Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Whatever it Takes

It's here -- the holiday that, it could be argued, is the most-commonly dreaded holiday of the year. 

A source of juvenile humor  (remember the junior high greetings of "Happy VD Day!"), stress over whether or not to buy someone a gift, even more stress in determining what gift to buy, and the angst of those who are without a special someone to buy something for, Valentine's Day is chock full of anxiety.

Of course, greeting-card makers and retailers, candy companies, and florists are ecstatic as February approaches. The average person spent over $140 on Valentine's gifts in 2015 with over $19.7 billion spent by Americans alone; $4.5 billion is spent on jewelry, over 110 million roses are purchased (primarily by men), and 145 million greeting cards are purchased. 

Yes, Valentine's Day is a day of romance & love and all they both entail. Well, for most people. If you've read my post from this time last year, you know that some folks need a little nudge, or more, in the romance department, but even those individuals usually come through every year on February 14. 

But what about those of us who don't have a special someone with whom to spend this holiday? What do we do? I can't speak for anyone else, but after I get home this afternoon, I'm going to pop a big bowl of popcorn and drizzle on some melted butter, pop "Lonesome Dove" in the DVD player, and spend the evening with Gus, Woodrow, and the rest of the crew. 

Probably not the most romantic movie in the world, but as John Lennon wrote, "Whatever gets you through the night." 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Day Brighteners (List 7 of 52)

From the time I was able to put pencil to paper, I've been a list-maker; in fact, I've been known to make lists of lists I need to create! As a result, I'm excited to participate this year in Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project; look for my list every Monday.

Week 7: List all the people who brighten your day

  1. my son
  2. my daughter
  3. my coworker Kelly
  4. the ladies with whom I'm in book group (Cathy, Leigh Ann, Shelly)
  5. special friends on Facebook -- I can't possibly name them all
  6. Steve O., my friend across the pond
  7. my coworker Katy
  8. my father-in-law 
  9. my pen pal Phillips
I'm sure I've forgotten someone or more than one someone; I've been struggling since yesterday with a migraine and am not thinking as clearly as I'd like. :( 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Safe (Five Minute Friday)

I'm very excited to again this week join a talented group of women who, week after week, join in an online, unedited flash mob free write based on a word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung. My timer is set for 5 minutes; let's see where the word "safe" takes me.

A few weeks ago, I drove home during a freak ice storm that blew in and, within minutes (literally), had interstate traffic at a standstill and me taking curvy, hilly backroads to get home. I had no idea where I was most of the time -- I just did what my iPhone gps told me to do. 

Normally, the same trip takes 2 1/2 hours; that day (and night) it took 10. 

Most of the drive, I was puttering along at speeds of 10-15 mph; along the way, I saw vehicles in ditches and ravines, multi-car accidents, and vehicles parked along the side of the road. 

As dusk approached, visibility worsened. I considered pulling onto a side road or driveway but I was afraid to pull into someone's driveway, I worried that they would come home only to find their driveway blocked. The side roads were narrower than the one I was on, so I rejected that option. 

I drove on and on and on. 

And I prayed. Mostly aloud. 

Some desperate pleas, but mostly simple "just get me up this hill or through this curvy spot, Lord" and "thank You for getting me through that one" prayers. 

I didn't feel safe. Not a bit. 

But I just kept chugging along. 8 or 9 or 10 miles an hour. Until I came upon a multi-car accident at the intersection at which I need to take an on-ramp to a 2-lane-each-way divided state highway. Unfortunately, my exit was on the other side of the accident; fortunately, the road I was on for the first time level and had a shoulder, and I was able to pull completely off the road and stop for the first time in over 6 hours. 

After being immobile almost an hour, the accident was cleared, the ambulances and tow trucks gone, leaving only 2 cars so deep in ravines they couldn't be retrieved in those conditions and the sheriffs deputies and highway patrolmen, who come over to my car, wished me safe travel, and told me I could proceed.

I got home. Finally.

I didn't feel safe the entire drive. Not until I was 10 miles from my house and there was no ice covering my road did I think the worst was behind me.

I've thought of that drive more than a few times in the weeks since, and at first I questioned why I kept going, even when the risk was so high.

I thought back over my life, and I saw a pattern. In difficult times, and in the times I've been placed in unsafe conditions, I've always done the same things.

I've prayed, I've hunkered down, and I've kept going. 

So far, that strategy has served me well. 

I hope I won't have to resort to that 3-pronged strategy again, but I'm sure I will. Life is full of danger -- physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual. 

But I'm never alone. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The "Friend" Dilemma

Until two weeks ago, I had never unfriended anyone on Facebook. Then, with three clicks on the keyboard, I was no longer "friends" with three people.

It wasn't a hasty decision. At first, over a year ago I unfollowed them because of their blatantly-rude behavior. Even so, their posts would occasionally appear on my wall. Over the past six months or so, their posts changed. Their tone became more strident, more condescending to those who disagreed with them. They began picking fights, raising controversial off-topic points in response to other people's posts. I became increasingly uncomfortable but did nothing. 

Nor was it, in the case of one of the individuals, an easy one. Even though I'd known all three since junior high, we had only been acquaintances at best. But I'd become friends with one of them over the past 18 months, and in some ways I hated to  sever our Facebook connection.

