Instead of more love, let’s focus on more empathy!

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Love is a word tossed around like confetti at a party. With its cavalier usage, we lose the true meaning… by definition, Love is: “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties”

Though loving everyone is a lovely intention, it is also a lofty goal, that most of us mere mortals cannot attain. To actually love someone, staying true to the defined emotion, we need at least to know something about them, and even those we know inside and out, are not always easy to love.  To that end, perhaps preaching and insisting that loving each other will eradicate the worlds issues, has created a no-win, no gray in the middle counter-productive situation, leading us to an extreme of choosing between loving or hating those we don’t see eye to eye with, or in some cases complete, apathetically doing nothing.

Rather, I prefer we stop trying to love so much and in its place, we seek a deeper desire for feeling and sharing empathy

When we empathize with our fellow humans, we neither need to love or hate them. Heck, we don’t even need to like them or actually know them. Nor do we need to feel pity or sympathy, which is quite a different emotion. If I may borrow a Native American quote to clarify my point, “walk a mile in his moccasins”… when we do this, we make the effort to understand where the other person is coming from. By employing empathy, we don’t need to agree with someone, we don’t need to change our own beliefs or opinions, we don’t need to feel any deep emotion, or argue or defend ourselves. We simply need to stop for a beat and use our energy to view matters through their perspective. Yes, it takes a bit of energy, but so does angrily flying off the handle in defense of our position. Additionally, hate, anger, hostility is emotionally and physically draining. Feeling empathy isn’t.

Remember for a second the last time a petty annoyance got under your skin. An example; the teenage fast-food server mixed up your order. You might have become irate, shouting at the kid and demanding to speak to a manager. Or internally you might have been seething, “how stupid is that damn kid, can’t get a simple order right?” Even after the error was corrected, how did you feel? Were you able to peacefully enjoy your meal or did you feel all flustered inside? Now entertain the idea of instead of becoming instantly vexed, externally or internally, you thought for a minute about what might have led to the mixup… step into the kids shoes… maybe the teen is new on the job, maybe he’s got an important exam after the shift, maybe she just found out she’s pregnant, maybe just being human caused the error, we all make them… the possibilities are endless. When you empathetically evaluate the situation, you can reasonably, if need be

Now entertain the idea to instead of becoming instantly vexed, externally or internally, you thought for a minute about what might have led to the mixup… step into the kids shoes… maybe the teen is new on the job, maybe he’s got an important exam after the shift, maybe she just found out she’s pregnant, maybe just being human caused the error, we all make them… the possibilities are endless. When you empathetically evaluate the situation, you can reasonably, if need be firmly, still state and get what you want, without the hostility.

We all witness anger… about everything, locally, nationally and globally… in social media comments and posts, in day to day in-person encounters with strangers, friends and even colleagues. Habitually, referring to people and situations, we don’t know, like, love or even understand, in derogatory, hostile terms.

If, even, our current US president would say some of the inappropriate and mind-blowing things that spew from his mouth, with some empathy, it wouldn’t make him right, but it would at least soften how we process it.

Looking back to my late mother, even before we were conscious of “political correctness” and as much mindfulness about other peoples feelings, I remember she was, empathetic! She always made an effort to view both sides of a story. Probably explains why I’m the way I am – or in my fragile, sometimes failed human attempts – try to be.

I often speak of empathy to friends; mentioning the times the attribute has served me well. Some look at me like I’ve grown a second head. Or react as if I’m asking they give up their personal rights and beliefs in deference to another’s. Some say “well you’re just trying too hard to be nice, I can’t-do that!”. I wonder, is that they “can’t” or won’t. I ponder is it that they just don’t care enough to even try? Or, is their comfort zone within anger and hostility? If they’re empathetic now, will they need to address other times from the past when they could have been?

The world right now is a scary mess.  We need to collectively try to do something that will make a difference and lead us to some semblance of peace. If all-out love isn’t happening. And we know hate makes things worse. How about we give empathy a try.

