Month: April 2015
It’s a Nice Day to Start Again
Have you ever had one of those days, dear readers, when you’re so frustrated with yourself you don’t know whether to: cry; give yourself a time out; scream; give yourself a hug and say you’ll do better next time; or maybe all the above and not necessarily in that order?
Too many things I try lately are thwarted, either by circumstances, or by me responding to circumstances. I keep giving myself pep talks, but I have a suspicion I’m not listening very well.
Happiness is a choice. Apparently, this isn’t just a platitude or a wall plaque, according to researchers, happiness is really a choice (as well as a booming business). So instead of beating myself up for my utter failure today, I decided to go to a happy place and figure out how to reduce my stress. I’m not one for magical thinking, I like to believe in goodness, happiness, etc., but the realist in me knows that any broomstick I’m handed will come with a dustpan, not a flight into the moonlight.
Maybe today was a good day to read MeQuilibrium: 14 days to Cooler, Calmer, and Happier (Harmony Books) – wait, what, 14 days?!? That’s a long time, 2 weeks, a fortnight, half a month, I need help right now! Deep breaths, remain focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.
Ok, Jan Bruce, Andrew Shatte, Ph.D. and Adam Perlman, M.D., dazzle me with your wisdom. I hope the rest of the book is better than the title, sorry, it doesn’t really thrill me, but Blogging for Books wanted an honest review in exchange for the digital copy of this book, so ready or not, here it comes.
Day 1, sure, let’s pretend that’s today. This book has a lot of logical points, including changing the way you think about a problem or situation, although most I’ve heard in the labyrinth (ok, I just spelled that correctly for the first time in my life, things are looking up) of self-help I’ve traversed in my journey to now.
As I read about our Emotion Radar and how we scan and see situations and things, I had to squint as the light bulb over my head turned on. I went into this morning’s debacle looking through an ‘anxiety radar’, therefore, I saw things to be anxious about, then became more and more and more anxious, trapping a bunch of poor little monarchs in my stomach as my heart tried to smash through my ribcage.
This book, while well-written and easy-to-follow is basically a giant ad for their ‘wellness’ program, but that doesn’t rule out any a-ha moments (Excuse me, I need a moment to dance to a-ha’s Take on Me, don’t be shy, join me! As I watch this video again, there’s clearly a lesson to be learned – no matter how drawn toward someone you are, it’s probably a bad idea to go into a comic book just because the cute guy winks at you and extends his penciled hand).
Society has become busier and busier as we rush from one thing to the next to the next. We barely have time to breathe, let alone think. The answer might be to unlock our problem-solving room, go in and get calm, figure things out, before we fall into the stress traps.
As I reboot and relax listening to Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer then Billy Idol’s White Wedding (I moved on, but couldn’t quite leave that decade apparently) I realize, if I should stumble, I can catch my own fall. Perhaps I didn’t do as badly as I thought, in retrospect, I actually learned a lot from the experience.
It’s a nice day to start again.
All The Ways I’m Told I’m Stupid Everyday
Every day I’m told I’m stupid. Repeatedly. It can be exhausting and difficult to handle, but I’m sure it’s for my own good.
Governments practically scream how stupid I am from the rooftops. Apparently lying about everything and making rich people richer is more important that taking care of all the citizens, more important than eradicating poverty, feeding the hungry, affordable housing, good jobs, education, healthcare, ending wars and conflict, or treating people with dignity and respect. If I don’t agree, that’s because I’m stupid, I don’t understand their brilliant plan, which seems more like an overly elaborate Scooby-Doo plan that never turns out properly and if it does, it’s quite by mistake.
I don’t understand why so much money is spent on politicians, their cronies and bagmen; on ads promoting themselves; red tape, then again, what do I know, I’m a delicate flower, I do declare without all these rich men telling me what’s right I doubt I could put on my own shoes in the morning. Thank goodness I now understand how stupid I am.