And it definitely wasn't because we disagreed on fundamental and, to me, very important issues. I have more than a few friends with whom I am diametrically opposed on almost every issue. They are not only Facebook friends, but I also "follow" them and look forward to reading their posts whether or not I agree with what they have to say.

So why did I unfriend them? 

This past fall, the three individuals began treating those who disagreed with them on political and social justice issues with a level of disrespect that was appalling. For example, in response to a former classmate who posted on his own wall his view on a particular issue, one of the individuals made a very personal attack, viciously referencing the former classmate's academic difficulties 40+ years ago. 

They also began belittling and mocking other posters' spiritual beliefs. Snide comments, outright ridicule, and crude statements were quite common. 

One night it occurred to me that I would never dream of being friends with these individuals in "real life". Their hypocrisy (demanding tolerance and understanding of their beliefs while not extending it to others who believed differently than them), as well as how they treated anyone whose beliefs differed from their own would cause me to avoid them at all cost. 

Why then, I asked myself, was I continuing to be "friends" on social media? 

I logged on to Facebook and unfriended all three.

Social media friendships can be a thorny issue, and everyone has to make their own decision as to how to deal with "friends" who consistently don't act like friends. 

I've decided, though, that I will no longer hesitate to unfriend an individual who bullies other people, who disparages another individual's beliefs, who makes personal, vicious attacks.

Was my decision to unfriend those three people the right one? 

It was, for me. 

What do you think? Do you remain social media friends with individuals with whom you would not be friends in real life? If not, what does it take for you to sever a virtual friendship? 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Think Happy (a book review)

Being familiar with and a fan of Karen Salmansohn's work, I thought I knew what I would be getting when I requested a copy of her book Think Happy.

The book arrived, however, and it was not what I expected. It was even better!

In Think Happy, Salmansohn provides, as the subtitle promises, pep talks for individuals facing 10 common stressful situations. In turn, each of the 10 chapters offers and then discusses 5 things individuals can say to themselves so they can handle that situation in a positive, healthy way.

Salmansohn offers more than the oft-heard phrases offered in conversation and seen ad nauseum in Facebook memes. In her discussion of what people should say to themselves when dealing with toxic people, for example, she advises they say, "You are a fine piece of china. Don't let anyone treat you like a paper plate."

She also goes on to expound on each of the 5 pep talks one in her trademark warm and engaging style. This book is filled with countless helpful nuggets the reader can put into practice right away.

Of course, Salmansohn's artwork is always beautiful, and the illustrations that permeate this book are no exception.

In short, this is a wonderful book for personal use and would make a fantastic gift!

I was provided a free copy of this book to provide a fair and honest review, which I have shared above. 

Fun Times! (52 Lists Project)

From the time I was able to put pencil to paper, I've been a list-maker; in fact, I've been known to make lists of lists I need to create! As a result, I'm excited to participate this year in Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project; look for my list every Monday.

Week 6: List the ways you love to have fun.

  1. Spending time with my son and/or daughter -- it doesn't matter what we're doing
  2. Spending time with friends -- lunch, book club; again, it really doesn't matter what we're doing
  3. Watching a SEMO Redhawks baseball game
  4. Playing cards or games
  5. Traveling
  6. Attending outdoor events -- a whitewater canoe competition, high school football games, etc
What about you? I hope you'll share via a comment.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Breathe Deeply (5 Minute Friday)

I'm very excited to again this week join a talented group of women who, week after week, join in an online, unedited flash mob free write based on a word-prompt given to us by our fearless leader Kate Motaung. My timer is set for 5 minutes; let's see where the word "breathe" takes me.
I read somewhere that the average person takes over 23,000 breaths a day. I don't know why I can remember a random fact like that when on a daily basis I can't find my reading glasses, but there it is. By the way, if you ever need a partner for Trivial Pursuit, I'm your woman. Well, except for the "science and nature questions."
It's amazing to me not only that I take 23,000 breaths a day as part of the breathing process, but that I don't think about a single one. My body just breathes automatically, and what a wondrous thing that is!
Thinking of that brings to mind all the other things I do automatically, without any thought at all.
For example, I can't count the number of times I I've gone through my morning routine -- brush teeth, clean face and apply lotion, make the bed, and take my vitamin and thyroid medicine -- and then sat down to do my morning devotion only to suddenly ask myself, "Did I take my vitamin and medicine?"
I've even driven to work, only to realize after I arrived that I couldn't even remember the trip!
A doctor once told me that most people only breathe deeply when he has his startlingly-cold stethoscope on their back or chest. According to him, that's a bad thing. Deep breaths, he explained, are what makes the lungs expel harmful carbon dioxide from our bodies, and they are also helpful in all sorts of ways I can't remember now.
When I breathe deeply, when I actually think about the process and pay attention to what I'm doing, my whole being -- body, mind, and spirit -- benefits.
Of course, the same is true about living.
When I actually think about what I'm doing -- instead of replaying a past event or daydreaming, or plotting and planning for tomorrow -- I live more deeply.
My whole being -- body, mind, and spirit -- benefits.
And so, I'm going to focus on breathing more deeply.
And living more deeply.
I hope you'll join me.