My daughter said, “I’m reading a book you might like, it’s a love story, but written well.” I’m more into historical novels, but hey, why not read something “light” for a change? I’m in the first chapter and came across a great quote:
“But just look at all the fake smiles and sour faces
around here. I’m going to have to take a bath
with a wire brush to get all the negativity
off me when I leave.”
The author was referring to a mandated family party. But it could be any scenario. Back in the day when I was in leadership, I used to keep a role of duct tape on my desk. It had a great purpose for keeping myself sane. When someone would call or come into my office with petty complaints, I would just look at that duct tape and think, “It would only take 6 inches” [over their mouth] to SHUT THEM UP! Of course I never followed through, it was enough to think I could. When I taught leadership classes, I actually gave participants the chance to cut a piece of duct tape when they came in. There was much curiosity and then laughter when I explained how this common “tool” would be so useful to them.
How do you handle negativity, pettiness and, well your common complainer?
I’ve lived in the Northeast of the United States all my life. Therefore, my conception of “the desert” was the Sahara, just endless miles of white sand. Much of Southern California seems to fit that bill too! However, when my daughter and her family moved to Phoenix, although very different from anything I was ever akin to and dry as dry can be, there is life everywhere!
I’m not a city or suburban kind of gal but I want to see my grandbabies grow up, so when I started searching for property, it had to be close enough, but, yet, far enough away. I found a gem of a property in the desert highlands. I drove out there yesterday and easily call it “home” even though there is no building! It is so beautiful, quiet, peaceful, interesting, challenging —I could go on, but I think you get the point! It is also teeming with life.
Sadly for prospectors, indigenous tribes and homesteaders, they had no idea that this rocky, dry land has an abundant aquifer far below. I realize how fortunate I am that we will easily have water by just making a phone call and emptying our bank account! However, yesterday as I walked I realized just how wonderfully the desert provides and I’m really just a beginner at this.
The picture above is indicative of nature’s provisions and beauty. Although I understand a saguaro cactus will make you pretty sick, and the ocotillo plant is basically a sticker bush from hell, they are beautiful! Saguaro’s offer great entertainment when traveling too, each one of these giants has it’s own personality. They are majestic and beautiful. I haven’t checked into the benefits of the ocotillo, I’m just afraid of them!
If you are going to retire in the desert, a good thing to do is to educate yourself on survival skills and learn what the desert floor has to offer, other than rattlesnakes! Two plants that have great benefits are the prickly pear and desert sage which grow like weeds. They grow everywhere and are nearly impossible to kill as most weeds prove themselves to be.
I love to use the sage when cooking soup. My, my, my, it adds a rich flavor to almost anything. However, what I didn’t know about sage is the natural healing qualities the plant offers. Using the leaves topically can enhance the healing process. Sage can be used to give relief from an upset stomach and other digestive tract issues “to the very end”. Sage also has anti-bacterial qualities. Here is a great website, Natural Living Ideas, that offers 20 different ways sage can be used. You don’t have to be in the desert, you can grow sage almost anywhere, including inside. However, I find great comfort knowing the power of this abundant weed!
The other plant pictured is the prickly pear. Now let me tell you, you don’t want to be falling into one of these buggers. Yes, those spikes are as sharp as a needle and can really put a hurting on you! But see those cute little polka dots? Each dot is hundreds of mini-spikes. Touch one of those by accident and you’ve got some four-letter-word language coming from the leader of the church choir! They are NASTY with a capital N.A.S.T.Y.!!!!!!!! HOWEVER (see, Mr. Nasty capitalized cactus, the however you offer can be capitalized too!)
These cacti grow everywhere, they are like rag-weed in the Northeast.
They are tough, resilient, and life-giving as all-get-out!
I’ve actually seen evidence of the free-range cattle and donkey’s that have taken a bite. DumbASS donkeys! Actually, these animals are smart. Prickly pear offer a plethora of goodness: hydration, vitamins and antioxidants. They are rich in nutritional goodness. However, if you are a human being you need to learn how to handle with care, not just bite into like an ass! I’ve not tried it yet, but I understand that the paddles are good to grill, or cut up in a salad and eat raw.
