Promises, Promises

 

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Usually I start thinking about possible New Year’s resolutions right after Thanksgiving so I’ll be prepared, but I don’t have to take them seriously because any promises made right after a major holiday are null and void.  This applies to resolutions made before a major holiday, too, so between Halloween and New Year’s Day, I’m good.

Changes in behavior have to start on a Monday that falls on the first of the month, but only if the weather is nice and the moon is full.  That’s a known fact!  Otherwise, it’s okay to wait until the following month (or year, or holiday, or whenever).  January 1, 2018 would have been an awesome day to start those serious changes that I want to make.  It was not only a Monday, but the beginning of a month, the beginning of a brand new year, the weather was reasonably nice for New England this time of year, and the moon was full.

My motivation for not making  any specific resolutions was based on the fact that for most of my adult life I have listened to the fake newsreel in my head convincing me that “next Monday,” “next month,” “on my birthday,” “after the holiday,” definitely will change, and “this time it will really work.”  In the meantime, of course, it’s okay to continue the same behaviors, because changing any old time is just not possible!

As Dr. Phil always asks:  “How’s that working for you?”  Not so well would have to be my honest answer.  Barely a week into the New Year, and evidence is mounting that my decision not to make resolutions hasn’t worked any better than making them.  Clearly, I needed to reconsider and make at least a few serious resolutions.  But “which ones? how many? when do I start?  My head aches, I’ll think about that tomorrow.”  So imagine my excitement when I opened my news feed this morning to a New York Times article titled:  “9 Ways to Be a Better Person in 2018.”

“Here’s what we’ve learned about living your best life in 2018, using lessons from some of our most-read Styles stories of 2017.  We encourage you to be a better prepared, less anxious and more showered person in the new year. ”                                                                                                       Anya Strzemien, 12/28/17

Jackpot!!

  •  Make your bed.  I can do that.  Heck, I already do.  Check!
  • Wear weather appropriate shoes.  I do that, too.  What do I look SOREL Women's Caribou Boot Size 11 - Bufflike?  A high school student waiting for the bus in a snowstorm wearing flip flops?  Laugh at my big clunky Sorrel boots if you want to, but my feet are warm and dry.  Check!
  • Wash Your Hair.  Pretty sure I learned this one at an early age, but I guess it’s never a bad thing to include on a better person list.  Check!
  • Schedule Sex.  I know we are a nation of over-scheduled, multi-tasking, device-dependent maniacs.  But maybe a better idea than adding a sex appointment to your iPhone would be to let intimacy grow from the experience of being together sharing a quiet evening, and actually talking face-to-face.  Besides, SIRI does not want to know that you plan to do the deed on Saturday night.
  • Accept the things you cannot control.  As a philosophy this is a good idea.  However, I believe there are some things that should never be accepted, even if they are clearly not under my control.  Taking this one seriously involves self-understanding and discipline.  I am generally able to do this, but will keep working on it.  Check!
  • Distract yourself with a fairy tale.  I’ve done this too much in my life, so no check here.  It’s fine to indulge in some royal-watching or brief fantasies of winning the lottery, but I think I have to pass on this one as a way to become a better person.
  • grandma-2234070_640Embrace your age.  Absolutely, without a doubt.  I have earned every grey hair, every wrinkle.   Not too crazy about the arthritis, weakening eyes and ears, and other common problems of aging.  But it’s good to be here, no matter what shape I’m in.  Check, check and double check!
  • Pack condoms.  Seriously?  Doesn’t this belong in the scheduling section?  I was forced to go back and read the whole article to figure out the purpose of this one (beyond the obvious, that is).  Turns out it was one small item in a long article about survivalists preparing for an apocalypse.  Apparently condoms can be used (beyond the obvious) as “makeshift canteens, a fire starter, elastic bands for an improvised slingshot to hunt small game,…inflated they can also be used as fishing bobbers or signaling devices for semaphore,….”  Give me a break here.  Wouldn’t balloons do the trick?  Sorry, but this one sounds like that old excuse about buying Playboy to read the articles.  Yeah, right.
  • If you suffer a setback, just keep going–and going out.  This article was about Hillary Clinton and how she responded after her loss of the election in 2016.  Overall it’s a good philosophy, but needs to be put into context.  Some setbacks are serious and the old stiff-upper-lip response is not a healthy one.  Still, I’ll put a check here to keep myself from over-dramatizing small setbacks or using them as an excuse to postpone doing what needs to be done.

