Category Archives: attitude

Fracas and Round Green Vegies

That would be War and Peas

“I always eat peas with honey
I’ve done it all my life
It does make them taste kinda funny
But at least they stay on the knife.”

After 40 years as a mom, I learned something: some of my kids don’t like peas.

What? I LOVE peas! It’s funny since every time I served them, my kids ate them. They also ate carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, asparagus. Whatever I served they ate. I always used fresh or frozen and the only time I used canned peas was in a tuna-macaroni salad. Now, I have some picky in-laws. If they don’t like something, they just don’t eat it. My kids may not like something that is served, but they eat it anyway. I was going to experiment and invite my kids over and serve only their least favorite foods. But I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Did I ever sit at the table while a kid stared at his food watching it get cold for 2 1/2 hours? Of course. I warned the stubborn child that if he/she didn’t eat it now, I’d have it creamed on toast for breakfast, and ground-up with mayo and pickle relish for lunch, and in the salad the next night until it was alllllll gone! I didn’t have picky eaters at my house.

I remember once we invited a kid over for supper. I was serving spaghetti, and he announced he was having a hotdog. My kids thought that was really funny. I put a small serving of spaghetti on his plate and gave him the option of just cheese and butter or sauce and he looked at me as if I had eels on my head and asked, “Didn’t you hear me? I asked for a hotdog.” I told him I heard him but ignored him. He grabbed his stuff and went home. My kid was devastated. “How could you embarrass me like that?” It’s not my fault that the kid mistook my kitchen and dining table for a restaurant.

I probably damaged all my kids irretrievably that day.

But they all ATE PEAS when I served them.

 

 

The Plot Sickens

Whatever happened to basic human decency? Neighbors caring for neighbors? People helping out in causes bigger than themselves?

News flash! Oh wait, we don’t trust the news. Instagram flash! Oh drat. Check the source. Minions bearing a large “Illumination” sign. That’s the ticket… HUMAN DECENCY IS NOT BASIC! If good behavior wasn’t unusual, would it be news?

So now we have people stuck in their houses with their families. At the 2-month mark, we’ve discovered that many people don’t even LIKE their families. They don’t like being cooped up with them, working from home with distractions, schooling them at home, entertaining them at home! But we don’t want to get sick. However, there comes a point where the need to escape becomes more urgent than the need for safety. We can’t just go bowling. What would get people out on the street that would make plausible sense? OOOH! Protest marching! We used to do that in the 60s. What can we protest? Um. Something involving freedom? Sure! “You can’t make us wear masks! You can’t make us stay home!” That doesn’t get enough people into the street. TADAAA! We have an injustice we can protest. We have global support! The French in Paris are supporting this cause of cops versus black people in Minnesota. Now let me ask you. If you knew that the French police were targeting a group of people for trumped-up charges and murdering innocents, would you protest in the streets? I wouldn’t. What is this protest supposed to accomplish? Being Shamed by the French, albeit embarrassing, is not something to be taken seriously.

So now we have a legit reason for leaving the house and congregating in large crowds of people we don’t know, some of whom might have contracted the virus and are asymptomatic. Are you ready for Round Two in the pandemic?

Now there are more potential carriers in public. You don’t know that the people that you deal with don’t know who of their friends were in that protest. They don’t know that someone that was negative for corona yesterday is positive today. But we all enjoyed that little vacation from isolation, didn’t we. Open up the country! Re-open the businesses! Open the bars and restaurants and movie theaters! It’s safe now! Is it? Are you ready for another 2-4 months stuck with your crazy family?

If you want to destroy a society, you break down the family unit. (What better way to do that than to make them stay at home with them for 6 months?!) We’ve already made the word “family” ambiguous. This is a good thing! It has allowed people to be in “family groups” that are outside the norm and family ties are still fairly strong. We can have 2 moms or 2 dads, or 2 sets of parents including the step-parents in addition to the nuclear family. And with the advent of basement kids, the family is now including live-in grandparents, much like what life was before the nuclear families we grew up with.

The problem we’re facing is legislative definitions of families, and agencies that determine if the home is suitable for families can split families apart instead. We’re also facing domestic abuse on a much larger scale than was previously thought. This is a morale problem, not a moral problem. Hope and optimism are taking hits every day. Unemployment and underemployment take parents out of the house in order to make enough money to survive on. Children are getting socially trained by people who are paid to be surrogate parents. They may not care as much about the children’s development as the parents would. Our religious groups are by default considered houses of propaganda and ridiculed as narrow-minded and inflexible. Without spiritual training, how can we best discuss and adopt a perspective on good personal behavior and personal relationships? Yes, it can be done without religion, but when you think about it, where better to practice than a place where everyone is an active example of the best behavior and attitude?

