Friday’s Focus—A Mad Lib™ Moment

I always loved doing Mad Libs™ as a kid and was thus inspired for today’s Focus to get some creativity rolling for this Friday!

Have fun with the fortune’s below and if inspired, reply to this post with what the Fortunes of your Creativity had to say! I’d love to see them!

The Fortune Cookie

The [noun] of [adjective] [noun] will [verb] in [place] of [pronoun] [adjective]!

The Fortune Cookie

[Verb] the [noun] of [adjective] [noun].

The Fortune Cookie

[Noun] is not a [noun] to be [verb] but a [noun] to be [verb].

 

Have a great weekend!

Keeping it light and singing LiLoLa [Live, Love, Laugh] all the way….

Ghosts of Red Rover

My husband’s oncologist’s office is next to an elementary school and by the time we arrived this morning for his appointment, the kids were already out on the playground for their morning recess. I gathered our bags and coffee cups from the car and I smiled to myself at hearing the raucous screams and laughter of the kids. As we walked toward the door, I stopped and placed my hand on my husband’s arm and asked him, “Wow, do you smell that?”

The moisture in the air from the coming rain warmed by the sun’s rays layered with the children’s voices wove together to become a tactile explosion of memory fueled even further by the shower of dropping leaves around us. All of a sudden I was back to being seven years old again, running around playing tag and Red Rover in the playground of my grammar school.

It seemed as though a thousand memories and feelings flashed in my mind in one second and it felt so good to feel that carefree again, where my biggest worry was trying to stay ahead of Colleen while I dodged Laura and Pat on the schoolyard in the race to avoid being tagged “it”.

Maybe it’s that my birthday is coming up or the fact that I’ve always loved this time of the year but my mood was melancholy to begin with and it didn’t need much more of a nudge to wax poetic. The very adult me who was accompanying my husband to the oncologist office, smiled at the memory of the (much) younger, innocent, me and mentally told her that everything will be okay and that things will work out. Then I took my husband’s hand, and walked inside.

Morning Stars and a Blessing in a Message

Looking through the window this morning with sleep in my eyes and dreams in my head, I watched, mesmerized how the screen pixelated my view of the sunlight blinking through the waving branches and leaves.

Each new breeze created a sort of 1 second stop-action of a twinkling morning. I blinked again, unsure if I was dreaming or awake. I let my soft vision take in the glittering pixels and it was no longer morning, but evening, and in the soft vision of the moving images before me, each sunlit square in the screen blinking at its own speed, became a twinkling star.

The sunlight, which just a moment ago was playing hide and seek with the flipping of leaves and swaying of branches, transformed into the flickering lights of stars up in the sky, twinkling in their nightly dance and I swear I heard someone whisper, “Listen to your heart to tell you where to go, not the world. The world wants you for its own agenda. The world’s voice is not yours. Stand tall, stand strong, and shine and twinkle and do your own dance every night and every day, like the star that fell from heaven that you are.”

Friday’s Focus–Clouds

When was the last time you looked at the sky other than to see what harbinger of weather it may bring?

Take some time today to look up at the sky and notice its color and shapes of the clouds.

How blue is the sky?
If you had to name that shade of gray, what would it be?
What shape is that cloud?
Ask the Universe a question and see if any cloud shapes change to a shape that can be an answer.

Look up and let your mind go……

 

Keeping it light and singing LiLoLa [Live, Love, Laugh] all the way….

Doctor Doctor, Give Me the News–I Have a Bad Attitude

I have to say that though I understand, I don’t like the way some people wear their illnesses like a badge of honor. Having been diagnosed with an illness does not give someone carte blanche to be rude, brash, nor arrogant. Some people give off a sense of entitlement that somehow came along with their doctor’s prescription for treatment. A perfect example of this is a woman I met yesterday.

She was having her eighth and final chemotherapy treatment before going into surgery next month. From the moment she sat down in the waiting room and well into her treatment she did not stop talking about her illness, how she was going to cut people from her life because since being diagnosed they didn’t ask how she was doing. She even admitted that she stopped speaking to her son because he did not ask her soon enough (for her opinion) how she was feeling. They are still not speaking to this day. And yet, she kept saying what a happy person she is and has been through the entire treatment. She even went so far as to say, “I don’t like people who are not happy. What have they got to be unhappy about? I have cancer and I’m a happy person.” I bit my lip when I heard that and refused to look up from my iPad to even give any sort of acknowledgment to one of the most outrageous statements I’ve ever heard.

