Thursday, April 17, 2014

A-Z Challenge O is for Opinion Poll

It’s time to participate in the April A-Z Blog Challenge.  I will be blogging every day in April, with Sunday’s off. 
The topic for each day will begin with the designated letter of the alphabet.
This Thursday’s letter is O.

Once upon a time,  I was adamantly certain of how things were, how they should be.   I was strict and rigid.  I knew all there was to know.  It was either black or it was white.  It was either right or it was wrong.  By rote I spouted what I heard and what I was told.  I accepted it as the truth.


For instance I recall those Public Service Announcements which ran on TV in
the ’80’s during the “War on Drugs” campaign.   “This is your brain…This is your brain on drugs.”  That ad influenced me and I became staunchly anti-drug, particularly pot.
In this time, two states have legalized recreational marijuana.  For various reasons, too numerous to list here, I have become more liberal minded regarding the use of marijuana.

As the boundaries of my world expanded so did my level of tolerance.
Recently, ABC News reported, “Mozilla co-founder CEO Brendan Eich, who came under fire this week for donating to a campaign to ban gay marriage in California, has resigned.  Eich, who became the CEO of the nonprofit company behind Mozilla Firefox on March 24, had donated $1,000 for the successful Proposition 8 ballot measure that passed in the November 2008 state election.
In a personal blog Mr. Eich made a statement saying: "I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion.

Should Eich be held accountable and lose his job for a choice he made six years ago to support a cause in which he believed in at the time?

I have always believed that people should be allowed to love anyone they choose.   Many others, including highly visible public figures, have just recently had a change of heart regarding same sex marriage.

I have faith that people, through personal growth, can develop an empathy for their fellow human beings.  It may just take a little time and effort, that’s all.

Everyone has an opinion about everything.   I would say trust your instincts and have faith in our common humanity.  If those are your convictions,  your opinions will stretch and expand but will not stagnate.

I now know that I know nothing.  There is no certainty about anything.  I have learned that there are far more than fifty shades of gray.  Mostly, I have figured out that I can form my own opinions.

So what do you think?

Why not check out some of the other 2033 participants in the April 2014 A-Z Blog Challenge.





Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A-Z Challenge N is for Maybe Another Time

It’s time to participate in the April A-Z Blog Challenge.  I will be blogging every day in April, with Sunday’s off. 
The topic for each day will begin with the designated letter of the alphabet.
This Wednesday’s letter is N.

You’ve been in this situation, I know you have.  

I recently joined a group of knitters who meet once a week on Wednesday afternoons at the club house in my community. 
The Yarn Wenches have been getting together for the last 10 years.   I had been thinking about joining this group but, I hesitated for a couple reasons.  First,  I am normally not a joiner.   Second, I wasn’t sure that it would be easy for a newbie to fit into an established circle of friends.  I hoped that having a love of knitting as a common interest would make my endeavor to join a good choice.
I went to my first meeting a couple of weeks ago.   I was warmly welcomed by everyone.  
One woman in particular decided to take me under her wing.   She actually greeted me with a hug.  
Until I get to know someone and build a trust with that person, I am protective of my personal space.   
That’s why I was little put off by the hug.  But I enjoyed the time I spent with the ladies and by the end of our session, I was already looking forward to the next meeting. 
As we were gathering our projects together and packing up, the hugger grabbed my arm and asked me if would like to stop by her house for a cup of tea. 
I had no plans for the rest of the afternoon, but I was a little leery of beginning a relationship with this woman. 
She caught me off guard.  I didn’t  think quickly enough to come up with an excuse.  Besides, I am too honest and would not be comfortable fibbing. 
We had a nice visit.  She suggested that we exchange phone numbers.  She walked me to my car and wanted to know if I would like to go to the mall with her on Friday. 
This time I was ready with an “Let me get back to you.”
About 20 years ago I attended an “Assertiveness Training” course.   One of the things I learned in the class was that it is okay to say things like “Let me think about it,”  or “I’m not sure right now.”
Those phrases are really a way to say No without having to say No. 

How do you say No?

Why not check out some of the other 2033 participants in the April 2014 A-Z Blog Challenge.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A-Z Challenge M is for Take Photos and Write Journals

It’s time to participate in the April A-Z Blog Challenge.  I will be blogging every day in April, with Sunday’s off. 
The topic for each day will begin with the designated letter of the alphabet.
This Tuesday’s letter is M.

I have been close to many whose memory doesn’t work the same way it used to.   I can see the array of emotions reflected in their eyes.   
I wonder what it would feel like if I could no longer remember. 

Will I feel embarrassed each time I ask you once and then again,
“What is your name?”

Will I feel angry each time I ask you once and then again,
“When can I go home?”

Will I feel sad each time I ask you once and then again,
“Where is Joey?”

Will I feel frustrated each time I ask you once and then again,
“Why can’t you stay longer?”

Will I feel confused each time I ask you once and then again,
“Why do you call me Mom?”

Will I feel worried each time I ask you once and then again,
“Am I going to be okay?”