It might help… it sure can’t hurt!

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Could you leave all your material possessions behind!

With horrible natural disasters all around us and constant warnings to people to gather their families and pets and evacuate as quickly as possible, one can’t help but wonder, what would I do?

It’s easy to say, “well, of course, I’d leave my stuff in favor of saving our lives”. However, for some people it’s not that simple. Worst case scenario, are those who suffer from hoarding. For them, leaving stuff might be as mentally terrorizing as facing the loss of life. For others, not as extreme, material things are emotionally important, so important that losing it all could break their hearts and even override their gratitude for being alive.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching on the subject. I know for fact, it’s not even a question, I’d be on the road with my kids, the cat and the lizard in a heartbeat. If I had time to prepare, essentials and some clothes aside, I’d grab a few photos, some special teddy bears, and a few mementos – mostly things my kids have either made or gifted me with. All together it all fits in a plastic storage bin. Because material stuff does not matter one iota to me.

Perhaps I wasn’t always like I am now; a down to earth minimalist who finds little value in things. Perhaps I’m this way because I’ve experienced losing everything once, leaving everything once and witnessing how destructive attachments to stuff can be to relationships.

Losing Everything!

You might be wondering “so how did you lose everything?” In a nut shell when we moved from New York to Connecticut, it took two huge moving trucks to haul our stuff. It all needed to be stored at the company’s facility since our house closings didn’t coincide. Four weeks later, when it was finally time to move our stuff in (during which time I’d given birth to our second son), only one truck pulled up, with only about five percent of our stuff inside it. Little did we know the storage place (according to them) had been robbed. Everything we owned was GONE! In hindsight, we then realized why the owner of the place had talked us out of purchasing insurance. We’d eventually learn that four other families faced the same fate, the place was ultimately burned down and the owners went missing. We got nothing, nada, zilch!

I was upset, of course, the cost of reestablishing our home was mind numbing. All of my oldest sons (he was five) toys and valuables were gone. All of our keepsakes, gone. The few things I had left from my deceased parents, gone (except for the crucifix they’d received as a wedding gift, that was among the five percent left).  Funny thing is, with a new healthy baby in my arms, and my other perfect son at my side, none of the missing stuff really mattered. In the grand scheme of things, we had everything! Eventually, we re-established a lovely, comfortable home.

Leaving Everything!

Years later, when I left our twenty-five-hundred square foot home to pursue the new life I desperately needed across the country, I filled my minivan with two of my three sons (the oldest was away at college), the few things that were special to them, a minimal amount of clothing, a few keepsakes (yes that crucifix came along) and some essentials. I thought at the time, my husband would eventually join us; moving the rest of the stuff with him. That never happened. And so, then a single mom on a tight budget, I rebuilt a comfortable home, again,; slowly but surely, with things from here and there, hand-me-downs and thrift store finds and dollar stores and even some dumpster dives. And life, happily went on, because we had all that mattered, each other.

Things Over People!

And how can an attachment to things be detrimental? When I’d asked my then husband about joining us in California, one of the first things he said was “it would cost a fortune to move all my things!” In that statement, all I heard was, my stuff is more important than you or our family! He’s still across the country, alone, with his stuff!

My dad, who was a bit of a hoarder I guess, now that the habit has a name, kept a four bedroom house up and running for years after his father, the sole inhabitant of the house, passed away because he couldn’t face getting rid of the stuff that had accumulated. In the meantime, he, I and my mom lived meagerly in a small one bedroom apartment, which created stress and discourse between my parents!

When my dad passed away, it took us months of sweat and tears and money to get rid of his stuff.

I’ve heard, we’ve all heard, arguments amongst family members over who’ll get moms this or dads that. Their sadness seems to be more about the stuff than the loss of their parents!

