Coffeegirl63's Blog

I Love To Laugh August 15, 2015

Laughter thrills me. And it fascinates me. How many laughs do you know? I’m going to hazard a guess that most of you have seen the movie Mary Poppins. Do you remember the song, I Love to Laugh? The laughs that were heartfelt, sincere, and based in freedom were clearly the favorites. This is true for me as well. My favorite memory of a laugh is my kids’ tickle laugh when they were little… especially my now-24-year-old son’s because he liked to be tickled more than the others. My favorite laugh to elicit from anyone is the laugh that comes from an unexpected turn in the conversation.

I don’t remember how much I laughed as a child, but my parents have told me I was a very happy child. If my mother reads this, she will (hopefully) comment a response. I went for several years not laughing much at all… because I thought that was the way I was supposed to be–sober and grown-up. In the self-discovery stages I’ve gone through in the last several years, I’ve realized that I truly do love to laugh. I started by just smiling more, then quietly chuckling… now I just laugh right out loud if something tickles me.

There are some things that can make me laugh every time till the tears flow and my tummy hurts. Almost every episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? is laugh-out-loud funny. Clean, clever improv is one of my favorite forms of entertainment. I like stand-up comedy, too, but improv fascinates me with its cleverness, quick-thinking creativeness, and intelligence. It’s exciting that it can go any direction at the slightest twist.

By sister and best friend Jeannie can always make me laugh. She and I can have entire conversations without uttering a word, or with only talking in movie lines. She gets me like no one else, and I’m grateful for how she’s held the pain and laughter of my soul in her hands for 52 years. Our conversations are not complete until there has been real laughter. My favorite is when she makes me laugh so hard my face gets all dorky looking.

My favorite friendships are the ones in which we are fully comfortable with laughter and tears—sometimes tears from the laughter, sometimes laughter from the tears!

I pray your days may be filled with heartfelt, healing laughter. Choose it, make it happen, and embrace it!

And now, I leave you with some beautiful thoughts about laughter:

“When the first baby laughed for the very first time, the laugh broke up into a thousand pieces of light, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. So now every time a new baby is born, its first laugh becomes a fairy.” – Sir James Matthew Barrie, Peter Pan

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” – Mark Twain

“A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“A smile starts on the lips, a grin spreads to the eyes, a chuckle comes from the belly; but a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, overflows, and bubbles all around.” – Carolyn Birmingham

“I never would have made it if I could not have laughed. It lifted me momentarily out of this horrible situation, just enough to make it livable.” – Viktor Frankl (Holocaust survivor)

“Laughter is the corrective force which prevents us from becoming cranks.” – Henri Bergson

“We cannot really love anybody with whom we never laugh.” – Agnes Repplier

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” –Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

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The Times, They Are A Changin’ November 20, 2011

There is a saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same. I can see the truth in that. But I’d like to talk about the drastic changes one person can see in his or her lifetime.

Tomorrow I will attend the memorial service of my Great-Aunt Theresa, my maternal grandmother’s oldest sister. Theresa was born in 1907… she would have been 104 next month. One hundred four years old. That boggles my mind! The things that she has seen in her lifetime must have boggled her mind at times… a mind, by the way, that was sharp until shortly before she passed. I did not know my Great-Aunt well, but the times we spent together were always good. I was always in awe of her… not in a frightened way, but in a fascinated way.

The year Aunt Theresa was born, UPS was founded in Seattle, WA, it cost 2 cents to mail a letter, and Hershey’s Kisses were invented. She was born before WWI, and was probably old enough to have memories of the news of it.

I was talking to a 20-something girl the other day, and she was sounding all kinds of impressive that she could remember when we didn’t have texting. I told her I could remember when cell phones were the size of bricks, when we didn’t have cell phones, and even when we didn’t have cordless phones–so to take a phone call, we actually had to stand right next to the phone. As young mothers, my friends and I were grateful when we could get really long cords so we could talk on the phone and still check on our kids and do the dishes and other chores. That girl I was telling all this to was amazed! lol. But Aunt Theresa saw the progression from most homes not having a phone to most people keeping a phone in their pocket.

She saw the progression from computers not even being a glimmer in any scientist’s eye to computers in the home to computers in most homes to many people have a computer on that phone in their pocket. When she was a child, it took several days for a letter to cross the country. Now, when someone writes a letter, it arrives in a couple days. Most of us, however, do our written communication by email, which can be instant when both parties are at their computer. My daughter talks to her friends on Skype.

