Archive for the 'Musings on Life' Category

Headlines I’d Have Preferred NOT to See

11+ Brutally Honest Tweets About Using A Menstrual Cup
Seriously – there is nothing I can add to that headline other than the fact I’d never heard of that particular approach. I was living a very full, productive life having never heard of that particular item.

Tourists In Utah Throw Dinosaur Tracks Into Lake Thinking That They’re Regular Rocks
It was a kid. Maybe we need to start vetting folks before we let them into our national parks. I’m not sure who is more culpable with these stories – the parents or the children. Disgusting.

Bounce house flies onto California highway with child inside
Yes – the child was safe.

He lured young men looking for weed. Their bodies turned up in a pig roaster.
Sigh. I can’t even…….

Ukraine says military dolphins captured by Russia went on hunger strike
Again – I can’t add to this. You needed to read the article, which was even more unbelievable than the headline.

Bear breaks into SUV, eats 24 cupcakes
Okay, the bear one made me smile. And then I read the article where it says this particular family has had the bear visit before and eat food, THAT THEY HAVE LEFT ACCESSIBLE. They want the bear killed. As one commentator said – why not STOP leaving food OUT???

Advertisements

A small personal history

May 13 is Mothers’ Day this year. May 13 also happens to be my mother’s yahrzeit. *rueful smile* My mother, may her memory be blessed, always understood the importance of timing. As an actress she knew that timing, delivery and performance were key to making a lasting impact. She always wanted everything to be “all about her”. With remarkable timing, she has ‘captured’ Mothers’ Day. I will never reach this date without thinking of her and reflecting on our lives together. (To be fair, my father also made sure I’d never forget his yahrzeit either – I turned 50 sitting shiva, instead of throwing the big birthday blow-out I’d started planning.)

I used to have such fun with my mother. When I was a toddler I wanted to grow up and be just like her. I wiggled my way into her newspaper interview (what an adorable photo we made). I cried at a play when she, in character, cried. My father had to carry me out. 🙂 I cued her for her plays, I went to every show she was in, I envied the times she and my big sister would go out shopping without me.

Even through grade school and high school we were best buddies. I could tell her any and every thing. My friends all thought she was incredibly cool and would confide in her. When I went off to college she wrote me letters every week, and sent me zillions of clippings from the newspaper. *laughing* My beloved advisor once said that my mother was the only mother he knew who could be replaced by a subscription to the NY Times. 🙂 She came out to visit me at college and I was so proud to introduce her to everyone.

I graduated, moved back home for grad school, got married, stayed home until my husband also graduated. All that time my mother and I played together, had fun, had key jokes (Mickey’s Donut Land was one), traditional shopping trips (Black Friday after Thanksgiving – a day we loved to go out because we didn’t NEED anything so we could be relaxed while everyone around us went crazy).

My husband and I bought a house in the same town where I was born, grew up, where my parents lived, where my sister and her husband lived. We were a very close family. We did a lot with my parents – my husband and father were close, both engineers, liking sports, politics, conversation. My son was born and Grandma and PopPop took care of him regularly.

But somewhere along the line things began to change. The seeds were always there. I have an ugly story about my graduation present from college. There were some other harsh memories of things said, selfish behavior, controlling emotions. Beginning after college I went into therapy. Years and years of therapy. What I learned there was to be NOT my mother. What I learned and began to see was how unhappy she was, how emotionally damaged she was from her childhood experiences. I had absorbed ALL of that myself, modeled myself that way, being just like her. But I wasn’t happy. She wasn’t happy. I wanted to be happy and I wanted to be happy more than I didn’t want to have to change myself. I spent years and years and years learning how to undo the self-destructive patterns.

As I changed, I saw my mother differently. I saw her unhappiness, and she always admitted that she was not happy. But she refused to look at herself for the source. She always felt that happiness is derived externally. I think too that she became more and more her negative qualities – selfish, emotionally controlling, putting down others to feel as if she were better, hurtful comments trying to be funny. The more time I spent with her, the worse I would feel. A lot of negativity and anger radiated from her. It was draining and dispiriting.

But it was tolerable. My father was there, my sister, her husband, her daughter, my husband, my son – we were family and we saw each other regularly and happily. Okay, sometimes annoyingly too. 🙂 After all, we were family.

