Banning the Snarky

IMG_0301  Me

I recently wrote a post about a snarky comment from a reader on one of my “6 Word Memoirs” and even though I wrote about not changing the post because of the comments; if I’m honest my initial reaction was that of having someone yell at me in line at the super market for accidentally brushing into them – apologetic, shrinking away, cowering.  I stayed away from that site for a couple of days, even though I was really enjoying the posts and coming up with my own.

When you put yourself out there, show your cards and share yourself, you are not going to please everyone; some people don’t agree with my point of view and some people are just horribly unhappy and want to share that with everyone else.

By nature I am a people pleaser and this is going to be a challenge to my psyche to take the criticism, constructive or destructive, that will inevitably come by putting myself and my thoughts out into the world.

But, this is also making me look at my own behavior and I have to admit I can be snarky and negative with the best of them, though I hope I don’t attack or bully people. But even that, I am sure I have probably done, at some point.  I am going to work on that part of myself, what is the saying, “you are what you put into the world” or something like that or maybe its “you get, what you give”? Anyway,  I hope you understand what I mean.

I don’t want to perpetuate the negative in the world and my world starts with me and the people around me. From today forward I am “banning the snarking” and a positive approach will be my reaction to every situation even the unhappy or difficult ones, because the only thing I can control is my reaction to what happens around me and to me. I will approach a problem or difficult situation with an eye to solving it in a positive and constructive way. No more negative, bashing, snarky responses that get me and those involved no where.

Now, I know this is easier said than done, as they say, but I am going to consciously try to be more positive in my approach to every situation and I’m “banning the snarky”. Wish me luck.

Do you have any helpful tips for getting through life’s difficulties with a positive approach?

 

 

 

Will I Be Alone?

IMG_0018  Recently, I sat inside a restaurant by a window looking out on to the patio eating area outside. An old woman with an oxygen tank sat out there alone eating her lunch and reading the “Trader Joe’s” “Fearless Flyer”.  Her grey hair was cut in a stylish short bob, she wore a colorful sweater and cute sneakers. The cord for her oxygen tank was tucked discreetly under her shirt and dangling to the ground with the tank itself in the seat next to her in a black bag.

She made me wonder about my life at that age (I do hope I make it that long in good health). Will I be alone? Chances are, yes I will be alone. I don’t have biological children, my step-daughters are older than I am, the grandkids are in far off places and I haven’t gotten to know the great-grandchildren as well as I would have liked. They grow up and get busy and we get less mobile.

Finding a second love of my life seems doubtful in my 50’s or my 60’s if I’m lucky enough to keep my husband healthy for that long. So a grey haired single life will be in my future. I guess for some the grey haired single life is swinging, a New York Times Op-Ed article I read, Sex and the Single Senior by Ezekiel J. Emanuel talked about the huge uptick in STD’s in those ages 65 and older;

“Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show rapid increases in S.T.D.’s among older people. Between 2007 and 2011, chlamydia infections among Americans 65 and over increased by 31 percent, and syphilis by 52 percent. Those numbers are similar to S.T.D. trends in the 20- to 24-year-old age group, where chlamydia increased by 35 percent and syphilis by 64 percent. Experts suggest there are four main factors contributing to the rise in S.T.D.’s among older Americans.”

The article also pointed out the similarities of retirement living to college campus living with lots of similarly aged people living in close proximity to one and other which was leading to the inevitable interaction of the sexes. This statistic about condom use was also interesting;

“But while they are having a lot of sex, seniors didn’t seem to get the safe sex memo, or when it came through they ignored it because they did not think it applied to them. They obviously don’t have to worry about pregnancy. And they grew up before the safe sex era. So seniors might think they have no reason to use condoms. According to the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, among college-age Americans, condoms are used in about 40 percent of sexual encounters, but only in about 6 percent of sexual encounters among those 61 and older. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that older men who use Viagra and similar drugs are six times less likely to use condoms compared with men in their 20s.”

Apparently they need to begin handing out safe sex pamphlets with those Viagra prescriptions. Mr. Emanuel suggested Social Security begin sending out safe sex messages with the retirement checks.

All of this rings true, I know not long after (I mean in a matter of weeks) my grandmother passed away there were at least three women vying for my grandfathers affections. And it wasn’t long before he had a girlfriend he was traveling with and spending time time together cooking and golfing. He said he wasn’t in love, but he liked the company.

Maybe there won’t be a second love of my life, but chances are I could get laid in my old age, if trends hold true. But, “No Glove, No Love” will be the rule.

Do you worry about any particular part of growing older?

A Nasty Comment From A Reader

IMG_0162  I received my first nasty comment from a reader.