In the early 1900’s women stayed home to take care of their husbands and children. Couples didn’t question whether they would choose to have a child. No mother would choose to feed her baby from a bottle. There was no instant way to “throw something together” for dinner. Meals were made purposefully, and meal gatherings were an expression of love. Bread was made by hand. Many homes had a garden–families ate fresh food in the summer, and they put up food for the winter months.

I don’t know if my great grandparents had a radio in their home when Great-Aunt Theresa was a girl, but I’m listening to streaming radio on my computer as I write this. When I go for a run, I’ll listen to music on my iPod.

A couple weeks ago, I was explaining to my daughter that it’s only been recently that we would just drive up to the curb to pick someone up or drop someone off at the airport. When I was a girl, and even through my teen years, airport drop-off and pick-ups were a family affair… a real event. The entire family would go. We would park in parking lot, we would all walk into the airport together, and then we would all wait at the gate… whether it was to see our loved one to the plane and wait until the plane would pull away, or it was to wait with joyful anticipation for the plane to land and our loved one to walk through that doorway. And no one would wear jeans on a plane; it was a dress-up affair. Also, plane tickets cost more when I was in high school than they do now. She thought it was pretty strange. However, we can hop on a plane whenever we choose. Just 4 years before Aunt Theresa was born, Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic flight.

In many ways, the world was a much safer place. When I was a kid, we’d go outside to play and not come in till it was dark and mothers were flashing to porch lights to call us in. I’m sure it was the same when Aunt Theresa was a girl. Kids always walked wherever they needed to go, and no one worried about whether they would make it safely to school, the neighbors’ house, the store, or wherever they were heading.

When Great-Aunt Theresa was a girl, there were some very scary diseases that killed many. No one under the age of 60 has seen a case of smallpox, most people under the age of 40 don’t have the smallpox vaccination scar on their upper arm, and a case has not been seen on the planet since at least 1980. Helen Keller was left blind and deaf as a result of scarlet fever. Started in the 1940’s, the Centers for Disease Control have worked to cure and prevent many diseases.

As I sit and write this on my computer, I can easily go back and correct mistakes. I will (hopefully) not post this until I have caught and corrected any mistakes… and everything I write is saved on “the cloud” forever, as far as we know. If Great-Aunt Theresa kept a journal, is was with a pencil or pen in a bound book.

What about you? What have you seen in your lifetime that fascinates you? What was common in your childhood that is unknown or amazing to children today? Is there someone in your life who has lived a long, blessed life? I encourage you to spend time with that person, record some of their stories, enjoy the richness that comes from a life well lived.

Thank you for joining me today. I appreciate the gift of your time.

 

