Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a whole lot harder than you would think. Forgiving and forgetting is even harder. When we are wounded by someone, it’s hurtful. Once we get over the hurt, we get angry. At this point, it’s really easy to slide into a sludge of resentfulness, self-pity, and righteous anger—and stay there.

It’s easy to hold a grudge because essentially we believe that we have been wronged, and how could that person say or do what they did to us? How do we forgive someone who has hurt us deeply?

It’s not easy, and it takes time. It means calling on our better angels to weigh what matters and what doesn’t. There are many I’ve known who will say, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget.” This is actually pretty common. Even when we don’t say these words, it’s hard to forgive—and forget.

I find that, the older I get, it’s just is a waste of time to not forgive. It creates a burden I don’t want or need, and righteous indignation only lasts so long. Case in point: my first marriage was a disaster. These days I fully recognize that I was every bit at fault as my ex-husband was. I used to hope that bad things would happen to him; thinking this way only made my anger and resentment worse.

Someone once said that hating someone is like drinking poison and hoping that it will kill the hated person. Hatred is a pretty corresive thing, and it can, given enough time, eat you alive. Who needs that?

These days when I think of my ex-husband, I see him as he really was: a fallible person, just like most of us. These days I wish for peace for him and hope that he has found a way to live that works for him. It’s been said that, once you have absolutely no feelings for someone who has hurt you, it’s over. Just like that; it’s over.

Forgiveness can set us free to live the kind of life we want and need. Forgiveness may be the hardest thing we’ve ever done, but it’s worth it. Forgiveness sets us free.

And let me end with this, just so you don’t think I’m some kind of saint who forgives and forgets all the time: karma is a bitch.

 

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How About a Nice Glass of Shut-the-Hell-Up?

Years ago when my best friend came to visit me in Texas, we were walking through San Antonio’s River Walk, enjoying the sights and the people. We stopped to look at graphic t-shirts in a shop window, and were laughing about the one that read “Don’t Make Me Open Up a Can of Whup Ass on You!”

There had been a small gaggle of talkative women walking near us, and the lead talker never seemed to even take a breath. She just nattered on and on and on. My friend leaned close to me and whispered “she needs a nice glass of shut-the-hell-up!” I nearly wet my pants laughing, and those ladies never did stop talking. We both agreed that “How about a nice glass of shut-the-hell up?” would make a great t-shirt.

I’ve met people who can’t seem to stop talking, and you wonder how they can keep it up for so long. In my family, there was an uncle who could talk for hours. Just when you thought he was winding down, he would jump right into a new subject, and on he’d go. I used to wish that I could offer him a peanut butter and crazy glue sandwich.

I was once watching a documentary on small children all over the world and how they communicate with each other. What was most fascinating was that nearly every culture has know-it-alls, constant yappers, people who never seem to run out of breath, and so on.

However, most of the children established a sort of “wait your turn” mentality. I was watching a group of little British kids, and a few began talking over the others. One little boy seemed to have established himself as the master of ceremonies.

“One at a time!” he said in his little British voice. When they did not stop, he spoke louder: “Please! One at a time!” And believe it or not, they all stopped, and did take turns.

If only we adults could do the same!

Filing This Under “Business, None of Mine”

I recently re-joined my hula class after a long time away from it and, although I’ve forgotten some things, I managed fairly well. My kumus (teachers) are always helpful and encouraging, and it wasn’t long before I felt I belonged there again. I could go into raptures about how much I love the dance, the music, the meaning of each gesture; suffice it to say that hula lifts and inspires me.

Back when I was going every week, long before my knee replacement and then knee revision, DCIS, and so on; I was able to dance in shows. I was proud to be allowed to dance with my kumus and other fellow dancers. Now that I am back again, I am slowly doing better.

I have great respect for hula and understand how important it is to do the movements and gestures as taught to me. Each placement of fingers, hands, arms, hips, legs, feet; all have special meaning. In order to do the dance, you must respect the dance. And although I consider my kumus to be friends, I respect their time and knowledge when I go to their studio to learn and dance.

