How Long Do Birds Live?

The truth is, I never really thought about it. I never wondered. Even though I am attracted to birds. I watch them. Talk to them. Welcome them into my day as messengers from Spirit. I never wondered about them.

So as I sit on my couch, watching a Red Headed Woodpecker bang his head against the same old tree, I wonder what else is in front of me, every day, that I look at without seeing? Without understanding. Without curiouslity. When did I stop wondering?When did I stop asking?

As a child I drove my parents MAD with my wondering-unfortunately, that wasn’t the only thing about me that maddened them. I wanted to know where God lived? And if Heaven was in the clouds, and planes could fly though the clouds, why didn’t all the people in Heaven fall through the clouds? I wanted to know how to decide something when there were always at least two choices? And, what makes something Good or Bad? And, if the earth was spinning why couldn’t I feel it? And, where do birds go to die? I never saw a bird just dead from old age. A cat may have gotten it. Or a car windshield. But I never saw a bird fall dead from a tree limb, or drop over mid step.

I think my curiosity resurfaced because I was sitting still. Warm cup of morning coffee in hand. No where to go. Nothing to do. (I delude myself, it is 5 days before Christmas and there is a ton to do. Denial is a beautiful thing!) But as I sat, I began to wonder about the New Year. How/what did I want to live, feel, do in 2016? As I wondered, looking out of the front window, I began to see. Really see. The birds.

I remembered I love to wonder. I love to move slowly, take time, ask questions. And, I really love the answers!

So, with Google at my literal fingertips I Googled “how long does a Robin live?” I was so fascinated, and so enjoyed that feeling of satisfied curiosity, that I Googled “how long does a Bluejay live?”

Birds live much longer than I thought. Robins live 4-5 years. The oldest banded robin lived 13 years 11 months. Blue jays live about 7 years, the oldest studied by researchers in the wild lived to be 17 ½ years old. One captive female lived for over 26 years.

Now you know too!

Have a WONDER FILLED Holiday,
waxseal2

 

 

 

Aerodynamically Speaking

Traveling with Dad meant riding by his rules. He was the driver, so it was his way or the highway…no pun intended. Dad’s rule? Once we left the driveway, we drove until we stopped for the night, needed gas or reached our destination. Whichever came first.

To accommodate Dad’s militaristic travel missions Mom would pack lunches, snacks, cold drinks and, just in case, a pee jar.

One summer vacation, several hours into our car ride west, after a picnic lunch traveling at top speed and a much coveted bottle of cold Coke, only allowed on trips and special Friday nights, I had to pee. Dad never broke speed, his one hand on the steering wheel, the other holding a cigarette, his elbow hanging out the opened window.

Mom moved into action. She was on pee duty. She knew the drill and she didn’t seem to mind. Perhaps it was a little distraction to the monotony of Route 80 or perhaps she considered her options. Supervise and assist her 6 year old daughter peeing into a jar or let me do it myself and take our chances on my aim.

She climbed over the front bench seat of our white Rambler Station Wagon with the agility of a gymnast, pee jar in hand. She settled in between my brother and I and opened the repurposed Hellman’s Mayonnaise jar. I also knew the drill and dutifully went along with this absurdity.  After all, what did I know? I assumed cars came equipped with pee jars, just like AM/FM radios and power steering.

I filled the jar. I felt very much relieved, I had an empty bladder and had peed as successfully as my brother. I hadn’t spilled a drop.

Mom’s approach to waste removal was to toss the contents of the jar out of the window. I guess the number of fluid ounces of a mayo jar would not accommodate the entire trip with two kids aboard. I always wondered about the car behind us when mom did this. I think I asked about this once. I don’t remember if anyone answered. With all the car windows open it was hard to hear each other, so we didn’t talk much. I am not sure what our reason was for the same behavior at home.

So mom positioned herself for another successful toss. But, for some reason, this time, instead of throwing it out of my window, she reached into the front seat and threw it out of her window. Aerodynamics forced my still warm pee back through my open window where Mom and I unsuspectingly sat. We were drenched. Eyes wide.

This was not supposed to happen.

Dad pulled over.

XO
waxseal2

 

 

 

Retirement…Resmirement…

Have my friends always talked about retirement and I didn’t notice or is it that we are all old enough now that it comes up as often as our hot flashes, knee replacements and acid reflux?

Either way, I have noticed it is a common topic, especially at dinner parties. I listen, as only a therapist does, with interest and curiosity.