Working Through, Not Stuck in the Mire August 1, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living,Life Questions,Trusting God — coffeegirl63 @ 3:55 pm
Just a peek into my thoughts today:
You know my penchant for optimism. For example, a couple weeks ago, I cut my leg… cut it really bad–it required 10 stitches to close! People laugh at me when I say it was an adventure and that it’ll make an epic scar. Some laugh and some frown when I (teasingly?) say that I’ll get a tattoo (“to cover it?” “No! To highlight it–I earned it!! But something feminine: vines & flowers, maybe?”) They get nervous and talk about how it could have been so much worse. My response is that it really could have been so much worse… but it wasn’t! It was what it was, so why freak out. Modern medicine means I was able to have a tetanus shot and stitches in a clean, safe environment, and that I won’t lose my leg.
My current room for practicing a positive attitude and a bright outlook? I’m going through some relationship issues that, not too long ago, would have completely derailed me. As it is, I’m choosing to work through them in as healthy a way as possible. I’ve realized that it’s ok to cry hard when my heart hurts, just as it’s ok to laugh heartily when something thrills me. When something wears me out emotionally, just as when something wears me out physically, I take care of my health and take a nap when I need one! Also, I surround myself with people who love and care about me. People who will jerk the slack out of me if I spend too much time moping (but allow me just a little moping time 😉  ). People who won’t blame circumstances or people for life that just happens (that activity just encourages bitterness and anger). People who will encourage me as I seek to grow from my current situation.
We all go through painful situations. My situations have not been anything near to what others have gone through… and I’ve gone through some things that others couldn’t imagine how to survive. I look at what some people have experienced at the hands of fellow human beings, and I wonder at their ability to function. I wonder how they can not just be consumed by the pain. Their choice to live and laugh and love is an inspiration to me. It’s a dangerous exercise to compare ourselves to others–we’ll live in a yo-yo world of condemnation and pride. But it’s a very healthy thing to look at the lives of others for strength and inspiration.
The people in my life who inspire me on a regular basis: My sisters have always been there to love, support, and pray for me. I can go visit them on a whim when I need to, or we can just talk on the phone and laugh or cry when we need to do that. I’ve mentioned my friend Julie (http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/). We talk almost every day on IM. She’s a constant source of inspiration, encouragement, and laughter for me.
I want to talk a bit about my good friend Kevin (http://kevinknebl.com/). He’s a social-media guru–if he doesn’t know it, it hasn’t yet been discovered! He has inspired and encouraged me to do what I love… beginning with figuring out what I love! He is always my cheerleader in any new venture I embark on. He is one of the people in my life I want to be proud of me… and he always is. Through his encouragement, I have learned to embrace being more than simply doing. He has taught me to live life on purpose, not just by default. And if someone doesn’t appreciate me for all my value, he says they’re blind dopes (well, you know… that’s my paraphrase). Thanks, Kev. You’re my hero. And thanks for always forgetting that I’m older than you are 😉
So there it is. Life has challenges. Some challenges are major; some challenges just feel insurmountable at the time we’re going through them. How will you choose to face life through your challenges? Ignore, bury, stuff, “if you don’t talk about it, it’s not real”? Get angry, get bitter, blame others, shut yourself off from the possibility of further pain? Or will you embrace life. Will you choose to understand that life is not a destination but a journey. Will you look honestly at your situation, diminish or eliminate pain where possible and/or beneficial, and become a better/stronger person because of it. I believe that anything we overcome becomes our gift and our responsibility for working in our circle of influence. Your story is not your own–share your victories!
 

Good Intentions and Improved Health July 16, 2011

Filed under: Food,Healthy Living,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 10:50 pm

My daughters went on a seven-week road trip, leaving Memorial Day and returning this week. My younger daughter, who lives with me, turned 18 while on their trip. They celebrated her day in New York City by seeing Wicked on Broadway. It was, in my daughter’s word, Epic! What a wonderful time for them! Adventures… Sister Times… Weddings… Graduations… 21 states, as far north as Maine, as far south as Orlando, Florida… The Wizarding World of Harry Potter… EPIC!

While my daughters were enjoying their adventures, I took advantage of the opportunity to experience living alone for the first time in my life. It’s true: I’m 48 years old, and I’ve never lived alone. I got married at 20, and I moved from my parents’ home into my husband’s apartment. When I separated from my husband 20 years later, I moved back in with my parents. I lived there until I rented a room in a friend’s house 2 years ago for a year. Last summer, Julia and I bought a new house together. See? I’ve always lived with someone. So for the last week of June, I took a stay-cation from work and just did what I wanted. I had some laziness, courtesy of Netflix, but I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do.

Several things in the last year have filled my life with a bit more than I have handled well. Some of my success in life is due to my tenacity, my sense of responsibility to accomplish (at whatever cost) what I commit to, and my ability to focus. Sometimes I take those talents to an extreme, and they become stubbornness, people-pleasing, and perfectionism. There’s not always time to deal with stress as it comes, so I just store it all in my upper back until I do have the time. In the last year, I chose not to deal with an unhealthy relationship or to address some nagging negative health issues (“I know it’s been eight months, but I know this tummy ache and these headaches will go away on their own! And, good grief, isn’t everyone tired most of their waking hours??”) I’ve been keeping up with my job and all its new responsibilities, but I get behind on some of the less “squeaky-wheel” tasks… until the finance controller turns up the volume of the squeaking. And he gets so grumpy and closed minded when I tell him, regarding the accounting, “that was then, this is now… it’s time to move on!!” Financially, I’m doing fine, but I have a huge brain block regarding creating a budget that I will follow. And I’ve been wanting to get serious about my writing for a long time–this blog has been a testimony to how well I’ve done pursuing that dream (hopefully, my current pace and enthusiasm are a new trend).

