Posts Tagged With: Attitude

Throwing Down the Gauntlet of “I’m Not”


I can’t find that picture I took of her riding around when she first got this contraption. So this will have to do.

My favorite three-year old brought her scooter over during her last visit. So of course, we headed outside for a nice walk through the neighborhood. I pushed her sister in the stroller while she zoomed ahead on her scooter. Every once in a while she’d stop, sit down on the scooter and wait for me to catch up to her. As I got closer she’d pop up, put her speedy foot to the ground and rocket away on the sidewalk. Luckily she’d been taught to stop at corners so I don’t have to yell or run ahead.

If I had on skates or was on my own scooter, I’d still have a tough time keeping up with her. I think she’d go a couple of miles before she felt even a little tired. Oh, to have such energy!

When we decide to head down the grassy hill to the playground, she attempts to ride the scooter through the grass, but meets too much resistance in the thick green lawn. So she steps off and drags the scooter behind her.

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We’re talking thick over-watered winter grass of Phoenix.

Yup! She drags it sideways, with the center of the wheels catching on the long grass and the body of the scooter adding more drag. If I didn’t need to manage the one-year old and the stroller I’d show her how simply pushing it in an upright position, rolling along on the tires requires less effort and more efficiency. I suggested it, with verbal directions. Her reply? “I’m not.”

That’s how she answers most things she’s not interested in doing, eating, working at, giving in on or sharing. “I’m not.”

Just two words and she’s said all she’ll say on the matter.

There’s no reasoning, bribing, cajoling, begging, threatening or consequence that changes her mind once she’s decided “I’m not.” (Her parents have better luck with this, but I’m not the parent. I’m the pushover.)

So when we leave the park with me awkwardly pushing a fully loaded stroller up the grassy hill, she once again, drags the scooter sideways until we reach the sidewalk. I offered to carry the scooter on the stroller and she replied in her two-word manner. “I’m not.”

Independent little thing! Ya gotta admire that!

I wonder sometimes if I’m like her with lifes… stuff. 

I buzz along at a nice clip, enjoying the ride and then I encounter resistance. (I think I deal with the long thick grass or rocky terrain much more often than the smooth sidewalk, but that’s probably a skewed and incorrect viewpoint.)

I could patiently step off and simply push in a slightly different way, with my wheels still rolling forward. But, more than likely, I throw my “scooter” on its side and drag it along, making things harder than necessary.

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Feeling drenched by my bad attitude.

Maybe I’m a bit dramatic about a situation and blow it out of proportion. Or maybe I assume the worst possible outcome. Perhaps I fail to deploy my optimism umbrella and instead get drenched by pessimism.

When life gets hard and stays that way for too long, what do I do? I throw down my own well-worn gauntlet of “I’m not.”

More than likely I’ve forgotten to notice the happy stuff going on around me and I only notice the one or two big negatives. I even get argumentative with people I like, or complain out loud about “how hard my life is.” What a downer. Then I feel worse because I’ve hurt people, relationships and myself.

Funny how a three-year old can teach a lesson without even trying.

I think I need two photographs of Miss Smarty-pants and her scooter; one of her zipping along and one of her dragging the thing behind her. I could use the reminder that I have a choice in how I ride and how I manage the roughs.

It’s time to set my scooter upright and push it through the grass.

I’m sure that before I know it I’ll feel the wind whipping through my hair as I push-off once again on one of life’s smoother paths.




Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking Back Instead of Forward

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful that the past is behind me. I’m glad to look back and glean what lessons I can from the life I’ve experienced thus far. There’s some doozies. There’s more than a few embarrassing if not downright shameful tales. There’s some hold my head  high “I done good” moments. Mostly, there’s me slogging through, mud stained, sweaty, not very pretty, grimacing, trying to smile, just trying to “get ‘er done.”

English: Muddy Hit

I’m not one of those people who would want to know what’s on the agenda for the future. I think I’d run screaming off the edge of the planet if I knew what’s coming.

Oh, sure, I’m certain there’s some happy times ahead. I’ve great faith in the goodness of many people. The technologic expansion and promise bodes well. But I’m a realist and I know not all is well and not all will be well. There’s crap out there among the good stuff. Always has been, always will be.

Looking back at what I’ve experienced over the past few decades I’m pretty certain that if given the choice ahead of time, with a clear view of those particular things laid out before me, I’d have probably declined the offer to move ahead.

Sure, youth think they are invincible. They envision the future as glorious and beautiful, hopeful and amazing. The don’t imagine failure, or trial or difficulty. There’s a vague cloud of the unknown but no real grasp of what death or disease, unemployment or uncertainty, debt and demands, sleeplessness and exhaustion, mental illness and poor decisions, good intentions with bad outcomes, or any one of thousands of reality’s hard knocks. It’s probably best that way.

