Present Tense

I’m laughing at you…wait…with you!

I am a rabble-rouser, an irritant, the person who ALWAYS has to argue about pretty much everything.  It’s almost a compulsion or a mission or something with me.  I’ve been this way since I was a kid.  My 5th grade teacher Mrs. Barrett, in explaining my poor ‘citizenship’ grade to my mom, told her, “Janie is just flat-out bossy and argumentative”.  My mom replied, “that runs in the family” and took me to A&W for a root beer.

I just can’t help saying or writing (or shouting) what’s on my mind; expressing an opinion and yes, sometimes arguing until I’ve crossed into totally obnoxious behavior.  Over the years, I’ve tempered my stridency a bit and I tend to give up or give in a little more often, but I still can’t help calling B.S. on occasions.  Which is why I’m pretty sure that I have been blocked or unfriended by many of my Facebook “friends”.  All of the sunshine that is blown up the backsides of folks on Facebook is phony and nauseating to me.  Have you noticed?  The women are the WORST:  “oh, honey, you are so perfect/skinny/forgiving/sweet/wonderful/generous/the best friend ever/an angel/better than Mother Teresa, blah, blah, blah”.   Come ON!!!  I have a problem with that on two levels:  first, the people that write all of that nonsense, who I believe are either fishing for a return compliment or unabashed butt kissers and secondly, the people who swallow all of that flowery junk on their thread.  See, here I go again!  For some reason, I am compelled by my inner smart ass to inject some pithy remarks onto various FB threads.  It does not go over well with everyone.

It’s starting to dawn on me that many of us, can no longer laugh at ourselves or each other.  We are human beings and we’re damned funny, whether we mean to be or not!  We’re pompous, we’re vain, we’re greedy, we’re stinky, we’re liars, we’re ignorant, we’re insecure, we’re fat, we’re lazy, we watch crap on tv, we’re impatient, we’re selfish, we’re mean, we’re catty (ladies!) and since we all have these quirks and flaws, why is it becoming taboo to point them out and laugh at them?  I have a fairly honest view of myself (see the preceeding sentence–that’s me) and am the first to laugh at my humanness (is that a word? you know what I mean) because it’s amusing to me.  It’s the human condition and we ALL suffer from it and we all have our coping mechanisms; mine is humor, which is a LOT more healthy than my old way of drinking myself comatose (see?  admitting my fault and using humor to defuse it–SIMPLE!)

So, say what’s on your mind, call BULLSH*T a little more often, let ‘er rip; we can handle it and if you can give or get a chuckle out of it, even better.  Laughter really is contagious; so is yawning, but that’s another post.

February 28, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , | 18 Comments

The Power of Positive DOING

I just read an interesting book, called “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America” by Barbara Ehrenreich.  Now, I’ve been a consumer of several positive thinking and “law of attraction” books and cds.  I’ve tried over the past few years to shift my attitude toward a more positive reaction to events, both in and out of my control, in hopes of becoming an easier person to live with.  Ehrenreich’s premise is that all of the sunshine that’s been blown up our arses, by folks who are selling that sunshine, hasn’t made us any happier, more successful, richer, thinner or more in touch with God.

Even though I’ve dabbled in always looking on the bright side of life, I am a realist;  I don’t believe for one minute, that I can “think” more money into my bank account or more love into my life.  I do believe that one’s reaction to inevitable disappointments, setbacks, grief, trauma or merely a ‘bad day’, is a key to success, however you may define that term.  Having said all of that, I’ve been seeing a therapist who has helped me immensely in working through some self-destructive habits that I’ve struggled with for most of my adult life.  What I’ve learned is that the “law of attraction” and “the power of positive thinking” will not cure what ails me, but a good therapist is a great start.