I made a list of tasks I intended to accomplish, keeping in mind that a vacation should not end in a state of greater exhaustion than it began with. The intentions I followed through with: First and foremost, I guarded from time diligently. I rearranged my living room; culled through and organized my clothes closet (necessary, as I’ve lost about 30 pounds so far in 2011); culled through and organized my pantry; defrosted, cleaned, and organized my freezer (necessary, as my annual seafood order arrived my first day back at work); figured out my ideal sleep schedule (turns out I work better later at night, so I need to wake up later in the morning); figured out my ideal eating needs and schedule; and dealt with some of my deeper health issues (the rest of this post is dealing with the last two items).

I started seeing a chiropractor at the beginning of June. My medical doctor wanted to treat my chronic neck and upper-back pain (and accompanying finger numbness) by shooting steroids into my spinal column (he said cortisone shot, but we know what he meant). It’s not that I am opposed to modern medicine. On the contrary, I’m grateful for it. But I didn’t have a good feeling about that solution. A friend told me about her chiropractor, Dr. Molly Kallenbach, DC, http://doctormolly.com/ at Thrive Chiropractic. Before going in for an anesthesiologist-administered, spinal column-invading steroid shot, I made an appointment to see Dr. Molly. From my first appointment, I felt relief from the pain in my upper back. Such a good choice! Right away, she wanted to address my overall health. She put me on a detoxification diet to try to give some of my organs a break. The foods-to-avoid list was more extensive than I’d anticipated: dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, tomato, corn, alcohol, caffeine, beef, processed meats, peanuts, and peanut butter. I knew I didn’t tolerate dairy well, and I’d begun to suspect that maybe soy was not going to be a good dairy alternative. I was just happy to see that I could eat fruit. So for two weeks, I ate a lot of salads, fruit, and non-gluten whole grains. Fortunately, I really like salads, and the ingredients are beautifully plentiful and affordable this time of year (I’m hoping, now that I’m writing more regularly, that I’ll start inserting pictures into my posts again). My regular meals were: quinoa or brown rice with fruit and rice milk for breakfast; salads, with a variety of colorful and tasty vegetables and sprinkled with chia and hemp seeds and sliced almonds, for lunch and dinner. When I had questions (and I had a lot), I’d ask my dear friend, Julie–see http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/ for a plethora of healthy-eating wisdom; it’s a delightful journey of literary wit and gastronomic adventures.

Between my semi-weekly visits to Dr. Molly’s house of healing (she doesn’t call it that, but she should) and my new health habits, I’ve felt better than I have in years–no tummy aches or headaches, and I require way less sleep and feel alert throughout my days.

My first introduction of a new food was inadvertent. Who knew canned tuna uses soy? Maybe it’s a preservative or something, I don’t know, but I certainly would not have chosen to introduce anything new during my work day! It was such a tiny amount, but the ensuing tummy ache and headache sent my to the tuna-fish can to read the ingredients. Since I was leaving a few days later for South Carolina and Johnny’s graduation from Army Basic Training, Dr. Molly and I decided I should go back on the detox for my week of travel. It was surprisingly easy to stay on the diet most of the time. I went to a grocery store the day I arrived and bought salad stuff and snacks. There were a few meals we ate on base (food court of the PX), but there was one place that sold salads. The family went to a BBQ place one day–everything was fried, breaded, swimming in BBQ sauce (tomato), loaded with cheese, or (usually) some combination. It looked and smelled delicious, but the way I was feeling every day was strong motivation to “be good.” I was not disappointed to have to resort to a protein shake for that meal.

I have been very slowly trying new things. The foods it seems I can have: eggs, gluten, very limited amounts of coffee (one cup a day, a few days a week, instead of my three or four cups a day every day of the week), and alcohol. This weekend, I plan to bake a loaf of whole wheat bread–I hope that turns out well for me. Unfortunately, a few days ago, I confirmed that soy is poison to me. Without thinking, I ate a protein bar (which was made of soy, and dairy, and soy, and corn, and soy, and dairy, and soy). The next day was rough, the day after that was even worse. Thursday, I was tired, had a headache, and had more pain in my neck than I’d had since I started seeing Dr. Molly. Yesterday, I was in pain to the point of tears, so tired I was muddleheaded and had to leave work early, and (hardest of all for me, I think) an emotional wreck. I spent more time crying than not yesterday. In retrospect, I’m guessing the meltdown was a vortex of several things hitting at once combined with having poisoned my body (causing pain, over-tiredness, and stress).

