Well for the second day I went to Good News Reporter to read about good things that happened in the news. I was upset to find that although the date at the top of the page had changed the stories had not. I looked closer. All the stories on the page are from quite a while back. Like June. April. Etc.
This is upsetting. One, because it illustrates how detail oriented I'm NOT. And two because just when I thought I found something good, it turns out to be - at best - delayed.
Could someone please find me a good news site? Wendy? Isn't this the kind of stuff you do?
While here in at my mother's Orlando the TV has been on more than at my house. Yesterday the news came on and I overheard the top stories. All horrible. I've posted before how I feel about the news. After the third or fourth horrible story I stated out loud yesterday "that's why I don't watch the news."
"Good News Reporter!" Shouted my sister, "Goodnewsreporter.com! It's a bunch of good news!"
Wow. A news service that reports on good things. I checked it out. Actually it is a collection of good things happening in the news today. They don't report but simply collect good stories from other places.
Not bad. It's a step in the right direction. Although I would love to see a site dedicated to reporting current events but in a positive light rather than a large collection of heartwarming stories of hampsters calling the police and such. Still, it's better than CNN.
Today is my sister's birthday. Right now, she and her husband are lsleeping in the back bedroom at my mom's. The Husband and The Kid are outside by the pool powerwashing the patio. My mom is in the kitchen cleaning up after our latest cooking fiasco and I'm drinking a class of wine while typing.
It's a good day.
It makes me think of how much I want to pass down meaningful things to The Kid. It makes me realize how important family traditions are - even if they aren't common or understood by others. It makes me smile thinking about the time when I'll be cleaning up the latest fiasco and The Kid will be drinking a glass of wine or taking a nap with her husband. It's these moments when I feel like I'm the luckiest woman alive with the best family around.
I spoke too soon. Mom just brought me a mug of baked egg yolks and a fork.
It would be impossible for me to make this up.
I was out shopping today. Oy vey. What a mess out there. People are darn near snarling at each other. I was determined to stay in a good christmasy mood. I said "Merry Christmas!" over and over again. I meant it every time. A couple of times I got a "harumph" back. I'm not kidding. And one lady said "yes." when I said "Merry Christmas!"
"yes." That's what she said. Don't you think that's strange? I didn't say "Merry Christmas?" or even what I wanted to which was "Are you sure that sweater was a good idea?" I said "Merry Christmas!" and she said
I'm thinking she might be a little over-accommodating.
Anyway my point is this. I'm tired of everyone being grumpy. That includes me. I'm tired of being grumpy too. It takes too much energy. And I don't have that kind of energy to waste. The other day before my jazzercise class the instructor's 4 year old was running around the room... and I mean RUNNING! the way only a 4 year old can. He ZOOM ran to the front. He WHOOSH ran to the back. He WHAM ran into the pole. He broke into hysterical laughter rubbing his head and then ZOOM back to the front of the room where he climbed up onto the stage and screamed "I'M GOING TO RUN OFF OF HERE!!" There were about 12 of us watching. I was the only one who said "Okay." And off he ran SPLAT onto the floor where he rolled into a ball and broke into screaming laughter again. I laughed too. I mean come on. That's funny stuff.
Soon he was confined to the child care room and his mother got up on stage to start class. "He's like that from the moment he wakes up until he collapses into bed at 9:00," she said and shook her head defeatedly. Most of the mom's nodded in sympathy. The single ladies ran to their bags to, I assume, check and make sure they took their birth control that day and I said "That's fantastic."
That's when I grew a second head. At least that's how they all looked at me.
I warmed up thinking about it. Did I really mean it? Do I really think that's fantastic? And I realized that yes, I really mean it. I love that kind of energy in kids. It doesn't wear me out at all. I love seeing it. I love being around it. I love when my own kid is on a sugar high and talking a thousand words a minute and vibrating like she's going to implode. But why? Why do I love it so much?
I think it is because it gives me hope. If a 4 year old and a 6 year old and Howie Mandel can be that energetic and crazy, why can't we all? What is it about adulthood that steals our energy? I mean are we really THAT exhausted? How can we be THAT tired when in a typical day, I don't run not even once. What's so exhausting about being us?
