A couple of social media friends inadvertently asked me to do something hilarious with the original photo. Instead, I had a moment imagining the morning. This is what I wrote and created:
The “Wake up!” shouted in her dream brought her instantly to consciousness. She stared at the small red aura of the clock in her peripheral vision for a few seconds.
It had been her own voice in her dream. She drove with her companion as he hung his head out the window, smelling the water and watching the scenery pass. She fumbled with her phone long enough to snap a picture of the moment. In her dream, she experienced a series of overlapping moments, each one of her through the course of her life. The last one was a picture she’d happily snapped one hundred and twenty-three days ago. She slowed the car as she came to a stop. The images flowed backward across time, carrying her from adulthood back to her infancy. The reversal repeated, bringing nostalgia and appreciation for the moment – and for all the moments she’d lived.
As the dream faded and its grip loosened, she wondered what it meant and what the day might hold. She smiled secretly as she lay in the shadows of the morning.
Infrequently, I try to use my endless ideas to create something ‘serious.’ I hate that word, as it needlessly demarcates life into impossible categories. I’m both ridiculous and contemplative – as most people are.
For years I’ve thought that Washington Regional Medical System needed both a new logo and a new name, one that reflects simplicity, recognizability, and appropriateness. The hospital system is flung across multiple counties, with dozens of clinics. As it has grown, the “Washington” part increasingly becomes a misnomer, especially as it encroaches on other systems in the area.
The name I invented is pronounced “Regional Plus.” The logo is just the word “Regional” with a symbol that uses the essential foundation of the complicated logo it utilized for years. It’s simple, recognizable, and has a plethora of built-in marketing potential. I’d rather have the word “Regional” be purple, too, but I used a nondescript gray to keep the suits and ties happier. Additionally, my proposed rebrand fits on t-shirts, badges, and marketing materials – something the longer current one does not. It will save a LOT of space on signs, too.
“At Regional +, we’re not just a hospital, we’re a hospital plus.”
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to extrapolate dozens of such marketing phrases. Naturally, I have several funny ones, too, but I’ll leave them for later.
I shared it with marketing and a few other people and didn’t get a response. Crickets.
The weird thing? Without evidence, I see this logo becoming the new one for the hospital.
Tell me that mine isn’t better and I will shut up.
My “Ask” project both failed and succeeded. The truth of it is that you can’t control another person’s response – only your own. I wrote that it’s never wrong to ask; the bigger sin is to have an ‘ask’ and remain silent.
“Silence is the gravedigger for enthusiasm, love, humor, and happiness.” – X
Ask Ask for what you want or desire. If you don’t, it is a certainty you’ll never get it. Ask of life and ask of people. The answer, though bitter or not what you sought… It’s at least the truth. Everything starts from there
PS I do mourn the failure. . .
I woke up at 11:30, safe and happy. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I think multiple things kept me awake, one of which was the unusual trip I took to LR to see my sister Carolyn. Her house was built in 1939 and updated before she bought it. It’s a beautiful house, one she’s made comfortable and homey. Like many people, I think she doesn’t see it for what it is. It’s truly something to be proud of, like her life. Although I don’t have a clue how she juggles knowing so many people. She could run for state senate based on the number of friends and acquaintances she keeps up with. Though she will kill me for saying so, she’s fiercely single. But she needs a lot of hugs, preferably from someone really cute and financially capable. Don’t tell her I said so, though. . .
The Target Rule For Women: If you love Target, you can never be truly happy with a man who hates it. . . I got out of bed instead of laying there. My cat Güino did his part, nuzzling me and demanding more treats. So I made him a concoction of juice from cat food paste. He doesn’t eat the actual meaty part. He likes to just lap up the mess I make by compressing extra water into the paste. I’d mock him but I eat some weird things too. We all do. Last week, I made the mistake of making sardine juice. Güino loved it. One afternoon as I sat in the office chair, I turned to watch him hurl a stream of sardine juice across my newly-washed comforter. I could see a look of satisfied amusement on his face as he finished. I’m sure of it. The smell reminded me of a late-night bowling alley after hot-dog and free beer hour. Bed Bath & Beyond does NOT make any candles scented this way. . . The Reg Flag Maintenance Rule For Women: if your man spends more than five minutes on his hair, he’s going to be ridiculously high maintenance about all the things that matter to you or annoy you, too. . .
