Thinking Before We Speak

I wrote this years ago, and to this day I try my best to think before I speak.

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How many times have we had something wonderful happen in our lives and we just couldn’t wait to tell people about it? And how many times have we broken our amazing news to someone, only to have them say, “Well, that’s nice for you….but how about all those people who aren’t as lucky as you?” ……Really? I’m not sure that this type of response meets the official passive-aggressive title, but it sure is a big old downer.

I know it’s tough if we personally are struggling with money problems and the person next to us has just hit it big in the lottery, but does it hurt to just congratulate them and walk away? This is one of those times when it is NOT about us, but about the OTHER person. Can we not lay aside our own fear, anxiety, jealousy, and sourpussed-ness to just be happy for that person for a brief moment? Seriously, how hard is that? And selfishly, it actually lifts us up in a way. You can walk away from that happy person knowing that:

  • You shared their joy.
  • You put yourself aside to congratulate that person.
  • You became bigger than your own concerns.
  • You didn’t sour their happiness with your own problems.

This is another one of those situations where laying aside our own cares and worries can actually benefit us. It’s a lot like seeing a feel-good movie (I suggest “While You Were Sleeping,” “Love Actually,” “Frozen,” etc.)–—you walk away uplifted and in a great  mood and with a lighter spirit. We SO want to say “Why couldn’t this (wonderful thing) happen to meeeeeeeeeeeee?” But if we can just manage to look that happy person in the eye and say sincerely “I’m so glad for you,” it’s a win-win.

Imagine that this amazing thing happened to us and not them. Would we not want our friend/relative/neighbor to magnify that joy for one brief moment? The old saying goes, “sorrow shared halves the sorrow; joy shared doubles the joy.” How about we start doubling some joy instead of heaping crap on top of someone else’s good fortune?

Remember the karmic law: “Put out good, you get good back. Put out crap, you get crap back.” Not only that, but the backflow is much stronger than the outgo. When we lift up others, we go up with them. Let’s choose our direction wisely!

Buttercups

Out in our back yard, there are buttercups everywhere. They make me smile when I see them because they remind me of my dad. When he and my mother were dating, at the time I was about three years old, and I liked him at first sight. We often went on picnics together, too. At the time I didn’t realize that my mother was slowly falling in love with him; I sure was.

On one picnic, while Mom was clearing up, Dad and I took a short walk. We found a lot of buttercups, and we picked them together. It was about this time that I asked him if I could call him “Daddy.” He told me that I could, and we kept on picking the buttercups.

Long story short, he and my mom married, and we became what Dad called “We Three.” When we moved into our new house in Wolfeboro, NH, Mom immediately started a rose garden. Dad took care of the lawn. He noticed that there was a patch of buttercups in the back yard; every time he mowed the lawn, he was careful not to mow down the buttercups.

As it happens, we too have a plot of buttercups in our back yard. We leave them alone in their gorgeous yellow splender, and when I look at them, I remember Dad. It’s funny how we remember our childhood; the buttercups always bring Dad to mind. Such a little thing, buttercups; but even to this day they make me smile.

Just Because We Can, Should We?

I wrote this quite a while ago regarding driverless cars. The idea of it scared me senseless then, and it still scares me now.

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Is anyone else concerned or worried about driverless cars? By this time, we have all heard about the woman who was killed when a driverless car (with an actual human inside it) ran into her. For whatever reason, it didn’t recognize her as a human being. I don’t know about you, but it chilled my blood.

And what about all those creepy robots that are being made now? There was a robotic dog that could open doors, but when told to stop or when it was restrained, it still tried to open the door. Then there is a headless robotic deer; made for what reason I can’t tell. Watching it bounce along with no head was extremely creepy.

Then there is the new trend to “smart homes.” This means that virtually anything and everything in the home can be controlled via smart phone or other device. While I’m sure that this gives people who are away from their homes peace of mind, it makes me wonder when or if the system may fail. If that happens, how do you get back in your house and control it?

