Posts Tagged With: negativity

North by Northwest, Then East Toward the Sunny Side

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 9, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

We moved to the Northwest when only two of you had joined the family. What an adventure for all of us. That many years ago cell phones didn’t really exist yet. Surprisingly, we didn’t experience any car problems, which if you recall our travel history, probably made it to the record books. Driving that far with two little kids on my own (your Dad was already working and had found us a place to live) helped me feel like a mini-rockstar.

Happiness!

Happiness!

I’ll never forget when we pulled up to the local playground to wait for your Dad to bring keys to the new apartment. You both hopped out of the car, relieved to finally escape and stretch your legs. Little J immediately walked over to a boy on the monkey bars and said, “We just moved here. Will you be my friend?”

That floored me. What a direct and honest thing to say. Luckily, four year olds aren’t all tangled up in social customs and nonsense. They just say what they think, do what they feel, go with the mood.

Both of you made friends with kids of all ages when we lived in that first apartment, which helped me get to know the adults associated with those kids. You made the big change to a really new place so much easier. (As a side note, do you remember picking wild blackberries in the woods nearby? I think I might still have a scar or two.)

We added Big L to the family while we lived there. Then we moved a couple of years later, forty miles north. I loved that restaurant we went to that had the little train that ran on tracks suspended from the ceiling. They served this appetizer called an onion loaf. Basically fried onion rings packed into a bread loaf shape. But my tastebuds sidetrack us here.

We still have a cassette tape (which I should transfer to digital) of a typical morning there. For some reason there’s a cat in the house, although we didn’t own one, must have been a neighbor’s. I love hearing your voices, our discussion about needing lunches packed or buying lunches that day. Big L saying “stupid cat,” over and over again. And figuring out who was walking or riding with who. I think it might’ve been raining (ha, like that’s a wild guess for up there, huh?). Ah, good times.

  • Big L discovered knots when we lived there. She used to disappear into my closet and tie all the shoes together, which made getting ready to go somewhere an interesting exercise.
  • Big J played Lego’s every single day with, what was his name? And took shortcuts through the  golf course to visit your friend whose Dad worked for Nike.
  • Little J fell in love with the movie “Beaches” and ate candy bars and drank Cokes every afternoon with her best friend Sara.

I had a friend there too. I don’t remember her name. Maybe if I dug out an old journal I’d find it, but I don’t think I want to remember a name. We weren’t friends all that long. One day, out of the blue for me, she basically said,”I can’t be friends with you anymore. I’m trying really hard to be more optimistic and positive and you’re always so negative.”

Talk about a punch to the gut.

Even now I kind of feel this wave of nausea thinking about it.

You know how you sometimes walk along somewhere and all of a sudden you see yourself in an unexpected mirror? It throws you off balance a little. I know I carry around this picture in my head of how I sound and look. But then when I see the real me in a photo or a mirror they don’t match up. What my friend said was like a mirror thrown in front of me.

I think we need those unexpected mental views of ourselves that honest outsiders can provide. I try to be open to their perspective.

I had no idea I was such a downer until she said that. I thought one of the things friends did was share honest thoughts and feelings, even the negatives. Maybe I over shared. Probably she hit the bullseye there. Back in those days I probably rode the negative train, most of the time.

I wish I could say I changed immediately. More than likely I got defensive. More than likely I moped. More than likely I didn’t try to make friends again for a while.

In fact, I’m thinking I probably didn’t really change for the better until Oklahoma a year after Little L joined our gang. Do the math there. That’s a long time as a dweeby, self-absorbed, cloudy skies sort of person.

Sunny is good.

Sunny is good.

I could hope that there’s some chemical equation that makes positive ions/attitudes weigh more than negative ones and that things have balanced out. I think they might not have. For me it’s a nearly constant struggle to “keep on the sunny side of life.” (<= click to hear the song)

What does any of this have to do with how this letter started out?

You all have weathered change and challenge with such bravery and grace. You must have arrived here preprogrammed with awesome genes. You step up, state the facts and take action. Look at you!

When I grow up I want to be like you: open and straightforward with what I think, willing to try new things, brave enough to ask for what I want and need, creatively finding ways around obstacles and difficulties. And optimistic! Yup, you each see life as a bright, good thing.

