Fussing and Fretting

Thoughts to Ponder – May 28, 2015

 “The focus of our own behavior should be our primary focus.”

Window of Wisdom1

“The energy we lose in fretting, we would gain with a smile.”

Pamela Harper2

How often do we think, or say, “Work would be wonderful if it wasn’t for my coworker who rambles on and on at staff meetings and my boss who expects miracles.” Or perhaps, “My marriage would be wonderful if only my husband/wife wasn’t such a jerk.” It may be true that our coworker, boss and life partner are complete and total jerks. If they are, there is nothing we can do to change them. We have to either accept their behaviors or move on to something better.

Of course, our own behaviors are exemplary. Don’t we wish? An old saying goes something like, “For every finger we point at someone else, four are pointing back at us.” Yet, pointing fingers seems to be our primary occupation. We love to criticize everyone and everything that is contrary to what we believe or how we think we act.

While we are pointing our fingers, we are also fretting about how the other person’s behavior is going to affect us.  We just think that their misbehavior will reflect badly on us. Most likely it won’t, but if it does we won’t be held responsible.

We also fret about all sorts of things that will most likely never happen. “If I buy a new car, some fool will put a dent in it.” True. Eventually, all cars get dents and scratches. “If I tell the doctor about my stomach ache, he/she will put me in the hospital and run all sorts of tests.” Possibly, and just as probably, the doctor will tell you that your stomach hurts because you’re eating something that isn’t good for you. All you have to do is eliminate that item and all will be well. I know, that particular food is delicious and life will be miserable without it. However, we just might learn to like celery if we smile when we eat it.

I’ve been fretting a lot lately about health issues. Nothing is seriously wrong. I just have several minor issues that need attention. I’m not fretting that I have a terrible condition. I’m fretting because my issues require temporary exercise and outdoor limitations, the weather is beautiful and I want to be outside having fun this time of year. I’m fretting and pouting about something very minor in the larger view of life experiences. Yet to me, they seem gigantic and fretting is draining the energy I could be using for something productive, even if it is in the house. I might think, “This will give me time to dust the ceiling fan.” Yeah, right!

At the same time I’m pointing my finger at my health care providers because their treatments are causing my short-term discomfort. My health care providers did not cause these issues, my own carelessness did. Over the years I have been careless about following their advice, so now I’m paying the price. Luckily, the price is very low when compared to what other people endure. I’m grateful that my discomfort is minor and I want it to stay that way.

As a result, I’m asking my guides to gently remind me to accept the blame for my problems, take steps to care for my health (and other issues) and stop thinking that anything else is more important. It’s hard to face, but a step I must take. I cannot blame my old behaviors on anyone but myself and fretting about the results harms no one but me. Well, except for the people who have to listen to me complain.

And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 28, 2015

1 Window 781, by awindowofwisdom@wordpress.com

2 Pamela Harper, pamela@pamelaharper.com

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

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Express your gratitude

Thoughts to Ponder – May 17, 2015

“The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who
has done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.”
Russel Lynes1

Gratitude is not just to be felt, but also to be expressed. Too often we feel grateful for someone who has done something nice for us, but we often do not express our gratitude. We say, “Thanks” or “Ok, nice” and let it go at that. Yet when we do something nice for others, we hope that they will express their thanks in a more effusive manner, such as, “Oh, what a wonderful thing you did. I really appreciate your hard work.”

Often this happens because of the way we were raised. Erma Bombeck once wrote, “I’m going to call my dad to tell him I love him – and listen to him say, ‘This call is costing you a fortune’ and hang up.”2 My parents grew up during the Depression when people had very little money to buy gifts. As a result when they received a gift or kindness, they often questioned the giver’s ability to provide that gift. For example, my mother would usually say something like, “This is pretty, but it costs too much,” not quite as curt as Erma Bombeck’s dad, but the words still hurt.

Six or seven years ago, I felt so frustrated that I said, “Mom, you take all the fun out of giving.”  She responded, “My friend recently told me that I take the blessing out of giving.” I replied that her friend was right. Mom became somewhat more expressive of her gratitude after that.

An excellent example of this happened when I was in high school. My church’s youth group planned a spring break trip to New York City. I saved up as much money as I could and my parents added the rest even though it stretched their budget to the limit. A few days before the trip my geometry teacher asked me to stay after class. My imagination saw all sorts of terrible situations. When class was over I reluctantly made my way to her desk only to learn that she was gifting me with $20 to spend however I wished on the trip. While on the trip, I budgeted carefully, did not spend the $20 and purchased a $1 or $2 souvenir for her to express my gratitude. My parents congratulated me on my frugality.

On my first day back to school I presented the teacher with the trinket and she thanked me. Pleased with her gratitude, I gave her the $20 and told her I didn’t need it. With a sad face, she responded, “I know you didn’t need it, but I wanted you to enjoy yourself a little more than your budget would allow.” I didn’t understand the impact of returning the money until much later. I was an ungrateful receiver of her kindness. My pride had not let me spend her generous gift.