So yes, faced with an evacuation I could easily leave it all. The financial burden certainly would take a toll, but the emotional burden of losing my stuff would mean absolutely nothing. As long as I have my kids and my life, I have everything I want or need.  And they can rest assured when my time on earth is done – hopefully, I still have many decades left here – they won’t need to fight over who gets what, there will be enough teddy bears and Barry Manilow cd’s, and high heels to go around. 🙂

 

A kiss is not just a kiss!

lipstick-kisses_23-2147504316In this post I’m not talking about kisses that include your child, a parent or a loved one, that isn’t already or you’re sure will be a significant other. Here, I’m talking about romantic kisses, between two people who are attracted to each another.

To me a kiss is something intimate, special, not to be taken lightly. It’s the same opinion I have about anything to do with intimacy; absolutely not something I do with spur-of-the-moment-casualness! Kissing is important and when done right can lead to more; done wrong it’s going to be an abrupt halt.

A lot of things on my list need a positive check before I allow someone’s mouth to mingle with mine. Obviously, there has to be an attraction, but that attraction needs to go beyond physical. If a dude is gorgeous, but can’t carry on some semblance of a conversation, there won’t be any tonsil hockey. If his breath (or any part of his being) is abhorrently stinky, nope, please stay back. If he seems to be mean, nasty, arrogant or too happy to be him, yeah no, not wasting lips on him. Am I picky? You betcha. Am I honest from the get-go in not leading anyone on, absolutely!

I thought back to my “first kiss”, that happened long before I had a check list or even knew what I wanted out of life. I was about thirteen, paired up with a kid the same age, who was the son of a friend of my parents. He, I and another couple our age were visiting landmarks in Chicago within a specific close-mile radius our parents allowed us to journey to while they attended a convention.  The Sears Tower was among the sights, the elevator ride to the top that the four of us took, would become a moment I’d never forget. Out of the blue, that boy made his move. Looking back it was indeed somewhat sweet and very innocent, but at the time, it was the grossest encounter of my brief life!

Out of the blue, that boy made his move. Looking back it was indeed somewhat sweet and very innocent, but at the time, it was the grossest encounter of my brief life! I’d been blindsided by the awkward on-set of babyish lips, a peach-fuzz face, and a slobbery tongue shoved into my mouth.  Fortunately, I didn’t gag; instead, I managed to dump my handbag on the floor as an excuse to end the hideousness. I remember telling my mom later that day about the great horror I endured. I also remember her stifling a grin while cajoling me. From then on I swore off ever allowing a guy to kiss me without my permission. It was also then I decided if or when the time came for me to be in a relationship, it would have to be with an older dude; no mushy lips or peach-fuzz!

Life went on and there were much more kissing encounters with and without prior permission, which, for the most part, I got to be okay with. The kisses were nice, but none were perfect (not even the ones shared with the man I married). I often wondered if there really is such a thing as a “perfect” kiss? One that changes everything, that conveys a message without words, that has meaning beyond the action itself? Or is that a notion brought to us by romantic fairy tales that only happen in films and literature?

Alas, not that long ago, I happily received the answer to my question when I discovered, first hand, a perfect kiss honestly does exist! The kind that curls your toes, sends shivers down your spine, flips your stomach, makes time stand still, and obliterates everything around you. This perfection happened on three different occasions. Though for many reasons the relationship with the kisser wasn’t meant to last a lifetime, the memories of those perfect kisses will last forever. The kisses changed me. Made me aware of what I want, who I want and how I deserve to feel when a set of lips touch mine. At this point in life, I won’t settle for less in the romance department. If I want a companion, I have friends. If I want a romantic relationship, my spine needs to tingle!

I wish I knew why Teddybear is homeless!

A few weeks ago, I saw this poor teddy sitting under a tree, baking in the hot desert sun, all alone. Because I love teddy bears, I felt sorry for him; all fat and fluffy, awaiting who knows what fate. I didn’t feel sorry enough to take him home – thoughts of bugs and worse filled my wildly imaginative brain.  But, that same imaginative brain also weaved three scenarios about why he sat alone which in turn has become three short stories. The first of which I share below.