I still do a few hundred pushups a day, without going crazy like I once did. My cousin was right; doing them made my life more manageable and better. Over the last few months, a couple of people have been energized by my advice to start doing them, too, especially when they realize that they can spend a couple of minutes a few times a day exercising and avoid the hassle of driving or being at the gym – if they choose. When I got my hair cut the last time, a younger barber was fascinated and I sold him on trying them for six weeks. One of the things I explained to him was that he could start with “female” pushups if he needed to. (I also convinced him that he could do ten pushups at a time, multiple times a day. Before long, he’d be doing sets of 25-50, if he wished to, and even between clients.) Male pushups do work more of the lower body, but if upper body fatigue is reached by doing the allegedly easier “female” pushups, they are extremely effective to build upper body strength. It’s a myth that they aren’t great for your physical well-being, much like the mistaken belief that walking isn’t an amazing way to stay in shape. So many people think we have to run, do a lot of cardio, or stress our bodies needlessly to be in shape. “Female” pushups and walking aren’t as flashy as their counterparts but they do result in transformational physical effects if you make them a habit. Any small applied change to behavior becomes a habit. The Law of Increments prevails. . . “To a dog, all food is dog food.” To which I’d add, in the same way, if a person won’t remove their personal filter from what they see in life, circumstances will never change. “All is yellow to a jaundiced eye,” though not my quote, is apt. . . Profile Picture Rule: if the person doesn’t have a visible and updated profile picture, swipe away if you’re looking for a reliable partner to date. It is the minimum level of honesty and telegraphs their ability to be open. Argue all you want; those people have infinite time and access to both phone and their accounts. . . One of the pitfalls of social media is that people don’t use it to expound on the spectrum of their experiences. You see a thirsty photo or one of a big moment and conclude it’s an honest representation of their life. You know from experience it’s probably not. I continue to learn it’s definitely not. It’s both a comfort and a curse, as perverse as that might sound reading it. . .
I went out on the landing around 1 a.m. Güino accompanied me, of course. My solar lanterns had charged well yesterday for the first day of spring but only one still held a dim charge. I heard a strident voice clearly. The person was upset and ranting. I made a cup of strong coffee and knocked on the apartment door. The voice went silent. To my surprise, the door opened. “Here’s a good cup of coffee. Do you need to talk and have someone listen?” The person was astonished and said, “Thanks for the coffee. I’m sorry you could hear me. I didn’t know.” I waited a couple of seconds before saying, “I’m sorry y’all are struggling. It can be better if you want it to.” The person nodded. “Reset it if you can,” I said. “I hope your night goes better.” There’s no moral here. But I do hope they read the inscription on the cup I designed and had made: “Choose your hard.” It’s hard to change but it’s equally hard to continue navigating waters that always capsize your boat. I hope I get the coffee cup back. It’s one of my favorites. . . Yesterday, I was delighted to discover that my internet provider had decided to put the previous tenant’s $500 delinquent bill on MY account. You can imagine the creative phone call(s) and comments I made. It seemed to be a disservice to not respond with humor and sarcasm. The person who lived in my apartment before me not only trashed the apartment but succeeded in ruining her credit. The mistake to my bill was supposedly fixed but I do wonder at the imperfect process that allowed it to happen in the first place. To say something positive along with my negative, I was shocked and delighted to see that I somehow qualified for a $30 monthly credit on my internet bill. I had zero expectations I would be able to. . . During my trip to central Arkansas, I got a ding to my windshield as I exited Conway. When I got in my car yesterday afternoon, the