Criticise at your peril

Don't ever run out in the road again!

Don’t ever run out in the road again!

This little post is a reblog in a way of someone else’s words. Or perhaps it’s just a very long quote from a Master!

Yesterday I watched a Barbara Sher video on YouTube where she says to be very careful of giving criticism. “One piece of criticism is not overcome by 20 forms of praise. First of all you might not know what you are talking about and secondly even if later down the track it turns out that you are right, they won’t remember what you said. They will remember the hurt.” Wise words indeed from one of my favourite people (more on her later, but I am spending over two months pay soon to go and meet her!!).

The bit that spoke loudest is that ‘maybe you won’t know what you are talking about’. There have certainly been times that I have gotten the wrong end of the stick and have maybe put in my two cents worth to an organisation and then been politely responded to in way which showed I had it all wrong. Ouch! but no biggie – I can do failure and sorry really well. A heartfelt apology and we are all on our way. I don’t hang on to my failures too long – too scatty to remember them, luckily. And of course sometimes ‘you have to learn to accept the apology you never got’. I like that one too. Got a few of those under my belt, sadly.

What about the times when you don’t criticise or give feedback, don’t speak up for yourself? Is it because you know you are speaking to someone unable to hear you or because you fear the venom that will pour out of you once you let loose? Nobody wants venom inside. That leads to cancer, right? So should you speak?

And again, if that venom is somehow misdirected, you will only end up feeling bad, especially if you hurt the other person and have any kind of compassion in you. Time to consider what you say before you open up. In some cases I choose not to ‘stand up for’ myself, no matter how much I am invited to. And in others I speak where clearly it is not wanted. But that is tomorrow’s post….

How to know the difference?

This quote I just found on Pinterest sure helps!

He has the right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

 

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Watch how you do it

Weighing it up

It’s a fairly regular occurrence it seems. You see it on TV and in the movies and you even do it yourself. You have an item you need to place somewhere else, say a piece of paper or an item for the laundry basket. Unfortunately you are not close to the bin or basket, but you are within throwing distance you reckon. So what happens next and what does this say about you? There is even an app or a game for your phone to chuck paper balls in the bin. It’s so satisfying, a little win in your day if it gets there. A little excitement, a little risk. A little finality. Think how nearly all sports involve getting a ball of some sort into a final resting place. Final, done, no questions asked (usually). Some certainty in this otherwise very uncertain life.

Anyway, there I was this morning, throwing dirty sexy lingerie (I’m joking, boring cotton underpants) into the laundry basket….. I assessed the distance, the wind speed, how hard I would need to scrunch the undies so they wouldn’t unravel in flight and slow themselves down. I looked at the direction, considered underarm and overarm throws and other items they might bounce off on the way. I aimed carefully at the basket and….

Waste paper

Do we often take this much care in life when doing things? Do we prepare ourselves for ‘flight’, decide how we will make our next move, aim ourselves in the right direction and give ourselves just the right propulsion, not too much, not too little? Or do we take no risk at all and simply walk over to the basket, using perhaps more energy than we need to do the same work and without the excitement? What if we throw the item and fail? What if we miss? Are we resigned, laugh, decide it was worth the fun and then walk over? Do we leave it for next time we are passing by or hope someone else will clean up after us?

There seem to be signs everywhere about who we are, how we do things, what mood we are in. We manifest in every little thing we do and I mean every thing, even as simple as this. Take a look at how you do things and wonder perhaps if there’s another way…

As for me I missed the basket. I forgot to factor in my unco-ordination. It was off to the right and fell short of the basket. All the more reason to try again next time 🙂

paper slam dunk

 

Are you a Sparkler or a Log?

Sparkler

I am sure you know what I’m talking about. We’re alive so we have a fire in us that is burning until such time as it goes out. We have energy, in fact we are energy of course. How you use that energy as you live is up to you.

I like to think I’m a sparkler. Enthusiastic, impulsive; I just LOVE life! … Until I don’t and I’m all flat again for a short while. Some people are logs. It might take them a while to ignite but once they do, they just keep on humming along, warm and cosy, glowing and reliable until the end.

