Whether/Weather

Here/Hear, Hey/Hay, Sea/See, Weather/Whether—the English language has many homophones, which are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.  We know how to spell the right/write word by how it is used in a sentence, or the context: the words that are used with a certain word or phrase and that help to explain its meaning. We sometimes say to use the word in a sentence so we know what spelling and meaning to use. If I’m talking about sounds, like a bell,  I say and spell it “I hear the bells.”, or if I’m talking about place I say and spell it “Please bring it here.” So context is very important!

Context has another meaning, context:. the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less of a black and white thinker and tend to be in the “gray” zone more often. Passing judgments of others without the full story has my name on it.  What are the circumstances and variables that affect mine and others behaviors and beliefs? My history, my past experiences and my current circumstances propel me towards behaviors that may make sense for me, but totally confound others. This is true for everyone, whether I understand or agree with their choices.  I like to eat with smaller forks, I’m for a woman’s right to autonomy over her own body, and I hate driving in big cities if I don’t know the city. These behaviors and choices, within the context of my life history, make sense to me. I can tell other people how I got “here”, if they are willing to “hear” my story. It’s the old “Walk a mile in my shoes.” thing, and my shoes have changed over time. I distill all this into the need for me to keep an open mind, don’t rush to judgement and listen, really listen to others.

How do I put myself in context? What is the meaning of my life? This question was pretty silly when I was 20, but now that I’m 70 it’s a lot more meaningful to me. I’ve lived for 70 years and have played many roles, created many things and contributed to society, but what exactly is my contribution to the greater good? The contexts in my life have changed many times, sometimes minute to minute. Lately, there is a lot of talk about “finding your tribe” and the positive outcome of belonging. Where do I belong? I exist within many “interrelated conditions” and I have to make an effort to keep growing so these “interrelated conditions” expand my life and not constrict it. The reality is I behave differently in different contexts depending on who I am with and where I am at. This is usually adaptive, but can also lead me to behave as a chameleon and/or believe  that “my” tribe is the only legitimate tribe.  

In our language, context is about spelling and meaning. The context of our lives is also about meaning, but also about the expansion or restriction of understanding.

Have fun exercising your brain and see how many homophones you can name. Their, they’re, there are over 100!

My Potential

For awhile, I didn’t have anything to say, so for a change I actually resisted the temptation to fill the silence with babble. Instead, I stocked up on thrift store uglies and got out my paints, stickers and embellishments to re-make and re-cycle my finds. After all, how many times can you see “Live, Laugh, Love”,  without wanting to vomit. The Christmas season added to my fervor to  craft and fed my passion to make treasures out of junk. I’ve waded through my creations and I’ve finally stuck my head out of my hole. Because I’m taking some deep cleansing breaths I can gain some perspective. I think I decided it’s time to take a break because I spent hours trying to rescue and re-style a wreath —and then decided my time was not worth the diminishing returns I was experiencing. It was time to throw it in the garbage and call it a day. The more I did, the harder I tried, the worst it got and my pride was driving me not to give up. In a moment of clarity, after asking myself “How important is it?”, I had to conclude that it was not important at all, even a little bit. What a relief!

When I look at “worn out” art or crafts I “see” more than what is , I see what could be.  A little bit of paint  etc. and it will become “my” creation. Seeing potential is not necessarily a bad thing, but skipping right to potential may mean I don’t really accept what is. You know those report cards that said “Not living up to potential.”? What kid really knows what potential is and how to spell it? I can spell potential, but even as an older adult I’m not at all sure what my “potential” is. Of course, I could do better on lots of things if I took the time to learn skills,  practice and take the actions I need to take. The real question I have is: “Do I want to focus on my potential, or do I choose to accept myself as I am and stop obsessing about being better or meeting goals?”  It’s one thing to obliterate “Live, Laugh and Love.” signs in order to save the world from banality, but constantly working on self-improvement obliterates my contentment. I don’t really care if my tombstone says “She could have done better….’” even though my choice would be “WTF”.

