For many of us, our 2020 outlook was dingy at times and full of sharp edges at other times. It’s now a new year, and boy did it arrive in an explosive way. Last year, and its current new year counterpart, have kind of felt like we’ve experienced an entire lifetime of uncertainty tempered by acute feelings of fear and anxiety with no relief!
Who of us want that to be our 2021 way of being?
Not me. Same-o, same-o just doesn’t work for me. We cannot change what has transpired and have marginal ability to shape what is to come, but I relish the opportunity to control what is within my personal ability to control:
I choose to enter this new year by altering the way I respond to it. When I change my outlook, I have the chance of changing my response. When I change my response, I might be able to paint the way others choose to respond. If that sounds too good to be true, please know it is not. Everything we say and do influences those around us – whether someone living in our own household or the strangers we encounter in the community. We can choose to come from a place of possibilities rather than defeat; from a place of nourishment rather than a viral place of bitterness.
We are all harboring sad and bitter emotions – many of them resultant from the events of 2020. We can’t change the past, but we can create a better present that might turn into a more hopeful future. And let me tell you a secret…sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it. Who knows, you might be so convincing, you’ll be able to drop your efforts at fakery and actually flourish in your new found well-being.
I want that for me, and I want that for you.
Won’t you give it a try with me?
Definition of a barnacle: A marine crustacean with an external shell that attaches itself to a variety of surfaces. One of those surfaces that non-marine barnacles attach to is aging human skin. There, I’ve said it, aging human skin! Mine to be exact! So said my dermatologist at my most recent annual skin cancer screening appointment. But wait, lest you think the only aging attribute one can look forward to is crusty, discolored skin, let me introduce you to one of the sweetest parts of aging in which one can luxuriate: the candy bowl.
My husband and I have put out an easily accessible candy bowl filled with mini chocolates of numerous varieties for the past seven years – there is no mini-sized chocolate we have not tasted. When purchasing provisions at the grocery store the other day, I told the store clerk and bagger, “We’re just trying to keep alive the stigma of old people eating candy. Doing our part to support one of the oldest clichés of our generation.”
I will say, however, that if my husband and I didn’t have the gift of willpower regarding sweets, we would have never started this 365 days of the year tradition. If each of us ate 3 mini-treats a day, I would be surprised. When it comes to candy, we really don’t have a problem stopping at one or two. (Probably can’t say the same for glasses of wine, however.)
Am I thrilled that my skin is old enough to have barnacles? No, but I am thrilled and grateful that I am a woman of a certain age who can boast about barnacles and eating candy in one, celebratory post.
And may I conclude by saying:
I hope to live long enough to keep spotlighting – and celebrating – aging matters for many years to come.
May I live such that my integrity will remain intact the length of my days.
Equanimity describes a way of being with each moment, regardless of that moment’s characteristics, with a sense of the bigger picture in mind.
For me, that equates to understanding the impermanence of everything in life – the good, the bad, the mundane. A gloriously happy moment will eventually fade, but so will a horrific and unbearable moment. It’s more than a this too shall pass way of thinking. Instead, it involves a willingness to simply be with what is.
Standing in the middle of it all. Balanced. Centered.
May 2021 treat you well, as you treat the New Year with kindness.
This past Saturday night, after giving two weeks’ notice, a close family member had his last shift at a local grocery store. A wonderful 72-year old man, he joined the grocery chain’s employment rolls in November 2019, looking for some extra income, but primarily to be a part of a community of people for 20 hours a week.
Then Covid hit. At the advice of his doctor, he masked up, shielded up, and exercised extraordinary precautions so he could continue his frontline retail experience and stay safe. He never got Covid from his retail experience but he – and his fellow employees – endured verbal and physical abuse during the course of their workday. Here are just a few examples:
- People entering the store, ignoring the state-mandated mask requirement, and verbally attacking store employees when handed a mask to wear while shopping.
- Others walking into the store to purchase late-night snacks, not wearing a mask, and berating the masked store employees and customers by shouting comments such as, “Enjoy this fake pandemic, you f*cking clowns!”
- And on my family member’s last grocery store shift, witnessing a female grocery clerk being assaulted after she unlocked the liquor cabinet for the assailant because he said he wanted to buy a bottle of booze. She unlocked the cabinet, he pushed her aside and ripped the liquor bottle right out of the clerk’s hands, and ran away.
Frontline workers are there for us: medical workers, law enforcement officers, garbage handlers, postal workers, shipping company workers, restaurant workers, retail employees, and so many others who want or need to work so our day-to-day lives will be more palatable.
2020 has been very difficult for all of us, but those difficulties do not warrant abusive and cruel behavior toward others. If ever there was a time for gifting others with kindness and respect – the same kindness and respect we all crave – this year sets itself up as a prime example. Fortunately, beautiful stories of kindness have made their way into the public’s eye, but hidden stories, such as those provided above, are far too prevalent.
Be well and stay well, everyone, and please spread love and compassion to those who are simply trying to make a living by serving you. Anything less is unsatisfactory.
One cannot be a good person if truth is not a part of their character.
And if you cannot practice self-compassion, you know not how to be compassionate towards others.
Thank you, Will, for keeping us in line!
When justice prevails – nourished by truth – one cannot go wrong.
Reality isn’t always kind, but unconditional love is one of the most generous gifts we can give someone.
Put on your big boy and big girl pants and let truth be your mantra.
Those close to our household have taken great measures to be safe in this age of Covid-19. The household with which we have had most contact over the past several months is that of our youngest daughter and her husband, with their son, and as of September 9th, their daughter.