ding had spread to a 4″ crack. I was going to epoxy it today; now I’ll have to hope a window service can drill it out enough to repair without needing a new windshield. I guess that’s what I get for making cracks all the time; it was inevitable that one appear in my window. I get dings all the time driving through central Arkansas. I should probably refrain from driving through so many ditches. That’s where all the interesting stuff is, though. . . The two and a half hours of sleep I managed before midnight will have to suffice for this day. I shouldn’t complain. So many people suffer worse. I’ve been lucky and I can’t forget it. That is the worst kind of entitlement, that of failing to see blessings. . . “If it is important enough to you, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.” Not my quote but resoundingly true. . . It’s going to rain hard later today, which is great. I cleaned more of the parking lot and landings yesterday – by hand, no less, wrenching up detritus and trash that the landlords failed to clean from last fall. A couple of weeks ago, I cleaned up 23 bags of leaves and trash. The rain will do its magic and cleanse the remaining residue. If it isn’t chilly, I’m going to stand out in the rain like a lunatic this afternoon and get drenched. My hope is that it will do its metaphorical work on me, too, taking away the residue of self-doubt and discomfort in my life. . . . .
Words of unexpected encouragement from a while back:
“You’re not too much. You’ve just dealt with others who don’t have the capacity for you. Somewhere, that ‘extra’ that you give is exactly what will fill someone with happiness. Really, you’re going to reduce yourself? How’s that for a slap in the face, X?”
I decided to post it because recently, I explained the 10% Rule to someone who was unfamiliar with it.
We focus our attention on perceived defects about ourselves. But what if instead of trying to change those things, we embraced them and actively sought out people who think those alleged defects are enhancements?
Instead of fighting our nature, find someone who looks at us with a little bit of fire and awe? No hair? Big nose? Odd hands? Love handles? Weird feet? So what. The world is an awfully big place filled with a variety of people.
All of us would be so much happier if we could swing for the fences for someone who appreciates us with our defects.
“Defects become invisible where enthusiasm resides.” – X Its counterpart is this: “Faults are thick where love is thin.”
A sense of humor is the number one key for me. Followed by wit and a quick smile. That wit and quick smile telegraph so much about a person to the world. Things are going to happen – but such an outlook glides past the obstacles without getting stuck. Because I’m a comforter, I want comfort when I’m stressed – and I want to freely give the same. It’s impossible to be myself when someone else isn’t reciprocal during the tough times.
The other thing? Enthusiasm for my presence and the ability to express it with their hands and heart.
I know, the lightning of hypocrisy may very well strike me. That’s okay. I’m mortal in the worst way. I fought a losing battle with wanting attention until I realized I didn’t want to fight for it anymore. It was the worst kind of agony trying to put it into practice.
When I was 20, gray hair set in. About that time, I adopted a short, almost military-style haircut. For convenience. My hair is one of the least important things about me. Now that some of my hair is permanently gone, I don’t chase getting it back or hiding the salt and pepper. Far from it. It’s like me new scar running up my abdomen. I own it and as perverse as it sounds, I’m glad in some ways that it happened.
Now that I lost weight, my sternum is odd. It was one of the first things that emerged from beneath my fat. I used to lie in bed and touch it, both surprised and tickled. As the rest of my body caught up, it tickles me that my sternum has that ‘jut’ in it. Below it, I have a weird connection from the surgery that obscures my stomach muscles. I’ll never get rid of it without surgery. But I would never want to. I don’t care if the whole world sees it.
For some, I am too much, too needy, too something.
The 10% rule continues to tell me that I need only one person to find me to not be “too much.” . .
