This reminded me of a funny story which I’ve told before.
But this is what old people do – we repeat things and don’t give a shit if you’ve heard them all twenty-six times already.
Granddaughter (the first) and I were sitting on the couch playing with her Polly Pocket dolls. She was responsible for the actions and deeds and commentary of three or four of them, but I had just one. I chose Snow White because she’s my favourite. I had her climb to the top of the couch-back where she jumped around, lost her wig, put it on backwards, freaked out because she couldn’t see, and screamed for help.
My granddaughter sighed, rolled her eyes, and said in her firmest no-nonsense 4-year-old voice, “Oh Snow White, get a grip of yourself.”
Snow White made less of an ass of herself after that.
Here’s to the last snow white day in January. And getting a grip when we need to.
There was a childhood game we played on our front lawn at the farm, on warm sunny afternoons when a sufficient number of cousins showed up to join us. It was better than Simon Says, Hide and Seek, Red Light or Mother May I, although we gave all of those a thorough going over too.
If this game had a name, I don’t remember what it was. Everyone played a role, and the ‘play’ had a predictable plot that hardly varied. And yet we repeated it over and over. There was a parent (usually a mother), a wicked old witch, and the rest of the cast were the children.
The mother gave each of her children a name, based on some previously agreed upon category, the most popular being ‘fruits’. These names were not shared with the witch, so Blueberry, Banana, Lemon and Purple Grape had to keep their identities to themselves.
After making the following little speech –
“I’m going down town to smoke my pipe and I won’t be back until Saturday night – DON’T LET THE OLD WITCH IN!” –
the mother would saunter off to the sidelines leaving her children home alone (on the front veranda) to fend for themselves.
Enter the old witch center stage, respectfully knocking on the door and asking to come in. Well of course the children say no because they are good little children who always do what mother says. Then the witch explains to them that she is making a pie and needs to borrow some fruit. Do you have any apples, she might ask. She continues to guess until she hits on the name of one of the children, and then off that child must go (across the lawn to the snowball bush beside the lily pond) to where the wicked witch resides. Here the witch changes the child’s name to a category of her own choosing – birds, for instance, and Blueberry might become Sea Gull in the blink of an old witch’s eye.
Mother saunters home, noticing immediately that one of her children is missing. The kids are afraid to tell her the truth and make up various stories as to where their sibling might be, but eventually they have to admit that the old witch got her.
Mother and children don’t learn much from this, and keep repeating the same mistakes of going down town and answering the door until all the children have been kidnapped by the witch and all their names have been changed.
Now it’s the mother’s job to march across the lawn to the snowball bush to confront the witch with her crime. The witch tells her that the only way to get her children back is by guessing their new names. There are no fruits here, only birds. If mom looks ready to give up, the kids or the witch can give her hints. Maybe the witch is having second thoughts about all these kids cluttering up her living space and making all that noise.
One by one the children are released and returned to the front veranda, renamed as farm animals this time, and on the game goes until all of them begin to suffer from identity crisis issues and start asking – “hey, wait, who am I again??”
Why did we love this game so much? Why was the mother so negligent, and the witch considered wicked? She was just taking abandoned children to a safe place after all and never harmed them. Unless naming someone Watermelon can be considered a horrible thing.
I know there are many variations of this game, although the pipe smoking rhyme seems to be the one thing that doesn’t change. Did you ever play this? Or was there another childhood game that you loved and will never forget?
After 41 years of being married to W (42 in November if we both live that long) I totally understand how you might think of me as a relationship guru with all the answers when it comes to making commitments that last. I often think of myself that way. And then I give myself a good smack on the forehead and come back to earth for a while. Because really, who knows why some relationships last a lifetime and others are just practice runs for something better? We’re all different, and we all relate to each other in different ways.
This is an excellent challenge for all the Bloggers for Peace, and for anyone who is now or has ever been in any kind of relationship, wants to end an old or start a new relationship, or wonders if relationships are all they’re cracked up to be or worth the effort it takes to maintain them. So that covers pretty much every human being on earth.