Where seems to be the first topic of retiremental discernment* discussed. Ideas of places to retire fill the room. Somewhere sunny. Somewhere inexpensive. Portugal. Mexico with other x-pats. Near their children. Or grandchildren.

What is the next topic. Usually because I can’t stand it anymore and I have to know. “What will you do?” I ask a little too intensely. I can tell because the speaker startles, like when you start to nod off and wake yourself up as your chin heads for your chest.

I ask because am hoping someone will have a great idea. One that I can consider if I stop doing what I am doing.

“Not Work,” they say with a lilt that sounds more like a question than a statement.

“But WHAT will you do?” I press on. Another trait of a therapist. We want to understand.

“Oh, I don’t know. Read more. Travel,” their voice trailing off. I am not sure if they are enraptured by a vision of themselves relaxing on a white sand beach, margarita in hand,   the book Retirement for Dummies, dogeared and highlighted, sitting beside them or they are noticing their plan seems a bit dull.

As I listen intently to my dinner-party-friends musings, trying to find the place in me that wants to read and travel more, I come up empty. I just can’t seem to find my desire to stop doing what I am doing.

Maybe, I wonder, I am not old enough to be thinking about retirement. But my friend, sitting across the table who is younger than me, is actively looking on-line for retirement friendly places. Or, perhaps I am not confident I can afford to retire, so I unconsciously protect myself from disappointment by not entertaining the possibility. “Expect nothing and you shall not be disappointed,” echoes in my head. Or could my high tolerance to discomfort be masking my secret wish to throw in the towel?

Yesterday I was talking with my dear friend Kathleen. We raised our kids together. Not to mention each other. She is thinking about her retirement. I listened. Interested. Brainstorming possibilities. Places? What she would do? When?

In a quiet moment she asked, “What about you? Do you think about retirement?”

Without thinking, I heard myself say, “I feel like I am just hitting my stride. I’m creating the career and life I’ve always wanted and I want to do more…so leaving it for another kind of life doesn’t fit for me right now.”

Wow! I didn’t know that!

I love when I happen upon my clarity. When I listen to myself and find my answers. I didn’t know how satisfied I was with myself and my life.

When I was in my 40’s, an astrologer told me I was a late bloomer. That it wouldn’t be until my 50’s that I would move into my life’s purpose in a full and felt way.

I think she was right. I am so glad to be here.

XO

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You throw like a girl…

I originally posted this piece in November of 2011. I am re-running it after seeing this awsome commercial air during the Super Bowl. May it change the way we talk to boys and girls.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

What does that mean? Is the throw not far enough, fast enough? Is it exacted with a limp wrist, an unfinished follow through? Whatever it means, I don’t think it is meant to flatter the recipient.

My son played little league. Somewhere in the midst of Landon’s first season I concluded little league is where dads work out their own childhood sports trauma.  Either the bully is shouting insults to whomever he wants to feel bigger than-usually the coach or the umpire but in some cases, his son, or the nerd dad who is desperately yelling batting, throwing, running, sliding, or catching advise so his son won’t be a nerd too. It was disturbing to sit on those bleachers with those dads.

Then there are the coaches. Some coach’s coach for the love of the game and they like kids. Some coaches are dads working out their stuff, but with a coaches hat on. It seemed, however, that both types of coaches yelled, “YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL!” to some unsuspecting boy who had just attempted, but failed, to get the runner out at first base. I countered by yelling, “GOOD TRY!” I don’t think it helped the kid in question.

Perhaps the intention for yelling this statement was to stimulate the secretion of testosterone in the 6,7,8 year old boy, making them tougher so they could throw better. I don’t think it worked. What I noticed was the “throws like a girl” player became a little more tentative in his movements and in the game. He looked to me like he wanted to be smaller. Maybe he did.

As a mom-once a girl-sitting in the stands, with a daughter-at that time, still a girl-I had a reaction to the thrown insult (no pun intended) which was amplified if my son was the object of the coaches idiocy. I looked around the stands at the other moms and dads certain I would see the same outrage on their faces. I didn’t. In some cases I think they were just glad it wasn’t said to their son. I wondered what the young sisters of these players felt when throwing like a girl was used as an insult.

I remember being a junior in a high school gym class. I was walking across the gym toward the locker room in my one piece, blue and white striped jersey gym suit when I over heard Dena colluding with the “pretty, popular girls” that they should nominate me for homecoming queen. They all laughed. I knew what they meant and it wasn’t kind. I wanted to disappear. That last stretch to the locker room door was forever.

