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Psychiatrist: Let me teach you how to be yourself.

Oprah: Live your best life! Be your authentic self.

Peers: Whatever you do, don’t be yourself. 

The US RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) of “Being Yourself-ness” has been determined to be: 10%. So, feel free to be yourself for just ten (10) percent of the day.

For the rest of the day, it is suggested that you conform to societal expectations. That way, you’ll be in the habit of conforming when we offer you these BS (Uhhh…“Being Scientific.” Prayer blog, mind you) studies that tell you how to live.

We’re a government agency and always have your best interests at (automated, robot-like) heart. You can trust us! Check in daily with our conformity mechanisms (social media) to make sure you’re in line with everyone else. 

Okay. Let’s just press the “Eject” button on all of this bunk.

As your Virtual Kindly-Auntie (patent pending), dear readers, I’d like to remind you that you’re okay just as you are. Sure, there are things you’d like to improve about yourself and your situation, but start here: you’re okay. There are those who will try to make you feel like you’re not okay. Shut out all that noise as best you can. Later on, when you look back on your life, at least you’ll know you showed up as yourself. Godspeed, dear hearts!

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Color me befuddled. I could have sworn the voiceover in the commercial said that patients with “Twerkulosis” were advised not to take this medication.

Pause.

Twerkulosis? Is that something you’d see in a viral dance video? Viral in a good way, I suppose. Not like a contagion, or something. Of course, twerking at my age could throw a hitch in my gitalong. A twist in my pretzel.

Of course, what he said was: “Tuberculosis.”

Then I could have sworn a man in a conversation with friends spoke of being a “nocturnal octopus.” What might that be? A man who gets all handsy in the evening? That’s a bad thing, I would guess.

Oh. Wait. He said “eternal optimist.”

Mercy. This is why people get cranky as they get older. We start to have trouble with the senses we’ve counted on our entire lives. Hearing gets hinky. Vision gets blurry. And, of course, most people don’t project when they speak, so it can all lead to frustration.

It’s like a real-life game of Mad Libs. What random word will my ears hear? What is actually being said? Maybe this part of our lives is intended to teach us humility and those around us patience. Now, more than ever, the Golden Rule is a godsend.

Well, I’m at that age where I’m looking for magic potions to smooth out my skin. When I was younger, I always said, “Why can’t people just grow old gracefully?” It’s not until you’re older that you realize no one grows old gracefully. They get old and look old, unless they get plastic surgery.

So I bought some anti-aging skin cream, and on the front of the package, it said that “97% of the people who used this cream saw results in two weeks.” Oh, I saw results all right.

Results:

  • I realized I’d just thrown away twelve bucks for no reason.
  • I realized I’d spent five minutes each night faithfully applying glop to my face for no reason.
  • I realized that the sample size of those who had used this cream and seen positive results was exactly three (3) people, all of whom were related to the manufacturer. Joe Wrinklecream’s mother and two sisters said it works like a charm.

Over-Hyped and Under-Performing Broken Promise Potion would be the new name I’d give to that product. But then, does anything live up to its claims these days? Did I really expect a miracle in a jar I got on Amazon?

The true life lesson is that “aging gracefully” is another way of saying “living gratefully.” I’m glad I’m still here. I appreciate my blessings. There’s still much to look forward to, wrinkles, stray greys and all. Living in the present and an attitude of gratitude? That’s what works like a charm.

Due to my visual and memory issues, I’ve asked Lori and SueBE to proofread my posts for me, and for one post, Lori showed me how to use an “em-dash” as opposed to an “en-dash.”

Hold on. There are two types of dashes? How long has this been going on?!? I can’t seem to find that button on my keyboard. Is there one? I don’t remember it from school (insert em-dash here once I find it) eons ago (em-dash again) and, in all my years (em-d) over 50 of them (em-d) have been punctuating incorrectly.

It’s like finding a new/retro toy! How does this thing work? Where can I use it? Let me think of sentences in which I can insert this new (to me) kind of punctuation. Bear with me (em-dash) just for a moment (em-dash) while I collect my thoughts.