The fruit of this plant is ridiculously good. Although many people make jelly from it, I think adding sugar isn’t necessary. I took some home the last trip. Imagine going through TSA at the airport with a box of prickly pear! Actually, I put it in my checked bags and left a love note on top. “Dear TSA, if you happen to physically check this box . . . please be careful, yada, yada, yada.”
What about those little polka dots? Each fruit has thousands of mini-prickles but if you learn how to handle them, oh my, inside is the most luscious, juiciest, yummiest and quite healthy meat. You can eat it raw, make juice, wine, add to salad, the uses are limitless.
As I have learned more about the abundance of the desert, I have more confidence moving there. Yesterday I had a lot of time to think as I walked around, with caution, a walking stick and a 357 Magnum (The desert also offers, let’s say, certain death if you’re not careful!). Here’s what I contemplated. Life can be a desert. Life can be dry, harsh, unforgiving and it can be overwhelming and dangerous, like the flats and mountains of the Sonoran. However, can it possibly be true that even in the midst of the harsh, dry times of life there is abundance? Could it possibly be that there is health, healing and life-giving-nutrients for body, mind, and spirit even in the driest times of life? I have been there too, and yes, I believe if we look for it —- there is hope, love, health, and strength giving abundance.
I hope that you are living through a wonderful time of life. However, especially during the holidays, it can be difficult for many. I hope that you can find solace, strength, and healing in the midst of your desert.
While waiting for Mommy I’m walking with my grandson, and he saw a weed growing out of the sidewalk. “Isn’t this pretty?” I’m fascinated. This Pennsylvania girl is seeing a weed growing out of the sidewalk in DECEMBER! However, there are blooms everywhere, because I’m in Arizona. Blooms in December! I could get used to this!
Oh, you were looking for cuteness, not fascination? Sorry, I digress so soon.
“Honey, it’s so pretty, let’s just look at it, don’t pu . . . ”
(I tried to say pull, but —too late!).
Oh! He was quite proud of himself!
Are you ready?
He says, “I give to Mommy!”
As Dinky melts into the concrete.
I love the little gifts life has to offer. Have an awesome day!
In a short text frenzy and quite unknowingly my friend gave me “heal” as a word for the day. Then adds, “HEALING is a great word”. Yeah, she continued, “Healing happens in relationship”. Well, back in the day when I was a pastor, before I found my inner mouthy-blogger-try-and-make-the-world-a-more-positive-place-self, I used to say this:
Human beings have great power to heal,
however, we also have great power to destroy.
I’ve experienced both to incredible degrees, have you? On the one hand is the pendulum swinging, let’s say, south. Holy Shit can people be nasty! I’ll talk about that first because this is a positive blog & I want to leave you on a good note! What matters is the degree of relationship, I mean really, if someone you don’t know is, let’s call them bitchy to you, their interaction gives you a moment of shock, a story to tell & knowledge of who you want to avoid or be like, eh? However the closer the relationship is when real destruction can occur. When it comes to relationships with people we work or socialize with, or call friend, or dare I say lover, and they choose to hurt rather than hug, even with words, destruction is not a strong enough word. Sometimes it’s temporary, forgiven and we move on. Sometimes we work like Hell to save (heal) the relationship. And then at other times the only thing to do is walk away. All-in-all, I believe we have the choice to live a life that brings health and healing to others and it is worth every effort to exercise the power to bring healing in whatever level of relationship we are experiencing.
So let’s look at the other side of the pendulum, it’s a great place to be. In my 22 years of working closely with people in about every situation life has to offer, when it comes to healing, those who had a positive attitude and strong relationships just did better all-around. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t have major life issues either! Let’s take something as awful as cancer, for instance. The fear, the pain, the unknown can tear a person apart. However those who are positive and hopeful just seemed to do much better. If they were surrounded by loving people, wow! The difference always astounded me. I think it would be interesting to research. I’m sure that type of research been done already, but I’m willing to wager that those who are surrounded by love heal quicker and may suffer less. For those that are terminal, yes, one can see death as a healing. I know that sounds strange, I guess you have to experience this phenomenon to fully understand.