You need to understand. My father adored my mother. He thought she was wonderful. One time my sister and I were talking and laughing with him and we both mentioned how we heard our mother “talking out of our mouths” and he didn’t understand why we thought that was NOT a good thing. I love you so much, Daddy. He would do anything for her. He was her security. He was her rock. She was the glamorous butterfly, flitting and flirting and exciting but she would always come home to him – her safe haven.

And then my father became ill, unable to travel a lot. My mother was cruel. Comments like “well we can’t do this now because of you”. It got worse. He was in the hospital, ill. She didn’t visit him because she didn’t feel up to it. My sister and I were sitting shifts at his bed, dropping in exhaustion so that he would not be alone but she couldn’t be troubled. Had the roles been reversed, he’d have been there every day, dragging a lung machine and any other apparatus just to be with her. When he finally came home, she wouldn’t let him back into their room. He lived downstairs on a hospital bed. She did cruel things like move his toaster to a storage area because it was “in her way”. Every morning he’d have to struggle with his walker to get the toaster, bring it out to the counter, and then struggle to bring it back. She raged when we added safety bars to the bathroom for him. It was ugly. Very very ugly.

She was so angry. So afraid. She couldn’t forgive him for being human and not being her rock. She was terrified. He was her safe haven. He was her security. Her life, as she saw it, was evaporating rapidly.

Then he died.

I’d like to say that things improved but that is not what happened. She turned her fear-fueled anger on my sister and me. There were more cruel words and selfish selfish behavior. It was very hard for several years, but she was our mother, and we loved her, and you do what you have to do. She was still active, going into the city for theater and art and friends.

Suddenly she was ill, in the hospital, emergency surgery – a perforated ulcer. Who even knew she had an ulcer? Recovery was slow, her spirits were poor. We tried to keep her home, but we had to keep upping her in-home care. Finally we moved her to a nursing home. The odd thing is, in hindsight, we think maybe she’d have wanted that immediately. We moved her to a second, better nursing home when it was available. And it was there, finally, that for me, things began to heal.

I could visit her, chat with her, talk to her as we had in the past. There were flashes of my mother there, her sense of humor, her intelligence. We’d have cheese and crackers, drink coffee, eat chocolate. I could even classify some visits as enjoyable. My own anger at her for her treatment of my father began to ease. My anger at her for her lack of commitment to trying to recover from her surgery began to ease. My compassion became dominant, as I saw her living the very life I knew she had dreaded forever.

She died last year, suddenly, the day before Mothers’ Day. On Sunday she’d been okay. On Saturday she was dead.

I miss her. When I think of her now, I don’t think of those last 12 years or so. I think of the fun things we did. Our little jokes. That she’d like this weather. She’d like knowing this event. When the rabbi came to talk to us about her in preparation for the funeral, he asked me if I had forgiven her. I thought about it for a moment and told him no, I had not. I will probably NEVER forgive her for how she treated my father. But that was not the whole of my relationship with her, even if it did poison so much of our time together. I am grateful for that last year in the nursing home. We had time to sit together. Smile. It was quiet then and peaceful and there was room for love and warmth. Time and space for the positive interactions to flourish and bloom. When they say time is the great healer, I think this might be what they mean.

I miss you, Mom. Happy mothers’ day.

Mind Your Manners

Something happened yesterday that I don’t think has ever happened to me before in my working career. Or if it HAS, it was so long ago I don’t remember it.

One of the many tasks I do for my team is to handle quarterly emails to executives about upcoming meetings. Yeah, that sounds amazingly simple and straightforward but there’s a reason why I do it and not the administrative assistant. There are a myriad of decisions that need to be made about these particular meetings: if the meeting is happening, who MUST be there, who is invited, who are other interested parties that must be informed and so on. These particular meetings can be very stressful for the participants as they are reporting back on their success/failure.

I inherited a standard email for these meetings and over the years I’ve modified it, and the process for sending them and acting upon responses. Timing is important because the administrative assistant needs the information to schedule these meetings. I start MY bit long before the meetings actually begin. I don’t make the decisions about who has to have a meeting – that information is conveyed to me by my team.

I have a moderate “success” rate over the years for getting responses from the executives. *grin* If I get 50% of them responding to me with changes or to say no changes, I consider that a smashing success. 🙂 Anything between 33%-50% is a good response. In other words, many of the people simply ignore the email. Even when the execs DO respond, we receive emails all the way up to and after the meeting with people asking to be invited or telling us they are no longer interested/needed on the call. It’s all fine – people are people and we can add and delete invitations.