Being jaded and angry is no way to approach a life at the beginning of it.

In fact, being jaded and angry is no way to live a life at all.

I had a year or two of that and it was not pretty.

Now I aim for grateful as much as I can. I try being honest with myself and not simply look at the world through those fabled rose-colored glasses. I honestly search for the good, the positive, the blessed moments, the glorious parts of life.

Syringe 5 with drops.

It’s not a denial of the bad stuff, more of an inoculation against it. I like to think I’m vaccinated and up to date on my shots so when the virus of hardship invades, which it surely will, I’ll be able to get through it. My faith, my hope, my cheerfulness, my experience,  will win out.

Better to learn from what’s thrown at you. Knowing when to duck, when to roll, when to tuck, when to jump, when to charge ahead, only comes from the experience of having to do those things. Practice makes perfect, is the saying, isn’t it?

I should be nearly perfect by now.

No. Never mind. I didn’t say that. I know there’s a ton of experiences in life I haven’t had the pleasure or pain of going through. I don’t want to tempt fate. Got my hands full, thankyouverymuch.

Today I’m glad to stand where I am, looking back on the path I’ve been on, happy for the temporary level spot in the path.

What a view!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


It’s Gratituesday. I’m thankful for those pivotal moments in my life that have made all the difference. One in particular comes to mind today. Oddly, I don’t remember the person’s name who played such a starring role.

On a slightly overcast day nearly twenty years ago, I had just arrived at an outdoor “retreat” of sorts. Nervous and uncertain about what to expect, I stashed my luggage and showed up for the keynote speaker. Walking across a wide expanse of mowed meadow, I felt a slight hint of rain. Looking up at the clouds I wondered how the week would change if it rained instead of shined.

I soon found out.

Sweet, sugary Brach's lemon drops. Made with r...

Brach’s lemon drops, made with real lemon juice! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the time all the participants unloaded luggage and found their way to the lodge where the keynote speaker would soon begin, the rain made itself part of the proceedings. People entered first with slightly wet heads and wiping raindrops from eyeglasses. Those who arrived a few minutes later looked disheveled, wet and somewhat wary.

The first thing the speaker said was, “Everybody stand up! Yes, everybody, even you all in the back rows.”

She waited. A few stragglers seemed reluctant to stand at which she pronounced, “The correct answer when someone asks you to do something is, ‘I’m excited about this idea!’” She smiled a big smile for a short person and said, “Let’s try again. Everybody stand up!”

Nearly everyone in the damp smelling room responded in a lackluster voice, “I’m excited about this idea.”

She laughed.

“I think we need a change of direction. Sing along if you know this one.” She then proceeded to belt out an energetic rendition that went like this.

“I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again…”

A few brave souls joined her part way through. As they did so a clap of thunder rolled across the hills outside at which a few people moaned, and a couple of people clapped. There was even a cheer or two.

When they finished singing she looked the group over and laughed again. “What was that phrase I said we should respond with?  ‘I’m excited about this idea!’”

She put her hand to her ear as she said, “Everyone sing along with me!”

“I’m excited about this idea,” the group responded.

“I can’t hear you,” she said.

“I’m EXCITED about this idea!” we all yelled back.

Then we all belted out the first few phrases of “Singing in the Rain.”

Glowing gumdrops.

Glowing gumdrops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For good measure we did another song with actions, of sorts.  Arms spread as if welcoming a rainstorm, head back and mouth opened wide during the “ah, ah, ah” part of the song, we sang:

“If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops, oh what a rain it would be…I’d stand outside with my mouth open wide, ah, ah ah ah ah, ah ah ah ah, ah ah ah. If all the raindrops were lemon drop and gum drops oh what a rain it would be.”

I don’t remember anything more specific about that speaker, not even her name.

I’m not sure what she said. But something clicked in me. Something sparked. Some cog turned that set in motion a churning machine of interconnected wheels, chain reactions, window opening, door crashing changes.

Maybe her joyful manner, her laughter, her energy overpowering even a thunderstorm affected me. Maybe the twinkle in her eyes or the bounce in her step brought some unspoken message that only I heard.

I felt it though. I felt different. From that moment, I began to chang from a cowering, shy uncertain afraid-of-her-own-shadow ghost of myself into a full-blown, somewhat bodacious, speak my mind, belt it out loud, say what I think semi-brave woman of substance.

No, all those changes weren’t instantaneous. More like a set of dominoes aligned in an elaborate design where the little rectangles rose on steps, circled and swirled in intricate paths, I too, unconsciously began my own domino effect of growth and change.