Every one of us has our own individual recipe for a peaceful home with a list of ingredients that makes relationships with others work for us. It should never be carved in stone. We grow, we change, we evolve. My personal formula for happiness is in constant revision. At this particular moment in time, these are some of the things that work for me. If I come back and read this post in five years time and wonder how I could have been such an idiot, that’s probably a good thing. It means I’ve learned something new and changed, hopefully for the better.
Okay! Here we go. Grandmalin’s Relationship Advice Column.What makes a peaceful relationship and what you can do to become a better partner. Because there is nothing else in life I enjoy more than telling people what to do.
1. Make peace with yourself first. You have to create your own happiness first before you can share it with someone else. There is no one out there who can make you happy. That’s your job. Another person can help bring out the best in you, but the best has to be there in the first place. There are also no positive relationships with emotionally unavailable people. If the people you’re currently hanging around with are not happy, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. If you and your significant other have grown in different directions and can no longer connect or appreciate each other, by all means consider that it may be the right time for both of you to move on.
This is number one on my list because it cannot be stressed enough. When you love yourself and are at peace with who you are, that love will spill over into all your relationships with your family and your friends and with every one you meet. And it will open your heart to receive the peace and the love that comes back to you.
2. Don’t try to change each other. Go bang your head against a brick wall instead. It will get the same results. Accept, adapt, acknowledge. Change and growth cannot be forced. Overlook the little things that bug you, because they really don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, and work on your own reactions to them instead. Don’t nag, don’t harass. You could maybe try crying and pleading, and see if that works. But don’t get your hopes up. Sometimes you just have to readjust your expectations and carry on.
3. Speak up/Communicate. Unless you are both mind readers, you will have to talk to each other. Express your own feelings instead of trying to make the other person feel something. Saying “I care deeply about what is happening” means “I care deeply about you.”
4. Shut up/Listen. Unless you are both mind readers, you will have to really hear what is being said to you. Don’t blame, don’t judge until you’ve truly listened with empathy and compassion. Everyone wants and deserves to be heard.
5. Admit that you don’t know everything. Because, hey – you don’t know everything. Confess when you mess up. Step back when you are angry. One person should not get to be the boss all the time. Not even you. Apologize when you need to and don’t stay mad.
6. Slow down. Life is short and should be savoured at a leisurely pace. What’s your hurry, anyway? You’ll get to the end of it soon enough. Be patient with each other. Enjoy the learning process together. Shoot for less drama and more calm. Work through the issues. Be strong enough as a team to weather every storm.
7. Be kind. Keep your promises. Each of you deserves to be seen and heard, loved and appreciated. Be grateful for the time and energy and tolerance it takes to support a loving relationship. Be supportive and helpful and happy for each other’s successes. When you fall flat on your face it’s nice to have someone around to help you pick yourself up. Be that someone for the people you love.
8. Give each other lots of space. Respect the other persons right to do things on their own, to make their own decisions and their own mistakes. You may be a couple, but you are still both individuals working hard on whatever it takes for you to be the best you can be, investing time and energy in your own personal growth. Sometimes we simply need someone to be there, not to fix anything or even to do anything in particular, but just to stand beside us so that we know we are cared for and loved.
9. Play. Have fun. Laugh. Be silly. Life does not have to be so serious. Spend part of every day being a bit wild and crazy. See how that feels. Pretty good, hey? Do it again tomorrow.
10. Never forget why you fell in love in the first place. The older you get, the harder it may be for you to recall what the hell you were thinking. Just remember, your relationship does not define you and it does not own you. You are now, and forever will be, yourself, living your own life. But since you’ve decided for now that you’re in this together, don’t stop working on your relationship and everything that makes it sweet.
Love yourself, give love, receive love, be in love. Practice, practice, practice. That’s how peace happens.
Wu wei, or non-doing, is a Taoist practice involving letting one’s action follow the simple and spontaneous course of nature rather than interfering with the harmonious working of universal law by imposing arbitrary and artificial forms. In other words, it is the action of non-action.
“As the planets revolve around the sun, they “do” this revolving, but without “doing” it. As trees grow, they simply grow without trying to grow. Thus knowing how and when to act is not knowledge in the sense that one would think, “now I should do this,” but rather just doing it, doing the natural thing. The goal of spiritual practice for the human being is, according to Laozi, the attainment of this natural way of behaving.” – Wikipedia
I don’t know about your world, but mine is full of workaholics who have forgotten how to relax. They get anxious and restless if they’re not doing something. When they have problems they try to fix them by getting to their root to make the changes that will resolve them. Sometimes there is no solution, and that makes them crazy.
