Faux pas, anyone?

Back on track with another aspect of living a charmed life…….let’s talk about one form of grace.

How do you handle an embarrassing situation? 

I vote for trying not to dig yourself deeper into the trouble you’ve accidentally found yourself in.  An apology may be in order, so start with one of those.  Try to keep calm and think clearly and use as few words as possible going forward so as not to make things worse.  Make an attempt to smooth things over simply and honestly instead of bursting into tears and running out of the room, never to be seen again, which is what you would LOVE to do.  [If someone else has created the awkwardness in your presence, you may or may not want to help them out – it’s not your problem, but if something helpful comes to mind and they’re struggling, you might offer up something to lighten the mood.  This does not mean you can make the offender look bad instead.]

I was thinking this morning about a situation I found myself in several years ago.  I was at an event where 10-20 people had gathered to listen to a speaker.  There were refreshments either before or after, and I was attempting to be friendly and make small talk with a young lady serving herself ahead of me.  (Small talk, ugh.  But it must be done.)  I had noticed she had a limp, and I asked her if she had hurt her foot recently.  She politely informed me that she had a prosthesis.

facepalm statue

I somehow did not disintegrate into a pile of dirt like I felt I might and wished I would, and instead said something like “oh, I’m sorry; wow, you’re doing great, then”.  I may or may not have asked what happened to her foot to cause her to need a prosthesis – I probably did, but I honestly don’t remember.  You have to have a sense of the person and how they might feel about a continued conversation about it.  If they have been offended and spoke to you in a curt or accusatory tone, don’t keep asking questions or making comments and trying to converse about it to make up for your embarrassment.  But if, like this young lady, they are carrying the cross they’ve been given to bear with dignity and balance, they may be willing to discuss their unique situation.  No doubt I was not the first person in her life to refer to her slight limp.  Another person in her position could have been sick and tired of explaining for the umpteenth time to yet another idiot that she didn’t have a flesh and bone foot and whydon’tyoumindyourownbusiness.  I’m happy to say she seemed on good terms with it, did not act sorry for herself in any way, and did not shred me verbally for bringing it up, which allowed me to struggle less to keep my cool and my own dignity.

Hey, wait!  So the grace can go both ways.  If you are the potentially offended party, try not to overreact and make the speaker feel worse than they already probably do.  Remember that at some point, you’re going to be the one winning the Bonehead Award.  Give them the benefit of the doubt, be confident that it’s not what they were going for, and let’s all live happily ever after.

foot-in-mouth-award

~Every moment is a fresh beginning.  -T.S. Eliot

 

Like a baby’s…..

Thanks to genetics, I don’t look my age, and for that I am grateful.  Of course, the years are bound to start to show through eventually, and I believe that time has arrived.  I’m trying to enter into it gracefully.  I now work at a college, and being called “ma’am” by all the students is not helping with what I hoped would be a gradual ease into reality.  Apparently it’s more obvious than I like to think.  I believe my immaturity is due in part to my youthful appearance, and now I’m like, supposed to be mature and responsible and knowledgeable and stuff, dude.  Meh.

If you look in my bathroom cabinets, you would think I’m a Kardashian or someone with a similar attention to appearance.  That could not be less true.  I’m more apt to wipe my face off with a makeup remover towelette and brush my teeth with no toothpaste before I go to bed than to have any kind of evening beauty routine.  However, on the few nights a week (ok, sometimes two) that I do properly wash my face, I have been applying this afterward and I think it’s making a difference.  I perused the shelves at the drugstore and saw all the $25+ products that contain retinol and I thought “why not go right to the source”.  It is recommended that you add a moisturizer after the retinol dries because it can dry your skin.  But you were probably already moisturizing, like a responsible adult would.  I imagine if I actually used it daily, the results would be even better.  I had a passing thought that this pure retinol without all the extra ingredients might eat my skin off, but I have had no negative reactions.

skin melt
Retinooooollllllllll!!!!

If I try the other 987 concoctions that are on and around my vanity and any of them are effective, I’ll be sure and share that information.  It’s recommendations like these in other peoples’ posts that rid me of my money and clutter up my house.  Must try all the things!!  But seriously, I wouldn’t bother mentioning it if I wasn’t impressed by it.

Live long and prosper.

A Likable Goofball

Well, this is good news.  For those of you who don’t feel like reading the article, the Harvard Business Review presents the idea that coworkers/employees can be chosen for likability over competence.  I don’t know how competent I am, but I can be likable, and now I know that counts for something!

My goal is to be likable AND competent – that’s a winning combination that isn’t touched on here.  It’s presenting the either/or scenario.  Maybe the key is for the Competents to be less bossy or arrogant or angry or whatever negative trait they present.  Or for the goobers like myself to be a tad more serious and focused and slide the competency level up a bit.  My personal issue is short attention span and many interests.  I am curious about so many things and there’s only so much time to peek into all of them.  I know about a lot of different things but am an expert at none.

