If It Makes You Happy

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English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy is subjective isn’t it?  Two people at the same water park may be having two totally different reactions to the new super-loop water-slide. Or how about news about weather? My sister is happiest at 50 degrees or less, dark clouds and rain. I am happiest when the air outside is in the seventies or eighties, and the sky is blue and the clouds are white and bright. It is all a matter of degrees, too, when it comes to how we feel and how we express our joy. In the make-up of the chemical soup that pulses through our bodies, happiness and joy imprint on the cellular level, right along with sadness and grief. Could it be true we can be addicted to seeking more happiness, more joy so we can keep our spirits riding high or more drama to ensure we stay bitter and cloaked in a depressive state? Even more importantly, do we choose to stay sad because that is what feels right? I choose happy, and it has been a struggle to see life through half-full eyes. Practice makes perfect, and as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out; if we do something about 10,000 times we become masters at that something. With thoughts rolling in every millisecond, could I get to that 10,000 before the day is over?

I see the gravitation toward drama and sadness a lot in my line of work. The same people report the same negative messes on a regular basis. Like a heat seeking missile, these people tend to make relationships with those who will, without a doubt, keep them feeling bad about themselves. Or, if the days are going well, they freak out with the foreign feelings of joy and life being more than shadowy doubt. And, like an addict, will ingest sadness in huge quantities to meet their need to be back in their dungeon where they are safe and know where all the torture equipment is placed.

The good advice I have received most of my life meant nothing. I was told as a teenager by step-mummy, that I wear my feelings on my sleeve and that was not good. What? And…..what? I didn’t understand that other than it was a criticism and I had no idea how to fix it if it needed fixing. Maybe she meant I was sensitive. Sensitivity is okay and a normal human thing like awareness of others’ feelings. What if she had said that to me? I could have put it to better use at a much earlier age! My favorite advice has been “let IT go!” Now, I KNOW it means to stop thinking about the IT, keep away from the IT, stop talking about the IT and pushing the IT completely out of my life. IT usually won because 10,000 thoughts made me master to IT, and unlearning what I mastered just isn’t as easy as “let IT go” sounds.

My happy may not look like any other person’s happy and that is super okay. But, I can honestly report that being happy is my goal, and because that has been my life’s journey, I am becoming.

I can also report, becoming has been awesome.

Seeing the past through ‘becoming’ eyes has taken the negative emotion out of my journey; my life as mapped out by all that was and is. ‘Becoming’ eyes have given me the joy I always sought. ‘Becoming’ eyes have given me sight that has finally allowed me to forgive. Breathing in is much more nourishing than it used to be.

The cards I was dealt early in my life sucked, and that little girl deserves honor and respect with what she did with it! A pat on the back and acknowledgement that those cards were my tools to build me. I am fascinated at what builders use in homes, or those unusual homes made of unusual materials. I am reminded of the man who built a coral home in honor of his true-love, or homes made from tires, or how about those homes reconstructed from missile silos? My material, my tools, made a pretty amazing person.

All of us must use what we are dealt, then life goes on and what we do with our ‘hand’ is totally up to us.

I wish to be a master of joy, gratitude, and of my life in general. It is with joy I write this and gratitude toward those who read it, or those who do not. Master of my own life means joy is settled in and at home in my soul. When sadness and grief do come knocking, and in life it will, they may come to visit, but they may not stay.

This is my house!

Hypocrisy for Dummies

When I was 21, I visited a Baptist church on a Wednesday night which happened to be their annual budget meeting. Luck of the draw. My main reason for not attending church was I had been scared away at the age of fifteen after being locked in a room with five people insisting I pray in tongues and when I left the room that day I was gifted with a book of tithing envelopes. So much wrong with that picture.

When I finally sat my behind in a pew, it was the perfect night. I learned why the tithe was important and I didn’t feel so threatened with the message after the budget meeting.

I attended that church for a while, found my husband, had a baby and became a member of the choir. I tithed. I prayed, I learned as a much as I could, as often as I could. I proudly defended my place on the front-lines of the pew sitters! As a new believer I really did see the world in right/wrong with no in-betweens! No grays! No wavering!

And not much love. Not for me, nor for most.

But, the greatest of these is love! If we have not love, we have nothing.

So many in the church have been targeted as hypocrites. The saying is, “Church is where they should be then!” Hypocrisy is, and this is direct from the dictionary: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense. As the finger points and proclaims “HYPOCRITE” the emotion behind it  is usually one of hurt or anger. Much is expected of the Sunday crowd. Sure, we expect the offer of a ride to church, supper after sometimes, a gift of the Holy Word itself, but I propose the main expectation of that finger: they are outing the believer for being without love.