The one thing I can come up with is the worry factor. I firmly believe that we only have so much energy. That energy can be spent a number of ways - some of them are physical ... like jumping off a stage or working out or playing the old vodka and mustard game (whatever that is). But a lot of the ways we spend our energy are emotional. Worrying about bills. Worrying about the kids. Suppressing the urge to say what you really think in a meeting. Comparing yourself to others around you. Wondering what your mom thinks about you, or your neighbor, or anyone for that matter.
Holding on to the past.
These are all ways to spend your emotional energy. And if you use up all this emotional energy, you don't have any left for the physical stuff.
You see what I'm saying here?
It works like a bank. I have a bank account of energy. Just like money, I only have so much at a time. And just like I can get into an overdraft situation financially, I can get into an energy overdraft as well - spending more energy than I have readily available. This is not good. I used to think that in order to not get into an overdraft situation, I had to eliminate or at least cut down on the withdrawals from my account. This made perfect sense to me. Just remove the things in my life that were taking energy from me. I went through a number of years hanging an "out of order" sign on my ATM when my reserves got low. "Sorry," I would say, "I don't have the energy to devote to that right now." This is true. I really did this. And it worked ....for a while. Until my birthday rolled around one year and no one called. Well, my mom called but you know, she has to. That's when I realized that eliminating the withdrawals only was not getting me what I ultimately wanted.
I refocused. I looked at my philosophy again. I realized there are two ways to avoid getting into an energy overdraft. One is eliminating withdrawals. The other is increasing deposits. I was in financial debt at this time up to my eyeballs so you can understand why it took me a while to figure this out.
So I began doing that. I made a list of situations and people and activities that were energy withdrawals for me and situations, people and activities that were energy deposits. If I was feeling low on my account, I would first try to increase the deposits before I tried to eliminate the withdrawals.
This has worked well for me. As with all my theories, I kept working on it. I took note of interesting things. I noted, for example, that sometimes a situation (meeting a friend of a friend for dinner because they need some personal coaching) would be a withdraw - I was drained and tired afterward coming home to crash and try desperately to recover before I had to teach the next day. And other times a very similar situation (meeting a friend of a friend for dinner because they need some personal coaching) would be a deposit - I was energized and enlightened coming home talking a million miles a minute about how amazing people are and how lucky I am that they trust me with their stories and thoughts. And I've realized something. Something profound. And it is this:
Every situation in my life offers me a chance to withdraw from my account OR make a deposit to it.
It isn't the situation that determines the credit or debit, it is my attitude towards it.
Last night I had a craving for an apple martini. On my way home from the grocery, I stopped in the liquor store and bought some sour apple mix. I spent a few minutes talking to Barry - my friendly liquor store guy - and decided on the non-alcoholic mix rather than the apple pucker which is low proof but has alcohol nonetheless. I wasn't in a mood to get raging drunk, just wanted a martini.
While checking out Barry said "Do you need vodka as well?"
"Oh no," I said, "I've got the vodka. Don't need to worry about that!" I always have a bottle or two chilling in the freezer. And since we rarely drink, we rarely run out.
"Yeah," I continued, "there are a couple things we never run out of in my house. Vodka is one of them .... the other is mustard."
Now I said this only because it is true. The Husband likes mustard - on most everything. So we keep it on hand. That's the ONLY reason I said it. And here is where I got confused ...
Barry says "OH oookay ..... I'm not even going to go there! hee hee <snort> ha I uh hee heee don't even want to know!" He broke eye contact with me and fumbled with the sour apple mix. And I swear, he started to blush.
Now. Am I missing something here? Is there some sort of sex game you play with mustard and vodka? I mean what could have caused that reaction?
Strange. I'll never look at my mustard bottle the same way again.
I was in the shower this morning numbly going through the routine. Wet the front. Wet the back. Wet the hair. Ponder the length of my hair. If I tilt my head back my hair is thiiiiis long. I can almost touch it with my hand crooked around my back. Almost. It's growing.
I dug through the shampoos. We keep more than one in the shower. Well, I do. The Husband would only keep one in there at a time - making wet farty noises with the nearly empty bottle as every last drop is used. Only then would he wander to the red cabinet and retrieve the next bottle. That's his way. That is not my way. I put each new bottle of shampoo in the shower the instant we come home with it. I then begin to use the new shampoo on the next shower. Because it's new. That's why. When I lived alone this was not a problem because I would never remember to buy shampoo until I was completely out. And I mean com-plete-ly. Now however, shampoo is put on the list (that's new too) well before the wet farty noise stage which means we always have new shampoo on hand - and not just ON hand, we have it IN hand. Well, I do anyway.