Maybe this woman’s words or actions or attitude figuratively poured water on a seed that lay dormant under a dirt and trash covered patch of ground in me. Someone else may have laid the seed in the ground and then years later, time and opportunity and, maybe the rain that day became the catalysts. Whatever happened was pivotal.

English: Screenshot of Judy Garland performing...

Judy Garland performing Over the Rainbow for the film The Wizard of Oz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”, my life changed from black and white to brilliant Technicolor. I became excited about this idea, and excited about that idea. Left and right I saw positives around nearly every corner.

It rained that entire week. In fact it rained so long and hard that some small trickling streams became raging rivers. Thunderstorms kept us awake nights. Schedules changed and rearranged. My feet never felt dry.

But me, inside, I felt newly born in the deluge.

I ran into this woman briefly, several years later, somewhere random, and had just a moment or two to tell her, “You changed my life with a presentation you gave a few years ago.” She looked at me, confused, without a clue who I was or what she’d said or done.

“Just know,” I said as the crowd whisked me away, “that you made a huge difference in someone’s life. Thank you!”

Yup. Pivotal. Turned my life around one hundred eighty degrees.

Lucky me.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Not my “A” Game

Do I have to show up with my A game?

Or can I just show up?

How about if I show up in my pajamas?

My A game is definitely down today. Might be best not to show up at all, even in pajamas.  Does anyone have the number for calling in sick to life?

Open bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol and Ext...

Sore throat, earache, head ache, me ache. Sleep remains elusive and fickle. The doctor and I get to chat today. With any luck I’ll leave with a prescription or two or five that will a.) help me sleep; b.) take away some of this dumb pain; and c.) cure whatever this is that’s ailing me. Maybe he can even write one up for d.) an attitude adjustment that minimizes whininess and self-pity.

It’s probably a virus. That’s why I’ve waited this long to visit with the doc. When I go to the doctor only a few days into an illness, I’m told it’s a virus, or it’s what’s going around, and I should drink lots of fluids, get rest and (ha) take it easy.

Somehow my body isn’t getting the message that this is “just” anything and that it should heal itself.

I feel so whiny and wimpy when I think of how my best buddy has suffered through five flipping years of pain, chemo and crap. And she’s done it with less whining in five years than I’ve produced in the past week. You’d think I’d have learned something from her amazing example of perseverance and perkihood and optimism.

I have.

I’ve learned that she’s exceptional and strong and gutsy. I’ve learned that she’s kept her focus on her family. Her priorities have been on three things: 1.) doing what’s essential for her own spiritual well-being; 2.) doing what she can that’s necessary in caring for her family; and with any remaining energy 3.) she does some nice stuff that brings variety and beauty and enjoyment into her life.

That order of priorities has kept her focused and hopeful and happy, in spite of the pain and loss and sickness.

So maybe I can’t bring my A game today. But maybe I can muster my B game and stop being whiny. I could do that.

Right after a nap and some Tylenol.

Categories: Family, People | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mud, Potholes, Spinouts, Blowouts, and Other Fun Times

I hit a pothole once that literally tore a hole in the side of my tire. I didn’t think that was possible. That mangled tire made me much more cautious of those seemingly innocuous bumps in the road.

I’ve also been stuck up to the rims on a muddy road in a little Vega. Luckily my husband was up for a hike and found someone with a truck and a rope to pull us out.

And I’ve been in a van with the entire family on a snowy freeway and suddenly found ourselves spinning like a carnival ride. Not sure how the vehicle stayed upright. Half an hour later one of the tires suddenly went flat, so we’d obviously done some damage during the spin.

Why do I tell you this?

Life is a highway, a road, a path, a journey.

I’ve often felt that I’ve had my unfair share of uphills, spinouts, flats, mechanical failures, blowouts, impassable roads, uphill stretches and potholes.

Road blocked by landslide

Road blocked by landslide (Photo credit: wiesmann)

We could all feel that way, rich or poor, blessed or not, third world or first world, ill or well, single or married. Life isn’t easy.

It is easy, however, to tell ourselves that it isn’t fair. It’s easy to look at the road behind us and curse and complain. It’s easy to look at the path ahead and decide to sit down and cry instead of moving forward.

Yup. Too easy to take the pessimistic, sad, sorry for myself stance. I give in some days. I wallow in self-pity sometimes. I allow myself some poor me tears.

Little SRisonS Enters The Old Zone

(Photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS))

But then, I, hopefully, wash my face off, get dressed, and do what needs doing.

With a smile.

That’s the hardest part of all some days. Especially if there are metaphorical storm clouds looming, or a deluge of life’s crud to wade through.