Life isn’t all about the full swing of the pendulum, is it? For the most part, we spend our lives somewhere in the middle of that swing. So I guess the question begs to be asked, “How can I live in a sense of strength, dignity, happiness, love, etc. First off, if you are in a bad hurtful relationship, get out. If your boss is an incurable, exhausting ass, start looking for another job! If you have issues with your family members, is there a way to avoid the poison? Know that there are some situations that you are better away from. If you are unsafe, you will not change that individual.
I’m sure that the following list can be expanded and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, possibly these thoughts will help to bring relational healing into our lives for the benefit of our body, mind and spirit:
Seek to be around people who are pleasant to be around. People who are real. People that appreciate you for who you are and don’t try to form you into some fantasy that they have conjured up in their minds of who is worthy of their presence.
Talk with people who naturally smile.
Seek relationships that are encouraging rather than critical.
Seek relationships that are give and take. There is nothing better than giving, but it is important to receive with grace too.
Seek to be around people who listen and engage.
Seek like-mindedness, but understand that everyone is different, we may agree on a lot of things, but chances are there will be times that we differ. That’s ok. How does that person handle your difference of opinion?
Seek to laugh.
Seek to be around someone that enjoys your company, but understands you need self-time too.
Ultimately, we can all be e a catalyst for a healthy and healing relationship. Be who you are and know that your attitude and actions towards others can be the difference between a good or great relationship! Look at the above bullets and ask the question, “Am I anything like this?”
I know this is far from an exhaustive list! Please add to it in the comments below!
Let me say right from the beginning. I’m a health freak, so, my end-goal wasn’t a free bagel. However, that free bagel represents all that is good and nice and, well RIGHT WITH THE FREAKING WORLD! It has been a great week for me, my second grandson was born and I’ve been here to help out my daughter. To make matters even better, they live in Arizona! Blue skies and one day of rain vs. my husband back in Pennsylvania telling me, “Baby it’s cold outside!” Here I am, in The Valley of the Sun wearing a tee-shirt! Karen is definitely in her happy place. I’m also having fun making my mother a memory teddy bear from the material of her mother’s winter coat. Life is good!
On Friday afternoon I scampered about town looking for eyes for the teddy bear. Evidently, people don’t sew much anymore so the demand for beautiful teddy bear eyes is minimal. Therefore, after searching at least three stores for a needle in a haystack . . . I was ready to buy a teddy bear and cut it’s eyes out, but that just seems cruel, so I got creative, went to JoAnne Fabrics and found some buttons and beads to try out on Mr. Teddy. Smiling I went to check out, unfortunately though, Tis the Season (of giving and joy?). There was a line to check out of least 30 people that stretched across the entire front of the store. Everyone seemed to take it in stride and it was a very pleasant experience . . . until . . . it was my turn to go to the register. I walked up with a big smile on my face and in a lowered tone, the checker glared at me and spoke with that voice your mother used when she was really pissed off at you, but didn’t want to yell, but she just “used that tone”. Yeah, I was terrified! Evidently, there was some rule that she had to say a magic word when she was fully prepared to accept the next person. No, there wasn’t a sign that said, “Wait for someone to yell at you before you come forward.” Or even, “Beware of teller #6, she’s a bitch.” or “Happy freaking holidays, we are tired!” or “Get the hell out of this store! I only make minimum wage and didn’t sign up for this!” I meekly returned to the line . . . THEN I was (very politely) called by the next available teller and as I placed my things on the counter, I said, “Thank you for not yelling at me.” That was it, I got it out of my system, well yeah, in the short conversation I also said, “No wonder people choose to shop online at Amazon!” No, I wouldn’t tell her (I think the manager) which teller was rude to me. Because I’m a really nice person in my happy place who just found the perfect teddy bear eyes & I’m going home to love on my grandbabies. No need to rat-out some woman who probably dealt with a really bitchy customer right before I came to her smiling. But her attitude to me was uncalled for and rude as can be. Did I tell you I was a health freak? Nonetheless, I had two bagels at Panera Bread on my shopping list. (Come on, I just had my second grandbaby, my hormones are all out of whack!) Two young people were at the counter and they smiled at me and said, “Hi!” as I approached them, so I said, “Hey! Thanks for not yelling at me for coming up to your counter!” We had a short conversation about “Tis the season”. Then the young man and I continued with a friendly banter as he rang up my order and got my bagels. As he handed me the paper bag, he said, “I threw in an extra bagel, just because “. So I took my bag full of empty calories and smiled all the way home. I’m smiling about it now. Why? BECAUSE HE WAS NICE!