Today is Earth Day, why does anyone even bother? I used to think it was important to try and save the planet, but luckily I now understand how stupid I was. Turns out climate change isn’t real and even if it is, it’s not that bad. I should stop whining about the environment.
I should understand that all this extreme weather is simply an opportunity to rebuild cities, towns, and homes over and over again when they get destroyed by weather events.
I stupidly used to think oil was bad for the planet too, but now I’ve been enlightened and feel much better. I even thought fracking was bad just because it wastes a massive amount of clean water, causes earthquakes, contaminates groundwater and air, etc. I should have understood that fracking is a fun way to invade the Earth on a fundamental level that causes it to shake, rattle, and roll.
I’m so out of it, I used to think when I read product reviews they were real. Duh, no, most are not even done by real people. Many were written by computers programmed to make spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, to appear as though they were done by real people not corporations (but aren’t corporations people?). Isn’t that clever?
I’m being lied to by everyone, all day, every day…even my memory lies to me, probably because it knows I’m too stupid to know any better.
I was so stupid when the Occupy Movement started, I thought they were protesting the corruption of democracy, and how the banks and corporations control our governments and every aspect of our lives. Luckily the news, who would know because they’re run by those same corporations, told me it was a poorly organized joke.
Whew, what a relief, I thought this movement might actually challenge the corrupt system and bring about positive changes. Thankfully the news and the government keep explaining to us, I’m sure because they love us, that anyone who doesn’t agree with them are: radicals, flakes, terrorists, idiots, kooks, hippies, felons, drug users, and uneducated trouble-makers.
I hope they keep explaining it because what if people actually start to believe they don’t have to live in a society run by the rich who only care about the rich?
What if we actually believed we should expect our leaders to do what’s right for all of us?
Thank goodness I have people to set me straight, to tell me how stupid I am for believing we can have a good economy and a good environment, or believing that we are worthy of an equal, kind, and fair society, that we are worthy of the truth.
I’m sure someday I’ll look back at this and laugh, if I can understand it.
50 Things to Get Busy Doing Before 50
1. Reach 49.
2. Forgive. Doesn’t matter if they deserve it, you do.
3. Some people will be negative and hate, so what, what’s that got to do with you?
4. Learn your parents, family, and friends’ stories.
5. Ignore people who tell you to try surfing or skydiving or extreme sports if you don’t want to do it, they’re not going to spend the time in hospital or rehab.
6. Help someone who needs help and don’t tell a single soul you did it.
7. Learn to compromise.
8. Conquer a fear. Doesn’t have to be a big one.
9. Take the time to write that email, make that call, write a letter, visit, send a card, it may not matter, but what if it does?
10. Ask for help. Accept it gratefully.
11. Smile. Laugh. Often. Quit thinking about why. Smile. Laugh.
12. Cry. Into someone’s shoulder, a pillow, a cat or dog, a tub of ice cream, a gooey chocolate bar, but cry.
13. Walk. Look around. Walk some more.
14. Quit measuring. Your food. Waist. Accomplishments. What others have. Still measure before cutting wood, fabric, and when you bake.
15. Nurture yourself so you can nurture others. The world works best when everyone cares for someone.
16. Say yes more often.
17. Say no more often.
18. Do something you didn’t think you could do. Maybe you still can’t, but isn’t it glorious that you tried?
19. Read. Doesn’t matter what.
20. Laugh so hard it hurts and you think someone might call in help because there’s something wrong.
21. Don’t be too serious, it causes wrinkles and it’s no fun.
22. Believe in something, stand behind it, no matter what.
23. Find some magic, whether it’s in a book, a sunset, a blog post, a smile, a party, a kiss, a moment…Find it and keep it.