I’ve also found that the aforementioned books and cds have helped me focus on a goal.  There is a short book, called  “The Law of Attraction” by Michael Losier that has you do several exercises, where you lay out what you want (in my case, it was work-related) and then you make several lists.  You are forced to focus on the goal by concisely writing it down and then you write about how you will achieve it.  Now, if you then ACT, there is a pretty good chance, you’ll see some progress.  That’s the key: action.  My goal required a lot of things to fall into place and so I worked on what I could control, step by step. I then showed how it would not adversely affect others, or how it would actually benefit others and now I’m happily in the situation that I sought.  Forget about just “thinking” and “manifesting” your way to prosperity, even though that is how the “law of attraction” is marketed.

So, here’s the deal:  there is no psychic river of good energy, that you can just dip your ladle into.  That is bunk, no matter what Oprah tells you.  But, there is something to be said for focusing on your goals and devising a strategy, full of action, to achieve them.  A perfect example is happening right now:  the Olympics.  The focus and dedication of these athletes is a forceful reminder of the time, energy, sacrifice and discipline it requires to be the best.  Maybe you don’t want to be ‘the best’, but just ‘better’; who doesn’t?   But, getting better still requires a plan of action, no matter your goal.  Think about your goal, write about your goal and then start DOING.

February 21, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , | 7 Comments

Tick-tock, tick-tock

We’re all on a journey.  It’s impossible to think otherwise as the seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years and decades pass.  The journey will end in the same place for all of us of course, but I’m at an age where I’m exploring ways to make the remainder of my journey, a more conscious one.  Time passes and not ONE of us can stop it, slow it or control it.  What we can do is be conscious of it’s passing and make sure that we make good use of our allotment, while we have it.  Time may be infinite, but we are not.

I suppose that reaching the half century mark and watching my parents approach 90, has made me much more physically, emotionally and spiritually aware of the ticking clock of my earthly journey.  So, what to do; do I throw myself into ‘living everyday as if it’s your last’, mode?  Nope, not my style; I’m not one of those people who would book a flight around the world, if I was I informed of my impending death.  I don’t see any sense in cramming everything in right before you die; seems too frenetic and cliche .  Are there things I want to do and places I want to see?  Absolutely, but I also want to fill my days and my mind with more knowledge, more understanding, more clarity and at least a glimmer of inner peace.

I’m a bit of an ascetic (look it up), in that I am comforted and strengthened, by denying myself things that I believe don’t advance my journey. Complete disclosure:  I wasn’t always this way…okay, moving on. For instance, I absolutely believe that many things in pop culture chip away at our souls; they desensitize us to truth, beauty, self-reflection.  There is only so much time and I refuse to waste it on the “Bachelor”, “Bachelorette” or “Jersey Shore”!  Okay, call me a snob or an elitist or a buzzkill; I’m not, but I just don’t allow myself to consume certain things, whether it’s liquor, gallons of high-fat ice cream or junk TV because I honestly believe that we grow by resisting some of our non-productive urges.  Time is short folks and “Celebrity Apprentice” ain’t on my ‘to do’ list.

Culturally, I’m disheartened by the nonsense that we consume.  People say, “hey, I had a hard day/week/month and I just want to sit down and veg in front of the TV”.  I get it; but maybe, it’s your LIFE that’s the problem.  Your choices, your priorities, where you are in your journey.  What is it about your life, that makes you want to fill your free time with celebrity gossip and “Project Runway”?

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I enjoyed as a kid, how I spent my time when I had no real obligations or responsiblities; when I did what pleased me and filled my soul.  What if ALL of us put that into practice a little more?  When you were a kid, did you love to sit for hours, watching dysfunctional people on some phony TV show?  Did you take pleasure in observing other people’s failures and pain (other than your siblings)?  Doubt it.  You probably played games and laughed and built stuff and sat outside in the dark, because it was fun; it filled you.  Maybe you liked music, or drawing or painting or baking or sports;  revisit those passions and see if you don’t feel more alive and less numb.  One more thing: chances are, there was no wine involved.  Seems that lot of you can’t do ANYTHING without wine, wine, wine…..(okay, I admit it.  That’s the former boozer in me judging you, but trust me, life can be lived and enjoyed with a little less wine:)

Look, all of us need time for introspection, for self-assessment, for an honest look at how we’re conducting our personal journey.  Put some things aside; you REALLY don’t HAVE to do all of the things that you tell yourself are required of you.  If you miss one or two of your kid’s sporting events, they will not be damaged for life, nor will their precious self-esteem be dented.  Kids are resilient, despite the cultural noise about how delicate they are; and you KNOW that’s true, but there’s so much pressure to be perfect and involved and worn out and empty and useless.