Then there’s the effect of the SmartPhone on the public. The advent of instant communication without filters is breaking down civility. You have seen the rants and the short sound bytes and memes that announce a person’s entire philosophy. Who could communicate a belief system in 7-10 words? And yet… Well, if this is the default communication, how do families relate to each other? We are less and less able to use colorful, descriptive language and our deep thinking is much more shallow. Have you ever read anything by Mark Twain?

“Each of you, for himself or herself, by himself or herself, and on his or her own responsibility, must speak. It is a solemn and weighty responsibility and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government or politician. Each must decide for himself or herself alone what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man, to decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor. It is traitorous both against yourself and your country.
Let men label you as they may, if you alone of all the nation decide one way, and that way be the right way by your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country, hold up your head for you have nothing to be ashamed of.
It doesn’t matter what the press says. It doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. It doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. Republics are founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe in. no matter the odds or consequences.
When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move. Your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world:
“No, you move.”
― Mark Twain

The signs of excessive indulgence in this destructive pastime are easily detectable. They are these: A disposition to eat, to drink, to smoke, to meet together convivially, to laugh, to joke, and tell indelicate stories— and mainly, a yearning to paint pictures.
― Mark Twain

Look at that vocabulary! Can you see pictures in your mind as you listen to these words? We now seek for the shortest, most ineloquent utterances to describe the most banal of events. “Ya, that’s daft.” But in that pursuit, we often sacrifice a deeper meaning to situations and that can cause a problem that repeats itself until someone DOES assign a deeper meaning to the event.

If we then disrupt the family with so little time together; if we allow our children to grow up without our good example; if we don’t foster good relations and better character and don’t seek people of character; if we don’t communicate except by electronic means; then the family as a unit will start to disintegrate. We now have accomplished step 2 in undermining our society.

We aren’t being attacked by a foreign country or inundated by evil forces. We’re doing this to ourselves. Stay tuned to another episode!

 

BLM

How many of you have black friends? How many of you are black? This is why I love blogs. You have no idea what color the person is by their writing. Unless they include a picture on their profile page it doesn’t really matter does it! Here, we’re all equal. All of our thoughts and words matter.

I have black friends, so I’m not a racist. I meet every one of my friends, regardless of color with smiles and hugs or a hardy handshake. I’m happy to see them and interact with them. I don’t care what color they are.

We’ve all felt like this. We’ve all heard people say this.

Here’s the thing: my friends that are black I have met in a controlled environment. I was in school with them. I go to church with them. I work with them. They’re clients of mine or students of mine. I control the environment. I get to know them on a personal one-on-one basis. I don’t see my black friends as representatives of a whole race. I see them as individuals that I know and like. They do everything they can to keep things easy between us. I never thought they were having to compromise to keep our friendship. I assumed they acted the same way with their other friends. I had an occasion to see them with their friends at church. They act completely differently! I was surprised.

What compromises do they make? What kind of adjustments do they have to employ to make me feel comfortable? They make an effort to speak in a way that I don’t have to translate. Let me give you an example.

My friend Jon was a Math major taking Music Appreciation classes. I was a music major taking Calculus and we were in the same class. When the teacher got carried away and I couldn’t keep up, I’d raise my hand and say, “Music Major!  Translate please!” Jon thought it was funny and approached me and asked for my help in his Music Appreciation class. We would meet in the music library and listen to and analyze the music for his assignment. While we were talking, we had no problem communicating. One day, his friends saw us in the library and came in to visit. He switched his language to something that sounded like it came from an alien planet! He slurred his words and used terms and some vocabulary I had never heard before. He changed pitch, he changed the rate of speed, he changed his references and his gestures. When his friends left, he switched back to my language. I was flabbergasted! He was, in a sense, bilingual.

I grew up in a college town. Kids came up from Kansas City to this school, and though they were in the minority, they were music majors they were in the band my dad directed. I got to know them when I hung out after concerts and football games. So when I found myself on a floor at Illinois State where the black women’s sorority met, it felt weird that they were using some of the same words my Kansas City acquaintances used, and sounded like white people using them. I had to open my door to check to see if they really were black. Picture Maggie Smith saying, “You go girl.” Picture Helen Mirren, her hands on her hips and head tilted, yelling, “Say What?” It was comical. They were from Chicago! Now I think, after talking to a couple of them that if any of the slang they used was spoken by the Kansas City kids I knew, they’d sound equally bizarre.

