Wednesday, September 2, 2015

     Do you ever get your hair stuck between your teeth? This is not a chic look. Occasionally when bending my head over the sink to floss my teeth, my hair gets wedged in between a couple of them, and I can’t get them out. First, I can’t see the hair, so this is not a pretty picture—a blind blond chasing hair in her mouth. Secondly, this usually happens when I’m running late for an appointment, so I must hurry to find the feckless follicle. We all know what haste makes, so this is not an advisable tactic. Not wanting to smile at my client with blond split ends sticking out of my eye teeth (which do not aid in my search, btw), I turn on all the overhead lights and finally locate the culprit. There it is—long enough to stick out of my luscious lips, but not long enough to get hold of. The anxiety level begins to rise exponentially to the time I have left before I need to rush into Rush Hour. Finally, after numerous brushing and prying, moaning and crying, I get the little bugger out. Now my make-up is smeared all over my chin, and my toothbrush has to be trashed. Good Morning, Wednesday.


(*I don’t know what the word exponentially means, but it sounds really cool, n’est-ce pas?)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

     One of the best books I have ever read on coping with life’s inequities and finding balance is The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. One of the four deals with promising ourselves not to make assumptions. I re-read this book regularly because I tend to make the wrong assumptions, and through the years, these untrue thoughts have caused me great angst. They have framed situations in my mind upon which I have acted only to find out later that my assumption was totally false, and my reactions unwarranted. Seems like a simple error to fix, but the longer one indulges in assuming the negative, the harder it is to stop that thinking process. A colleague of mine said to me once when I was feeling low, “Just say to yourself, STOP.” Yeah, right. Works for me about 1% of the time. Despite the fact that I have an iron-clad list of resilience tools sharpened and re-sharpened over the years, I have determined that assuming the negative is my tragic flaw. As BrenĂ© Brown says, the bravest among us get up, show up and man up. Well, this morning I am “man”ing up to deal with one of my latest assumptions.


     I had scheduled a performance of my one-woman show for next spring. The Program Chair emailed me last night to tell me she had double-booked that month and asked if I would be available at a “future time.” I looked at the e-mail and said to myself, “Ok, here it is. Assume positive (she’s telling the truth”) or assume negative (she’s disenchanted with my program which she has never seen). Hmm. Sometimes when I am faced with the question of how I choose to frame something, it depends on where I am emotionally that day, that week, that month. If I’m feeling confident, I go with positive; if I’m feeling vulnerable, I instinctively default to the negative. The wrong assumption will lead me to angst, frustration and perhaps even to taking an action unwarranted by the thought. In this case, I might choose to give up my program altogether. Now why would I do that, you might ask. Because 100 retired ladies who have never heard me or of me won’t? Even if it were true and the woman who hired me decided that she didn’t like the promotional disc I sent her or maybe someone told her I wasn’t “good enough,” that obviously doesn’t mean that I’m not or that any of the women in the audience would agree with her. I am a Program Chair for another organization, and my choice of performer is the only choice my members have, as I’m the one doing the hiring. The Program Chair has the power to hire whomever she chooses, so her opinion is the only one that matters. This doesn’t mean she makes the best choices; they are simply the only choices while she holds the office. 

     The most important question, therefore, is how much power will I give to a woman (the Program Chair) whom I do not know, who after hiring me never confirmed receipt of my promotional material and suddenly, two months later tells me she is double-booked. If she is double-booked, what does that tell me about her decision/organizational skills.?And to think that I would even consider giving up my wonderful program because I am disappointed or my ego is bruised is totally absurd. Yet, how many times have I reacted like this in the past? I don’t want to go there.


     So, as I always said to my students, “Quel en est le but?” What’s the point? The point is be careful when making assumptions, particularly without all the facts and without clarifying. I have chosen to assume the positive: the lady is unorganized, and when she comes back to hire me after I’m very famous, I’m sorry, I will be booked.

Monday, August 31, 2015

     Ever find yourself just “limping along” in life? Well, I haven’t verbalized this, but sometimes I hear my dark voice saying to me, “You are just limping along, lady.” Well, this may be true, but just because we limp along doesn’t mean we’re lame. 

     Sometimes we limp along because we’ve had a fall; sometimes we limp when we don’t have the energy to stand tall and put one confident foot in front of the other; still other times, we limp because we’ve been bruised. The reason doesn’t matter; the way we recover does.