They want rules and guidelines and proper methods of doing things and strict adherence to the rules. They probably wrote a book of rules that tells us how to follow the rules. They feel perfectly justified in throwing a fit when someone else has a different stupid rule that doesn’t agree with their much superior ones. They rarely take the time to consider how they actually feel about anything because they’re just too busy doing what they think they’re supposed to be doing and they’ve got deadlines to meet and a schedule to keep and fun is something they’ve put on hold.
These people believe that everyone exists as a separate being, full of power and might, and thus able to exercise wilful control over everything that happens to them. The strong survive, and the winner takes all. I suppose they believe this is normal, natural behaviour. They may say they are looking for peace and harmony and balance, but their forceful and unnatural methods aren’t working out so well.
Wu wei refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the cycles of the natural world we are a part of, where we are connected to every other living thing. It is a kind of “going with the flow” that is characterized by great ease, so that without even trying we’re able to respond perfectly to whatever situation arises. It doesn’t mean wandering around aimlessly, or being lazy or passive or inert (although that sounds pretty good to me too.) It means listening to the intelligence of our bodies and our emotions as well as our brains, not swimming against the current or going against the grain. It means being spontaneous and natural and doing things simply because we feel like doing them and because they feel right. It means being kind and helpful and loving until we don’t remember how to be any other way.
There will always be problems to solve and issues to deal with and conflicts to resolve. I think I’ve been practicing some version of Wu wei without even knowing it, because I’ve always found the best thing to do initially when faced with a problem is nothing. Leave things alone. Let the natural process take its course. Unless it’s an urgent life or death situation, in which case I guess I could probably drum up the ambition to dial 911.
But if I’m confused and stressed about a nagging problem and don’t know what to do, I don’t do anything. I wait, I watch, I see what happens next. This doesn’t mean the problem is ignored or that I’m pretending I’m not aware of it, it means I’m giving the situation a time out until I can think more clearly about it and make a decision I can act on and not regret, without making things worse in the meantime. Many problems can be solved by time alone. Lots of times things will fall into place on their own.
So slow down. Be patient. Relax. A little non action may be good for the soul. Sit still awhile, and just be.
Starting over in time is not possible no matter how fervently you might wish for it. Time marches on, and do-overs of your past are nothing more than head games. Stop torturing yourself with regrets, wondering how things might have turned out if you had done them differently. You can’t change where you’ve been, but you can start now and head off in a different and better direction. Starting over means starting from where you are now. Here’s a starting over list to get you started.
1. You can’t go back and start your childhood over again. For one thing, your parents are too old for that now and would never be able to keep up with you. And it’s just too difficult to find onsies in your size.
But you can still build a fort out of the couch cushions, color a picture with your crayons and tack it up on your fridge, or leap from one piece of furniture to another to avoid the lava and the monsters whenever you feel like it. Try not to break your neck – you’re not five years old anymore. But no matter what age you are, it’s still okay to cry when things go wrong. You can still laugh hard and play hard and love with all your heart.
2. You can never take back the words you’ve spoken, or written, or sent by text. Once they’ve left your mouth or your pen or your fingers, they will forever belong to whoever heard or read them. They have power. Will they be hurtful or helpful? It’s not possible to un-say something, so try very hard to get it right the first time. When all else fails, blame temporary insanity and auto-correct.
3. You can’t unbreak things. But you can try to mend them. As in the case of ‘hearts’ for instance. But if we’re talking about some piece of crap junk that never worked right in the first place, save yourself some grief and agony and get a new one. It’s only a thing. It won’t hold a grudge.
4. Baking cannot be unburned. But there are windows you can open to let the smoke out.
5. If you are a parent who has your childs best interests at heart, you still will not always do or be what they need most. Forgive yourself. You are human and you will make mistakes. Learn from both your kids and your blunders, start over from here and try to do better.
6. If it’s not possible to start over in a new job, start making small changes that will help to make your present job easier. You can’t change the people you work with, but you can change the way you act and react with them. You can change your attitude. I’m not suggesting it’s easy to do that, but I am telling you it’s not impossible.