The plan was to add our granddaughter to our current care day schedule, once a week, but now that Covid stats in our state are so ridiculously high – as is the case in too many states in the “United” States – our two households have decided to curtail all further contact for the time being.
This decision was made, not because our personal households have faltered, but because too many households have failed all around us, making avoidance of the virus more problematic. No one enjoys the inconvenience, but because some have rebelled against the inconvenience, we are no closer to containing the virus.
Had civilization as a whole been less selfish, we wouldn’t be dealing with this upsurge in cases…we would be adjusting to a new normal that is FAR better than the ongoing abnormal we are currently experiencing.
I am so f*cking angry right now. As a result of the selfishness of far too many people, my household is currently being robbed of a healthy relationship with the newest addition to our family. Please understand me when I say, I know we are not the only individuals affected by a pandemic that hasn’t been handled correctly from the get-go. My husband and I are healthy and we want for nothing. Millions have been affected far worse than has my household with our seemingly minor personal issue.
But I beg of you, please, to allow me this mini-pity party while I mourn this inconvenient loss.
Our most valuable resource – spread the word!
In good times and in bad – the truth is one of the most valuable assets we can own.
There’s an old hymn about not hiding your light…This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let us let the truth shine in all we do.
At twenty-one years of age, I was a newlywed living on the eastern side of Washington State.
In 1974 I had married my high-school sweetheart who was enrolled in the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) program at a local Washington university. I met my then-husband in high school while living in Honolulu, Hawaii where my family moved in 1965.
It was a beautiful, spring day when my husband and I walked hand-in-hand through the streets of the eastern Washington city looking for a restaurant where we could have a weekend lunch date. We approached a corner, my husband pushed the WALK button so we could cross the street, and when it flashed green we proceeded to walk across the street.
A woman approached us from the other direction on the crosswalk, pointed her finger at us, and yelled,
Thou shalt not mix with other races! You are an abomination!
I am white, my former husband, Chinese.
My happily married, joyful self was astounded at the hatred and intolerant attitude thrust our way. We had never encountered such vehemence when living in Hawaii as a young couple, so please understand how hurt and shocked I was. I was so taken aback, the first words that came out of my mouth were, “F*ck you!” My twenty-one-year-old self stood up for herself and her marriage partner in the quickest way she knew how.
As of this writing, in all my sixty-seven years of life, that is the only me-directed racism I have ever experienced. But that is not the case for people of color.
- I have never been pulled over for driving while being white.
- I’ve never been asked to prove that I belong in the neighborhood in which I was walking or riding my bike.
- To my knowledge, I have never been followed through a department store by a store employee or store security personnel while shopping as a white woman.
- Again, to my knowledge, I have never been turned down for a job for which I was highly qualified because of the color of my skin.
My current husband of twenty years and I have three daughters between us. My daughter is a beautiful mixture of Caucasian and Chinese, my husband’s daughters are Caucasian. While our girls were growing up, we instructed them on how to be safe when out and about; we helped them recognize dangerous, every-day situations they should try to avoid but we’ve never had to have “the talk” that so many parents have had to have with their non-white children, especially their sons.
- If asked, show law enforcement your hands and ask permission to get something from your vehicle’s glovebox.
- Don’t wear your hood out on the street and don’t put your hands in your pockets.
- If you get stopped, don’t run.
- And by God, please, please, just get home alive.
I have an educated knowledge and keen awareness of the issue but I lack sufficient experience to truly understand the challenges faced by many people of color. I am ignorant in the sense that other than that one incident forty-six years ago, I have not been personally hurt – emotionally or physically – in the manner in which so many have been, and still are.
I understand the sentiment, All Lives Matter, but Brené Brown offers the following in her book, Braving the Wilderness – The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone:
I believe Black Lives Matter is a movement to rehumanize black citizens. All lives matter, but not all lives need to be pulled back into moral inclusion…the humanity wasn’t stripped from all lives the way it was stripped from the lives of black citizens.
It is my hope that one day soon, we will all get it right. The general public learns more each and every time an incident of racism makes it to the news, but shouldn’t we have learned something more by now, given the number of horrid headline incidents that have occurred nationwide?
We all can do better.
I will do better.
I have to believe that we all can handle the truth to get us through the toughest of times.
Truth is truth. It always has been, and it always will be.
A quote from the book Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times by Bishop Michael Curry & Sara Grace
There was once a wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. All was well and the wave was enjoying himself. He was just enjoying the wind and the ride, until one day he noticed what was happening to the other waves in front of him. They were crashing against the shore.
“My God, this is terrible,” the wave said. “Look what’s going to happen to me!”
Then another wave came along who asked, “Why do you look sad?” The first wave says, “You don’t understand! We’re all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn’t it terrible?”
The other wave’s response: “No, you don’t understand. You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.”
Choose the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
I don’t want to live to see the day when truth is no longer our currency.
One need not read any further.
Direct focus on the truth should net us lots of superior people!
Gosh, and we sure need to be open enough to want to discover them. Am I right?
I would certainly like to live long enough for violence to be a thing of the past, and truth to be the standard by which we all live.
A healthy seed grows, no matter what. I am grateful for that fact.
That’s what I like about truth – it simply is.
Agreeing with others just so you don’t stand out – but knowing the truth is far different from what was stated – doesn’t seem like a respectable way to conduct oneself.
It is certainly a good practice to allow statements to pass through our mind filters before accepting them as absolute truth. Doubt can be healthy when weeding out that which doesn’t ring true.