24. Belt out a song at Karaoke, especially one you don’t know or with inappropriate lyrics.
25. Watch the stars…sleep under them if possible.
26. Roll down a grassy hill with your friend (make sure there’s nothing in the way first).
27. Change your hair, not to follow a style, or to cover gray hair, or because someone tells you that you should.
28. Let go of hate.
29. Lay and watch clouds for a minimum of one hour. You’re welcome.
30. Sit alone in a restaurant, don’t hide behind a book or your phone or pretend to be engrossed in your noodles (they’re not that fascinating). Look around, be in the moment.
31. Make an unrealistic wish on a shooting star.
32. Have a huge crush that can never be returned. It’s freeing.
33. Follow a dream, even if everyone tells you it’s ridiculous, especially if everyone tells you it’s ridiculous.
34. Move forward. You don’t have a time machine.
35. Compassion first. Compassion second. Compassion third. You get the idea.
36. Be so completely wrong you’ll never believe how wrong you were.
37. Be so completely right no one will ever believe how right you were.
38. Visit Niagara Falls, really, any enormous waterfall will do. You will walk away with a million and half questions about the universe.
39. Don’t follow trends or fads, do what you want, your time is limited.
40. Be like your parents.
41. Don’t be like your parents.
42. The answer to life, the universe and everything. Use it wisely and sparingly.
43. Stop saying, ‘Life isn’t fair’. It never was.
44. Be happy with what you have and what you are – at least it’s real.
45. Have goals. Fulfill some.
46. Stop using the word ‘impossible’. Substitute ‘improbable’ if you must.
47. Spend a whole day just listening.
48. Spend a whole day telling the truth.
49. There’s no scorecard, so be yourself, quit trying to get points.
50. Life is too short to do someone else’s bucket list. Be your best you….at any age.
We’ll Be Counting Scars
Doesn’t age have any advantages? I still don’t sleep well. Stars glistening, moon beaming, I think of bills, appointments, problems… I make lists, read, try to write (curse your inevitable betrayal writer’s block), and tried to simultaneously organize and turn off my thoughts.
It gives too much time for reflection. I ponder if my life would be easier if I had a hero. He can’t be just any hero; the term so loosely used nowadays. He’s gotta be strong…he’s gotta be sure… and he’s gotta be larger than life….my exhausted brain sighed, you’re just tossing and turning, with that Bonnie Tyler song in your head. I think of heroes as I slip into the arms of the sandman.
As a teen, I was a soap opera junkie. I couldn’t get enough of the endless tangled story lines, because like sands through the hourglass, so was that phase of my life.
I was breathless as Bo, a streetwise Hercules roared in on his motorcycle and saved Hope from a fate worst than death (really?). Her excessively cumbersome 80s wedding dress bunched up, arms around her hero, they rode off on his fiery steel steed, impossibly large 80s hair rarely moving in the wind.
Strangely, I didn’t find them nearly as amusing once I had some soap trials and tribulations myself.
We love superheroes because we are them. We may not have the capes or gadgets or tights (ok, some have tights), but who hasn’t felt like they’re from another planet? Been of two minds? Felt like we could do more? Wanted to save people? To help? To do good? Felt guilty because we could have done more? Tried to prove ourselves? Wanted things back the way they were before something horrible happened?
Life gives us chances to be heroes or villains.
Chances for joy and loss.
Chances for creation and destruction.
Sometimes, scars are born, on the surface and others deep inside. Too often seen as disfigurements, as imperfection when they’re actually signs of resilience. So much is written in the scars. Never the same, but no longer bleeding, no longer open. Healed.
We can heal. We may never be exactly the same as we were.
We may never get back to our ‘old self’.
Things may never get back to ‘normal’.
There’s no time limit for healing, it takes as long as it takes.
It doesn’t matter how many times we get knocked down and there’s no time limit on getting back up.
Hopefully, not destroying everything around us in the healing process.
So we rise again and again, getting and giving help along the way.
I’m Hooked on a Feeling
I can’t fight this feeling, deep inside of me, I’m hooked on a feeling…blogging, you don’t know what you do to me.
