What’s Your Goal?

16 08 2017

More than a few times in my life, I have had to find my way back to my path from some pretty deep weeds. The most effective way to do it is to stop and ask myself, “What’s your goal and is what you’re doing moving you closer to it or farther from it?” Sometimes, the answers comes quickly; other times, it takes a bit more effort, but it has always worked when I have answered myself honestly.

“What’s your goal and is what you’re doing moving you closer to it or farther from it?”

This train of thought left the station most recently as a response to the story of the snotty newlyweds who, instead of working to resolve a minor pricing issue with their (otherwise-fine) wedding photographer, elected to “ruin her career.” 

(BTW, here’s how that worked out for them.    http://time.com/4884613/couple-must-pay-wedding-photographer-one-million/)

The horrific events of the last few days have made me want to ask a whole lot of folks,  “What’s your goal?”

I refuse to believe that any sane fellow American’s goal – their true life’s purpose fulfilled goal – would be to hurt other people. 

I know the “answers”  that fit on protest signs or can be shouted while marching in formation would have us fear that; but I believe that (while the actions based on these are more dangerous) these “goals” are no deeper than “I want pizza for dinner.”  These are visceral, shallow reactions to stuff that hasn’t been sufficiently questioned by the very people who would tell you that they have the answers.  We can’t let this be our answer. We must find our way out of the weeds and back to the path of civil society.

What’s your goal?

Peace.

 

 





Grief and Gratitude

9 08 2017

When we lose a loved one, there is an enormous hole left in our hearts – in our lives – that we know will never be repaired.  What we don’t know until it happens in us is that, while the wound  is never healed, it does get filled up with the love and support of our families and friends and even people who were strangers before we were so grievously injured.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the day we lost our dear daughter Jessica.  The pain of that loss will always be with us, but the kindnesses shown to us every day by all of you helps keep it manageable. It keeps the rest of our lives in perspective.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating, especially today:

When we lost Jessie, we lost the person we loved the most in the world, but we did not lose the only person we loved, so we continue on. We celebrate her joyful (too short) life and we celebrate the life that we continue to live with the help, encouragement, and comfort of our friends.

Love one another.

Be kind, always. 

Don’t miss a thing life has to offer you.

Smile from your heart, like my Jessie did.

Peace.

 

With best cousin ever, Katy Little, when they were both little.

 

Happy. Up to no good. Happy.

March to your own drummer – Be your own drummer!

Ready to roll with Grandma – always.

Not spoiled, just loved!





Hey, Superman!

2 08 2017

I recently read a Facebook post by Adam Joseph, ABC6 ActionNews, Philly, https://www.facebook.com/6abcAdamJoseph/ where, in talking about pushing himself too hard in a training run, he said, “This evening was a reminder that I am not Superman, and I’m human . . .” 

It made me think, which we all know creates some issues, but I do it anyway, sometimes. 

The trouble with the Superman moniker is that, to quote famous fencer Inigo Montoya,

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I am here to tell you that you, my masterpieces of humanity friends, ARE Superwoman/Superman/Superperson – it’s all the same wonderfulness to me.  

Here are my Top Ten Qualifications of Superperson

10.       You are aware of the beauty around you every day.

9.         You are brave, especially in defense of your friends and family and those who can’t defend themselves.

8.         You are attentive to your health, mental and physical.

7.         You are smart.

6.         You are kind. 

5.         You are optimistic, finding some goodness in even the toughest of situations.

4.         You are faithful to your core beliefs.

3.         You are relentless in your support of your friends.

2.         You are honest, even when the truth is hard.

1.         You never give up on the people who love you, even when we feel like giving up on ourselves.

Not one of these criteria is dependent on the size of your bank account,  the spotlessness (or not) of your house, how many wrinkles you have, who you married (or divorced), your weight, your Alma Mater, or a whole list of other nonsense metrics that we use to browbeat ourselves with. 