So how do you cope if you are a sparkler? Life can be full on amazing; explosive even. When you’ve burned out, as you surely must at some point until the next time, what do you have left?

Bombe Alaska

Now if you were one of these desserts, your loved ones wouldn’t be left looking at a burned out sparkler each time your latest interest extinguishes itself. They would be left with what they know and love, someone inviting, comforting, sweet, wonderful; however else you would like to describe this confection.

So it’s OK to be you. I’ts OK to be up and down, be labelled bipolar perhaps, get enthusiastic but not follow through to something more meaningful or money making. The joy was in the sparkle and the sparkle is always to be appreciated, no matter how short. You know what is left inside you to hold the sparkle. Hold it firmly in your hands and never let it go. The intensity is just one tiny aspect of your personality that people will either be drawn to or avoid. Let them go. We can’t hang on to everyone we come across in life and each interaction is meaningful, no matter how short.

Glowing log

And if you are a log? I applaud you and I envy you in some ways. Your interests will develop as you stick with them and be applauded and recognised. You are glowing, reliable, quietly burning and making the world a warmer place for everyone with your consistency.

There’s room for us all people. And thank goodness for that.

 

Le Tweak, C’est Chic!

Pretty young woman with arms raised standing on beach

We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation – Ivan Illich

Yes, I know it’s a big ask to marry up the attention grabbing title (you’re curious and reading aren’t you?) and this quote from the masters. What could they possibly have in common?

I have been away from blogging for a few days because I discovered on Pinterest a board called Tips (one of many no doubt) and magically if you click on any website named at the bottom of the image, it takes you directly to the actual information. I am sure everyone knew that but I assumed it would take you to the website mentioned and then you would have Buckley’s chance of finding the solution promised. Wrong. And there went even more hours of my life.

So for the last few days I have been tweaking my life, my home and my body. I have had fun tweaking my saucepan lids into submission, making homemade make up remover wipes, repairing reading glasses and generally improving my life in a myriad of ways. (Plus I fixed two leaking loos for 75c and 60c respectively, YAY!)

But here’s where the quote comes in. I hope these tips and instructions will actually work. I hope my life will be all the better for having discovered them and having spent so much time on them. I hope I will have the answers to all my small problems in life if I just keep looking. But do I expect everything will turn out perfectly? Do I expect they will all work, my time is being wisely spent and I will become this superwoman/goddess of beauty and domesticity eventually? Not really.

Maid

I will continue though because the fun is in the tweaking. Small victories, new ideas, opening yourself up to a chance of improvement. That’s where the excitement is. I never know what I am going to improve next. We all tweak I am sure. Being totally sexist here, do guys tweak their cars to run better, or tweak their weight training for that extra bit of muscle? Don’t we tweak our recipes to make them exactly how we like? Tweaking is fun! It says I have ideas or knowledge, I am original, I can improve things and change my life for the better. I can get a small part of my life organised even while the rest may be going to sh… I am in charge, I am in control and things are only getting better while I focus on making them so.

So do we expect life will bed a bed of roses until we leave this mortal coil? You can’t tweak a loss, or a car accident or a major life event. We can only tweak how we react to them. Take a deep breath, perhaps. Repeat “it’s only money, only a number on my bank statement” or whatever else may calm you in certain situations. How about ‘this too shall pass’ or ‘when one door closes…’?

Anyway I will tweak away, enjoy my journey of discovery, my small victories and improvements, the good feeling of hoping I am in control of something, anything, while I expect that I am probably not the master of anything at all. But who cares? Today I am merry, the best there is.

And if you now have the song in your head from which I so blatantly borrowed the title, I apologise but go dance!

Dance away

 

A Wordless but Excruciating Battle

 

Marilyn in thought 1960s

Whatever is good to know is difficult to learnGreek Proverb

Thinking deeply about what this quote means to me is actually painful because it brings up memories of some awful times, from my childhood onwards. I don’t think ‘good’ is the right word in this proverb. Maybe it got lost in translation from the Greek. ‘Whatever is essential, life changing, character forming is excruciating to learn.’ Yes that’s better.

