Sunday, April 19, 2015

William Glasser was a highly-respected psychotherapist who intially labeled his research into psychological and physical well-being “Reality Therapy.” Without going into too much technical detail, here are the basic needs he identifies for every human being:

  1. Physical well-being (biological needs met)
  2. Freedom
  3. Power
  4. Love and Belonging
  5. Fun

I like to describe these five points as five legs of a stool. If any one leg is broken, the stool is not sturdy or grounded. If more than one of these legs is broken (i.e. any need is not met), the stool could fall over. 

Whenever I’m feeling out of sorts, “ungrounded,” I ask myself if any of these five legs has broken or is cracked. Usually, there will be at least one. This allows me to analyze what the issue is in order to attempt to target a remedy. Now Glasser has a whole book of tactics on how to remedy each of these. You will have to read his research to see if you agree or if you want some very practical solutions. Let it suffice to say that identifying the unmet need is the first and most crucial step in finding a solution. This theory can be applied to any area of our lives: discontent in a job, marital issues, lack of purpose, social anxiety, etc. 

Many in the mainstream are so busy working, parenting, hopefully playing and having fun that sometimes we don’t take time to identify the need(s) not being met, so we walk around tense or anxious blocking out whatever might be causing a feeling of malaise or emptiness. William Glasser’s theory has been a useful tool for me both personally and professionally. If you’re feeling “out of sorts” and can’t figure out why, give it a try.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Do you know who this is? If you do, then you have an explanation for every time you ever feel off-balance or ungrounded. His theory made sense years ago and still does today. Stay tuned for the answer and the theory tomorrow:)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Dear Pokey:

I can’t tell you how much I miss your furry face. Life isn’t the same since you left for kitty heaven twelve years ago. I now take my naps alone on the bed instead of lying on the floor with your tiny wet nose in my face and your soft purring lulling me into deep slumber. You were always happy when I woke up and looked into your beautiful loving green eyes. Your loyalty was unwavering, and I have no one’s fur to cry into anymore either. Oh, my, Pokey. I truly miss you.

I thought you’d like to know what’s been going on since you left. Here are some highlights:

  1. no one talks, spells or writes cursive anymore; people communicate by tapping
  2. no one eats fatty food anymore, except people who are obese, and you’re not allowed to call them “fat.”  
  3. there’s no room to sit on planes anymore, and people throw tantrums in the aisles and make bombs in the bathrooms
  4. people burn their skin with pictures to look cool
  5. big butts are in
  6. France has threatened to fine any model who is too skinny
  7. I still don’t cook with more than two ingredients
  8. your Dad still loves leftovers (some from over a year ago)
  9. your sisters are all married with kids
  10. we have moved to another state, and your father wants to move to yet another (I told him to let me know how that works for him:)
  11. people take their dogs everywhere:  the hair salon, bars, restaurants, doctor’s offices. I haven’t seen any cats at any of these places. (Why would you even want to go there anyway?)
  12. people walk their dogs and carry their poop in see-through bags. yuck.
  13. people keep their animals in their yards by sending electric shocks through their bodies if they try to escape
  14. they still don’t have my ice cream on sale
  15. you are the only creature who has loved me unconditionally, and I will never forget you.
  16. these numbers will all turn to number one when I post this:( 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

     People think retirement is a dream-come-true. For many, I imagine this is so. For me, however, although I was ready, my heart was not in it. I lived for my career as a high school teacher, and nine years after leaving the classroom, I can honestly say I still miss it. I have re-invented myself numerous times, and only recently have I found a niche that might come close to giving me the joy and fulfillment I had in the classroom. The good news is that, thanks to face book, I can watch my former students’ lives unfold before my eyes, and that gives me great pride. Some have married, had children, succeeded in their careers, and a few have become teachers, and that gives me great hope for the future. 

     One of the items on my bucket list was to write a book. I had no illusions of it becoming a best seller (good thing); I just wanted to hold it in my hand, see my name on it and be able to say, “I wrote a book.” It doesn’t matter that I spent $1000 to have it self-published and only sold 250 copies. It doesn’t matter that some people bought it just because they are my friends; what matters is, I did it. Actually, I wrote two and am thinking about writing a third. Three is my lucky number, and trilogies seem to be more popular than quadrilogies. I even have the title ready, but for now, I am using my two volumes of humorous essays as resources for upcoming blogs. In the next few weeks, I will be writing letters to people from my past who influenced me in various ways. Hopefully, you will take away a lesson, a moral, a “ya-got-that-right” or simply a chuckle. 

Letter Number 1: First Draft

Dear Toxic Friend:

I have been listening to you tell me for years how perfect you are, how perfect your life is. If this is really true, and I highly doubt it can be this perfect, I am happy for you. If this is not true, I wonder why you feel that you must label everything with “I’m so lucky.” Are you trying to convince me or yourself? I find that when everything you tell me, even sad or stressful things, are spun with such superlatives, I walk away feeling less than. I am not less than; I am human. When bad things happen, I get angry and sad. When I am bored, I’m not afraid to say, “I’m bored.” When things are good, I don’t brag about them; I feel grateful, but I don’t need to flaunt my appreciation. 

You are a toxic friend to me, and I must let you go. There. I feel better now.

Letter Number 1:  Short Version

You piss me off. Go away.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

               Nostalgic Song:  I’ve Got You Under My Skin

     Have you ever heard the expression, “He really gets under my skin.” How about “That really makes my skin crawl.” Maybe, “That gives me goose bumps.” Yeah, yeah, it’s grandma language, I know, but grandma had it going on--at least until she was about 25, and then it was all down hill. When my grandma was 25, there weren’t magic potions that puffed up the lips to make them look sexy swollen. They had never heard of some toxic crap that you can have injected between your eyes to hide your worry lines. Grandmas didn’t worry about things like this; they had more important things to think about like raising children and milking cows. In those days, grandma would have been appalled that people actually paid thousands of dollars to have their skin pulled tight over their skeletons just to look cool. Grandma wasn’t into skin tightening; it was more about the belt.

