Just Drop Your End of the Rope…

I had lunch yesterday with my best friend (also my sister-in-law). We got talking about what it’s like when someone tries to engage you in a conversation you don’t want to have; for example, politics and religion. Unless you know that the person with which you are having this conversation agrees totally with you, it can be a slippery slope.

I told her about an incident I had; the person I was speaking with was the exact opposite of my own politics. This is not a situation I like; so I stayed as neutral as I could, replying with many an “uh-huh” and “that’s interesting.” I did not want to engage and get into an argument.

My best friend told me that this is called “dropping the rope.” I love this saying! It’s perfect: when someone is trying to get you to agree with something you don’t agree with, you can just drop your end of the conversational rope. This way it all stops, and no one gets hurt.

Should the person try to keep that conversation going, it’s on to the verbiage, such as: “I respectfully agree to disagree,” or, should the person really push, it’s ok to say, “let’s change the subject.” But if push comes to shove, then just drop the rope and walk away.

That way, the drama ends, the friendship hopefully can stay intact and move on. Seriously, I think that phrase says it all: “just drop your end of the rope.” If you do this, the other person only has a slack line to hold on to; there is no more pulling and tugging. It’s the way of saying, ‘we’re done here. Let’s let this go.’

Dropping the rope is not giving up; it’s giving peace to ourselves.

Who Have You Not Forgiven?

Years ago, I worked with a woman who complained over and over again how her “evil aunt” ruined her life. It turned out that this evil aunt had told her when she was growing up that she was fat and ugly and would never, ever find a man to love her. She also said that this would also hold her back from being successful in finding a good job.

The good news is that this woman defied all odds and the evil aunt’s prediction. Not only did she have one one husband, but two! She also started three businesses that were very successful, and, thanks to her hard work and determination, she had everything she had ever dreamed of and more.

The bad news is that she never forgave or forgot what her aunt said to her. It has made her bitter and sarcastic, and nothing seems to please or delight her. She can’t reach full happiness for all she has achieved in life because she still can’t let the evil aunt’s words go.

This is what I call the “bag of dead puppies” syndrome: “Oh, I can’t have a real relationship because of (holds up one dead puppy, who represents the “evil aunt”),” or “I can’t really enjoy myself because of (holds up another dead puppy, who represents the aunt’s predictions for her), and so it goes.

It’s as if the resentment and anger became more important than actually getting over what her aunt said. When it comes to “forgive and forget,” it’s the forgetting part that’s hard. But forgiveness without forgetting isn’t real forgiveness. When we can’t forgive, we can’t forget and we can’t move forward.

Too many times I’ve heard ‘well, I’ll forgive her, but I will never forget what she did/said.’ Doing this only makes the situation worse, and we never quite heal. That leftover resentment and hurt just poisons our lives. And who suffers from that? Not the person who said or did whatever; we suffer.

Forgiving and not forgetting is just like the saying: “staying angry at someone is like taking poison and hoping that the other person will die from it.” They won’t, but we will. When we can’t forgive, it corrodes our hearts and minds. That constant resentment will show in our faces, our attitudes, our actions and our thoughts.

Here’s a simple technique I have used for years to rid myself of my own bag of dead puppies: the Flush-O-Gram. Anyone can do it, and it’s quite effective. Here’s how:

Write the name of the person who has hurt you on as many sheets of toilet paper as it takes. (Yep, that’s right—I said toilet paper.) Get it all out on paper; don’t hold back. When you are finished, throw it into the toilet and flush it away. Now if you are really angry, you can up the ante by first doing your business on the paper before flushing.

I know how funny this sounds, but it’s surprisingly effective. Each time you start to get angry or sad about something someone said or did to you, go right back into the bathroom and send them another Flush-O-Gram.

The added bonus is that it will also make you laugh.

 

 

 

 

 

Dumbledore’s Pensieve

If you are a Harry Potter nerd like me, you will recognize Professor Dumbledore (Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witches and Wizardry) and his pensieve. The pensieve was a stone bowl into which Dumbledore could empty some of his thoughts as needed. As he said to Harry Potter, “I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”

Easy for him! I often wish that I had my own pensieve in which to empty some of my own thoughts. Some of them bother and nag 24/7, and it’s hard to get them out of my head.

Why is it that our worst fears, worries and doubts will rattle around in our heads, yet the good ones seem to evaporate when we need them the most? At the end of the day we seem to recap all of the bad things we said or did, and don’t give credit to the good things we’ve done.

Then there are the deadly “what ifs:”

  • What if the house burns down because I didn’t unplug the fan?
  • What if one of the cats gets out of the house and we can’t find him/her?
  • What if that light we keep on in the office all night suddenly bursts into flame?
  • What if I don’t notice that I picked up a tick and get Lyme Disease?
  • What if that one mouse the cat caught means that there are many more?
  • What if that nagging pain in my side is some kind of cancer?
  • What if my computer gets hacked and someone steals my idea for a great book?

….and the What Ifs keep marching along. Oh, for a pensieve!

Then I finally remembered this lovely old tune by Irving Berlin:

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings!

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings!

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings!”

Believe it or not, it helps. Besides, I couldn’t for the life of me find a pensieve on Amazon!

 

 

Forgiveness

“Forgive and forget.” It has been said that these two should go hand-in-hand, but it doesn’t always work that way, does it? Too many times we will say, ‘ok, I forgive you. But I’m not going to forget what you did/said/etc.’