Okay, I found the secret code online. To insert an “em-dash” on a laptop, you press the “Alt” key, and on the numeric keypad, type 0151.

The em-dash seems like a parking spot for a pause. It’s longer than an en-dash and more meaty, if you will. Yes. Maybe it stands for the letter “M”, as in “Meaty.”

Or maybe the “M” stands for “Metaphor.” Sometimes, you put your own needs on hold to take care of everybody else. You might fall into the trap of Placeholder Syndrome. The spot you’re in now is a pause in your own life’s sentence, like a jail cell that you carry with you.

You think, I’ll just wait until retirement to pursue my dreams. Or, I’ll wait until the kids are squared away, and then I’ll put myself first.  Maybe that “M” stands for “Me.” So I’d say to you — respectfully, of course — today is the day.

BugZooka WB100 Bug Catcher VacuumYesterday, I saw a silverfish in my bathroom and stopped in my tracks. Zowie! That’s a big bug. Four inches across. I got my trusty BugZooka (a tiny vacuum that sucks up the bugs so you can release them outside) and tried to capture her, to no avail. Undeterred, I went to the kitchen and got a plastic cup with a lid but couldn’t redirect her into the cup, so I talked to her. I’ve got to get you into this cup to relocate you or I’ve got to squish you. Sorry.

Surprisingly, she went into the cup. I went to the door and asked my son to open it for me and took her outside. Now mind you, I probably let in two flies while I was releasing Sylvia (the name I give to all silverfish. That, or Sid) but she had to go.

While I was chasing her around the bathroom, I realized she was afraid of me. For all she knew, I was the grim reaper, and I may well have been if I hadn’t caught her.

She was reacting in fear. I was reacting in fear.

What if everything that we’re afraid of is actually afraid of us?

As you go about your day, take note of what makes you anxious. Is it people passing by on a busy city street? Hold on. Are they looking at you the same way?

Pay attention to your fears today. They might be telling you they’re not so scary after all.

PS: This is not an endorsement of the BugZooka (although I like it). I only included the picture to show you what it looks like.

In SueBE’s post on her writing blog, One Writer’s Journey, she writes about finding a creative outlet for her downtime. What does this busy author with deadlines, family obligations, church work, bills to pay, etc., do to recharge her batteries? More work, of course! She takes an online course. But it’s work she loves to do, so it’s not work at all.

It would be more work for her to sit on a beach and do nothing. Suppose you said, “You’re now mandated to sit here and sip a drink under an umbrella and look out at the ocean. It’s for your own good!” I don’t presume to speak for her, but I do believe she’d hate that. Hate! I think her brain would still be formulating ideas, and she’d secretly use a lipstick and a coaster to jot them down when no one was looking. Idea for picture book: marathon runner trapped in starting gate, unable to run her race, teleports herself to the finish line. It’s something inside.

It would be like saying to Lori, “Don’t find the poetry in all that you see. Today, for twenty-four hours, you must think in a linear, black-and-white fashion. We’re re-training your brain to improve your overall health.” I believe she’d hate that. Hate! Even if you put shutters on the windows so she couldn’t see the clouds, trees and birds and be inspired to write a poem, she’d find a haiku in a dust bunny. A whole world would magically appear in her imagination and that poem would spontaneously create itself. It’s something inside.

When it comes time to recharge your batteries, plug into what works for you. Maybe knitting isn’t your thing, so how about painting or photography? Find the thing you enjoy. It’ll do you a world of good.

Living on the sunny side of the street, you realize that a positive frame of mind is portable. Even when I was in the hospital, I was so pleasant to be around that my doctor actually put it into my medical record that I was a “delightful patient.” Now, I’m not bragging. Just saying it really doesn’t cost anything to treat people well…although that hospital stay? It did cost an arm and a leg.

Still, I wonder if there’s another version of me out there in the ether, on some astral plane, who’s my opposite. Perhaps she’s named “Htur” (my name backwards.) Since I don’t get out much, am not rich, and have health issues, she must be the flip-side. She must be filthy rich, hale and hardy, and jet-setting all over the globe, living the heck out of life!