I believe that illnesses happen to not only get our attention to something that has gone remiss in the body, but also, sometimes, it is the universe’s way of forcing a redirect of our life. I’ve known people who hide behind their illnesses and use them as a way to get what they want from other people, via sympathy, or attention, and get out of doing things they don’t want to do. Maybe having a diagnosis and an illness is giving them a voice for the first time in their lives or perhaps, it is giving them justification for stepping back and away from jobs, people, friends, family–sometimes life itself. I get that. But my problem are with those people who feel entitled to bully because they wear the cape of cancer, or arthritis, or whatever.

While I admired this woman’s resiliency and her can-do attitude, she made me angry and sorry for her at the same time. Her energy of “Look at me and what I’m going through” was invasive and filled the room. Sometimes an illness is a wake up call for someone to find their own voice or empowerment, and sometimes people miss the message. I remember when I had cervical cancer many years ago, a month after I was diagnosed with anorexia. Feeling brazen, with both barrels loaded, early on, I was almost daring people and circumstances to contradict me because I was harboring feelings of “Oh yeah? Well I have cancer and anorexia, so I can do and say what I want. What are you going to do about it?” As shocked as I was to feel those things within myself, I quickly reigned them in and shook them off because they were ugly feelings of entitlement that I knew didn’t belong and definitely wasn’t who I really was. Thankfully with incredible support, I got over it—the illnesses and the attitude!

I applaud everyone who has beaten an illness or is fighting against one and I am sorry that people have to suffer, but it’s when people use that suffering or illness and turn it to a dishonest crutch or battering ram, I can’t help but feel sorry for them because people like that will never truly heal and are missing the whole point of what an illness can really teach them.

Friday’s Focus–A New Weekly Post

Inspired by a fellow blogger, Becky Due, I’ve decided to begin a new post every Friday called Friday’s Focus, where I will post comments, suggestions, and things that I hope you will read and take in and use to inspire you to help you create some time for yourself and be used as a reminder that no matter what we have going on in our lives and how many obligations we have (whether self-created or put-upon), we still only have ourselves and we need to make sure to keep that little bit of humor and [in]sanity lit as we keep putting one foot in front of another.

It’s so easy to lose track of ourselves because we’re so busy taking care of everyone/thing else. So I hope my Friday posts will be a reminder to laugh a little, create a little, go smell some flowers or at least smell something good (!) and love a lot–starting with yourself.

Today’s Focus

With the weather finally becoming seasonable where I live, every day the trees are showing a little bit more color. It looks as if Mother Nature was having some fun and took her paintbrush, flicked her wrist, and let the yellow’s and red’s fall where they may. Take a look around your neighborhood–even if it’s through the windshield of your car as your run errands–and notice any changes.

If the colors don’t change where you live, then what is different this time of year that brings a smile to your face–the cool breeze in the evenings? The smell of new paper and pencils of the new school year and all of its opportunities? Anticipatory baking?

Keeping it light and singing LiLoLa [Live, Love, Laugh] all the way….

Making It Work and Making It Worth It–My Top 10 Best Relationship Tips

There is no shortage of articles on how to have a successful relationship or ways to save your marriage so with my husband and I celebrating 20 years together this past June, and an 18 year wedding anniversary in December, there’s a few things I’ve learned along the way that I feel can’t be repeated often enough and I’d like to share them here.

We all want to be loved and accepted, and we all want someone we can call home. Relationships are tough enough to navigate and some people need the rawness of experience to really understand these bumps in the road, regardless of how many relationship articles are written about them!

I can’t take away those experiences from people, nor would I want to deprive them of such a growth opportunity, but here are some steps I’ve learned along the way that that I’ve found to have made the road a little easier to navigate.

My Top 10 Best Relationship Tips:

1. Relationships are rarely, if ever, an equal 50/50 split for long and the rare moment it is, know that it is fleeting and won’t stay that way for long. Relationships are fluid; they are a living thing and need constant feeding to keep it alive. It takes two to stoke it so when your relationship turns to a 60/40 or 70/30 shift of balance, see it for what it is in the moment. The key is to make sure it doesn’t stay in that tilt for long, and then bringing it back into a more even flow. This is best done by being aware of your relationship and what’s happening. One of the worst things you can do is to keep score. It’s underhanded and not fair. Relationships are an everyday give and take the balance is always changing.