Check out the clock and the calender.  It’s not stopping, EVER.  You and only you, are in charge of  the time you have left.  Ready? GO!

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , | 13 Comments

I ain’t scared….much.

You must face your fears!  We’ve all heard it so many times that it’s conventional wisdom, right? To purge your psyche of those awful fears, phobias and anxieties, you must face them down, wrestle them into submission, tear them up and stomp on them!  Easier said than done, my friends.  I guess it depends on what you fear.

We had a ‘face your fears’ moment on our radio show last week, when my co-host held a tarantula in his hand.  He’s been very open about his fear of spiders and so, we had some folks come in from the Denver Butterfly Pavillion, with Rosie the Tarantula.   Personally, I’m not that freaked out by spiders, but I’d never really had a desire to be in close proximity to a big, ole, hairy tarantula.  But, there she was, right in front of me; so I held her and it was pretty cool.  Generally,  I won’t kill bugs if I can avoid it;  my husband thinks I’m nuts, but I’ll make every attempt to remove them from our house and place them outside, unharmed.  I feel like they have a place in the ecosystem and the universe and I feel bad just randomly smashing them.  Funny, how I treat people badly, but will show compassion and mercy to a bug (note to self: blog about this soon!).

For being such a big, hairy arachnid, Rosie was surprisingly light and calm.  I held her for a couple of minutes, as she walked around on my hand and the experience made me even more resolute in my desire to ‘do no harm’ to those who reside in the bug/reptile/animal kingdom.  I was not facing my fear, but my co-worker was and he did great.  A lot of folks at the radio station also touched her and held her, in spite of their anxiety. The interesting thing was watching their faces during the process.  They were pinched and tense at first sight of the spider.  As Rosie was placed in their hands, even more tension, but then a slow, relaxation of their facial and shoulder muscles.  Next, they actually looked at her, studied her movements and a small smile appeared.  As they gave her back to the handlers, I saw relief and a huge smile. I could see that they were feeling a mix of pride and a kind of protectiveness toward Rosie.  It was an amazing thing to watch them let go of  some or perhaps, all of their fear and realize they had handled it beautifully.

So, maybe the whole face your fears thing IS the key to diminishing them.  I wish my fears could be held in my hand, but they tend to be much more ingrained and buried.  I fear losing my parents, growing old and frail and losing my independence. I fear failure,  I fear that I’m not fulfilling my purpose on earth.  Those things are not easily remedied by a visit from a large and gentle spider.  How do you root those fears out into the daylight and slay them?  They’re not concrete like a spider or snake and I fully realize that many of the things I fear may never come to pass, but it doesn’t make them any less real to me and I suspect, to you.

I guess it’s much the same process as the spider; you first have to find them, look at them and put them in a place where they can be examined, whether that’s in therapy, writing about them or talking about them with someone you trust.   Most things seem less scary in the light of day.  My fears tend to make their appearance in the dark, late at night, when I’m supposed to be sleeping. Those familiar fears dart around my mind, like a game of hide and seek.

So, let’s shine a light on them in broad daylight and like many things, those huge, dark fears, begin to seem a little less hulking and scary.  Put ’em under a halogen lamp and turn ’em over and really examine them.  Why am I afraid of this?  What are the chances of this happening?  What will I do if it does?  Have I survived a similar occurrence and how did I do?  Who can help me with this?   And most importantly, how can I replace this fear, with acceptance, peace and clarity?

February 7, 2010 Posted by | Musings | , , | 5 Comments

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