One of the reasons that so many have problems with social media is that they don’t understand the psychology of argument, much less see themselves as other people do. You’re not going to affect someone’s opinion by using a megaphone. Or harsh words. Your volume will be heard – but never absorbed. You become background noise in a world that already has sufficient static to dishearten us. People need truth to be whispered to them, preferably with a velvet glove. Addicts don’t hear love, angry people don’t respond to outreach, and most of us must approach new information sideways, like human crabs. It takes time and compassion to affect someone. I hate that I only learn many of my lessons after the class of life is already over. I know I’m wrong about so much, because as confident as I was when I was younger, it is painfully clear that my ignorance held me captive. That process surely still continues, with future days looking back at today in surprise at my slow evolution.
Words are an important component of the process. Actions are another. If you’re polarizing, you are shouting on the internet. People will tune you out. Whether you’re blind to this truth or not, you should pause and consider what kind of conversations and communication have an impact on you. I’ll bet that your vision doesn’t include anger, shouting, or aggressive insistence. Communication requires comprehension. By being tersely aggressive, you’ve short-circuited your ability to not only reach people, but also to put a little bit of ‘you’ inside their heads, much less their hearts.
If your goal is to reach a person’s heart and mind, you must take the time to share a little piece of yourself in the process. People might respond if they recognize a bit of vulnerability in your words. It’s easier to accept someone if the listener observes a bit of humanity. People respect doubt, as it provides a common avenue for us all to recognize that we don’t have all the answers.
Take the time to share yourself. Include your opinions in the process. It’s social media. If you understand the social component, you’ll wisely avoid the urge to do the equivalent of standing on the street corner shouting. You’ll get further by shaking hands, hugging, and relating to people in a way they can understand.
If you can find a way to express yourself with love, it will shine through in your words. Everyone will be richer for it.
We want to get to know other people. We feel like we already know you if your tone and tenor is not tender.
I’ll give an example: I wish we had universal health care for everyone. Life can hammer any of us to the point of bankruptcy, whether we’re lucky enough to have insurance or not. Not only would providing healthcare be cheaper per capita, but it sends the message that we are willing to collectively help one another. It is the purest practical expression of love and compassion. “Do unto others” compels me to agree that everyone should have health care equal to me. Health is the often ignored common denominator to a happier life. In the last year, I abandoned so many bad habits and transformed my life and body. Despite doing it right, my body still threw me a red flag and almost killed me. People don’t deserve the physical terrors of cancer and a list of other diseases. When I hear arguments about universal health care, I don’t hear practical arguments: I hear a lack of “do unto others.”
Don’t “@me” that you don’t know how to write. It’s not about that. It’s about openly sharing your thoughts and yourself. Language is never an impediment to sentiment and feelings that brim over and out of your heart. You will always find a way to express the best emotions. We’re hard-wired to do so. All of us.
P.S. If you want to really break free, open your closet of secrets. So much of our anguish is contained in the things we don’t want other people to know. You’ll never be authentically loved if your secrets and locked in a closet.
Maureen entered the house through the garage. “Mark? You in here?” she half-shouted a couple of times as she pushed the door closed behind her using her left foot. She had two bags of groceries in each hand, haphazardly hooked on her fingers. No answer.
She carried the bags into the kitchen, noticing that someone had done the dishes. She put the four plastic bags of food on the stove near the fridge. “Mark?” she said loudly one more time. Odd, she thought.
After putting the groceries away and tossing the sacks, she made her way through the house. Though she and Mark were married over six months ago, she still didn’t know his routine of how he filled his spare moments. Neither of the two kids was home yet. After checking the far bedrooms and the patio, she made her way across the house to the odd storage room where all the miscellaneous parts of their lives got tossed. She heard movement inside and a faint melody playing, so she pushed the sliding door to one side.
Mark was inside, folding shirts and doing laundry. When he saw her, he said, “Hey honey! What’s up?” and then smiled at her with a huge smile. “Hug?” he asked her, spreading his left arm in a faux hook. She walked to him and let him hug her. She kissed him on the lips, a quick peck. “I’m just listening to some tunes in here,” he said.