Why do we have to have separate languages? Every culture has its “tells.”

In no other culture did people refer to their slaves as anything other than servants. They were still people. In the US, they were considered machinery. They weren’t even endowed with sentience. If they developed sentience and asked to be treated well, or tried to escape, they were captured and “fixed!” If a person wanted to survive this situation, they had to stay subservient and “insentient.” They were to remain uneducated to protect themselves from abuse. No one would treat an animal like these people were treated.

Then they were given freedom! and the VOTE!!! Why would you give rights to machinery? By now this approach to these former slaves was ingrained. This whole race was considered living machinery. They weren’t real people! To survive, they had to adopt unthreatening language and behaviors. Don’t speak intelligent English because that makes white people nervous. The machines might get angry and retaliate for abuses.

See? This is mental abuse. There’s this woman in this crime show who is continually belittled because her house isn’t clean, the food she cooks is awful, and she’s clearly stupid. Her children even say that. They’re mad that she doesn’t attend their events. When asked, the woman says she couldn’t come because she might inadvertently embarrass them. She kills her husband. Admits to it. Cleans up the blood on the floor so that there wouldn’t be a mess when the police came to arrest her. She knows her house is a mess. One of the hangars in her husband’s closet is 1/4″ too close to the next hangar and it throws the rest of the closet off. There’s too much pepper on the macaroni and cheese. It’s a wonder her family doesn’t starve. She knows she’s stupid. She knows that she’s ugly, and wears old, patched clothes because you don’t dress up a pig. And yet, she kills her husband.

Now imagine that on a large scale. You’re treated like a machine. You aren’t allowed a good education. You aren’t allowed to socialize with anyone who’s not on the property. You develop survival behaviors to avoid the abuse and the compensating behaviors that keep you sane and ward off punishment. It becomes ingrained in your behavior.

On the other side, you know these black people ARE people. You’ve never had slaves. They speak like uneducated poor people. You Know you are superior to them because you don’t have a poor-person culture like they do. (All of them.) They tend to act out against getting treated like poor uneducated people, which makes no sense since they are poor uneducated people. Except for Bill Cosby and Diahann Carroll, no black people can think or act in a civilized manner. You don’t socialize with them, you don’t want them in your business, and you couldn’t imagine them in your church or neighborhood. Smart, well-educated black people tend to make you nervous. Everyone fears sentient machinery. That’s one reason why when Azimov created robots in his stories, he had the 3 laws:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

He was allowing people to be comfortable with the machinery that served them. It gave them the inability to harm their masters. You could be as abusive as you wanted–mentally or physically. It would allow you to do this as long as the abuse didn’t threaten its existence. But it is still the attitude of white people that black people are essentially sentient machinery–flesh and blood robots. In other words, they are Robots without The 3 laws.

You see this in the comments on some of the events. “Do what the cops tell you! Don’t resist! Don’t reach for your cell or your wallet. Don’t talk back if you don’t want to get dropped!” See? “It’s YOUR fault that if you are black they will shoot you if you do the wrong thing. Don’t you dare protest your treatment! You’re probably guilty of something so be compliant!” They don’t shoot white punks that insult police and fight them and struggle and resist arrest. But if you’re black, they will restrain you with a knee to the neck because you’re inherently an evil machine that has broken the first and second laws. And if you defend yourself they won’t recognize the third law–you do NOT have the right to protect yourself.

So see? If you’re white, you can have black friends and still be racist. Your black friends are the exception rather than the rule. If you’re black, you can have white friends and still be racist. If you have to change your language and behavior so drastically to maintain the relationship, you are making your white friends the exception.

Differences Exist! You cannot look at a person who’s a different color than you and not see the color. But here’s the most important thing: You must not assume certain characteristics based on the color of a person’s skin. Skin color doesn’t give you any information other than the place of origin for ancestors long past memory. It tells you nothing of the character or the education level or the ambitions or the dreams of anyone.

We CANNOT get to the point of saying “All Lives Matter” until we stop associating skin color with a whole set of behaviors. You have to see people as people before you can treat them equally. No adjectives. No white people, black people, brown people, yellow people, red people, tall people, short people, slim people, fat people. Just PEOPLE. So we start with Black Lives Matter until they do.

