Are You Angry with Them or with You?

It’s pretty natural to react to something someone did to us. I think it’s part of our instinct to protect ourselves. Cats who are cornered come out with claws for protection but I think the flaw in that comparison is we will bring out our claws to protect ourselves emotionally.

When my stray cat named Filthy used to come around, I would spot him in a nasty showdown with the neighboring ferals and they’d be downright vicious. What I couldn’t get over is how quickly they seem to emotionally recover from it. He’d walk inside when I’d call him as though nothing would happen, rubbing up against my leg and purring. It wasn’t celebratory either, I never saw him win a fight. He just seemed to be able to flip the switch and go back to life. We on the other hand, have no clue how to do that. We carry the emotional burden from every fight we get in to not only the next fight but every other aspect of our life.

I guess I wouldn’t necessary trade being an emotional creature for having none, but I think why we bond with cats and dogs over other humans sometimes if because they are emotional, but seem to have a good grip on their emotions. They too can have behavior problems (dogs especially) if they carry their baggage, but their baggage seems more reasonable than ours in that it’s appropriately warranted.

I do think our sadness and anger is warranted and there for a reason, I just don’t think it’s very helpful. As humans, we have the ability to control our emotions in exchange for peace of mind. It’s one of the greatest human qualities; CHOICE. We can choose how we deal with things. It’s what separates us.

I think that can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, we get to choose which to me is the highest form of love we have been shown. We aren’t programmed robots. Our DNA and fingerprints are our own. I love that gift!
But sometimes I wish we could be more instinctual like our furry best friends. It would save more pain. Isn’t it bizarre that when we get in pain, we go for an emotion that will both lessen our pain and make it more severe? It’s the craziest thing ever! If I am sad, I will turn it into anger which dulls the sadness, or so it seems. Anger is our protection against other pain but we forget it is its own pain and the bitterness that stems from it is actually worse. Now I don’t know what is harder on our bodies; sadness or anger but I feel there is at least a quicker line drawn between sadness and happiness than anger and happiness. At least when we’ve said we are sad, we are admitting something more concrete. When we are angry, we have a step in between where we have to regain our body’s control back. How does the cat go from fight to content simply by walking through his kitty door?

The thing I notice (and really respect) about animals is that they don’t get mad at themselves. They get mad at another kitty. They don’t walk in and hate themselves for protecting their lot, they let it go immediately. It’s because they had a job to do, they did it and resumed their lavish lifestyle. ;)

We don’t do that and I believe it’s because the anger we feel towards ourselves is the thing we carry on. We hate that our character was compromised in a fight. We hate that we resorted to yelling, bad language and hateful slurs. We beat ourselves up for acting like a child with a tantrum instead of dealing with it like an adult. Those are the parts we can’t leave behind in the fight. We simply get mad at the furrow in our brow when we look in our mirror and consequently hate the person looking back. We hate ourselves for making poor choices about who we married. We tear into our own souls for taking cheap shots and spreading the gossip and hate.

I don’t know too many people who walk away from their anger and feel justified in it. Most people have to recover for days, weeks, months or years. Our hate seems to be with another person because ‘THEY made me this way. I hate them for making me this way.’

For me, I have come to realize that nobody caused me to lose control. I allowed myself to lose control. I use the word ‘allow’ because I let something in that was contrary to how I was raised, the kind of person I know I truly am and the person I am working towards discovering. Allowing myself to lose control in any situation is where I feel like the biggest screw-up. The term ‘losing one’s temper’ is said that way for a reason. Our temperament is a crucial part of our spirit which should be protected like our character. We should be guarding it.

Sure there are people who do us wrong, but we will waste our whole life trying to change them. it begs the question, ‘Why?’ Why do we want to change them? Is it for our own peace? My peace doesn’t come from another person. My peace comes from my own character. It’s up to me to storm-proof the house so that when these inevitable hurricanes come, my equilibrium is in check.

Back to staring at my own fingerprints…fascinating! ;)

Karen :)

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” ~Mark Twain


Woah, Back Up a Bit!

The common denominator I am feeling when I hear from people is the sense of being overwhelmed. Many people have things that are bothering them and they seem to be able to identify what the problems are if they had two solid weeks to share. This isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s simply what happens when problems accumulate.

My initial response with just about everyone in my life is, ‘Woah, back up a bit.’ It’s like tuning into a movie right at the height of the plot and I have no clue what is going on. They don’t even realize they are starting the conversation with characters and storylines that I haven’t heard before. This is an indication of how overwhelmed many people are.