2. Talk, talk, talk, talk. Crystal balls tend to be in the shop a lot getting fixed and no one is a mind reader. Well, there are some people who may be, but don’t assume your partner/spouse is one of them unless they have this crazy hidden talent they didn’t tell you about. If something bothers you that is happening with the other person or in the relationship, talk about it. And when I saw talk, I mean have a conversation—don’t accuse or point fingers. Good conversation starters are “I feel that,” or “It seems to me that….”. No one can judge you for how you feel or tell you that what you’re feeling is wrong.

3. Don’t assume. If you don’t talk about what you’re feeling, don’t assume that the other person will be able to navigate your moods based on your sighs or eye rolls or door slams.

4. At least try to see the other person’s point of view. It’s said if you truly want to understand someone,walk a mile in their shoes. While you don’t need to walk a mile in your partner’s shoes to understand whatever is happening, you should at least try to be in their shoes for the situation at hand. You might be surprised by what you learn.

5. Be friends. Unless your relationship has been based on pure sex, there is something in there that got you two together in the first place. Sometimes, liking someone and being friends with them is just as important, if not more so, than loving them. While love is important, it’s that underlying friendship that I’ve found to be the core of every successful relationship and the respect for each other that is the bind. If a relationship blip becomes too hot, it’s that core friendship that can allow a work-through of whatever is going on.

6. Listen. And I mean really listen. Don’t listen for the other person to stop talking so you can add your point of view. Listen to what is being said and also, what is not being said. Some people don’t know how to articulate their feelings or are uncomfortable stating how they feel so they’ll tend to imply what they’re feeling. If you don’t understand, ask the person to clarify.

7. Allow the other person to be just that—their own person. Give them room to breathe. You may not always understand why they do something but each of us is on our own path and must learn to live our own lives, which includes making our own mistakes. Support them, don’t judge them, and don’t get together with someone because you think you can change them. Relationships are not pet projects. If you really feel the need to change the other person, you need to look to yourself instead or else, you shouldn’t be with them in the first place.

8. It really is the littlest things that mean the most and help keep things fresh. A cup of tea when it’s not asked for, a random chore done for the other, and even notes left for each other to find. My husband and I leave notes for each other all the time, saying anything from I love you to Have a great Day! We leave them all over the house or in places we know the other person will be looking in.

9. Tell the other person how you feel about them every day. Let them know that you’re thinking about them or just wanted to say hi, instead of using the call or text to remind them about some errand that has to be done or to vent about the kids.

10. Forgive. Whatever it is, forgive. As hokey as that may sound, I’m a big believer especially having been on the receiving end of forgiveness more often than I should have been! Unless you can say with utmost certainty that you would never do whatever it is they did wrong, or you really don’t want to be with the person anymore and don’t feel that your relationship is worth fighting for, then forgive. You can get mad and you don’t have to like or agree with whatever was done, but the only way to get past the inevitable relationship bumps and grinds, and move on and grow is to forgive.

Relationships can bring you to the heights of ecstasy and drop you to the depths of despair. They can be the bane of our existence or the only existence we want to live for and ultimately, a mirror of ourselves. I hope that my experiences here have given you pause, and will help enrich wherever you may be in whatever relationship you’re in and help you take things deeper.

You Talkin’ to ME? Is Rudeness the New Normal?

Maybe it’s the reporter in me making sure I cover all angles or the Libra in me that understands all sides to a situation and so can troubleshoot questions or problems. Or maybe it’s just the anal part of me that can’t stand incomplete information. Case in point, recently I had an interaction with someone I work with that entailed five back and forth emails to answer a simple question of “I don’t see the link on the doc. Where is it?”

(“It’s there.”
“Where?”
“On the doc.”
“WHERE on the doc?”)

If I need to tell someone something, I picture being the recipient and I write the way I would like to be given an answer. I anticipate questions as best I can and prepare as much information as possible to get them what they need instead of wasting time on half-thought through emails that only increase my inbox and give me more questions than answers.