The kind of situation I think this most applies to is, for example,  when you have had a hideous argument with someone. You might be fuming, full of adrenalin and thinking things like ‘if only I’d said that’ or ‘and yes I really am right because of this and this’, or ‘they hate me, I am useless, I will always be useless’ or ‘they are awful, I don’t want to ever be friends again, just think of all the rotten things they have done to me in the past’.

All sorts of nasties can creep in whispered by the gremlins, or ‘pain body’ (Eckhart Tolle) or the devil, if you will. As your mind tries to work out the solution to ease the discomfort you are feeling, and find a way to dissipate this anger, you don’t realise that you may be using the wrong tools to solve your dilemma; like using your elbow to clean out your ear.

We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them – Albert Einstein

As a child, you are likely to continue on this path, storing hurts and painful memories. You might avoid the other person until you’ve forgotten what you were arguing about and eventually sweep the hurt under the carpet. Or the fight escalates and others get involved until so much damage is done that you fall out permanently. The worst outcome is that you decide you really must be useless.  You create this opinion about yourself (which you are sure is based in reality), thanks to all the information you have gathered in this terrible hyped up state. You condemn yourself and slowly slip into the habit of depression, imprinting your brain until it’s in your neural pathways and hard to fight off, useful as a reliance mechanism; a mental way out that’s like a stinky but familiar old blanket.

But, with maturity and a lot of difficult soul searching, I learned what was ‘good to know’, namely that it can all change in an instant. The path is not set; it is created by you as you take each step. For it is you and only you treading the path and creating your own consequences. I later learned how to effect that change in myself and learned what needs to happen internally and externally.  These kinds of situations will be offered to you again and again until you learn the lesson, so you might as well learn it sooner rather than later.

Here are some of the ways this situation can be resolved, either by our own hand which has longer lasting effects or by others;

– The other person comes to apologise and all those destructive thoughts you were having evaporate, until perhaps the next time.

– You gather yourself (it comes with practice, but try focusing on your breathing for a start) and look at the situation more objectively until you calm down and start to see the other person’s side also.

– You realise you might actually be wrong if you would only admit it, and that it’s OK to make horrible mistakes.  You will live and survive, head held high. Perfectionism be damned!

– You reach out and say a simple sorry to the other person, whether you feel sorry or not (everyone always thinks they are right, but really there is often no such thing; it’s too subjective).

It’s best if you do feel sorry of course, having recognised the nonsense of the argument, your part in it (why don’t we dare admit to ourselves that we are far from perfect?) and remembering why you have a relationship with that person in the first place.  Even ‘faking it till you make it’, nips the destructive and out of control feelings in the bud.

To me the most important lesson is to not give yourself time to wallow if you are running down this thorn-filled path. Tell yourself you are not listening to this rubbish and won’t make any decisions about anything until you are calmer. Hop off this runaway thought train this instant.

I guess that’s why they say ‘don’t let the sun set on an argument’; so that you don’t have time to create mountains out of mole hills in your head. This can be sturdy advice but here’s another way of looking at it;

My ex (still good friends) and I agreed to never argue at night, when somehow things seemed worse because of being tired or due to the darkness. The sun coming up the next morning makes a huge difference to one’s psyche. It’s just biology. If you are calm and fully able to sleep, knowing the other person is OK too, go for it! You might agree to continue the talk later; at least forging some kind of agreement between you amidst the discord.

If you are centred enough to mend bridges now, do that. But if the person who is battling the strongest emotions needs time to settle down and has the capacity to calm themselves, then distance is good. This process of learning to calm yourself may take years to acquire; or if you are a mature soul, you may be born with it. But it is difficult to learn, it is good to know and so essential to finding happiness. The reward is trust in yourself and your ability to endure and enjoy living as a flawed human being, when life’s inevitable changes are thrown at you or you let yourself down.

And why is it so difficult to learn to change our thoughts instead of be ruled by them, with the accompanying emotions and dramas; to try a completely different path; to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable, especially to ourselves?  Why protect our egos?

I guess it’s difficult because we have to put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation where we don’t know the outcomes.  We are afraid of ourselves, not of the other person.  This new thinking will change the dynamic of the relationship with the other person of course, but most importantly with our story about who we think we are.

