Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Be Authentic

My message for today: Be Authentic. Not a people pleaser.  Not a people distancer.  Instead, be authentic.  Be a people includer.  If this comes naturally to you, God bless you.  Me?  No.  I've been a social chameleon, except to you all, here, and my Friendship Coach, my late husband, my brother, and a couple friends.

That social chameleon is one monkey I believe people don't catch on to, because her rose colored mirror is so big all they see is their own pretty reflection.  Who doesn't like that?  Except... maybe they do spot her.  Maybe people are more clever than that, and really want to know the real me.  Hey.  Maybe the authentic me comes out any way.  In any case, I've been deliberately ditching this pretty little monkey and just being - authentic.  In little encounters.  It's a start.  It's fun, actually but for a people pleaser like me, it's unnerving.  I guess this is how you learn who your friends are, when they actually like you for being authentic.

Do you use the Social Chameleon as your default?  When?  Or is it just me? 

I'm crazy busy these days. Next week I take my little RV up to Maine for two weeks and it's so much work to get it up and running.  Its suspension system, which depends on air pressure as well as leaf springs, is still broken, even though my dear mechanic has been troubleshooting it for three weeks.  His last fix hasn't held.  RV's loaded weight is 8800 pounds, and I need plenty of ground clearance in these campgrounds!  Luckily, I just need to push a button on its dashboard to add pressure to the air bladders on the rear axle that hold it up.

Yesterday I vacuumed its upholstery, shampooed its carpets, cleaned its cabinets, washed its windows.  Today I fix its dead outlet, fill its water supply, test its water pump and heater and refrigerator.   None of today's work comes naturally.

Take a deep breath.  Just because it doesn't come naturally, doesn't mean I'm not supposed to be doing it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Writing, Wrens, and Rapport

I'm trying something different here. Here goes.   My day today...

Here's how it began.  As usual, I went out for breakfast.  Many neat choices.  Could be the Diner by the lake.  The Diner near the Parkway.  The Diner with 1950's décor.  The restaurant with wood tables and classical music.  The restaurant with organic eggs.  The little café nestled on a street of antique shops.  Today I went to the restaurant with plain wood tables and elegant music.  "Sit wherever you like!"  they sing out. I know them by name and they know me.  Usually I sit at a table so I can pour over a book or the New York Times, scribbling notes in the margins, maybe writing in my journal.  I wonder if people think I'm an author, or a recluse, certainly a holdout from an age when pens were at the end of our fingertips. 

I'm currently reading a book about Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, that I borrowed from the Library.  For me, it's an absolute revelation that the world operates on an emotional frequency that I assumed was only practiced in secret or in movies.  Hey. If you've read anything about me, you'll understand that both I and my parents were clueless about the ways and means of emotional presence.  I did learn it with my husband, but I thought I lost access to the best parts when he died.   I'll summarize EQ by saying it's our ability to recognize, honor and deal from our feelings in a way that enables us to develop authentic emotional rapport with others.   If we're not taught it (generally by our earliest caregivers), then we don't learn how to soothe ourselves, for instance.  Apprehension, or anxiety, or anger can hijack our brain, literally handicapping our ability to think straight, much less love well.

I'm seeing the light.  #1.  The world is really a friendly place.  #2.  What I really want is emotional rapport.  #3.  It's up to me to make this obvious to one and all.

Back to my day.  For the rest of my day I worked outside with my handyman, a man who shows up most days to help me out.  This man can do most anything practical - replace a roof, build fences, remodel rooms, build terraces, clean exteriors, stain decks, create stone paths, pull bushes out.  For the most part, we get along beautifully.  Some day I'll tell you how we met.


Together, we're fixing up my house to sell.  Well, as if  to sell.  I have no intention of selling it, but this is the only way I can explain spending all this money.  I enjoy my handyman's companionship in an employer, employee kind of way.  At the end of his work day we share beers and chat.  I treasure these two friendly bookends to my day - breakfast and beer.

A wren is raising her young near my garage.  My camera caught what my eye couldn't see - that baby head poking out of the hole to grab that little morsel.

I also had visitors, an 18 year old woman and male companion who introduced themselves and asked for support toward young people like her.  She was born in Chicago to drug addicted parents, and became a teenage unwed mother.   I was fascinated by the way she built rapport, emotional rapport, with me.   I adored her.  True, the former New Yorker in me was cautious about donating to a charity after hearing a hard luck story, but I think she and the charity were legit.  My neighbors  donated, too, and I have a receipt.

Well, that's a snapshot of my day.  I hope you had a lovely day, too.  Do tell!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fixing My Girfriend Picker


I let out a dirty little secret here last month.  A shameful secret.  I was an Oops - Dammit! baby. (Brother and sister have confirmed it was no secret to them that our mother hated my being born.)   During this long blog silence I've been digesting the fact that her rejection said a lot about her and nothing about me.  It had everything to do with her capacity to love, her depression, her alcoholism.  I mean, this is embarrassing.   " Even your own mother couldn't love you!"  Yes, yes, yes, my husband assured me the idiot was her, not me.  But, without him here... shame crawled right back onto my back.   The last straw was being the butt of a family joke for doing the very thing my husband would have been thrilled to do with me - hug the statues on Easter Island. 

Obviously I need assertiveness training with the old crowd.  Those hulking egos, swaggering about with sharp claws and non-stop chatter when I elbow in,  are mere shadows of their former selves.  Aren't we all.  So.  Time for a little target practice.  Not on whoever is left of my dear family.  Nope.  The target's those three idiot monkeys my mother shoved on when I was within spitting distance.  The fur is going to fly!  One monkey is called the Patronizer, who says, 'You're weird.".  One called the Greek Seer, warning  "Rejection ahead! "  And the third, of course, is Shame "Even your own mother didn't love you.  What do you expect?"  Together they supply enough apprehension and anxiety to make me pee in my pants.

I have complied a list of options for dealing with such monkeys. 
  • Do battle with them.  This is best done at night; You're awake anyway
  • Join the Monkey of the Month Club.  If that gets boring, join the Monkey of the Day Club
  • Write them off with a tell all memoir
  • Recycle them onto someone else's back
  • Give them something to knock them out.  Xanax, Chocolate, Whiskey, Haagen Dazs
  • Starve them.  You'll lose weight, too
  • Smoke them out.  Works for moles, maybe monkeys too
  • Make hay of them.  Slice, dice, mince, chop.  Then leave outside to deodorize
  • Make fireworks of them.  Tonight!
  • Put them in back in the stork's sack. Tie it airtight and watch it fly 
  • Tie a big helium balloon to their toe.  Release
  • Add clay and shape into a cross
  • Tune out.  What monkeys?
  • Leave the office door open.  SUPERMANAGER inside 
  • Teach your monkey how to paint or sing. Add tin cup
  • Call Monkey Removal.  1-800-shitbegone
  • Educate the Monkeys.  Monkeys with law degrees live in nice homes 
  • Read up on Monkeys.  Earn your PhMonkeyD
  • Tack your monkey to the bullseye.  Now load your rifle