ADHD or Autistic

Isn’t it strange that every little kid in elementary school is on drugs to BECOME autistic? No, the teachers don’t want to teach autistic kids. That would be really hard! But if the 5-year-old can’t sit at his desk and quietly do his school work for 6 hours a day, he needs drugs. If your kid is daydreaming, we need to get him on drugs. If he’s laser-focused and suddenly starts rocking back and forth and jumps when someone touches him, he needs drugs.

All the genius detectives out there are slightly autistic or OCD or Sociopaths. If there are as many genius villains out there, YOU WILL NEVER CATCH THEM! They’re all smarter than you are! And yet…since we don’t want ADHD kids or Autistic kids in school, we try to drug the ADHD kids to focus more and the Autistic kids to focus less. They’re the anomalies. But remember how I once said that there is no normal? Where do you draw the line? Well, in the Normal Curve, 68.27% of people should be considered normal, about 14% are above normal and below normal, and the tiniest sliver (2%) are genius-level and way below normal. Kids are expected to act autistic and not be autistic, and Autistic kids have to learn to act ADHD to keep from being ostracized by “normal” people.

According to APA (American Psychiatric Association) the number of kids who are ADHD is in the 5% range, but the CDC puts it at 11%. The number of geniuses is about 1-2%, but they don’t know for sure because geniuses are ostracized and bullied and ignored by teachers because nobody knows what to do with them. There should be about 6 million geniuses in the US. How many do we know about?

I have had to work with a variety of students…from painfully shy and withdrawn to bouncing off the walls, from IQs of 60 to IQs of 140, from painfully dull to technicolor imaginations. Everyone learns differently, and yet, I haven’t run into a single person that couldn’t be taught.

I’m teaching 2 brothers. One is 8 and has been taking lessons for 4 years, and his little brother is almost 5 and just starting. The older one has a laser focus but only for a short time. But he didn’t use to be able to finish a song during his lessons. He would stop in the middle and ask me if all the planets were round. He’d stop on the next to the last note of the song and have to tell me what he learned in his history lesson. He plays Beethoven now. The younger one believes that any note that he plays with his thumb is a C. Each note in his book has a weird-looking alien that represents it. The green alien is C, the Blue is B, the Red is F. He remembers all their names but not the names of the notes on the page. He doesn’t focus on position, he focuses on color and facial expressions. Do I teach him using the alien method? No, but he will remember the aliens long after I’ve finished teaching him in 20 years. He will learn auditorially faster than visually. His ability to focus will get better and he will be able to focus for longer periods of time.

I have another student that will sit down to practice 15 min every day, and find that 2 hours have gone by. He’s always surprised that he’s lost time. See? I am glad I have these students on a one on one basis rather than sitting like little dolls on boxes. We don’t want to teach them to be JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER LITTLE KID. Because there is no “normal” type of behavior. We don’t want them medicated to act like “normal” kids because that is impossible. Enjoy them just the way they are. Why? Because that kid you bully may be the next serial killer, and he’s coming after you first.

What do we do now?

How do we go back to being civil with people?

How can we bounce back after such a crisis?

Down the road, will anything we accomplish during this quarantine be significant?

How do you handle the fear?

How do you face this new tomorrow? Where will your energy come from?

Spotlight books

Funny you should ask.

The books we’ve written are rather diverse and so are our authors. There are between nine and 13 of us at any one time. The youngest is 28, the oldest in the 70s. We are housewives, social workers, grandmas, grandpas, single, married, PHDs, Bachelor’s degrees, Black, White, Brown…You get the idea? We shouldn’t even be friends, but here we are writing books together.  Why? Because we all have these same challenges but a huge number of perspectives. Am I fearful because of uncertainty in the leadership and unforeseen circumstances over which I have no control? No, but one of the other authors is. Am I finding it hard to get off my couch after all this turmoil? Yes. But not everyone has that perspective.

  • What will it take for you to get to a point where you don’t feel stressed?
  • What would you read to get your head straight on your circumstances?
  • Where would you look for direction?

Can you identify with at least one of the authors of the books? Probably. If you could figure out how someone like you not only survived but thrived during these interesting times, wouldn’t you at least be curious?

The books are available at the Book Worm in Omaha (the same place Warren Buffett shops) and Amazon.

Spotlight on the Art of:

  • Grace
  • Resilience
  • Significance
  • Fear
  • Generating Energy

I confess: I looked into my crystal ball and KNEW 2 years ago that we’d be in a situation like we now face. Every one of those books has a nugget or 12 of insight that will help you cope.