One of their students, who normally attends a class at another time than I do, showed up on a Saturday when I take my lesson. She has been dancing for quite a while, and is one of these people who seem to want to run everything. People like her assume that their version of leadership trumps the kumus who know so much more about the dance than she does.

Ever meet someone and have an instant like or dislike for them? There’s no rhyme or reason to it; it just is. Although I was annoyed that this person was taking up a lot of time asking the kumus to do the same dance over and over again (there is a show coming up), it was really none of my business. Since I am pretty much starting over in hula after a long absence, I took a break and leaned against the wall and just watched the dance.

Just watching is a learning experience, and I learned a lot. And let’s face it, there are a lot of clueless folks out there who think that the world revolves around them. How do I know this? Because I was one of them not so long ago. I am far from perfect and, although I didn’t appreciate this woman and her attitude, she has a right to do her own thing as I do.

So, I pulled open my mental file drawer, and dropped my perceptions into my folder labeled “Business; None of Mine.”

Works for me!

 

Earning Our Stripes

We all know that we do dopey things in our youth; we don’t always think things through to the end. I have learned the hard way that you really have to earn your stripes in most anything you do in life.

This goes for work, school, hobbies and life in general. What exactly does it mean to earn your stripes? Basically this: when we are new to something, we have to be patient enough to take the time to scope out the situation. We need to see who is in charge, what our own boundaries are, and who does what and when.

Case in point: when I lived in Texas, I was lucky enough to join a light opera company that put on Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. I grew up listening to Gilbert and Sullivan, and I adored the patter, the music and the characters in each operetta. I dreamed of being in at least one of them, so joining this company was a dream come true.

Being the showoff that I was back then, I stepped on a lot of toes in my attempt to fit in. Most of the players were old hands and had worked with each other many times before. As such, they shared each other’s jokes, remembrances, experiences and so on.

When I and the other “newbies” joined the cast for “The HMS Pinafore,” we were introduced to the old hands one by one. When my name was called, I stood up, lifted my arms into the air and did a deep bow. The silence was deafening; even the crickets weren’t saying anything. I had just made an ass out of myself, and also made a pretty poor first impression.

I was of course part of the chorus; the main actors already had been chosen. Luckily, I knew enough about wigs and makeup to become the company’s wig mistress and makeup artist. I really don’t think anyone else wanted to do it, but I was thrilled to be able to do this bit for the show. As the rehearsals went on, I got to know everyone better. I watched and listened and employed that bit of good advice: “to stay out of trouble, apply your tongue to the roof of your mouth.”

I loved and still do love theatre. Being a part of this group meant a lot to me, and slowly but surely I learned to talk less and listen more. We women of the chorus had to sew our own skirts, aprons and high-necked blouses. We learned all of our songs together, and often practiced together during breaks. I made some friends, and finally I felt part of the show.

The show had its first night, and everything went well. Each night we showed up early to get dressed and made up, and we “chorus girls” would stand together in a line to tie each other’s apron in a big fluffy bow. I was lucky enough to get an assistant to help me with the makeup, and we were able to get everyone all ready before the orchestra tuned up.

In the next show that we did, “Patience,” I was still handling wigs and makeup, but this time I also was one of the dressers as well. This meant standing backstage waiting for the character to come back and change into their next costume for the next scene. Somehow I always got the male characters, and they finally got used to me pulling off their shirts and trousers and making them step into the next costume. Generally, dressing couldn’t take more than two minutes; to this day, I don’t know how we did it—but we did.

I soon realized that I had indeed earned my stripes. It happened when I put myself where I was supposed to be; not where I thought I should be; a main actor. I grew to admire these folks very much, and realized that I did not have what it took to be a main actor in the shows. But I always got to be in the chorus, do the wigs and makeup, and to my surprise, that was more than enough.

Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

Business First or Food First?