What could have normally been a simple 30 second (if that) conversation, became a frustrating 20 minute email exchange. Sometimes I feel as if I’m in a version of Abbot and Costello’s famous sketch “Who’s on First” but instead of actual verbal banter, it’s being played out in email. Are people becoming lazier? Busier? More contrite with their answers on purpose or has rudeness and bitchiness finally become part of the new business etiquette?

I wish I could relegate this type of rude behavior to just email communication but I see it in road rage, and more recently, in an influx of bad behavior in face to face customer service as well. Is it urgency of anxiety-fueled drama of back-to-school? The incredulous forcing of holidays by having Halloween candy in supermarkets in August? Hey it’s already September—what do you mean the Christmas trees aren’t set up in Aisle 8 yet?

Maybe we’re moving too fast to know how to slow down anymore and that angst and high energy is being reflected in the brusqueness of communication that seems to be the new normal. Granted, some people may not realize that they come off as being terse. I’ve been accused many times of having a “tone” when I honestly didn’t realize there was one. Once it was brought to my attention, however, I heard it and changed accordingly. Sometimes it takes a calling out of someone’s behavior for this to be recognized–like I did with one of our local librarians for being rude. True story.

I called my library asking if they had a book I needed for a class that night and she said it was out but it was expected to be returned that day and she was going to call me when it came in. Click. Okay. First problem. She hung up on me. Fine. I waited a few hours as my initial call was early in the morning. I needed the book for a class that evening (I only waited until the last minute because I had just found out we actually needed that book that night—thanks Prof!).

So I was on a mission. I had no desire to purchase the book unless I had to which is why I turned to my library. The day went by with no call and so, feeling as if I had given the book borrower ample opportunity to return a due library book (a possible lunchtime trip or maybe afternoon), I called the library again on my way out of the office. My thinking was, if the book was not returned, I would make a side trip to the bookstore and just buy it. The phone was answered on the second ring and I recognized the same voice from earlier that morning.

“Hi, I called earlier today….” and before the last word was out of my mouth, she interrupted me, “I TOLD you [emphasis intentional and not exaggerated] I was going to call you.”

Oh no. She did not just talk to me that way, did she? I was so shocked that anyone, let alone a librarian was so rude that I stammered, “Oh, ok.” and hung up. And then I got angry. It was just not right. In my head I rechecked the tone of the conversation from my end, and yep, I was pleasant and courteous each time. I was not going to let this go, so I drove straight to the library and walked in.

A librarian was behind the desk shelving books from a huge cart filled with recent returns. She looked up at me and I said “Hi, I called earlier…”

“I SAID…” [again, emphasis intentional and not exaggerated]

I put up my hand and told her “STOP! Stop right there. I realize the book may not be here yet but I felt that you were so rude on the phone with me that I wanted to come here and tell you in person that I did not appreciate it.” I could see her take a step back as if I my words physically slapped her. She flustered an apology and said she did not realize that was her tone and that was not her intention but she had felt pressured all day to get some things done that needed to be by the end of the day. Now, that, I can understand. Apology accepted and I felt, point made. By the way, the book never did make it back to the library so I had to buy it anyway!

My point with this is to shed light on what I feel is a slow degeneration of communication in emails, phone calls, comment sections on online articles, and even with our cars and the way we behave on the road. There is a false sense of bravado and rudeness that has become rampant, and if there is an “anonymous” option to post a comment, those seem to be the wickedest of all. It’s easy to be rude when you don’t see the other person’s reaction and yet, even if you can see the reaction, some people continue to be discourteous.

I think we need to take more of a stand and just say STOP the next time someone is reactionary toward us. Like the librarian, and even myself sometimes, the person may not realize they have a tone. I don’t know one person who is not overworked, overwhelmed, and stressed with responsibilities and I get the fact that everyone reacts differently, but no one seems to be stopping to take a breath anymore before replying to that email or waiting for the car ahead of us to turn before responding brusquely or with hand gestures. Do people really think that responding tersely is an effective communication? Are good manners and even the hint of professionalism being leeched away by increasing deadlines and work overload? Maybe. I know I’ve perpetuated my own share of bad behavior and terse email responses, but I’d like to say that they are more the exception than the rule.

Taking it deeper.