Oops, my straitjacket is slipping…

Guest post by Pam at http://butterflysand.com/

When you look up at the stars at night do you feel homesick? Okay, okay, bad joke. Do you know once upon a time I laughed uproariously at that joke. I ran around and told all my preteen friends. Yes, it’s that old. And so am I.

As we age our funny bone seems to migrate. For some people it ends up around the gluteus maximus. For others humour becomes more cerebral. I don’t know the equation to what’s funny. I don’t even know what makes me laugh until I am actually laughing. When was the last time you laughed so hard there were tears running down your face? Do you remember the knee slapping, rib tickling, gut wrenching guffaws you used to hear when a group of people got together to watch a comedy film? I don’t, at least not recently. The last time I had one of those all-encompassing, falling on the floor cackles was watching an old movie.

The movie was ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’. I don’t remember the movie. I don’t even know if it was actually a comedy. What I do remember is my boyfriend and I beating on the furniture. We were laughing so hard we were crying. I remember him falling on the floor and not able to catch his breath. But I don’t remember the movie. I remember that there was a series but it appeared to be about teenage angst (and vampire slaying) I wasn’t interested. I had enough of that when I was a teenager! (The angst not the slaying!) Don’t get me wrong I enjoy comedy. I’ve been known to crack a smile and even show teeth. I just haven’t had a really good belly laugh in a very long time.

Laughter is a universal language. It crosses borders and brings people together. It can also alienate people and cause others to commit various forms of harm. Of course that in itself can be funny! But I digress. I don’t know of any culture that doesn’t have some form of laughter. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could laugh more and shoot less? We spend so much of our time behaving according to the dictates of society that when we let loose it can be epic! Find the time to laugh. A really good guffaw exercises the whole body!

 

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Passion Versus Talent

I recently saw a picture that an acquaintance had painted and I knew at that moment that I would never paint again. What she had painted was an image that I have had in my head for more than 30 years. I paint recreationally. I enjoy the process of putting paint to canvas and watching an image emerge. This twenty-something woman had taken the image from my head and brought it to life. And she had no idea. Her stunning picture of an open ocean at the moment the sun breaches the horizon was breathtaking! And I didn’t paint it!

I’ve have always believed that to have talent one must have passion. The reverse is not always true. One can have incredible passion and have absolutely no talent. Seriously, you never want to see me dance! When it comes to painting I don’t think I’m that bad. I think my paintings are quite good. When I say good I don’t mean in the manner of a Renoir or a Monet. I just think as an amateur they’re not half bad. But they are not showroom quality. I have accepted this. But I still enjoy painting.

As individuals we don’t have to be the best. We only have to try our best. And that should be good enough for us. When we spend too much time depending on others to value us, we are doing ourselves a disservice. Every individual has value. It may not be in the way you think or the way you want to be worthy, but you are still important. We all are. I don’t need some art connoisseur to tell me that I’m not good enough. I am good enough for me. And seriously, I enjoy painting. I refuse to let my lack of talent interfere with my passion.

 

A funny thing happened on the way to my life

Recently I was quietly working away at my computer, diligently delving into something important. I don’t remember what it was. But I had a sudden urge that forced me away from my computer and my oh so important work and into the kitchen. It was at that moment surrounded by my refrigerator and my stove that I suddenly wondered why I was there! Fortunately I was all alone and my stupidity was not apparent to anyone else. However I’m sharing it with you for one very important reason: it is happening to us all!

My mother referred to her momentary lapses of memory as her Senior Moments. My mother was entitled, she had been around for 89 years! That’s a whole lot of stuff to remember! I don’t have quite as much stuff oozing around my brain. I have not lived through a depression or a world war. I haven’t raised three children and saw the evolution of technology. But I still think I’ve got lots of stuff to remember. I had a wonderful childhood, I did the university thing and college. I have traveled and I have had boyfriends. Some were good, and some were bad. That’s the traveling and the boyfriends! But I am also significantly younger than 89 years.

As I was in the kitchen trying to remember what on earth I was there for, it struck me as quite funny. Three seconds later it struck me as quite sad. Since I’m a positive person by nature I went back to the funny. I maintain that the space between our ears is finite. As we gain new memories each and every day we need to delete some of the unimportant stuff in order to make room for the new stuff. Think of it as cleaning out your closet to make room for more shoes. I like that analogy. I like shoes.