You can see us at Alternative Book Club

Is it just me?

Monk, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Reid, Dr. Brennan. All crime show detectives. All brilliant.

Penelope Garcia, Abby Sciuto, Felicity Smoak, Skye. All FEMALE Computer hackers. All brilliant.

Now. Find something normal about them.

Do you see? You cannot be brilliant and have a normal social life. You cannot be brilliant and not be a bit autistic or OCD or borderline Schizophrenic. All these common traits in brilliant people on TV and in Movies are exaggerated in order to make normal people feel better about themselves? Whatever for?

Why are we still doing Mad Scientists?

Why can’t brilliant people be charming and suave and debonaire? Why can’t child prodigies have a normal social life?

Ever since Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein’s Monster, the mad scientist has been codified.

  • Every brilliant person is quirky
  • No brilliant person can make friends
  • No brilliant person ever works as hard as the rest of us
  • Every brilliant person is a braggart
  • Every brilliant person has a huge vocabulary and no emotions
  • Every brilliant person is socially awkward
  • Every brilliant person knows they’re the smartest person in the room
  • Every brilliant person listens to nothing but classical music

They are emotionally immature. They are not empathetic. They prefer to be alone.

Now add to that the fact that smart people are mistrusted, avoided, and ridiculed for their entire time in school. Then, to make things worse, the abuse doesn’t stop after school. They are called names, and patronized, and categorized as “other-than-normal”.

I understand why you’re more likely to find an EVIL genius than an ANGELIC genius. The tree in Eden was called the Tree of Knowledge…but it was the knowledge of good and evil and people never add that last part. Wouldn’t you, if you had been treated as an anomaly, as a freak, as some sort of alien all your life, want some sweet revenge? Use technology beyond mortal understanding! Be the master of the ultra-long con! And yet the evil geniuses that became serial killers preyed on women and girls mostly. They didn’t take over the world, did they?

Who did? CEOs, Judges, Senators (?!), Members of the House of Representatives, and the rich (read billionaires, not millionaires). The extremely smart represent 1% of the population. If the population was evenly represented, 1% of the homeless would be extremely smart, 1% of the blue-collar workers, 1% of the athletes…you see? But this is not the case. If it were, then 1% of the CEOs would be at the 130-140 level and that is a shocking 38% instead. 1% of billionaires would be brilliant, and yet 45% of them are. The Senate has 41% brilliant members, and the House–20%. How can this be? They don’t fit into the category of geniuses and brilliant people. Those types are supposed to be geeky, autistic, OCD, quirky people. How could they make friends? How could they possibly get elected? Shouldn’t the people in power be the alpha dogs? The emotionally intelligent, type A personalities with tons of charisma and 1000s of FaceBook friends? They’re not.

I was always told that “A” students work for “C” students. Not in 38% of the cases… If the brightest people only make up 1% of the population, why are there 38 times more CEOs in the 1% than there are supposed to be? We’d have to do some regression analysis, but I’d say that there’s a significant correlation between intelligence and the CEO position. It’s the same for Judges. I challenge you to find a judge or a CEO that acts like Sherlock or Monk or Reid or Brennan. 

Quit putting brilliant people into the “weird” box. Quit assuming that brilliant people have no social skills. Quit bullying them because you know what? When your case comes up in front of THAT judge, you’re going to go down. If you want the best lawyer, you’d better remember if he’s the one you stole lunch money from. When you’re having that heart attack, remember how you treated your surgeon in 6th grade. Remember that Senator or Representative you made fun of in high school may not actually represent YOU. That dorky kid in the business class may become your boss in 10 years. That computer geek may be running your portfolio for your retirement.

The rest of us? The ones with IQs of 95-105? You’re more likely to find a serial killer in the 85-95 range than one in the upper levels, although they do happen. Less than 1% of the serial killers are above 130. So if you make fun of the slow guy in the class, you may find yourself in a dark alley with Tim Curry holding a garrote.

Prince of Darkness (Criminal Minds) | Villains Wiki | Fandom

Just how Tough are you?

I was reminded that I’m a tough old bird. Toughness is not easily achieved. Your hands callous when they’re used daily on hard physical labor. Picture the hands of a farmer, or a gymnast, or bricklayer. The skin gets tough to the point of nerve damage. The toughness protects the rest of the hand from damage–the muscles, the nerves that provide the ability to open and close the hand, the bones. It is constant or nearly constant friction that callouses up a hand.

