Do you have Attitude or Gratitude?

I can be a snarky bitch… Now, a lot of people think I am nice. I try to be nice. I really do. But my closest friends see the snarky that pops out a little too frequently and a little too often. And sometimes I am snarky in front of others. By snarky, I also mean “truth-telling…” or maybe more accurately, “truth-telling that no one wants to hear.” And, to be truthful, truth telling can also be defined at times as “being a total bitch.” But sometimes we (me included) develop attitude because it feels like our savior in the moment. We put on our snark, our attitude, our nasty comments, and we feel like we are wrapped in armor. We are protecting ourselves. But from what? From the risk of letting people know us, see us, love us, hate us, or, maybe more frighteningly, be apathetic towards us. We desperately want and need to be seen but we fear it at the same time. So, by attacking others we can step out to be seen but hide behind these negative comments which push the focus off of ourselves and onto someone else. We can bury ourselves in a protective cocoon, lashing out with our claws like a hermit crab snapping and snarking away before anyone has the opportunity to get close to us. But, as most of us know, snarky isn’t the best way to be and sometimes I forget (and need to be reminded) that I have many other emotions to put on other than “attitude.”

When I was in Toronto for the Toronto Burlesque Festival, I took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to take a private lesson with the talented Sydni Deveraux. I had an hour. I could have picked a lot of topics. But what I chose was confidence. And, as part of that discussion (which I will talk more about next month), we also talked about gratitude. Gratitude – and how important it is to be thankful, respectful, and have gratitude as part of one’s development and exuding of confidence. What a beautiful concept, I thought. I usually am so busy having attitude I forget to think about gratitude.

But, how much more do we open our fragile selves up, pry our hearts open, when we feel and express gratitude to those around us? (Note: it can be A LOT.)  How does it change us when we notice and then feel gratitude to our audience for showing up, for being present, for screaming and clapping and going crazy in their seats? How does it change us and change what we represent to the audience and to others around us when we take time to notice the audience, to actually respond to them, to feel them? Wow.

We often take so much for granted. I know I do. I frequently spend more time lamenting the people who couldn’t be bothered to come to my show than to be grateful for the people that came to my show. I need to spend more time being thankful to my dancers, my spouse, my coworkers. Instead of lamenting that one of my dancers forgot to point their toes, my husband left his dirty socks in the middle of the living room, or that my coworker wrote a sloppy memo, I need to remember to be grateful that I have sweet talented people who want to dance with me, I have a husband who loves me and supports my artistic endeavors, and I have coworkers who are smart and work great as a team. Does that mean I don’t strive for improvement around me? Absolutely not. But, I can strive for improvement, both in myself and those I work with (and live with) while trying to notice the positive things instead of focusing in on the negative things. Focus is defined as having clear visual definition, but frequently we are so busy focusing on some tiny issue that we lose sight of everything else around us. The microscope helps us see tiny amazing important things, but if we looked into a microscope all the time, we would be bumping into the walls because we would never be able to find the door. We don’t have to forget about specifics, improvement, and making things better, but if we only see that all of the time, we lose perspective and increase our potential to lose our shit… We can’t be focusing in so much on the microscopic that we lose the importance of the big picture, fail to see the positive things around us, and fail to have gratitude for the positive things in our lives.

In feeling gratitude, we open ourselves up and have the potential to reveal more of ourselves and reveal our vulnerabilities.   When we open up to positives it can mean that we are opening up to a lot of our other emotions and vulnerabilities as well – opening up our fear, opening up our uncertainty, opening up our hearts and minds to new feelings and new emotions. But, if we don’t open ourselves up, we can’t show or even feel our strength, our confidence, or our power. We have all of those, too. But, if we are too busy protecting ourselves and shielding ourselves with negatives and bad attitudes, we can’t feel the good things and the power and the confidence either. Gratitude is a stepping stone to positivity about yourself. And if you can feel grateful to someone else, to your audience, to your coworkers, maybe you can love and forgive yourself enough that you are grateful for yourself, as well.

Let me give you some examples: At the Toronto Burlesque Festival, I was very positively impressed by the talent on the stage, so much so, that I was feeling a little apprehensive about my number and abilities. Based on conversations, I am sure other people were feeling that way, too. But one woman chose to have negative reactions. I didn’t know her very well, but had met her at previous festivals. We saw each other, we hugged. She immediately starts bad-mouthing the performer on stage to me. And then the next performer. “Well, this is like the premise of so-and-so’s act. If you are going to copy another person’s act, you should at least do it better than they do.” Me: “I doubt she has seen so-and-so’s act and probably doesn’t know her or the act.” “She has no energy. My friend can do that move so much better than she can. And what is that costume.”

