The Blog

Have you read God’s Debris by Scott Adams? No? Well, what are you doing here? Go get a copy and enjoy yourself. You’re welcome!

Quick story. The other day Darrell and I were having lunch at a café when we started joking around about how boring the conversation was at the next table. It shouldn’t have mattered, but the guy holding court must be hard of hearing. His voice overpowered every other conversation at every other table.

That’s why what happened next was so embarrassing. The conversation Darrell and I were having took a turn so boring I almost wanted to switch places. It was a classic case of “you spot it, you got it.”

If your table topics include how bored you are by the people at the next table, I don’t think the people at the next table are your biggest problem right now.

So noted! I can do better. By reading more books, for example, like the one I just mentioned. And not just because this line from it rings so true: “It is a human tendency to become what you attack.”

Busted!

Do you need polish?
July 24, 2017

Once upon a time a gal we used to know told us what she didn’t like about certain people, how they “talk about themselves too much.” And I thought, “Good to know.” I was careful to keep my updates concise from then on, and to offer them only when requested. “What’s new?” she’d say. “I sold my next book,” I told her once, almost as an experiment. And that was it. No followup questions. So I thought, “Wow. She wasn’t kidding.”

Which is okay. It was a great reminder to be a good listener. I used to be the young woman who couldn’t shut up about herself. It pains me to admit that, but remembering how clueless I was helps me stay classier now. Had I gone on about the next book with this gal, for example, I wouldn’t have learned more about how difficult her childhood was.

She went on at some length about not having a decent dress for something that happened seventy years ago. That fascinated me. Not that she was talking about herself -- I like it when people do that -- but that she was still so hurt by the circumstances.

It’s nice when people hang on your every word. Even nicer? Really listening to someone else, and hanging on hers.

garden for the blogThe last time I got a manicure the guy offered to paint little flowers on the nails on my ring fingers, “no extra charge.”

Well, sure.

I almost burst into tears, though. This was the first time someone had given me the impression my nails were something to adorn. Getting them to the point where I can even offer them up to be manicured has been a lifelong struggle. Now, suddenly, there are black and white flowers -- covered with silvery sparkly sprinkles -- over the pink polish I love so much, and they’re straight out of a Japanese garden. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent admiring them.

Those two tiny flowers have burrowed into my brain the way a present from Katie did the winter before last. It was a book filled with what, specifically, she loves most about me -- which just so happens to be what I love most about myself. Not only that, she threw in the way she thinks I could easily change the world -- which also happens to be the way I want to do that.

Can you imagine? I memorized that book, and I recite it in my head every night. It’s laying down new grooves. It’s reminding me to keep inching toward that already okay person Kate described.

And now, in a seemingly whimsical afterthought -- though who knows? -- the guy who gave me a manicure showed me there’s indeed magic, right here, at my fingertips!

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

You may not know how to help someone who’s grieving, but I bet you can make it worse!

Tell that person “everything happens for a reason” or “the same thing happened to a friend once” or “you should read this book about that.” You can press for juicy details that’ll make the story you share with your friends juicier. You can ask why you had to learn the news from someone else or make a reference to “God’s plan.”

If you’re on the receiving end of “help” disguised as “more pain,” my condolences! And my thanks to Glennon Doyle, author of Love Warrior, for dissecting the “I’ll give you something to cry about” crowd.

Glennon reminded me what I love most about the people I love. They listen without judgment. They draw me out with abandon. And they aren’t afraid of going to the scary places with me.

Without them to take my hand once in a while? Life would be scary, indeed.

“Stay away from negative people.” You might not believe how often my guests on the talk show offer that suggestion, or credit following it for their success. Which surprises me, because I thought successful people were able to transcend the negative.

Nope. That’s how they became successful, by protecting themselves from it. They’ve made a habit of distancing themselves.

That’s the only appropriate response to evil, I once heard, however you define it. Distance. Don’t make a scene, don’t put up a fight. Just back away slowly, back into the light.

If I was going to be a guest on someone’s talk show, I’d research the host. If she had a blog, I’d read several posts. If she was on Twitter, I’d scroll through her feed. It wouldn’t tell me everything, but I’d feel better prepared. And if something I learned was worth sharing during the program, I doubt she’d be offended.

She wouldn’t. I know. I’m the host who’s been studied up on -- Arianna Huffington comes to mind! -- and getting quoted back to myself feels lovely.

Knowing my guests might be checking this site to read up on me before our interview, I check up on myself. I read the most recent blog posts from what I hope is more of a stranger’s perspective, and I scroll through what I’ve shared on Twitter lately.

It always leaves me feeling better. Bouncier. Which is, you know, the point.

Once in a while when I’m struggling with a problem Darrell reminds me I’ve already shared what might help. “You should read your own blog,” he’ll say.

Not the worst advice! If we do say so ourselves.

physics for the blogThe other day I told a friend what I admired most about Katie besides her resilience. She’s much more comfortable with uncertainty than I was at her age. I wondered where that comes from.

Darrell’s guess was our family motto: “We’ll figure it out.” Then he teased me about being the reason we have a family motto. I probably heard the suggestion from someone else. “Yeah?” he countered. “But who actually follows through on things like that?” Pause. “Who?”

Children learn what they live. Katie grew up with parents who joke that if their business had a logo it would be fog. So you don’t know what to do next. So what? You’ll figure it out.

The extent to which Kate’s internalized our family motto inspires Darrell and me right back. And that, my friends, is the circle of life.

If what you want to be when you grow up is a parent, good move. Your children will help you grow up!

“The reason it’s difficult to learn something new is that it will change you into someone who disagrees with the person you used to be,” Seth says. “And we’re not organized for that.”

Who’s so proud of the person she used to be she wants to stick with it forever?

Learning something new is difficult, but the alternative is a death march of going through the motions. No, thanks.

I’ve known people who refuse to change, who’ve learned all they intend to learn. I’m still trying to escape their gravitational pull.

Left unattended, a friend told me once, things don’t stay the same. They get worse.

Isn’t it more fun and more practical to take charge when you can? You might be surprised by how much control you have over the weather, metaphorically speaking.