Have you ever watched one of those shows that exploits family members, exposing their arguments about "he said", "she said"? Or how about Judge Judy? Any of those shows is a bit like a train wreck to me---I don't want to look but I can't help it, especially if I am held captive, otherwise known as sitting in a waiting room, dying on the vine while anticipating the doctor visit.
What I notice most (and by most, I mean the thing I can say in a family-friendly blog) is that people have such different memories of the way things happened. The last time I was held captive, Judge Judy had on ex-lovers. The man had loaned his live-in girlfriend several thousands of dollars for a new car, when all of a sudden, they break up. The man was suing his now EX-live-in girlfriend for repayment of the loan. But uh-oh (wait for it!), the woman says, "It wasn't a loan, it was a gift". The guy starts in with "I remember telling her..." and the woman jumps in, "No, remember, you said,...." before Judge Judy's eyes rolled back in her head and she snapped at both of them like a Jack Russell terrier.
The issue is not always "which one is lying" as much as both parties often remember things a different way. My dear sister, Kristen, and I used to joke about how one of us must have been raised by wolves, since we remember things about our childhood in different ways. Part of the differences might stem from a difference in age, personality styles, or experiences, but the fact of the matter is, my perceptions are right and hers are wrong. No, no, no, just kidding. That is not the point at all. The point is, we are likely both "right" and both "wrong" as we simply remember what we remember based on our own perceptions.
Fast forward to last week when my new book, "Finding Mother's Voice" was finally published. The book is a memoir written by me but chock full of writings, poetry, letters, cards, and journals that Mother wrote before and after her laryngectomy that took away her beautiful and lyrical voice. I made sure I announced that the book is only based on my perceptions (and those of my dear mother), and I apologized in advance for any mistakes or errors, as I can only write a memoir about my own perceptions---not those of my family members, friends, or other loved ones.
I am hopeful you will enjoy the book. Please let me know your perceptions. And, of course, I'll be sure to remember that your perceptions are not everyone's perceptions! ;)
Summertime, and the living is easy. When I was in the classroom on a yearly basis, and I heard people say, "Teachers have it so easy, since they get the summers off", I would just laugh...while my blood pressure rose to an unnatural level and my neck changed to 8 shades of red (including the not-so-well-known rosy shade called "Are you KIDDING me?")...but mostly I would laugh. Summers are usually not so easy for those in the education world, as teachers and administrators are scrambling to finish up paperwork from the previous year while preparing for the next year.
While we have the chance, we should take time to get rejuvenated.
Dave and I took off for Colorado Springs with the pups to a pet-friendly vacation rental for a couple of weeks. While here, my two best friends from college came to visit for a few days to celebrate Kelly turning 50. Keep in mind we are best friends from college, so one of us has already turned 50 (that would be me) and Robin is knocking on 50's door. Kelly's husband so very kindly treated all three of us to "Colorado Rejuvenating Wraps" at the Broadmoor (Dave strongly suspects Kelly's husband did that as a treat for Dave, as having three best friends reminisce silly moments from college can be a little over-the-top). When we checked in at the Spa, we were invited to get into warm robes (what do I have to do to get a robe-warmer?), spa shoes, and put our remaining items in a locker. "While you wait", they suggested, "feel free to help yourself to watermelon-infused water, cucumber water or lemon-lime water". Don't mind if I do.
The only thing that was the slightest bit unnerving was Kelly's desire for a female masseuse. When the body double for Mr. Clean came out and called her name, there was a moment of slight hesitation. Afterwards, we re-convened in the room they should call the "Pitch a fit because you never want to leave" room. Facing the Broadmoor's jaw-dropping scenery, we settled into warm lounge chairs where we talked about life, love and happiness (and about how much we loved having our arms and legs in warm "wraps" while masseuses massaged our scalps). We may or may not have also giggled incessantly (and maybe also like 5 -year olds) when recalling fun, college memories, and we definitely snacked on sweet and salty treats (are they really complimentary?) before we headed to the steam sauna, the dry sauna, then the oxygen room.