It’s super hard for me to say “I don’t care!”. Shouldn’t I “care”? Shouldn’t I keep trying? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not going to be perfect now or when I die. Try, try harder, never give up, you can do it,  blah, blah, blah. How about living, laughing and loving? I’m kidding. Watching romantic comedies, reading “fluff” novels, cuddling with my doggies, going for long walks , spending time with family and friends and throwing away my to-do list are arguably not the way to reach my pinnacle of self-improvement or “potential”, but———- I DON’T CARE!

Bum Bum Crème

I was reading my news feed and up popped an ad for Brazilian Bum Bum Crème, so I had to check it out on Amazon . Yup, it was crème to firm up skin all over my body, including my bum. It didn’t cost a fortune so I thought, what the hell, because I certainly have skin that needs firming up. My bum is a lost cause (somewhere down south), but my face needs tightening up so I am using the bum bum crème on my face. The irony is not lost on me!  I’m sure the jar will end up on the shelf with all my other skin-tightening, wrinkle-reducing cremes that didn’t work.  I’m mad at myself for believing there really is a miracle crème, but also know I’m still not immune to the siren call of youthful beauty.

It seems to take a mirror or manipulative advertising to make me feel bad about my body. I know if I lived on a desert island all by myself I wouldn’t worry about whether or not I had wrinkles. I wonder how we would all behave if we could not see any reflection of ourselves and literally didn’t know what we looked like.The first self tanners turned my skin orange and Sun-In did not add bling highlights to my hair. Anyone remember those vibrating belt machines that were supposed to vibrate your fat off? Don’t get me started on all the diet pills which are worthless. Still I’m literally buying into what the beauty industry is selling., i.e. bum bum crème .

How is it that advertisers are so effective at selling things to me, and to other women, that don’t do what they claim? Most of us want to be “in” and not “out”, and the powerful beauty and fashion industries are more than willing to define what is “in” for women. How else can you explain young women using juice cans to set their hair  or even ironing  their hair (yikes) to get absolutely straight hair? I’m dating myself, but what about the Twiggy haircut or the Dorothy Hamill wedge  which we begged our hair stylist for. Never mind that “cookie cutter haircuts” like these  are only flattering to a few people, we still wanted them. I confess I was one of the “sheep” when it came to pale lipstick, blue eyeshadow and army navy surplus jackets. I used my money, when I had it, to buy what I felt I needed to have to be attractive and cool.

Without a doubt the one thing that is always in fashion is “youth”,  or at least to be young looking. As I’ve aged I admit that I have had moments of “youth envy”, and moments of panic about the relentless creep into “old” lady territory.  Am I vain?  vanity: A quality of people who have inflated pride in their appearance.  I don’t think I have “inflated pride” in my appearance, but of course I want to be attractive and look as good as I can. I get to decide for myself if I am trying too hard to recapture my youth. I know I am not alone in navigating the minefield of how to define beauty. I’m not trying to be 25, or subjecting myself to cosmetic surgery to look younger. I don’t even wear makeup anymore, but I’m sure trying to find the product that makes my hair look thicker. Maybe there is a crème that could tighten up my skin!  As for recapturing my youth, I’m trying to remember that though hope springs eternal, youth does not.

A Penny For Your Thoughts

I’m experiencing a financial pinch right now,  It’s actually more like a financial crush. Money is quickly flowing out, and I dont see a little Dutch boy giving me the finger.“Things will get back to normal. Its just a rough patch.”; this is what I tell myself. But I had an “Aha”moment this morning— this is “normal’!   Shit happens, and happens again and again. I just need to accept that life is what it is, sometimes good and sometimes not so good. Things won’t “settle” down. Since Im retired, my financial picture is not going to change dramatically, unless I win the big lottery prize. I’d prefer to  spend my money on desirable outcomes, but sometimes I have to spend my money on responsibilities. I have to fix my car, my teeth, my shower, or take care of my rascally Roscoe who has allergies. I also choose to spend some of my money at coffee shops and at thrift stores and on travel and lots more. 

What strikes me as I write this is how many sayings and proverbs we have about money. One of my favorites is by Ron Kittle, “ I’m so broke I can’t pay attention!” Better to laugh than cry, I say. When I see an ugly purse thats a thousand dollars because its a Louis Vuitton, I remember that Paris Hilton once asked “Whats a soup kitchen?” and it all makes sense.  I have mixed feelings about being rich,-you know the noble poor idea, but I’ve decided I can be rich AND noble if the opportunity presents itself. Money does not determine my worth and it’s O.K. for me to have the money I need. For much of my life I thought that being rich or being financially comfortable was not something I deserved. This is b.s. Money is not the root of all evil, but what is true is that people with lots of money have more choices than people with little money. Luckily, the choice to be happy is not primarily determined by how much money I have. I agree with Pablo Picasso, “I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” Not sure how that works!