Thanks for the great examples you are to me. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to have worked the other way around. At least that’s probably what the parenting books all say.

This I know for certain. I’m positive that I love you.

Always,

Mom

photofy copy 4

~~~

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

~ A.A. Milne

 

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Categories: Friday Letters, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Life Gives You Snails, Make Escargot

Day seven of Mom’s new adventure. She’s working with several different kinds of rehabilitation therapists about four hours a day and then resting from the hard work of it all. She can walk with assistance. She’s speaking better everyday. Remembering names is sometimes a bit tricky for her. She has some right side vision neglect that they are working on. She still has her sense of humor and expresses gratitude and love to everyone who visits or helps her out in any way.

&&&&&

We lived in the Northwest for a few years once upon a time. Humid and cool, opulent with growing things. We picked wild blackberries, rock climbed, camped, collected shells in the too cold water below the Tacoma Narrows bridge.

Winters were mild, with a couple of rare days of snow. Summers were cool and cloudy.

English: Snail Perfect weather for snails to c...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perfect conditions for snails.

Yes, snails.

Slimy, slow-moving, bulbous shelled creatures of shadow and night.

They left trails of slime across the screens and sidewalks. And the destruction they left in a flower bed aggravated me to no end.

I tried a few remedies. Beer in a bowl, useless. Slug and snail bait, laughable. Salt, only if applied directly and mercilessly. I finally gave up planting flowers when I realized how addictive they seemed to snails.

I imagined the little slime balls after a night of debauchery in the flower beds, drunk on the nectar of blossoms and stems, fuzzy headed with the liquor of leaves and roots. I chose to stop enabling their habit and consequently stopped planting the hopeful pops of color in my garden.

That would teach them a lesson or two.

But no, it didn’t. They simply slimed the screens and sidewalks with more vehemence in search of their drug of choice. Finding no flowers to wreak havoc on, they slimed my yard more and more.

Why am I bringing this up now? (Besides the fact that the weatherman keeps taunting us with a 20% chance of rain as if a deluge is likely any moment.)

Those slimy snails remind me of negative things; sadness, anger, hopelessness, frustration, meanness, selfishness.

Those emotions seem to leave a wake of slimy yuck behind them. I feel the aftereffects of aggravation long after the source of the emotion dissipates. Sadness lingers. Meanness replays itself over and over in a mental movie of hurt. And selfishness hovers like a skunk that passed by hours ago.

The residual effects of negative emotions stick like slime.

Negativity and pessimism act like addictive substances. One angry thought invites another until a whole room of anger buzzes and jabs. Anything in its wake takes a hit and comes up fighting. Slime trails wander everywhere.

Gross.

The cure?

French cooked snails

French cooked snails (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know. (We don’t get many snails here in the desert.)

Sunlight, maybe?

Heat, perhaps.

Escargot tastes delectable if done right. Saute’ in butter, add a bit of garlic, a pinch of fresh parsley. Mmmm. Some crusty french bread on the side.

Ah yes, there’s the ticket.

Yummy.

That’s no answer. I realize that.

Or is it? Try this one on for size:

When life gives you snails, make escargot. 

Laughter often sparks more laughter. I’m pretty sure that hope can be contagious. Smiles seem transmittable. Kindness often avalanches into more kindness. Determination to succeed, to overcome, to soldier forward feels healthier and happier.

Can I choose positive emotions over negative? Sure. Is it an easy choice? For some, yes. For others, not necessarily.

In the face of hardship, illness, unkindness, hurt, abuse, loss, suffering or setbacks, choosing the plus side takes audacity. It requires mettle to move forward, keep trying, be kind anyway, turn the other cheek, forgive, smile or to look at the alternate path as a new adventure.

Yes, I know. Not too many people like the idea of eating snails, no matter how wonderful a delicacy. But, you never know until you try if you’re gonna like ’em or not. Or maybe you don’t mind the slime trails and flower bed destruction. More power to you for being so resilient and easy-going.

Either way, life is full of surprises good and bad. How we weather those surprises, as gifts or troubles, makes all the difference.

Categories: Gardening, Nature, Outdoors, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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