Monthly Archives: June 2011

Grow Up and Laugh at Yourself

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“You grow up the day you have your first real laugh, at yourself.” Ethel Barrymore

I’m very grown up when it comes to laughing at myself.

Just ask my husband. He often says, “You think you’re funny even when no one else does.”

He’s right. I do.

That was, until the day our son walked into the living room and said, “Wow, that looks like one sick bumblebee.”

He was talking about my still-had-the-tags-on-it top, right out of the bag from shopping that afternoon. I like stripes, and I thought my new top would be a perfect match with black pants. I have to admit, after our son called attention to it, the lime green did resemble a queasy yellow, but I wore it that evening anyway.

However, after that, it hung unworn in my closet for more than a year.

Cleaning out clothes one Saturday, I took my sickly garment off the hanger to put in the give away pile. I figured there was no need to look at it any longer, hoping I’d forget what our son said. I hated the money I wasted and the practical purchase gone bad.

I unexpectedly laughed out loud. I was standing in my closet alone and rehearsing the long ago scene. I felt a bit sorry for myself until, for some reason, I got tickled. I started giggling. I laughed till I cried. I laughed so hard I snorted at least once. I sat on the floor and laughed some more.

I wore the top to dinner that night. And again the next week. Two days later. And the week after that.

It washes very nicely, by the way.

I wore it last week to meet one of my editors at a coffee house. Getting out of my car, I noticed a fellow wearing a striped polo shirt the exact same colors. I came close to asking if we could get a picture together for this post, but thought he may not be as mature as me – he may not see the humor. I got tickled about that too.

No, not tickled pink … tickled green.

Is there something you can laugh about now that didn’t seem funny before?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Instead of being sick and tired, may laughter change anything and everything in life that needs an adjustment.

Getting Shallow: Living Life by Force or by Fun

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“Life’s better when it’s fun. Boy, that’s deep, isn’t it?”
Kevin Costner (Photo from iStock)

After a life of digging deep for answers and trying to figure everything out, I’m learning to lighten up a bit and take more breaks.

I’m picturing myself going with the flow, and floating on top of the water instead of diving in head first (sometimes into an empty pool).

Maybe even turning life over to God and watching what he does, compared to all my forcing solutions.

In fact, I’ve been mostly living this way since January, except that one bout of self-will when I tried to make a job opening as a fitness instructor come available. The place I was hired was hands-down better than the gym I was pushing for.

I have plenty of examples that a closed door isn’t typically a sign to try and break it down or pick the lock, but a sign to look for an open one.

In other words, getting shallow isn’t such a bad plan.

Here’s the main idea, in others’ words.

Figure it out is not a slogan. 

Wear life as a loose garment. 

Do what I’m supposed to and leave the outcome to God. 

When it’s my will, I have to maintain it. When it is God’s will, he maintains it. 

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Scuba diving through life keeps me on the bottom and wondering when I can come up for air. I also worry more about drowning in the depth of it all. It’s fine for an afternoon, but, for me, the best of life is lived floating in shallower waters.

Actions are Mighty Loud (three examples of action, not just talk)

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“Well done is better than well said.” Benjamin Franklin

“From now on, I will …”

“This is the last time I put up with …”

“He/she will never again …”

Fill in the blanks. 

Words speak volumes so I’m not diminishing their power. But actions are the convincing conversation.

Here are three examples.

His words: Well-known financial expert Dave Ramsey encourages a recession-proof lifestyle: set a budget, live debt-free, and have an emergency/expense fund.

His action? Dave personally uses debit cards for purchases, and since that’s the advice he gives America, he only accepts debit cards, not credit, on his nationally-visited website. Here is his statement about the stand he takes against credit cards.

The company’s words: Stihl, a leading manufacturer of outdoor power equipment, encourages customers to shop locally.

