Choose Your Mood – It’s Up to You

I wrote this a few years ago, and it’s a good reminder (especially to myself!) all the way around.

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Yes, it can be done–you can choose your mood! I know from experience that often when I’m having a pissy day, some stubborn little root inside my heart likes that pissy day, and doesn’t want to change it. It’s the kind of indulgence that feels great at the time; afterward, not so much. There is a perverse pleasure in being Crabby von Crabbenstein for a few minutes, hours, or days. It’s like eating potato chips and chocolate ice cream for two days straight–it’s fun for a while, but it isn’t sustainable.

Contrary to popular belief, bad moods don’t just drop down on us from the sky. Suffice to say that they exist and that we all have them from time to time. The hard part is deciding if we want to stay in that bad mood, or lift ourselves out of it.

For years I couldn’t understand how to do that; how to make myself happy, or at least less miserable. But it is surprisingly simple to make that change. The longer I live, the more I realize that our mental pain comes from fear or resentment or just plain loneliness; no one seems to want to be with us or appreciate us. That’s when it’s time to haul out the cheerleader pom-poms (and no–I never was a cheerleader in high school) and cheer for YOURSELF.

So here’s what I’ve been doing to at least show myself that I am still somewhat on the ball: I make a list each day. By the end of the day, there may only be things on it such as “I made the bed,” “I emptied the dishwasher,” “I made a pitcher of iced tea,” “I did a load of laundry,” “I brushed my teeth,” and “I wrote and sent a letter to my uncle.” But they are accomplishments, little as they might be. That list cheers me up and lets me know that, even though I still don’t feel like my old pre-lumpectomy self, I am still in the game, and still doing something each day.

One of my favorite saying comes from the wonderful Scottish folk: “many a mickle makes a muckle.” This means that many little things add up to big things, and that’s GOOD.

Additionally, I have learned to talk myself out of bad moods. There is an amazing power to hearing your own voice say, “Now c’mon, that’s enough of being negative. Start thinking about all the many things in your life.” Then what starts out as a little trickle of goodness becomes a flood of good things. Another trick in my tool bag is saying out loud (and it works so much better when you DO say it out loud), “I am NOT going to be in this bad mood! I’m going to have a GREAT day, and nothing is going to stop me from having it!”

Oh sure, if you’re doing this while driving (which I often do), people will probably stare at you, but so what? You are the one who is going to have a great day, no matter what their day is going to be. When some impatient twerp behind me roars by and gets one car length ahead of me, I say (again, out loud), “Good–I’d a whole lot rather have you ahead of me than behind me!” Wish them well and go on with your day.

So can it be that simple to change moods? Yup–it is, it truly is that simple. And if a big old crabasaurus like me can do it, so can you.

Have a great day, everyone!

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Things That Mom Did That Cracked Me Up

My mother was a lady from her head to the soles of her shoes. She dressed beautifully, did her makeup perfectly, and was kind, generous and funny. Everyone who knew her loved her. She also had a wicked sense of humor, and a naughty side as well; read on.

One evening she and Dad went out to a fine restaurant for dinner. They were enjoying their drinks when two business men and a business woman sat down at a table near them. According to Mom, the woman had a “grating” voice and laughed like a donkey. Plus, she was quite loud, and soon Mom began shooting her dirty looks.

Mom got more and more perturbed, and even Dad said that the woman was a real loud mouth. They finished their meal and asked for a check, and Mom noticed that the woman and the two men got up from their table to greet some of their co-workers. Mom told Dad that she needed to use the ladies room, and on her way there she noticed that the loud woman’s leather briefcase was on the floor. Mom walked right over to it and walked on it, scraping her shoes on it all the way!

When I heard this, I was horrified and asked her what in the world made her do that. (please note that I was laughing inside). Mom said, “well, she deserved it; she was loud and obnoxious and she ruined my evening!” In her book, what she did was sheer justice.

Another time, Mom was out shopping, and had just turned her directional on to park. A young couple came the other way and drove right into the spot Mom was going to park in. (Yes, I know—just like that lady in the book, “Fried Green Tomatoes,” where she tried to park and a teenager took her spot and laughed at her.)

Of course, Mom being Mom, was understandably angered about this. She found another place to park, but was not happy about someone taking her space. After the occupants left the car, Mom got out her car keys and walked beside the car and keyed the driver’s door! When I heard that, I said, “Mom, there are cameras everywhere these days! You could have been arrested for that!”

Mom just shrugged her shoulders and said, “well, number one, I didn’t get caught, and number two, that’s what they get for taking my spot!”

