Stop Comparing

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” (Oscar Wilde)

LLV1I have a friend who hates her hair. It’s lank and lifeless (her words), and the color is “boring brown” (again, her description). I consider her hair to be perfectly fine and never think about it until she starts bemoaning its inadequacy. When she meets someone, the very first thing she notices about them is their hair—and it’s always so much nicer than hers.

Another friend hates her teeth. When she laughs or smiles, she compresses her lips or covers her mouth, so people won’t notice her crooked teeth. I never notice her teeth, unless she draws my attention to them, and then I think they’re just fine. Imperfect teeth add a bit of character to a face (look at some of the finest British actors).

For me, it’s thigh-gap. For as long as I can remember, among the first things I notice about another person is whether there is space between their inner thighs when they’re standing or walking. I covet the notion of skinny thighs in skinny jeans. That’s because I’ve never had them and never, ever will. Even during those rare periods of my life when I was almost thinnish, my thighs were solid tree trunks, rubbing together like balloons in a Mylar birthday bouquet.

We notice and want what we don’t have. I have no particular complaints about my teeth or my hair, so I simply don’t notice what my friends always see first. Continue reading

Countering the Floridation of America

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” (Harry S Truman)

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Florida Sunset

No, I’m not talking about fluoride, the naturally occurring mineral added to local water systems to fight tooth decay. I’m talking about the southern state whose governor and legislature are bent on promoting truth decay.

A few years back, under a different governor, the lawmakers of the great state of Florida banned the use of the terms “climate change,” “global warming,” or “sustainability” in any official communications, emails, or reports. Now, they have passed what is being called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which forbids discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary classrooms.

In recent days, the Florida legislature has also passed the “Stop WOKE Act,” designed to protect its sensitive residents from being made uncomfortable by the truth. Thus, it prohibits the teaching of history about race, identity, events, or circumstances that some might find unpleasant. Further, it restricts private corporations or businesses from offering diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings, as well, potentially, as sexual harassment trainings, if they cause discomfort.” Wounded employees could actually sue their employers for the distress. (And they call us snowflakes? Just sayin’.)

Having nixed critical race theory, and surely turning their attention now to Covid denial and sea-level-rise repudiation, conversational topics in the Sunshine State are becoming limited.

Pretty soon, Floridians will find approved conversation limited to orange juice (a wholesome breakfast beverage, as long as it’s made only from Florida oranges, and not those progressive California upstarts) and Mickey Mouse. Actually, they’re on the fence about Mickey. Despite his ambiguous voice, he is almost certainly a heterodent, Continue reading

It’s Time to Get Started

“Try to make your time matter: minutes and hours and days and weeks can blow away like dead leaves, with nothing to show but time you spent not quite ever doing things, or time you spent waiting to begin.” ~Neil Gaiman

LLV3[While kindness has been and will remain one of the most important lessons of my life—and one I continue to learn daily—lately, I’ve been thinking about other lessons life has taught me. And I’ve become increasingly aware of the lessons that no longer serve and need to be “unlearned.” Like many writers who say they write to find out what they think, writing is how I make sense of my world. Periodically, I plan to explore some of my life lessons here. I invite you to share some of your own.]

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to make a promise to yourself and how hard it can be to keep it? Whether it’s writing that book, losing those ten pounds, exercising daily, or withholding judgment, it’s always easier to think about doing something than to actually do it.

Years ago, I heard these wise words from Michael Broome: “Commitment means continuing to do what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has passed.”

Without commitment, we are dilettantes—we dabble at life, easily distracted by the next shiny object that catches our fancy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Having wide and multiple interests creates curious and well-rounded personalities. But there’s a difference between flitting among attractions and recognizing what calls to us.

For many of us, there comes a time when, from among all the possibilities surrounding us, one or more pursuits captivate us. “This,” we say, “is where I want to invest my time and energy. This is what makes my heart soar.” Continue reading

That Special Occasion Is Today

“Don’t die with your best song still unsung.” ~Anonymous

LLV2

[While kindness has been and will remain one of the most important lessons of my life—and one I continue to learn daily—lately, I’ve been thinking about other lessons life has taught me. And I’ve become increasingly aware of the lessons that no longer serve and need to be “unlearned.” Like many writers who say they write to find out what they think, writing is how I make sense of my world. Periodically, I plan to explore some of my life lessons here. I invite you to share some of your own.]

I’m finally learning to use and enjoy the things I love—without worrying about whether I might break them, wear them out, or use them up. Growing up, I somehow ingested a notion that special things were to be saved for special occasions:

“We only use those dishes when we have company.”

“Those are your good shoes. You can’t wear them for everyday.”

For years—even long after I was out on my own—I didn’t wear the favorite sweater to go grocery shopping or just around the house. I didn’t serve dinner for only the two of us on the pretty china with the blue flowers, or pour water, lemonade, or wine into the delicate crystal glasses. I refrained from writing in the exquisite hand-sewn journal a dear friend gave me because my scribblings were just too mundane for such a gorgeous book.

But somewhere along the way—finally—it occurred to me that the sweater wasn’t made to spend its life in a drawer, the china and crystal would give us pleasure and maybe even psychologically elevate the quality of my mediocre cooking. And if I didn’t think my writing or my thoughts were worthy of a lovely journal (and a good pen to write with), then what kind of timid, phony writer am I? If I fill it up with my thoughts—however jumbled or humdrum—I can get another. I’m worth it. Continue reading

Not the New Year Message I Hoped to Write

I haven’t posted on this blog for three months. There are multiple reasons—none of them good. I’ve been busy … I’ve been at work on other projects … I’ve been frustrated by WordPress’s new editing format … I’ve been discouraged by the state of the world. All true, but each insufficient.

There is something I am burning to say that will not coalesce into sentences with verbs and nouns and proper punctuation. Instead, I sputter and rage. I seem to have traded my Pollyanna tendencies for those of Nostradamus, or perhaps Eeyore.

Prophet of doom is not who I am. Yet I shiver to think of where we may be this time next year. And two years after that.

Over the last five years, I’ve realized just how much I took for granted about my country. How much I failed to see—whether from ignorance, naïveté, or because I was looking in the wrong direction. I knew my country was imperfect—that inequality and injustice were far too prevalent—but I believed enough of us cared and wanted to work together to build a more perfect union.

I wish I could say I still believe that.

Continue reading