It has nothing to do with a free bagel.
It has to do with KINDNESS.
OK dear reader, at least here in America, during the (dare I say Christmas Season) people can be really impatient, stressed and sometimes down-right nasty. This has always confused me. I mean, if you’re CELEBRATING Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or a December birthday or even the winter solstice, or some other event that leads to family dinners and gift-giving, isn’t this reason to celebrate, be nice, be joyful and be extra human to fellow humans? Well yeah, I know . . . This time of year represents high and holy days for many believers. Even if you don’t consider one of these holidays from a religious perspective, and even though your mother in law is a bitch after preparing a meal for you and 35 other people in a three bedroom rancher. Even though Uncle Bill is an obnoxious drunk and Susie is still holding a grudge . . . You go, you love your family, you put up with the craziness every year and come home with a gift you don’t like, it is Tradition. There is something special and wonderful and joyous going on. However, for some reason, this year the stress seems higher than usual all around. You see it on Social Media, people picking “issues” and then to choosing to become a victim of that issue. You see it on the news as the media seems to enhance arguments and issues. It is unhealthy, and frankly scares the shit out of me more than the teller at JoAnne’s Fabric Store! OK, so I have a challenge. Be nice 10 times to people in some way everyday for the next 30 days. I know, that comes natural for you, me too, but if we do it purposefully and with intent, who knows, we just might change the world. In addition, challenge three other people to do the same. You can even have fun explaining: I read this blog where this woman is bitching about how awful people can be to each other in the most wonderful season of joy and giving . . . but really, she’s not a bitch (well, sometimes that’s debatable, she is from New Jersey originally and is proud of it). Anyway, she gave a challenge to be NICE or do something NICE for the next 30 days and invite three others to do the same. Want to join me in changing the world?
I HATE MATH, BUT—-
YOU 10 X 30 = 300 smiles
x 3 invites = 900 smiles
x 3 their invites Something like thousands upon thousands of smiles
EQUALSexponential KINDNESS! Being nice doesn’t cost a damn thing. It’s not about a free bagel! And –Merry Christmas! OK, yeah, so I know there are other holidays included in December, but what I mean is Merry Christmas if you celebrate Christmas, Happy whatever other holiday you personally celebrate and yes, to the atheist looking forward to family tradition—- I hope your mother in law is nice this year! Enjoying the Adventure! Dr. Dink
(An excerpt from “Moving Forward Through Life’s Shit Without Stinking! A Book About Learning to Smile Again” –Urbanski)
I have always loved antiques and even had a little store for a few years. There’s terminology in the antique world called “patina”. What patina means is that there are chips, cracks, bumps, bruises —- character marks that may give a greater beauty and value to a piece of art, collectible or furniture.
An antique piece can be refinished, or painted but the ones with patina, although marked, have incredible appeal. The piece with patina has withstood the test of time and may be ugly to some, unique to others, and have that “the perfect look” for someone’s decorating. Antiques with patina that have value are still functional. Sometimes people will invest quite a lot of money, knowing that a particular piece is one of quality; or, one of strength that will still be around for a long time to come. Patina is considered beautiful, valuable and appealing. Patina varies on furniture or a collectible, so each piece is one of a kind, although there may have been many like it in the past. Each piece is rare and has its own unique character and value. Patina is often loved and admired.
I like to think of people who have stood the test of time, no matter how young or old, to have the beauty of patina. Those extra character lines around your eyes, the silvering hair and wisdom from your experience can be thought of as life-patina. You are unique! You may have bumps, bruises and stories. You are a person of terrific value and you are stronger than you think. However, you might not yet know your strength and value. Possibly you have forgotten how wonderful you are!
There are many different characters that come into an antique store. Some customers want their purchases to be absolutely perfect. They examine each piece they are considering and even bring a loop with them (small magnifying glass). They have high expectations for their purchase and regard anything with the slightest mark as worthless.
Then there are people who understand that a small scratch can be easily hidden, turned or simply dealt with. They know they are getting a great quality piece at a reasonable discount. They understand and work with the piece.
