Friday, February 24, 2012

Do People Seem EDGIER Latey?!?

My husband recently had a flight to Costa Rica for business. While he was waiting in line to use the bathroom, he felt someone push hard into the back of his knees causing him to jerk forward. When my husband turned around, the man who had done the pushing stated rudely "get your butt out of my face!" My husband apologized and then was asked by the man "if he wanted to take it outside like a man when they got to the airport?" 

Honestly, guys, do you really still use that line, it sounds so dated and well, silly? It makes me think of an old black and white film,  starring perhaps someone like Frank Sinatra. You know the ones I am talking about where there is a skinny, gangly bunch of sailors on a weekend pass about to start a brawl in a local dive bar from all that pent up masculine energy? Geesh.

After that "take it like a man comment," my husband felt the tension inside him increasing, but recalling his wife's repetitious talks about being empathetic my husband said to the man "You must be be really tired, and looking forward to a drink?" To which the angry man said " I don't need anything except your butt outta my face!" And my husband wisely ended it there. They were soon to land and at that point it seemed better to just end it rather then continuing apologizing or involving the flight attendant.

I too had an encounter with someone rather over the top that left me most perplexed. It occurred at a Lowes Store. The man in front of me online at a self check out was having difficulty using the credit card machine. I had no where I needed to be at that particular moment in time, so I was perfectly content to wait while he struggled to make it work. By the third time his card was rejected I asked if the man wanted some help to which he yelled at me in a loud belligerent voice to "back off lady and leave me alone. Who do you think you are to bother me and ask me if I need help. I am fine." And it did not end there he proceeded to go on and on and on and on and on, all the while glaring at me, finally getting his card to work, grabbing his bag and huffing angrily out the door. And he was STILL saying ugly things about me as he walked out and left the store.

Needless to say, I was completely baffled by this man's outburst. as was my husband by his plane mate. I apologized several times, just as my husband did on his flight. It did not seem to do any good though, and in fact seemed to make our situations somewhat more tense. What is also rather ironic to note is that not one person came to my husband's or my aid in either situation. There were many people on that crowded flight who heard the nasty discourse, just as their were at least 20 customers and employees at the store who literally stood there and said not a word. Perhaps if it had come to blows, someone would have intervened? Or not, since no one really knows for certain.

Why is it that tragedies like 9/11 bring us so close together only to separate us once the intensity  of emotion dies down.  Our empathetic and sympathetic emotions kick in to high gear when we see people suffering on a grander scale then we would normally feel while waiting online at a grocery store, sitting on a plane or driving our car.

Why is it we feel our personal space is invaded upon instead of taking the time to maybe ask yourself are you the one being rude or expecting too much, or in a hurry, or embarrassed or what ever else you are feeling. I think more often then not peole who overreact in situations like these, are not truly in touch with what it is that they are feeling and instead take it as a personal affront and lash out at the person who they perceive as causing them  pain right at that moment in time.

Years ago when I was a "career woman" in Boston I was returning home from work one hot and steamy summer evening evening to my apartment.  Perhaps I was 26 at the time. As I was leaving the car, I over heard three girls shouting cruel and horrible things to a forth girl, who all looked to be about 20 or so. Without a thought, I dropped my briefcase and purse, running over across the lawn in my high heels to help the girl. I would expect  just the sight of my petite frame, in my peach silk summer suit, high heels and perefecly coiffed hair was enough to shock the girls into silence. I shouted as I ran saying "what is going on here and leave her alone!" The building manager, having heard my shouts, got there just as they were all leaving in their cars, to take care of the young girl who luckily was shaken but unhurt. Days later in the mail I received a thank you card, unsigned but with a handwritten note that read"thank you for what you did for me" There was an extra little surprise in the envelope that shall remain nameless, but lets just say it was appreciated! I was so touched and moved by this sweet gesture that it still makes me feel all warm inside just to retell it.

Sure, I could have been hurt. Sure I could have just gone inside and called the building manager on the phone (this was years and years before cell phones) but I didn't. I did what all of us should be able to do far more then we do, care enough about another human being to want to help. That is who I am, and always will be and that is how I am raising my son. Who indeed has already shown incredible empathy for such a young boy. One more empathetic soul in the universe is indeed a VERY GOOD thing!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Count Your Backyard Birds!