It’s simple. You are Super because you live a happy life and you let that joy spill out into the lives of those who know and love you. Your delight in your world is so big that you can’t help sharing it.

That, my dears, is Super.

SuperPeople Sample:
Niece Elizabeth, Husband Ken, Nephew Jake, the Amazing Mad Mildred Mom, Niece Katy, Brother-in-law Eric, Nephew Ben.

 

 

 





A Month of Thanks – Chapter Four

23 11 2016

You know that it’s never wise to tempt Fate; she always rises to the challenge. A Month of Thanks has surely energized her, but the duel’s not done yet,  so here’s my final thanks of Turkey-month 2016.

This week, I am thankful for:

Loss.

Take THAT, Fate!

Fate gets a big middle-finger salute; the rest of you deserve an explanation.

A little more than six years ago, I lost my daughter. She was murdered by Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  It was the worst thing that ever happened to me, because Jessica was the best thing.  No one could have told me how much she would affect me – that she would make me a lot stronger, a little smarter, and immeasurably kinder than I would have been without her brief and sparking twenty years.

Am I saying I am glad I lost her?  Of course not.

Would I change the course of history to have her back? Absolutely.

But, I can’t.

We all face terrible abuse at the hand of Fate. She is capricious and feels no pity for any of us. She does not care about our broken hearts, so railing against her is just a waste of energy. It’s like yelling at the wind. You’ll grow hoarse, but it will blow until it is ready to quit of its own accord.

When the wind stops, that’s the time to assess the situation. What have we lost?  What has been damaged?  What remains?  What has been uncovered?  Was some wonderful something hidden revealed?  Look.

This week, I am thankful that – not in spite of, but because of loss – I understand more deeply and appreciate more fully the wonder,  joy, and love of family and friends.

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.





Apocalypse No!

19 10 2016

I’ll admit it. This presidential election stuff has put me into quite a funk.  To make things (even) worse, two of the smartest people I know, two of the people I love most on this Earth, are on totally opposite sides in this election. 

AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

How could these two people who mean so much to me be so different?

Well, they aren’t.  I’ve just been focusing on the wrong stuff.

Yes, we are in a crapstorm of a news cycle. Yes, it scares me stupid. Yes, there are enormous divides between folks about issues large and small, real and imagined, existential and inconvenient; but that’s not the whole story. 

Tired of feeling terrified, as the 24-hour news-mongers have so carefully nurtured, I knew I had to do something fast.  What if,  instead of wondering about the difference between these two VIPs in my life, I considered their similarities? Wow, did it make me feel better! 

Here are the Top Ten Happy Similarities between (let’s call them) Sissy and Spousey:

10.  They are kind to animals.

9.   They work hard and pay their fair share of taxes.

8.   They revere and look out for their parents.

7.   They are good neighbors.

6.   They are generous with their time and their money.

5.   They hate to dance.

4.   They are science-believers.

3.   They like David Bowie music.

2.   They are fabulous parents and wonderful spouses.

1.  They love me and they love each other.

In a few weeks, the election will be over and all the animus that the campaigns have created must be neutralized for all our sakes.  There is no denying the differences, but we should not lose grasp on all the things that we share.  We need to stop treating each other like enemy combatants and remember that we are neighbors.  If we were not shouting ugly words at each other before the primaries were concluded, we should be thinking hard about what we’re doing now. 

Life will go on after November 8th. We’ll work and shop and live with the same people we worked and shopped and lived with before.  I am not suggesting that we should not be passionate in our debate and advocacy for our issues; I am saying that, if we burn down the house, it won’t matter if the drapes are blue or red.

I’ll bet you can find ten things in common with someone who’s giving you some election heartburn, too. It will make you feel better. Try.  If you disagree with my position, here are a few things I offer for your consideration: 

chocolate chip cookies

the Beatles

rescued guinea pigs

baseball

the color turquoise

butterflies

over-tipping

Harry Potter

home 

peace.