I can remember so many incidents from my childhood that there are more than a few I would be willing to forget. I would even give up some of my memories from University. Actually there are some memories from University I would like to delete from the cosmos! Okay, but it was fun! Aren’t we all in the same boat? There are things we would like to forget and things we pray that we will be able to remember for the rest of our lives. I have a wonderful memory of kissing a boy at the edge of a lake under the moon on a warm summer’s night. I am so not giving up that memory!

Attitude? Yeah I got attitude!

According to the Free Dictionary on the Internet there are five definitions to attitude:

1.  A position of the body or manner of carrying oneself

2. a. A state of mind or feeling; disposition

    b. An arrogant or hostile state of mind or disposition

3. The orientation of an aircraft’s axis relative to a reference line or plane

4.  The orientation of a spacecraft relative to its direction of motion

5.  A position similar to an arabesque in which a ballet dancer stands on one leg with the other raised either in front or in back and bent at the knee

For the sake of this post I am only concerned with definitions one and two.  We all have attitude.  It’s what allows us to make it through the day in one piece.  Not all attitude is negative and yet when we use that word we are usually referring to someone with bad attitude.  Attitude is a word that describes a disposition.  It is not a negative or positive, it just is.

Definitions three, four and five refer to attitude as a position in relation to the world around the main item.  I would like to posit that one’s psychological attitude is directly related to one’s physical attitude.  That actually makes sense if you think about.

The way we deal with the world is in part how we were raised, how others interact with us and how we feel on any given day.  On a day when I feel miserable you can bet that my attitude is going to be bad.  But on a day when everything is going well my attitude is going to be positive and cooperative.

We use attitude to describe behaviors that we may find distasteful.  Is it an accurate way to describe people?  Probably not but we describe people based on our own background.  We can use the physicality but that only gets you so far.  We are so much more than what you see.  People are multifaceted, like those Russian nesting dolls there’s more under the next layer.

Here’s a subversive idea for you: people are all the same.  We all started in the same place: the primordial sludge and we will all end up in the same place: dust in the wind.  Everything else is cosmetic. Physically anyway.  The real value is in the kind of person we are.  Nice guy versus schmuck. Victim versus tyrant. And what is it that makes one person caring and open and another self centered and cruel?  Who knows?   What makes one person a savant and another an idiot?  Luck of the draw?  Why does one person get a disease and another go through life unscathed?  You can spend your entire life asking questions that have no answer or you can change the equation.  Concentrate on the little picture: you.  The big picture is made up of a lot of little pictures.  We need to focus on what we can accomplish, on how we live our lives.  Do we care about others and try to contribute to the greater good or do we simply exist and only take?  We do have it in our power to decide.  True immortality is achieved through the memories of others.

Creatively speaking

Many years ago my mother and I were having an argument.  It wasn’t a negative argument, more a difference of opinion.  But as I recall it was quite vehement.  You see my mother had just made a comment that I strenuously disagreed with.  She maintained that while her children were creative, she was not.  My mother believed that she was just a wife and mother.  Just!  JUST!

I was raised by loving parents.  They taught me to appreciate the world and to be curious about everything.  Like most children I was born naked and ignorant.  If anyone out there doubts the importance and value of a loving mother and father, then I respectfully say you’re nuts!

Not everyone has the great fortune to be raised in idyllic circumstances.  Some people have the wherewithal to raise themselves to be good people.  I basically didn’t have a choice.  Being surrounded by good people there was no other way than to follow their lead.  It was the path of least resistance.

I had a mother that every Halloween made my costume.  That’s not creative?  One year I was a black cat with a long black tail and whiskers.  One year I was an alien with a javex bottle helmet painted gold and a corrugated cardboard belt with matchbox compartments also painted gold.  With that one she apologized for not being able to make my ears  look like Spock from Star Trek, my eyebrows did!

My mother fed us wonderful meals every day.  She found ways to make us eat things we did not like, often without us realizing it.  My mother used her charm, her wit and yes her force of will to raise three children to be responsible and caring adults.  You think that’s not creative?

I believe that one of the most important jobs in the world is that of mother.  Well, a good mother.  A good father is also important especially if he has to take over the role of mother.  I don’t have any children so I can only speak from the perspective of one that was raised by good parents.  But the way I figure it the time and effort it takes to raise children to adulthood is mind-boggling!  To the mothers and fathers out there, kudos to you!  The world is a better place because of the job you did raising your children.  Now if that isn’t power I don’t know what is!

