Friday, September 25, 2015

Bette Davis eyes

Some descriptions are best done by comparison. When my mom was young, people often commented on how much she looked like Ingrid Bergman; and she did! And in the song a girl is compared to both Bette Davis as well as Greta Garbo:
She got Greta Garbo stand off sighs
She's got Bette Davis eyes
It can only mean one thing, placed in that context; the girl is downright beautiful!

When we compare people to other people, it is all about context.

If the person we are compared to has grace, is smart, funny, and has Bette Davis eyes ~ the comparison is meant to be a good thing. However, if the person we are compared to is loud, abrasive, well dressed and rich; things are not as clear-cut as the comparison may mean we are (too) loud, (too) abrasive. But it can also mean we are well dressed and generous, often depending on the conversation, opinion, or on how well liked the person we are compared to is.

This is even more true when we are compared to acquaintances or friends, than when we are compared to public figures. No matter which public figure we pick, each of them has something others may appreciate; something others would hope they could achieve. Whether it is a skill, an income, the house, the ability to move in circles most of us can only dream about…
Yet when we are compared to friends or acquaintances, suddenly it is more about how well we like that other person, rather than the perks and prices the other person possesses.

And just like that we have moved from innocent comparison into gossip and veiled insults.
First talking about someone behind their back, and then comparing someone to them hardly ever brings anything good into being…

But then, even innocent comparison has its drawbacks. As soon as we compare any person to someone else, whether we compare the person to a celebrity or to a peer, we stop seeing that person as the unique individual he or she truly is. We start thinking about that person as ‘dressed like …’, or ‘sounds like …’, or ‘can sing like …’ without appreciating the person ‘as is’.
And when less sought after qualities enter into the comparison, not only do we distract from who the person really is, but often we add just a tinge of insult into the mix.

So I, for one, am very careful not to compare people to other people.
Unless, that is, she’s got Bette Davis eyes!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


There are few things ~ at least on a personal level ~ that we think about as much as we think about our weight. And as time moves on, this seems more true than ever.

Part of that is because our weight has been linked to disease. Being ‘skinny’ ~ within reason ~ gives us a chance to be healthier than when we are a little on the chubby side. When we are overweight the media all around us seems to conspire to let us know that we are at risk (and that it is our own fault).

It has been a well established fact there are all kinds of reasons we can have for eating.
We often eat because we are not feeling happy. We can also eat because we feel bad about ourselves; because we are insecure. Or because we are trying to forget things that have happened ~ sometimes even a long, long time ago ~ that still have an effect on us; on our lives. Or perhaps because we feel pressured by expectations that are put upon us, and we may feel that we can’t live up to those expectations. We don’t measure up ~ in our minds, that is.

Or we may have decided that we will shield ourselves from a cruel world by putting on some ‘padding’.  At least those others then cannot get too close to us…

And then there are the weights we carry. Emotional weights. And sometimes not even our own emotions, but rather the emotional weights of others ~ be it family members, friends, or neighbors.

Things like keeping a family secret can weigh heavy on our minds, and the longer it lasts, the heavier something like that tends to get. And what started out as a secret, a mental thing, can with time become a physical thing.
In other words, the mental or emotional loads we are carrying can become physical and very weighty indeed.

Perhaps this is a good time to start to not be so harsh on ourselves. To cut ourselves some slack.
To focus on the things we are passionate about, the things we are good at and enjoy doing. To do a reality check; there will always be things that a 10-year-old cannot do and shouldn’t be expected to do. However, as an adult we would and can handle things differently…
Maybe this is a perfect time to claim our own space, so we get a better understanding as to what is ours and what belongs to the world around us.
And those secrets and other ‘weighty’ things we are carrying around with us? We can put those aside by simply writing them down and shelving the book we wrote them in…

For many of us, at least part of our ‘weight’ has to do with choices and decisions that may or may not have anything to do with food…

Friday, September 18, 2015

Trees, trunks, and litter boxes

Last month it was decided that one of the few remaining big trees on the other side of the street was not in as good a health as it should be. As a matter of fact, it was decided that the old, big tree was not safe anymore and needed to come down before the next Winter storm would topple it and land it on the row of houses on this side of the street.

It was a sad day when the big willow tree came down.

For the next week or so, one of the cats who used to seek shelter at the foot of the tree, was still returning to seek shelter every night, right where the big trunk once stood…

When I moved here, many years ago, there was a whole row of big, old trees on the other side of the street. Now only one is left; all the others have come down over the past ten or so years. In their place other trees have grown; none of them quite as majestic as the ones that disappeared.
I guess even trees don’t have eternal life.

In this newest empty place, it is promised a new, young tree will be planted. Hopefully it will grow into one of those grand old trees in time.

What seemed to be the last chapter in the life of this tree was that this past week ~ with some big machinery ~ the remaining roots were ground out of the soil and the hole was filled in with fresh dirt, a clean slate, ready for new growth to occur. At least that no doubt was the line of thought behind this happening.

It hardly took a day before other cats went to explore this fresh pile of dirt. Carefully stepping into this dirt that ~ at least from their perspective ~ doesn’t quite belong. Yet.
They quickly decided that this fresh dirt has a major advantage.
As a fresh, outdoor litter box.

Ever since they have rushed outside at certain times, only to come back relieved, with fresh dirt still sticking to their feet, leaving nice, dirty paw prints on the clean floor.

The whole story adds up to a line of events that I would not have connected from start to finish, had I not been there to see it happen over time.
I wouldn’t have guessed the tree was feeble, as it still looked quite healthy. I wouldn’t have dreamed that one of my cats would seek shelter from the remaining energy of the tree, after it was taken down. I was doubtful whether the old roots would ever be removed. And finally, I never expected the excited joy over the newfound, outdoor litter box displayed by my other two cats.