Wow. Bad wow. I was in shock. I thought, she is doing this because it makes her feel better about herself and her performance. (She didn’t need that as she did a great job.) And I was shocked that she would snark so strongly to me, someone she didn’t know very well. But, then I also saw myself doing the same types of things to people I know. Instead of showing gratitude and graciousness, she was being negative and bitter. Fine, maybe she wanted to look through that microscope, but, even in the microscope everything you look at shouldn’t be a germ.

In Ohio, the performers I interacted with were way more positive and supportive. The festival is put together with a mindset of diversity and inclusiveness and they have a very talented show that is also very diverse. Most of what I saw was gratitude and appreciation of other performers. But, even there, one performer saw fit to make body shaming comments to another performer. Why? Do you really need to bad mouth’s someone body to make yourself feel good? Can’t you be appreciative of other bodies? Body size, weight, length, sex, are NOT what makes a good performer. If we have to make other people to feel bad to feel good about ourselves, then what is wrong with us?

So, I am going to strive to let go of some (not all – because I have to be honest with myself) snark and have more gratitude. I don’t pretend to be an expert in this by any means – I am learning. I will screw up. I will be snarky and bitchy and lament. But I will try to lament less and be more positive, too. It will take time. The snark is strong. But, instead of lamenting that we don’t have enough performance opportunities, let’s be grateful for those we do have. Instead of crying about the negatives all the time, we need to identify and be grateful for the positives, at least enough to balance ourselves out. Open up, be brave, let people in, shine outwards, and be grateful. We have so much to be grateful for…

 

 

 

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Proverb for the Day Archives – July 2018

If your mind is there, it isn’t here.

Working harder now can make the work easier later.

Intellectualism is a bad thing if you want everything you say to be believed and followed absolutely. People who think do not tend to mindlessly obey.

Better than relying on superheroes: Voting.

Reading can damage your ignorance.

This isn’t hell. It just feels like it is.

You can do things that are legal and simultaneously be doing things that are wrong.

Discussion of god in temperatures over 100 degrees does not make me think of heaven and does not make me fear hell.

Sometimes I revel in the disapproval of those I don’t respect.

You can try to stop the idiocy but there are times you just have to get the hell out of the way.

You aren’t helping.

I was not raised to inherently trust people.

I don’t know what the rules are, but I do know this is not my fault.

Ask questions, don’t just regurgitate answers.

We need more investigative reporters and less parrots masquerading as reporters.

I hate those mornings when I don’t just get out of the wrong side of the bed – I get out of the wrong bed.

Some people never change – they only age.

That which we do not document we are doomed to re-create.

I could decide for you, but you really don’t want me to.

You don’t know if you don’t ask.

Everyone drops balls sometimes. What really matters is whether you pick them back up again.

Those that bend in the breeze are less likely to break.

Some minds are more moldy than moldable.

Fight for what is good in the world.

If you don’t want to drown try swimming.

Your Demons, my hobbies…

It is difficult to reach out for support when you don’t trust anyone.

Once upon a time I didn’t care. I still don’t.

The Creative Process

The other day I asked Mr. Velvet what I should write about this month, and he suggested the creative process. And my thoughts were “well, why not?” I wrote about it before – back in 2015, if any of you are keeping track – but that was about fear and the creative process. This will be different…

For me, I am preparing for a summer full of creative thoughts. I am taking an online class from Cera Byer entitled “Unlock Your Authentic Creativity” that started this week. I also signed up for Kellita’s beta BIO e-course, which starts later this month and is about yourself but also creating as part of the process. On top of that, I am in process (we started in January) of creating themes and content for a three-woman burlesque/theater show next year with the working title of Dollhouse Monsters. And then, there are the rest of the creative type things that I am working on and will continue to work on. Projects/choreographies imagined and sometimes embraced, sometimes abandoned, fleeting thoughts, and insipient brain weasels of ideas which won’t let you NOT do something.

I am always learning about the creative process and it is different for everyone, so this is by no means a treatise on the subject. Creating can also be different every time and whether you are working together or in a pair or in a group. What I can tell you about the creative process: It’s a mess.
Some people may tell you that their creative process is smooth and linear – good for them. Occasionally I suppose mine are. But if they succeed in appearing that way it is only because creation is based on your lifetime of input and sometimes you manage to have these epiphany moments where things just smoothly pop into place. But without a lifetime of information or the development and practice of other creative processes, it just isn’t that simple. Of course creation appears magical – to the observer!! But it is a lot of thought and work and effort for the creator!

