If I say I’m fine….I’m lying

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Many memes and many jokes (mostly at men’s expense) have skirted around the fact that if a woman says, “I’m fine”, there is an emotional undertone that means something far beyond being fine.  My experience with the phrase ‘I’m fine’ has completely surpassed that, to the point that nobody in my immediate family uses those two words to describe their current state of being.

Both of my parents were alcoholics and suffered through a myriad number of complications through their later years.  It is an ugly disease with ugly consequences.  The worst part of watching the effects of alcoholism deteriorate a human body is having that person tell you that, while they are suffering numerous symptoms and contrary to every doctor’s diagnosis, they are fine.  Fine is no longer a word I use to describe how I feel and for very good reason – it’s bullshit.

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I sent a text to a friend yesterday to ask about their well-being and was given the response “I’m okay”.   Although it was not the tried and hated response of “I’m fine”, it ranked right up there and it made my Spidey senses tingle.  I knew there was more going on but I also knew not to push.

When you get a text message from someone you know on a very personal level, the inflection in their voice is heard loud and clear above the silence of a text message.  The only thing I can do is be here when they need to vent, to be present when they realize that I know they are not “fine” or “okay” and just be ready to listen.

 

One dark cloud can rain on everybody

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Moods are contagious.   When a mood is allowed to live and feed on the energy from which it was born, it is given the power to grow exponentially and infect everyone around it, like a slow-acting poison.  That mood can seep under the skin of unsuspecting people and change the trajectory of their day.

Last week, one dark cloud hovered above my surroundings and it spewed forth its acid rain.  What started as a relatively happy day slowly spiraled into a morning from Hell.  I was astounded at how quickly one bad mood could leech itself from its host into every organism with whom it came into contact.  I bore witness to a malignant energy infecting everyone in its path.

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A quick discussion with my superiors resulted in temporarily removing the poison from our work system and eventually the day became much brighter.  Within minutes of the cause of the discomfort leaving building, calm was restored and the dark cloud was lifted.  The miserable rain ended and the sun began to shine once again.

Although it may be a small cloud in a vast sky, one dark cloud can rain on everybody.   We just need to be strong enough to blow that cloud into a different sky.

 

 

 

It’s just my allergies….

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I have suffered with allergies since I was a child.  My sensitivities are mostly environmental so they are certainly manageable.  As a child I used to break out in hives when I ate strawberries but, I was as stubborn then as I am now so, I ate them anyway and eventually outgrew my reaction.

As I have matured into the person I am today, I am finding an increase in my hypersensitivity to certain things.  The environmental allergies still plague me year-round but I have discovered lately that a broad spectrum of human emotion, compassion and empathy is having a strange effect on my eyes.

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When I hear stories that touch my heart, the redness in my eyes is immediately evident.  There is a small bit of swelling in the upper and lower eyelids and I am guessing my body creates tears to cleanse my eyes of the allergens.  This “allergy” is becoming more and more prevalent.  What was once just a susceptibility to dust, mold, grass and trees now encompasses impassioned stories, movies, television shows and even commercials.  Seeing another human being cry is definitely the biggest trigger for this new onslaught of “allergic reactions” and once the tears are formed the next symptom of these “allergies” is a stuffed up nose.

I have battled allergies for years and these are the only ones I can say I actually don’t mind having.  I have given up wishing I could control these allergic reactions in public.  I’m sure seeing a few tears is easier for others to witness rather than a contorted face that looks uncomfortable and painful.

So, if you see me and it looks like I’ve been crying…..it’s just my allergies.

 

In sickness and in stealth

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It happens at the end of every summer season.  Between the concentrated efforts we all put in for the 9 weeks of our summer season, the short hours of sleep and the continual decrease in the staff roster, sickness strikes.  It is stealthy at the onset, seeming to only target one person, but the snowball of affliction slowly picks up speed as it plunges down the slope, accumulating the remaining staff members like helpless snowflakes.  Yesterday, I became one of those snowflakes.  

I didn’t feel unwell when I woke up yesterday morning but, when I greeted my dog, my usual alto voice was expressed as a baritone.  It came as a shock to us both.  I tried to get through the rest of our morning routine, essentially in silence, and made my way into work.

The three cups of coffee did nothing to negate my feeling of infirmity and, although I gave it my best effort, I eventually conceded the loss to my state of ill-health and came home.  What should have been a restful sleep, thanks to some nighttime medication, became a series of small naps interrupted by superfluous coughing spasms.

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Being sick in the summer is a truly undesirable ordeal.  I struggled through my work day again today but now find myself wrapped in a blanket on my couch on a balmy summer day.  I’m giving this cough medicine one more chance.  If it doesn’t work – it’s Hot Toddies for me tomorrow!