Lost Teddy

 

He broke your heart and then you broke mine! 

When he gave me to you,  on that sunny February day, you hugged me tight as you told him you loved him, You said I was the best present you’d ever received. You said you’d never part with me. The three of us spent that day and night together, and more days and nights just like them, for a long time.

Me, always perched on your favorite purple chair, the one that’s too fragile for humans sit on. The two of you snuggling on the couch, laughing, watching movies and doing things people in love do. It was a happy time for you, for him and me.

Then one day I wished I could talk. I wish I could have told you the things he said to the someone that was listening on the other end of his phone. I wanted to warn you. Protect your heart from hurting.  I would have told you there was someone else. Your happy days with him would soon be over.

When he told you himself, he said he needed to go. He said he needed a fresh start. He hugged you one last time. He said you’d understand and that someone new would find you. He turned his back and walked away. He broke your heart into a million pieces.

I watched you cry. I was your pillow to sob into when you were sad, and then punch when you were angry. I listened patiently as you screamed hate-filled words about him. The ones that made your face flush with anger. And then to the ones filled with love that stole your breath while you sobbed again. I didn’t mind all those times when the ice cream you said made you feel better melted and dripped on my fuzzy head.

The weeks went on, just you and me, until one day you came home smiling, humming a tune and bustling about tidying up our home. You picked me up by the ear and tossed me on your bed, you didn’t notice your aim was off and I landed on the floor, upside down, my feet in the air. It was ok, I didn’t mind, I was happy to hear you laughing with someone in the other room. I couldn’t wait to meet the new him that gave you back your smile.

But… you never did pick me up off the floor, or place me back on my purple chair, or use me as a pillow to fall asleep upon at night. I never did meet him. You pushed me to a corner of your room. Then into a closet. And now onto the curb.

You told me I needed to go. You needed a fresh start. You hugged me one last time. You said I’d understand. You plopped me on the ground up against a tree. You said someone new would find me. You turned your back and walked away. You broke my heart into a million pieces.

 

When life gives you tiny bread, make tiny sandwiches!

The adage states “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Yesterday, I gave it a new spin.

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Rushing to prepare a quick lunch, between Skype meetings and other need-to-do-now assignments from my home office, I scampered to the kitchen, reached into the fridge for a pack of deli turkey and a jar of mayo – I mean, what’s a sandwich without mayo! Turning to grab the loaf of bread from its usual hangout, it dawned on me… In lieu of a boring loaf of bread wrapped in a plastic bag, I’d chosen cute little baguette slices to devour with a wedge of my beloved brie cheese. No time to go to a store, I had a choice… eat something else, or get (a little) creative. The photo explains which path I took…

Inspired by the bread, I grew more creative, adding a bit of the Brie and a light spread of yummy basil pesto to each tiny sandwich. What began as ingesting a needed sustenance, took on a momentary feeling of posh indulgence, albeit it cost no more than what I was already about to eat; a treat to savor instead of mindless scarfing. In turn, I relaxed, read a magazine and allowed work and obligation stress drift for at least the time it took me to eat.

The moral of the story is not to boast about my creative, culinary skills –  of which I am first to say I am sorely lacking. Rather it’s to remind me and you that almost every situation has two alternatives. A good one and a bad one, depending on how we choose to absorb it.  We can become frustrated, disappointed, stressed over the minor mishaps that invade our everyday life, or we can figure out a way around them and save being disgruntled for the big stuff.

Yes, the reminder to “not sweat the small stuff” is obvious and constantly shared, however, we still forget to apply it to our daily life. So many, too many, of us create internal and external discontent because we can’t get past petty nonsense by either finding an alternative solution and more times than not, the humor of the situation.

For the purpose of example to conclude my post, not being able to afford bread is huge. Not having bread you want is a minor inconvenience. When we acknowledge the difference, life gets a lot more livable.