If you haven’t read Twyla Tharp’s Book, The Creative Habit, I highly recommend it. She takes a good look at creative processes and stresses the importance of making the creative process a habit. Like any skill that you want to develop, you will never get better at creating if you don’t practice creating. She also talks about her creative processes. One of the things she does for a new project is to get a box where she puts ideas for the project. If she was inspired by something in a book, the book goes into the box. If she was inspired by a movie, that goes in the box. I don’t use this process and it may not work for you, but what I love about it is that it is a reminder that even with a choreographer as great as Twyla Tharp – she gets ideas from different places. She scratches around, digs around, develops thoughts, expands things until she develops her new project. It does not birth itself from nothing. It grows from many other experiences and the stepping stones of what people have done before you.

Now, this doesn’t mean in any way that you copy other people’s acts. But, there can be components that inspire you or prompt you to create something new. I have a sing and strip to “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” because I like the song and I loved the musical with Bernadette Peters in the title role. (The 1950 movie was so overtly misogynist I wanted to throw up, but I loved the music…) My costume is purple and turquoise because I saw that color combination on another performer’s costume and loved it. My costume looks nothing like her costume, but the color idea was inspired from someone else. I was inspired by Dale Evans movie costumes, fancy movie guns that probably don’t exist, and so many things I can’t even name…

So, let me give you an example of the creative process. I am driving in my car last week listening to Storm Large – some music that I had heard before but had not played in a while. I like a song in particular. I replay it a few times. Some simple choreography ideas start coming into my head and I think to myself, maybe this would make a good dance. What would I wear? What is the point of the number? After pondering it for a day, I listen to the song again – it is an angsty song with the broad theme of love lost. I think of a costume I have in my closet, and whether it would fit to the feel of the music. It has some flowers on it, so I think about flowers as a theme. Hmmmm. Then I think – what if I am Hades and I am pining away because Persephone is leaving me to go back to her mother Demeter for the spring and summer. Aaaa… but would anyone know that but me? Maybe I am the only one who needs to know that?? Ponder, ponder, ponder… So, a few days later I am having brunch with Mr. Velvet and I bring up this act idea and ask – should people know I would be Hades? What if they didn’t? If I wanted them to have some idea, what would be good indicators? He then takes this conversation and starts talking about a short story he wrote about Persephone and whether he should revise it. He then goes into a 20 minute (maybe it was less – I could be exaggerating) anthropological discussion (he IS a professor) about the hunter gather vs. agrarian society and whether this myth is actually a tale about the sociological changes that took place as a result (daughters leaving their mothers to go to a new town instead of young men roaming as a hunter.) He is pondering his short story. After the discussion I circle back and say – and the dance? And he says – bones. After we eat, let’s go to Paxton Gate and look at bones. So we do, and I see horns and bones and now I am thinking – Can I create a dance where I morph into what Hades becomes when Persephone leaves? Is Hades more human, more caring and loving when she is there? … And the creative process continues… and I continue to think about this number. Will I finish it? Who knows at this point? I have three other choreography ideas roaming around in my head and who knows which one will come out first or if they will make it to fruition at all.

So, this is the start of one creative process – which comingled with someone else’s creative process and may spark their creative actions as well. I don’t know entirely – that will be Mr. Velvet’s journey. But this is messy stuff. And sometimes things work and sometimes not so well. And sometimes you scrap an idea entirely and sometimes you scrap part of it, and sometimes you do it and it didn’t turn out as good as you wanted it to, or maybe you do it and it turns out better than you expected, and maybe sometimes you park it somewhere and come back to it a couple of years later to make it something amazing! And sometimes it is like that horrible crooked glitter Valentine you got from _____ (insert name or relationship here.) It is ridiculous, looks awful, and no one could love it but you. But you love it anyway.

Creation is messy. Have fun. Be a mess for awhile. Then see what comes of it…

Proverb for the Day Archives – June 2018

It is not necessarily a naughty statement when I tell you that your hands are not where they are supposed to be.  

Money can buy you a lot of people but it won’t buy you a lot of friends.  

Sometimes you should pause in pursuit of your happiness just to be happy.  

The truth can be over-rated.  

Write your own fairy tale.  

No one is replaceable but everyone can be replaced.  

Making continuous improvement often results in tiny daily failures.  

Brains are sexy.  Just ask a zombie.  

Sometimes you have to have several conversations to figure out what your previous conversations were about. 

When you have no ethics you assume that no one else has ethics either. 

For a high maintenance girl, I am totally low maintenance.  

I don’t need your judgment.  I have my own.

Yes, my job is most likely harder than yours.  

Know your turn radius.  

If you have self-doubt, congratulations.  You are human, just like the rest of us.  

Everyone has bias.  Instead, everyone  should have boas.   Big fluffy ostrich feather ones.

Don’t yell out of turn.  You need to wait your turn to yell just like everybody else.  

Everyone talks about ethics, but few have them.  

You never know it all.  

Everyone likes a little bit of flattery sometimes and some people like it all the time.  

