I flew to Florida recently to be with my mother as we faced what might have been a category 5 hurricane. There were over 50 empty seats on the plane and I felt a little foolish flying to a dangerous spot rather than away from it. We were lucky, the hurricane changed directions without so much as a rain storm in our direction. My heart goes out to those Bermuda and the devastation that Hurricane Dorian wrought onto that country.
My mother is in her eighties and physically challenged. She isn’t in a position to fly anymore and in her mind, she’d rather stay home in the familiar than go elsewhere, even to her grandchildren’s homes in the area.
Living my entire adult life in Arizona, I’ve never faced hurricanes or tornadoes or even flooding for that matter. So I packed an extra suitcase full of emergency supplies and prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.
“I’m nothing if not prepared!”
We watched the news regularly to see if the hurricane would head our way. I was in charge. It was up to me to ensure our safety and to keep up morale. But when it was all said and done, I wondered who was happier, the person who didn’t think to prepare or the person who prepared unnecessarily?
It makes me think of the words of Nadine Stair who wrote “If I had to live my life over.” She states:
“I've been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.”
Earlier in the passage she says, “I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.”
While it is important to prepare, the most important thing to prepare is your mental outlook. Whatever is forgotten is merely a chance to use your ability to problem solve. That’s how there came to be so many ways to uses for duct tape to aid in one’s survival. It is also important to remember that, when possible, it is up to you to serve as a positive role model in times of crisis. Comedian Jeanne Robertson explains this so expertly in her Baton Story.
Where does courage come from? Is it easy to be courageous? If you have the courage to do things other people think are scary but are merely exhilarating to you, do you really need courage to do it? For example, I like to zip line. It's just scary enough to be exhilarating, but I'm not fearful. It would take little courage on my part to do it, while someone else might have to be very courageous. It takes more courage to do something one is afraid of than something in which one has no fear. I respect those who are more afraid but choose to try it anyway.
This weekend, I hosted a ladies garden party. I’m new to the neighborhood and I invited all the women in the subdivision to the afternoon party. It scared me to death. I’ve never had a large group of women to meet with and I’m finding I’m at a new stage in my life where I’d like to make this happen. But oh, those old dialogs that run through my head are hard to shake. What if no one comes? What if I say the wrong thing? What if my set-up isn’t lady-like enough? What if they hate me? What if…
Why can’t I just move forward boldly like I’ve tackled other things? I tried a new recipe for the party- it didn’t bother me that it might not turn out perfectly. I hadn’t replaced a faucet before, but faced it head-on with a sense of humor when I realized I was using pliers instead of a wrench in my attempt to loosen the bolts.
The party turned out just fine, and the ladies seemed to appreciate both me and my efforts. All that worry was for naught. I think I will have some new friends from the party as well. I’d call that a success. It took a ton of courage for this introvert to put myself out there and even have a party. The fear of rejection was real as was the exhaustion of being in a large crowd (of 20!). I wasn’t comfortable. But I feel comfortable now calling on some of the women individually and growing friendships from there. Having a little courage and discomfort is already paying off as I met three of the women for breakfast recently.
I urge you to find your courage to try just one thing out of your comfort zone. What was it? How has it paid off for you?
I’m usually an organizer, list maker, goal-setter, and over-achiever. When I plan something, it gets done. I’m used to being in charge, delegating, supervising and evaluating progress. Of course I believe in rolling up my sleeves and working alongside my team members, but I am usually in the leadership role. How exhausting!
When I volunteer, I struggle to ensure I remain a team member and not the team leader. Just as some people could benefit from learning how to lead, I feel there is much to be learned from simply serving on a team.
The first benefit from serving on a team verses being the leader is the camaraderie of the members that naturally eludes the leader. As friendly as the group may be, the leader, by virtue of his/her position, is one step removed from the group. How wonderful it is just to concentrate on making friends and the activity at hand!
A team member doesn’t have the demands a leader does to ensure the goals are met. This makes the activities within the group more relaxing and enjoyable. When the meeting is over, it’s really over. A leader may have to do additional follow-up, but the team member is done. How freeing is that?
Not being a leader is a chance to learn from another leader. How are they organizing and motivating the team? We are used to our own way of doing things. Watching others is a great way to learn new techniques.
It’s a chance to voice an opinion. I believe a good leader (not a boss) is the neutral facilitator of the group. A good leader should bring the group to consensus without attempting to add his/her own bias. As a team member, I can voice my opinion knowing that it only carries the same weight as the other members of the group.
A person doesn’t need a title to lead others. Being a great team player is a challenging job in and of itself. Even as a team member, I can help to motivate others, quell gossip and support the leader. Whether you’re used to being the leader or the team player, it’s good to challenge yourself to take on a new role. It might be more fun than you realize!
There are but a few kinds of people in the world; those that follow the rules, those who enforce them and those who laugh and claim the rules were meant for everyone else. I tend to be a rule follower for the most part, but when it comes to generating ideas, I liked to see how close I could come to bending the intent of the rule while remaining in compliance. I’m sure I was a spitfire as a child. No one notices the quiet, dutiful kid in the corner. I was the one who was too creative to sit still.
I have learned the saying, “It is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask permission,” really is a good motto most of the time. As a parent, it is hard to remember that when I am on the other side of the equation, but I just have to remember it’s payback time. The saying I made up as a parent when talking about my rambunctious boy was, “It is easier to tame enthusiasm than it is to move a rock.” Thank goodness for those with curiosity and a lust for adventure. They will make something of themselves.