The toughness when it comes to pain tolerance is gained the same way. I had congenital hip dysplasia. That’s when you have shallow or missing hip sockets. When I was about 2, I had a manipulation where the top of my femur was put into position in order to carve out a hip socket. I spent months in a cast and moved on to braces. Then for my elementary school years, I had to wear orthopedic shoes. Oh, LORD were they ugly. I didn’t get my first pair of tennis shoes (that’s what we called them) until I was 6th grade. I took ballet so that my feet and legs would get stronger. My hips didn’t work like the other kids’.  I could never sit cross-legged. It was most uncomfortable and I had a devil of a time trying to maintain an upright position. About the time I was 12, my hips started to hurt. By the time I was 39, it felt like ground glass…every step.

In 1989, I opened a dance studio and was dancing about 3-5 hours a day on this ground glass. But with the range of motion exercises, the lubrication of the joint allowed me to still use it. I swear, I would have been in a wheelchair if I hadn’t had the ballet. I had my hip replaced in 1993 and that operation reduced the range of motion for my hip. I was restricted to 90-degree bend in the hip, and the rotation was minimal. This kept me from teaching dance. So I closed my studio. I needed work, so I started in fast food. The pain I felt from changing weather now changed its locus to mid-thigh where the spike ended. But it no longer felt like broken glass!!!  YAY!

I have now had 3 operations on my hip. The pain will be with me forever, and I will always limp. It acts as a barometer, so if the sky is green, and the wind is from the south, and the back door buzzes on a G, no problem. But if in addition, my leg feels like someone has taken a ball-peen hammer to my thigh, head to the basement! I now have a high tolerance for pain. It means that I’ve developed a callous on my pain threshold. I have taught myself to ignore the pain. Just like I’ve taught myself to ignore the ringing in my ears. 7 years on a headset. I went from “Hi! Welcome to Wendy’s! What combo can I get for you today?” to “Hello, Ameritrade, This is Rebecca. What trades can I place for you today?” It took every ounce of self-control (and I don’t have a lot of it) not to add, “You want fries with your 50 shares of McDonald’s?”

We’ve covered pain and annoyances. But what does it take to become mentally tough? Friction. It’s when you try and fail, and learn something, then you try again, and again, and again, until you have things just like you want them. There are books about mental toughness. Business Icons, Coaches, Philosophers, Psychologists. They all have their 33 steps and 77 characteristics and whatever. It’s just the one thing: Don’t quit when you fail. Notice the word “When” because if you don’t fail, you don’t learn anything. You will fail. You’re supposed to. It’s a first draft; it’s an experiment; it’s something new you’ve never even dreamt about. Each time you try, you add more information to the picture you have in your head. The picture gets clearer with every act. But each time, there’s that friction. You have to push against something and you get tough in your brain. You change your perspective because you can see progress. You change your approach because now you see multiple paths. You seek out help in areas you wouldn’t have considered before because each try brings more information you have to gather and new skills you must master in order to succeed. The nice thing is this: because you’re tough, you continue to make progress and because you don’t back down, you don’t have to start from 0 every time.

When was the last time you had to be mentally tough? I think the most challenging was when I lived in a small town. I owned a dance/music/art studio so I taught from 3:30 pm to about 6:30 pm every day for dance and music lessons. I worked the 5-2 shift at Hardee’s 5 days a week. I was the church choir director and did that on Wednesdays from 7-9 and directed every Sunday. And I worked at a truck stop from 3:00 to close  Saturdays and Sundays. I had 5 kids at the time. Did I get what I wanted? Yes.

The most important thing you have to confront is how much Friction you want to take on. No toughness comes without friction, you have to determine how tough you want to be.

 

What stands between you and Happiness?

What a profound question.

People will put streams and fences and walls and people between themselves and happiness. Notice I say PUT.

Anne Frank spent 761 days in a tiny apartment with 7 others. They couldn’t leave the building and they had to be absolutely quiet during the day to avoid detection. And yet, she chose to be happy.

What is standing between me and happiness? Nothing. Happiness is not a conditional emotion. When I have this, then I will be happy. If something good happens, then I will be happy. If something bad doesn’t happen, then I will be happy. You cannot depend on things outside of your control to dictate your feelings.

Happiness is a choice.

It is ok to be sad, and mad, and depressed. But that shouldn’t be your default.