Why is it that we find ourselves sometimes feeling guilty if we indulge ourselves? Maybe it is because we know we have so many things to do, we can't "afford" to take the time to read a good book or relax in the sunshine for a little while. But, consider this. For those you who are well-acquainted with Harry Wong and his great work "First Days of School", you will recall his sage advice about spending the first two weeks of school establishing routines and procedures. While some will question "Aren't we losing the first 10 days of school?", many wise and savvy souls have figured out, "No, we are gaining 170 days of quality instruction". The same analogy applies here. Instead of "wasting" an hour or so of work time when we take a hot bath, read a murder mystery, or take a hot Yoga class, we are actually gaining quality productive time since we will be getting back to a work task as rejuvenated souls.
So, instead of worrying about getting rejuvenated, let's take a serious look at what the values of such time will give us in return. Then jump in the sauna with both feet!! And now, I will explain that I would have written a longer blog, but I am going to go read in the courtyard while this beautiful weather lasts a bit longer!
So much sad news, lately. So many shootings, killings, negative words. It is easy to get down about it and stray from my mantra: I choose happiness.
Depending on the scope of what issues you are examining in the world, it is tempting to get caught in the vortex and start, slowly (or quickly, depending on your suction rate), spinning down and down and down into the negative spiral. Something as simple as a friend writing something about their views on a presidential candidate can leave people spinning out of control with ugly, hurt feelings. I stay away from the vortex. I choose happiness.
I read something the other day that talked about happiness being an inside job. We shouldn't expect someone to "make" us happy. Doing so implies that we can't make ourselves happy. What do you believe? Do you think you have the ability to change the way you feel? When I was getting my counseling degree, we were given the task of deciding what our counseling theory would be. Some people chose cognitive theories, ones that focused on how your thinking guided your actions and feelings. Others chose emotional theories, the ones that focused on how we simply need to feel differently in order to make changes in our lives. I chose a behavior theory, remembering how my students with Emotional Disturbances needed to be taught different habits in order to make changes in their worlds. My belief is that if we choose a new behavior, habit or action, we can soon alter the way we feel and think. Many people call it the "fake it 'til you make it" or "act as if". It is not as unrealistic as it might sound. Take, for instance, the research on how smiling can help with depression. Some say the act of smiling can alter the way you feel. Try it. Maybe even try a giggle. Okay, if you need some help with giggling, just google one of those videos of babies laughing. You may find yourself laughing along with them. The laughter doesn't mean there aren't any more tragedies in the world. It doesn't mean you are ignoring the sadness of a cancer diagnosis or a divorce or the death of a dear friend. It simply means you aren't going to let sadness consume you. I choose happiness.
When I was a guidance counselor, students would come to me spouting "He was mean to me" or "She made me mad". I began teaching lessons on personal responsibility---taking responsibility for our part in situations which seem to have been thrust upon us (a bit like early 12-step work, right?). I knew that the kids liked songs, chants, and raps, so I created a poem we could all say to help us remember our personal responsibility.
I always have a choice, no matter what I do.
I make the choice and I can't blame you.
After teaching every class in the school, we began saying this at assemblies. We would say it slowly, we would say it quickly, we would say it like a big fat whale in the ocean (think: Dorie speaking "whale"), we would say it with our best Texas accent. We would shake our hips to it or wave our hands in the air as we said it. The point was: we were all learning how to take responsibility. That has been about 15 years since I began teaching that, and I have people tell me they can still recite it. Why? It's a mantra with which we can live. Why? Because it means we are choosing happiness. Or, at the very least, if we are choosing to pout, we are not blaming it on someone else.
I was talking to a dear friend, recently, who is going through a most difficult time in her life that simply smiling isn't going to "fix" for a while. She gets that. I get that. But we talked about how self-pity, while natural, is a place we will only visit. We don't need to purchase property in the self-pity subdivision. That just sounds too permanent. Instead, we talked about the power of talking through tough times. Tell and re-tell is what I encourage people to do. Tell and re-tell the tough stuff to get the sharpest of the pains out. Then, perhaps, we can begin to replace some of the painful stuff with tiny pieces of joy or gratitude.
Just for today, decide what you want to be and do for the day. I choose happiness. And Funny Animal Videos