Let me leave you with a few pieces of advice my mother gave me over the years:

–        always wear clean underwear, you never know who may be looking

–        smile at people who are angry at you, it messes with their heads

–        a good person does what’s right, even when no one is looking

–        wallowing in self-pity is fine, for 15 minutes

–        a woman should be good in two rooms in the house, and one of them is the kitchen

God love mothers!

http://www.butterflysand.com/

It happened…

…to me

I have read about this happening.  I have known other people it has happened to.  I guess I always knew that it would happen to me one day.  But when it does, it is devastating.  I was crushed.  OMG!  I have been ma’am ed!

Recently I was going into a shop, intent on buying something inconsequential, when I was approached.  What happened next changed me for the rest of my life.  An attractive young man walked up to me, wide eyed and smiling.  He said ”Can I help you ma’am?”  Ma’am.  Ma’am? MA’AM?

Evidently I have reached an age where I am no longer a ‘miss’ I am a ‘ma’am’.  I know the young man was being respectful but it is difficult when that word hits your ears for the first time.  I can no longer give credence to the image I have in my head of a sweet young thing.  I have aged.  I am old.  Wait!  I am so not there yet!

Okay, okay.  Perhaps I’m being a little ridiculous.  But women everywhere understand what it’s like to be greeted with that honorific for the first time.  Yes, It is a sign of respect.  But to the individual it is so much more.  I guess I have reached the age when my mere presence is grounds for respectfulness.  I still think of myself as a silly young woman when in reality I have reached Junior-Senior status.

When we are born we form an opinion of ourselves that is rudimentary.  We eat, we sleep, we evacuate.  There is no nice way to say we poop!  It is the cycle of life.  We are born, we live, we die.  It is the living part that gets messy.

As we grow up our opinion of ourselves changes.  We start to accept others’ opinions.  We often give more weight to the opinion of strangers even though they do not know us.  I have reached an age where I am able to dispense with a lot of the baggage that I grew up with.  I look inwards for validation instead of outwards.  And that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome the opinions of others.  It just means that I don’t only rely on others to feel good about myself.  I like who I am.  Some days I am drop-dead gorgeous!  I refuse to give credence to the reflection in a mirror when I’m in such a good mood!

Okay I have also noticed that I have slowed down a little bit.  Part of that of course is because I have multiple sclerosis and I’m in a wheelchair.  But yes I have to admit that perhaps part of that is because I am getting, cough, cough, cough, older.

We live in a world of fast cars, fast food and fast computes. Hurry up,  faster, faster. Deadlines. Time is money, early bird catches the worm.  Is it any wonder we seem to be programmed from infancy to see the world at 100 kms an hour? 

I guess a little more rethinking has to be done as to my place in this world.  My time here may be finite but I ain’t done yet!  Maybe I’ll just slow down a wee bit.

Invisible People

My friend Anne-Marie has asked me to assist her. She needs time to work on her book. To that end here is a piece I wrote.  I hope you enjoy it.  Pamela

 

Have you ever walked into a crowded room and felt as if no one was aware of you?

It is almost as if you are invisible.

Well that happens to me with some regularity although it is usually at a busy street intersection with many, many cars whizzing by. Am I a wee bit nervous? Yes.  Now to state a few pertinent facts.

The intersection in question has a ‘walk’ symbol that is very clear to both drivers and pedestrians.  The roadway is not visually blocked in any way.  Physically I stand about 5’5”, sitting in a wheelchair I am sure I am more than 4’ high.  While my particular wheelchair is not the largest on the market it is still quite substantial.  And yet, I have been narrowly missed by cars far too many times.  Why?

One theory (my own in fact) is that I have joined the ranks of the Invisible People.  Who are these transparent travelers, these wraithlike wanderers? Basically they are anyone who works or moves in virtual anonymity.  They are there but we don’t see or acknowledge them.  It happens a hundred times a day. People lead busy lives, they don’t have the time or the energy to see or respond to the dozens if not hundreds of people they come into contact with.

There is the guy who took your ticket on the subway, the kid who gave you your coffee and bagel, the cleaning staff at your office, the list is endless.

Some people make the effort to acknowledge these people, but most do not. That is sad.  Every single person you come into contact with in your busy life is a man or a woman that is important.  The woman who brings your mail promptly every day, the guy who keeps your streets clean, the individual who changes the burnt out bulb in your local street light.  These people are around, sometimes in our sight lines, sometimes not, but they are there.

The next time you see someone watering the plants on the boulevard, say hi!  Maybe it will become a trend and we will finally really see each other.  Maybe next time they will see me in the intersection.