As I said, my motivation to eat well is strong, and confirmed daily. My daughter likes eating healthfully, as well, and it’s nice to have someone to cook with. Eating out is a challenge, unless it’s to http://www.jasonsdeli.com/ or http://www.soupersalad.com/ or some other place with a self-serve salad bar. Shopping takes a lot longer now because I have to read every label. It seems everything has soy of some form in it, most insidious–soy lecithin (ok, I know it’s not technically insidious, but it sure feels like it!). Well, as my friend Julie (http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/) says, “Honey, that’s why you only eat foods without labels!” Certainly would be easier.

Today, I’m still a little muddly, but I’m feeling a lot better: less pain (probably use an icepack on my neck after I post this), not as emotionally distraught, but still pretty tired. Dr. Molly said it would be three or four days of getting over the assault on my body, but I was hoping it wouldn’t take that long. Seems she knows what she’s talking about… again!

 

Gratitude July 10, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living,Relaxing,Times with My Family,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 11:50 am

Recently, I have been thinking about some things I’m very grateful for. I’d like to share with you just a few of them, as well as the events that prompted the realizations…

Today, while checking my work email so that tomorrow (my second day at work since June 24–the first being June 28 when I went in for half a day to process payroll) won’t be completely overwhelming, I saw an email notifying me that my fish order will be delivered tomorrow and that I need to be prepared to take it home as soon as possible. Grateful for: having internet access at home so I can check email at my convenience. Not having to be completely surprised and unprepared for upcoming events (one necessary preparation today: defrosting, cleaning, and organizing my freezer). Working for a company that sells fish (which I love) and that is generous enough to allow me to buy some of the best fish I’ve ever had at a price I can afford. Living in a home big enough to allow me to have a full-sized freezer. Having a freezer large enough to store a year’s worth of fish, a year’s worth of beef, and a year’s worth of green chiles at once, in addition to foods I can purchase in quantity because they are on sale. Having money to buy the aforementioned foods.

As I sit on my front porch enjoying the weather, the view, and a cup of coffee, I’m grateful for: having a home with a front porch and a view. Rocking chairs and a table so heavy it won’t be blown to Kansas or Wyoming by the high winds we get here in Peyton. Coffee. Owning a laptop so I can sit on my front porch and still use my computer. Cell phones so I don’t have to miss the call or text of someone I love (you know who you are).

I miss my kids. I’m grateful for: having amazing kids I enjoy and who love and get along with each other–enough to spend their vacation times on adventures together. Having kids I am so proud of! Kids who aren’t afraid to follow their dreams… even when those dreams don’t look like they originally thought they would and being willing to take the risks and to follow those new paths. Having kids who love God with all their hearts and seek Him first in their life plans. That each of my kids is my absolute favorite.

As I sit here on my front porch writing my thoughts, I’m grateful for: living in a country that encourages, even requires, that all children–including females–be educated, an education that is offered at no cost to families of any socioeconomic status. The ability to read and write. A natural giftedness for communicating in the English language. A love of the beauty, the fun, and the essential limitlessness of words. Living in a country that encourages its citizens to express their thoughts, even providing for that freedom of expression in one of its most important documents.

Thinking over my life–the things I’ve done well and mistakes I’ve made–I’m grateful for: the natural consequences that help me learn lessons quickly… most of the time. Grace and forgiveness so that I’m not paying the painful price of my errors in a way that destroys me or those I love. Friendships and honesty so I can be encouraged in the successes, so I can continue along right paths, as well as be shown the errors in a loving way, correcting some before they become tragedies. Growth that allows me to learn from my successes and failures.

Also, as I sit here on porch and look at the view, I’m grateful for: my lawn and my lawn mower. I am going to go now and avail myself of said lawn mower so I can cut the grass that is now long enough to wave in the aforementioned Peyton winds.

I’m grateful for you who find my writing worthy of your time. Thank you.

 

Optimism June 25, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living,Life Questions — coffeegirl63 @ 12:13 pm

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am an optimist. I haven’t always been an optimist. As a child, I had a pretty bright outlook. It was sort of in the middle that I developed a rather dim view on life. Fortunately, in the last couple years, I have found my inner rose-colored glasses. I missed my rose-colored glasses. It’s good to have them back.

According to www.dictionary.com, optimism is defined as: 1. a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome. 2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world. 3. the belief that goodness pervades reality.

Yeah, these are all accurate reflections of reality, as I see it.

