Thursday, April 26, 2012

Double identity: when the enemy becomes your best friend

The wine I'm drinking tonight was opened then corked about nine days ago.  I forgot about it, but it sat in my basement which maintains a constant temperature of about 60 degrees, give or take a few degrees so I ventured out to try it in hopes its longevity proved it viable stance.  A wine from Languedoc and consisting of four red varietals, it was a bit past its prime, but still somewhat drinkable.  I decided to put a chill on it so that any signs of oxidation would be masked by such and it proved to do just that.

My morning began as usual.  Scrambling up at half past seven - attempting to wake up children, one who responds easily and one who prefers to stay in bed all day.  After dropping them off for school, I started to take in my night's past.  I was elated to be off from work, yet painfully dumbfounded by news that I still did not know how to decipher.  I craved rap music that possessed nothing but swear words because my new year's resolution would then be tampered.  What the fuck, I thought.  Then I quickly decided a need for a bloody mary in my near future would sedate me and my thoughts would vanish.  The bloody mary appeared but my thoughts' vanishing never happened.

The afternoon rolled around and after attempting errands for over an hour, I rushed home to chug a beer.  Not good, especially considering I had an event to attend at my children's school four hours later and I didn't wish to feel bloated.  Didn't matter because the harm had been done, but I made up for it by making a kick-ass dinner in a matter of 30 minutes.  The highlight of my day.

Dinner came and went, so did the event at school which turned out to be very successful.  I was much impressed with the efforts my children had put forth in their presentations in their homeroom. And as you could imagine, feeling the joy as a mother of two children with honest hard work put forth, I was beyond proud.  We returned home to an after dinner snack and a bit of TV before I sent them off to bed and that brings me back to the bottle I rested in the fridge.

Wow - it's amazing what chill time does to a bottle that should have been consumed five days earlier.  It did its trick and continues to do so, but here I am writing this entry, without having gotten to my original point that spawned on the idea of my title.

In all honesty, it's about how I feel right now.  I feel like the enemy is closer to me than those I call my friends.  I am getting too tired of the bullshit of one-sided kindness, of passive aggressiveness (an overly used term that yet describes most people I meet), of no one taking the fucking time to put themselves in my shoes.  Really?  I feel closer to my enemies sometimes because there's no pressure to impress or devote - and in the end it's all the same.

It's all about expectations.  In an earlier post I extended the advice to "expect less".  In my human state, I forget to apply this tactic in a continuous fashion.  So here I go, once again - telling myself to let go, drink wine and turn to my enemies.  They don't expect much from me and vice versa.  The interaction is easy and I drink painlessly.  It sounds like a double identity issue, but let's be honest: we all have another side to our groove.  When I don't stress about life then life doesn't stress on me and when I add wine to the equation - it makes it all better.  Minus the emotion - wine is the only one who really gets me.

Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Grenache "Vintage" 2010

Friday, April 20, 2012

no limit to kindness

Two months ago, I did the unthinkable.  I dropped my car keys on a side street without my knowing and didn't notice until three hours had passed.  I freaked, quietly.  No really, I did.  If you know me - you'd know that I have a keen sense of calmness when things get crazy.  I have been complemented on my ability to digest situations rationally.  I don't know how I came to be this way considering I grew up in a family that did not teach me to do so.  Maybe it's the Sociology degree I acquired, or my being a parent - whichever the case, I'm here to tell you the story of my mishap.

I began by retracing my steps.  I crazily remembered my morning shot of whiskey and how my giddy presence overtook my sense of thinking straight.  I had ideas to write of and my biggest goal for the day was to submit a review for a local newspaper I was trying to land a gig with.  I remember walking to my car with feelings of content completion because I finished the article with good feelings inside.  That's when I noticed I didn't have my keys.  Okay, I will just check my coat pockets - nope, not there.  Maybe my laptop case side pocket - no, not there either.  Alright, I'll retrace my steps exactly as I remember.  Well, that's not gonna happen because I was buzzing just a bit and since I was feeling extremely gleeful in the morning - I didn't know one hundred percent sure where I crossed the street, when I thought I put my car keys in my purse and how I was gonna locate the keys in the mist of scattered snow and mud on the ground.  Good times, huh?

I finally came to a conclusion.  I reviewed my steps over and over again and yet the keys never resurfaced.  I called my brother who lived nearby.  He offered to assist me in my search, but I kept thinking it would be useless.  Then he made a suggestion that maybe someone picked them up and turned them in to the taco joint located nearby.  After considering the possibility, I asked him to join me so he could watch my car while I ventured out to taco land.  He set out to drive over.

As I waited, I tried a few more times to search the grounds.  I looked under cars parked, I asked a neighbor nearby if they noticed any keys on the ground.  I even dug my shoes into patches of mud that were layered in various spots just in case somehow they were buried within.  Nothing turned up.