Influence what people do by changing what people think.  

You can learn a lot from bad people.  

Don’t keep people from experiencing the consequences of their actions.

I wouldn’t hate idiots so much if they didn’t make things so bad for the rest of us. 

We have met the enemy and he is orange. 

If you always told the truth, you would be an unemployed pariah.

Proverb for the Day Archives – May 2018

It is not rude to call someone an ignorant fuckwad if they are, in fact, an ignorant fuckwad.

If we did everything perfect, it wouldn’t be life.

Don’t lie to me, but more importantly, don’t lie to yourself.

There are days I feel like I can solve world problems and then there are mornings I can’t even decide what earrings to wear.

Having needs does not make you needy.

Do no harm but take no crap.

There are days I don’t feel like myself. I wish I knew who I felt like so I could talk to them about it.

If you don’t command respect for yourself, who is going to?

You can’t always get validation externally.

New beginnings can feel like endings.

What part of “I have a headache, shut the fuck up” don’t you understand?

Sometimes I WANT to be out of touch with reality.

When you must, go crazy and start throwing shit.

Tampon applicators are for pussies.

Murder is easy. Covering it up is hard.

Inner beauty is great, but a little lipstick never hurts.

People don’t have to like you, and you don’t have to care.

Unconditional love for yourself doesn’t mean you can’t change yourself. It just means that you can’t hate yourself if you don’t succeed.

You can be looked at without being seen and heard without being listened to.

Rest is part of getting things done.

If you have no fear you have no growth.

If I give up alcohol I will have to replace it with murder.

The world is dreadful, but only most of the time.

Remember your ideas and do something with them.

I just can’t right now.

I talk to myself sometimes. After all, everyone needs an expert opinion.

Emotions… (at work)

One thing you should know about me – I am a crier. Whether nature or nurture or whatever else is going on in my brain, I have always been a crier. I cried in the first grade. My teacher sent me to the principal’s office. I cried at home. My mother sent me to my room – or rather – anywhere AWAY from HER. It didn’t stop the crying. In my first semester of college we were assigned a professor for guidance. Every time I met with him I would cry. I could still have conversations and nothing was really wrong, but, nonetheless, I would have tears streaming down my cheeks the entire time.

Why did I cry? Different reasons. I screwed up. I wasn’t perfect. Something went wrong. I think something MAY have gone wrong. Someone doesn’t like me. I am stressed or angry or having a strong feeling about something and I don’t know what to do about that. I have these feelings that I feel I can’t share with anyone or even if I share them they don’t really understand. And then on top of all that, I was crying in public and now I am embarrassed so I am going to cry about that too.

So, naturally, when I started working in a professional environment, I brought my emotions with me. And that meant from time to time, I would have tears at work. It happens. Or at least it happened to me. That said, I know all women don’t cry. I never saw my mother cry. But more women seem to cry than men. I know there are some physiological reasons for this, but, more importantly, it is a psychological thing, a socialization thing – society trains women to cry and men to get angry. While this is certainly not a statement about all women or all men, there are stereotypes: a woman is depressed – she cries, a woman is stressed – she cries. A woman is happy – she cries. Happy tears, but still tears. Men, on the other hand, have traditionally been taught that it isn’t okay to cry. Instead, they get angry. A man is depressed – he seems angry. A man gets stressed – he seems angry. A man is happy – well, hopefully he is just happy. But somehow, society has determined that anger is a more acceptable emotion in the workplace because that is the emotion that is typically the only emotion regularly used in a traditionally male-dominated workplace.

So, does that mean that we can’t be emotional in the workplace? Do we have to suppress all of our feelings in the workplace – stuff them in a box and not let them out until we get home? As an employee and a manager I believe that to be an emphatic “No!” Emotions – both having them and also NOTICING THEM IN OTHERS – can make us better at our jobs and more effective in navigating the workplace. My ability to empathize, to observe emotional leakage, if you will, helps me keep better in tune to when employees are having issues or how to better communicate with and persuade bankers. Doing a role play as a fraudster in a training course one year, one woman got my “character” to confess to the crime. The men in the room were badgering me and the woman was empathetic, understanding, sympathetic, and caring – all the tips we had given the students during the course. I told her she had done a great job. She said after class that day that she had always been told that her empathy was a workplace negative. With this training experience, she finally understood that it could be a positive.

All that said, there can be emotions that may seem too strong for the workplace, or that we just don’t want to share with everyone. We need to be professional, particularly when we are working directly with the public, when we are working in a cube farm or a goldfish bowl and everyone can see us. So, how do I deal with that? Here are some ways I have used to help me deal with my emotions at work:

Take a Break – When things are overwhelming, get away for a moment. Leave. Go take a walk, go sit in your car, go outside and buy a coffee or tea. Or an ice cream cone. Separate yourself for a little bit and get away from people to have a moment for you. I also find that physical exertion, for example, walking, can be mentally and physically re-energizing.