So what stands you and happiness? Only the conditions YOU put in between you and a state of happiness. So don’t put anything in there. Don’t build walls and mountains and only-ifs in there. Why make it so difficult?

A whole new world?

You have that song in your head now, don’t you! It screams adventure and excitement! Something new and amazing. What if, after this scare, you come out to a whole different, older world?

Think about it for a second.

When I first started working at Primerica, I was anxious to succeed. I knew that I would be able to help people by changing their perceptions of money and give them power over things that most people assume are beyond their control. They could choose their futures. All they needed were tools that would be simple enough to use and flexible enough to react to any circumstance. I saw the differences in my clients’ outlook on their futures. I saw the difference these tools made in my life. Enthusiastic? YES!

But…

The environment was completely different. There was the pounding football-rally-like music. There were high fives and all these people grinning like idiots. I was really uncomfortable. I would come home from training exhausted and drained. We had 2-day builder’s schools with an emotional element and an intellectual element…sales and products. The hardest part of the business was the team-building. You had to attract good team members because there were so many hopeless people that needed our help. These were people in pain. They were confined to a job that paid them just enough to keep them and not enough for them to realize their dreams. Their perceptions were grim: work until you die. You worked to live, and you had no life. There was no time for family, for travel, for education and experiences. There was not enough money to satisfy all the needs of the family: the weddings, the funerals, the vacations, the home of their dreams. We gave people those options that they couldn’t get anywhere else. They were surrounded by people that criticized them, who abused them, who sucked the joy right out of them. So when these people came to these meetings, they wanted joy and camaraderie. They wanted to think they could grab that brass ring. They needed hope. These meetings and builder’s schools provided that. After going to these things for years, I gradually became immune to “hug and high-five” cooties.

I hugged my kids and my husband and my parents. The first time I hugged my brothers was probably at my mom’s funeral in 1990, and I wasn’t in the company then. I wouldn’t hug friends. I didn’t have all that many. Then, when I started as a rep for the company,  I submitted to all the hugs and high-fives biweekly. It was really uncomfortable at first. There were a few of us that did the Spock high-five: it’s where you hold your hand in the traditional Vulcan greeting but DON’T TOUCH! You could do that across the room! Ahhh! Loophole! Before quarantine, I got to be OK with this touching after working with the company since 2001. 19 years it took me to get used to hugging and high-fiving. 19 years to be able to see and understand the pain of the people I worked with. 19 years caring and wanting to help people and grasping the emotional side of the tools I offered.

I am a Toastmaster and we shake hands multiple times during the meetings, and that didn’t feel weird. I am in Bible Study Fellowship and we hug each other and pray for each other, but that didn’t seem weird. I had arrived! And it was all due to this business I was in.

But now…

I still hug my husband and son. I don’t have access to my other kids or my grandkids. I don’t see my friends except in zoom meetings. Toastmasters has online meetings. Bible study and church are online.  I’ve become more comfortable in my isolation. I don’t have to have physical contact to “feel close” to those people anymore. Even Primerica is having virtual meetings.

What if it takes me another 20 years to get used to the physical touch again? I actually had to suppress shivers at first when I hugged someone. I wouldn’t get into crowded places if I could avoid it. I preferred sitting in my room with a book, or watching TV, or writing on the computer. Most people’s personal space is about 1 foot. Mine is about a mile. I hated talking with people that felt they had to touch you to talk to you. Joe Biden would drive me absolutely insane. I had one friend who was rather round, and when he talked to you sometimes he spat, and he was always bumping you with his big belly. His personal space was about 3 inches. I dreaded talking to him at church.

I know that this seems a bit frivolous, and you might even be laughing now. I am not. I guess it doesn’t make sense to project my future behavior. Many others may be reluctant to get as physically close as we used to because we’ve trained ourselves in fear for this time. It’s just a niggling thing in the back of my mind that I don’t have to worry about right now as the quarantine doesn’t look like it will be lifted any time soon. However…I hope my brand new world will be less intimidating than the world I enjoy now–isolation, quiet, freedom to be myself in all my weirdness.

Lessons Learned

What can we learn from this crisis? Now, I want you to think really hard about this!

We’re all fairly intelligent human beings. We have the ability to sift through information to uncover facts. Or do we? Let’s look at these crises:

911 What did we learn? Attacking the economy physically doesn’t weaken the US, it brings us together! We learned that access to a cockpit should be restricted–to keep the bad guys from taking over the plane. Right? Um, nope. We learned that Nobody can be trusted because granny might have explosive material in her shoes. We learned that everyone from the Middle East is a terrorist. We learned that the best response to a bad situation is to fix blame and yell at each other.