     When I feel like I’m in “gimp” mode, I ask myself, “What can you do about this?” The same answers always seem to surface, and a few come from my parental voices, long gone from this earth.


     1.  Get busy
          When I used to moan about projects due, my father would say, “Stop talking, and dig in.” This meant that he wasn’t interested in listening to my whining; he wanted to know what proactive steps I would take. 

     2.  Get moving
          When I feel like I’m “stuck,” and I can’t seem to get any momentum, I work out, get on my treadmill or my bike or just turn up the volume on the loudest rock music on my playlist and start pumping. It’s the last thing I feel like doing, but it’s the first thing that makes me feel better.

     3.  Do something for someone else
           Getting out of myself is one of the best ways to put things in perspective. What might be a limp to one person could be a giant step to another. A simple phone call, e-mail or kind gesture can bring joy to someone who needs to get balance more than I do.

     4.  Distract the mind
           Whether it’s reading a book, watching a movie, cleaning a cupboard or painting my toenails, getting my mind off the issue is easier when my mind is focused on something else.


       Bottom line:  What if all these techniques fails? Then you feel like I do today, and you say to yourself, “Ok. Limping isn’t lame. Limping is ok, and it is temporary.” Then I go scoop out a giant bowl of Edy’s Caramel Delight and bury myself in sugar.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

                                          ARE YOU A NOMOPHOBE?

      (Score yourself 1-7)


1.I would feel uncomfortable without constant access to information through my smartphone.
2 I would be annoyed if I could not look information up on my smartphone when I wanted to do so.
3 Being unable to get the news (e.g., happenings, weather, etc.) on my smartphone would make me nervous.
4 I would be annoyed if I could not use my smartphone and/or its capabilities when I wanted to do so.
5 Running out of battery in my smartphone would scare me.
6 If I were to run out of credits or hit my monthly data limit, I would panic.
7 If I did not have a data signal or could not connect to Wi-Fi, then I would constantly check to see if I had a signal or could find a Wi-Fi network.
8 If I could not use my smartphone, I would be afraid of getting stranded somewhere.
9 If I could not check my smartphone for a while, I would feel a desire to check it.
If I did not have my smartphone with me:
1 I would feel anxious because I could not instantly communicate with my family and/or friends.
2 I would be worried because my family and/or friends could not reach me.
3 I would feel nervous because I would not be able to receive text messages and calls.
4 I would be anxious because I could not keep in touch with my family and/or friends.
5 I would be nervous because I could not know if someone had tried to get a hold of me.
6 I would feel anxious because my constant connection to my family and friends would be broken.
7 I would be nervous because I would be disconnected from my online identity.
8 I would be uncomfortable because I could not stay up-to-date with social media and online networks.
9 I would feel awkward because I could not check my notifications for updates from my connections and online networks.
10 I would feel anxious because I could not check my email messages.
11 I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.
20: No nomophobia
21-60: Mild nomophobia
60-100: Moderate nomophobia

101-140: Severe nomophobia

     What’s wrong with this test? As in all tests, certain language can be troublesome in answering questions truthfully or accurately. For example, the repeated use of such terms as “nervous,” “awkward,” “anxious,” “uncomfortable,” “weird” are somewhat negative, and most of us don’t want to admit to ourselves or anyone else that we might feel this way in a given situation. By using such terminology, answers may be skewed. The scale of 1-7 can distort results too. Numbers 1 and 7 are obviously useful in calculating stats, but numbers 3,4,5? Hmm. I wonder. Nonetheless, the questions themselves prompted certain conclusions on my part:

  1. There are people whose identity is way too wrapped up in their thumbs.
  2. There are people who have serious social abandonment issues.
  3. Some people could lessen their anxiety with a simple charger.
  4. People who need to stay up to date on “happenings,” need to get up earlier and watch the news for ten minutes, and they’ll know everything. Not much changes in two to three hours, unless you’re following the Kardashians.
  5. Nomophobes would never have survived in the 60s. We actually had to read the news on large pieces of paper, make phone calls standing up at pay phones and go to an encyclopedia for information—sometimes at an actual library. How lame is that? 



P.S.  I scored “Mild nomophobia.” Before taking the test, I would have labeled myself as a “severe nomophobe.” Thanks, Mr. Research Guy. I feel better now. Excuse me, I have to answer this.