Will I feel lonely each time I ask you once and then again,
“Are they coming today?”



Monday, April 14, 2014

A-Z Challenge L is For I’m Listening, Are You?

It’s time to participate in the April A-Z Blog Challenge.  I will be blogging every day in April, with Sunday’s off. 
The topic for each day will begin with the designated letter of the alphabet.
This Monday’s letter is L.

Disclaimer:  This post is not about anyone in particular.  I wrote this as an experienced good listener who has had my share of one sided conversations.  

So, listen.  Do you?  Listen, I mean.  
I am a good listener.  Although it is sometimes frustrating, especially for my husband, and at times it may seem selective, but I also have a good memory.   Sure, I may remember an intonation differently, but the gist of the conversation is certainly accurate in my mind. 
Ross says I think I can read his mind.  Well, he’s not 100% right about that, because I know I can read his mind.   It is a skill that good listeners just naturally develop.
Clearly, or at least it has been my experience, that when two people are engaged in a conversation only one person can speak at a time.  It may not occur to the person who is supposed to be listening,  that having a conversation with yourself while the other person is taking is not being a good listener.   It’s a fact that many people engage in what  I call   “thought jumping”.  
It may go something like this:
First Talker:  “I was on a trip recently.  We went to a small town in upstate New York.”
The not so accomplished listener immediately begins to “ thought jump”:  “Hmm, I once went to a small town in upstate New York.  It was by a lake. We went to a quaint little restaurant. What was the name of it?  Oh, what was it?   I can’t wait until it’s my turn to talk so that I can relate my experiences”.
So while First Talker continues on with his or her story,  all that Non Listener is hearing are muffled sounds like the adult characters in the Charlie Brown comic strip make. 
Sometimes the Non Listener cannot contain him or herself and interrupts First Talker. 
Interrupting is the best example of not being a good listener. 
Okay I admit it.  I am not a perfect listener.   For instance, if a droner has gotten a hold of my ear, I try my best, I really do, but I find that I inadvertently start to “mind drift.”  “Mind drifting” can be a more serious infraction of the “Good Listener” rules than “thought jumping.”  There is no recovery from mind drifting.  You can never catch up, once you start to “mind drift”.
Also, if I am intently concentrating on something, I am the worst listener.  
Another “Good Listener” rule to follow is to ask the talker questions, especially questions about him or her.  This usually makes the talker comfortable enough to want to continue to share.  
Of course there are question boundaries which cannot be crossed until you, as a good listener, have gained the trust of your conversation companion. 
I have a quiet soft voice.  I speak in a low volume, in an even tempo and without much inflection.    If you really want to “hear” what I have to say you must lean in closely and just listen.

Why not check out some of the other 2033 participants in the April 2014 A-Z Blog Challenge.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A-Z Challenge K is for The Creative Side of My Zen

It’s time to participate in the April A-Z Blog Challenge.  I will be blogging every day in April, with Sunday’s off. 
The topic for each day will begin with the designated letter of the alphabet.
This Saturday’s letter is K. 

 I knew I would be writing about this topic today.
After I told Ross what the letter of the day was, he started throwing out suggestions.  Or maybe his statement was actually a literal suggestion when he said, “Go Fly a Kite.”
Could it be that he is feeling neglected because of my preoccupation and dedication to A-Z?
No, I’m sure he was just trying to be helpful.  hmmm.
Anyway, so I said to him,  “This is the easiest letter for me.  Of course, I wouldn’t be writing about anything but that.”
For the last three years it has been one of my “number one" obsessions.  Yes, I do believe you can have more than one “number one” obsessions.  For instance, during the A-Z challenge both of my obsessions share the number one spot.
I have been through a hard time lately which has caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety.  I’ve tried Yoga, exercise and guided mediation.  None of those things worked for me.
Today, I am writing about something which has provided me and continues to provide me with the utmost comfort.  It is my Zen.
I envy those who are naturally creative.
 I wish I could draw or paint.  I’ve tried, but what my “artistic” eye sees doesn’t quite translate the same way onto a sketch pad or canvas.
I fancy myself spotlighted on a stage in front of a large crowd, tossing my hair and gyrating to the beat, (no tweaking, though).  My imaginary grand production is explosive with backup singers, dancers and all.  But alas,  I can’t carry a tune and anyway my body just doesn’t move that way.  I’m more of the wedding Tarantella group dancer.
What I am writing about today satisfies my creative needs.
I am attracted by bright colors and sparkly things.  But, because of my shyness or fear of being the center of any attention, my wardrobe consists of nondescript shades of blacks and grays.
An additional reward that I get from my topic for today is that I can touch and squish neon pinks and bright greens.  I can pet soft lavenders and stroke berry reds.  If I want to, I can even choose silver or gold.
The best thing about my subject is that after I have picked out the perfect color, quietly and peacefully enjoyed hours of uninterrupted Zen, proudly marveled at my progress and then throughly enjoyed its final beauty, I have the ultimate pleasure of tying it all together,  placing a big fancy bow on it and giving this gift to someone else to treasure.