God’s Love.

We all fall short! Sure we do! But I now believe after a pretty long and interesting stroll with my Savior that if we focus on that Love issue and begin to really get that right, so much falls into place. God wants us to love ourselves because well, He does, and the whole unworthy crap we hear from the angry pulpit spitters is a horrible control tool used to enhance coffers, not hearts. If we were really that unworthy, the cross thing never would have gone down the way it did! Back to Love. God is Love. Tap into that source and it is a life changer.

Our thoughts, our connection to Spirit, is muddled with so much muck and disgusting self-loathing, how can we expect to view our fellow fellows in any way other than with the eyes of someone unable to see. Hence the song lyric, “was blind but now I see.” Diving deeper, blind means the focus is all wrong, the direction of the gaze is all wrong and the reason for looking all wrong. It is like running a race and crossing a finish line that wasn’t even your race!

“You hypocrite! You have it all wrong!” The finger pointer is saying. “You don’t love me! I don’t see it in your eyes! I don’t feel it in my heart! You are cold, judgmental and elevated and it makes me so damn mad at you!”

We all fall short, but are we suppose to fall flat ALL the time?

Loving isn’t easy is it? Just read any political Facebook thread and we find the ugly real quick. Tapping into God can free anyone from self-hatred which then projects toward others as this flow of amazing love energy. Most of us who have occupied a pew have come across this love in a parishioner or two. Noted in their eyes, their warm demeanor, their acceptance of others with a smile and graciousness. Yeah they exist and yeah, you can sometimes find them in church!

Not too long ago I was treated, in my opinion, as if I was a “less-than creature” not worthy of this person’s time, smile, or a drop of warmth. Then I found out this person is a preacher. And preaches. Every Sunday.

Ah, the Hypocrite lives and yet, so does Love. I chose Love. May I have His eyes, heart and soul energy no matter the matter. I will fall short, but I have been blessed to have been enveloped in His love….

Every time I let Him in!

The Drama Pool

Every young girl has taken more than a few dips in the drama pool. Compared yet opposite to the spiritual awakening of the Ganges River, it is a ritual for our teen girls to go in and dip themselves like sacrifices to untruth; bathing in the pond of gossipy proliferation. Our male youth is not immune to the drama pool,however, their swims are less lengthy yet the gossip clings to them as heavily.

Fast forward to adulthood and there are those who truly understand the damage the spoken word can cause, be it true or not. God lets us know that the tongue is like a two-edged sword, and His people often use the edge most damaging in His name. There are many who never get out.

Gossip is the storm which causes so many to be swept up by the enticement of knowing something “juicy.” Gossip takes on a life of its own, and if some of the pieces are missing, they are then created to fit the picture perfectly, showing no doubt the story is true. I have experienced a whole town, small yet powerful, take a few items of information and turn on an individual like the town that came after Frankenstein: holding their torches high and chanting for his death. Or, like Little House on the Prairie, but with no denouement of Michael Landon’s character chastising the community from the church pulpit or school board meeting for their behaviors, resulting in hung heads and softened hearts. What I have witnessed is the opposite. The town wins and judgment and hatred rule the land which retreats after a victory then lies in waiting for the next attack.

I have been attacked recently, my character judged by a round table of those who have never once had a conversation with me, yet deemed me prejudiced and of unworthy character. I was mortified. How could ANYONE judge me and stamp me with a ruling which makes no sense? I was given the recommendation to introduce one of my accusers to my fiance which would really deflect, in his opinion, the unjust prejudice label, but stupid cannot be reasoned with, even with illustrated examples. Judging someone as prejudice is saying that person is full of hate and that hate is compartmentalized toward a race due to whatever reason. I may be a work in progress, but my progress in race relations is better than my accusers, and that is a fact. Do people not see that when they yell prejudice, they may just be blurting out their own shadowy belief system?

Lucky me to have been a part of a town whose residents (not all but a very vocal aspect) will think the worst of others due to what they hear from others. Am I naive? Maybe, but I honestly cannot come up with conclusions about people that are negative. Once I had a student in my class who was arrested for drug use and sent to re-habilitation. She came back and was a bright-eyed teenager who had life and seemed so happy. She told me she had been stoned every day in my class. “Couldn’t you tell” she asked? I replied honestly, “No, I thought you were not getting enough sleep, and possibly you were a bit depressed; not uncommon in teen girls.” I never go to the labels: drug abuser, liar, thief, philanderer, prejudice, first. I believe it is because I do not have these applications downloaded in my system and they are not there to access for blame.