Some things have happened recently that have left me contemplative. My life-path journey seems to follow a circuitous, serendipitous road. I trust this is indicative of a curiosity about and a joyful embracing of the presence of life more than a simple lack of direction. Outside of that dim-view time, I have tended to follow the sights, sounds, and smells that fascinate me most. I don’t think of myself as a risk-taker, but lately I like trying new things–from foods to adventures. I was even brave enough to traverse the Royal Gorge Bridge and cross back over by way of the aerial tram. It was very scary, but fortunately I had someone to hold my hand (and whose arm I could grip with ferocity, when necessary) through the very scary parts. It’s been slowly building, but within the last 6 – 8 months, I started looking at situations with the assumption that they would work out for the best. In general, people will do the right thing and will be kind to each other. If things don’t happen that way, it’s a fluke.

I’ve come to believe strongly that every interaction between people is an opportunity for a positive relationship to be established. Sometimes, that relationship will last the 5 or 10 minutes you’re in contact, but sometimes it turns into a lasting friendship or business relationship. I’m not sure when I realized how much it fed my soul to be able to make someone laugh or to find a point of commonality with a stranger, but I now know that it’s a very powerful force in my life.

Some people find this irritating. I understand that and will dial it down a bit when I’m with them. When I go visit my sister, we usually go shopping for the week’s groceries the morning after I get there. Once, as we were leaving the grocery store, she said, “Do you have to speak to everyone in the store?” I said, “I didn’t talk to everyone. I didn’t talk to that guy. But I can if you want.” For being best friends, we have some glaring personality differences! When my son was going into his Army recruiting office the week before leaving for basic, he asked me to wait outside. His reasoning: he had to take care of some business, and I would get to be best friends with everyone in the office, and before we left I’d have everybody’s phone number and several of the guys will have asked me out on dates. Well, I think he was exaggerating, but I can see how it would be distracting for him to take care of Army business if I’m in there making new friends. So I waited outside.

The contemplation-inducing events? They range from dealings with the IRS and the CO Department of Revenue to orders placed through Amazon.com.

Everyone knows that dealing with the Internal Revenue Service is not meant to be pleasant, right? Some even say the agents have been trained to be unhelpful, and the really good ones are downright grumpy. As a payroll professional, however, I have just not found this to be true. When you call the IRS, you will get the next agent in queue. They answer with Mr/Ms LastName and their ID number, and they are very professional. Now, each time I call the IRS, in spite of nay-sayers’ dire predictions to the contrary, I have left the conversation with all my IRS-related issues resolved. Every time I have conversation with an IRS agent, there has been a story and/or a laugh shared. And I understand that has more to do with how I relate to people than with how they were trained to process calls. Usually, I’m calling to get information or to let them know that my company doesn’t actually owe them money as their records seem to indicate. One time, however, I misapplied a deposit to the incorrect quarter. By the time I received the letter, there were penalties, fees, and interest charges. Now, it was my fault–I wasn’t paying attention when I posted my deposit. I called just to ask how to get the deposit applied correctly. The agent helped me, we got everything taken care of, we had our story-sharing (he was raised just a few miles from where I was), and then he asked if there was anything else he could do. I asked if there could be any grace for me regarding the extra fees since I was so new at my job. He hesitated, and then said, “yes, let me take care of that for you.” I don’t know if that’s how they normally handle that situation, but I know I was given grace because I asked. I’m also pretty sure that if I’d called with a grumpy and defensive attitude, my company would have been paying those few thousand dollars in fees to the IRS.