I sent out my emails about a week ago. I asked the recipients to respond to me by the end of that week, giving them 4 days to review the proposed list of invitees. If this was a group that had already been in this process, it’s fairly simple to scan the list, and see who is no longer needed or who might be missing. This week I was told to add a few more executives to the meetings. Accordingly I tailored up my form letter and sent it to each of them, asking them to respond at the end of 2 days. These were all teams that had been through this process several times before.

Well. Last night (a little over 24 hours after I sent the email), I received a reply from one of the executives.

Ahuva, “to be honest – anything that is given only 2 days notice can’t be too important – so I won’t attempt to work through this.. ”

Well take my breath away. Isn’t it nice to be a VP and be snarky to someone you’ve never met on a topic about which you know very little? What if I were the CEO writing to him asking for a response within 2 days (or less)? Would he REALLY tell the CEO that anything that has only 2 days notice can’t be important? In his defense I will say that he is semi-new to the role, in that this is his first time receiving the email, but he HAS been an attendee at prior calls. So the concept of the meeting and the fact that there are a LOT of people on these calls, and the fact that they happen – none of that should be a surprise.

What a total ‘supply the derogatory term of your choice’.

I wrote a polite letter back within the hour (yes, doing all this after 9pm my time) finishing with take all the time you like to review. We’re going to schedule the meeting and we’ll update after the fact. I hope that he could read between the lines and hear things like “aren’t you a rude brat” and “we’re going to invite whoever and you can live with it” and “maybe as a newbie you should learn a little more about your responsibilities before you try to kick someone you think it’s safe to kick”. My coworker, who has to work with this character directly, seemed to think my response was very good.

I’m reminded of all those sayings along the lines of “be careful who you kick on the way up”. If this is how he treated me, imagine what he does to people with whom he’s really annoyed? If he was unhappy, hey, his peers simply ignore the email. That would have been a more mature response, odd as that sounds.

As a footnote, my administrative assistant gets this kind of nonsense every single quarter as she tries to schedule these meetings. Other admins give her grief because THEIR execs are soooooo important. People refuse to give time slots. They accept a time, the meeting is set, they come back and say no, that won’t work.

It’s not the need for changes. It’s the whole “I am so important and entitled.” It is so simple to be polite. Aim to be gracious, calm. Understand that there are live human beings with their own issues. Don’t pull the wings off of flies.

Let’s Elect Vacuum Cleaners

A member of my extended family – really, my husband’s family – posted to Facebook yesterday asking for recommendations on vacuum cleaners. Her much-loved vacuum of nearly TEN YEARS had died, and she wondered what she should buy to replace it.

Did you notice how I distanced myself from her? She’s a good person, raising very lovely children competent, talented, self-sufficient. More than a good person – one could even say she is admirable. She’s VERY MUCH like her mother-in-law (my sister-in-law) was at that age. Every thing is in stark black and white. There is no gray. And she knows everything. And is willing to fight you on it. That was tiresome when it was my sister-in-law and it is tiresome now. It impacts how I feel about her – hence the distancing – because I find it exhausting to have such negative passion directed at me and others.

(As a little side note, I actually get along very well these days with my sister-in-law. Yes, the one who said some fairly horrid things about me and who I used to call “the bitch”. I used to be very black and white also. Might be an age thing? But we both figured out that peace in the family was more important than making the other person acknowledge we were right and they were wrong. We excel at side-stepping the many areas where the pit-of-disagreement yawns between us. We even have fun together now. 🙂 )

Anyway, back to electing vacuum cleaners. It soon became apparent in the discussion that there were two major camps: The Shark Party and The Miele Party. The adherents were strong in their praise of the benefits of THEIR vacuum. They posted photos. They recited anecdotes of the cleaning power. It was very interesting. I almost wondered if I should have bought a Shark instead of my Miele, the discussion was so fervid and intense. There were even folk supporting the Dyson Animal and the Hoover. The conversation is still going today. I don’t feel distant from this conversation at all. I’m interested in the outcome, and I’m enjoying the posts.