So next time, life gives you lemons or tiny bread, make something wonderful from it… hmmm, wonder if I have any of those fixin’s left? 🙂

 

The Magic of Disney never ends!

There is nothing I don’t love about all things Disney parks! The music, the food, the rides (the calm ones I go on, the wilder ones my kids go on while I people watch). Most of all, I love the magic, the whimsical feeling that takes over the second I enter the park – truth be known, as I enter the parking lot. That, coupled with spending time with my kids at the parks, in a word is pure, unaltered bliss. A place far from the stress, strain and worrisome reality beyond the gates. A place where we’re together, my favorite time to be.

I think this sign, hung above a tunnel walkway says it all. Walt Disney was brilliant in creating these parks and the legacy that will remain for generations to come.

 

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My photos aren’t the greatest, but I choose to share them, because they’re a reminder of our latest lovely visit.

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Oh Donald, you quack me up.:)

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Two of my boys and I. Two of my favorite people on earth.

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We were fortunate to be there for the second day after the re-opening of Fantasmic. It’s a gorgeous production; alone it’s worth the price of admission.

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My absolute favorite, Beauty and the Beast. I seriously have a mad crush on Beast. 😍

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The park at closing. Another glorious day… even twelve hours wasn’t enough. No visit is ever enough. As we drove away, plans were being made for our next time.

“See ya real soon”!

Parnoid, Perceptive or Prepared?

Warning

In light of the horror that via instant access we’re made aware of constantly, I had a conversation with a friend about how the news stresses me about all that could happen in any given moment. Her response was that for the most part, she doesn’t stress because she believes none of it will ever happen to her!

Honestly, I envy my friends outlook. I wish I was like that. However, I’m not wired that way (having high-level anxiety, controlled panic disorder, and a vivid imagination doesn’t  help). I’m wary of everything going on around me and my kids. Looking back as far as I can remember, I’ve always been like this.  By definition (I checked with Webster), I’m not paranoid. I am perceptive and as much as is humanly possible, I am always prepared and cautious. I tell my kids a dozen times a day to “be careful”.  But, I realize that with being careful, you also need to be smart, which takes us back to being prepared. For example, I can tell my kid to “be careful” crossing the street. Of course, he will be; adding “be smart” to that means, also be prepared for a driver who isn’t being careful. The one who runs the red light or doesn’t see you in the cross work as he’s making a turn.

I could list at least a thousand occasions where I’ve been perceptive of and in turn prepared about things, good and bad, around me, that have gone unnoticed by others with me. I know this for a fact because as the moment passed, I’ve said “did you see that woman driving oddly?”, “Did that see that guy acting sort of suspiciously in the parking lot?” “Did you notice that guy checking you out?”.  Their response, “Nope didn’t notice”.

Which leads me to my point. There are so many people who just are not tuned into the world around them. Though they might be calmer than me, are they actually putting themselves in harm’s way? Perhaps because they think nothing will ever happen to them, avoidable things do happen to them. I, on the other hand, am conscious of the fact,  if it happens to someone, it can indeed happen to me, so perhaps there are things I’ve been spared of. Of course, I know some things are unavoidable. There are victims who no matter how smart, wary or careful they were would still have been victims. Sadly, that’s life, with no guarantees. But, then there are also victims who perhaps could have avoided an incident or at least lessened the devastation of results.

Take for example the following instances.  When you’re driving, there are times when, if you’re paying extra close attention, you’ll see someone behind a wheel who just doesn’t have it together and doing so might prevent you being part of his accident. Those times when remaining at a green light for an extra beat might prevent being broadsided. When waiting an extra second before walking across a street would prevent you from being plowed into. Walking through a parking lot and noticing the suspicious guy might prevent a mugging. Quickly leaving a place because of a customer behaving oddly could save your life. I’ve done all these things; having avoided incidences I always say my guardian angel was working over time. In that, I also refer to the saying “God helps those who help themselves”.