And this one is pretty new: now the “on trend” thing is to use your own face as a password! Really?!? What if someone tries to rob you and knows that all they have to do to get to your money is to shove your face into a scanner?

I’ll bet you anything that we will soon see Big Brother first suggesting, and then demanding that we all get microchipped so that “should anything happen to you, we can find you.” Does this give anyone else the shivers? And I’ll bet the scenario will start like this: they will start microchipping newborn babies “because this will stop people from stealing your children.”

Sheesh, all this sounds like a bad science fiction movie, but robots and their ilk are a real thing. Heaven only knows what will come next. As the late and wonderful Dorothy Parker used to say, “what fresh hell is this?”

 

Seriously, Less Is More

It’s a sad fact, but as we women age, less is more when it comes to makeup. When we were teenagers, we could pull off orange eye shadow, loads of blush, tons of black mascara, bright red lipstick; actually, anything that was in fashion at the time. And we looked adorable!

However, as we age, we really need to cut down on the makeup. Is there anything sadder than a woman in or over her 50s wearing the same kind of makeup she wore as a teenager? Less is more, especially when we are older. For me, the best thing about keeping it appropriate for my age is that it takes so much less time.

A few years ago I splurged and went to Sephora to get an expert opinion of what I should (and should NOT) be wearing. She too agreed that when you are older, less makeup is more. She showed me how to do it, and not only does it take a very short time to do it, but it makes me look pretty good for a gal in my 60s.

The same goes with clothing. Years ago I decided that no one needs to see my flabby thighs or my droopy cleavage. It’s easy enough to wear the kind of clothing that not only suits you, but makes you look good for your age. Again, seeing an expert is always well worth it.

The best thing about getting older is that you no longer really give a hoot about what people think of you. Who cares, anyway? If I feel like wearing a pair of bright purple sandals, I’ll wear them proudly. A while ago I read about a young woman who took her grandmother out to a shoe store. Her grandmother fell in love with a pair of turquoise shoes with a snappy bow on the toes. Her granddaughter exclaimed, “Grandma, how will you wear those?”

Her grandmother smiled at her and said, “with defiance!” I say we take that wonderful lady’s advice and let our freak flags fly!

 

18 Years Together!

Yesterday the Crankee Yankee and I celebrated our 18th anniversary. We’re not ones to make a big deal out of it; we give each other sweet cards and say “awww!” The cats just roll their eyes as we do this; it’s really difficult to impress a cat anyway.

So, what did we do to celebrate? Well, I went food shopping and the Crankee Yankee worked outside in the back yard. Lest you think that we should have made a bigger deal out of 18 years together, I’ll explain why: we are just too damned lazy. I know he will ok any piece of jewelry I want, so I can do that anytime. Also I know he loves salted cashews, so I always get him a big bag of them and he’s a happy camper.

I always wonder how other people celebrate their anniversaries; personally I think it’s entirely up to the couple to do whatever they like. Everyone celebrates as they will, and it’s fun to hear from folks who do special things on their anniversaries. I say more power to them; it’s all about what you like. An anniversary is a mile stone, and as such should be celebrated in some way.

We have known each other for years, and both of us married other people. Long boring story short, we both eventually divorced our first marriage partners. We lived our separate lives for many years; the Crankee Yankee become a long distance trucker and traveled all over the country, and I lived and worked in Texas for quite a few years. My parents had always adored the Crankee Yankee, so when he called them to get my phone number, they happily gave it to him.

As he was traveling through Texas, he asked me out to dinner. We talked for hours; in fact, we stayed there talking until the restaurant closed up. Both of us hated to leave, but we promised each other we would have another date soon when he came back to Texas,

A few months later, he called and asked me to marry him. I certainly was not expecting a proposal, but before I knew it, I said yes. It just seemed inevitable, and even though I had sworn I would never marry again (my first marriage was an absolute train wreck), I heard myself say “yes.”