I’m not entirely sure how many posts about blogging advice I’ve read in the past couple of years. Some posts were extremely helpful, others decidedly unhelpful, many didn’t pertain to me, and others gibberish. So here’s my best blogging advice that will most certainly change the way you blog forever!
1. Have a blog.
2. Write posts that are 300 words to whatever-your-readers-think-isn’t-too-long. Think of each post as a summer hat, you want it to cover your face and neck, but you don’t want to be the one with that Royal Wedding hat.
3. Add pictures and images to your posts. There are many ways to do this – take photos, make memes, scan, find, paint, draw…and please credit them, if possible.
4. Publish the post – this part is way more important than it seems.
5. Read. Not just books, but other people’s posts as well. If you don’t have time to read, how do you have time to write?
6. Before writing or posting, don’t think about if people will: Like it, share it, reblog it, tweet it, agree, disagree, unfollow, hate you, become your worst nightmare troll, make voodoo dolls of you, or nominate you for awards. Don’t think about becoming rich and famous. Just write. Write, because if you don’t the words will burst out of you like an alien bursting out of your chest! I can’t guarantee they’ll show up at your blogdoor with flowers and candy for each post you write, but it’s worth a try.
7. Think of the internet as a massive, sprawling, loud house party. Sometimes it takes time, effort, and quite a few trips to the ‘refreshment area’ to find people and have them find you.
8. Engage with your readers and other bloggers, be generous, share the works of others, but don’t always expect reciprocation in kind. Think of the blogging community more like a big chain link fence – the links don’t all connect, but altogether they make something strong.
9. Don’t worry about who’s reading or not reading your blog and what they might think, although, you might want to worry if you worry about that too much.
10. Share your work. Be a shameless self-promoting bloghussy – like me! Be as overexposed as Miley Cyrus, wait, even as I type that, it sounds like bad advice. A little mystery goes a long way. The important thing is to be out there, getting experience and learning.
11. Most of all, enjoy the process. Never in the field of human communication has so much been written by so many to so few. It’s a massive virtual haystack (yes, sadly, you’re the needle in this analogy), so just sit back, type on, press publish, and enjoy the ride.
12. Ignore all the aforementioned advice. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable and happy. Get whatever you need from the moment.
What about you, dear readers, what would be your best blogging advice, besides Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga
O-o-h Child Things Are Gonna Get Easier…
In the dusty sanctuaries of erudition (cooler word than knowledge, which is sooo five centuries ago)… black and white, truth and lies live comfortably, side by side, lined up…we, elbow to elbow, heads bent, allow worlds to cascade around us. ‘Take us home,’ they whisper seductively, promising to reveal all their secrets.
Within the walls of a bookstore or library it’s clear what’s fiction and what’s non-fiction.
In the real world, not so much.
Some of you, dear readers might be aware it’s Autism Awareness Month. You may have Autism; know those who live with it; love those who live with it who you can’t live without; or know those you don’t even know are on the Autism Spectrum. Still with me? Good. Reading Me Being Me Is Exactly As Insane As You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy (Simon Pulse) – we’ll get to the title in a minute – had me thinking of Autism’s infinite variety, as well as the still surprising amount of intolerance in the world.
12 things I thought about while reading this novel:
1. It’s all lists. I like lists.
2. The title is too long…oops, I’m one to talk.
3. The main character, a teen named Darren seems to be on the Autism Spectrum.
4. Part way through the book, I realized I had read other works by this author and felt a ‘doh’ moment. It passed.
5. The writing was accessible, appealing, and made me want to read more, yet around page 400 I found it was dragging and even I was growing tired of lists (is that even possible?).
6. Made me remember high school…Actually, I might be thinking of Glee, I don’t remember my high school having that much singing (luckily, this book doesn’t either).
7. Parents should care about themselves by caring for their children.
8. I wanted to buy Darren some ice cream and tell him, ‘O-o-h child things are gonna get easier. O-o-h child things’ll get brighter.’ I have this Five Stairsteps song in my head, I blame Guardians of the Galaxy.