Of course, this new revelation should not be misunderstood – of course not all competent people are difficult to work with or unliked or any such thing.  I just thought it was interesting that there’s a place in the dynamic for all of us.  🙂

goofball

 

 

Grit.

I looked up synonyms for willpower, and one was grit.  Most definitions of grit pertain to sand, small particles, impurities in water, etc.  But hidden in the middle was “firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck”.  I have that sometimes, but not in specific areas.

I would like to have more focus, which is a topic for another post (or several).  Right now, I’m talking about a semi-related concern of willpower.  I had biometric screening done this morning, which consisted of taking my vitals, measuring my waist, and drawing a vial of blood.  I haven’t even gotten the results yet, and it has gotten my attention.  The measuring of the place where abs are supposed to be – THAT is what’s bothering me.  My BMI indicates that I’m about a millimeter away from overweight.  I was a skinny kid, and way-too-thin young adult.  My mom laughingly said “wait until you’re 25”, and I coasted through 25 wearing a size 5 and then hit about 28-29.  Baby bump.  Without the baby.  And it’s just gotten consistently bigger since then.  Actually, I’ve been the same weight for a few years, so I appreciate it not going too much farther lately.  My metabolism has slowed, I’ve become less active, I take medication that may contribute to wait gain.  I’ve basically gotten older and it shows.

waist-measurement-MF_998_380

Anyway.  I looked up articles on willpower.  This is one.  It suggests some interesting tips that I will try, but I’m not going into it with a lot of confidence.  My sister and I were talking last weekend about how if someone asks us if we’re up for a challenge, we’re quick to respond with “Nope, sure not.”  I don’t know about her reasonings, but I like to kind of go with the flow and be comfortable.  Dieting is neither of those.  It’s being the person who has to negotiate restaurants or dishes.  Saying no to a lot of things.  Counting calories and ounces of food (I don’t even know how to do that).  Possibly being HUNGRY, which is one of my least favorite sensations.  I know eating protein and fiber and all the good things keeps you full(er).  But I had a lettuce wrap sandwich for lunch and I have to tell you, I’m pretty darn hungry right now, a few hours later.

To me, losing weight involves the following:  shopping for healthy food, cooking at home quite a bit, reading labels, counting calories, knowing about good/bad fats, portion control, regular exercise, knowing the best exercise routines for your goal…….the list goes on.  Meanwhile, I’m working all day, volunteering, visiting with friends and family, and feeling guilty about leaving my dogs home alone for yet another thing (going to the gym).  Guess which one gets pushed to the back burner (hint: going to the gym).

I’m not obsessed about my figure.  I know there’s benefit to being happy in the body you’re in and not worrying about it.  I’m otherwise pretty healthy.  I just have this extra weight around my midsection, which is bad for the heart, and would feel more confident without it, but also know myself and know that trying to lose weight by being strict is maybe/probably not going to work for me.

Bottom line:  I have very little willpower.  Regarding diet, exercise, cutting back on sugar, making my bed every morning, saving instead of spending……there’s a pretty hefty list of things I don’t make myself do.  And I don’t know where it [willpower] comes from.  It was nice to see in the article referenced above that it can be practiced and built up.  Maybe I can go from zero to some if I give it a try.  And some is better than none, right?  🙂

 

Emotional Intel*

I’m intrigued by a new topic.  This happens about once a day, so I can’t really keep up very well.  “Squirrel!

Anyway, today ‘emotional intelligence‘ caught my eye.  Google Dictionary defines it as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically”.  How great would mastery of this be?!  There would be substantially fewer disagreements, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, fights, wars……….we’d live in a psychological Garden of Eden.

I ordered Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and am interested in learning more about this.  I have tried to practice it without even knowing what it’s called, and now want to intentionally incorporate it.

A Harvard Business Review article contained this chart, amid a bunch of words that I scanned briefly and remember none of (just show me the pretty pictures):

EMOTIONALINTELLIGENCE

So, the book is due to arrive on Thursday and I’ll read it sometime in the next several years and possibly remember to circle back around to this post and comment more on the details.

More likely what will happen is that I’ll find a new topic by Thursday, such as how jelly donuts are made or something equally important, and the book will sit on a stack of unreads for way too long.  Which brings me to THIS awesome little nugget that I was super excited to find out about.  Instead of feeling depressed about how I’ll be dead well before I read all my books, I can think about how smart I am to have them.  Or something.

*Abbreviations like this bug me.