Luckily, Mother Nature offers her gifts for free. This is my neighborhood this week.

It’s Not Magic

I wish I didn’t know now, what I didn’t know then.  Bob Seger

If I can’t get a crystal ball, can I at least have a genie in a bottle who looks like Brad Pitt? Can’t blame a girl for trying! I’ve always thought about what my 3 wishes would be. I’ve wished for a lot of things, but so far wishing does not make it so. Even Dorothy couldn’t go home until she got the ruby slippers off the wicked witch. If a genie is responsible for giving me what I want, I am in big trouble because genies are in very short supply. With no crystal ball I really don’t know if getting what I want will make me happy anyway. Then theres always that warning “Be careful what you wish for.” I’ve also worried that I wouldn’t know what to wish for and my indecision would make me mute.

 Where is my magic wand? I could just wave it around and poof! my Tesla and mansion would magically appear.  No sweat off my brow. Unfortunately, their appearance would surely alert the authorities, and I might be accused of theft, or other illegal activities, and find myself in an orange jumpsuit. How would I make sure that no one stole my wand? I could be diagnosed with obsessive and compulsive wanding. Oh my!

Remember the Ouija Board? A bunch of giggling teenagers wanting to know if Billy Bob liked us! I still don’t really understand how it works, but I guess I’ll go with our unconscious minds make the “selector” work. It would appear our minds are unconscious search engines. Maybe I needed to believe because real life was just too full of uncertainty and anxiety. It’s that “Knowledge is power” principle. I didn’t want to wait for life to unveil itself when I could get the answers I needed now. Crystal Ball thinking….

What do all of these things have in common? They all demonstrate magical thinking.  Magical thinking means “ someone believes their thoughts or behaviors can affect an outcome of an event or the behaviors of others when there’s no evidence to suggest that’s possible.”  I don’t have a crystal ball, a genie with my three wishes, or a magic wand and yet sometimes I still believe I can change outcomes I have no control over. A lot of my “If , then.” thinking is really magical thinking.  If I do this then I will get the outcome I want. i.e. If I lose 10 pounds then he will love me.or If I don’t study because I am so smart, then I will still get an A. The universe is laughing at me! Its kinda like Trump saying that he can “just think it” and he can declassify documents!  I cant “think” cancer away, or “think” I  won’t get old, or even make the light turn green . 

I can control my attitudes and behaviors and that’s it. So I simply need to know and remember what I can and can’t do, and let go of the idea I will be rescued.  I am responsible for my own beliefs and actions, and there is no magic to change this truth. There is some good news—I can stop trying to people-please so people will love me. I can’t make anyone love me!  I don’t have to wait for the world or circumstances to change before I can change. The future needn’t concern me if I do what I can in each moment. So Mr. Truman and I agree “The buck stops with me.”

“The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment. You create a  good future by creating a good present.” Eckhart Tolle

The “Dump-the-Asshole Diet”

I thank my neighbor for giving me a weighty topic. I was walking the doggies the other morning and she was walking to her car. I commented on how good she looked, and how she looked like she had lost weight. She said “Yes, 40 pounds!” I asked how she did it and if she followed a specific diet. She said “Yes, the dump-the-asshole diet.” We both chuckled and I told her that it was a good diet and she should market it. The asshole in her life was a live in boyfriend who she booted out. Life does get a lot “lighter” when we say goodbye to the assholes in our lives, or the “stuff” we drag around in our psyche and living spaces. Or as the Beatles said “You’re going to carry that weight.” until we dump it.