Reach out or call a friend – Remember you can always reach out to someone. Whether for advice or just to listen, you are NOT alone. There are people in your life who will understand, who can commiserate, who can give advice.

Problem Solve – Can this issue be fixed? Is there a possible solution? Put your mind to problem solving and strategizing to figure out how to make the situation better rather than just despair that it is bad.

Remember it isn’t personal – Sometimes we get into situations that we take very personally, but it is not about us. When we are having a difficult conversation with a customer or a coworker, they may get emotional, they may get angry. Maybe you are telling them something negative and they feel personally attacked. Their comments back to us are not personal. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes people get defensive. But it isn’t really about you – it is about the other person. Keep it calm and professional and detach your ego from the conversation.

Know that you are more than this situation – Sometimes things happen and we feel upset. Devastated even. We didn’t get the rating we thought we deserved. We didn’t get that promotion. We got criticized on some aspect of a project. It is easy to let one negative thing drag you down. Take it, learn from it. But you are more than this incident and more than this situation. Don’t forget who you are and how many great things are in your life.

Have confidence – This goes well with the two pointers I just discussed. Having confidence gives you the assurance to know you will get through this. However bad it seems in the moment, you have the ability to get through it.

Fake it ‘til you make it (or positive self-talk) – This may initially sound like boxing up your emotions, but not at all. It is about giving yourself positive self-talk and positive experiences that will actually help you feel better. When I was a teen and I was depressed I would walk into a classroom and faceplant my head on my desk. That certainly didn’t help me feel better. Now, if I am feeling depressed I make sure I pet my guinea pigs before I leave the house, I smile at people when I come into the office: I act positive and confident. Having people smile back at you, reacting positively to you, and you reacting positively to life actually can help make you feel better.

Experience makes it easier – The more experiences you have the more you realize that whatever situation is happening is going to work out and the more you become effective at knowing what tools work for you and in what situations. You still have emotions – you just get more experienced at knowing how to effectively cope with them or creating a safe space for yourself when you don’t feel that you can cope with them.

Finally, just be yourself. We are all human. We all have feelings. Sometimes letting people see your vulnerabilities lets them know that they can share their vulnerabilities, too.

So, those are some of my techniques. I hope that sharing my experiences and my tools in some way helps you better navigate your emotions in the workplace.

Lies, Lies, Lies

Recently one of my Proverbs for the Day was: “Don’t lie to me, but more importantly, don’t lie to yourself.” But, in actuality, we all lie. Everyday.

Studies have shown that men lie an average of six times per day – twice as much as women lie (. In a study done in Sydney, Australia (http://www.thehits.co.nz/random-stuff/these-are-the-top-10-lies-men-and-women-tell/), top ten lies for men and women are thought the be:

The top 10 lies women tell:

  1. ‘Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine’
  2. ‘Oh, this isn’t new, I’ve had it for ages’
  3. ‘It wasn’t that expensive’
  4. ‘It was on sale’
  5. ‘I’m on my way’
  6. ‘I don’t know where it is, I haven’t touched it’
  7. ‘I didn’t have that much to drink’
  8. ‘I’ve got a headache’
  9. ‘No, I didn’t throw it away’
  10. ‘Sorry, I missed your call’

The top 10 lies men tell:

  1. ‘Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine’
  2. ‘This will be my last drink’
  3. ‘No, your butt doesn’t look big in that’
  4. ‘I had no signal’
  5. ‘My battery died’
  6. ‘Sorry, I missed your call’
  7. ‘I didn’t have that much to drink’
  8. ‘I’m on my way’
  9. ‘It wasn’t that expensive’
  10. ‘I’m stuck in traffic’

I myself am guilty on some of the lies on both of those lists.

We all possess some talent for deceit, researchers estimate that lying behaviors arose soon after the emergence of language; however, lying has even been exhibited in animals, who most frequently lie through acts of omission. An article on steemit.com (https://steemit.com/lie/@francofromottawa/do-animals-lie) posits that “Deception is not only a natural instinct of all living creatures, but that it is absolutely essential to survival for some. After all, those who lie, whether they are human or otherwise, often do so for their own gain or to avoid punishment, embarrassment, or harm. Take for example Koko the Gorilla. When her handlers confronted her after she tore a steel sink out of its mooring, she signed “cat did it” and pointed at her innocent pet kitten.”

Some studies show that we lie easier over time as guilt responses from our amygdala become more subdued due to excessive lying or just getting used to lying. Which may also be one reason that people tend to become better liars as we age.

