Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Good, The Bad and the Oh, So Frustrating in Each of Us

There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it hardly behooves any of us
To talk about the rest of us.

Edward Wallis Hoch

The holidays always provide an opportunity for us to remember all people can be good and bad, kind and irritable, helpful and obstructive, accommodating and frustrating. Yes, even the sweetest among us have a dark side and, woe to you who triggers the dark side of a perpetually sweet one. I hear they are scary.

Treat yourself to seeing the movie, The Descendants, with George Clooney, directed by Alexander Payne. But first, don’t get your hopes up about lusting after George. I know you will think this impossible, but they do attempt to make him look dorky. In those pants and with the running scene, they nearly succeed. Even so, it’s a stretch to believe any wife would cheat on George! Nevertheless, the movie is worth your time to be reminded of the truth of the Edward Wallis Hoch’s poem above.

Every person in the film reveals both sides of his/her character. Yes, George too. It forces the viewer to grapple with moral and ethical dilemmas that we would like to deem easy, clear cut choices. Does being an absentee father make it okay for your daughters to talk to you with disrespect? Does being a friend mean you don’t tell the spouse about infidelity? Without spoiling the film, let’s just say—there are no easy answers when you’re willing to admit we are all flawed human beings.

The reminder I walked out of the theatre with is this: I want to be loved in spite of all my shortcomings so I must constantly remember to put aside the bad, irritable, obstructive and frustrating behaviors of others. Easier to remember than to pull off during the holidays! Renew your strength and just do it!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Off to Bad LauguageVille

Mimi AKA Brenda is being carried off to Bad LanguageVille

Where do you stand on raucous, naughty, semi-bad or down-right gross language? I’m forced to ponder this issue anew because of grandchildren.

When we discovered only half of our Christmas tree made the move from Raleigh and Lexington, grandson Tristan and I set out to buy a new one on a rainy cold Sunday afternoon. What was I thinking? Michael’s, the arts and craft store, was packed and a little boy’s wonderland of distraction.

After we had accomplished our goal and a dear-to-my-heart employee helped us get the tree into the car, I turned to Tristan in the back seat and said, “We did it! Tristan and Mimi bought the new Christmas tree and we got a big ass tree!”

Appalled, he shouted, “Off to Bad Languageville. Population: YOU!”

I like bad language. It expresses my feelings sometimes when nothing else will. I get annoyed with my carrot-up-the-butt friend (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) when he chastises every use of a colorful word.

When my children were pre-teens, I explained to them, “Language is neither moral nor immoral. But it is appropriate and inappropriate to particular situations.” Of course, they had to push the limits of my explanation most significantly by dropping the f-bomb to their great aunt, a retired missionary. So much for that parenting technique.

I’m currently reading Stephen King’s book titled, On Writing. He likes bad language more than I do. Does that make him less a writer? Less a person? Less a parent? I ponder these things.

We’ve even reached the point that we have words that are used at Mimi and Pappa’s house but not at school or church. Tristan told me he knew so much about the Noah’s Ark story he even knew the “freakin’ pigeons” built their house on the top of the ark. I reminded him that freakin’ is not a church word. He said, “It’s not a bad word, Mimi.” He’s right, but I still reminded him that it is not a school or church word. Are you drawing arbitrary lines between school, church, profession, writing and personal words?

What do you think? Do you also reside in Bad LanguageVille?  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Yes, Art Linkletter, Kids STILL Say the Darndest Things - Part Two

Husband John AKA Pappa-razzi says every weekend when we have Tristan overnight, “Are you writing these down?” He means all the cute, amazing comments Tristan comes up with on an hourly basis.

When we drop him back at his house, I ask his Mommy, “Where in the world does this kid get these comments?”

She replied, “Welcome to my world. I ask myself every day, ‘where did he get that?’”

A sampling:

He awakened in our bed Easter morning and I asked, “Do you want to get up now and go wish Pappa a Happy Easter.” He answers, “No, let’s just lie here and enjoy this Easter moment.” I didn’t even know 5 year olds had “Easter moments.”