 

 

 

When skin gets thin

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I cannot change the moods or the behavior of others.  I can only control how I let those moods and behaviors affect me.   Today, however, was a glowing example of how that ideal can radically fail.

If I were superstitious, today would have been my Friday the 13th.  My black cat was the neighbors dog, who, first thing this morning, managed to soil, not one but, two pairs of my shorts on my way to work.  The ladder I walked under was the exit door from my house.  And the broken mirror was the negativity that continued to rain throughout the day like the shards of glass falling from that broken mirror.

I am usually very thick-skinned.   Most of the time I can deflect negativity and remain blissfully unaware of the antagonism that tends to eddy in the normally calm waters of my life.  But the vortex of that disapproval became too much.  I, without my life-preserver, was pulled under and was out of breath.

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A little positive reinforcement can go a long way.  As an adult with a great deal of life experience under my belt, I know life is unfair and the wheels can fall off the bus at any given second.   But to focus solely on the loose lug nut that made the wheel come off is negating the safe driving before that wheel fell off and the work that the bus driver had to do after its liberation to safely get that bus to the shoulder of the road.

Thick skin can actually be quite tenuous and a little praise goes a long way.   If criticism is deserved, than criticism should be administered.  But if praise is deserved, it should be just as easily passed from the lips of the people who need to say it to the ears of the people who need to hear it.

Good for the economy but bad for my temperment

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I am going to do my utmost not to turn this post into a rant, but I make no promises.

The population in our tiny town explodes from May to October.  Cottagers and tourists alike flock to our little oasis to drink from our serene waters, to sip from the fountain of relaxation and to let every ounce of their city stress slowly dissipate until they resemble nothing of their former city-dwelling selves.  This is what we are selling and this is what they are buying.

This year seems to have hit an all-time high for human traffic.   Stores are reaping the benefits of the excess numbers of shoppers, our local Foodland check-outs are all lined up six shoppers deep but I have learned to adjust my shopping schedule accordingly.

We get it.  We are not new to this phenomenon and we learn to adapt to our new routines to keep our sanity.   But there are moments that we cannot control – moments when we have to shop during the peak times and it is during these times I lose my sense of humor.

Blatant rudeness and uncaring attitudes run rampant.  You may think I am simply frustrated from working long hours and dealing with unbearably hot temperatures, but I have first-hand experience of the uncaring attitude of some of our summer guests.  My latest encounter today prompted me to vent write this post.

I pulled into the liquor store and was shocked to get a parking spot without having to wait.   I noticed three carts left on the sidewalk in front of the store, collected them and returned them to their rightful place inside the store.  Wine in hand, I moved to the tills and the line moved quickly.  I was lucky to get in and out without incident.   The woman who was parked beside me had just loaded her box of goodies into her BMW SUV and lifted her cart up over the curb, leaving it on the sidewalk.  I got into my car, made eye contact with BMW lady and then she and I both watched as her cart slowly rolled backwards, tipped over the curb and landed on my front bumper.  Not missing a beat, she slid her vehicle into reverse, no apology, not a shred of remorse, backed out of her spot to head back to her restful vacation spot.

Shopping Cart Walk

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I could feel my blood pressure rising before the color of my cheeks betrayed me.  I got out of my car, checked my bumper and wheeled her cart back in to the store to avoid having this happen to another car.

These are the people who frustrate me.  These are the people who make me believe that, to them, other people just don’t matter.  I may have ranted in an earlier blog and received many varying comments, perhaps rightfully so, but my rants are justified.  Ask yourself how you would have reacted in that situation.  For me, I would never have left the cart in the first place but, I would certainly  have jumped out of my car to make sure the other vehicle had not sustained any damage.

Rant over.   What would you have done?

 

 

 

 

I am my mother’s daughter

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Admittedly, I am a creature of habit.  I am predictable to a fault and I enjoy the lack of spontaneity in my routine.  It is how I am comfortable and it is how I live my life.  But recently I have done and said a few things that make me look at myself in the mirror and think “who are you, and what have you done with the real me?”.

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As my mother used to say, I was once a girl who wouldn’t say shit if her mouth was full of it.   But somewhere along the path that has carved its way through my life, thankfully I have learned to be much more vocal when it comes to standing up for myself.  I used to let emotions fester under the surface, bringing themselves to a boiling point before I finally exploded from the pressure of not dealing with things as they happened.  I am no longer that person.

I’m not sure if I have slowly developed an unseen confidence over the years or if I am simply sick of feeling like my opinions don’t matter.  Whatever the reason, I truly appreciate my newly found voice.  Perhaps it is a wisdom that really does come with age.  Or maybe there comes a time in everyone’s life that you just realize the stress of keeping things to yourself just isn’t worth it.

Whatever the reason, I’m going to hang on to this new part of me and let it free the old me who was afraid to speak up.  It may take a while to expunge the record of my reticence, but I’m willing to do it one comment at a time!