I am learning to take the news that someone is lying, cheating, stealing with less of an affront on my psyche. I really want to live in peace, love and light. Because of that, I refuse to jade my belief system about others and use a negative source for how I perceive them. I am no saint in my perceptions. I do still stereotype, and I work on that. The difference I believe, is I am open to truth, and realize my eyes may deceive me. Close-minded, judgmental behavior is the epitome of stupid and also a state of complete self-UNAWARENESS. I am given a full body check when I step out of line with my behavior, with what I say and when messages I am transmitting to others is not healthy. I do sometimes fall in the drama-pool, and when I do, I am sickened. Healing waters of tears are sometimes needed to begin rebuilding my integrity.

Take the pledge to stay out the the drama-pool. Keep your tongue in check and if you are bothered by another’s actions which do not have anything to do with you, check yourself. Look around. Are you swimming in the truth or in the drama-pond? Look around, are you surrounded by those who make it easy to fall into the deep-end in denial of the truth and play with other’s lives as if it is a beach ball to be whacked from one person to the next: everyone getting their hands on the destruction of another’s life and name?

Get out, wipe your eyes and dull your tongue. Edification comes to those who edify. Getting life right means you are not in the drama-pool.

 

It’s a Spectrum of Order

houseworkThe home I lived in for most of my childhood years was not just messy, it was disaster-messy. My mother didn’t care much for doing dishes, washing clothes or anything that would resemble houseWORK. Sheets didn’t make it on my bed, bugs aligned widow sills, and even clean clothes were left in piles to wrinkle and swallow even more socks than the washer and dryer did. I grew up to be very different from her; my house is clean. What I call “Showcase Clean”. Come on over anytime, you will never hear me apologize, not even when I had two small children, worked part-time and went to college full-time. My children never had to experience embarrassment when a friend was over, or a beau stopped by. For years I was a bit obsessed about how my home looked. I couldn’t relax if something was out of place. I backed out of rooms, checking them, perusing each inch: I was NOT going to be my mother!

My brother’s home is cleaner than mine. He has bought and sold several homes in his life and I swear they look brand new even after ten years of family life. Yep, we both rebelled!

How one keeps a home reveals something about the person; for example, if a person hires a housekeeper and does nothing in-between they are rich… and they may hate housework as much as my POOR mother. Total refusal to pick up is a housework-hater!

I have found that there are six major types of housekeepers on the housekeeping spectrum. Where do you fall? It could be somewhere in-between!

1. 100% Perfection: This person keeps their home clean with  everything in its place. Drawers are labelled, pantries are alphabetized, closets are color-coded and systematically arranged. They are referred to by their “friends” as having OCD, but I promise you, that unless they are counting and/or performing pattern rituals to keep themselves from entering the seventh circle of hell, they are nothing more than neat freaks and the OCD comments are meant to sting them and soothe the sayer!

2. Showcase: 10o% perfection everywhere BUT closets, drawers and under beds. Kitchen cabinets are meant to be kept closed. Some showcase housekeepers secretly wish they could rise to 100% perfection, but they need to lighten up on themselves. The one problem they have is those drawers do need cleaning out once a year or so, but doggone it, the base boards shine!

3. In the Middle: This is the “lived-in” look. The home is clean, stuff is out but placed. It isn’t perfect but the home is clean enough and straightened up enough for any visitor. In the Middle people are calm; relaxed more accepting of their surroundings. On the negative side, some of the Middles are the ones who use those OCD comments, or the “I have a life outside of labeling my drawers” comments. Remember, this is a spectrum, the higher level of In the Middle are wonderful go-to kind of people! The couch was chosen for comfy, not looks!

4. Call Before you Come: These housekeepers have warned everyone they know could stop by to CALL FIRST! They can clean up their entire home in 30 minutes of whirlwind activity. If you show up unannounced, expect to visit on the porch- call before you come is an order…do not break it! These keepers are sometimes harried: On the go, non-stop activity that just may not have an organized direction until they are forced, like the phone call from a friend or mother-in-law saying they would like to stop by!

5. Mess with no Regrets: Most teenagers fall in this catagory. The house is a mess and if you stop by you may need to push papers aside to sit on the couch. Not once will you hear, “Sorry I need to clean” or “I apologize for the mess, I have just been so busy!” Those statements belong to Call Before you Come! Mess with no Regrets could care less. 100% perfection could NEVER stay the night (comfortably) in this home, but guess what? Yeah, you got it, Mess with no Regrets could care less!