When you, an employer, begin withholding and paying income taxes on behalf of your employees, the various tax agency are probably grateful, but you will soon receive letters saying, “um, you’re paying withheld taxes now? well, why didn’t you pay before this? and before that? and before that? and …” So, you send the letters and make the phone calls to explain that you didn’t withhold and deposit taxes on behalf of your employees in those previous time periods… because, well, you didn’t have any employees to withhold from. In my experience, this is a quick and simple fix. However, the letter I got from CO also had our name spelled incorrectly. Now, when you call the Colorado Department of Revenue employer help-line, you will most often be greeted by a message along the lines of, “Hi. This is Colorado. We care deeply for you and respect you far too much to leave you on hold indefinitely, or really for longer than about 15 minutes. It appears that your wait time will be more than 15 minutes now, so we would like you to call back later so we can help you sooner.” and then they hang up. This is much kinder than the state of CA, which says, “we’re busy” click. But still. Playing around on the website, I discovered they have a walk-in office in Colorado Springs. The first time I went in, there was a hand-written note on the door saying that the agent would be back later due to a family emergency. Later, like this afternoon, or later, like in a few weeks? I wasn’t sure, and neither was anyone else in that location. I was able to get in to see the Tax Examiner a few days later. The wait wasn’t too long, and the agent was very helpful… again, professional, like the IRS agents. When we had resolved everything, he looked to the door as if to say, “Next.” I stood up to go, but then made a decision. As I stood up,  I asked his name. I put out my hand and said, “Keith, thank you so much.” He looked at my hand for a moment before shaking it. I said, “My name is Joni, and I really appreciate your help today.” He gave me his business card and told me to call him if I had any more questions. When I got back to the office, I emailed a thank you note to him and connected with him on LinkedIn. A few days later, he emailed me that he noticed there were a couple other things we’d missed, with information on how to take care of them. One of the items involved pretty big fees, but with his help I wasn’t charged for anything. We’ve stayed connected and I have a new relationship because I was friendly for a moment when it wasn’t required.

I don’t always get to know, but I really hope these interactions bless the person I’m talking to as much as they bless me.

How could this relate to Amazon.com? This is the instance that really made me start to question this whole optimism thing and if there was more to it than a sunny vs cloudy outlook on life. I’ve been trying to eat more healthfully. Real food is, for some reason, much more expensive than fake (processed) food. Fortunately, amazon.com sells a lot of organic and natural foods for less than the local grocery stores do. I had several things I wanted, but I had to stay in a budget. I ordered chia seeds, hemp seeds, and organic almond butter. (If you talk to my really good friend Julie at glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com she’ll tell you exactly why those are wonderful things to have. I just like the seeds on my salads and in my smoothies and the butter on a lot of things. I highly recommend you pay her a visit.) As I was checking out, amazon asked if I wanted to use my amazon visa (sure, I only use it when my daughter uses my debit card and I forget to get it back from her, but I pay it off right away). Then amazon asked if I wanted to use my points. Points? I remember my amazon visa would periodically send me an amazon gift card, but there hadn’t been one for quite a while, so I just figured they weren’t doing that anymore. Evidently, they’ve been storing them up for me. Well, my current order didn’t even use half my points. Since I had more on my shopping list, I went back in. Ultimately, I got almost $200 worth of groceries for free (because amazon.com doesn’t charge for shipping if you spend more than $25).

The question I’ve started asking myself and others: Does optimism attract positive, even unrelated, results from life? I’ve been watching my more pessimistic friends, and it seems that the bad things they expect happen. Is it a matter of focus? Am I only seeing my positive results because that’s what I hear from my mouth and mind? Am I only seeing their negative results because that what I hear them talk about? Or are the results truly guided by the attitude? By the way, I’ve also seen studies that add the caveat that pessimists have their levels of success because they see life more realistically and are not disappointed.

I’ve heard that optimistic people live longer, healthier lives. That’s probably best–they enjoy life more. If your life sucks, why would you want it prolonged… especially in bad health. “Studies have shown” that optimistic people have more good things happen, while pessimistic people have more bad things happen. I still have down days when it’s hard to see any good in life. While I used to have a few (never consecutive) good days, now I have a few (never consecutive) down days. And I know the best thing for me is to talk to someone who loves and understands me. Not the ones who answer the phone with, “How aaaaaarrrrre youuuuuuuuu???” (FYI… NOT helpful). My depths of despair are not nearly as deep, and they’re much easier to climb out of. Is that because I’ve made choices toward optimism? My medications haven’t changed, so it’s not that. Or is it just that life is sunnier, so I don’t get as depressed?

I’d love some feedback on this. What’s your opinion? What is your experience? Is optimism a magnet for success, health, and long life? Or does it just seem that way?

 

Keeping and Breaking Rules April 28, 2010

Filed under: Food,Healthy Living — coffeegirl63 @ 8:56 am
Tags: , ,

 There are certain clear and unbreakable rules regarding food… rules that must never be broken. Some people say that these rules are mine and mine alone, that no one else sees that food even needs to be governed by any standards at all. But they’re wrong; very wrong. Why, my friend Mary, were she not so averse to the spotlight, would stand right here beside me, defending every rule… and adding a few of her own. What are those rules, you ask? Those of you who have known me very long at all could recite several of them with me. Who the first person was to think my ways so entertaining, I don’t know; but it’s really caught on. Oh, wait… no, I’m pretty sure it was —you know who you are!  