In my sophomore year at the University of Delaware, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity chose me as their homecoming queen. This put me in U of D’s race for the coronation of their queen. A fraternity brother met up with me as I crossed campus headed to class to tell me the good news.

I immediately referenced my high school gym trauma and believed this was another cruel joke. A repeat of 1975. My self image was based on the belief that the possibility of MEEE being homecoming queen was a laughable impossibility. I told my him how hurt I was, what a mean joke and limped away. I remember the look on his face.

Later, when I saw my picture in the university paper, amongst all the other “pretty, popular girls,” I realized it wasn’t a joke. Now his look of bewilderment made sense. This contradicted my long held belief of myself.

I needed to make a choice. What/who was I going to believe? Who was I going to see when I looked in the mirror? I picked. I decided to let go of the self deprecating messages I referenced to remind me of my place. I practiced (I am still practicing) letting go of my self judgement by gathering new data. I listened to others and believed them when they told me I was attractive.  I decided if I am going to believe someone, I might as well believe the people that say kind words. Right? It’s amazing how difficult that can be to do.

All of this works most of the time. But when I am particularly insecure or vulnerable I feel myself back in that high school locker room getting smaller and smaller. This is when I have to be kind to myself, surround my self with people that love me and assure that 17 year old that there is so much more to her than her looks.

I didn’t win the homecoming queen crown. It was enough to be nominated (not really, I am just saying that).

What does that mean? Is the throw not far enough, fast enough? Is it exacted with a limp wrist, an unfinished follow through? Whatever it means, I don’t think it is meant to flatter the recipient.

My son played little league. Somewhere in the midst of Landon’s first season I concluded little league is where dads work out their own childhood sports trauma.  Either the bully is shouting insults to whomever he wants to feel bigger than-usually the coach or the umpire but in some cases, his son, or the nerd dad who is desperately yelling batting, throwing, running, sliding, or catching advise so his son won’t be a nerd too. It was disturbing to sit on those bleachers with those dads.

Then there are the coaches. Some coach’s coach for the love of the game and they like kids. Some coaches are dads working out their stuff, but with a coaches hat on. It seemed, however, that both types of coaches yelled, “YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL!” to some unsuspecting boy who had just attempted, but failed, to get the runner out at first base. I countered by yelling, “GOOD TRY!” I don’t think it helped the kid in question.

Perhaps the intention for yelling this statement was to stimulate the secretion of testosterone in the 6,7,8 year old boy, making them tougher so they could throw better. I don’t think it worked. What I noticed was the “throws like a girl” player became a little more tentative in his movements and in the game. He looked to me like he wanted to be smaller. Maybe he did.

As a mom-once a girl-sitting in the stands, with a daughter-at that time, still a girl-I had a reaction to the thrown insult (no pun intended) which was amplified if my son was the object of the coaches idiocy. I looked around the stands at the other moms and dads certain I would see the same outrage on their faces. I didn’t. In some cases I think they were just glad it wasn’t said to their son. I wondered what the young sisters of these players felt when throwing like a girl was used as an insult.

I remember being a junior in a high school gym class. I was walking across the gym toward the locker room in my one piece, blue and white striped jersey gym suit when I over heard Dena colluding with the “pretty, popular girls” that they should nominate me for homecoming queen. They all laughed. I knew what they meant and it wasn’t kind. I wanted to disappear. That last stretch to the locker room door was forever.

In my sophomore year at the University of Delaware, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity chose me as their homecoming queen. This put me in U of D’s race for the coronation of their queen. A fraternity brother met up with me as I crossed campus headed to class to tell me the good news.

I immediately referenced my high school gym trauma and believed this was another cruel joke. A repeat of 1975. My self image was based on the belief that the possibility of MEEE being homecoming queen was a laughable impossibility. I told my him how hurt I was, what a mean joke and limped away. I remember the look on his face.

Later, when I saw my picture in the university paper, amongst all the other “pretty, popular girls,” I realized it wasn’t a joke. Now his look of bewilderment made sense. This contradicted my long held belief of myself.

I needed to make a choice. What/who was I going to believe? Who was I going to see when I looked in the mirror? I picked. I decided to let go of the self deprecating messages I referenced to remind me of my place. I practiced (I am still practicing) letting go of my self judgement by gathering new data. I listened to others and believed them when they told me I was attractive.  I decided if I am going to believe someone, I might as well believe the people that say kind words. Right? It’s amazing how difficult that can be to do.