“Thanks for doing this laundry! I dreaded it.” Maureen gave him another quick peck on the cheek as she thanked him.
“Maureen. We talked about this. Don’t thank me for doing what I should be doing, okay?” He winked at her. “At least not that way.”
Maureen gave him a look of scorn, then smiled.
He was a keeper.
After giving him a real kiss, one loaded with promise for later, Mark told Maureen he’d be in the kitchen in a few minutes. He wanted her to help him cook a chicken dish of hers before the kids piled into the kitchen and made it impossible to cook. “I already did the dishes and cleared the drain tray,” he told her as she turned to leave. She bit her tongue, silencing another “thank you.”
Life wasn’t like she imagined. And she was beyond happy to realize it.
“Humor is in the eye of the beholder but in the craw of the begrudging.”
Underestimating the distance chasm between intent and receipt is one of my greatest weaknesses. But also one of my strengths. How much love, mirth, and creativity fail to shine because we suffer the illusion that we have any control over the manner in which anything is interpreted.
“That which can be adequately explained by stupidity should not be attributed to malice.” It’s a wise cliché for a reason. My version is better: “That which can be adequately explained by humor, stupidity, or simple oversight should not be attributed to malice unless the other guy is a real asshole; in which case, fire away.”
It’s not that we can’t spout malice with frequency.
The reality is that most of the people we allow in our lives just don’t behave that way, not really. And if they do, it’s our fault, not theirs, that we gave them room in our sumo ring.
For every angry word, a laugh is displaced. For every frown, a smile withers. . .
“It’s always funny until someone gets hurt. Then it’s just hilarious.” -Bill Hicks . “Keep your sense of humor. As General Joe Stillwell said, ‘The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind’.” -Donald Rumsfeld . “I am as bad as the worst, but, thank God, I am as good as the best.” -Walt Whitman . Here’s an old one: “I, for one, like Roman Numerals.” .
Iterate and reiterate: sharing something another person made will eventually cause egg on the face because the internet is a vast repository of not-quite-right things. If people see enough of it, they forget which part isn’t right and ultimately decide everything is suspect. It evidently confers the right to claim false equivalency or worse – to lump you in with those who jump into falsity without considering how deeply. It’s one of the many ongoing lessons I’ve learned from our latest, and possibly last presidency. (I added that last part to poke at some of the Chicken Littles. I’m not saying they are wrong, though. The sky isn’t falling until it is.)
It’s easy to be blasé about it when you’re the one doing it because it’s harmless.
Trust me, fools diligently search for every available means to discount you or as a means to justify their baseless claim that everything is equally right or wrong.
If you post a picture of Abraham Lincoln with a quote of his on it, you should be sure that he said it. If someone tells you, “Hey, that quote isn’t an Abraham Lincoln quote,” don’t reply, “But it fits the spirit of the post.” That’s ego talking, not truth and honesty. You’re doing a lesser version of the same mistake as those openly sharing untrue content. The crazies see you justifying your behavior when it suits you and then shift to false equivalencies, wherein all arguments are equally obnoxious.
You’ve rubber-stamped not checking for accuracy.
If you’re doing it purposefully and to vex people, that’s another story entirely.
Two weeks ago, I had this happen twice. Both times surprised me. I was polite and offered a tongue-in-cheek easy exit for both. To my surprise, both reacted exactly like I described: they doubled down. I didn’t take it personally because I wasn’t emotionally invested in the post or its outcome. (Not being snarky there.) They did react poorly to me, though. Try as I might, a crevice formed in my opinion of them.
We’re all going to make mistakes.
If you didn’t make it or write it, you’ll make more.
And if you make one and respond angrily to its note, you’re making two mistakes when a laugh or ‘oops’ would fix it.
“As you share more content from other people, the odds of you being played or manipulated proportionally increase too.” In another life, Abraham Lincoln said that.