Lying becomes even easier when we can write about lies. Physical and vocal “tells” that indicate that someone is lying are not evident in writing and you can lie to a much broader group of people in writing than in one-on-one conversations. Does mastering the art of lying mean mastering the world? When one looks at our current President, the answer could mean an unfortunate “yes.”

But what about the people who believe in our lies?   We wouldn’t really continue to lie if it didn’t benefit people to tell lies. Some people are very skilled liars. Other people need the lies that they are told because they fill a need in their lives. George Carlin said, “Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.” People don’t need to know the paint is wet, and it is not difficult to check themselves.

But why do we lie to ourselves? According to an article in Phsychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201708/the-many-ways-we-lie-ourselves), all of us are in denial about something. Lying to oneself can often satisfy important psychological needs that we have. (For example, many managers I talk to say that employees all tend to rate themselves in the top 10%.)

Lies to ourselves tend to be in the following categories:

  • Feigning ignorance. Sometimes in order to make it through something we have a tendency to ignore negative feedback or information. For example, someone opening a new business and opening for success may not want to know about new business failure rates.
  • Denying reality. This is where people tend to deny what they think is unbearable. I often wish there were realities I could deny, but I tend to do the “this is not the start of a migraine,” even though I would likely be better off if I would admit it was the start of a migraine and just take my damned medication.
  • Overconfidence. Some people are overconfident and think that they are or always will be on top. (See my manager comment about workers thinking they are all in the top 10%.) I often say that performers are sometimes in a bi-polar mode where they are overconfident or have lost all confidence. Being overconfident can be a blessing when you are getting ready to bare it all on stage! (Take that however you want to.)
  • Self-sabotage. The opposite side to the above. Sometimes people refrain from preparation so that they can blame other factors and not have to face that they are just not good enough.
  • Cherry-picking. Where we pick out the statements that support what we think.
  • Self-image. Portraying yourself as you want to be seen. Facebook, for example, is a great way to do this. Many people put on the happy smiling face for Facebook, but do not show negative things because that is not the self-image they want.
  • Sour grapes. I didn’t get the thing I wanted, so I never really wanted it anyway.
  • Attribution. Why did we fail? What caused it to happen? Was it us or events outside our control. The attributions we give to explain events in our lives protects us and allows us to have an excuse.

So, really, we all lie. We all need to lie, and lying is a natural response to so many things that impact our lives. We have all seen movies about someone who couldn’t lie. Life would be ridiculous. And painful. Not to mention that a lot of us tell ourselves negative lies anyway… I didn’t get this gig because I suck, or I didn’t get this gig because my act is not what they need for their show? What do you want to tell yourself? Neither one may be 100% the truth – do we even know the truth? What is the difference between a lie and a story we tell ourselves to get through life? Is there one? (Religion? … oh, wait that was supposed to be a rhetorical question…)

Maybe the people who lie a lot lack the confidence not to lie. Maybe people who lie to themselves a lot are not smart enough or strong enough to live without the lies. Maybe we all lie a lot to ourselves and the others around us and we just don’t know the lies we are telling. People aren’t bad just because they lie, people are bad because of the kinds of lies that they tell. We all lie.

 

 

Proverb for the Day Archives – April 2018

Without courage you risk losing everything else.

 

Your train of thought has already left the station.

 

No one is 100% right 100% of the time.

 

A pedestal, like a prison, is a small space in which to navigate.

 

You are never too important to be nice to people.

 

There is no such thing as a pain free life.

 

Good friends don’t judge you, they judge other people with you.

 

Change requires courage and courage often requires change.

 

Nope, I do not have penis envy. And if I did, I would not be envying yours.

 

Obey gravity. It’s the law.

 

You have to start before you can finish.

 

Some people can’t handle fabulous.
 

I wasn’t amazing today.  I was too busy being human.

 

Without challenges, efforts lose meaning.

 

I am not saying you are wrong, I am just saying that I am right.

 

Being an expert in one thing does not make you an expert in everything.

 

Just because it came out of someone’s mouth does not make it true.

 

I don’t give a shit about what you want.  You should be pleasing me.

 

It’s easy to be an asshole.

 

Some days make you want to stay in bed before you even get up.

 

There is power in being silly and not caring.

 

If you want to be great, stop asking for permission.

 

I have to constantly remind myself that not everyone is proficient in their ability to communicate.

 

Good friends are not there to use each other but to lean on and support each other, in turn.

 

Unfortunately, it is my circus and those are my monkeys.

 

I could be a nicer person if other people weren’t as stupid.

 

If I wanted you to talk I wouldn’t have taped your mouth shut.