Life is full of surprises!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Catching a cold

It’s just one of those common things, the common cold. And whenever we get it, the common expression is that we have ‘caught a cold’. In all reality, we were hardly catching a cold ~ we didn’t even try. The hard, cold fact is that the cold caught us.

Somehow, while we were busy with all kinds of things, perhaps even so busy that we didn’t quite take care of ourselves as well as we should have, the common cold caught up with us and grabbed hold…
Leaving us with only one course of action: taking it easy, recover, and ~ probably in a couple of days ~ kicking the cold.

As everything has a cycle, this is pretty much the cycle of catching a cold and kicking it again; the way we are looking at it most times.
In doing so, we tend to overlook that step that precedes this cycle. The period of time during which we were so busy that we didn’t look after ourselves.
Being too busy with a work related project, having too many balls in the air at home, or perhaps spending way too much time having way too much fun starting new things, meeting new people…
Or maybe just having closed a period that has been emotional, stressful. A period that had given us the idea that we were locked in a set of circumstances that we might not be able to change; leaving us to ride out the natural progression of whatever was set into motion long time ago.

Whatever has been happening in our lives, one way or another it has brought us to the brink of exhaustion, making us vulnerable for simple mishaps like the common cold. The moment we stopped running ~ even if it was for a couple of minutes, or to take a breath ~ it caught us.
And truth be told, it happens to the best of us every once in a while.

Whether we have been catching a cold, or the cold caught up with us, in a sense is less interesting than what action we take to get rid of it.
Clearly, the moment we find ourselves having the common cold, we recently have been or even still are in some kind of ‘overwhelm situation’ that is asking more from us than we can spend on it. So the best course of action for a speedy recovery might well be to take a ‘time out’.
Even though it is ‘just a cold’, taking time to step back from everything we have been doing and taking time to rest for a couple of days, often is enough to kick the cold, recover, and to move on with our lives.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Two sides to everything

It seems to be more true than at any time before; there are two sides to everything. Often in the most literal sense possible.

This happens with our most personal decisions, it can be seen in work situations ~ whether ‘work’ means a job or a family doesn’t really matter ~ in politics… But perhaps it is most visible on social networking platforms where people take pretty much any opportunity they get to express their opinions, only to make both sides to the issue painfully obvious.

it wasn’t all that long ago when things were seen in all their nuances. Yes, they did have two sides, but in between those two polarities were any number of lines and levels, viewpoints and perspectives that were neither one, nor the other ‘side’ to the issue.
In a sense it made it easier to express our opinions; especially when out opinion could not be categorized as one or the other. It also invited us to keep making up our own mind, follow our own line of thought, and reach our own conclusions at the end of the line.

Now, there seems to be just the choice between one or the other.
No need to look at a multitude of possibilities, or spend time and effort to think things through for ourselves.
Yet, at the same time, it makes us feel more superficial. More two dimensional. And at times a bit more ‘outside of reality’. Because reality, whichever way you look at it, has any number of facets, levels, even sides if you wish; and it doesn’t let itself be forced into a very two-dimensional ‘one or the other’. And then, at the same time it does have two sides to it…

And that is where the conundrum lies.
Reality has two sides to it, and yet it has a multitude of facets…

As long as we only permit ourselves to choose one or the other, we may forget to observe what really is there in all of its nuances and facets. On the other hand, when we just allow ourselves to think it through and only focus on all of its nuances, we may miss the overview where we could have clearly seen those two sides.

Yes, we need all of it, the many facets as well as the two sides.
The only thing we don’t necessarily need is when those two sides to a situation, a topic, an issue or an event are brought to the surface, to draw our lines in the sand and to sound our battle cries…

That’s just not what it is about.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

In the flow

We absolutely know when we are ‘in the flow’. Whether it is being totally in sync with the traffic on our way somewhere, or doing something we very much enjoy doing ~ when we are in the flow things are moving smoothly, effortlessly; and it is easy to forget the time. Time either moves slowly, allowing us to do more, enjoy more than we thought we could; or time moves fast as we are so involved with whatever it is we are doing that we loose our sense of time completely.
We are just flowing with what we are doing, one hundred percent in this very moment.

Other times we find life gets busy and between work, family and social events there may be little time left to move with the flow. Pretty soon we start forcing our chores into the time we have available to do them. Sometimes taking shortcuts to get things done ~ even though they are not ‘done right’, at least it is out of our hair for now.
What started as just a busy period can evolve into an extended period of time in which we feel there is no time for the things we enjoy so much. After all, what is the importance of our enjoyment compared to things we have to do; like work, chores, and so on…
And before we know it, we may find that we are no longer ‘in the flow’; and perhaps haven’t been for a very long time.

The thing is that this attitude is hurting us more than we can imagine.
There is a reason why the saying tells us to take time to smell the roses…

If we don’t take time to smell the roses, to do something that gives us pure enjoyment ~ because well, we enjoy it ~ it is not just the ‘being in the flow’ that we are missing. We will start missing the minutes or hours that we gain energy from doing things we enjoy doing; from being ‘in the flow’ and for one hundred percent in this moment.

Therefore we should probably be a bit more aware ~ or even alarmed ~ when we find we are no longer in the flow of things, as it signals the very moment everything we are doing starts to cost us just that little bit more energy than it should. And it begins to take away from our joy in life, almost without us noticing it.
It would be a good thing to keep track and make sure that we find ourselves ‘in the flow’ at least once a week. Whether it is in traffic, in a creative endeavor, or just enjoying ourselves. If we would do that we will in all likelihood find that we have more energy to do the things that really need to get done!