So we dither. Why we dither and how to get around it is one of those ‘good to know’ things to which this Greek Proverb alludes. It’s probably one of the hardest things in life to learn to know and accept yourself, warts and all and then test it out on other people.

Anyway I digress.  I believe if you practise learning to center yourself, calm down and forgive yourself it becomes easier with time. Say sorry to people. See how they react! Are you nervous of their response, of making them feel uncomfortable or of your being rejected? If so, a hug goes a long way and does just the same as words, without any need for eye contact.

Marilyn Hugging

And if they push you away, you will still feel good for trying. You haven’t pushed you away.  You are now a stronger person. Their response has nothing to do with you. It is their journey; only they can mend their inner world. You can only work on your own inner peace and happiness, but I bet you will have left your mark.

Marilyn and Joan Copeland 1957

What tips your scales?

Do Something You've Never DoneDon’t good quotes get you thinking? It’s like armchair travelling, only it’s exploring who you and and what you believe, inside your head! The most important frontier.

This quote no doubt means different things to different people. Something I’ve never had is a raise, a promotion or a professional income. If I needed these, what would I have to do that I have never done? Ask for a pay rise, go for a promotion, or apply for a more conscientious job which might keep me awake at night?

But the price is too high for me, too far out of my comfort zone. I can’t imagine being paid real money. I’d feel like a fraud for sure. Then I’d have to commit to being worth that money every day, even on my uninspired days or days when I look at workaholics who take it all so seriously and think they must be crazy to sacrifice peace of mind for dollars. I take my work in customer service seriously but never so seriously that it wakes me up at night.

Perhaps it comes down to being someone you have never been in order to do something you have never done, in order to get something you have never had. So who should I be?

Real and Imagined

Shall I imagine I am being paid to do what I love, without any commitment, and that it easily covers my bills and then some? Shall I imagine I can take off for long weekends to Fiji regularly or fly the kids to Barcelona or Zanzibar without any stress at all and spend an income I am not used to? Shall I believe I deserve all that stuff?

Perhaps if I really covet these things enough, I will ‘do something I’ve never done’. I’d like to think it will happen and when I’ve read the latest self-help book and am bouncing off walls, dreams become worth chasing and not only a possibility but a done deal in my mind. I am brilliant, I have developed myself, I have everything I ever dreamed of.

Until I calm down again and realise how grateful I am for all I already have, without needing one more thing in order to be happy.

When I come across that elusive thing to do which will yield me that which I have never had, I shall let you know.

Do you know what you ‘need’ to do in order to receive that something that you’ve never had? And do you want things you’ve never had, enough to be someone different? Just a thought!  I guess it’s all a question of balance. 🙂

Balance

Winning the ‘Beautiful Lottery’. Now what?

lush hair

Ever since I was a little girl of about 6 or 7, long before I cared about my weight or my figure or how much money I had, I wanted lush hair. By lush, I mean I wanted it to go down to my waist and not in stringy, split ends either. I guess it represented my first longings, my first goal, (shortly followed by wanting to do the splits!)

I never did reach that goal, as nature had other ideas and hair dye and straighteners added to the damage.

UNTIL …. I am not sure why exactly but maybe thanks to my new shampoo (Tresemme Split Ends remedy) or eating mini oily fish (tuna) cans as an afternoon snack, my hair is growing! It isn’t ‘there’ yet but it got me thinking.

What happens when I get there? I am enjoying the journey of course but what happens when I reach my destination, my goal? I reached my weight goal a few times in my life and what did it bring me? I remember feeling all yummy in a bikini in Canada, age 20 and going to a water park, ego all puffed up, but no one seemed to notice!! I had a stranger take a photo for the record at least. More recently when I reached my goal weight and thought I had the answer to my personal eating habits for life (I will not give up anything sweet), keeping it off for 2 years, I remember feeling I could ‘tick that one off’ but looked to the next goal of course, until I lost the weight plot somewhere.