Let me clarify, I don’t roam about in fear locked in a room afraid of my own shadow. I live a happy, productive life pretty much doing all the things I desire to do, without constant worry; without paranoia. I always entrust myself to God’s care and know what will be, will be. However, I do all the things I choose to do while being vigilantly alert.  Granted, sometimes it can be exhausting. It does indeed annoy people – especially my kids who always say “mom do you have to notice EVERYTHING”. In fact, there’ve been times when they know just by my expression I’m noticing something on my radar and they’ll tease “ok, what are we on the look out for now?”

Go ahead and laugh, tease, criticize or encourage me to calm down. Seriously, I’m not planning on changing. I’ll remain perceptive and prepared, heeding my internal warning signs. Actually, I’m not even envying my friends nonchalant take on stuff not happening to her. I’ll stay as I am… wary, street smart, and diligently cautious. It could offer me the opportunity to, save myself or someone else. And then at least no matter what happens  I’ll know I tried.

Plus, I know I’ll never miss a cute guy flirting!

Addictions… habits… we all have them!

Every day we hear, read and witness the horror of detrimental habits – addictions! Those of us with empathy feel compassion for the addicting/habitual souls who are plagued to the point of destruction. We understand how easily any single one of us can fall under the spell of their grip. However, others of us shake our heads, tsk-tsk in disgust and say simplistically “get over it”, “just stop”.. as if it were indeed that simple!

The fact most of us forget is that every living being has habits they are addicted to. Take for example those of us (me) who can’t start the day without a cup of coffee.  Or those of us (not me) who needs a daily run in order to feel their best.  Maybe it’s a TV show we can’t miss or a ritual when not followed messes with our psyche. The possibilities of these habits are countless. Granted most are harmless, perhaps even good for us, but, they are still habits, substances, activities we’re addicted to!

Think of something, anything you do like clock-work every single day.  Now think about NOT doing it! Take it a step further and actually don’t do it! Dig deeper and tell yourself you can never, ever again do that action or ingestion you stopped. How do you feel? Is it easy to “just stop”? Is it simple to “get over it”? How long can you last before you give in to the urge to go back to the whatever it is you quit?

The fact is, it’s not easy at all… sure maybe for an hour, a day, even a month or two you can muster the self-control to avoid your habit…  but long term… forever… that’s going to take a whole lot of will-power, strength< external support and probably two steps forward, one step back!

I’m not insinuating an addiction to or abstaining from coffee, or chocolate or exercise is as difficult as weaning one’s self off drugs, alcohol or other substances as those things have an entirely different, often devastating effect on the mind and body.

The point I’m making is, removing anything from our lives that we’ve become accustomed to; those things or activities that make us feel good, relax us or are simply done by mindless habit, is not easy!  It’s not something most of us humans can snap our fingers and sans struggle go without.  There are many of us who don’t have the support or resources to seek assistance or rely on.

As we meet or hear about addicts, no matter their addiction, or where it’s led them, let’s keep an open mind and empathetic heart. Let’s remember they are not unworthy or horrible people undeserving of our love, care or at least gentle understanding. They are not deserving to be thought less of, scorned or ignored. Let us always remember, before passing judgment, “that there but for the grace of God go I”. No matter how certain we are it won’t happen to us, addictions are insidious and none of us are immune!

We all helped elect President Donald Trump!

Before you shout “THE HELL I HELPED, I DIDN’T VOTE FOR HIM”… hear, or in this case, read me out!

I grew up hearing many adages that while corny then make sense now. “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”, “the devils in the details” and “assuming makes an ass out of you and me”. come to mind. As does the warning my mom shared to keep my humility in check “don’t get cocky!”. So how does any of this relate to the POTUS or why we’re all to blame for his bearing that title?