Hurricanes What essential things did we learn? The barrier islands are necessary to mitigate the effects of a hurricane. That building and developing businesses on land below sea level in an area plagued by hurricanes is not a good idea. Nope. We learned that FEMA is useless and should be defunded. That as long as you have money and means, hurricanes are not devastating and if you don’t have money and means, it’s your own fault.

CoViD-19 We learned that we are resilient and resourceful people who can show remarkable innovation. We learned that we need procedures and protocols in place to deal with infectious diseases at a moment’s notice. We learned that the factual information will come from a central source. NO? We learned that when attacked, we have to stock up on toilet paper and ammunition. We learned that our total economic salvation is dependent on a $1200 check that not everyone deserves, and if we’re getting $1200, rich people are getting $1.7 million. We’ve learned creative uses for toilet brushes and hair dryers. (EW!)

See? Dumb! Panicky! and Dangerous! Our first instinct is not to solve the problem but to find someone to blame and get revenge. Our first instinct is to think that someone we trust with our best interests at heart is most likely going to lie to us. We learned that the infringement of our rights to freedom to pursue happiness means that it is our RIGHT to go and infect everyone around us and be infected because it’s ok to thin the herd.

I do not believe that the fatalities will make that much of a difference in the general health of our society.  I also think that as long as you have to work in close quarters, your chances of infection are significantly higher than those people sitting on their couches watching NETFLIX. Thinning the herd is basically leaving the strong and healthy and eliminating the old, sick, or weak. This disease doesn’t seem to work like that. It is just as deadly on healthy young people.

I also believe that we have been surprised at how much money we spend on convenience such as eating out, and social activities like pub crawling, movies, concerts, rallies, races… I know that normally we spend upwards of $1000/month on things we do not do now. The $600 my husband withdrew from his paycheck nearly 2 months ago has dwindled down to $400. And last December, that same $600 would have been gone after 2 weeks!

We have had over 200 years to develop our culture’s responses to a crisis. Things we’ve grown to expect–

  1. Those in charge will “protect” us by giving us incomplete or false information.
  2. There will be no central repository of clear, factual information.
  3. The communication will be skewed and sensationalized based on whatever bias is going to attract the most advertising.
  4. Our government will spend most of its time trying to fix blame because it’s politics, and the main focus in politics is not to serve the people the political body represents but to ensure no loss of power.
  5. We can expect large corporations to take advantage of shortages by seeing to the bottom line, not by responding to a crisis to reduce the effects on the health and well-being of their customers.
  6. We would be surprised if confidence men and women DIDN’T take advantage of the panic and separate people from their money.
  7. We would be shocked to find we DIDN’T need extra security on our internet communications due to photo/meeting bombing.

And, true to form, we will learn the wrong lessons and make the wrong adjustments and jump to the wrong conclusions.

Because people are dumb, panicky, and dangerous animals.

What each of us should do is this:

  • Come up with a list of things you like about how we’re now living, and things you don’t like.
  • Think about how you could integrate the things you like into your new world after quarantine. (Pants would probably still be required for any activity outside the house, but other than that…) Do you prefer working at home? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Do you like the money you save by self-entertaining?
  • Think about how you could improve the things you don’t like in your current circumstances so that you would not have to deal with them post quarantine. If you hate masks but you want to keep yourself isolated from airborne diseases, could you find a fashion alternative like a niqab? The banks might make you remove it when you went into their lobbies…
  • Talk about this with the people in your household. WRITE IT DOWN and look at it daily. Now is the time to start establishing these patterns of behavior so when the quarantine is lifted, it would seem like second nature.
  • Remember that our old habits led us into this situation where COVID-19 could take hold and spread so quickly. We need new habits.

After the walls come down, we need to act on our plans and not just fall back into the same behavior patterns that got us into this mess. We need to learn the right lessons! Whom do you want to idolize now? Which people really are essential in our lives? Do we need all that we want? Have our priorities shifted? What kinds of activities do you now consider essential? Have you now been exposed to something that makes life more awesome? I would not be averse now to join a Toastmasters online club several thousand miles away rather than limiting myself to the clubs in my immediate area. I know how to do mass meetings and can now get all of our family together. I will hug the stuffing out of them when I meet them personally, and up until lately, I didn’t like hugging much.

Let us learn the RIGHT lessons, and then apply them!