But imagine I morphed overnight and won the beautiful lottery. Then what? Which lotteries do you secretly want to win? The fit lottery, strong lottery, organised or happy lotteries perhaps? What would you really gain by arriving at your destination?

By having these goals which you may never reach, is it just an excuse to avoid feel guilty about something you feel you should be doing, but won’t do until you arrive at the hallowed halls of success? If you get everything you dream of, would you feel like you need to be more active, community minded, social (read anything you may be uncomfortable with now).

Having my ‘dream hair’, being rich, slim, more loved will not change these moods which ebb and flow in my life. My happiness can be touched by these, sure, but my joy has its own independence; it’s own little journey which I try to observe as much as I can and appreciate when it peaks.

My lush hair fantasy is just a symbol of the disquiet. Having it won’t change anything at all, except in my mind of course, so for now I will enjoy the invisible growth each day, celebrate when I think I’m having a ‘good hair day’ and try to remember that ultimately it’s only me that cares, it’s just a story and I can write my ‘story’ however I choose. And I choose the happy ending.

 

Did you earn anything today?

Loving Grandparents

Old age takes away from us what we have inherited and gives us what we have earned – Gerald Brenan

I do not remember ever seeing this quote yet it came from last year’s desk calendar. It speaks to me today because I was pondering yesterday on whether I would jump at the chance of living a human life again.

No life is untouched by want, need, joy, tragedy, love, work and sacrifice, among other things. If I look back on the days when I had 3 kids under the age of 4 at once and the sleepless nights and helplessness I felt as a parent in the face of their tears at times, I might wonder if I wouldn’t mind missing those years out, no matter how adorable it all looks now in the photos. If I look back on these days, where I am a single parent, working full time, trying to pay the bills, manage the house, garden and pool with elbow grease, 3 teenagers and a low budget, I might wonder if I could miss these years out instead. If I look back on when I was waiting to see if I could emigrate to Australia and couldn’t get my life started, I might want to skip that year instead.

But the list goes on and on, and each phase of life has its moments – merry, marvellous and tough. Of course I wouldn’t miss out a moment. There are trying and horrible events, and deaths and testing people and depression but these particular tribulations are behind me now, and I came out the other side, brave enough to see what transpires next.

Anyway I digress. Gerald is saying, I believe, that we are born with physical attributes and personality traits and hopefully at least one parent to love and take care of us as we grow into adults. As we leave the nest and find our own way in the world we ‘earn’ a second family, jobs, friends, money, status, lifestyle, health and happiness.

Old age, while stealing our looks and youthful health, replaces it with a sense of accomplishment and wisdom if we have chosen to grab it, an understanding of how things will likely play out, a sense of our own strengths in the face of adversity and hopefully less reactivity to everything around us. We may have lost our ancestors and parents by then but we will have replaced it with the next generations, or great friends and community bound to us by all we have done for each other.

Baby hands

With any luck we have replaced uncertainty with happiness, angst with confidence borne of the years.

Can I take my current knowledge to my next life? Would you replace youth for all you know now? I value what I’ve been through to get here. I hope you do too.

 

 

You owe me for this!

Owes me Big

As a kid, maybe thanks to fairytales I had this general idea of karma; of good winning over evil; of cause and effect and people owing something to other people if they did something for them.

So for example with my penpal, I sent her a letter and then she owed me a letter. Simple, right? I think we often still live by this rule; some people more than others and in more ways than others. Take a minute to think about where this may be true for you; what your hidden agendas are. If you make your partner a cup of tea, does he then owe you the next one? Because you’ve sacrificed to bring up your children, do they owe it to you to look after you in your old age? If you go to work for someone do they owe you money?

Aha! Yes, one would expect to get paid for going to work. But here’s the difference. It is clearly laid out, hopefully; what you will and won’t do for that money. There is no hidden agenda, it’s quite visible. We may need that money to live on, so we make sure we receive it. Society has made this quite acceptable and we are stressed if we don’t get paid.

So many hidden ‘you owe me’ agendas are exactly that – hidden. Things come unstuck if the other person doesn’t know that they owe you. Trying telling a teenager that they owe you because you pay the bills, do all the gardening and upkeep of the house, or gave them a lift! I do try but it doesn’t really work, to be honest.