It isn’t real forgiveness if we continue to hang on to what happened and replay it over and over. Letting these things fester in our hearts and minds does nothing but make us feel bad. There is no real forgiveness unless we really do forgive and forget.

Forgiving and forgetting are acts of kindness and mercy to the other person, but most of all to ourselves. When we can actually let go of hurt feelings, anger, fear, doubt and frustration, we set ourselves free. Forgiving and not forgetting is no forgiveness at all.

Often people do and say things that cut deeply and, believe it or not, they may not be aware of its affect on you. To them, they are just blowing off steam and you just happened to be in the way. It doesn’t make them terrible people, it’s just the way that they process things.

If we take the long view, how does it serve us to keep a running list of hurts and offenses against us? It doesn’t hurt the person who committed the offence in the first place, but it sure hurts YOU.

It isn’t easy to forgive and forget. But it is vital to realize that keeping track of each and everything, big or small, that offended us is actually hurting us. Who needs that?

I recently found the following “Paradoxical Commandments” from Kent M. Keith, “The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council.” They have made me laugh and think, as well as forgive and forget. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.

“The Paradoxical Commandments:

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.” 

 

 

My Old Victorian Sofa

I have had my grandmother’s beautiful old Victorian sofa for over 40 years. It has survived at least three marriages; my grandparents’s marriage, and my first and my second marriages. It has traveled from NH to MA to TX and then back to NH again. I remember that I used to sit on it when I was a little girl, opening my Christmas presents.

I have loved it all this time, cared for its beautifully carved wood, and have had it reupholstered twice from the time I got it (when it wore green velvet). Various cats of mine have left a few claw marks on the fabric over the years. It is by no means a comfortable sofa; it is hard, and isn’t wide enough to lie on. Clearly it was made for proper ladies bound in whalebone corsets; slouching was not an option.

It grieves me to know that we just don’t have room for it any longer. This and a few other pieces really need to go. Oh, I can try selling them, but my heart really isn’t in it. I would far rather give my sofa to someone who will love it and enjoy it.

It may live the rest of its years in someone’s living room, in a quaint office sitting area, or in an old folks’ home to remind them of the old glory days when such fanciness was the rage. Perhaps it will end up in an artist’s home, where eclectic bits and pieces from various eras live.

But I really hope that it ends up in a home with children who are small enough to lie down on it and nap, or sit up and read a book. Maybe they will use it as a fort to hide behind, or have lovely tea parties on it, hosted by little girls in pink and purple dresses, giggling over cups of pretend tea.

Maybe some other little girl will sit on it and open her Christmas presents on it, too. I would like to think that in this way, my dear old Victorian sofa will continue to live on in love.

“Forgive Everybody Everything”

I read this quote in a book; “forgive everybody everything.” You’d be surprised at how those three words make you think. My first thought was, ‘well, how does a person do that; forgive everybody everything? What about the time that <insert the unforgivable something someone did to you, etc.>? That was terrible! I can never forgive that!’

But really—how does hanging onto hurt make anyone any better? There is no value in hoarding our hurts, outrages, and hating all those who ‘done us wrong.’ It won’t fix anything, nor will it affect in any way the person that caused it to happen.

Do we really get anywhere from sitting around and holding all our hurts inside? Doing that is like ignoring the mold in your bathtub. Before you know it, the mold has crept up the tile walls, around the faucets, and heads for the ceiling. Inevitably, that mold, left unchecked will rot everything in its path.

Stubbornly holding onto all those slights and hurts will eventually turn you into a lonely and bitter shell of who you used to be. Worst of all, you may lose your way to becoming the you that you could have been; happy, whole, loving, joyous, exuberant and glad for every moment. What a loss, what a shame.

I often wonder what God thinks of us when we do this. My own personal picture of God is this: a *Dumbledore-ish sort of old man with laugh wrinkles around His eyes, looking at each of us with love and full understanding, wanting us so badly to have a good and happy life.

I picture Him holding our hands, looking into our eyes and saying, “c’mon now, this isn’t why I sent you to Earth; I never wanted you to be miserable and resentful; I want you and everyone else to enjoy your lives, make the most of your unique talents, find love and happiness, and most of all—know how deeply loved you are. You are on Earth to love and to be loved.”

It’s impossible to hold love and forgiveness (by the way, it is full forgiveness that sets us free) in a heart filled with resentment, hurt, worry and fear. It’s the old story about the pitcher filled with mud; you cannot drink clear fresh water out of it until you clean the pitcher and refill it with fresh water.

From my own mistakes in holding onto old hurts, I’ll tell you this: don’t waste your time. Ever hear someone drone on and on and on about all the bad things in their lives? It’s bad enough that you have to listen to this sad and useless litany, but it drags you down right along with them.

I used to work with a woman who had a terrific sense of humor—once you got to know her. But until you did get to know her, she was gloomy, often bitter, and bored the pants off people with her tales of woe about this, that, or the other thing.

As we worked in the same department, we ended up often working on the same projects. Once she opened up, she was like a gorgeous flower in the desert. Her usual “**Eeyore” demeanor disappeared, and she was a funny and delightful friend. But how sad that she only showed that delightful side to one or two people!

So here’s what I’m working on each day: just let go and forgive everybody everything. This does not mean that you become a doormat. It means that you have chosen to rise above, and truly forgive. The hard part is to then forget. That’s the part I’m still working on.

Wish me luck!

*Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witches and Wizards, from the Harry Potter series.

**One of Pooh’s friends from the “Winnie the Pooh” stories by Alan Alexander “A. A.” Milne.