 

If you keep telling yourself you are not ready, you never will be ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the Rainbow…

“Toto, I don’t think we are in California anymore,” I whispered to no one in particular knowing full well that the plane had landed and I was disembarking the plane in Kansas. Well, technically Missouri, since the Kansas City airport is in Missouri and NOT Kansas.  But close enough.  I was heading into Kansas territory, sure enough.  I had left my technicolor dream home of California for a week in the black-and-white world of farms, fields, and tornadoes.   I missed the state of poppies already.

This was not my first trip to Kansas, and, unfortunately, it will not be my last.  And, like the black-and-white Kansas in the Wizard of Oz, many, but not all Kansas moments are painful.  Some of my first childhood memories are of me in Kansas: I clearly remember falling down the basement steps in my grandparents Kansas City home because I was a recalcitrant child and pulled and pulled away from my brother’s hand who was trying to reign me in and, you guessed it, prevent me from falling down the stairs.   If he had just let me be and let me walk down the steps on my own I probably would never have fallen down the steps at all.  But Kansas tries to protect you from the things that never should have been a danger.  And you know an independent 4-year old growing up in a 1-story California-style bungalow could not possibly navigate stairs without her older brother’s assistance.  And so, that which Kansas fears becomes the inevitable outcome.

Now, I consider myself to have been granted special dispensation to make fun of Kansas at will given that my parents were born and raised in Kansas.  While I was most definitely born and raised a California girl, I was the product of solid, stolid midwestern parents.  And, while they were somewhat tolerant of my trips down yellow brick roads, my fights with winged monkeys, and my obsessions with ruby slippers, they would never experience these things first hand and never really understand the appeal.

Somehow, I also remember that 4-year old child riding on an elephant with her brother at the Kansas City zoo. This certainly seems too magical for a Kansas story, but the house has to lift off from somewhere to get to the magical lands and all the dream worlds are somehow rooted down into the bowels of our beginnings anyway.  What I should remember: the view, the majesty.  What I do remember: the feeling of the elephant’s skin and the course hairs poking out.  I was fascinated by the roughness and the feel of it against my young unblemished tender skin.  Kansas is refined but rough.  Not the old west, but totally respectable farmers with rough hands and gnarled faces.   Hard living wrapped in a veneer of wallpaper and sit-down dinners with the family.

And judgment.  We can’t forget the judgment.  There was the love and admiration my grandparents showered on the little girl next door to them in Kansas.  But not on me.  She got good grades.  Mine were better.  She gave them cards on holidays.  I wrote missives.  But she was always praised and adored.  Held up as an angel.  Apparently she did what she was told.  She never fell down the stairs trying to be independent and she never spilled a vase full of flowers and water (it didn’t even break) while pretending the carpets were lava and carefully walking around on the furniture skillfully and gracefully (as only a trained dancer can do) to avoid burning her feet in the burbling red hot lava beds of her imagination.  The vase only got knocked over when grandmother burst open the door, saw me walking onto the small end table and made an “oh” of a screeching variety that sounded kind of like an owl swooping down for its prey.  Disapproval hung heavier in the house the rest of the day than the oppressive heat and humidity that hung outside and as a result I banished myself to the front porch to stare at the asphalt and imagine I was back home in California.

Now, I was a good child by California standards.   I got good grades, cleaned my room, danced well.  But I was sassy and independent and outspoken.  Not the traits a good midwestern Kansas girl would have. I never had to rescue my little dog Toto from a crazy judgmental white lady, but I would have.   I talked back to my father (he was in my eyes too often the man behind the curtain pulling levers and not the Great and Powerful Oz).   I talked back to adults (I could follow the yellow brick road just fine on my own, but you were welcome to accompany me if you were smart or nice and didn’t try to scare the cowardly lion.)  I never took naps (even surrounded by California poppies or when struck down with typhoid fever).  And worst of all, I cried when I wasn’t perfect, when people were mean, when they tried to make me take naps.  Crying.   That was the breaking point for my mother.  All her Kansas judgment would leap out at me when the tears started rolling down my cheeks.  All I wanted was love and acceptance, but the tears got me bad looks, lectures, and the cold shoulder from my mother.  Apparently, Kansas girls don’t cry.  Go away little girl, you are not hard enough to be my child and your crying annoys me.  I am supposed to be the good witch who protects you, but I will never show up on time.  You have your shoes – what else do you want from me anyway?  Here is a bucket for your tears.  It might come in handy someday.  Go fight the witch alone.

The last time I was in Kansas was for my grandmother’s memorial service and the burial of her ashes in a Kansas cemetery plot next to my grandfather.   It was just the immediate family – no spouses- who made the trip.  We visited lots of relatives I didn’t remember or didn’t want to know and a very few which I wished I had known better.  I tried to be good and I tried to fit in. It didn’t work very well.  My tattoos all showed in my light dresses in the warm May weather and my auburn-red hair was not a standard Kansas color.  I danced at my grandmother’s grave side to say goodbye in the best way I knew how.  But Kansas ladies don’t do that type of thing.