Take Note

You know what I find to be fun?  Scrolling through memories I’ve stored in the Notes section on my iPhone.  When someone says something that I don’t want to forget (especially if it’s funny), I take a few seconds to type and save it.  My sister does the same thing, which we found out about each other randomly.  Now occasionally we’ll compare notes and laugh about things all over again.

This can also be done by hand with pen and paper, of course.  I also carry a little notebook in my purse for note-taking, I just have found that the phone option is more handy.

Here are a few random notes from my phone:

  • My mom:  “get the hell away from me”.  My sister thought she was talking to a wasp.  She was talking to me.  (In her defense, I was most likely bothering her on purpose.)
  • My aunt, while visiting NM, wanting us to look at the scenery:  “Are y’all craning your necks?”  (Apparently if we weren’t craning, we weren’t really trying.)
  • My aunt, referring to a lady from my childhood:  “She was a pretty dry stack of hay, I’ll tell ya.”
  • My mom, regarding my aunt:  “she can blame the tequila, now that she’s had some”.
  • An elderly businessman friend, regarding not visiting certain parts of Mexico during times of strife:  “All they want to do any more is kill people or hold them for ransom.  I don’t believe I need that aggravation.” (Hahaha!  Yes, being kidnapped or killed is definitely an inconvenience.)

You kind of have to know these people to get the full effect, and you also have to have a warped sense of humor like I do, but you get the idea.

I also use it to remember nice things, like an expression on someone’s face, a lady singing a hymn to herself, a tough-looking guy praising his tiny dog on a leash, a young man who worked at Goodwill pausing to thumb through a children’s book……..things that make you smile or that seem a bit unexpected.  I might never remember exactly how I felt at that moment unless I make a note of it.

There are a few random ideas listed that I probably will never do anything with but also don’t want to lose, just in case, such as something to write about, something that needs to be invented, or an idea for a piece of weird art.

It’s sometimes annoying to type or write the note, but it’s totally worth it later.  I hope you have a lovingly crazy family to reap hilarities from like I do.  Leave a comment if you do something similar and if it’s priceless, please share.  🙂

Notes

 

 

 

Not feelin’ it 100%

I’m not my usual jovial self today.  Outwardly, I seem fine.  Inside, I’m stressing out about money, lack of time, how I have way too much to do and don’t know where to start, the weather is crap and it’s going to be worse tomorrow, etc.

This made me think about how part of living a charmed life is the practice of not unloading your crummy mood on others.  Are you having a heart-felt conversation during a long lunch with a good friend?  Feel free to discuss your problems.  But don’t bring it up to everyone you meet in passing.  “How are you today?” does not mean they really want to know how you really feel today.  It’s simply a greeting.

Everyone has some sort of stress. Can you imagine if everyone unleashed and complained all the time?  The negativity would be overwhelming.  I’ve known people who have had such incredible health issues that if it were me, I’d be on disability and never get dressed.  Yet they get up, get ready, get out, are productive and somehow remain pleasant and upbeat!  Wouldn’t you rather associate with this person than with someone who whines about their lot in life?

I’m not suggesting you never have a genuine thought, feeling, or interaction.  Just that the whole aura around you will be so much better and you’ll be more apt to attract positivity if you put on a happy(-ish) face.  At least it won’t make your mood WORSE and you won’t bring down the people you associate with.

It takes self-control, but you can rein in your anger/frustration/apathy and not take it out on those around you.  They are probably not the reason you’re in a foul humor, so don’t make them pay for it, and if they are, the current moment may not be the best time to address it.

Think good thoughts, work as efficiently as you can, read or watch something funny, and know that you only have to hang in there for a while – change is always around the corner and here’s to hoping that it’s good.  🙂

 

A break from the norm

Let’s talk about something lighter today.  I have naturally wavy hair.  Not awesome-wavy, but more the frustrating, frizzy, not-quite-curly-but-weird-wavy, unpredictable variety.

I used to wash and dry and straighten my hair every day.  Then it was every other day. Now it’s every third day.  Partly because it was damaging my hair, partly because I dislike the task and it takes way too long, and partly because I’m less self-conscious nowadays.  Oily Hair, Don’t Care.

I’ve read recently about how it might be beneficial to wash your hair with conditioner only, and with shampoo only occasionally.  Shampoo tends to dry your hair out, which I don’t need with the added heat I subject my hair to.

wash hair

I hesitate to use conditioner only because while it may benefit the length of the strands, I don’t want the roots to remain/become too oily.  And I’m just lazy enough to not want to try this, have it fail, and then have to do my hair AGAIN the very next day.  And/or look like a victim of an oil spill the first day.

Any thoughts or personal experiences related to this topic are welcome.

 

 

Grazie.