And then there was the bank incident. For years, Mom’s and Dad’s local bank allowed Dad to put one of his framed photographs on an easel each week. It spruced up the bank, and got Dad some good business.

One year Mom showed up with one of Dad’s framed photographs as usual. She was setting up the easel when one of the high muckety-mucks at the bank told her that they no longer wanted Dad’s photographs in their bank; he said it took up too much room.

Mom thought that was a pretty flimsy excuse, and let the man have it with both barrels. The man wouldn’t back down, so Mom took the photograph and the easel home. She announced to Dad that they were going to take out their money out of that bank and move it over to another local bank. Wisely, Dad let her go; he always did when Mom had blood in her eye.

Well, the whole process took nearly a day. Mom had to have been exhausted by it all, but Mom being Mom just wouldn’t let it go. It took her years to tell me that she could have thought it through a bit better, but that’s my Mom for you.

All these things have turned into funny and sweet memories for me. Even Dad, who loved her beyong measure, used to shake his head and smile, and say, ‘your mother is something else!’

How right he was.

 

It Never Pays to Look Back on the Stupid Stuff

It really doesn’t help any of us from torturing ourselves with endless recalls of the truly dumb things we did and said years ago. We are probably the only ones who remember anyway; I’ll bet that the people who heard us say this, that, or the other thing don’t remember it at all.

So why do we constantly recall those embarrassing moments from so many years ago? It took me years to figure that out, and now my mantra when I remember the spectacular boo-boos I made years ago is this: “I was a different person then, that is not me any longer.” It’s surprising how saying this (and do it out loud, too!) can free you up from past embarrassments and other things you would rather not remember.

We are certainly not the same people we were years ago. Even the coolest dudes and the most gorgeous gals have their own past that, as my mother would say, “would make you go red in the night” remembering them. The past is past, and we need to let it go because it isn’t who we are today.

When a long-past boo-boo or action seeps into our minds from years past, it helps to say out loud the above mantra: “I was a different person then, that is not me any longer.” Or, if you prefer something more physical than that, you can always do the “past is the past flush.” This is actually a fun thing to do, and can often shoo those embarrassing demons of the past right out of your head for good.

The “past is the past flush” is this: on a couple of sheets of toilet paper, write down the thing or things that keep haunting you from the past in ink. Once that’s done, flash it right down the toilet and it’s gone. Do feel free to pee or poop on it as well. This is just the kind of thing that will help you stop being embarrassed about something you said or did years ago. Not only is it satisfying, but whenever you find yourself thinking of whatever bothered you before, just keep that image of those words you wrote on toilet paper. It’s GONE.

Fall’s Calling Cards

Every morning the Crankee Yankee and I sit on our front porch, coffee cups in hand, to watch the birds empty out the bird feeder. These days we always get “calling cards” falling near us; that is, the colored leaves of Fall. While we sit, a yellow leaf falls, then a red one, then orange. Both of us favor Fall over all the other seasons.

Fall in New England is tricky; you may get a blisteringly hot day or so, which is why most of us don’t take out our air conditioners until the end of September. Then we will get a few days of cold rain, then brilliant sunshine and cool breezes. You can tell that all Nature is preparing for the start of cold weather; all the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and all are stuffing themselves, preparing for Winter.

We have a lone cricket in the basement, who sings his/her song hour by hour. It’s a pleasant song, and we are grateful for his/her company. Also, in these parts we believe that a cricket in the house is a good thing; sort of a living good luck charm. Now and then one of the cats will try to suss it out, but no one seems to find him/her.

When I lived in Texas, there were only two seasons; hot and hotter. Oh, now and then in the winter we’d get some cold breezes, but it was pretty much two seasons. My New England body and mind knew when Fall was coming up north, and I missed it every year. Once a New Englander, always a New Englander. The older I get, the less I like winter, but that’s part and parcel of living here. You learn to adjust and move on.

In the meantime, we are enjoying these lovely cool and sunny days of Fall. The calling cards are falling each day, and even though it’s a harbinger of the coming winter, right now it’s just fine as is.

 

 

September 11

Can we ever forget September 11, 2001? I was living in Texas at the time, and I was getting ready to go to work. I had the TV on, and I saw a plane crash into one of the twin towers in the World Trade Center in New York City. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; how could this happen? Immediately I realized that everyone on that plane had died. Then I realized that the people who worked in the twin towers were dead or dying.

I could not get it into my head that this had happened. I sat down and watched as people in the remains of the towers tried to jump to save themselves. Innocent people were dead and dying, and then I heard that the Pentagon was attacked as well. Listening to the news, I kept saying to myself, ‘this can’t be happening.’ When I found out that Osama bin Laden was behind this horrific attack I remember feeling more hatred in my heart than I thought was possible.