This morning when I looked at FB, and this discussion popped on the top, I laughed a bit. It’s interesting the things about which we get passionate. And then I noticed that people WERE passionate, they were sure they had the best vacuum, but they did allow as to how there might have been some areas where their vacuum could use a little improvement. No one, however, seized those comments and started calling the adherent names, or pointing out their stupidity and their lack of morality for supporting the WRONG vacuum. No, none of that. The whole discussion was about the merits of their vacuum and the situations where it excelled and where it might be a bit weak. No one told my niece-in-law that she would be damned for getting the other brand.

Wow, it was refreshing. Conversation on merits of the contestant. No name calling. No moral judgements.

Let’s elect vacuum cleaners to public office. It will make us better people and I can’t imagine the vacuums will do all that much worse than some of our politicians.

Full Disclosure: I own 3 vacuums: Miele, Panasonic, Zip. 🙂

Superstitious?

Are you superstitious? Do you believe in karma? Jinxes? The evil eye? Kinehora (kayn ayin hara)? If you talk about a good thing, will you strengthen the possibility of that thing happening, or will you jinx it?

I suppose one might say I’m verging on a discussion of the power of prayer. That actually was NOT my intent. *grin* It was only as I typed the above that I realized the conversation could go there. Of course I have at least 2 friends who would be disgusted at THAT concept. And yes, they both read my blog, although one of them only sporadically. Maybe as often as he meets me for lunch. Which hasn’t happened in AGES because he’s ALWAYS busy. Hmmmm. Should I take that personally? Of course I also have friends who believe in the power of prayer. I can be an equal-opportunity friend. 🙂 I believe in the power of prayer, but I believe the power is in the pray’er and not where the prayer is directed. And I could be mistaken. 🙂 As I said, a whole other discussion.

If I heard about something that would be (probably) a “good thing” were it to happen, should I be telling everyone and anyone because the more people thinking positively, the more the karma builds in the “ether” (or wherever it is karma builds)? Or should I shut my mouth, try to scrub it from my thoughts, because – kinehora.

A watched pot never boils? Good things come to those who wait? Every dog has its day?

Life can be so complicated. 🙂

Never Blog When You Are Angry

never blog when you are angry
never blog when you are angry
never blog when you are angry
never blog when you are angry
never blog when you are angry

throws mouse….

never blog when you are angry
never blog when you are angry
never blog when you are angry

gets up and walks away

Questions on My Mind

Celery. My experience has been that either people love it or hate it. It seems most of my coworkers’ spouses HATED it. With a capital H. Or would that be with a capital C? I know this because I used to bring celery sticks to munch and my coworkers would steal some because they never had it at home. I confess that I don’t always like celery in my salad because sometimes it just has TOO MUCH crunch, right? You don’t always want your salad fighting back. But for a dietetic snack, especially when you know you will be indulging later in the evening – celery is great. Because I’m out of cucumbers which are actually better, but not when you don’t have any.

Which brings me to the question. No, not why are there no cucumbers in the refrigerator – we put them in the salad. I made myself some celery and took a bite and – YUCK. It was bitter. The celery I was munching on YESTERDAY wasn’t bitter. It was almost sweet. Why is some celery bitter and why is some celery NOT bitter and how can I make sure I have the not-bitter celery? I guess that’s actually 3 questions. 🙂

The next question on my mind is tougher. I’m sure there will be no answers for this one. Search on the internet all you want. I have a scar. Don’t worry – I’m not going to discuss where it is or how I got it or how old it is. *I* understand that there are somethings which don’t need to be shared with the world at large. Or at small, either. What you DO need to know about this scar is that it is my weather forecaster. I never ever think about this scar. I’ll be minding my own business, thinking about things like celery, and hello! My scar aches. It has a special “the weather is going to change” ache. It’s right too. The weather DOES change. The tricky part is WHEN will the weather change??? Once my scar wakes up and says “weather’s going to change”, how much time elapses before the barometer drops and the storm moves in? According to the weather forecasts – sometime tomorrow night. That seems a long way off for my scar to know. Surely the barometer or whatever isn’t falling already, is it? Does my scar get weather alerts from some other source? Should I be prepared SOONER than the internet predicts, or should I be prepared LATER? The scar alert has sounded. When do I take heed?????

Is a puzzlement. And aren’t you glad I didn’t post any pictures?


Stat Counter

wordpress analytics
Advertisements