One tiptoe toward a good life is to say thank you.  Be grateful for what others give you and don’t feel entitled.  This is more difficult if you are a juvenile – people are kind of supposed to give you things because you often can’t obtain them yourself.  But even then – don’t act entitled!  Your parents/guardians are only required to provide food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and education (K-12).  The rest should be considered a gift.  I was SUCH a jerk about things when I was a teenager.  We didn’t have a lot, but the necessities were covered.  I was provided a vintage car, for example, and when it didn’t start in the school parking lot, I was mortified and verbally abused my dad when he showed up to fix it.  In his work uniform.  Having just left a job he hated.  I could punch myself just thinking about it.

So.  If you have wealthy parents who shower you with everything you could ask for – say thank you.  And mean it.  If you have parents who are struggling and give you what they can – say thank you and absolutely mean it.  If you’ve never been given anything in your life and someone finally gives you something – accept it, say thank you, and be content.

Thank you

If you show gratitude, you’re more apt to get more.  Makes sense.  If you just keep taking without giving thanks, much less reciprocating, why would anyone want to endlessly keep heaping the goods or services onto you?  “Getting more” should not be the goal here.  But the circle of giving/getting will flow more smoothly if you say thank you for what you have received.

Here’s a side thought…….

Each person/family has their financial scenario.  Some people have millions upon millions of dollars.  That is their money that they earned/inherited/somehow possess.  They do not have to give you any of it.  They most likely (barring business/shared inheritance/special situations) do not owe you.  “They can spare it”, “It’s nothing to them”……these sayings are probably true and certainly offensive.  I don’t care if your billionaire uncle blows his nose in hundred dollar bills while you subsist on peanut butter sandwiches.  Hopefully he will share; but he doesn’t have to.  If you don’t ask for things and don’t expect things, then you will not be disappointed, but will be pleasantly surprised (and grateful!) if and when something comes your way.  Try to practice this mindset.  I know from conversations with wealthy people that they don’t like to be asked for things all the time or to be expected to bail you out.  It gets exhausting.  They often feel like they don’t have real friends or family that love them for who they are, but only what they can provide.  However, they will often help you if they see you struggling and if you are humble and trying to make your own way.  If and when they do this, SAY THANK YOU.  The best way I know of is to send a brief note on a card with a few words of appreciation.  It’s not difficult and it makes a difference.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” — Oprah Winfrey

Let me sum up

I don’t know if I believe in karma, but I do think that there is something to “getting back what you put out there”.  I do pretty well getting through life unscathed – my life has not been all good news and fun times, but things tend to work out nicely in the end.  I’d like to share some viewpoints that may help people see things differently if they’re struggling.

I have been with my boyfriend for a few years now.  He’s older than I (20 years!), somewhat sheltered, closed-off, and more than a little bit negative.    I told him early on that I had a “charmed life” and he scoffed.  Now he is starting to begrudgingly agree.    PS: My name means “elf”, so maybe the Universe had a hand in this.  (I’m kidding.  My name does mean “elf” but I’m not pretending to have benefited from nor possess any magic.)

I was an angry, depressed, emotional child and developed into an angrier, more depressed young adult.  I wasn’t a danger to society who took my frustrations out on the public at large.  No, I reserved that special treat for those closest to me.  My apologies to my little sister, my parents, and my first two boyfriends, specifically.

When I was dating the guy who would become my husband of 14 years, I decided I didn’t want to be that way any more, and I did something about it.  He didn’t deserve the new and improved me, but I had to change for myself.  There were a few setbacks, but for the most part, I was a better, more balanced individual.  This is largely because I knew medication would help, and I decided to take it consistently.  This is key.  If you can’t get your anger, jealousy, sadness, anxiety, and self-harmful thoughts and actions under control, consider medication.  The stigma is disappearing.  No one cares if you’re on medication for anxiety or depression.  If you’re on it, they are benefiting!  My dad could definitely use some chemical-balancing pharmaceutical assistance (my depression is hereditary), but he can’t last through the side effects.  I’d wager that science has come up with some better pills with fewer side effects in the past 20 years.  And if you’re sensitive to them, either give it a month and/or change the prescription to one that might work better for you.  It’s a pain in the neck, but in the end you’ll thank yourself.  My side effect the first time I took something (I can’t remember which one) was killer headaches.  I am now on a low dose of Venlafaxine and happy as a clam.  Why are clams considered happy?  I do not know.

Also, I know people who do not want to be on meds because they even out both the highs and lows.  This is true.  You feel happiness, you feel sadness, but they are not as intense.  Very high highs are called maniaNossir, I prefer to be calm, cool, and collected, thank you.  I am virtually unflappable.  It’s on my resume.  (I’m kidding.  But it has come up in job interviews.)

Anyway, this was intended to be a general welcome and it got specific.  Life is good, you can be happy(er), everything is not doom and gloom, etc.  Let’s take a journey through the ways to make this happen.