The crafters and re-purposers are fun. They look at items and see something different for their future, with hammers, paint and a bit of vision they can re-create something incredibly beautiful for their home or to sell again at a profit.
The Patina folk just love stuff for what it is.
The antique store is a great analogy for relationships. There are people who will never understand what you’ve been through, how many years you’ve suffered. They don’t get why you’re still mourning or have PTSD. All they want is their definition of how your life, your emotions, your decisions should be. They want you to be perfect by their definition alone. They aren’t bad people, but they can be pretty hoity-toity about you. They don’t take into account that you were dropped, bumped into or broken. They don’t mean to be an ass, but they can’t help themselves. Take this into account. They simply can’t understand. It is impossible for them. When you are forced to deal with them, try to let them walk around the store, let them pass over the stuff they just can’t handle and then walk away. At the same time, know you will never change them, they are who they are, don’t be offended by their (unreasonable) expectations.
At the same time, when they express their dislike for something, be brave! Politely let them know that all things are not perfect, some people have scratches, marks and bruises that others can appreciate. Be proud of who you are. Each thing that has caused some imperfection in their eyes has not defeated you. You are still standing, breathing, surviving. You are of great value . . . too bad they can’t see that, but don’t you dare allow them to let you think you’re something less-than! Let them walk away . . .
Then there are people like the customers who understand that there are pieces in the store that will have great appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that antiques offer. They simply accept the fact that there might be some “flaws” but know you are very strong, they will love you for the fact that you’re still able to function. They might not be able to handle the deep wounds, but they can still be great to be around. When they receive life-wounds, you are the one they will come and sit with and find comfort.
The Crafters and Re-purposers can see a beautiful future for you! Their visionary abilities are so refreshing, and they can help you to realize that you need to stop dressing like shit because you feel that way. They will encourage you to get out, and to re-adjust to the new life-situation. They will show you something you are unable to see yourself. It doesn’t change what happened in the past, good and bad. They help you to take that broken part and use it in a different way. They help you to freshen up, or maybe even try something you never have tried before. They are fun, they push you to your limit.
When I re-purpose a piece of furniture, for instance, I sound like a freak when I say, “It has to speak to me.” I carefully observe the lines, the current structure and possibilities of what it can become. I enhance the beauty and burn what becomes totally unusable. Sometimes a piano becomes a shelf, a press-back chair becomes a necklace. I know, but it’s what she told me she wanted to be! —I just helped her realize that! I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes re-purposers can get out of hand. Be open to their suggestions, but don’t let them push you into something that you don’t want. Let them help you enhance who you are. Let them give you suggestions that allow you to enjoy life again, to think about the future in a new way so you can enhance the wonderful things about you and have the bravery to throw the broken, hurtful bruised up nasty parts into the fire! Did you know that the Ancient Greek word, katharsis, means purification or cleansing came from fire? Maybe it’s time to light a candle, and ceremonially throw some things in the fire. Then allow your repurposing crazy life crafters help you rebuild yourself without all that crap holding you back.
Lovers of patina. They simply take it as it is, and so can you! Wear those scratches, cracks and bruises proudly. They give you character. They were difficult to receive but have helped to make you the strong survivor of life that you are! Put yourself in a prominent room of the house and allow people to marvel at your strength, tenacity and ability to still be so beautiful!!!! How can I say that . . .? Because you are!
Look around! Appreciate the beauty, the smiles, and even the Spirit of Christmas outside of retail. It seems that there is a movement today, at least here in America, from many different aspects to look for (and sometimes create) a very negatively based existence. Stop! Smell the roses, not the dog shit. Life is not fair, never was, never will be.
I believe that we are at a turning point in history where we are teaching children to have a victim mentality rather than be hopeful. People are wearing themselves out worrying about trivial little issues that actually do not make us more aware of the suffering of others, but overwhelm us to the point where were can’t see real suffering due to the vast ocean of pettiness before us.
Let’s be grateful to be on a wall (for now) and love the view.
There will be enough time for (real) shit to deal with.
Please don’t be offended if you are going through your own personal pile of shit right now. My hope is that if the world would stop obsessing over the small stuff, so that your big stuff will actually be seen.
