Accentuating the Positive

Remember that song, “*Accentuate the Positive” with these beginning lyrics:

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between!”

Although Christmas is a time of love, giving, hope, happiness and joy, there are a whole lot of grinches out there that suck all the happy out of the holiday. Who knows what makes them grumpy and angry and dismissive and rude; you can’t tell by looking or listening to them. They might have just lost a loved one, gotten a bad diagnosis, lost their job; who knows? Or they can just be pissy about everything because that’s how they see life in general.

After years and years of letting my self-righteous attitude toward these folks reign free, I realized these five truths:

  1. You can’t change people; they have to change themselves.
  2. We are not always right, and they are not always wrong.
  3. There may be unseen hurts and problems that make people act as they do.
  4. They may be alone and all that Christmas cheer may make them sad and angry.
  5. They just may not be fans of the holidays.

Like most humans I get irritated when I am trying to shop quickly in the grocery store and someone parks their butt right where I want to go. Nine times out of ten they don’t realize it and don’t mean to hold up anyone. They are in their own world, as am I. Deep breaths and a bit of patience helps. Or I can always just move on to another aisle and come back later.

Then there are older folks who just can’t go any faster and need to take their time. As I am getting older myself,  I find I have a lot more patience and empathy for them. (And seriously; how much of a hurry are we really in?)

I remember when I was two weeks out of a knee replacement and was in the grocery store with the Crankee Yankee. I used the cart as a crutch and was moving pretty slowly as we walked toward the door. From behind me I heard a young man say loudly to his girlfriend, “ugh, old people! I think they do it on purpose; get right in your way and then walk really slowly as if they own the place.”

I looked back at him and said to the Crankee Yankee loudly, “let’s move out of this very important young man’s way; we are holding him up.” As they passed us, the girlfriend’s face was bright red. I thought, ‘sister, I’d kick that loser to the curb if I were you. If he treats strangers like this, just imagine how he’ll treat you!’

Ah, well—we just don’t know what makes other people tick. I’m trying to just co-exist with others and do my best not to judge. That last is a hard one; I am pretty ‘judge-y’ by nature. So these days my stock response to slow pokes and oblivious folks is to just live and let live.

So far I haven’t kicked anyone in the butt.












*”Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” is a popular song which was published in 1944. The music was written by Harold Arlen and the lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The song was nominated for the “Academy Award for Best Original Song” at the 18th Academy Awards in 1945 after being used in the film “Here Come the Waves”.

This IS Our “Real Life”

I was an only child, and I used to wish for a sister. I never got one, but I found friends who became sisters to me.

I wanted to be liked. And in high school, who didn’t? I wasn’t a terribly good scholar; I did love all my English and writing classes, but the rest; not so much. I certainly wasn’t an athlete; I stunk at sports. I tried to be cool and failed miserably. However, my friends liked me no matter what, and I found that this mattered far more to me than being popular.

The one constant that remained from then until now is writing. No matter what job I held in my life, I was always a writer. I am still writing, and I always will write. I finally realized that this life I have is my real life. There’s nothing wrong with it; this is where I am comfortable. I know myself well enough now to fit comfortably in this body, mind and soul that I inhabit, and that’s fine with me.

I think that we all eventually find our place in the world, and our various “tribes” in which to belong. My closest friends are more precious to me as the years go by. Not only do we share memories and experiences, but we also share our growth and change.

Embracing these changes and having good friends, old and new; becomes our safe place, our refuge, our sisters and brothers in spirit. We are who we are because of their influence on our lives. How much poorer would we be without them?

All of my fake bits and posturing is packed away in mothballs. At some point I will take a good look at them, smile, and then toss them out; lessons learned.





The word “cacophony” (pronounced ‘ka-cough-any’) means “harsh” or “dissonant” or “jarring.” Just imagine a metal trash can filled with old silverware, tin cans and jingle bells falling down several flights of stairs. The sound it made would be pure cacophony.

Yesterday the Crankee Yankee and I had the great privilege of attending Ava’s (our oldest granddaughter) graduation from kindergarten. She and all her friends wore their black felt mortarboards proudly, and they all accepted their diplomas to rounds of applause and cheers.

Ava, being the fashionista she is, wore a long fluttery dress in pink and purple and sported a pair of sparkly, strappy purple kitten heels. (Honestly, if I could have found a pair like them in my size, I’d have bought them in a New York minute; they were that cute.)

Once the formalities were over, the sound of excited children and adults filled the air. There were happy screeches, hugs given and received, gifts presented and exclaimed over, and constant excited chatter. Now that’s a good example of cacophony.

We went out to lunch to celebrate, and one of Ava’s school friends and her family were also there. So both girls sat at the counter, twirling their seats and chattering and laughing together. That’s another good example of cacophony.

After lunch, we went back to Ava’s house to have coffee and chat. Now Ava’s dad has a big farm with sheep, yaks, chickens, guinea hens, geese, ducks, and rabbits. There are also two corgis, Jack and Ross, and a huge Kangal, Sabannah (this is a dog as big as a pony). MCat, the tiger cat, wisely keeps to herself in the house.

As you approach the house, there is honking, clucking, crowing, cackling, quacking, mooing, baa-ing and barking. Add to that Ava’s happy singing and yelling, and you have true cacophony. This version of it is exactly what it sounds like; loud, happy, attention-seeking, “listen to me!” noise.

My step-daughter gave this type of cacophony a name that says it all about this wild and happy and life-affirming noise: “kaka-phony” (pronounced “kak-a-phony”). It is different from plain old cacophony in that it makes you laugh instead of covering your ears. It means that all is well, everyone’s healthy and happy, and that there is so much to celebrate each day.

These are the sounds that let you know that life is loud and good; that it is composed of laughter and shouting and cheering and all those lively barnyard conversations. “Kakophony” is life in its loudest and loveliest form.

May we all have plenty of kakaphony in our lives!