As I look back I realize how much I hurt her feelings and know that I cannot make amends since she has long since left earthly life. The only way I can repay her kindness is to do as Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”3

I ask my Guides to remind me more often of all that has been lovingly given and to pay it forward as often as I can.
And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 17, 2015

1 Reader’s Digest 1954, listed in The New Penquin Dictionary of Modern Quotations
2 Treasury of  Women’s Quotations, pg 67, Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall
Treasury of  Women’s Quotations, pg 144, Carolyn Warner, Prentice Hall

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

What’s normal? Thoughts to Ponder – May 11, 2015

 “If you are always trying to be normal
you will never know how amazing you can be.”
Maya Angelou*

“Life can only be understood backward;
but it must be lived forwards.”
Soren Kierkegarrd*

Life is filled with contradictions. Last week I was filled with despair because I felt I did not live up to certain alumnae expectations. Of course, by the time I finished writing my sob-story, the despair was gone. Just putting the words on paper gave my thoughts structure and evaporated anxiety’s power it held when flying around my brain hitting this nerve or that sore spot.

Today’s quotes put that angst and recovery in perspective. I am not and never will be normal, whatever that is. Only by looking back can I understand how amazing graduating college at age 47 was.

I began my life by being born with a full head of bright red hair on Valentine’s Day. That put me in the not-normal category before I had done anything more interesting than burp. Since my mother had brown hair and my father had white/blonde hair the predominant question the rest of my childhood was, “Where did she get that red hair?” The naturally related comment was, “Oh, you have so many freckles!” All this was happening when my goal was to get a tan like normal people. Covering up at the beach when everyone else was stretched out in the sand was misery.

The next thing that not-normal thing that happened was my making the honor roll every year until I quit trying. My parents were children of the Depression. School was not high on many parents’ priority list – food and work were the top issues. My parents did not lack intellectual ability, they just lacked education. So the second question was, “How did she get so smart?” I was proud of being smart, but tired of the insinuations that my parents were dumb. Even I thought they were dumb until I was old enough to look back and saw how much they had accomplished.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I was not considered normal by most adults or classmates. How I longed to be like everyone else. I’ll just say that feeling alienated led me to make some “stupid” mistakes that led to gifts like my children, travel, library cards in many locations and unusual experiences.

Now that I’ve reached the mature age of 25 and have four great-grandchildren, the “other blonde” has softened the red in my hair. People are now aware of skin-cancer and the need to cover-up. So I look more normal. Thanks to public information and television shows like “Scorpion” and “Big Bang Theory” about people who have IQs much higher than mine, I’m considered normal, though an usually young great-grandmother.

Now I can look backward and understand that I’ve had an amazing life and have an amazing future to contemplate. What more can I ask of life? I thank Universal Energy for all the experiences that brought me to where I am today, even though they seemed difficult at the time.

And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 11, 2015

*Both quotes are from “Inspiration, 5-7-15 Defy Ordinary” by Pamela Harper, http://www.pamelaharper.com

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Thoughts to Ponder – May 5, 2015, Pain and joy

 “Emotional discomfort, when accepted, rises, crests,
and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes parts
of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined.
No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional
pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive,
and expansive. It’s different from the sting of decay;
the pain leaves you healthier than it found you.”
Martha Beck*

This quote came at the perfect time.

This afternoon I received my Alverno College alumnae magazine. As those publications do, it highlighted outstanding alumnae and their achievements. I’m extremely proud that I graduated from this top-ranked college in only five years at the age of 47 while working full-time. That schedule precluded participating in student events and making close friends, a part of the “normal” college experience. However, my BA degree allowed me to earn promotions that previously would have been out of my reach. Yet reading the magazine, I wondered if they are proud of me. A profound sadness fell over me as I thought they would not be.

A series of life choices led me to attend Alverno at that particular time in my life. I married shortly out of high school, basically to leave home and my hometown. We had some fun, some tough times and three wonderful children. Yet, over the years I determined that this was not what I wanted from life and left the marriage, taking the children with me.

Life as a single mother was hard – and rewarding. Other experiences led me down a path that was often enjoyable, but sometimes miserable. At one point after college, I was working three part-time jobs. All were interesting and great learning experiences, but not where I anticipated I’d be after college.

Then came the day when all my children and sons-in-law were out of the military and had settled lives. I decided to retire at 55 and move to Virginia so I could get to know my adult daughters, their husbands and children while they were still young. This was the best decision of my life. We became friends and I adore my four great-grandsons. If I had waited until 65 to retire, all these loving family members would be strangers. There are times when I think I’m more of a burden than a contributor, but that is my impression to correct.

Since I moved here I’ve had some exciting jobs and some depressing jobs. My jobs now are excellent for retired people, not for career building. At this point in my life I do not want to build a career, I want to experience peace, love and joy and meet interesting people along the way. I have met some dear friends and teachers. I wish we could be closer friends. Whose fault is that? Definitely mine, because I hesitate to reach out to them. Instead I sit at home and wish they would call me.

All this is a long way to say that I’ve experienced every word of Martha Beck’s quote. I know that all she said is true. As I look back on my various experiences I can see the highs, lows, pains and the lessons they presented. Every experience taught me something I needed to learn.

Today’s lesson was to accept all my experiences, even those that seemed to be terrible mistakes. I must accept myself where I am today. It is never too late to begin a new phase, a new adventure. I ask you to hold me to that knowledge and not let me waste my time fretting and moaning.

And, so it is.

© by Sharon D. Dillon, May 5, 2015

*Daily Inspiration, May 5, 2015, from “The Willingness Factor: Learn to Avoid Avoidance” by Martha Beck, Inc.

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com