 

 





Behind the Profile Photo

28 09 2016

Nobody needs reminded that we are in turbulent and, too often, nasty times in America.  The news is filled with disasters, disease, and death, not to mention the poison spewing from every quarter regarding the November elections.  The sheer volume of negative information is enough to buckle the knees of even the most optimistic among us.

So, let’s stop it.

A few days ago, I ran into an old high school friend at the grocery store.  We know, from seeing each other’s social media posts, that we come from very different ideological perspectives, and yet  we had a perfectly lovely discussion, including – gasp – some politics. I was struck (and I’ll bet so was he) by how the heated persona I often see on Facebook was not at all whom I’d seen, face to face. 

It is hard not to react strongly to a lot of what we see in print on our screens, but I have promised myself to remember that what gets typed into a box on social media rarely represents the whole of a person’s thought process, much less the whole of the person.  While there are some things that are, in my book, sufficiently awful that I am unable to even look for anything positive (bigotry, personal attacks on family or friends, not liking Harry Potter); for the most part, people are not as black and white as text and screen would have us believe.

We owe it to ourselves and to each other to stop reacting to everything we see and read and hear as if we were guests on The Jerry Springer Show. Stop and think. What do you know about the person who’s said the thing that has lit your fuse? What I know about my friend, for example, is that he is a kind-hearted man who is a good father and loyal husband. He does an honest day’s work and he cares about his friends. (He is also a Republican, but nobody’s perfect.)

Yes, we should be careful with words because we can be hurtful, destructive, or just sound stupid; but we should remember that everyone has said something that “came out wrong” or that they later regretted. Let’s be a little more forgiving of each other’s social media prose. The things we say are important, but what we do is what counts the most.

Getting along with those closest to us is the first step to getting along in the world.

Note to Self:  Just be nice.  It’s not always easy, but it’s always right.

 





Getting Over Myself

7 09 2016

We all experience it – that little evil thrill of joy at the misfortune of others.  There are television shows dedicated to it.  Sporting events are thinly veiled plots to create it.  We can’t get enough of witnessing the failures of others. 

I, of the maiden name Krauss, suppose I should feel some ethnic pride in the fact that the word for this ugly bit of human nature is German:

Schadenfreude.

The trouble with schadenfreude is its limited effectiveness as a mood elevator.  It only lasts a moment and  – pfffft – we’re back to our old level of “oh, well.”

Closely related to schadenfreude in its universality and unpleasantness is Envy.  Envy comes from the same small black place in our hearts, but it is a long-acting pain-inflictor.  If you’re wondering how my brain came to consider these things together, I’ll tell you.

Just a few days ago,  we got news that the company for which my sister-in-law works (ahem, she’s the CFO and EVP) received a ratings increase by A.M. Best – a Very Big Deal in the industry.  This would be the same sister-in-law who treated us to Avenue Q, featuring the song Schadenfreude, on Broadway a few years ago.

9-7-16

Exhibit (A.M.Best) A: my husband’s sister Karen. Photo courtesy of Andy Schmitt.

My first reaction to the news was to belittle myself for not having been as smart or worked as hard as dear Sister-in-law.  My second reaction was to imagine how she must look at me, someone who has chosen to retire instead of fighting to climb a few rungs higher on the corporate ladder, with disdain –  and a little glee. 

Envy and Schadenfreude in the same neural electrical storm!

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!!!

Here’s what’s wrong with all of this – starting with imagining my perceived “less-ness” as cause for my sister-in-law to experience schadenfreude at the mere thought of me:

When I’m envious or feel diminished because of someone else’s accomplishment or good fortune, it’s because I am making it all about me, when it should absolutely be about them! 

Try as I might, I could not find accurate antonyms for schadenfreude or envy.  I have, however, found an antidote for the one that causes self-inflicted pain: Don’t spend so much time in the dark parts of yourself that you can’t truly enjoy the light shining from others.

I am beyond fortunate to be surrounded by brilliant and generous and kind and funny friends and family.  How foolish of me to envy them; they should envy me. Look who I get to hang out with!