6. The Hoarder: The end of the spectrum. Mess with no Regrets will look to the hoarder to feel they are a-okay! Many of us have seen the show about hoarders; sad and dangerous. My mother was somewhere between numbers 5 and 6.

Housekeeping is like personality. It is something that is hard to change. Teenagers who waller in the mess grow up, and since their brains are still forming they are not bound by a style until they settle. Parents can then sit back and watch it unfold.I was super-surprised when my youngest became Showcase as she was more like my mom at 16!

Personally, I wish I could hire a housekeeper, but the few times I did, I cleaned up after them, so it was pointless. Maybe I hired “In the Middles” both times?

Next up: How do you keep your hotel room? That is another day! I have to go clean some windowsills!

Hot Flash or Bubbling Cauldron?

If women could harness the energy of the hot flash it would be a super-power. Imagine being in Alaska, in the middle of the winter on a glacier in a bikini, or a nice one-piece that slims 10 pounds with properly place herring bone, and the locals are warming themselves at your hips. Global warming takes a back seat to the environmental effects of more than 20 million women flashing. Maybe those glaciers are melting when cruise ships of menopausal women get too close. Funny how so many tipping glaciers are caught on camera! “This is your captain speaking. All menopausal women below deck in the kryptonite chamber!”  Maybe scientists should be looking in the ovary for the piece of matter that blew up and created the Universe. Higgs Smiggs, I have the Milky Way’s cousin in my belly! Wouldn’t that just anger ALL men who wish women to remain silent and shrouded?

We all have different experiences, and top that with our different perceptions of the flash. To me, the heat inside ignites like an old gas stove: when the fire catches it is fast and big, engulfing all the extra gas that leaked in prior. There is no running from it- that makes it worse. I try to stay still and fan myself, or find a fan or a glacier. My face, neck and chest turn red, and I sweat in places I didn’t know glands existed. I remember reading to my senior class from The Great Gatsby. I thought it was great internal timing to get a hot flash during the scene where they first enter the hot hotel room in New York. As if on cue, I began to sweat. Who needs computer simulators? I embodied what that room felt like, and I too, just wanted a glass of icy bourbon. My students learned to ignore flashes. Or, at least they acted like they did. they looked away like it was the proper thing to do, like not staring at thebearded lady. Neither I, nor my grandmother could help it!

Night time is the worst time for hot flashes. No mattress is comfortable when the occupant is smouldering in a pre-spontaneous combustion state. Really, if spontaneous combustion were real, our fire departments would be very, very busy. I hate it. Hot, then sweat, then cold and clammy. I got special wicking PJ’s for my 52nd birthday. I was so happy. I took pictures of them and posted it to Facebook. They are more exciting than the splashes on the White Water Rapids at Six Flags. I now sleep with a fan directly on me about 2 feet from where I am on the bed, the ceiling fan and the air conditioner blasting after midnight. During the winter I do not need a heater. Remember? Alaska?

I had no idea that the heat would ignite more that just internal temperature. It also brewed up a bubbly cauldron of memories, mostly those which were of me, being less than perfect. The cauldron is a dark and scary place. I first began having memories of my mothering pop-up. I would wait until a decent hour, maybe 6-ish am-ish or so and call my girls and beg them to forgive me for whatever it was that needed forgiving at that moment. After a month or two of these calls, they asked me to stop it and that they forgive me for everything and anything else I may remember. I wonder if they just hated being woken up to “Please forgive me for…” It was weird, but I would get a very clear picture of mistakes I made night after night. I called this time in menopause the time of the bubbling cauldron of self-regret. Am I the only one?

The memories continued to the rest of my life. I have apologized to many people, written letters, found long-lost elementary buddies etc. If I have to go through a life review when I get to Heaven, I will cry “Foul!” I have already done this deed. Enough Jesus!! I cannot do this again. I picture myself telling God, “Oh no YOU didn’t!” When he pushes ‘play’ on the life review DVR.

Thanks to my doctor, the bubbling cauldron of self-regret has gone dormant. Like an active volcano, it lies there waiting for me to skip a hormone pill. I tried to “go through it naturally” with creams, black cohosh and extreme exercise, but none of that worked. Pre-hormones I was a sweating, apologizing, anxiety-filled mess. I felt as  though I was a closet Joan Crawford.  Closet. Get it? I kill me.

Today I am thankful for the new research that said hormones are not so bad, and women can take them past the five years declared safe. I am betting the researchers are men and women affected somehow by a menopausal woman. Why is Dr. Scientist afraid to go to sleep? It must be scary to wake up next to a woman saying ,”Give me the eye!” While she peers into her inner cauldron. I recently met a women who announced to me she was tossing the hormones as they made her fat. First, she wasn’t fat, but she did say she had gained 15 pounds since she began taking them. I don’t ever want to live in a place where my experience is the only one and the right one…but, I did tell her to be careful: once the hormones wear-off, just be really self-aware. If you find yourself in place that only Howard Hughes would go get out and run back to the MD.