To eat or not to eat? That is the question! Seemed like the flip of the coin after a breakup; either I decided to over eat or decided to deny myself food. I preferred to lose my appetite and lose weight, because getting skinnier was best. So I too have used the “dump-the-asshole”diet, but I have also been shoved into the “I’ve been dumped” diet. My break-up diet was usually pretty effective, but more often it was the “I’ve been dumped” diet. I’d like to think I wasn’t the asshole who was dumped!

weigh down  1: overburden, oppress, depress.  Yes, sometimes I do feel the “weight of the world on my shoulders”.  I tell myself, “Gotta do this, gotta do that.” Before I know it I am dressed in the heavy cloak of SHAME . Setting boundaries with people, or ending relationships is so hard for me because, of course , it’s all my fault!  Questioning myself, doubting myself, and denying my feelings are usually my first steps when a relationship hits a rough patch. I ended a “close” relationship several years ago, but only after I accepted that my hurt feelings were valid and my anger was justified. My friend told me that I shouldn’t feel that way. In short, I finally trusted myself and respected myself. It took me a long time to get over the mountain of “I shouldn’t feel this way.” It was difficult for awhile, but then I felt a sense of relief and freedom. Negative thoughts and self-recriminations had weighed on my mind and heart and I was free of the relationship that  “weighed” me down.

Things can weigh us down too. I can own my things or my things can own me. Clutter is a burden, it fills up our living spaces and fills up our psyche and consciousness. We move clutter around with us and it gets in the way of feeling free and in charge of our lives. Losing the weight of clutter may prompt our bodies to lose weight too. I sell some of my clothes clutter and housewares clutter to “Repeat Boutique”, a consignment store. I am motivated to make money, so the more stuff I can sell to them the richer I become and the less clutter I have. Whatever is not sold is donated to local thrift stores. Everybody wins!

Just remember : “You wanna fly, you gotta give up the shit that weighs you down.” Toni Morrison

The Donald Trump Fan Club

I HATE Donald Trump! There! I said it. I mean it. I don’t care if hate is not a family value, or this makes me a horrible person. We heard “Truth matters.” early in Trump’s presidency, and I’m telling my truth. Of course, now we know that it is power, not truth, that really matters. 

HATE 1 a : intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury 

Wow, that’s hate alright. This post is not a treatise on why I have “intense hostility and aversion” to Donald Trump.  My son can’t understand how I can hate someone I have never met, but I hate Hitler and I never met him. 

I love sarcasm and biting humor,  but I’m no match for some of the descriptive name calling or criticism of  Trump I’ve read or heard. “The Donald” has generated quite the long list of “slams”. Without further ado:

America’s comedians:

“Angry creamsicle.”   Stephen Colbert

“Decomposing Jack-o-lantern.”  Jon Stewart

“The face of a butternut squash who wished on a  star and became a real boy.” Trevor Noah

“ A dissonant bagpipe powered by farts.” Chris Hardwick

“ Sentient caps-lock button.” Samantha Bee

Political pundits:

“He is the king of the losers and the prince of the lazy, the idol of racists and the champion of the ignorant. He’s as conservative as a chainsaw massacre and represents the grossest and most base of our instincts.” Jason Stacy

If you are filthy rich, racist, sexist, homophobe, transphobe or like being governed by a lying, cheating criminal, his presidency was a giant success. Otherwise, not so much.   Christian Winter

Short and Sweet A-Z:

Adolf Twitler, Agent orange, Benedict Donald, Boiled ham in a wig, Cheeto fuhrer, Comrade Cheet-o-lino, Dehydrated orange peel, Darth hater, Fascist loofa-faced shit-gibbon,Groper-in-chief, Humble cow pie, King of the whoppers, Molester-in-chief, Sociopathic 70-year-old-toddler, Tangerine tyrant, Trumpenstein, Unrepentant Narcissistic Asshole, Walking talking human comb-over, Xenophobic Sweet potato.

Good Question: 

In what way has Trump changed since he’s been in office?

He’s gotten fatter, more openly racist, senile, his speech is worse somehow, he has no actual ability to form a cohesive sentence and relies more on performative action than actual words, he’s stupider, he’s angrier and he’s more of a threat to the country than he’s ever been before in his life. Oh, and hair looks worse.
Lee Butler

What is Donald Trumps middle name?

John (Probably not so coincidentally what a hooker calls her date.)  William Uchtman

I haven’t had this much fun since Trump lost the 2020 election! My personal favorite refers to Trump as a “malignant ass pimple.” And I don’t even feel bad for sharing this.