Why not check out some of the other 2033 participants in the April 2014 A-Z Blog Challenge.





Friday, April 11, 2014

A-Z Challenge J is for Born on the First of July Jitters

It’s time to participate in the April A-Z Blog Challenge.  I will be blogging every day in April, with Sunday’s off. 
The topic for each day will begin with the designated letter of the alphabet.
Friday’s letter is J for Jitters.

Today we are going on a road trip.  We will be heading north/west.
Our destination is a 7 hour drive from our house.  We will be away from home for five days.

I was born in the month of July.  July 1, to be exact.  Although I’m not a believer in Astrology there are certain traits that are attributed to Cancers that do fit my personality.

According to Astrology.com :   Cancer, the fourth sign of the zodiac, is all about home. Those born under this sign are 'roots' kinds of people, and take great pleasure in the comforts of home and family.

I am most certainly a homebody and have difficulty traveling.  I get jittery days before a trip.   This time was no exception.  The jitters almost got the best of me.  I thought for sure that I wouldn’t be able to make the junket.
As is typical for me, even mundane trip preparation became an overwhelming task.  Figuring out what clothes to bring, particularly at this time of the year was especially difficult.
I was going to pack my all purpose black slacks, but I couldn’t find them.  How could I go on this trip without my all purpose black slacks?  I frantically searched my closet and the spare closet.  I asked Ross to look through his closet.  But no luck. At this point I found myself actually wringing my hands.  I stopped short of saying “woe is me!”  I still had so much to do and then I had to go out and buy a new pair of all purpose black slacks.
Luckily, I quickly found what I was looking for.  I was in and out of the store in record time.  But the pants were too long.  So I had to shorten them.  Another thing that I had not planned on.  By this time, it was late, I was tired, so I fiddle dee dee’d it and went to sleep.
I was up early, re-packed and re-packed again.  Despite the jitters, the anxiety and the worries, we managed to get on the road by 9:00 a.m.
Irrationally, when I am away from home,  I worry that something is going to happen to anyone who isn’t with me.  I’m sure it stems from some deep rooted, hidden, child hood trauma.  Or it could just be because,
"Cancers are ruled by the Moon -- the Great Mother of the heavens in ancient times. Here on Earth, this is manifested in the Crab's maternal instincts and desire to protect home and hearth. This may appear smothering at times, but that's the Crab for you.
 Actually the trip went smoothly.  That’s not to say that I was cool, calm and collected the whole way, but eventually the jitters did not bug me as much.
Oh, yeah, there was one little glitch.  Even though Ross explained to the officer that he was keeping up with the traffic, he still got a speeding ticket.
                                                                   
Waiting for the officer to finish writing the ticket.
Why not check out some of the other 2033 participants in the April 2014 A-Z Blog Challenge.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A-Z Challenge I Is For My Inside Voice

It’s time to participate in the April A-Z Blog Challenge.  I will be blogging every day in April, with Sunday’s off. 
The topic for each day will begin with the designated letter of the alphabet.
Today’s letter is I for my Inside Voice.

My Inside Voice

Dan Harris has been making the rounds of the talk show circuit promoting his book, “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually WorksA True Story”.
 I saw him on the Katie Curic show and I related to his story.  I imagine that most human beings can.   Our minds are never quiet, not even when we sleep.
Mr. Harris, who is an anchor for the ABC news show Nightline, tells of having a nationally televised panic attack while he was in the middle of reading the news on Good Morning America.
What I like about his story is that he is not promising total peace or extreme euphoria.
He does recommend meditation.  His approach is rational and realistic.

I would like to quiet my inside voice, especially at 1:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m. and 5:a.m.
Those are the times, when it is dark and quiet, that my constant companion has the podium all to herself.
She is definitely hyper active.  She jumps from topic to topic. She frantically meanders down one path and then suddenly makes a hairpin turn without warning.
She repeatedly asks the question “Why?”  She agonizes over “What if?”   She is a worrier that one.
She thinks she should, knows she can’t, and doesn’t really want to.  She is quite negative, that she is.

She is a whisperer during the daylight hours, filling my head with dreams of “if only’s”.
She speaks of sticking to a diet, exercising every single day and drinking plenty of water.  She warns me to stay away from sugar and reminds me to eat my vegetables.

Guilt is her most viscous weapon.

Just once, though, I wish she would give me a pat on the back and tell me how I am a pretty great person.  I wouldn’t mind a warm hug and a “it’s going to be okay” every once in a while also.

I wonder what would happen if the thoughts that are continuously circulating around in our minds were  spoken out loud.  Wouldn’t you like to do that sometimes?   For instance, instead of smiling and saying “sure no problem” when asked to do something that you would just rather not do, wouldn’t you like to be able to say “no.”  With no explanation.  Just plain No.
Our interpersonal relationships would certainly be affected.

I ordered Mr. Harris’ book from Amazon and just received it.  I have only read the flap on the book jacket and am already 1% hopeful of being 10% happier.

What is your inside voice telling you?

Why not check out some of the other 2033 participants in the April 2014 A-Z Blog Challenge.