 The Great Backyard Bird Count starts today and ends Monday and is well worth the effort. If you are unfamiliar with it, click the link below. It is a fantastic website! You can count birds for as little or as long as you like, no time limit to get involved.

                               Happy Backyard Birding!
Photo from Pixdaus Photography

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Tale of Two Restaurants

Once upon a time there were two very busy families, who had been trying for months to coordinate their equally active lives in order to dine out together as one big, happy group. Like most families, this indeed can be most difficult to make happen. All of us know that it can be a task requiring Herculean effort to juggle kids, husbands, wives, work, school, activities, classes, parents, siblings, homework etc. in order to be certain it works for everyone involved.

Finally, the day and date was settled upon and it seemed like everything was going according to plan. So barring any unforeseen illness or something similar, all was a "go" for Friday at 6pm. YES!!!

Whoops, forgot to mention the place was Kiku, no, it was You You, no Kiku, no it was You You, right?

Here is what REALLY happened:

Two families love eating Korean food and these same two families knew of a restaurant that had changed its name when it added a Japanese flair to the menu. When the restaurant was googled under a search for Korean Japanese places, the name You You popped up and since it was indeed on the correct street, it only made sense that this was the place, right?

One family goes to the left off the very same exit, to a place they thought was called You You's but now, surprise, the sign out in front says KIKU in huge letters. WHAT?  Oh well, thought this family, everyone knows the actual location we are going to so it matters not what the name is right? WRONG!

One family walks in and says "we have reservations for 7 people at 6pm" the waitress says, "oh dear, we have a reservation for 6 people at 7pm!" But since the table was open they just figured whoever took the reservation over the phone had made a mistake and sat us at once. 

This family sits and when the other family is still not there by 6:20 they proceed to order appetizers so that the hungry people arriving late will enjoy the snacks. Scallion pancakes, vegetable spring rolls, edamame, and steamed shrimp shumai are ordered. Now it is 6:30 and no other family has arrived and the place is filled to capacity, so they begin to think the worst! That something had indeed happened to the other family and maybe some calls need to be made.

Ah, but there was a problem. No one had the other persons cell phone number on them!

One family thinks, could it be that there truly is a place called You You's? So they call information and find out there is indeed another Japanese Korean Restaurant on the very same street in the very same city, and when that number is dialed, there is a family there sitting at a table for 7 people, and YES it is the other family needed to make a party of 7 at Kiku complete!

By now, it was 6:45 and  each family thought the other one was not going to come that night, so dinner was ordered prior to our discovery of the mistake at the two restaurants. One at Kiku, and one at You You, and since it made no sense to leave knowing this fact, these two families proceeded to eat  in two different restaurants, at opposite ends of a street, in the same town on the very same night. So close to one another, and yet so far! HAHAHA!

So the moral of the tale is this: When making plans for dinner have cell phone numbers of all the people involved!

Or, be like these two families and just SMILE at the confusion that can ensue because in the grand scheme of things two families got two very good dinners out and a HUGE LAUGH about the whole mix up that they can retell for the rest of their lives!!!


Friday, February 10, 2012

You Too can LOOK and FEEL Younger!

GOTCHA! Nope, not going to give you the secrets to the fountain of youth, because it simply does not exist. And yet magazines and media ads seem to bombard us with the fact that we can turn back the clock, look younger and return to a youthful state that will be the answer to all our problems in life.

Here is just a smattering of corporate advertising jargon designed to make me feel that my aging body is something to update, change or improve upon in order to make my life better. And all contained within a magazine that was conceived by a woman who tells us all repeatedly to be "the best,  authentic version of ourselves we can possibly be in life." Hmmmm, sounds a bit contradictory, don't you agree?

So here we go:

"Life puts the wrinkles in, now nature helps you take them out."

"Remove age spots"

" Revitalize skin faster than time"

" Easy to use anti-aging cream"

"Women saw the return of youthful, radiant skin"

Look, I know this comes as no surprise but I will say it again, you cannot make yourself younger no matter what you do. You can however make yourself feel better, and if that is what you are after with all these "anti aging products" then go right ahead! Feeling better about ourselves is generally going to have far more lasting effects then the shelf life of most of these costly skin care products anyway.