During the months leading up to the election, those on team HRC were sure she’d win. Heck, what could possibly go wrong? She had the support of women – and like it or not, women usually get their way! She had the support of many who saw their rights being held fast to and fought for by her, and so, her team got “cocky”. Buying pantsuits and posting little arrows stating “I’m with her” on social profiles, her supporters basked in the glory of her win before she won, thus “counting their chickens before they hatched”.

These people neglected to pay attention to the “devil in the details”. They turned a blind eye and chose to stop listening to the others who, also, are citizens with a right to vote! HRC supporters assumed the handful of ignorant, uneducated, hateful fools who supported Trump would eventually see the light or just not vote at all. Even though we chant “vote your conscience”, “do not ignore your right to be heard”, we forgot to tell those people, yeah you have the freedom of choice but choose our way. Again, everyone assumed they would and well there’s no need to rehash where assuming got us!

The people who pompously, self-righteously, sat on their laurels preparing to celebrate Clinton’s win only paid heed to their own voices. Only clustered in their own groups of like minds stating “defriend me if you’re NOT with her because if you’re not with her, you are a hateful, ignorant bigot!” Their loud disdain created silence among the others. Really, who will willingly set themselves up to be beaten down and bullied? Called an ignorant hater? Rather, those who were sick and tired of politics, as usual, saw something different in Trump that supported not hate (in many of their eyes) but life and changes that would help them. And so ignoring the noise, they silently headed to the polls with the agenda that matters to them top of mind.

I’m not a Trump supporter. Nor was I a Clinton supporter. I felt neither were the best choice for the job. However, I know supporters of both. None are ignorant, uneducated or hateful. Some, from both sides, are among my dearest friends and family. I did not defriend or berate anyone for their choices. Instead, because communication is so important to me – trust that I know first hand how destructive the lack of it is – I listened with an open mind and empathetic heart to all opinions. I discussed, listened, debated and formed my own personal conclusion. Perhaps stepping away gave me more insight than those who refused to acknowledge the other sides.

Once after saying we need to listen to and learn about the Trump supporters, I was called an “ignorant b*&ch” by someone who shut down, stating they have “no time to deal with or educate ignorant a-holes” Perhaps why, when the Election Day results were announced I was among the few who were not surprised. In fact, all along, I said: “I’ll wager he will win because HRC supporters stopped listening too soon”. They got “cocky” “counting their chickens”!

Now, thanks to us all look where we are! We face one of the most conflicted, divided, disquieted, scariest times in the recent history of our nation. Still, again, no one is really listening. People are protesting (as they should and have a right to). Angry, fearful people are going at each other privately and publicly like wild dogs fighting over a piece of meat, forgetting one of us falls down, we all fall down. We are all in this together. The people are perpetuating the hate, discourse, and alienation that we’re protesting against.

Like it or not, accept that we all are responsible for this mess and now we are all responsible for cleaning it up. Sure we can go on saying “Not my president”. Guess what folks, the fact is, if you live in the United States, right now President Donald Trump is your, mine and our president. Get out of denial, stop whining and take action, not reaction. We can all sit around wagging a finger shaming those who voted for him. We can sit behind our computers defriending people until the cows come home. We can hit share on every damn new story written, sans fact checking. We can create chaos and panic by comparing Trump to Hitler every freaking chance we get. I do not see the benefit in any of this beyond making our own personal feelings feel better.

We can, however, collectively get out of our own way, and unite in solidarity and figure out what can be done! Perhaps we need a moment of silence, metaphorically and earnestly to come together and choose the biggest battles that must be fought now and those worth fighting in the future. How POTUS wears his hair, the shade of his tan, his wife’s attire, and his ten-year-old child’s behavior are not, and should not be, anywhere on the list of battles. Jokes and memes and comedy shows should not be part of the good fight if we are to be taken seriously by him or anyone else.

I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. Maybe the reason here is actually to teach us a lesson – a severe lesson indeed. Next time let’s be smart enough to not count our chickens too soon. Let’s pay attention to the details and assume nothing. Let’s not be cocky.