The relatives were rough. Jeans and overalls and clothes that were too-frequently and too harshly washed.  The land of riding mowers if you lived “in town” and tractors if you didn’t.  Farmers, ranchers, and the “retired” farmers who leased out their land to other farmers and sat on their front porch with a shotgun or rifle looking to shoot rabbits or armadillos or other varmints.  Sure, not their crops anymore, but those critters are best dispatched anyway.  Beware the too small dog that wanders into view of an aging mind and aging eyes that only looks for the blur of movement.  Shoots first and whistles for the dog second.  Only the dog never comes.  Damned dog!!!

One woman was different.  An aunt.  She helped her parents on the small ranch, living next door to them.  But, she had a career doing some type of work in Kansas City.  When she retired she came back.  She never married, never had children.  Apparently she had a long-term affair with her boss – a married man.  But that was rumor.  None of it was discussed. What she did, who she loved, who she was.  Irrelevant in relation to discussions of the cows or the crops or the weather.  Kansas ladies don’t cry, don’t feel, don’t emote.  At least not in public.  Family counts as public.

My brother and I titled the trip the Kansas Cemetery Tour as we seemed to spend a lot of time visiting cemeteries and family graves and driving in between.   I did find the perfect place for a house should I ever have to live in Kansas.  A graveyard on a hill ringed with a variety of trees and a small creek winding around the bottom.  I would move a grand old Victorian and set it up at the very top of the hill with views of the trees and the creek and the gravestones.  I would be more at home living among the dead who I felt must be warmer than most of the living I had encountered.

The days were long, but my brother and I found some respite in long evening walks together – including walks to the liquor store where we stocked up on tiny bottles of hard liquor that we would slip into my purse before family get-togethers.  The tiny bottles were easy to surreptitiously pour into tall cold glasses of unsweetened iced tea.  The family members were not all non-drinkers but many were and the strongest drink served at these farmhouse events was usually a Mountain Dew or coffee.  I was happy when I had work conference calls and had to walk up to the highway and sit under a tree in the warmth of the day because I couldn’t get cell phone reception near the house.   Work made me feel like a responsible adult again instead of a misguided and wayward child who had just finished drawing on the new wallpaper with a felt tip pen.  Except the wallpaper was my skin and the pen was tattoo ink and what kind of money had I paid to let people draw on me?  Why did I want that there anyway?

Was it any wonder I didn’t want to go back?  Even though this was a work trip and not a family trip, I knew there would be no elephant rides.  I was leaving behind my warm sunlit yellow brick roads for a cold and grey country with cold judging people.  I wasn’t happy to be there, but I wasn’t afraid of the wicked witch anymore.  Because I could become the wicked witch.  To me, it was my superpower. My protection. I could be colder than the cold when needed.  But maybe to them I had always been the wicked witch.

But you and I know that the wicked witch isn’t really wicked.  Just misunderstood.  Just judged or abandoned or turned away.  She had to become colder, harder, and meaner just so she wouldn’t cry every day.  And she had to stop crying into her bucket of tears so she wouldn’t inadvertently melt her face with the salty concoction of her tears or spill her bucket of tears on the floor as she tried to navigate her dancing body away from the lava and back to the direction, guidance, and comfort of that yellow brick road.  She needed more poppies, more flying monkeys, and the love of the smart, the kind, and even the cowardly.  Until then, watch out Kansas.  My broom is portable.

Proverb for the Day Archives – March 2018

Give yourself the love you yearn from others.

It isn’t always about you.

Should I be surprised when other people put me last when I always put myself last?

Learn to sail your ship in good weather and stormy.

We are more than our Facebook posts.

I am too responsible to be a parent.

Elegance never fades, crepe paper does.

We should all be excited about the pursuit of knowledge.

I love you just the way I am.

The richest person is the one who is happy with what he has.

Two-way communication does not mean you talk and I listen.

Do not fucking underestimate me.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Some days you can’t do it all.

You can’t diffuse hate with walls – you must do it with understanding.

I fuck up, too.

Some fights are not worth your time.  Choose what you fight for wisely.

It is time to resort to the truth when you are absolutely sure that lying won’t work.

We all need an occasional reality check.

Real friendship is when people know all about you and like you anyway.

My dentist told me I needed a crown and I was like “I know, right?”

I could think like you, but I don’t want to be wrong.

If you don’t stand up for yourself, who will?

There are seven days in a week and someday isn’t one of them.

If criminals can do it the easy way they won’t do it the hard way.

Treat yourself the same way you want other people to treat you.