The Blog

Who keeps you honest?
September 25, 2017

My friend Brooks Palmer is the kindest person I’ve ever spoken with. He helps me be kinder to myself. He’s my kindness coach.

When I’m trying to decide whether to keep something, I’ll ask myself how that object makes me feel -- the way Brooks taught me. If the answer’s “good” I don’t stop there. I’ll pretend Brooks is off to the side, looking at the expression on my face with a raised eyebrow.

“Fine,” I’ll almost always say, then. “I’ll let it go.”

If keeping something’s the right thing to do, after all,  you won’t need to ask. You’ll know.

That’s what friends are for, I suddenly realize. They help you remember what you already know.

Are you telling the truth?
September 20, 2017

the sun“Advice is what you ask for when you know the answer but wish you didn’t.”

Ever heard that?

It rings so true with me so constantly I find it hilarious. I’ve associated the need to poll people for their opinions with the need to pull my head out.

A friend, who happens to be a regular on the show, says hesitation is also illuminating. By way of proving that point he asked me during the show if I like hosting it. “I love it,” I gushed. I didn’t need to think about it.

The truth’s like that. Simple. No hesitation, no conditions.

Next question!

Are you stressed?
September 19, 2017

When happiness researcher Gretchen Rubin feels anxious, she reads again the books she loved as a kid. “The more worried I am,” she says, “the simpler the book.”

When I’m anxious I have boring dreams, like the one Katie loves teasing me about -- that I’m running out of paper towels. It’s as if my waking hours are exciting enough. No sense burdening me with anything complicated in my sleep.

The other day on the talk show I heard myself tell a guest how Darrell can tell things are a little off at home. I call a banana by its formal name, “banana.” If everything’s fine I say “nanner.”

Of course he had no idea.

Now he does!

The talk show’s my truth serum. I blurt things out I hadn’t admitted even to myself. I throw myself into the conversation and let the chips fall. It’s scary. And illuminating!

If you’re constantly glancing if not gazing at your reflection in a mirror at home or at work, make sure it’s at a good height. You don’t want the top of your head cut off. Feng shui expert Tess Whitehurst says it’ll gradually erode your self-esteem.

I believe her. So does Darrell, believe it or not. He surprised me by being so interested in this topic, and I credit Tess. She knows that space.

When I told her I’d heard the suggestion to ask yourself how you feel when you walk into your house, she topped it. She asked us to imagine our house. Then she suggested we ask ourselves what kind of people would live in a house like that.

I’ve given it a lot of thought. Here’s my answer: “Neat. Clean. And in transition.”

Am I looking on the bright side? Definitely. That’s the kind of person I am!

What do you leave behind?
September 17, 2017

A guy I knew in college was a basketball fanatic. You should’ve heard him yelling at Husker games. I’d never seen anyone so passionate about anything, and I was enchanted. It was infectious. Bewildering, but infectious.

Is that why the conversations we had off the court, so to speak, stick with me? When Mr. Basketball waxed dreamy one starry night about how he couldn’t get over how long it had taken the light from those stars to reach us, I never looked at them the same way again. When he pointed out the song of a mourning dove on a quiet Saturday, he guaranteed every time I heard one I’d think of him. And when we decided a refrigerator condenser clicking on reminded us both of home, the same.

I love how the writer Anne Lamott describes her son. “Sam is a swirl of every age he’s ever been,” she says, “and all the new ones, like cotton candy, like the Milky Way. I can see the stoned wonder of the toddler, the watchfulness of the young child sopping stuff up, the busy purpose and workmanship of the nine-year-old…”

I’m the swirl of every person I’ve ever known. That makes me so happy.

How do you inspire people?
September 14, 2017

hair for the blogHave you ever ducked into one of those discount hair salons for a quick trim? I did earlier this year. I’ll never forget it.

Let’s just say the gal was having a bad day. She hadn’t said hello. It was just, “Are you ready?” She started asking questions but grew increasingly impatient with my answers. She was visibly hostile, and I was confused. But I also really needed a trim, so I hung in there. After still another exchange that didn’t go well she started slamming drawers and sighing and making me glad we were behind a little wall that kept us out of sight. Because I started crying! Do you believe it? I was crying. Then she asked if I wanted the left side of my head done like the right side -- I was committed at that point, obviously -- and I kind of whispered, “Whatever you want. Just do whatever you want.”

When she realized I was crying she shaped up, so to speak. That’s when I found out about the DUI -- or were there two? -- and the appointment she had to be on time for or go to jail.

I drew her out about her nightmare life. To watch us you’d have sworn we were best friends, maybe even sisters. She must’ve apologized a dozen times. “It’s not you, honey,” she kept saying. “That was my fault. I’m so sorry.”

We kept talking, and I started to feel better. I asked if I could make a joke. Sure. “I feel like going out for a drink.” I don’t drink. She isn’t supposed to. Can you imagine how much we laughed?

I knew right away the gal had done me a favor. She’d helped me see myself in a new, more compassionate, light. This wasn’t the first time someone had dumped a lifetime of frustration in my lap and watched me crumble under the stress. But unlike other people, this woman apologized immediately -- with no excuses whatsoever -- and made amends. I couldn’t get over that. I was enchanted. Nobody’s perfect, but nobody cares -- if you fess up.
 
The people I’ve confided in about this have told me they would’ve stormed out and told the woman what she could do with her attitude. The thought didn’t occur to me. And my tears, while embarrassing at first, inspired only sweetness.

You teach people how to treat you, as the saying goes. I have an unusual way of doing that, but I'm okay with it.
 
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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

“Interesting story.” That’s what my friend Brooks Palmer said after he heard about my three-hour bout of sadness at thinking I’d lost a tiny plastic container. This wasn’t just any container, granted. It was a gift from Katie, I use it every day, and it’s as beautiful as it is functional.

But interesting? I worried as I shared it on the show this was the lamest admission ever.

And yet, and yet…

I had a feeling Brooks would turn the anecdote into quite the reverie about how things can become part of us. He did. Whew!

Interesting is relative, isn’t it? Speaking of relatives! For almost twenty-four years Darrell has been calling my attention to wildlife. I have nothing against wildlife. But a deer only becomes interesting to me if it’s crashed into our car. I’m a city kid, I guess. So I teased him about that recently. “In all the time you've known me,” I said, “in all the years of telling me where some deer is grazing, have I ever once thanked you for that?”

I’ve guessed wrong with him, too. Want proof? We made a rule. No talking about hair. I have his permission to make an exception, though. It’s in the next post.

Glennon Doyle tells the story of being with her daughters a while back, snuggling with kittens. “Why is that one your favorite?” she asked one of the girls. The answer: “I think because she likes me.” Then the other girl piped in: “Me, too. I like mine because she likes me.”

It’s intoxicating, isn’t it? Basking in the glow of someone who thinks you’re all that.

Yeah, I know. Approval’s overrated, the most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself, blah blah. But if connection didn’t matter, who’d risk falling in love and getting married and having children to go kitten shopping with?

It’s a risk because you don’t see only adorable when you’ve been around someone thirty or forty years. Maybe you start taking each other for granted. Maybe you just get tired. But take a poll of the elderly couples still holding hands in the grocery store. I bet they’ve been mighty gentle with each other when venturing into Not Adorable Land.

Can you imagine a bigger payoff, though? What’s more important than actually liking the person next to you in line?