In Too Deep

18 01 2017

These sure are trying times for us Americans.  It seems that not only have we failed to resolve issues that are centuries old, we’ve created a few new doozies that appear to have no antidote.

Living in today’s world feels pretty heavy. It’s probably our fault (spoken in our minds while looking into the mirror and feeling pretty damn incompetent and impotent). We better get down to business and fix all these things pronto. Sure, because no other generation has even thought about them . . .

or we could just get a grip on our self-loathing self-righteous selves.

Years ago, a very wise counselor said to me, “If you believe that you are responsible for all this bad stuff, you sure have a mighty big opinion of your importance, don’t you? After all, if you can create this much chaos, you must think you have the power to fix it and that’s pretty pompous of you.” I was furious and then I was relieved. He was right.

Seriously, guilt needs to give it a rest. 

Certainly, there are grave concerns, macro and micro, and all of us must do our part to make things better for everyone. Even I am not so firmly attached to my rose-colored glasses to deny that it ain’t all fun and games, here; however, we need not, should not, can not live every moment deep in the weeds of some thorny enormous problem that legions of brilliant minds over millennia have failed to solve.

We don’t always have to leap from the high dive.  There is merit in doing a few lazy laps. There is also great benefit in playing in puddles. Enjoying the shallows does not mean you are shallow. It means you are human.

Don’t be afraid or feel ashamed to let your hair down a little bit.  Intellectual pratfalls are funny – admit it and enjoy it – so are silly puns and fart jokes (good ones, anyway).  Life is serious, but living should be fun.  Have some!

Laughter clears the sooty build-up off our souls. We need to stop floundering around in the dark, so let’s all lighten up!

Photo of my dad, Paul Krauss, from 1964, who worked extremely hard to provide for his family, but who also knew the value of silly.

My dad, Paul Krauss, who worked extremely hard to provide for his family, but who also knew the value of silly.





Another Fine Mess

11 01 2017

Well, I’ve done it again. I have ignored my own boundaries and landed myself in the thick of something I promised myself I would stay out of.

After starting the New Year by promising myself I would “just help from the sidelines,” in less than two weeks, I find myself suited-up, helmet on, cleats laced, and adrenaline-pumped – right back in the midst of the game.  

Even after talking to myself (okay, yelling at myself) for months about steering clear of just such a scenario,  I could not say “no.” Why couldn’t I?

What’s in it for me?

I just agreed to do a hard job for no pay not just because I am a damn fine person (I am); there has to be more to it. Exactly what that “more” is matters only to me, but it matters.  It’s that little boost of energy that will keep me moving toward the goal.

When you are asked to do something for someone else that, on its face, looks like all work and no fun, look a little deeper and see if you can’t find some little something to answer What’s in it for me? If the answer to that question is “Nothing but headache/heartache/hardship,” then you really must decline; but if you can identify even a small personal benefit to doing that favor, making that sacrifice, you might find yourself doing more for others AND feeling happier, too.

That’s what I’m counting on, anyway – since I can’t keep from playing, I’m going for the WIN-WIN.





Charitable Ciphering

4 01 2017

Most of us have limited resources.  After the bills are paid, there might not be a lot left to save, much less to share*. That’s okay.  If we find a little to donate, though, who should get it?

I’m not talking about researching the big well-known groups via sites like charitynavigator.org – although, if you’re considering giving money outside your community, you should. I am talking about the hard decision whether to give to the local soup kitchen, animal shelter, arts association, theater group, school marching band . . .

I trust you get my drift.  How, when faced with many worthy groups, do we deploy our largesse (or smallesse, if you’re like me)?

Who gets my twenty-seven cents? Medical Research? The Homeless? The Arts?  I don’t have enough to make a dent in any one thing. Surely, there is not enough to split amongst all the worthy organizations in my neighborhood. 

What to do? What to do? What to do?

JUST GIVE SOMETHING TO SOMEONE!

How hard is that? Whatever charity (assuming it has passed the “we handle money well and do good works” test) gets our donations, it doesn’t just sit on it. The money that is donated to a given charity is spent on many things, including salaries of employees.   Guess what happens to some of that income – it gets donated by folks to other charities. It gets spread around. See how that works? 

It’s simple. Just give something to someone and the rest will take care of itself.

What matters most is not to whom we give; it matters that we give.

 * I have written about sharing before.  I invite you to take a trip down (my) Memory Lane to mid-2011: https://scorchedeyebrowstudio.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/plenty/





DIY for the New Year

28 12 2016

12-28-16

Seriously, let’s stop having New Year’s Resolutions.