I stopped in the middle of the street and took some deep breaths.  For one crazy moment I thought maybe, just maybe, there was a good Samaritan who found the keys and without knowing who I was or where I went, decided that he would turn in the keys where I could find them easily.  I looked up from where I stood and at that very moment I saw my car keys hanging on one of the fence bars right there in front of me.  All I had to do was walk a few steps to my left and soon they would be in my hands again.

I still can't over this act of kindness.  This stranger - someone whom I never met, put my keys on the fence bar and they sat there for three hours until I came back to claim them.  This is honestly the most sincere act of kindness that I have ever encountered.  I wish I knew their name so I may thank them graciously, but finding that out would probably be ten times harder than finding a needle in a haystack.

I shared my "story of goodness" with others because I wanted them to believe in hope .  There are good people out there.  This was a very positive occurrence that probably happens everyday in some way, shape or form yet goes unnoticed.  These stories need to be told - in conclusion:  don't give up.  Return kindness to others.  Offer help when someone needs a hand, hold doors open for everyone, say thank you and you're welcome, extend compliments, go out of your way to let others know you appreciate them.  There's no limit to kindness.  It exists within all of us - we just have to express it and I believe that the more we do this, the more random acts of kindness won't just be random anymore and this crazy world we live in will become a peaceful place.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The art of expecting less

When I was younger, I couldn't wait to grow up.  In time, I learned with age came increased responsibility, escalating bills and varied drama, but the best part of it was the wisdom I acquired along the way.  That certainly goes without saying; our life episodes are meant to build our character profile and determine future decisions we will make.  I'll be the first to admit, I was an idiot during my early 20s.  What I thought I knew, I didn't and it would still take me another ten years thereafter to comprehend what was real, valid or full of shit.  These days, I take advantage of speaking with those with wisdom beyond my years.  The simplest sentence they utter can easily solve a multitude of crazy in my world.

In light of surprise disappointments I faced in 2011, I knew that when 2012 arrived, I needed to make a major change in my outlook.  I took the years of experience I had accumulated thus far, reviewed their outcomes and came up with the best advice I had ever given myself.  And today, I would like to share it with my readers...

Expect Less.

That's it:  two words and I promise you they will change your life.

Now as 2012 began and I tackled the simple resolution, I learned very quickly that there is a science to this game.  I call it a game because like everything else in life, it involves instructions, rules and the players in your life.  You can basically apply it to everyone you come in contact with, but as rules exist, so do challenges.  In the case of committed relationships, let's be honest, we all create a predetermined list of requirements for the "perfect" partner.  Whatever the case, the first step in expecting less is this:  

Erase Your Chalkboard.

Don't make lists.  Don't carry any expectations whatsoever because every relationship, every situation, every degree of intimacy has its own story.  Just let go and let it happen.  Trust in what feels right and once your heart starts to doubt anything then you know which way to turn.  The truth is quite simple and obvious and you just have to go with it.

The workplace is another good example because chances are, we will spend most of our waking hours with our co-workers.  You can't chose your work colleagues as you would a significant other or a friend, just as you can't chose your family - so there's a lot of similarities there.  Sibling conflicts exist regardless, as will disagreements among those you work with because by nature - you won't always see eye to eye.  You may get irritated because one person doesn't pull his/her weight as much as others do, or because someone talks behind your back.  It's gonna happen, but if you expect less from them - those incidents will mean nothing and it'll go over your head.  Then the goal they aim to reach in making your life miserable (let's hope that's not the case but for the sake of argument) will never be achieved and in the end - you may end up earning their respect which most likely was unplanned.  In conclusion, the outcome will hopefully result in solid teamwork and a possible friendship.  Each example is its own.

Ironically enough, I gave my children a similar code of advice when I taught them the term:  One Way.  This translates to:  worry only about yourself and where you're going.  Do not concern yourself with others and what they are doing wrong or right - just focus on you.  You're the only one responsible for your actions and most likely that someone else isn't thinking about what's best for you.  Little did I know when I coined this term a couple of years back, it would become sound advice for me.  Yes of course, I instill the virtue of kindness and compassion in my children, but I am more or less referring to situations that do not concern them.  I believe that teaching them to avoid drama at an early age will secure their self-confidence and maintain feelings of peace and happiness throughout their lives.

Let's face it, life is stressful enough and I'm STILL growing up.  It's been a little over three months of following this motto and I have to say that my load feels much lighter and feelings of disappointment rarely enter my mind.  I feel more relaxed and have more time to focus on what I expect of me.  And the thought of using my energy selfishly doesn't sound wrong at all.  In fact, it sounds justifiably right.