If hot flashes burned calories, I would abstain from the hormones and join Bethany Frankel as a Skinny B-Word. One would think, with all that incineration some fat would be burned. But the only thing burned was my inner psyche…a true size 0 after it was all said and done! Thankfully, I am now back to normal size, which means my psyche is more Dove Girl than Cover Girl, but that is just fine with me!

How NOT to Gain Weight During the Holidays

How does one NOT gain weight during the holidays?

Don’t eat so much. Oh, and exercise.

Am I being a smarty-pants? Yes and no. The truth is that no diet regime works unless the calorie count is low, say around 1200 and one exercises on a regular basis.

It kills me when I read article after article on how to lose weight and the essence of every article is still the same- eat less, move more. And yes, I still read every one of them. Why? I figure I am just like the rest of the people who read and re-read the newest information out on the market which always turns out to be the same information– I am looking for the miracle moment. Someday I will read the perfect words which will motivate me to a size 4 in a month. I recently received an e-mail from a colleague at work, it began, “Hi, I am not saying your are fat, but I have a product that will help you lose weight. It is Monavie protein shakes.”

I did not return her e-mail. It wasn’t the fat comment it was the protein drink comment. I would rather eat my calories thank you very much. Another thing I would like to tell this colleague is that I would be more receptive to her sales pitches if she actually said hello to me in the hall when I said hello to her first. First rule of sales…people need to think you really care about them… “I am not saying you’re fat” isn’t connecting.

The key to all these articles I read is that I feel connected to the subject. I must be a part of a big crowd, pun intended.

People do not want to hear that the formula for weight loss is as simple as it is: eat less, exercise more. We read about the magic foods than we read about the guy who ate Twinkies and lost a bunch of weight. He ate only 1800 calories of Twinkies a day. Then there is the potato guy who lost weight eating nothing but potatoes. No butter, sour cream and hot oil on these spuds- just spuds. He didn’t eat over 1800 calories either- for men that calorie count is fairly low, women have the magic number at 1200.

I am not saying that I will dive into the cookie or ice cream diet, or the Twinkie or potato diet. Lord knows I will never again cook up the cabbage diet. Gross and double yukko.

One of my other colleagues uses the Lose It app on her phone. She counts calories that way and has lost a lot of weight. I think that is the new fad, and the better way to go. Find an app that helps you count calories! I also like the new applications that comes with the heart monitors, like the body bug. It calculates the amount of calories you are burning. Fun, fun, fun! At THe Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge, almost everyone had one – I think I was the only one without the device – so when I got home I went straight to Academy and bought a Polar watch. I use it when I work out and periodically I will wear it for a 24 hour period to see how many calories I burn just being me! Last night, from 10 pm to 5:30 am I only burned 526 calories. Low isn’t it? Sure woke me up! I wonder if there is anyway to incorporate some more REM movement or any kind of movement other than the throwing off of covers due to those horrendous night sweats. And, why aren’t I sweating off my dinner? 526 calories…so sad.

So many articles will be written and have been written about how to survive the holiday table…what to eat, what not to eat and how to cook your favorite holiday treats with only half the calories! Whoopee! I will admit this; I never worry about calories on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day. Never. Where is the article about that? You know who watches their calories on Thanksgiving and Christmas? Weirdos.

The trick is watching the calories during the season. I love Starbucks Eggnog Lattes. A venti has 610 calories. I know if I drink one of those I cannot have breakfast or lunch. Lose It App says so! If I eat some of that carmel pop corn that was left in the teachers’ lounge I know to curb my intake at lunch and dinner. Party time? Better to eat before the party and have a little there than to not eat and have too much of the dip. Dip costs too much. A small   with spinach dip becomes cellulite in no time at all!

There is no magic pill yet. There is liposuction, but the strange thing is that the remaining fat cells will grow in strange areas to compensate for any weight gain. I knew one lady who had lipo on her back and thighs and buttocks then ended up with a fatty hunch back! Sexy!

The holidays are here. Eat, drink and be merry as long as you keep your calories to a manageable amount. Learn what you burn in a day and get those apps! Eat up on Christmas day and pass out with a full stomach. Just stay away from leftovers. I send mine out, never keeping them in the house. I am so shrewd!

No diet works unless you eat less and move more. Period.