All of this works most of the time. But when I am particularly insecure or vulnerable I feel myself back in that high school locker room getting smaller and smaller. This is when I have to be kind to myself, surround my self with people that love me and assure that 17 year old that there is so much more to her than her looks.

XO

waxseal2

 

 

P.S. I didn’t win the homecoming queen crown. It was enough to be nominated (not really, I am just saying that).

 

It’s all in the way you see it…

Did you know there is such a thing as a Tiny House movement? There is even a Documentary and two TV series.

When I heard about Tiny Houses I felt relieved of my monthly, if not weekly, lusting for a bigger home. When the Pottery Barn catalogue arrives in the mail, or I peruse an antique shoppe, I miss my larger home in the mountains; full of nooks and crannies that screamed for my creative touch and fun finds.

The Tiny House movement appeased my questioning of living small. It’s like it gave me permission.

So Tom and I watched the Documentary. We didn’t say much as the first couple pared down their large home “stuff” and moved into a tiny home. We sat still as we watched the next couple and the next.

About halfway through we realized these homes were not tiny…they were large closets,125 to 200 sq. ft. The largest, to still be considered a Tiny House, was 500 sq. ft. It looked huge in comparison.

There had to be a mistake. This wasn’t downsizing…this was craziness. One couple could touch both walls with their arms outstretched. They smiled broadly for the camera like it was a good thing.

One couples’ couch transformed into cubbies lined with cedar to mask the locker-room-smell of the husbands hockey equipment. I gagged as I imagined sitting on sweaty man gear…cedar, mixed with body odor, infusing couch cushions, in a small space. Home Sweat Home.

In another tiny house, the bed was in a drawer that slid under the 4 x 5 living room. A clever idea, but they couldn’t get into the kitchen if the bed was out of it’s drawer. So much for Sunday coffee in bed.

We were feeling more anxious as we watched.

All those tight places.

All that togetherness.

Making a meal, that included a vegetable and a protein, in a kitchen with one burner and one pot, clearly took more creativity than I could generate after a long day.

As I looked around our townhouse, I felt like I was living in a Mc Mansion. I spread my arms without my finger tips touching a wall, a piece of furniture, or Tom.

I ran (well walked briskly) up and down the stairs that are wider than 12 inches and have a hand rail.

I made tea in the kitchen using every burner…just because I could.

I plopped down on our couch, that is just a couch. It doesn’t have to be anything else than what it is.

My angst about living in a small place was gone.  My home had room to spare.

Happiness is all about perspective. Thank you Tiny House Nation.

XO

waxseal2

 

 

P.S. I wrote this sitting in our den/office/guest room instead of my usual perch in the living room. Tom asked “Why?”

“Because I can,” I said. “This isn’t a tiny house.”

 

 

Be careful what you meditate for…

Sunday morning I listened to Christine Page’s Island Of Memories meditation. She guided me to an island to meet wise elders that had been waiting for me. There was a gift from them on a table. She said it was an object that belonged to me but that I had not seen in this lifetime. I was guided to connect with this item and to learn from it.

The message from my object was to find my determination, clarity, voice and certainty. I liked this message. I liked the way it made me feel. I felt determined, clear, vocal and certain.

At the end of the meditation Christine suggested I journal my findings. I knew if I took the time to journal I would further delay my much coveted first-cup-of-Sunday-morning-coffee. But I have trusted Christine for many years and I knew myself. As clear as the details were in that moment, this afternoon I would be asking myself, “What were those four words?” (In fact, as I write this 1 hour later I can only remember determined and clear, I had to look in my journal to find the other two.)

So I pulled out my journal and wrote.

Those of you that journal know the phenomenon of when your hand writes something before your brain registers it as a thought. That is what happened. I wrote the details of the attributes. Then wrote, “Find determination, clarity, voice and certainty in everything that I do.”

Initially I missed the nuanced difference in this statement. I was in my familiar, exhaustive search of finding the activities I am determined, clear, vocal, and certain about. “Is IT my writing that I haven’t done in over 6 months. Is IT furniture painting that I just don’t seem to make time for? Is IT my relationships which usually win my time without a thought? Is IT my work? Or…is IT all the things I tell myself I should be doing. A Tai Chi Class? Yoga? Qigong? Cleaning out the garage?”.

After racking myself silly with, “What is IT?” my self preservation lovingly stepped in, as she always does, and conveniently helped me forget what I was looking for…or was that my age? Either way I was relieved, happily distracted, and off to make my coffee.