While commenting on this list was fun, I don’t believe that most of these items would make me, or anyone else, a better person. Perhaps more organized, or less anxious, or prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse!

Becoming a better person has much more to do with how we treat people (particularly those who are weak and dependent on the kindness of others), about the choices we make that affect the health and welfare of this planet and all the creatures who call it home, and in the way we engage with those whose backgrounds and beliefs differ from our own.

Instead of making the same recurring resolutions that I mostly don’t keep, I think I will just make a greater effort to live by those important values that make the world a better and safer place for everyone.

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©Martha Hurwitz, 1/6/18
Pictures from Pixabay

 

 

 

What is Truth?

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The endless arguments between people who believe ABC and those who believe XYZ  can get a bit confusing.  To be helpful I decided to list some of the most common foundations for these arguments.  The first part of this post is unprofessional and occasionally snarky, my take on the types of people who might rely on that particular foundation. It’s just to provide a few chuckles about a situation we’ve all been in–trapped by someone who is RIGHT, by-god, and don’t you forget it!

I heard it on the news, so it must be true!  These are the folks you see buying the Enquirer at the local grocery store.  Sometimes they don’t actually buy it, but you can be sure they are memorizing the headlines after they have unloaded their groceries on the conveyor belt.  Those of us who consider ourselves above such written garbage are confidently sneering internally and thanking god (the REAL one) that we know better than to believe such nonsense.  (But, seriously, wouldn’t it be a hoot if aliens had really taken over the US Government?)

Everybody knows that.  Some people know “Everybody,” who is a close relative of “Somebody,” only with multiple personality disorder. They are tuned into some vague matrix of information that provides them with infallible truth about “Everything,” which is a close cousin of “Nothing.”  When relying on this argument, they indicate that you are either pretty stupid, way out of the loop, not too popular, or a combination of all three.  None of us want to be unpopular, so the temptation to buy into those things that “everybody knows” is hard to resist.

My best friend told me.  She wouldn’t lie to me. This is a variant of “everybody knows that,” except it has much more clout, because this is first-hand information provided by someone who places truth at the top of the list.  Certainly that was also true of the friend’s best friend, who learned it from her aunt, who heard it from her best friend, who read it in the Enquirer.  Unfortunately by the time it filters down to you, it’s gone through the modern version of “Telephone,” which is called “Twitter.”  (Wouldn’t it be a hoot if the US Government used Twitter to keep us all updated on “Alternative Facts,” which is closely related to “Alternative Truth?”)

I know nothing about this subject, but can spit out insults that will curl your hair.  This person could rightfully be called a gladiator for the truth.  He lives in a very comfortable echo chamber and is not at all interested in moving.  Besides U-Haul doesn’t rent a moving van big enough to haul the mountains of theories (mostly listed under “conspiracy”) that this person holds dear, and will fight to the death to defend.  The Roman Emperors may have been extremely proud of the Colosseum, but they would die of envy over Facebook and Twitter.  The gladiator for the truth believes that any polite and rational discussion on any subject is a death ray pointed directly at him and everything he holds dear.  When facing a death ray, it is really hard to think clearly because the adrenaline is taking over your brain, so resorting to playground insults–upgraded to “X”–is the only option.  (Wouldn’t it be a hoot if there really was a death ray that the US Government could use to protect us from all our enemies?  A special type of death ray that would only obliterate our enemies, but not leave a scratch on us?) elegant-1769669_640God said…..  Now, I am going to rein in my snarky attitude and irreverence.  I try very hard not to be disrespectful of religious beliefs, unless they are clearly harmful.  The human tendency to be especially passionate about religion is not restricted to any one culture, and there are fanatics and rigid thinkers in all of them.  The most common argument seems to be between those who “believe” in science, and those who “believe” in literal interpretations of whatever scripture they think contains the truth.  Because this is an area that many of us struggle with, I want to share something I once read in a novel that made a lot of sense to me.