This ‘You owe me’ attitude can lead to a lot of heartache, especially if you are too anxious about what others think, to lay down any ground rules first. I have to question why I do stuff ‘for’ my kids and be sure that I am doing it in the right headspace, without them owing me anything. I say ‘for’ because for example when I was cleaning the pool and sewing bench seat cushions over the weekend, I realised it was actually for me, not them. I have to do it because I want to, to be at peace in my own head. And when I don’t want to, I simply don’t. I might go on cooking strike for weeks on end, or refuse to give them a lift again until their room is tidy. You find your own way and your own boundaries.

So back when I was a kid, I would get quite upset at all sorts of things which now no longer bother me. Nobody owes it to me to keep in touch or to return

my phone call or text or email, or make me a cup of coffee. I am far from perfect though. My weak spot can still distress me. If someone owes me money I generally want it back unless I can rationalise it in my head with all they’ve done for me. I’d like to lose that one, one day.

Owe me money

Blogging taught me a lot about letting go of ‘you owe me’. I hope you realise you don’t owe me a thing by the way! If anything I owe you – eternally. I owe you life lessons which will hold me in good stead. I owe you thanks for giving me any attention and your precious time. I owe you for your lovely comments and support.

We don’t owe it to each other to follow those that follow us, or to read everything another writes. I selfishly try to blog each day for myself, and I can’t possibly demand that anyone takes time out of their precious life to read my ramblings every day! If I comment on your blog, you don’t owe me a reply. I comment if it solidifies something for me and makes me happy to comment at the time. If I get the bonus of a reply, that’s a gift; not something you owe me.

Have you looked at your internal beliefs and rules of where you think you owe other people? Sometimes we are pretty harsh on ourselves. We think we owe something to someone even if we would not expect it of them, should the roles be reversed. Watch out for that!! That is surely the path to being used or feeling guilty and stressed all the time, wasting valuable memory with a balance sheet of what you ‘should’ do.

So I hope you realise you don’t owe me. No one actually owes me anything and life is a lot calmer and simpler that way. No hidden agendas, only nice surprises.

Do me a favour

The Best Advice

Beautiful Old Woman

My 80 Year Old Self

I was reminded on my walk today of my 80 year old self. I totally believe I will live to a ripe old age, thanks to an unbidden Palm Reader in Paris who accosted me, made some predictions which came true within a month of meeting her, and because I love what she said. “You will live to be very old and will be very loved”. Maybe she says that to everyone but who doesn’t want to hear it?

Anyway I was reminded of my 80 year old self on my walk by suddenly looking up at the trees framed against the cloudless deep blue sky. These trees are in blossom (Summer here) with reds and oranges, and they looked amazing grouped together like that against the blue. I had never noticed them before even though I try to do this walk every day. I was climbing a steep path between two houses, about 1.7m wide, with 6 foot wooden fences either side of me. It’s easier to look down and concentrate in case you slip as it’s so steep than to look up. This sudden vision reminded me of my 80 year old self because I realised that I may not still be able to climb this hill at 80, so I should appreciate the hill and the unexpected view, all the more.

I love to dwell on my 80 year old self. When I find myself critical of my body, I have my 80 year old self tell me that I will always be beautiful at 46 and look at my skin now at 80, no longer so smooth, firm or relatively evenly toned. My 80 year old self reminds me when the girls are singing and playing the piano downstairs (like last night), that the music is extra special because I won’t always get to hear that once they move away and they may not even continue to sing together.

The old biddy likes to remind me at work that the point of working is not to get through today to make another dollar to pay the bills, because that just continues until you retire and then eventually become 80. The point is to enjoy each day that I can be well enough to work and converse with the lovely people there and feel useful and needed, adding a little of my energy, time and goodwill to the business.

Sadly I don’t have time to expand on the wisdom she imparts today as my 46 year old self smashed her passenger wing mirror over Christmas and is off to get it fixed before work, but my 80 year old self will have forgotten it anyway. She is very forgiving too of anything I’ve done so far!

Have you listened to your 80 year old self recently?

Old Ladies Rebellion