“Yes, but”

Ah, the “Yes, but” game. A game that everyone plays and everyone loses. Who would play such a game? We all do. It’s a popular game played all around the world. The rules are simple. At least 2 players are required, and it’s a good family game too. Player one makes the first move with a statement, usually lamenting a painful situation in their life. Player two then responds with a “useful” piece of advice. Player one then responds “Yes, but that won’t work because…  Player two then offers another piece of advice, and player once again responds “Yes, but”. Play continues in this manner until one or both players gives up in frustration or is too tired to go on. Sound familiar? I don’t want to admit the countless times I’ve played this game.

If I really want to stop playing “Yes, but” I need to catch myself before I get sucked in. The problem? “ Yes, but.” is so seductive for both players. We think this time will be different, the problem will be solved and both players declared a winner. I think there may be several ways  to stop the vicious cycle of “Yes, but.”  and all require being aware of the set up to the game. I love to give advice and problem solve, and though this is not a fatal flaw, I can attempt to solve other peoples problems when they need to problem solve on their own. If I’m giving someone information about their problem it’s so easy for me to assume that they will take my information and run with it. If I’m honest my “information” is sometimes given with a judgment about other’s inability to inform themselves. I am a caring and compassionate person and I truly want to help those I love, and sometimes my loved ones (and I) really don’t want help because we don’t intend to “do” anything different, we just want to be listened too.

Now go back and read the previous paragraph. Notice anything? With the exception of naming the “Yes, but.” game I did not use the word “but”! This is actually kinda hard to do. Try it for yourself. This experiment demonstrates another way to end the “Yes, but.” game: change the game to “Yes, and.” Player one will have a hard time simply resisting suggestions and Player two will be less likely to keep pushing and pushing their advice, and instead seek more information. It could look more like this:Player one: “I want to lose weight and nothing I’ve tried works.” Player two: “What have you tried?” Player one: “I tried the banana diet and that didn’t work for me.” I know this may seem like a small difference but “but” (!) is a more loaded word because it  casts doubts on what came before it, and does not contribute to any solution. 

It’s a slippery slope to  “what-about-ism”— “Maybe we did that, but look what you guys did? “ This blame  game has no winners and zero problem solving. This is a favorite game of politicians. When spouses start the blame game, escalation is almost inevitable. When we have years of relationship history, there is so much “blame” ammunition to use. This duel of blame does not have any chance of a positive resolution for either party. “Yes, but” is a  long and losing game . Listen to yourself, be aware of how you ask for help or respond to requests for help. No matter the game, who wants to be a loser?  “Yes, but”….

Snail Mail

Snail mail looks pretty speedy about now!  Put your mail in an envelope, make sure there is an address on it, slap a stamp on it and put it in a mail box. And wait, and wait some more, for the letter to arrive at its destination. I screwed up my email accounts yesterday and snail mail looked pretty attractive for awhile. I could send emails, but not receive emails on one account, and vice versa on another, and fixing this necessitated a great deal of swearing. I know this should be easy, but sometimes trying to communicate with my iPad is “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” or “That is not logical”. Kudos to you if you can name the movies or TV shows these lines are from and the famous actors who said them. Boomers should know!

I can email, text, FaceTime, Zoom and message family and friends. I can also call or leave a voice mail if I need to. With caller id I can even see who is calling before I answer (or not). You would think with all of this technological support that there  is no “…failure to communicate.”    There is some  thought that we don’t know how to talk in person anymore, and that there is no substitute for face to face and physical  contact. I believe there is definitely some truth to this, but I have to point out that families who gather together physically may actually be far away from each other because of differing political and religious beliefs. The old adage of never talk politics or religion with family has never been as true as it is now.

The RNC has determined that the insurrection on January 6, 2021 was “legitimate political discourse” Discourse: the use of WORDS to exchange thoughts and ideas. There were some words exchanged on Jan 6, including many expletives  and “Hang Mike Pence”! Ok, these are words and they do present “thoughts and ideas”, but the majority of the communication and exchange on January 6  was violent and harmful behaviors by Trump supporters. I doubt the 150 police officers injured on that day would say that getting beat up was “ legitimate political discourse”. The initial reaction to the events of January 6th  by Members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, was not this is “legitimate political discourse”, it was fear for their lives and disgust at the events of the day. Unfortunately the communication from the MAGA base and the MAGA King was that things were not the way they seemed. Naming insurrectionists “patriots” was just the beginning of new “alternate facts” being presented. And we all know how the “Big Lie” lives on….