So that’s how it all started; we had been friends and now we are happily married and have been so for 18 years. How the time goes by when you’re having fun!

 

 

Let Us Never Forget

Today we celebrate all who gave their lives and limbs for our country. Both my father and grandfather went to war; both of them seldom spoke about their experiences. All who went to war have their own stories, and most of them either do not or cannot talk about it. I can only imagine what they lived through.

Unlike so many countries, we in America enjoy our freedoms and our way of life. Other countries do not have this luxury. In our national anthem, we sing about the land of the free and the home of the brave. Unfortunately, we often take both for granted. On this special day, let us not forget how we came to have these freedoms.

Our veterans deserve our thanks and our respect. Please make today a time to remember and to thank any veteran that you know. Our cemetaries are full of heroes who have done the right things for this country.

God bless America and all those who have fought and died, and all those who made it back home.

“Put That Thing Back Where It Came From or So Help Me!”

I don’t know if this is a man thing or that they just don’t care; the Crankee Yankee will take something out of the office and when I go to look for it it’s nowhere to be found. Days later I may find it out on the front porch, on the steps of the deck, or in his underwear drawer. Quite frankly, it drives me nuts.

I grew up in a home where everything had its own place, and Heaven forbid you put something away from where it belonged. But to be fair, the Crankee Yankee does so much around our house that it is becoming an icon of creativity and style. Many people stop and tell him how good everything looks; they’re right. The improvements he’s made makes our house look fantastic.

That said, I can be losing my mind trying to find the kitchen scissors; he has taken them and they could be anywhere. In his very creative brain, putting things away neatly and completely doesn’t fly. What counts is getting the thing done and done right. And while I deeply appreciate all his hard work, it drives me nuts when I can’t find the damned scissors!

So when I watch “Monsters Inc.” for the millionth time, I laugh my head off when they sing the “put that thing back where it came from or so help me!” It’s a current thing at our house—trust me!

*By the way, the title for this blog comes directly from Monsters Inc.

 

 

“Hawaii” by James Mitchner

I have had a “thing” for Hawaii since I was in my teens. There always seemed to be a pull to go there that I couldn’t explain. When *James Mitchner’s book, “Hawaii” came out and then the movie, I fell even deeper in love with Hawaii. How is it that we are drawn to places we have never been to before? Could it be a past life that we don’t remember?

Last year when I went to Oahu I felt immediately at home. Every day there were little rainbows in the sky along with white doves, and usually each morning there was a brief and gentle rain.

The tours I took were wonderful, and most of the tour drivers were born in Hawaii. On one occasion we drove by the house that the driver lived in, and all the aunties were sitting on the porch drinking tea. When the bus drove by, we all waved, and they waved right back.

As Hawaii’s history is vast and interesting, I’m sure that there are many books that tell all the stories of Hawaii, but James Mitchner’s book made it come to life. I also remember as a child when Hawaii and Alaska become part of the United States.

Isn’t it strange and wonderful how we are attracted to different places? Who knows? Perhaps we lived in places like Hawaii in another life. But all I know is how I felt being there for two weeks; somehow, I felt at home.

I’ve heard friends of mine say that they felt absolutely at home when they went to another country or another state. We may never know the answer as to why we feel so comfortable there; who knows? Just speaking for myself, I not only felt at home in Oahu, but I felt as though somehow that I had been there before.

If you get the urge to go somewhere, do it. You might find that you feel completely at home; perhaps from another time. All I know is that I love Hawaii unconditionly; the “why” doesn’t matter.