We had a conversation about tears because he saw me putting eye drops in and asked what they were. I explained and went on to joke about them being tears of joy because he was spending the night. I asked if he had ever cried tears of joy just because something was so wonderful, joyful or emotional. He didn’t have to blink an eye before responding, “Yes, in the movie Mee-Shee because the music was so beautiful!” He was speaking of Jim Henson’s movie, Mee-Shee: The Water Giant. I have no idea how long ago he saw that movie but it was recent. Music moves his soul and he can tell you about it.

One of my recent favorites was the story he told me about asking the cafeteria lady, “Do these muffins have mosquitoes in them, because I’m allergic to mosquitoes.” He said it took the lunch ladies a couple of minutes to know it was a joke!

Tristan knows his Uncle Mark—never mind that Uncle Mark died three years before Tristan was born. For example, we were at Applebee’s one evening when Tristan ordered French Fries and an order of bacon. I ordered potato skins which, of course, had bacon on them. I said, “Tristan, look we’re having the same thing, potatoes and bacon. What else do we both like?”

Without missing a beat, he replies, “We both love Uncle Mark.” Yes, he melts my heart on a daily basis.

Another Uncle Mark episode began with a discussion about ghosts, Tristan current and seemingly only fear.

“Mimi, do you believe in ghosts?”

“It depends on what you mean by ghosts. If you mean the state of the human body when someone has died and gone on to heaven, then, yes, I believe in ghosts. And I’ll tell you a secret I have told very very few people. Shortly after Uncle Mark’s death, he was sitting in that very rocker and said to me, ‘Mom, I’m okay. Don’t worry.’”

Tristan took this in and shortly afterwards went to the bathroom. He came back all excited and said, “Mimi, Uncle Mark was in the bathroom and told me he was okay in heaven.”

What do you say in response to that?

And then he shows up the next weekend saying in a New Jersey accent, “What am I? Chopped li-vah?”

Yes, Art, kids still say the darndest things.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Did St. Teresa of Avila write this prayer for me?

Photo by Pappa-razzi AKA John Lynner Peterson

Some anonymous writer had captured my prayer and with apologies to St. Teresa of Avila, I share it with you today. Perhaps you will find it one you need to pray this year too.

Thou knowest better than I myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking
I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to
straighten out everybody’s affairs.

Make me thoughtful but not moody;
helpful but not bossy.

With my vast store of wisdom,
it seems a pity not to use it all;
but Thou knowest, Lord,
that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details;
give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips on my aches and pains;
they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for improved memory,
but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness
when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person
is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places
and talents in unexpected people;
and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hugo, the movie and Finding Your Purpose

"If a man love the labor of any trade, apart from any question
of success or fame, the gods have called him."
Robert Louis Stephenson

John and I took grandson, Tristan, age six, to see the new movie Hugo last Saturday. Take every adult and child you know to see this movie. It is director Martin Scorsese’s tribute to film making but the beauty of it is in the cinematography (be sure to spurge for 3D) and the over-arching message.

Hugo is a young boy whose parents die and he is left in the care of a drunken uncle who tends the clock in the train terminal of Paris, France. I won’t be a spoiler by telling you more but the theme that speaks to us all is subtly expressed when Hugo says as he looks out on Paris from the clock tower, “If the whole world is a machine like a clock then there are no extra parts. So, I am not an extra part. I have a purpose and I must find it.”

Ahhhh, if we could each find our purpose what an achievement it would be. What is your purpose? Are you doing that now? Are you happy with what you are doing now? I have found in my work that if you are living your purpose it has a ripple effect on all your life—especially that prickly reality of time management.

I call my time management course The Last Time Management Course You Will Ever Need because the instruments force you to set priorities and define your purpose. After doing that, your management of time will fall comfortably in to place.

Do yourself a New Year favor, sign up here to take my course.

And go see Hugo!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Stress Buster

There are only two words to know in reducing your stress around the holidays.

Lower Expectations!

This message was blatantly stolen from therapist extraordinaire, Dr. Nancy Fine of Newtown, PA.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year.