Most of all, let’s hope and pray we can get out of this mess unscathed. Let’s prove what America is really made of.

Time to clean the closet!

The over stuffed closet … 

Because I don’t like labels, i don’t consider myself a minimalist because. Instead I prefer just stating the facts… with rare exception I’m not attached to material stuff. What’s the exception you might ask, thinking I have a roomful of some something. Nope! All I hang onto are photos, all of them, as well as an occasional macaroni necklace, ceramic planter and art from my children’s childhood. In addition, I have a crucifix that belonged to my parents (they actually received it as a wedding present) and a small replica of the Pieta in Rome which they acquired at the New York Worlds Fair in 1964. 

 

There’s some stuffed animals that were gifts or were my children’s favorite fuzzy friends. Realistically, all my “treasured keepsakes” fit in one plastic storage bucket.

But then there’s the dreaded closet… what lurks behind the door??? 

 

I don’t believe there are many of us who don’t have items we glance at year after year; never wearing, never tossing. It’s as if magically that thing you’d only wear in desperation to avoid nudity will become an item you love! Maybe it’s lazziness (me),  a lack of finances (also me), or just that thought of someday it will be handy, that keeps someone who’s not attached to stuff, tidyly hanging on to this stuff.  I’m not emotionally attached to most of it (there are three items that remind me of extra special times). The clothes were not expensive (I am a bargain hunter who never pays full price). They are not designer labels or classics that will span decades. 

New year, new me… I know, let’s all stop to do a collective eye roll at the tired cliche. But, seriously that’s kinda sorta what it is. I’ve found it oh so true, the better I feel about how I look the better I feel about life in general and the more I get done and am inspired too do because of it. The other day I was getting ready to attend mass. I pulled out a dress I’d not worn in six years (I know this because I wore on my last day at a job I was laid off from in 2010). Ah-ha says I, this will do nicely. Later at mass, and then a few errands I ran, I felt meh; old, tired, bored. The dress fit well, in spite of being a bit longer than I now wear, and for all intent and purpose it did what it was supposed to do, but I was uncomfortable. 

Arriving home I took a long, hard look in the mirror. The reflection was of a person torn between who I was when I purchased the garment and who I am now. Subtle and trivial yes. Important for my psyche, absolutely. This thing that cost me eleven bucks and had known many wears, was pulling me down, distracting me from putting my best foot forward. Into the laundry and onto donation. This happenstance led me to a decision of sorts. I had neither the time nor inclinatioan to rummage through each article in the closet, making decisions about each piece. I sad I decided to use that one dress moment as a template for keep versus not.
Now, as I get ready, instead of reaching for a tried and true outfit I’m sure of, I grab one of those been there for awhile items. I do some self evaluatiian in the mirror and away from it. I ask myself a few questions: Would I wear this on a date? To a meeting at the office? To dinner with my kids or friends? Would I be happy to run into someone I haven’t seen in awhile? Do I feel good about myself? If most of the answers are no, it goes on to its next purpose with someone who might need or even love it. I’m doing this with shoes and costume jewelry also. Surprisingly it’s already making a difference in the amount of stuff I have!

Trust I am not wealthy; there are no plans to go on a self-indulgent shopping spree… the ten dollar, size eight, deep discounted skinny jeans I scored yesterday at TJ Max is as big a spree ask as there will be for awhile. I don’t need to replace what I’m tossing because the stuff has been idle for too long a time. For me quantity is not important. I’d prefer to have a few outfits I feel good about myself in, instead of a closet full of stuff that on some level, even if not worn, makes me feel prosperous via accumulation. 

It’s said clothes make the man… I believe in this case “man” is a generic term for all humans. If you find yourself in a slump, not feeling up to par for no explicit reason, look in the mirror. Check what you’re wearing. Ask yourself my questions. Maybe all you need to do is swap out your outfit (or a portion of it) for something else you already have. You never know, could be change your clothes, change your life! 

Happy dressing and purging. 🙂