9. You can’t escape the world, it follows you everywhere.
10. Different can be bad or good, so much depends on intention and perception.
11. It might be comforting to tell someone things will get easier, brighter, or better, but it’s not always true. One of the best things to say is, ‘things are ok right now’. If that’s not true either, then, yes, by all means, say things are going to get easier, brighter, or better.12. I love books. I love free books in a different way. Refer to #10 and in this case, different is good.
It’s Not The Years, Honey. It’s The Mileage
Our bodies might be temples, but mine is starting to look like it needs an archaeological dig.
I’m going to agree with Indiana Jones, “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage.”
Sigh, it might also be the years.
Maybe it’s just that women need more upkeep…or we’re told we do.
Women spend an inordinate amount of time trying to remove hair from their bodies…and if we can’t remove it, then we need to curl it, cut it, dye it, straighten it, lengthen it, wax it, shave it, shape it, and give names to the shapes.
Men generally just want to hold onto every single hair they have, for as long as they can.
Women spend hours they’ll never get back trying to pick out just the right shade, tone, tint, texture that’s going to: smooth, cover, cleanse, conceal, reverse, resist, beautify, bronze, define, alter, prime, primp, plump – for the dry, normal, oily, sensitive, acne-prone, combination; all of which will then be removed.
Men leave the house, perhaps after brushing the precious hair they have left and hopefully their teeth.
Women will do everything short of selling their souls (and that might be up for consideration) to keep themselves looking young, including being injected, operated on, rituals, who knows?
Women worry about every bit of food that passes their lips, weigh ourselves obsessively, worry about body fat, calories, diets. They will fast, cleanse, purge and look too often into the abyss (aka the full-length mirror).
Obviously these are generalizations, but why are there such differences between the sexes? Is it our brains? Bodies? Society? History? It should be about acceptance. Men and women aren’t that much different, except women usually get paid less and their products and services cost more.
We’re all human (well, most of us, there are exceptions), we should accept each other and work together.
In Raiders of the Lost Ark they should have said, we have top people working on it. Why? Because we may just be passing through history, but it doesn’t mean we have to keep reliving it.
Now You’re Just Some Bunny That I Used To Know
What motivates us?
I’m sure the answer is different for everyone.
Praise. Power. People. Passion. Puzzles.
Possessions. Prestige. Punishment.
Pleasure. Position. Politics. Possibilities.
I know what my motivation is to eat Benedict Cumberbatch, that is, the life-size chocolate statute of Benedict Cumberbatch. Seriously, there’s now a 40kg Belgian chocolate replica of most everyone’s favourite Aspergian detective, because he was chosen as #1 dishiest UK actor in a survey. David Tennant was the runner-up. Oh I don’t know, that would be a tough call. Can I have both? Er, in chocolate?
Today is Autism Awareness Day worldwide, and those on the Autism Spectrum have often been called, differently motivated. Too many people don’t (or choose not to) understand this. Their theory seems to be if you aren’t motivated by something they can understand then you must be: stupid, lazy, defective, foolish, or a loser. Intolerance shows itself in varied ugly forms.
We’re still in the beginning stages of a long journey to try to get people to understand Autism. It’s a neurological difference. Things changed, doesn’t mean it’s terrible or catastrophic.
Some things we used to believe:
Some thought the Earth was flat (those are called pancakes).
If an elevator is falling, jump up (you’ll just hit the ceiling).
Putting sugar in a gas tank ruins the car (still not a good idea).
Spontaneous generation from inanimate objects (er, no, just no).
The human body is made up of four humors – black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood (some days I wonder).
A duck’s quack doesn’t echo (it does, it does, it does).
Dropping a penny off a high building could kill someone (how about a quarter?).
Quicksand sucks you under (only in the movies).
Earth revolves around the Sun (you’re not our only friend, Sun).
we’re the center of the Universe (actually, a lot of people still believe that they’re the center of the Universe).