Early in the morning, before the crickets begin to sing, silence calls me. The sky is dark, no distractions, no cries, no pressure other than the coffee cup by my side. The world is still asleep and not ready for the noise of the day. I can begin to hear my own thoughts, or sit and do nothing without boredom.
Somehow there is a naive peace in this silence. Possibly it is the world calling out for the voices to be stilled. Why is it so strange that the “natural” silent noise of the earth seems so unusual. We are so used to noise in this generation that I wonder if we are able to hear anything at all. Silence scares us, why?
Why did I not wake up earlier? I now begin to hear the low roar of the Hwy 101 bypass, soon the beeps, the vibrations and voices will overtake this unnatural natural peace. A new day is here to work, to play and to love. The silence reminds me to choose what noise I listen to. The silence reminds me the world doesn’t need to be so loud. Even in a crowd I listen for the voice of silence, she is not far away. Eventually she will quiet the anger and stress, that consumes our attentions. It is good to remember that our noise is temporary. The silence of the earth will live on long after our noise is done . . . maybe we can find peace if we would only learn to listen.
I’m simply intimidated by numbers. Those numbers are 911. Last Tuesday I was all ready to start a pithy little blog about this watermelon I cut. I noticed there was a heart shape in the cut, so I took a photo. As I was writing a short blog with a message something like, “How can you not be positive after cutting into a watermelon and finding a heart?” I looked down at the date. 9.11.18. I found that anything I tried to write fell short of inappropriate, maybe even stupid on this particular day.
I also had a very weird intuition about that Bitch in the Atlantic, Florence. Why intuition? Why did you have to be right this time? I’ve come to trust intuition —-sometimes it’s helpful, other times, you just wish it was wronger than wrong.
Considering positivity, one must acknowledge there are times of serious remembrance and fearful anticipation in the world. Additionally, when that anticipation becomes reality, a sense of empathy for the suffering and loss in the aftermath is in order. Sweet little stories need to be quiet. There are reasons to be less than positive aren’t there? At the same time, I constantly wonder, thus this blog, why look for and embrace the negative? How has it become good marketing technique to emphasize negativity? There are enough things that happen in life that make me want to quote something from the book, “Alexander’s Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” without the constant barrage of negative marketing.
When crisis occur whether that be world, national, weather related or at home, there is nothing positive about it. However, our response can be.
I’ll write about 911 in “Numbers” (Part 2). However for today, let me tackle flooding.
I’ve lived in Central Pennsylvania since 1995. For a Jersey Girl, it was quite surprising to me that there would be a great problem with flooding in the mountains. Yet, creeks rise, run-off happens and, wow! I’ve seen homes destroyed again and again. The Red Cross, churches and civic groups all collect much needed funds to help the victims of flooding. Yet, what I have found to be even more rewarding is volunteering. Whether it be along the Susquehanna River in Shickshinny, or a helping a year after the flood in a town up high in the mountains, help is needed. Often by folks who fall between the cracks where assistance is granted. Or something as terrible as Hurricane Sandy, or now Florence, getting involved with clean up, rebuilding walls and helping those who just happened to be in the path of something awful is incredibly helpful and personally rewarding.
The urgent aftermath is daunting, but trust me in months, even a couple of years from now, people will still be picking up the pieces of their lives and homes. When I was working with Penn State students we did quite a few trips to help others that were affected by devastating storms. What we found was very grateful recipients of our attempts to help. What I also found was a great sense of humanity at it’s finest. I saw students that never picked up a hammer before helping to stud-out a room. I saw others climb under crawl spaces in what looked like space suits pulling insulation out of the floor joists of a home that had been flooded (6 months after the storm). The results were wonderful. A sense of pride in a job well done. Statements like, “I never thought I’d ever do anything like this!” or, “I can’t wait to tell my Mom!”
I think anyone would agree with me that there is nothing positive about any crisis. Nothing. However, our caring response is priceless. Knowing there will be folks that will give of themselves in coming months and years to help gives me reason to celebrate humanity. Looking at first-responders risking themselves for others is the beginning. However, I see those who will be last-responders too. There are many unsung heroes who will respond to crisis in very practical and helpful ways. For this I’m grateful.
When I think of these good things that will happen in the near and far future in response to crisis, my heart is full. (Maybe a heart in my watermelon isn’t inappropriate after all).