I started writing on a site, that I actually discovered back in 2011, it’s called Smith, and they have a section on their site where you can write 6 Word Memoirs.  I posted my little story and picture about the Samba VW Van that I found on the SambaVW site – the pretty green and white one – under Need, Want, Desire, Isn’t She Beautiful. I included the part about donating to my dream at Paypal like I did here. Well that got me a nasty comment: You can read it on the site if you are interested.

The commenter schooled me on the rules of the site, called me tacky, told me no one owes me a damn thing and to get a job.

So, of course, first I needed to check out the “Terms of Use” on the site;

“SMITH Comments and Discussion Terms of Use

In order to make our Comments interesting and informative for our users, the following guidelines must be adhered to by all users posting and/or viewing comments:

– If a comment is made using your identity it will be deemed to have been posted by you.
– Do not post abusive, obscene, threatening, harassing, defamatory, libelous, offensive or sexually explicit material.
– Do not intentionally make, false or misleading statements.
Do not offer to sell or buy any product or service.
– Do not post material that infringes copyright.
– Do not post information that you know to be confidential or sensitive or otherwise in breach of the law.
– Keep all comments relevant and ‘on topic’ to the particular SMITH posting open for comments.
– SMITH will not accept responsibility for information posted in the Comments.

If SMITH receives notice that any posting is not in keeping with these terms and conditions or the intended use of the Comments, SMITH may remove that posting and/or any other related postings.

Please note that unless SMITH is notified of a posting that is not in keeping with these terms and conditions then we will not remove it, furthermore we do not exercise any form of editorial control or censorship of Comments other than the above stated procedure.”

I assume the commenter is referring to the item I have bolded in the list above: “Do not offer to buy or sell any product or service“.  Now I posted that memoir and link to Paypal with as a “tongue-in-cheek” joke and figured one of my friends would send me $0.26 and tell me they have helped me achieve 1/1,000,000th of my dream and say good luck. But now the commenter made me mad with their snarky comments and it has kind of become the principle of the thing.  I am neither buying nor selling with that post and do not think it violates these terms of use.

Second, no where in that post did I say or even imply that someone owed me a VW Van.

Third, why in the world would this commenter think I do not have a job. That part was just to add to the snarky meanness of their comment?

So I am keeping the memoir and the paypal information, not because I was really interested in a donation, but because if the commenter had politely mentioned the “Terms of Use” I would have said, oh my mistake and apologies, and removed that part of the post. But because they lacked class and manners the “tacky” post stays. Tacky apparently begets tacky!!

Do you think this violates their terms of use or was the commenter right? What do you think of donation solicitations on blogs or other sites?

Learning to Take a Compliment

IMG_0580  If words could kill, I would be taken down by a compliment!

I am so wired to deflect a complement it’s become an affliction. The other day the Director of the agency I work for gave me a complement in a meeting and I turned red, started to sweat and stupidly did a little 3-year olds clap, you know the little giddily quiet hand clap. What a freaking spaz!

I avoid meetings and events where awards, service recognition or other opportunities to be recognized are happening because it fills me with so much anxiety. And it’s a little strange because I am interviewed on T.V. quite a bit, I have done live T.V. and Radio shows, I talk to people at events all the time and am generally an out-there extrovert selling my book of business without restraint. But selling myself or worse someone pointing out something nice about me puts me into a sweat filled anxiety attack that makes me want to hurl.

I know I should smile, hold my head high and just say thank you, but that is f’ing  hard for me to do!

So I did what any mentally ill person would do, I searched the internet for the best psychological advice I could find. What? I spent all my mental health funds on a new sweater. Anyway, I found some helpful tips that I am going to put to use and I am posting a few of the best here incase some of you repurposed your mental health funds for a cocktail dress. One of my favorites comes from: Manolo for the Big Girl 

“You wouldn’t go up to someone and say “Hi, you know your favorite green cardigan? It’s awful. Seriously. It looks like a tennis ball sexually assaulted your grandma.” (well, I’d say that, but you all are nicer than I am) because obviously they LIKE the sweater and you don’t just go up to people and tell them they have bad taste, even if they really really deserve it.

This is doubly true in states with concealed handgun laws.

See, it doesn’t matter whether you believe the compliment or not. If someone says you have a lovely singing voice and you say you sound like a frog, what you’re telling this person is they have bad taste in music.

Rude.

So, next time, instead of making an ass of yourself, make A ASS of yourself:

Acknowledge – body language, a nodded head or a hand to the chest (preferably your chest) conveying you heard what they said and it’s touched you.

Accept – the actual words you use, “Thank you” is a good start. Keep it brief.

Smile – a smile lets them know they’ve made you happy, even if you don’t believe them

Shut up – Don’t devalue the compliment or try to repay it. You don’t want them to feel like they were fishing for a compliment of their own.

That’s it.”

 Clementine’s experiment, say it with me….