What was that? Oh, yeah. The rules. Ok. I must begin with a disclaimer. If you ever watch me eat, you’ll know how I’m doing emotionally by seeing how my food looks on the plate(s) and the way in which I consume the food… in some cases, even the food itself. I’ll try to walk you through it, although I haven’t always been aware of many of these myself. At the height of my painful bipolar days, food was the only area of my life I felt I really had any control over. At that time, my ideal plate was very specific. Green vegetables at 6:00, then working clockwise around the plate: other bright-colored vegetables, potatoes or bread at 12:00, corn or other light vegetables at 2:00, and meat at 4:00. If there was anything sweet, it was right at the center… but only if there was no liquid involved. And none of this food ever, ever, ever, ever touched! I liked to have a variety of bright colors—“aesthetically pleasing” was a phrase often heard in my home. Everything was eaten in clockwise order, starting at 6:00, and NEVER going counter-clockwise. This is one I wasn’t aware of until eating out with friends one night. My friend Katie ate some food off my plate. Another friend commented that she was surprised it didn’t bother me. Katie said, “oh, no, it’s ok… when she eats something and moves onto the next thing, she never goes back.” I thought, “what? oh, my gosh, it’s true! I never DO go back!”

Other rules are not as complex. Never, ever, ever, ever fruit in chocolate. There is never any situation that allows for wet bread. Fruit is sweet. It is a dessert. It has no business hanging out with the meat or the salad or the vegetables or any part of the regular meal. Textures are there for a reason—there’s no cause to go mixing them all up and confusing the mouth. I’m sure there are more that I’m not remembering, so feel free to comment if you know of any I’ve missed (or have any of your own that I should incorporate?).

In the last few years, the specificity required in the actual plating of my food has diminished somewhat, only to be brought out again at times of great need. It’s true—from time to time, food on my plate sometimes touches other food on my plate and there are times I’ll even roam all over my plate grazing like I haven’t a care in the world. Some of the others, however, are hard and fast rules that are not to be trifled with. For example, there really is never a situation that calls for wet bread. Bread is supposed to be dry—that’s why you bake it in the oven instead of soaking it in the kitchen sink.

And now, well, the times, they are a’changin. It started when my friend Mary convinced me to try dark chocolate lava cakes with port. Alas… I loved it! Now I regularly enjoy dark chocolate with a good dark red wine. I’ve even introduced friends to the concept, including my friend Jenny—check out her fun food blog. And then, once, at a sports bar, I was offered hot wings with a mango-chipotle sauce. It was really good! I’m afraid it’s all gone downhill from there… and that brings us to today…

Ok, so you know that I’ve been eating better so that I can lose some weight and get healthy again. I’ve been eating a lot of salads, which I’ve really been enjoying. I’ve been making my own salad dressing with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), apple cider vinegar, and whatever herbs and spices appeal to me—the fresher, the better. Mostly, my salads are made of greens and a few crunchy vegetables. Today, a friend called to say he was in the neighborhood (of my office) and wondered if I wanted to have lunch. I told him I had enough to make salads for both of us and invited him to join me at my office, no need to pick up food on the way, I had plenty… really. Like a good little hostess, I went to the kitchen to prepare our lunch. Uh oh, I misjudged my resources. I used what I had—baby spring greens, spinach, jicama, red bell pepper, tomato, brined artichoke heart bottoms, canned hearts of palm—and then started to rummage. I always have a variety of food at the office so I don’t have to eat lunch out. I found some Greek olives, some marinated mushrooms, and some deli turkey and cheese. Here’s where things deviate from what I have always found to be right and true. I found a Granny Smith apple. Yes, you guessed it—I chopped it up and added it to my salad. At this point, if there had been ANY caution left, I’d have thrown it all to the wind. I added imitation crab and sliced almonds. By this time, there wasn’t enough of my salad dressing left… so… I stirred in a little red pepper hummus and a bit of orange-mango juice. By the time it was all together, it was so pretty I just had to take a picture.

Do you know what? (And I realize I may lose some readership here. Mary, please don’t give up on me; after all, you started it!) That salad tasted fantastic… all those different flavors? It was amazing! 🙂

In Him, Joni