Trust me, I do not have all the answers to this incessant need to look younger in our culture. It seems to be a fact that all these product developers and advertisers are also quite savvy too as well. I am not immune to the effects either. I have however made a conscious choice to be as unaffected by it all as I can be, but it is hard. In fact quite hard, when we are all surrounded by both men and women who have an endless need to dress like they are in their 20's or worse try to look like a teenager, dye their hair to "look like the sun did it,"or push the limits of their bodies beyond what looks healthy, and in general do everything they can to avoid accepting themselves for who and what they are in this life.

If my words can empower just one person to stop thinking that they look "old" or feel bad about themselves because they are not a size 0, or that those laugh lines on your face are ugly, or the belly that has poofed out is unnatural, than I feel it was indeed all worth it. Stop trying to be anything other than who and what you are. And remember, it is no one else's choice but your own to look and feel the way you want, not even my opinion. So, be who YOU are and not what you think you NEED to be in order to "fit" the youth oriented culture we live in.  Otherwise, the only person you are fooling is you, and with all the insecurities people have in this day and age, you probably are not even doing that so well!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Robins are a Bobbin!

I happen to have been born with the heart and soul of a naturalist but alas not the keen analytical sensibilities of those more science minded individuals who are far better at categorizing, analyzing and hypothesizing about all things nature. What I am is a lover of the natural world, and have felt a strong connection to nature my entire life. As a result,  I am also a great believer in the natural rhythm of life.  After all, we too are animals, and yet have strayed quite far from our ancestors in that we no longer have quite the same ability to sense the world around us and make changes in accordance to those same sensibilities. There is so much interference that prevents us from doing so. We no longer live off the land, hunt, fish, or gather as our ancestors once did. We are sealed away in our heated, and airconditioned homes tucked away on our neat little parcels of subdivided land spread out in housing developments that are preplanned in neat little areas. We remove the natural terrain and put in our fertilized lawns, pruned shrubs, and landscaped vistas. Our decks and patios are lined with grills, outdoor fireplaces or fire pits, tables, chairs, lounges, surrounded by chlorinated pools and hot tubs that are supposed to help us all relax and spend more time in the "outdoors." The roads that run through our neighborhood are for the most part, black topped and relatively smooth for easier transport and travel. Our fences or more natural hedges assure us all of some semblance of privacy in a world that has increasingly become more and more high tech, high stress and highly imbalanced.

And when we finally do step outside our doors to enjoy nature and get some exercise we do so by plugging in to ipods and mp3 players that bombard our senses with tunes and audiobooks that distract us from simply being engaged in our own lives. We miss the life around us. It would seem to me, that much of what we do to make our world more relaxing and calming is actually more of an attempt to distract us and bring separation to our lives. This type of distraction can actually have quite the opposite effect. In many cases we feel far more isolated as a society and much further removed from one another just by attempting to make our homes, land  and personal space more oasis-like. Rather then finding the peace that we seek it can actually make us feel more tense and disconnected.

Since my world too, is much as described above, I do find that leaving the ipod at home and just walking in nature is far more soothing to my senses. And watching the animal life that abounds around me puts me more in touch with the natural rhythm of life.

Recently, on one of my many walks, I noticed an abundance of robins that were feeding near a stream down the road from my house. Each subsequent day there appeared more, and more of them. Quite frankly, I always feel that spring is not far off when I see them. Somehow I cannot describe to you the lightness those robbins brought to my step and the smile that engaged my face as a result. They literally take me back to my youth and the following song that my folks used to listen to on a Mitch Miller album from the sixties. Any of you old enough to remember this little ditty?:

When the red, red robin comes bob, bob bobbin' along, along,
There'll be no more sobbing when he starts throbbing
His own sweet song.

Wake up, wake up, you sleepy head,
Get up, get up, get out of bed,
Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red,
Live, love, laugh and be happy.

What if I've been blue,
Now I'm walking through fields of flowers,
Rain may glisten, but I still listen for hours and hours.
I'm just a kid again, doing what I did again, singing a song,
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob bobbin' along.

So, I encourage you all to try and turn off the ipods more and truly notice what is around you when you run, jog, walk or just work out in nature. Try to see with your eyes the signs of life that are all around you, and if you live in a more urban locale, try to find a way to connect with nature in a park or just wrap up in blanket and just gaze at the stars now and again. I know this is not always so easy and believe me I know only too well how we have been so conditioned to think it is impossible or not necessary to do this. There are no "right or or wrongs" in nature, it simply is what it is, and the more we connect to this universal truth the more focused and authentic our lives can become.