     So what does this have to do with my nostalgic song? Everything. What I mourn is what used to be under my skin:  collagen. Yup, that stuff that makes you look like you’re still alive and not ready for the sarcophagus. From some random age, and no one knows what that is, the collagen under our skin begins to disappear. One day it’s here; the next day it’s gone, not unlike my paycheck. I don’t mind that my paycheck is flat with no oomph, but my face in that condition is unacceptable. 

     My new take on the song, therefore, is “I Want You Under My Skin.” Somehow wishing won’t make it so. Ladies under sixty, get out there and celebrate you collagen. Have collagen parties. Make up rain dances for collagen. Maybe you can extract some of that shit and put it in a freezer for when you get old and want to plump up those cheeks (whichever ones need it at that time). In any case, if you’ve still got it; flaunt it. If not, do not allow any photos taken within 75 feet of your face. 

Flaunt that skin, baby, while you can!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

     For those of you who take selfies on a regular basis, I am sure you cannot feel my pain. I am actually not asking anyone to feel my pain; rather, I would simply like to vent. My pain has a cure, but it would require a great deal of money and psychotherapy. I am making a conscious choice to avoid said expense and humiliation and just vent to whomever chooses to read this. For those narcissists, egomaniacs and vain souls out there, this is for you (and me). 

     If I ever wanted to get over myself, I should have had someone videotape me years ago.
Maybe that would have humbled me to the point that I would have ceased performing. This would have been a shame, however, as I do have a decent schtick that many claim to enjoy. I share my talent (not my food, my shoes or my deodorant). I never shared well as a kid, and I still don’t. They should have given me a treat every time I shared something so I would have learned (liked the Pavlov dog) that sharing was a good thing. I always saw it as a loss for me to someone else’s gain, usually my bratty little sister.

     So the videographer dropped off the video of my recent performance this morning. omg. Am I really this ugly? I thought I was a fairly good-looking mature woman, but are you kidding me? Maybe it was the lighting that made my face look like someone had resurrected me from an unmarked grave. Why do I look purple? No royalty in those cheek creases. And what happened to my lips. It looks like one is curled under so when I speak it looks like I’m talking out of the side of my mouth, like Al Capone. Is it the shadows that make it look like my chin is stuck in underbite? It looks mechanical when I speak - kind of like a puppet whose mouth goes up and down while the rest of his face is frozen in time. And the hands. The hands belong to a mummy (not mommy). They are peppered with brown spots and the veins protrude like a relief map. You are undoubtedly thinking, “Why didn’t you hide them?” Pretty hard to do when you’re playing the piano, and the photographer wants a close up of the keyboard. Fortunately, it was a good hair day, but the top hat squished it all down, and there was a giant curl sticking out of my neck. Ah, the thrill of performing.

     Why, you might ask, did I have this guy come and make a video of me? It is going to be a promotional tool to get gigs. The good news is that most of those who will watch the video will be women, as I am trying to market my program to women’s groups. They will take one look at me and see there is no threat, so maybe I’ll get hired. Maybe they’ll take pity on me and offer me more money to buy some Botox or a cheek pillow.

     As my beloved father always said, there is something to glean from every experience, no matter how negative or traumatic. What did I learn? I learned to tell the guy to put a pair of pantyhose over the lens next time and stand back, way way back. 

*My photographer was terrific, creative and amazing. I loved what he did, but he had no control over his subject in any way:)

Friday, April 10, 2015

     Stephen King and I have some common traits and attitudes. At 3:00 a.m. when I was filling the hours before returning to my sleep nest, I stumbled on an interview of the master of terror. Mr. King is four years younger than yours truly, and he has been married to one woman for 44 years. I’ve only chalked up 41 (with two lucky guys), and although Mr. King has sold over 350 million books and I’ve only self-published two, and although he has written over 200 short stories, and I’ve only written three, our lives have a few parallels. Despite the fact that I can’t read his work because it gives me nightmares for weeks, I have great respect for this prolific author whose genre and talent rock shelves and screen. If you aspire to becoming a writer, his book on writing is an absolute must read.

     Here are some questions posed by Vanity Fair in its 2013 Anniversary issue:
(Mr. King’s answer is the first; mine, the second) My cyber numbering system thinks it's number 1:)

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Time to read. A top-down drive in our sports car through the serpentine mountain roads of France with Mr. Wonderful.

  1. What is your greatest fear?  Alzheimers. That I can no longer wear my stilettos.

  1. What trait in yourself do you deplore?  Doing what others expect so I don’t disappoint them.  My over-sensitivity.

  1. What is your favorite journey?  To Florida by highway. From the kernel of a creative idea to its realization.

  1. What is your most over-used expression?  “I’ll do my best.”  “I’ll do my best.”

  1. What was your happiest moment?  My last day of teaching when I became a writer.
     All my days in the classroom.

  1. What has been your greatest achievement?  Staying married. Believing in myself.

  1. What is your most marked characteristic?  Tenacity. Tenacity.

  1. What characteristic do you most admire in men?  Generosity.  Sensitivity.

  1. What characteristic do you most admire in women?  Generosity. Taking risks.

  1. What is your motto?  “Do it till you’re satisfied.” “Do it till you’re satisfied.”

  1. What talent would you most like to have?  To play the slide guitar. To be a 4.5 tennis player.