But it occurred to me that to really be the Bizarro version of me, she’d have to be awful to be around. Nasty to people. Entitled and belittling. So I got the good mood. She got the good life.

It also means she would have never met Lori and SueBE and all of you dear readers of our humble bloggie. Who really got the better end of that deal? I’m betting on the home team. In this era of negative news, we need all the positive energy we can find.

Every other article you see on the web offers information in the form of a list. Top ten ways to clean out your closet. Five things I’ve learned from going on a cruise. So annoying!

Then again, lists have their good qualities as well. Here are a few:

  • Lists are neat
  • They’re usually short
  • Ideas might be helpful
  • Good for those with short attention spans

Oh look! My favorite show is on now. Be right back.

As I was saying, on the other hand, lists can:

  • Give short shrift to important topics
  • Have unreliable sources
  • Make you believe any random broad from New Jersey (Yo.) is an expert on everything

Lists can be useful as a means of encouraging yourself. 

Today, I felt gratitude for so many things:

  • My humble home
  • My wonderful son, who’s my heart, walking
  • My smart phone, which I got reluctantly at 50 and became a true believer

And for minor miracles:

  • Second chances
  • “Coincidences” (AKA colliding with Providence) that work in your favor
  • Detours that lead to the right road after all

Not to mention all the creature comforts that add to my quality of life:

  • Light cream for my coffee
  • Leftovers (especially if it’s pizza) and of course
  • Lists

What are you grateful for today? Write it all down in the form of a list and life will look a whole lot brighter.

Oh, how I wish I’d kept the schematics for teleportation that I drafted when I was younger! I’d be sitting pretty right now. Yep. I’d be gliding through the ages, picking up tchotchkes here and there. A bust of Nefertiti for the sunroom. A Roman column for the front of my house. An actual Dead Sea Scroll for my reading area.

Time travel was one of the things I conquered in my mind as a kid. It was obvious to me that it was merely a matter of timing and geography. I’d read that mystics believed that the time when otherwordly wisdom is accessible is from 3 to 4 AM. Got it. Put that on my blueprint. Once I read about the “thin places” in Ireland, where legend has it that the veil between heaven and earth is thin, I had my formula.

All we had to do was set up shop at 3:33 AM (that just sounds like the most mystical time to me) one early morning somewhere in the pretty Irish countryside, and — presto! — we’d be flying through time. Simple!

These are all fanciful notions, but I invented whole worlds in my head as a child. Doesn’t it seem as though we leave imagination behind as we become adults? We forget how to play, and playing is the beginning of creating your own world.

Give yourself permission to paint or dance or make Lego sculptures. It’s a form of stress relief, and a way to express yourself. You’re never too old to be a kid again.

There are some left-overs I really look forward to; others, not so much. I’ve started to realize that I know very quickly what should really go right into the trash. We may think we’re going to eat it tomorrow, but we didn’t like it the first time. Why re-hash it? Especially if it’s actual scorched-earth-style corned beef hash?👎

Today is the day to go all Marie Kondo and really sort through the things that take up space in your psyche.

Keep  

  • The attention you give to your core responsibilities (take care of family, pay the bills, feed the cat.)
  • The things you are already doing efficiently (keeping track of appointments on your phone’s calendar, washing towels right after a shower so you have towels next time you need them.)
  • The comforts and keepsakes that light you up from the inside (the coffee mug with a lid that looks like a jaunty beret, that tiny candle that looks like a lighthouse, the faith that sustains you like a wood-burning stove of the soul even on the darkest winter night.)

Discard

  • The memories that pop up when you experience the slightest hint of happiness (Remember that thing you did that time? You should’ve done it differently.)
  • Self-defeating habits (Since I gained five pounds, I might as well go all in and demolish the snacks in the house with the word “sugar” or “chip” in their name.)

Once you’ve got your cognitive closets cleared, take a moment to breathe. Congratulate yourself on taking small steps to improve your life. That first step is always the hardest one.  The past is a left-over. You don’t need a make-over. A good habit that you carry over to the next day? We’ll call it a blessed-over.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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