Their action? Stihl sponsors a program to encourage customers to do just that. It’s called Independent We Stand. The company also exclusively stocks their merchandise, not in big box chains, but in thousands of independently-owned, authorized Stihl dealers’ stores. Instead of selling online, they give customers the opportunity to reserve items online to be picked up at a local Stihl dealer, so as not to undercut what they say they support.

The company’s words: Blue Cross Blue Shield, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of healthcare benefits, encourages healthy living to stay in shape.

Their action? Blue Cross Blue Shield provides care benefits, as well as preventative coverage, to its members so they can stay healthy. Employees are offered support by way of free access to an on-site fitness center, workout programs, showers and locker rooms; and the company encourages their workers to exercise during paid company breaks.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – May we all live as loudly through our actions.

On the side: A representative from Stihl contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to add a link to their website, and then said she’d like to send my husband and me two free caps for being Stihl supporters. How cool is that? Actions are mighty loud.

QTIP: Quit Taking it Personally

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QTIP: Quit Taking It Personally.

Quit taking it personally.

Even popular blogger Seth Godin says “this is tough advice.”

He follows up with, “Here’s the thing: it’s never personal. It’s never about you.”

His reasoning goes like this: no one really knows us, they only know themselves. Therefore, their reactions are about them.

I’m pretty cool with that information when I’m the one having an allergic reaction to someone. After I glare at him or her for a few days, I typically ease my way back to the source of both the problem and solution, me.

However, when I think someone is reacting to me and they’re backing away, or I’m not included when I think I should be, or I’m confronted with a misunderstanding …

It’s personal and I’m taking it that way.

When that happens, I’m no longer looking inside myself for anything, and I don’t care what Seth says.

About three weeks, though, I got some relief while riding in the car with my husband. He acted shocked listening to me talk about my hurt feelings. It was about a situation he overlooked with friends. A situation that happened two years ago. He said, “I had no idea you felt that way.”

I figured if he sincerely didn’t know what was going on with me after we’ve been married 33 years, and I’ve talked about what happened on and off for more than 100 weeks – why, why, why would someone I met this year, anyone I’ve known for a whole month, someone I see a couple of times weekly for an hour or so … why would they know me?

And if they don’t know me, why would their reactions have anything to do with me? Are you with me?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I’m fairly logical. An equation that reads [them + their reactions = them + their reactions] helps me more easily accept I’m not part of that problem. Thanks to my husband and Seth, maybe I can get a grip on QTIP.

Freedom Rings (thongs and a Memorial Day tribute)

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“Freedom isn’t free.”
Colonel Walter Hitchcock

He walked into the jewelry store and stood in line behind me while I waited at the counter to pick up my repaired rings.

While the clerk figured my bill, the gentleman stood patiently with the help of his cane. He mentioned to the lady working the counter that he was having trouble getting around. I turned to face him while he spoke. I would have never guessed he was in a moment’s pain, not by the gentle expression on his face.

When he finished talking, I noticed he was looking at my feet.

“I saw those thongs everywhere in Japan, just never thought they’d make their way over here. Only thing, the ladies over there wore them with socks jammed in between their toes,” he said.

I knew exactly the look he was talking about. Dad, during his 20 plus years in the Air Force, brought back dolls from overseas, ones dressed in thongs with socks jammed in between their toes.

Dad’s tours of duty were served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. My newfound soldier friend also served in the Korean War, as well as World War II. He looked about the age my dad would be if still alive. Maybe they were together in Korea, I thought.

I headed out, but not before saying, “Thank you for fighting so we don’t have to.”

He started to answer, but choked on his words.

He looked patriotic and proud.

He looked a bit like Dad.

What’s your story of patriotism this Memorial Day? Maybe a parent in the military? Maybe your own military service?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I’ll likely never run into that soldier again, but I hope I never forget all he represents. Men and women who put their comfort and safety aside for our country and our freedom.

On the lighter side: Not only did we Americans skip the socks, we also changed the name to flip flops. Good thing since thongs no longer denote footwear.