I do not remember the name of the book or the author, so I cannot give credit where it is due.  But this is the back story:  A young man is studying to be a rabbi, but he is experiencing a great deal of uncertainty and doubt.  He is particularly confused by the story of Creation, which he cannot reconcile with modern scientific “theory.”  He seeks the counsel of a learned Rabbi and this is (as best I remember it) what the Rabbi said:  “Torah is not meant to teach us what we can learn through our own God-given intelligence.  It is meant to teach us what our spiritual responsibilities are to that which is sacred–ourselves, each other, our world and God.”

I do not think there is ultimately any conflict between science and religion.  They are simply different languages by which we understand and communicate our experience of this world.

 

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 12/12/17
Inspired by daily prompt:  theory

Please Take My Place!

 

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I do my civic duty by voting faithfully in all elections, even those small town ones where there is only one candidate for dogcatcher or cemetery commissioner.  I vote for that one person because, seriously, I admire anyone who is willing to stand up and make our town a better place by making sure dogs don’t mosey around and use my lawn to do their business, or more important make sure the dead stay buried.  (Anyone who lives in a small town knows that keeping control of the skeletons is a very important job.)

But, please don’t start talking to me about formal procedures.  Just hearing the phrase  “Robert’s Rules of Order,” makes me break out in hives and my heart rate accelerate to a dangerous level.  This caused a problem when I agreed to be president of my religious organization because now I have to run the board meetings.  I’m proud to say that I’ve learned to ask for a motion, a second and a vote on all the important issues, but I’m still pretty sure that Robert is turning in his grave.  (I’ll call the cemetery commissioner in the morning!)

Honest disclosure:  I do not often attend town meetings, committee hearings, local political conventions, and so on.  I admire people who do and feel appropriately guilty because I do not do so.  It’s on my list of things I should change about myself, but that list is so long that attending these meetings didn’t even make it to the top ten.

Back when my children were still in school, I did go to a very important town meeting about building a new middle school building and the taxes that would be necessary to fund it.  I probably would have weaseled out of that meeting too, but my 80+ year old mother said that by-god she was going because it involved her grandchildren’s future.  If I hadn’t driven her there, she probably would have walked the mile to the town hall and how would that have looked to all my nosy neighbors?

The best meeting that I attended, though, was way back when I first moved to town and was full of excitement about making myself an important resident, committed to the town’s well-being and willing to sacrifice my time and energy to help out.  I don’t remember the subject being discussed that night, but clearly it was of critical importance because it was well-attended and had to be held in a different building to accommodate the crowd.

The meeting was long and contentious, and people were starting to get cranky.  In the tradition of legalese and governmental obfuscation, the item being voted on was phrased in such a way that it was difficult to know which  way to vote.  Finally, one very exasperated old-timer stood up and yelled out:

“You mean if I’m for it, I vote agin it; and if I’m agin it, I vote for it?”

That about sums it up for me.

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 11/4/17
Inspired by Daily Prompt: proxy

Things I Want to Know – Definitions

 

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This is a companion piece to a recent post that poked fun at some of the things that drive me crazy about the loved ones with whom I share daily life.

I am back on the soapbox I have constructed over 30 years of being wife, mother and woman of the house. It may be technically impossible, but I have managed to create a soapbox with only one side.  That side would be MINE!

So, my dear ones, when you say the following, I think you must have a native language I do not know about. Either that or you revised the English dictionary and forgot to get me a copy for my birthday.

“A few minutes….”  This usually appears in a request such as “Can you come out to the garage and help me for a few minutes?” What I need to know is this. Should I just put on my boots and come out to the garage? Should I go the bathroom, put on my boots, and come out to the garage? Or, should I review my will, call the kids to tell them I love them, pack a small suitcase, go to the bathroom, put on my boots, and come out to the garage?

“On your way home….”  This is a phrase that proves your general understanding of directions and the roads that go between home, work, and the farm store is not up to GPS standards. It is a hard concept to construct in words.  Perhaps this map will help clarify.