Friday, August 28, 2015

     Last night at my Girls Night Out dinner, we were talking about texting. I said that when people write a word in all caps, that means to me that they are angry about something (hopefully, not at something i did or said). I have received messages in the past where someone has capitalized a word, and I was very offended. After confronting that person, she said, I had no idea that you would react that way. I was not implying anything of the kind. One friend said, “I thought that capitalizing meant that you were emphasizing something.” We all agreed that this was true, however, there is a difference between saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY and “WTF!” 


     We talked about the difference between emailing that apparently only occurs in the over-12 crowd and texting. Sometimes these very brief text messages can be considered “terse” and therefore, offensive. I guess the bottom line is that we all need to assume the positive
and not personalize. GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

                        De-BRIEF


     So what can you do if you used to be Number One tennis pro in the world, and you can’t seem to get the magic back? You model underwear, of course. Spanish tennis star, Rafael Nadal, has recently signed up for a sexy photo shoot promotingTommy Hilfiger briefs—yup, de briefs. Now this isn’t just a close up shot to show the texture of the fabric or the resilience of the elastic waist; nope. This commercial shows it all—from top to bottom:) The mischief in his eyes and the almost undetectable smirk on his lips might be missed as viewers get the full monty of this jock’s shorts. It’s all Nadal, they say. No socks for this jock. He’s got the equipment. Now we must hope that the women’s number one doesn’t follow this path. To some, it may all be a time out, not a grand slam, but for those of us who still believe in beautiful, hmmmm.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

     Are you anxious? Are your kids anxious? What’s anxious? Now that the focus is “back-to-school,” anxiety seems to be excitement’s partner. Several of my colleagues “liked” my post about the annoying “backtoschoolnightmare” that we all seem to share, even those of us who have been retired for a while. Most experts will tell us that anxiety can be positive as well as negative, and that if we’re a bit anxious, we may perform better. That may or may not be true. I have performed on and off stage my entire life, and I honestly believe that had I been less anxious, my performance would have been better. The question I raise today, however, is when did anxiety start in our lives? 

     I don’t recall being anxious in pre-school, unless you count my biting Billy numerous times until his mother bit me back. I don’t recall being anxious playing Red Rover, Red Rover in the street in front of our house, at least not until the dog (“Red”) down the street came tearing into our “field.” I don’t recall being anxious watching Howdy Doody or I Love Lucy unless I was worried about what Desi would say when he found out about Lucy’s latest faux pas. So does anxiety start in school, or are seeds planted before that? 

     If you have ever had an anxiety attack, you know that it can be a traumatic experience making you think you’re having a stroke. Once you realize that it is not life-threatening (at least initially), the anxiety melts away. I liken it to stage fright—the feeling that the butterflies in your chest are going to turn into bats, blow out of your chest and eat your hair. Ah, if it were only that funny. Anxiety is not funny; it is frightening, and if little kids are feeling this way anywhere they happen to be, we need to find a way to help them understand what it is, what causes it and how to cure it.

     When I was first divorced, I would wake up at 4:00 a.m. alone in my house in the woods. My heart would race so fast that I would have to jump out of bed and pace the floor to realize that I was indeed awake, and that I could calm myself down. For me, I learned that immediate physical exercise was the fastest cure. I hopped onto my tiny trampoline and ran my ass off. At first, I felt relieved that I had figured out a temporary cure, but ultimately, the anxiety would return at times and places I could not access my bounce. The good news was that I knew that I could eventually calm down, but I had to learn other ways to deal with these out-of-control feelings that could cripple if I let them. Deep breathing, focusing on the breath and becoming aware of such things as shoulders hunched up under my hairline and fists balled tight helped me detox. Heaven forbid that little kids have the feelings I just described and don’t know what to do about them. 

    Lately, I have been reading articles about student test anxiety, college suicides increasing, people withdrawing due to depression side effects to medication. Regardless of the cause, the result is a feeling of being out of control and even “crazy.” Ask an athlete to define anxiety. I’m sure you will recognize some of the language I have used. Ask a stage performer to define anxiety. For many celebrities, anxiety is a way of life. Maybe that’s why so many overdose or become alcoholics. 

     I am not concerned about myself or rich people who can access quick fixes; I am concerned about young people who face demons and suffer from the anxiety they cause. Shouldn’t there be a course in Resilience Techniques taught in school? If we all had a full tool box in our early years, maybe anxiety would not have shame attached to it, and people could talk about it openly.