So there I am digging through the shampoo bottles and I find my new sponge.
I was in Key West recently. They had big wooden crates full of sponges. Real sponges. Many sizes, many shapes....(although they were obviously all "spongy" in shape) - not much of a color choice however. I've never used a real sponge. Not a real one. They aren't cheap. But they looked so eager there in their bin. Like a crate full of happy orphans. Just waiting to go home with someone. So I bought one. Clearly I forgot all about the sponge or I would have used it the very next day. As it were, I found it yesterday when I was cleaning up before the cleaning ladies showed up. So I put it in the shower and there it greeted me this morning.
"Hello Mr. Sponge!" I said brightly. I really did - new things make me happy.
I picked it up. I wet it. I squeezed it out. And I began using the sponge.
It was fantastic.
I really LOVED it. I think I've been using one of those scrubby shower things for too long.
This is amazing! I thought.
I'm LOVING this! I thought.
Just goes to show you how GREAT it is to use the REAL THING!
Soapy circles down my left arm. Soapy circles up my right arm. Left pit, right pit, back of the neck. Ahhhh .... so nice! Then I began to think about sponges. Just random little thoughts.
What a strange little thing a sponge is.
Imagine how much deeper the ocean would be if sponges didn't live there!
Then, as usual, I began to overthink it. It's a real sponge. It was once alive. It was like a living thing. Living things eat. And poop. Did this sponge poop? What's this darker spot on my sponge?
Suddenly I felt like I was washing my back with a cat.
I wrung it out and set it on the corner of the tub. He looks sort of lonely and out of place there on the porcelain. Now I wish I had never taken him from his friends in the wooden crate. Now he'll never live out his spongy destiny.
I need to get a hobby.
I have to leave soon for a meeting. I have to try to help someone see his blind spots. I have to be open and vulnerable in order to do this. I have to be ready to be wrong. I have to be gentle and kind. I have to be mindful of one of my core beliefs - that we all are doing the best we can.
He's doing the best he can. The best he knows how to do.
I have to remember that if I had lived his life, with his experiences; if I had seen what he's seen, felt what he's felt, lived what he's lived ... I'd be acting the same way.
I have to go.
While I was off gallivanting about the Caribbean, it snowed here in Kansas City. It's snowing again today. There is something almost naughty about having a (slight) tan when it is snowing out and knowing you got it legitimately. I think that's what's so fun about vacations ... you can get away from reality for a little while.
However, I realized something while I was on my little reality escape. Reality comes with you.
One of the exercises I often have people go through when I'm coaching them is to determine their life mission statement. I help them identify what they are doing with their lives, for whom and why. I've done this in my own life. My own life's mission statement is to help people become who they are meant to be.
who they are meant to be.
This, I believe, is why I am here. I believe life IS meaningful. I believe there is a person you are MEANT to be. And I believe no one else can be that person but you.
I believe it is your job to figure out who that person is and to become that person. You must. Otherwise, we're missing you.
The "reality comes with you" part is this: while I was gone, I kept running into chances to help people become who they are meant to be. Over and over again I "happened" upon people who needed to be reminded that they are meaningful and their life can have purpose. Sometimes I did something about it... Bob who we met in the elevator - I'll be calling you this week. John on the plane - who knows what he wants, just not how to get it. Courtney who helped me parasail for the first time and who needed to be reminded that what she found in Key West is actually inside her.
Sometimes I didn't....Ken and Barry from the wine tasting - I didn't take the opportunity to listen as closely to you as I should have. "Little Stevie" - I wish I'd connected sooner and better with you. The brown-sugar-only-for-my-oatmeal lady at breakfast (a.k.a. these-eggs-benedict-aren't-the-same-as-yesterday's-eggs-benedict lady), well, frankly, you bugged the crap out of me and I didn't really want to help you become anything but gone.
But regardless of whether or not I took advantages of the chances to live out my life mission or not, the opportunities were there.
And that's my point. The opportunities are there for you to have a meaningful life. They are all around you. I don't agree with some who believe that life is mundane. I believe it is your choice to accept the mundane.
We do have a choice.