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If you call me at work and ask if I would be willing to go to the farm store before I come home, you would probably get an affirmative answer. Admittedly it might include loud sighing or a snarky tone indicating that you have no idea how tired I am after a hard day at work.  Still, it’s likely that I would be willing to do it.  But when you start with “On your way home……,” I get an uneasy feeling that you’re trying to sweet talk me and hoping I don’t realize that the farm store is not, on any map of this universe, on my way home!

“Temporary…”  This is a word that can be applied to any length of time.  It means something different depending on the context. Life is temporary, for sure, but its span is hopefully a long one. Seasons are temporary, their length and character determined by where on the earth they are being marked.  When a doctor says the medical procedure she is about to do will cause temporary pain, well, we all know what that means!

I accept that the word temporary doesn’t need to be specified in most cases. I am fairly flexible in that regard.  But when you pile dirty rags, smelly solvents, and greasy tools on the kitchen counter and tell me it’s just temporary, I need a number!

 

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 9/16/17

Things I Want You to Know

puzzle-210786_640As much as I love you, my dear family members, here are some things I want you to know. You have possibly not heard them before because……

I am too polite.
I was raised to be accommodating.
It’s my job to make everybody happy.
You weren’t listening anyway.
It’s just easier to do it myself!

However, please memorize the following:

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I am not a GPS system designed to locate your iPhone, glasses, the television remote, or whatever else you may have misplaced in the last 10 minutes.

 

I’m not sure what you can eat for lunch.  I presume food, but what do I know?

Dishes normally do not fill the sink with soapy water, jump in and wash themselves.

trash-313711_640My name is not “somebody,” as in “Somebody needs to take out the garbage.”

It is not my responsibility to identify the takeout you saved in the refrigerator, that now smells like the back end of a mule.  It really isn’t my responsibility to take it out of the refrigerator and get rid of it, either.  I just do it because if I don’t there will soon be a whole pack of mules back there.

I am sure our marriage vows did not include never letting you forget anything important, because if they had, I would have forgotten to agree to it.

I do not know why “my” son or daughter do stupid things, but “our” children are so amazing!

It is really not okay to wipe up the kitchen floor with the dish sponge.

Even though my pocketbook is large, it is not my responsibility to carry things.  All of you are strong enough to carry your own stuff.  (I would have used another word beginning with “s,” but this is a G-rated post.)  If you don’t want to carry it, you don’t really want it!

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I do appreciate you all doing your own laundry, but probably I did not sufficiently explain a few related concepts:

Putting dirty clothes in the washing machine implies that you are going to wash them. It is not your personal clothes hamper. When the dryer has finished, the clothes actually need to be folded and put away because a laundry basket on the bathroom floor is not your bureau either.

I’m sorry to say, but the upset stomach you have as a result of eating a half dozen cookies, a pint of ice cream and half a bag of potato chips is not the same as labor pains, kidney stones or a ruptured disc!book-912723_640

I swear that I fully support a person’s right to privacy, and since you are all over 21 not everything you do is my business.  But when you leave your bills, bank statements, love letters or iPhone open to Facebook on the kitchen counter, all bets are off.

My friends in the blogging community probably have many more ideas to contribute. If so, I would love to hear them.

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 8/31/17

 

 

 

Lunching Through Life

I should probably drink a second mug of coffee prior to checking on the daily word prompt.  This morning I was convinced the subject was “lunch.” My morning read includes some of the responses from other bloggers, partly to get my brain cells firing, but also because I’ve discovered some interesting new blogs that way.

LurchImagine my surprise when confronted with this image:

Lately, I’ve been a bit uneasy when wanting to write more personal thoughts that might seem frivolous or insignificant.  It feels unseemly given the state of the world to write anything that isn’t serious and insightful regarding current events, or at the very least inspirational and encouraging.  I’m reminded of my mental and emotional conflict while in the initial grieving period after the deaths of my parents. I would find myself chuckling over a good joke or the antics of my children, or would realize I was mindlessly watching some sitcom and laughing at the inane and worn-out humor. But then my inner Emily Post would scold:  “Your mother died just two weeks ago, and you’re laughing?  Have some respect!!” I believe, however, that one powerful way to counter grief or the overwhelming negativity that characterizes so much of our current public discourse is to rejoice in our humor, our creativity, our shared human foibles and quirks and to give them full expression. So, I’m sticking with “lunch.”

