As Ava has a loving and generous heart, she “teaches” her little sister, Juliette, who is almost two years old, what she learns in school. Just as Ava was at that age, Juliette wants to learn everything. When we are all tired of reading, we color or make houses with Lincoln Logs. Most of the fun is when we sneak up on each other’s “house” and knock it down, laughing fiendishly.

Over the years, I realize that my heart has more than enough room in it for everyone in my *ohana: family members and friends.

My granddaughters teach me that love has no boundaries, no walls, no barbed-wire fences. I am sure that one day there may be a time when they are too old (or too ‘cool’) to run to us, arms out, yelling “Grampy!” and “Lulu!” But today, thank God, they still show that pure and sweet love that surrounds us with heart-breaking beauty and happiness.

They don’t know it yet, but they are the teachers who show us how incredibly wonderful life can be. And we are the happy students who benefit from their teaching.

“Ohana – Hawaiian word for all people who aren’t strictly blood-related, but become family through love and affection. If you are a fan of the movie “Lilo and Stitch,” you will know the phrase, “ohana means family, and no one gets left behind.”

Ooops–It Did It Again!

Sorry for no posts yesterday and today; our computer decided to have a tantrum. After some telephone coaching from my wonderful tech guy, it’s back up and running. At least this time I didn’t do my usual frustrated gorilla move: pounding on all the keys at once and swearing….

See you tomorrow unless I get another ghost in the machine….ain’t technology wonderful?

 

What Our Tears Are Telling Us

Many people are easy criers; I’m one of them. I cry sad tears and happy tears; sometimes for no reason. You can say that tears are simply a relief valve, but they are more than that. Often what our tears are telling us is that we need a release; a break, a time-out. Tears are often a response to sadness, pain, worry, fear, doubt; they come to cleanse the wounds we carry.

There are sad tears and happy tears, laughter tears and angry tears. A long time ago I realized that I was an easy crier, which made me a better writer. Emotions often block my ability to speak, so I write.

Some say that tears are a sign of weakness; that we can’t control our emotions. I say that tears are a sign of strength and release. I used to be ashamed of my easy crying and felt it was a weakness; I hated to have anyone see me cry.

But during my life some events have brought me to my knees and the only way to survive them is to cry. The Crankee Yankee is always wonderful about this, and says that it’s not a bad thing to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve. After nearly 16 years of marriage, those words have helped me through all the tears I could not hold back.

I believe that our tears are akin to a pot of boiling water. When the pot heats up, bubbles form and jump up to the surface. So do our tears that spring from our eyes when we just can’t contain whatever emotion brought them on.

The ridiculously happy tears are another story all together. When we met our first granddaughter, Ava, there were happy and joyous tears. Two years ago, when Ava’s little sister, Juliette, was born, she was in the NICU for a few weeks. There were many anxious and worried tears; which turned into happy tears when she was able to come home, safe and healthy.

Over the years I’ve learned to just let go when I feel teary. There’s nothing wrong with a good cry, and after I do cry, I can almost hear my whole system go “ahhhhhh!” Often that’s the “reset” button I need to go on with my day. There’s no stigma on crying except for the ones we put on ourselves. So, as we like to say in our house, “*let it go, Elsa!”

*From the Disney movie, “Frozen.”

 

 

What Not to Do in Our Sixties

Note: I wrote a post a few years ago about this, and the following is a shorter and revised version.

There’s a lot to be said for being in your sixties; after all, aren’t they calling 60 the “new 40?” Works for me! For one thing, we are living longer and better lives and there are so many things available now that weren’t 20 years ago.

These days we can get our knees, hips and shoulders replaced if we need to. These days cancer is not the boogeyman it used to be. These days we are realizing more and more the value in our lives.

To that end, retirement becomes a whole new world. If you like, this can be a time to do things you couldn’t do before. The following are some ideas:

  • Travel–even taking a day trip up in the mountains will give you a refreshing change of pace.
  • Devote yourself to a really fun hobby–you pick.
  • Mentor someone.
  • Read at least one great classic.
  • Listen to some really good music each day.
  • Change your attitude and bloom where you’re planted.
  • Never tried surfing  or paddle boarding? Try it now. If you fall, you’re only falling into water.
  • Join a book club.
  • At least once a day, put yourself first.
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter or wherever you like. The rewards are tremendous.
  • Start walking, either alone or in a group. Not only is it good and gentle exercise, but you start noticing so much around you. I call them Appreciation Walks.
  • Speaking of the above, invest in some really good walking shoes. They are well worth the cost.
  • Speaking of that above, buy better-made (read that more expensive) shoes. They will feel better, last longer and be comfortable far longer. Better to have one great pair of shoes for $100 than ten pairs of cheap shoes for $10 each.
  • Make a date at least once a month with a few of your best friends. Go out to lunch, go shopping, pack a lunch and sit on the rocks facing the ocean. Before you go your separate ways, make the next date.
  • Get a pet.
  • Keep a journal.
  • This is the age around which we begin to lose our parents. We may end up caring for them ourselves. This is a tough and often heartbreaking job, but it can be a time to make peace, let old issues go, enjoy simple conversations, and so on. When the parent(s) pass on, take the time to grieve and breathe. This is a time when not only your family, but your old friends as well can be your safe harbor.
  • Go through your home and weed out the clutter (Note to self: this one’s for ME). Make a Donate pile, a Yard Sale pile, a Throw-away pile and a Give to Relatives pile. This, along with making your will and getting your important papers in order, is a gift to your children or whoever will be caring for you.
  • Move on! Don’t waste your time on a bad relationship, a bad job, a bad book or movie, or a bad situation. You don’t get points for hanging on.
  • Always wanted to dump your late grandmother’s old fur coat? Donate it. Where Grandma is now, she’ll not only understand, but approve.
  • If you’re comfortable with it, become a hugger.
  • Treat yourself to a good massage at least once a month.
  • If you are able, dance and sing as much as possible.
  • Take some classes; Chinese cooking, painting, Tai Chi, gardening, pottery, jewelry-making, etc.

There are, however, things that really should be avoided at this age, such as:

  • Do not under any circumstances try the latest dance craze in public. (OMG–is there anything sadder and creepier than seeing a 70-year twerk?) You will embarrass yourself, your children and grandchildren. People watching will feel uncomfortable pity for you. If you persist and do this anyway, you’d better have a one-way ticket for Costa Rica for the next day. You won’t want to be around for the backlash.
  • Do not wear ridiculously high heels. You’ll fall and break a hip.
  • Do not wear bright red, orange or purple lipstick–you’ll look like a creepy clown.
  • Do not put a mirror on your lap and look down. (Trust me on this one–do it by yourself and you will be horrified by how cruel gravity can be.)
  • Do not natter on and on endlessly about how much better things were when you were growing up, or at least choose your audience well. (But this can also be a great topic for old friend get-togethers).
  • Do not put your butt over your head unless you are 1) extremely limber, 2) practice yoga on a daily basis, and 3) do not have low blood pressure.
  • Do not be surprised when you fart each time you bend over. That’s the true sound of the ’60s.
  • Do not believe those ads that promise you that their gel/cream/serum/lotion, etc. will make you look instantly younger. They won’t. The only thing they will do is to lighten your wallet. Just stick to a good skin care routine.
  • Do NOT use teenage lingo, and quit saying “awesome” or peppering your sentences with “like.”
  • Stop whining about how pretty you used to be. You’re fabulous the way you are RIGHT NOW.
  • Do not bring up hot flashes, night sweats or prolapsed bladder issues with anyone other than your true friends. Believe me, no one else wants to hear about them.

Most of all, let’s embrace our age, and let go of the my-oh-my-how-my-looks-have-changed attitude. Ever hear this apt little verse by Edward Lear?

“As a beauty I’m not a great star,
There are others more handsome by far,
But my face, I don’t mind it,
Because I’m behind it.
It’s those out in front that I jar.”

So let’s make friends with the mirror and enjoy who we are right now.

No More Personal Martyrdom

I wrote this a few years back, and have updated it since. I believed then as I do now, that it’s perfectly OK to put yourself first now and then. Why not? Your car won’t move an inch without gas in it, neither can you constantly give without “refueling” now and then. It doesn’t have to be that you clean out the bank and fly off to Vegas. It only means that it’s all right to do something nice for yourself now and then.

So in the spirit of being nice to ourselves now and then, it’s perfectly fine for you to do any and all of the following:

Take that last piece of pizza.

Watch the TV show YOU want to watch.

Turn up your nose at the burned slice of toast; throw it to the birds and make yourself a fresh one.

Go get yourself a manicure/pedicure/massage/bubble bath/whatever tickles your fancy.

Have an adventure.

Go see a movie you really want to see; don’t wait for someone else to agree to go with you–just GO.

Treat yourself to one of those fancy-schmancy lattes.

Go hide somewhere with a favorite book, and don’t come out until you want to.

Remember that funky ring you saw for $30? Go buy it and wear it.

Turquoise, red, purple and green tooled leather clogs? If you love them (more importantly, if your FEET love them), buy them before someone else does.

…and go and do all those things you want to do, but have been delaying in order to put someone else first.

And please note that I am NOT going to qualify all the above with some politically-correct statement about being responsible, blah, blah, blah–you know what I’m talking about. I know you’re not going to steal food from your children, spend the car payment money on a new pair of leather boots, etc. This is just a reminder that it is perfectly fine for you to make yourself Number One for a change.

You matter!