What are they, anyway?

Resolutions?

Re-Solutions?

Do the same thing with the same (unhappy) outcome?

Nah!

Instead of resolutions,  I’m going to try some New Year’s Renovations:

I will raise the ceiling on my mood.

I will add more light by opening my heart.

I will replace my frayed thought processes with stronger and more nimble ones.

I will open a few more doors to let in the friendship of others.

What do you think?  Redecorating is always good for cleaning those forgotten corners and for giving a new perspective to familiar spaces.  How about a little internal redecorating to sweep out the mental cobwebs, trash some worn-out burdens, and brighten up that inner space?  It’s a zero-dollar DIY that, I think, will really add to the value of the property. You’ll LOVE what you’ve done to the place!

Happy New Year!  

 





Ho! Ho! Hope!!!

21 12 2016

This is a tough one, kids.  It’s the blog before Christmas and I am completely humbugged-out. 

These last few weeks have been filled with so much vitriol, so much depression, so much spitefulness, so much blaming . . .

So Wrong.

So let’s STOP IT!

I am not asking anyone to slam on their rose-colored denial glasses or to ignore the very real issues that face us; I am just asking us to look harder at all that is STILL GOOD in our lives. I am asking us to leverage that goodness – to grow it within our hearts and our families and our neighborhoods. I am a skeptic, but I absolutely believe in kindness and generosity and I believe there’s plenty to go around. If you feel like you’re running low on hope or joy, please call on one of the wonderful loving people you know and I’m sure they will share with you.  If you can’t reach them, I’m here every Wednesday, feeling the encouragement from you.  I’ll be happy to send some of that back out to you.

Happy Holidays!

Peace on Earth.

And from our three spoiled-rotten guinea pigs:

Merry Pigmas and Hoppy Hanukkah!

newt

Pig Newton

rebel

Rebel

ric-3

Cedric Piggory

  

p.s. The Swear-ity Jar (12/14/16 post) has been working great, btw,  and some charities’ coffers are now a little more jingly. Ho! Ho! Donate!





Cussing for Charity

14 12 2016

Today’s post is inspired by this post from a friend on Facebook, in response to some fresh political horror story:

I am looking forward to the day when I can stop clicking imagea2.

It gave me an idea . . .

Anyone else ever work at a place with a Swear Jar?  You know, the thing you had to drop a quarter into every time you cussed so the office could use it to fund a Friday Pizza Lunch or the like?  It didn’t keep us from cussing, but, at least,  we did get something good from it on pizza day.

I think we should rejigger this concept to make better use of our political outrage. How about, each time we hear or read or see some political thing that makes us bang our heads on our desks, instead of just clicking the angry face emoticon, we drop some change into the Swear-ity Jar?

Just think of the good you’ll do when you release all that negative energy by firmly flinging a wad of money into the jar and then, when it gets full – and some days, this could take mere hours – you donate that cash to one of the causes that you know is going to be screwed – er less well-funded – by our new administration.

Dig deep in your soul  and your pockets.  Do something that will truly make a positive difference. It will make you feel loads better.  I swear it!

12-14-16





Santa Claus – Man or Myth? Legend or LIE????

7 12 2016

I know there are a lot of competing ideas about perennial Mr. December: Santa Claus.

Many folks will go to great lengths,  employing elaborate ruses and staging complicated sleight of hand to maximize their kids’ belief. Others feel that it is never appropriate to “lie to our children” and adamantly refuse to even entertain the idea, banning all mention of this thief-of-future-trust between parent and child.

I cannot tell you what you should do, but I want to share with you the way I grew up with him.

My parents raised me with the Clement Moore version of Santa Claus – a portly fellow in a red suit who made a mad dash around the world, delivering toys to children on Christmas Eve.  When I grew old enough (and had heard enough from more precocious schoolmates) to express grave doubts about the logistics of it all, they told me this:

As long as you believe in him, you will receive presents from Santa. When you stop believing in Santa, then Mommy and Daddy will be the ones to bring you presents on Christmas morning. Christmas will always be Christmas, though.

While it is not scientifically true, it was emotionally true.  It was a tender and very satisfying response to my ten-year-old self and, over fifty years later, I still recall the warmth and comfort in that gentle explanation.

There are many times when we must demand the truth, unvarnished, unembroidered, and whole, but not all the time. We can’t let the frustrations of reality turn us away from the joy of good fiction, storytelling, dreams, and make-believe. We must be able to imagine a better world than presently exists so we can figure out how to get there . . . who knows, perhaps it will be via eight tiny reindeer.

Ho! Ho! Ho!