The Crankee Yankee and I often like to combine our errands, so we go together. He will want to go pick up supplies for the house or something similar; I will want to grocery shop or something similar.

However, while my personal preference is to eat first and do errands later, his is to do errands first and eat later. If I am hungry, I not only forget about some of the things I need to do or buy; but I tend to get cranky. (After 16 years of marriage, you’d think he would remember, but you know how that goes.) He’s like a pitbull on a pork chop; business comes first, then he can relax enough to sit down and eat.

This is one of the things that happens in a relationship. You hit these mini-walls from time to time with each other, and you can either keep bumping your head against them, or just decide to just go with the flow.

People like me find peace and comfort in routines. Before I go to bed at night, the dishes are washed and put away, the coffee pot is ready to go first thing in the morning, laundry is done and put away, the cats are given their dinner and fresh water, and then I do my skincare routine (before I get too tired to do it at all and wake up feeling too crusty for words!).

I learned to keep a granola bar in my purse, and also a book. This works while I wait in the car for the Crankee Yankee to do his thing; I have something to eat and a good book. It isn’t a question of “let’s do things my way,” it’s more like what makes sense and saves time.

When Dad was living with us, he often talked about marriage and how you decide on who does what and why. He said that he and Mom would put their heads together, and which ever one came up with a workable solution, that’s what they did. It wasn’t a case of ‘my way’ or ‘your way;’ it was just what made the most sense at the time.

Besides, knowing the Crankee Yankee as I do, I know that he feels more like having a nice lunch once he has taken care of what he needs to do. I get it, and I know that the world won’t end if I drop a few of my routines now and then. Besides, lunch is much better with a happy Crankee Yankee than a cranky Crankee Yankee.

Comedy vs. Tragedy and No Political Correctness

I don’t remember which comedian said this about comedy vs. tragedy, but I have never forgotten it: “When you slip on a banana peel and fall down, it’s comedy. When I slip on a banana peel and fall down, it’s tragedy.”

I grew up in a time when TV shows such as “The Three Stooges,” “Laurel and Hardy,” “The Little Rascals,” and so on were standard Saturday morning fare. All of them were hilarious to the young me, and all I thought about these shows was that they were funny.

Now and then my mother would tell me that slapping or hitting people was not acceptable, and that I should not act like these people. As young as I was, I fully understood that what I was seeing was certainly not acceptable behavior. To me, it was simply entertainment and nothing more.

Bear in mind that, when I was growing up in my small town, we were all pretty much the same. We were all white, most of us went to church on Sunday, and the only divisive thing in our community was whether you were Catholic or Protestant. And all that really meant was the church you attended.

As kids, we didn’t swear; our parents would have been mortified if we did, and would have told us that we were raised better than that. Every morning at school we stood, hands on hearts, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. After that we sat down at our desks, bowed our heads, clasped our hands and recited the Lord’s Prayer. For us, that was just business as usual.

We had recess twice a day, which was great to run off our energy after having to sit quietly for so long. I don’t remember much in the way of bullying, but I do remember that some kids were labeled as pariahs. All that meant was that you just didn’t play with them. As with so much else, we never questioned it.

When we watched comics on TV, none of them ever said a dirty word or made a rude gesture; it just wasn’t done. It was clean humor, meant to amuse and nothing more. We watched shows like “The Life of Reilly,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” The Jackie Gleason Show,” “Ed Sullivan,” “Our Miss Brooks,” “The Dean Martin Show” and so on. It was just good entertainment.

In any family show such as “Leave It to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best” or even “The Lucy Show,” any problem was always solved within the half hour and it all ended well. Those were much simpler days, of course.

Back then comedy was funny, tragedy was not. These days are vastly different. Let’s just leave it at that. I’m not saying that how I grew up was the best; it was just the way things were back then. Back then, it was a whole lot easier to know what was comic and what was tragic. These days we have to step lightly; very lightly.

Kind of sad, isn’t it?