My morning routine didn’t seem to change much. I did move a bit more slowly, taking time to notice my grandmothers plates as I emptied the dishwasher, looking deliberately at the different patterns, saying out loud to am empty kitchen, “Each one is prettier than the next.” I felt my love for these plates. I did light some candles, turn on Sunday morning Baroque, and spent a deliberate moment admiring the Stargazer Lilies on my dining room table.

As I sat down coffee in hand, certain I was sitting to write because yesterday I promised myself I would, I felt my determination. As I wondered what the hell I would write, I felt my clarity and voice and began this story.

Half way through, while searching for the spelling of a word, I accidentally deleted the post. I searched and searched for a way to bring it back. I was determined! My Help bar told me coldly told me,You can’t undo this action.

Really? My Self passed before my eyes. All the ways I move on from this kind frustration. I can start the laundry. It’s Heidi’s birthday I can call her and catch up. I can take the Christmas decorations down…yes they are still up. I could go for a walk.

Or…I could bring my determination, clarity, voice and certainty to this project, as I had been guided to do, and begin again. I sat for a LONG moment, fingers on the keyboard, trying to recapture my pithy, funny, thoughtful first draft.

I grudgingly started over. With each sentence my reluctance finding her voice, her certainty, her determination, and her clarity.

Distraction is easier. Sometimes.

Listening to and following guidance is not easier, but, it is satisfying. Every single time.

 

With love,
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could, but I don’t want to…

When I was younger I did things because I could. Or should. Or perhaps I didn’t know any better. I could talk on the phone, make dinner, oversee the kids homework. I carried a washer and dryer into the basement in my first married apartment. I helped build an addition, doubling the size of our home, with a 2 year old underfoot and another one on the way. For several years I sustained a 2 hour commute, couch surfed or stayed in the cheapest room.

I am not complaining. In fact I am bragging. These were badges of honor to me. The more I could do, the more valuable I felt. Self sacrifice, manual labor, inconvenience were all indications of my fortitude. I was an Amazon woman. I didn’t need any help. Thank you very much.

But today I feel differently. I hear myself saying, “I could do that…but I don’t want to.” I don’t want to drive there. I could but I don’t want to clean out the garage. I don’t want to hang sheet rock, drive a nail, or go to Lumber Liquidators, EVER. If I am on the phone and Tom asks me where the refrigerator is, I don’t show him.

Part of me is afraid I have gone soft. That I’m being a baby. A wimp. I am also concerned this is my creative way of pretending it has nothing to do with my age. It’s not that I can’t lift that bundle of roof shingles, I just don’t want to…images

I think what I am getting at is choice. And wisdom.

A very wise woman once told me, “If it is not my passion it is not my job.” So today I check with myself before I throw myself into a habituated pattern of Amazonian pursuits. Do I want to do this? Is this my job? And yes, I admit, I must ask, “Will I throw my back out?”

XO

waxseal2

 

 

 

Is it you or is it me?

Do you ever walk away from a conversation feeling worse about yourself than you did before the conversation?

I do. Sometimes. When this happens I ask myself, “Was that them or was that me?” Was I being thinned skinned, as my mother told me I was or were they being superior, mean, passive aggressive?

Yesterday I reached out to a co-worker by asking her some “How are you questions?” I listened to her answers, nodding, laughing. I felt interested. I was getting her. Then she asked me a specific question about myself concerning an issue that was public enough  for her to know some details. As I responded, she interrupted with a moralistic sounding interjection. What I heard her saying was…if only I had thought like her I wouldn’t be in this jam.

“Wow I was stupid. I should have known this. She did. That’s because she is a better therapist than me.” My mind was racing.

I began to give her more details, hoping my explanations would explain my decisions.  I was grasping for her understanding. I was feeling increasingly pathetic. The more I told on myself the more I seemed to reinforce her “take” on my situation. I finally stopped talking. Defeated. I walked away not liking myself as much as I did before we engaged. I walked up the stairs to my office with heavy feet.

Since this was not my first I-am-inadequate rodeo, I knew what I needed to do. Over the years I have developed coping strategies for this kind-of-thing.

  1. I decide I never liked her anyway. I call on my best-junior-high-mean-girl to internally trash talk her. My adolescent self believes this will make me feel better.  It never does.
  2.  I decide I better get busy being a better, stronger, more successful version of myself. I’ll take a class. Read a book. Dress more sophisticatedly. Share less of my vulnerability. I usually just feel tired at the end of this option and take a nap.
  3. I eat some chocolate. I haven’t found a down side to this.
  4. I call a trusted friend to vent hoping they will agree that she is just not that nice. I love it when my smart, loyal, accomplished friend says, “Yeah I always thought that of her too. You poor thing. I think you are wonderful.” For a moment I feel victorious.
  5. I ask myself what got touched in me that I am reacting so strongly. This one is the hardest and the least fun…”Really? Do I have to look at myself again? Do I have to get honest about me? Damn!” Sometimes it helps do combine this one with #3.