7. You might not be in a financial position to burn your house down and rebuild it, but you can start over in one room, or in one small section of a room, and renovate and reorganize and revamp until you’re so happy with the results you want to spend all your home time in that exact spot. Well, you know, within reason. Hopefully we’re not discussing a closet here.
8. It may be a little late in your life to start over with a brand new career, but it is never too late to learn a new skill or to change the path you’re on. It’s never too late to teach someone else the things you know.
9. You can’t start over from the beginning and have a better relationship with somebody. And it’s a very sad thing to discover that the person you wanted to be closer to has suddenly gone from your life and that you will never have the chance to work on that relationship and to know him better. Learn, learn, learn from this. Don’t wait for the bond to miraculously form on its own, start working on it now.
10. You can never start over and take better school pictures of yourself and change that geeky face that only a mother could love. You can’t re-write your high school year books or change who your friends were or any of the decisions you made as a young adult. But you can learn to love the person you were, and know that the choices you made then are the reasons you have become who you are now.
Right this minute, tomorrow morning, next week – you can start over from wherever you happen to be. The changes do not have to be sudden or tumultuous. Second chances and new beginnings can start small, and from deep within.
This is where you’ve landed – now spread your wings and fly.
Last night I had an unforgetable dining experience. I was catered to by five industrious people right in the comfort of my own basement.
I learned about this new eatery – The Bakery Down Town – when a hand printed flyer was personally delivered to me in my living room. It said to come on down and eat there – it’s great! Well I am a sucker for skillful advertising. I decided to check it out, and went just as I was. Good thing there was no rule banning bare feet and that no one seemed at all concerned when I arrived without any real money.
At the bottom of the stairs a sign directed me to “Go to the Front Desk Before Anything Else”. The front desk turned out to be way in the back, but I found it anyway. It had a sign written in red pen which said “Open, Come In, Come In.” I thought I was already in, but apparently not. Another sign advised me of the names and duties of all the “employese“. Kenzie – front desk. Kale – art worker and boss. Omayja – hostess and waitress. Madison – chef. Corey – janitor. (Well, somebody’s got to clean up the mess.)
I was handed a menu and a customer comment sheet and a pen. Then I was directed around some furniture to a skipping rope strung between a chair and a doorknob and ceremoniously allowed to cross to the other side. This took a few minutes because somebody had tied a few too many knots.
At last I was seated at my table and allowed to read the menu. I’m going to share it with you just so you’ll know how difficult it was for me to make my choices.
– Spiced and cooked onions (you can get them unspiced)
– Salad (with anything on it) – Dried Fruit (any type) – Noodles (any type)
– Fruit Smoothies – Ice Creamy Shakes – Juice (any type)
– Water – Pancakes – French Toast – Eggs and Toast
I rattled off several random menu items, but my waitress got frustrated trying to write them all down. She said she’d just go and get it all by remembering. I told her that would be fine. The Boss popped in to set the mood for a pleasant dining experience and asked me if I liked Lady Gaga. He didn’t stick around for an answer so I don’t know what song it was, but it was definitely her.
The service was very fast, and the presentation quite fascinating. I needed help with identification in a few cases and everyone, including the janitor, seemed eager to help me out. A lot of the food resembled shiny plastic, but most of it was hand crafted from something that looked a lot like moon sand, in a rainbow of colours, on various mismatched plates and platters.
I had hardly stopped ooohing and aahhing over it all before I was being urged to fill out the comment card. The rating scale was (1) bad, (2) okay, (3) not bad, (4) very good, and (5) the best. There were instructions to rate the cooking, cleaning, deep-frying and manners. I gave them all a 10 and five messy red stars. Then I had to say what I liked best, and I told them I was thrilled to get the best table in the house. Would I come again? You bet. Did I think they should have more ABATIZERS? Well, it couldn’t hurt.
So what do you do after a delicious dinner at a fancy new restaurant? Well, you see a movie, of course. Right in the establishments dining room. With REAL popcorn. (That moon sand stuff is kind of dry.) I invited the whole crew. It was the least I could do to reward all their hard work. Seeing as how I didn’t bring a tip and all.
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