This is where I should share my great wisdom about how to communicate with our loved ones,  our enemies or those we strongly disagree with. I would if I could, but I’m pretty much out of ideas. How do I (and we) stop being triggered by opposing viewpoints from the “other side”? I know a good start would be to stop pouring gasoline on the fire and dial down the rhetoric and blur the divide between the sides. I’m thinking that talking about it may need to come after we 

begin to see the other as more like ourselves. Playing tug of war with the Donkeys and Elephants mixed on both sides might put rancor aside for a bit by the desire to win. Getting people with opposing views to laugh together might also soften the sharp edges. Other than gathering the “big kids” on the playground or at funny movies, how do we get positive feelings to reach across the great divide? I wish I knew.

Grilled Cheese

“Are you ready to order?”  “I’ll take the grilled cheese, no bread please.” ??  My friend suggested I order this so I could stick to my low carb diet. Makes me chuckle, but I really don’t want to deprive myself of my usual comfort foods.  Why is it so  hard for me to do what is “for my own good”?  I remember:  “Take this medicine it’s for your own good.” And this meant it tastes like crap or it hurts. A big part of this dilemma  is that I’m not always sure what is for my own good, and as we all know things change. I’m all about feeling better physically and emotionally as I get older, but I don’t have 50 years to figure this out. I’m shooting for better not perfect. 

Like it or not (mostly not), some of the resources I had when I was younger are gone or in shorter supply. I’m not as fast, as strong, or as fit as I was.  My energy bucket has a leak in it. I’m awake less hours in the day too. When I think about what’s “for my own good” I know I have to be sure that I’m not just depriving myself or paying negative costs. Following a low carb diet isn’t the most fun for me, but not getting diabetes gives me a better chance at living longer and feeling better. So there’s a reward , but it’s not immediate. Delayed gratification is tougher to buy into when the gratification may not be realized before I die!  Rewarding myself  as I meet incremental goals feeds my motivation and my positive feelings about myself. So practically, this looks like a cheap 20 dollar date with Amazon every 2 weeks if I stay on my low carb diet, and a low carb shake several times a week. I get some goodies as I go along, so I get rewarded on my journey towards the big reward.

What about the phenomena of the “Normalization of Suffering” as it applies to aging? What I mean is the assumption that aging brings with it all kinds of unavoidable negative consequences. We often buy into certain beliefs or stereotypes  about aging that suggest  decline and deterioration are unavoidable. I find myself saying “Getting older is a bitch.” and thinking some of my aches and pains are just my due as I age. What does it mean when I say “I’m too old”? What does  “too old’ mean? Should I give up and just let what will be will be, and not worry about low carb diets because it won’t make any difference. The medical establishment often supports the inevitability of suffering as we age. How many times have you heard “You’re getting older and this is common in people your age.” My knee hurts and I hear its “just” arthritis from overuse for many years.  Apparently,  aches and pains are normal for the elderly. Would we say this to any other age group? So I swim through the molasses of these kinds of messages when I try to do what is “for my own good”. Maybe I should eat dessert first!

As a country we can’t even do what is “for our own good”. I’m sure I’ve never heard anyone say the “right” to own an assault rifle is for the good of children! We know what needs to be done to save our planet from being uninhabitable due to climate change, and we still can’t seem to do what needs to be done for the good of the planet and all life on earth. For many,  the greater good seems to be power, wealth, giving in to inertia and controlling others.  For damn sure,  women don’t need to be told what is for  “our own good” and what decisions to make regarding our own bodies and health care. 

It’s up to me to define what is “good” for myself.  Of course, I have to be honest  and willing to take action that may be uncomfortable or even painful to take care of myself. I’m reminded that there are lots of things that are “good” for me that feel wonderful. Things like massages, warm baths, naps, and a good book are all “good for me” and I feel rewarded and not deprived. As for that grilled cheese sandwich, bring it on!