I got myself together and drove to work. The first person I saw was Adnan, who came from Saudi Arabia. I felt immediate hatred toward him, even though my mind was telling me that he was not part of this horror; yet, I wanted to punch and kick him for being who he was. I’m not proud of that. To this day I am not proud of that.

I don’t remember much of that day, but there was a TV on all day at work, and we all watched. When I left work, I went straight to where crowds of people were lined up to give blood to help the survivors of the disaster. Most of us cried as we waited. Some of us swore that they hoped that Saudi Arabia and all its people in it would die. I still bear the shame of that statement.

There were so many people who died on that day, including responders, fire fighters, police, and more. There were also stories of real courage on that awful day; some people who tried to save others, and in so doing, lost their own lives.

Each September 11 I grieve for those lost. September 11 for my generation was our Pearl Harbor. We felt the same shock and sadness that shook our nation during the attack on Pearl Harbor. It changed us all forever. We knew that we were not safe any longer, that anything like this could happen again. We lost our innocense that day. We no longer felt safe. If this horror could happen in our country, it could happen again.

And yet, while we lived through the knowledge that our enemies planned this horrible event, we learned that nothing and no one is ever really safe. We learned to be wary, we learned to be careful of where to keep our trust, we learned that anything can happen at any time. In my case, I feared the worst every day after September 11. I previously had loved flying, yet after this I swore I would never set foot on an airplane again. What I couldn’t get out of my mind was knowing that those innocent people on the plane, headed for the twin towers, were doomed. Imagine how it would be to suddenly know that you are going to die and there is nothing that you can do about it.

I didn’t fly again until this year when I went to Hawaii. I was fearful at first, and then I realized that worrying wasn’t helping me. I decided to act “as if.” That means that I decided that I was not going to die in a plane crash. As I began to relax, I remembered how I had once loved flying. I found that I loved it all over again.

The United States of Amercia is a nation like none other. We have come through the horrors of that day, and we will never be the same. Even though Osama bin Laden is dead, there are always people who hate us for who we are. Life has changed forever since September 11, 2001. We lost our innocense and faith for a time, and we can never forget those lives lost. However, we can’t let hatred and bitterness and sorrow make us monsters. The real monsters are out there, and we cannot join them.

But we can do all we can to be aware, to be present, to be our best selves and to go on. Living our lives is a tribute and honor to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2011. That day is now part of our history. The best we can do to honor those lost is to live our lives in the best way we can. We can’t let anger, fear and sorrow dictate who we are.

World War I and II, Pearl Harbor, September 11, 2001 and more will always be in our history and our hearts. While we mourn the loss of lives today, let us remember to be vigilant, aware and to cherish each breath, and each person we love. Let us honor those who died on this day eight years ago by living well, doing good things, cherishing our loved ones and never forgetting those lost.

 

Legacies

Today I was thinking of how many people have my dad’s photography in their homes. He photographed families, weddings, all my senior class pictures, children, families with their pets, and more. When he photographed kids, Mom would pull out a few of her hand puppets to make them smile. Once on a trip to Maine, she found a nun puppet who had a mischievious look about her, and she wore boxing gloves. Mom could make her put up her dukes, while saying “well, if you won’t smile, I’ll see what Sister Mary Margrett has to say about that!” and most kids laughed their heads off.

When Mom and Dad closed up shop for the photography, it was exactly the right time. New technology was just emerging, making everyone a photographer. But to this day, I’ll bet you anything that Dad’s wonderful framed photography is still treasured and admired.

When Mom started making jewelry, her creations were both lovely and inspiring. Her jewelry quickly became popular, and nearly each time she wore one of her necklace and earring sets, it would sell immediately. Mom also had a color sense that was amazing; she would put colors together that were both lovely and inventive. Before long, her friends bought and proudly wore Mom’s creations.

Mom turned her downstairs office into an art gallery. Once a year around the holidays she would throw her own jewelry show. We would haul out all the tables, drape each one with beautiful throws, and arrange the jewelry in necklace and earrings sets. She would also make beautiful Christmas earrings as well, and they always sold out.

When she received the news that her cancer came back, she chose to let nature take its course. She made the most out of the rest of her days, and her greatest joy was having her last jewelry show. All of her friends came by, but what they didn’t know was that Mom planned to give her friends the jewelry they wanted; no charge. Of course there were floods of tears, but Mom insisted that it was exactly what she wanted to do.

I treasure those last legacies from my parents. And I’ll bet I’m not the only one, too.