Those kinds of people are not the nose-to-the-grindstone, collect-the-gold-watch-at-retirement types. Those jobs don't even exist anymore anyway. My son looks at the system, and sees a status quo that is rigged against him. He has an entrepreneur spirit that scares security-conscious me. I look forward to seeing where his future takes him. Rules or no rules.
Hurricane in Texas, Hurricanes in Florida, DACA being rescinded- there are reasons to feel unsafe, depressed or in turmoil. These are the same reasons why many people check out. It all becomes too much. How can one care about the bigger problems when there is so much going on in your own life?
No one can do it all. But we can find one person, or one group we empathize with and we can find a way to help with our time, money, expertise or our advocacy. If we help, even in a small way, we begin to think differently about ourselves and the world around us. One thing. All I have to do is one thing. Just one.
To find community-based organizations in your area in need of assistance, start with www.211.org or call 211 and they will connect you to an agency based upon your willingness to help. If you need help, it is also the resource to use as well.
I learned back in grade school that a smile helps to smooth things over– keeps you out of trouble. Lately, there has been a great deal of pushback from women who resent being told they should smile from men. Bustle writer JR Thorpe, wrote an excellent article about the power struggle behind a woman’s smile.
Winner of 19 Olympic and World Championship medals, Simone Biles didn’t smile and she made headlines worldwide. When asked why she didn’t smile for the Dancing with the Stars judges' compliments she replied, “Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals.”
I do fake smile a lot. It comes from a desire to serve others and to be approachable. I also smile when I am doing a slow burn. Woe to the person who can’t tell the difference. It is in the eyes. But am I forced to smile? Am I so used to smiling that I don’t recognize the power I am giving away with this conditioned response?
I wonder what would happen if we took back our face and didn’t smile for a day? Will I have to worry about having a Resting B*tch Face, RBF? Maybe, this post is really about the fact that it is a woman's duty to be pretty...
My son brought me some pink tulips for May Day. I don’t care about flowers any other time of the year, but I insist on flowers for May Day. My husband and son sort of forgot this year, but I subscribe to the you-make-your-own-happiness club. After calling them on it, beautiful flowers appeared. Just beautiful.
My mother is in her eighties. She used to garden since I could remember and always had a beautiful flowering garden. Today she lives in a retirement village condo and the grounds are taken care of for her. She decided she was worth buying fresh flowers each week. Why shouldn’t we spend time nurturing ourselves? I will remember this lesson I have learned from her.
I read a letter by advice columnist, Carolyn Hax, who talked about how a mother could be a friend to her adult daughter with young children. While I agree with her answer in principle, I also wonder when is it finally the woman’s turn? It seems from the time she becomes an adult, she spends her life caring for others. She cares for her husband, her children and then her parents. It’s only when she is old and infirm that she may get some reciprocation. But, even then, she is supposed to do all she can for others.
An article from Woman’s Health discussed the sandwich generation- the person raising their own children while caring for their parents. They list self-care as a priority. We can’t be so self-sacrificing that we use up all our energy in the service of others. We need to reserve some energy for ourselves.
I think we need to find ways to replenish our energy, fill our spirit and to make ourselves happy. It will bring the energy back into our lives and allow us to be patient with others. Go ahead, buy some flowers. Join the make-your-own-happiness club. You will be better for it and so will the people around you.
I am a strong believer in standing up for my beliefs and for having the courage to speak out to defend those who may not have the privilege of voice. Recent news talks are about barring Senator Elizabeth Warren from speaking on the floor of the senate. The explanation Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave was, "She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."
Yet, later we’re told that white men were able to read the same letter she was attempting to read. No one interrupted them or barred them from speaking. We cannot be quiet. We cannot play nice. We must persist. Upworthy has put together a great collection of women who have persisted. It is a journey worth taking.
My son just had his wisdom teeth out. I have a horror story of when mine were taken out and dreaded his after care. It was a long week of recovery for him. Everyone seems to have a horror story of wisdom teeth. As horrible as it was I would have gone through it again rather than have my son go through it.
It is a good thing, though, that he had to face it. As much as we think we want to protect our children, I really think my role as a parent is to teach him coping skills to use as an adult. There will be unpleasant and even painful times in his life. He will need to deal with them. He can learn to do that in his safe, loving home environment. We needed to tell him he was strong enough to get through it. Now it is a badge of courage and honor for him. If you can survive your wisdom teeth extraction, this will be nothing!
My mother’s words have come back to haunt me- “This will hurt me more than it will hurt you.” and, “It’s good for you.”
I always thought of Halloween as a chance to be something you didn’t normally get to be. Perhaps that is why there are so many princess and superhero costumes for Halloween. Now that I am older, I play the game, “What age would you like to be again?” Mostly, I hear people say they want the body they had at twenty but don’t want to relive any of their years again. Everything they learned brought them to the wonderful place they are today.
I am fascinated with time travel books but I don’t want a redo in my life either. If I didn’t go through some of the bad times, I wouldn’t be the strong person I am today. I have my secrets to hide. I have my cringe-worthy moments, and I had my growing up to do. But if I could go back in time, I would like to give myself a hug. I would tell her to relax a bit- that things will all work out just fine.
I know what my younger self would do. She wouldn’t believe a word of it. She would take that pretty princess gown and stomp on it. (After secretly holding it up to herself in the mirror.) She would glare at me and tell me to get out of her way- she had places to go and things to do. Maybe, I should bring her a super hero costume. She is going to need it.