*From Wikipedia:

James Albert Michener February 3, 1907 – October 16, 1997) was an American author. He wrote more than 40 books, most of which were lengthy, fictional family sagas covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating solid history. Michener had numerous bestsellers and works selected for Book of the Month Club, and was known for his meticulous research behind the books.[2]

Michener’s books include Tales of the South Pacific for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948, HawaiiThe DriftersCentennialThe SourceThe Fires of SpringChesapeakeCaribbeanCaravansAlaskaTexasSpace, and Poland, as well as The Bridges at Toko-ri. His non-fiction works include Iberia, about his travels in Spain and Portugal; his memoir titled The World Is My Home; and Sports in AmericaReturn to Paradise combines fictional short stories with Michener’s factual descriptions of the Pacific areas where they take place.[2]

His first book was adapted as the popular Broadway musical South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and later as eponymous feature films in 1958 and 2001, adding to his financial success. A number of his other stories and novels were adapted for films or TV series.

Funny Stuff We Could Really Use Now

I wrote this years ago and it still makes me laugh. 

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Did you ever notice that when you whack your “funny bone” it isn’t all that funny? It’s the same with a sense of humor. What I may find hilarious you may dismiss as puerile, obvious or just stupid. What’s funny to some isn’t at all funny to others. I think it was Lou Costello (of the famous comedy team, Abbot and Costello) who said, “Comedy and tragedy are relative. If you fall down a manhole and break your arm, that’s comedy. If the same thing happens to ME, that’s tragedy.”

I grew up on a humor diet of the Little Rascals, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers and my favorites, the Three Stooges. It was the humor of the times, and most of these talented folks started their professional lives on stage in vaudeville. They could sing, dance, play a few musical instruments and tell jokes non-stop. Physical comedy of that time included a lot of physical abuse. (Just Google up a few Three Stooges shorts and you’ll see what I mean.) It was humor of the ultimate non-PC type, and it was hilarious.

If you want to see me dissolve into a puddle of helpless laughter (which usually includes tears of joy from both ends), just show me poor old Margaret Dumont getting a pie in the face from Harpo Marx, or Laurel and Hardy unsuccessfully trying to move an expensive piano, or the Three Stooges “fixing” the plumbing. Certainly I get more cerebral humor; New Yorker cartoons, etc., but I am a product of the 50s and grew up in a time of low comedy we may never see again (thanks, PC movement!).

Ok, so what makes you laugh like a hyena or fall off the sofa in hysterics? I hope that you have a long list of things that tickle your funny bone. Life is way too short not to laugh a lot. Here are some humor highlights from my “personal best” list:

  • Any episode of the Dick van Dyke Show
  • Anyone slipping on a banana peel
  • Anyone catching a pie in the face
  • The Clowns’ Prayer: “A little song/A little dance/A little seltzer down your pants!”
  • Selected bits from Firesign Theatre, especially “Shoes For Industry”
  • Zippy the Pinhead from Zap Comics
  • “The Soup Nazi” episode from “Seinfeld”
  • Anything Nathan Lane says (the man could read the phone book out loud and be funny)
  • Farts
  • Monty Python, notably the “Dead Parrot” sketch
  • Soupy Sales
  • Tim Conway and Harvey Corman on the Carol Burnett Show (especially the classic dental sketch)
  • “Blazing Saddles”
  • Saturday Night Live with the original cast
  • Laugh In; especially Arte Johnson and Alan Sues
  • MASH
  • Suzanne Sugarbaker (played by Delta Burke)in “Designing Women”
  • the Super Bowl commercial a few years ago with cowboys herding cats
  • “Who’s Line is it Anyway?”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”

…and there is much more. Since I am older now (but not all that much wiser), I find more things to laugh about. Believe me, I am all too well aware of all the horrible, tragic, heartbreaking things going on today. It’s not that I ignore them–I just have to decide what if anything I can do about them.

When I can help alleviate pain or suffering, I do. When I can help lift someone up, I do. When I can be a positive force, I am. But when there is nothing I can do, I cannot waste my life and feelings on fear, anger or grief. I choose to look at the funny side because it is healing and positive. I choose laughter because it heals and it lifts the spirits. Not only that, but you never know who might be listening to your laughter and may be lifted up by it.

Live well, love hard and laugh a LOT.