brunch-154850_640When I retired a few years back, some friends told me “Now you can be one of the ‘ladies who lunch’.” Familiar with the song, I briefly thought they were predicting retirement would change me from a hard-working, sober woman into a booze-soaked slacker sliding off her bar stool at high noon.

person-1081159_640Surely they were joking, and what I have become is a better version of myself. I have learned to identify more clearly and speak more gently my own truths. I have been visited by dreams that were waiting patiently while I worked and married, raised children and grew older.

One of my youthful dreams was that I would someday be a female Hemingway (I’m pretty sure there is a bar stool somewhere in that scenario). I would live exuberantly as an ex-pat in Cuba or Greece (or some other not-Yankee American, exotic place), crafting powerfully written and wildly successful books that would take the world by storm.

Clearly that didn’t happen.  I made choices that took me down different roads.  But still, I have finally begun to write.  I don’t think any published author, dead or alive, is in much danger of serious competition from me.  But this is my version of ladies who lunch, and I am satisfied.

 

 

©Martha Hurwitz, 8/21/17

Inspired by Daily Word Prompt: lurch

 

 

 

 

 

What Category Am I In, Anyway?

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Anyone who slogs their way through this post will be treated to a road map of how my mind works.  (Some will likely argue that it is more evidence that my mind doesn’t work, but I won’t dignify that argument with a response!)

The word prompt led me to consider how much of myself I have hidden over the years and the many stories and experiences that most people keep close and don’t easily share with others.  Being visually-oriented, the image that came to mind was “iceberg.” Anyone who has watched a PBS special on climate change and the Polar Ice Cap knows that the mammoth part that is visible above the water is minuscule compared to the mass of ice that supports it beneath the surface.

Searching through Pixabay in the iceberg category, I also found pictures of roses and salads.  I’ve often noted the odd picture in some particular category while looking for pictures to illustrate my postings and thought to myself, “Here’s an interesting subject for a post.” Were they simply mislabeled by the person cataloging them, or is there some logical reason they would end up in a category that isn’t obvious on the surface?

A few examples:

Category:  Stagepupa-2191733_640This is a pupa of a black cutworm, a serious agricultural pest that gobbles up almost anything in its path.  I don’t think they have ever had a play or movie written about them or appeared on the Broadway stage. Hold on a minute, maybe it represents a “stage” in the development of a moth.  But seriously, if you wanted a picture of moths, would you look under “stage?”

Category:  Cancelbreadbasket-231677_640

This is a very appealing breadbasket that would look nice on a picnic table, but I can’t for the life of me figure out any connection.  Probably have to chalk this one up to just mis-labeling, unless someone can come up with something more useless and obscure.

Category:  Iceberg

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The salad on the left looks delicious, containing eggs, cukes, tomatoes, basil and chives. Can’t really see any reason for it to be in this category. On the right is a salad containing lettuce.  Eureka, Einstein!!  ICEBERG is a kind of lettuce. Clearly, however, the person labeling this one was not a lettuce aficionado.  All iceberg lettuce is lettuce, but not all lettuce is iceberg.  And that is not iceberg lettuce.

Category:  Laundry

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I will refrain from making any sexist comments trying to make a humorous connection between men and laundry, because the men in my life do their laundry, most adequately and without complaint. This is not a family post, but still, what is this doing in the laundry category?

Category:  Talkchat-2523812_640

I love cats and am willing to personify them to a sickening degree.  But still I don’t believe they can talk.  Looking further at the credits it came to me. The picture is from France.  So I think I will have a chat with mon petit chat.

If you haven’t given up by now, I have to extend a big thank you for reading this far.  You probably are convinced you selected the category “Worthy posts to read today,” but somehow arrived at “Crazy lady blabbing on about something ridiculous!”  You can thank me later for distracting you from all the important Twitter feeds and juicy tidbits coming out of the swamp.  You are free to put on your hip boots now and wade back in!