I am not really a fan of Nietzsche’s idea “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” attitude.  I’m more on the side of the “I can’t tell if it’s making me stronger or killing me” team.

*insert rimshot here*

Meaning, I look at things not through rose-colored glasses, idealized and perky, but through the lens of humor or sarcasm. Laughter has gotten me through more rough patches than anything I know. I’m more likely to have a joke memorized and at the ready, than a quote about getting through life’s adversities. Depending on your temperament, one may work better than the other.

If I share a quote on this topic it’s probably because I see something humorous hidden in between the words. Or it resonated somehow with me. These few did.

“I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ” ~Agatha Christie

The words wildly, despairingly and acutely seem melodramatic to me. Reminds me of a toddler’s response to the word “no.” I can see myself throwing a tantrum when life isn’t going my way and that makes me laugh. Not to mention, life really is a grand thing. Keeping my eyes open to the grandness makes a huge impact.

Bob Hope

Bob Hope (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” ~Japanese Proverb

This is the stuff of slapstick comedy. Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Robin Williams. We are constantly falling down, failing, messing up, missing a beat, off kilter and out of sync. Well, I know I am. I do a sort of mental double take and then dust myself off and keep going. At least usually.

Here’s hoping your path today is a smooth one and your road plowed and pothole free. If it isn’t, I hope you’re able to smile, or laugh, or at the very least, have a good cry and then keep moving forward.

Categories: Gratitude, Humor, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Mess of Mixed Metaphors

“I am the captain of my soul, I am the master of my….” whatever…

Whoever said that, whenever they said it, didn’t have the eternal cough of the blue plague of 2013.

Sure you can pick your attitude but that’s about it.  You can’t pick up an extra packet of actual physical energy at the corner drugstore when the survival of your basic vital organs has taken precedent over, oh, lets say, walking and sleeping and eating.

When breathing in becomes akin to sucking air through a soggy wet sponge and exhaling is more like a ’55 chevy truck trying to get started on a subzero morning, attitude counts for zilch.

Bad Hair Day

Bad Hair Day (Photo credit: simon_redwood)

No amount of perkiness is going to hide that hair sculpted uniquely by the pillow you molded, wrestled, cursed, punched and eventually drooled all over. The lovely color coördinated pajamas you carefully picked out to show stalwart resilience, sooner than later give over to a kind of Harry-Potter-got-dressed-with-some-things-from-Hermoine’s-bottomless-purse-look that should never be purposely duplicated.

And when you think you’ve cheerfully hit that magical spot in the illness where improvement feels imminent, you’ll overdo it by, oh I don’t know, sweeping off the front porch rug and running a load of laundry. And suddenly you’re back to desperately whispering sweet nothings to your lungs in hopes of pacifying them into a quiet stasis.

Days and nights run into each other, not even bothering to say excuse me, in a kind of manic rush of boring nothingness. Where is optimism now? In the trash can with the overflowing used Kleenex and saltine wrappers.

The formerly comfy couch and I have become too well acquainted. It’s not a healthy relationship anymore. I’m thinking of cutting back to visiting once or twice a week.  I’d like to renew my friendships with my boss and her neurotic dog, my car, the grocery store, my gardening and the laundry.  It’d be wondrous to see real live people again, too!

Highclere Castle

Too much Netflix, too many books, too much internet combine into a perfect storm of fevered sleepless weirdness involving Downton Abbey, White Collar and Sherlock Holmes which, oddly, seem to go together ever so well.  At least they did. In the haze of cheerful coughing everything is lovely, loverly, lovely!! Cue the soundtrack to “My Fair Lady.”

But now, ah yes, now I am on the upswing.  No, nix that.  I did not say that.  I don’t want the virus/bacteria/evil dark Sith to know that I think my body is winning.  After all, Attitude is Everything and Pride goeth before a Fall and all that. Rest, rest, rest, rest and more rest is about all I am capable of or should try to do.

Han Solo and Chewbacca

Until the rebel forces prevail and the planets all align, I will continue to sip herbal tea, Russian Tea, hot ginger honey and lemon, hot chocolate, mulled cider, broth, powerade and NON-diet coke. Once Han Solo shows up with Chewbacca, then and only then, will I stop slurping Ramen noodles, yogurt, Chicken Soup and saltine crackers.

Do I seem a little lost in fantasy land? Yup, I probably am. I’m teetering on the edge of a not so optimistic attitude, thinking this cough really will never end.

I can’t imagine keeping my sanity intact for an illness of any real magnitude.  As it is, this nineteen-day (so far) cough has pushed me to my perkiness limits.

Don’t worry.  I’m working on it.  I’ll get there.  In the meantime, I’ll just rest and try to stay off the internet as much as possible.

Where’s my book?

Categories: Humor, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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