So after quickly moving through #1, #2, skipping #3 & #4 — since I had no chocolate or time to call a friend — with a sigh I moved into #5.

I remembered the book The 4 Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. The 2nd agreement is Don’t Take Anything Personally. The premise is that what others say is more about them then me. That we all come from our own projections that are a result of our view of the world. The stories we make up.

This was comforting. I realized that my co-worker had her own reasons for commenting the way she did that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with her experience. I no longer had to be angry at her or quickly read a self help book.

Not taking anything personally is liberating.

But, it may not be the finish line.

If the relationship is significant enough to me I realize I need to say something about how I felt as a result of what was said. Even though I am not taking it personally I may still feel bruised. So coping strategy #6 is talking to the person about how I felt when they said what they said. (I lied, this one is harder than #5.) It takes courage and trust in the relationship to be strong enough for vulnerable honesty.

Deciding when to speak up and when to let-it-go is a constant process of discernment.

Chocolate makes this easier…

 

 
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Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall…

Each morning, on my “power walk” route, I pass an older gentleman, standing in the same spot, looking out over the city. Perhaps this is his morning ritual. Each morning he tells me I look beautiful as I trudge by him. Recently he added that my nails looked pretty too.

I dismiss these compliments somewhat automatically. Is he kidding? I’m sweaty. I haven’t washed my face. Or showered. I do not resemble the young women that pass me on the left in their color coordinated Lycra. I wear an old sweat shirt from the kids high school sports teams  — a politically incorrect Native American’s profile plastered on the front. I did recently buy some pretty snazzy sneakers though…although I don’t think they are called sneakers anymore.

I easily decide he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Today on my way back past him he added, “You look like a movie star.” I smiled. “Lily Tomlin, that’s it, you look like Lily Tomlin.”

Really?

Now…I think Lily Tomlin is funny as hell, but I don’t think she is pretty. I actually think she is a bit homely, in an Edith Ann kind-of way.

For as much as I thought I had disregarded his compliment, I noticed the impact his comparison had on me. My feet felt heavier.

Almost home, my front steps in the distance, I realized I had “done it again.” I had dismissed a compliment but readily believed a slight — even though I knew he hadn’t meant it as such. Why was being compared to someone I didn’t think was particularly attractive a perfect fit, while being told I looked pretty rolled off my back?

Do you do this?

I remember many years ago speaking at a conference for therapists. I was the last speaker on the last day of the conference. Not a great placement.

I did my talk. I saw heads nodding which I took as a good sign. People were a bit ansi to get on their way, but I thought I held their attention.

At the end of the presentation I read through the participants evaluations. They were filled with good to excellence scores and comments. Except for one person, who clearly HATED me and everything I said. She, I assume it was a ‘she’ from her floral penmanship, wrote that my presentation was not based in the real world of addictions, that my ideas were pompous and that I should park my Mercedes at the door.

Ouch. The air left my lungs.

“But I don’t own a Mercedes,” I countered to myself as I read her responses. “I once had a Oldsmobile Bravada but got rid of it because I felt pretentious driving it.” I wanted her to know this.

I drove home hunched over the wheel, replaying her assessment of me. Not one of other kind, positive, complimentary comments, from the other 100 evaluations, made it into my long term memory.

I was told as a kid, more often than I needed to hear, “Don’t get too big for Scanyour britches.” Or worse yet, “You’re getting to big for your britches.” I had been caught thinking well of myself. I had the audacity to consider myself, even for a moment, special, smart, funny, or cute. If my mom got the faintest whiff of my ego’s presence she would escort it quickly out of the room.

I didn’t learn to believe well of myself.

My mentor in grad school told me that 50% of the people were always going to like me and 50% would not. He suggested, for me to have a happy life, I might want to stand with the 50% that liked me.

Huh. Novel idea in my world. What if I did?

So I will take the compliment. I chose to believe I look pretty — just like Lily Tomlin. My nails look pretty too. Not bad for a Thursday morning. I will take all the positive comments that come my way until I begin to believe them.

It takes 7 compliments to undo 1 criticism.

But whose counting?

XO

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