“So, we’re here with a little experiment. The next time you receive a good-hearted pat on the back, respond with two simple words:

Thank you.

Now, we’re not being sarcastic here. Nor do we have any intention of making light of something we all struggle with on a regular basis. Yet, those two commonly-used words are truly the best solution. Try it with us:

“Congratulations on the big promotion!”    Thank you.

“Wow! You look amazing this evening.”     Thank you.

“Your home is so lovely.”                            Thank you.

That’s it, dearest Clementines. No disparaging qualifying statements needed.”

And how could I not include a tip from the place where all geeks go for information, wikiHow suggests,

“When accepting the compliment as it is, even if it’s not something you agree with, keep the reply simple and stay focused on the fact of receiving the compliment and be appreciative that the person was happy to compliment you. Some examples are:
“Thank you very much” or just “thank you”. These are simple, timeless classics that should be easy enough to utter even if the compliment has caught you off guard. If that’s all you can think to say, leave it at that.
“Thanks, I appreciate that.”
“Thank you; that’s a really lovely thing to say.”
“Thanks – that makes me feel really good.”
“Thanks. That means a lot to me.”
“Thanks, you’re a kind person.””

Now with all these great tips at hand I will move forward in life no longer defecting a compliment but rather replying – Thank You!

How about you – any social situation make you want to hurl?  Can you take a compliment?

Meditation is Hard Work

New England 2007-23 I began my meditation commitment about two weeks ago.

I enjoy the sitting still and breathing for about 30 seconds, then my mind wonders, I start to fidget, I open my eyes and look at the clock and it hasn’t even been 30 seconds, try 15 seconds. But I do what I’ve read, take it easy on myself, bring myself back to my breath, relax my shoulders and try again.

I have been reading more about meditation and the practice that is going “mainstream” and found this article in the New York Times by Tony Schwartz, More Mindfulness, Less Meditation that had some interesting points.

Here’s the promise: Meditation – and mindfulness meditation, in particular – will reduce your cortisol level, blood pressure, social anxiety and depression. It will increase your immune response, resilience and focus and improve your relationships — including with yourself. It will also bolster your performance at work and provide inner peace. It may even cure psoriasis.”

Wow, if it’s this great why isn’t it required in school just like gym and health class? And now it is really becoming the fad de jour when Rappers and Silicon Valley folks are getting on board, not to mention the Seattle Seahawks.

50 Cent meditates. So do Lena Dunham and Alanis Morissette. Steven P. Jobs meditated, and mindfulness as a practice is sweeping through Silicon Valley. A week from Saturday, 2,000 technology executives and other seekers will gather for a sold-out conference called Wisdom 2.0, suddenly a must-attend event for the cognoscenti.

The author, Mr. Schwartz, has been a regular meditator for nearly 25 years according to his article and wrote a book about it called “What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America” but his years of experience tell him that it isn’t a magic cure for all that ails you. He writes,

The simplest definition of meditation is learning to do one thing at a time. Building the capacity to quiet the mind has undeniable value at a time when our attention is under siege, and distraction has become our steady state. Meditation – in the right doses — is also valuable as a means to relax the body, quiet the emotions and refresh one’s energy. There is growing evidence that meditation has some health benefits.

What I haven’t seen is much evidence that meditating leads people to behave better, improves their relationships or makes them happier.”

 He goes on to write;

“Consider what Jack Kornfield has to say about meditation. In the 1970s, after spending a number of years as a monk in Southeast Asia, Mr. Kornfield was one of the first Americans to bring the practice of mindfulness to the West. He remains one of the best-known mindfulness teachers, while also practicing as a psychologist.

“While I benefited enormously from the training in the Thai and Burmese monasteries where I practiced,” he wrote, “I noticed two striking things. First, there were major areas of difficulty in my life, such as loneliness, intimate relationships, work, childhood wounds, and patterns of fear that even very deep meditation didn’t touch.”

I don’t expect meditation is going to solve all my problems, but I hope if I keep practicing that it might bring me a little bit of peace, help me focus more on what matters and help me understand myself a bit better. Maybe I am asking too much?

Mr. Schwartz’s column also gives some suggestions about starting with the basics. I might need the remedial class!

“First, don’t expect more than it can deliver.

Second, start simply.

Third, don’t assume more is better.”

The three steps in the article include more practical advise about using it wisely including this comment from Catherine Ingram, author of “Passionate Presence“,

“There is a difference between mindfulness meditation and simple mindfulness. The latter isn’t a practice separate from everyday life. Mindfulness just means becoming more conscious of what you’re feeling, more intentional about your behaviors and more attentive to your impact on others.”

I see both mindfulness and meditation with possibilities for improving me. If I improve me, I can use what I learn to improve things for others in and around my life. So I will keep trying, two minutes at a time.

Do you meditate yet? Why not – everyone else is!