I used to go to Mom for everything because I could just pick up where I left off. There’s something very cool about that. If someone already knows the history of your story, you don’t have to get them up to speed. You also don’t have to hear the same words come out of your mouth over and over which may be painful to deal with. It’s nice to have that person in your life who just knows you.

There is something to be said though about having a fresh perspective with someone who can shed some new light on an old situation, so it can be worth it to start from the beginning, as painful as that sounds.

The more I hear about everyone’s problems, the more I think people are either biting off more than can chew or they are taking on unnecessary fights that they can choose to omit from the equation.

I think I can fairly confidently say that I have had more problems in my life than one person should have to deal with, but I will also admit I gave way to much attention to some of the problems. That attention doubled, tripled and often quadrupled my problems.

There is a domino effect that happened with me. I would have a problem with someone and then I found all sorts of other problems with them because I didn’t like them. It’s like your husband doesn’t spend time with you so you start getting mad at every habit he has and every flaw, real, imagined or inflated. Basically, we add problems and annoyances on because geeze, we just don’t have enough drama, right?

Generally we do this to build a case against them. It’s like we are in court proving to them that they suck by adding as many criminal charges onto the list as possible in order to prove we are hurting.

We also allow the smaller problems to take up too much of our valuable time. Family gossip, world news and religious/political dialog are things we seem to hurl ourselves into even though we clearly don’t have the time or energy to add those topics onto our plate. We could be in the middle of a divorce and we’ll join some online anti-something or other movement and start fighting online when the relationship needs our attention and clear head. It’s not fair to ask our souls to do this!

Can you imagine how much easier it would be to solve a marital spat if everything outside of that problem was really positive? If we woke up in the morning and went for a jog or a walk, ate a decent breakfast and opened the curtains to let the sun in, I’m sure we would be in a better headspace to correct some of the problems. It’s hard because we don’t feel like doing positive things when something important is failing, but how could it make it any worse?

If a relationship is going down the drain, why are we arguing over the color of paint in the living room or nag about the grass not being cut? Is the person who is sitting across from us not more important than paint and grass? I believe we should be willing to give everything up to make that work…including imagined or inflated problems.

So when I say, ‘Woah, back up a bit’ I feel like I am saying it so many times because I am hearing the superficial issues which are only symptoms of the bigger problem. I’m not going to say most problems I hear are boiled down to one, but that is more accurate than saying everyone has a thousand real problems. We may have several bad things happen, we may be getting stones thrown at us daily, but the amount of stones are not the problem, it’s the stone-hurling that is the issue. Who is throwing them and why? It’s not helpful to say, ‘Today I had fifteen stones thrown at me, that’s twice as many as yesterday.’

Now, I won’t say I am giving the ‘Haters of the World’ (you know the phrase I don’t like very much) a free pass or letting them off the hook, I simply have to pick and choose my battles in order to keep my spirit strong and to be able to work at a functional capacity. This means, if a problem is going to tip my scales in a negative way, I’m not going to worry about it.

I also get rid of family gossip and external issues which take time away from me loving my friends and family. I would rather sit down with family and play guitars than talk garbage around the table. That kind of bonding time will ensure we never have a split. Sure there are issues we all have, but which ones are time stealers?

Letting the grass die in order for growth to happen,

Karen :)

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." ~Albert Einstein


Are you Able to Get Your Feelings Out?

My love for philosophy and lyric-writing had me on a website this morning much longer than what it deserved. As you know, I’ll break just about anything down.

Here’s my disclaimer; I love when people write or wax philosophical. I love when people feel free enough to get out their feelings on paper. That is very cool. But that is my point; get the feelings out.

My aggravation with many lyrics and books is that I don’t know the person has actually accomplished what they set out to do. This isn’t me picking on anyone, it’s more that I am becoming increasingly concerned that people aren’t feeling very good about what they have written nor do they feel like it’s good enough to show anyone. People send me things they have written all the time and ask for a critique. I’m usually wary of doing it because I am not sure people are going to want to hear what I have to say.

My response isn’t based on grammatical correction or if I am even touched by what someone has written. My general response to anything that has been written down; is it honest?

Most of the songs sent to me might look good on paper, might rhyme and have a good meter but I honestly don’t believe it.

Because I can’t go very long without quoting something from Will Ferrell, let me include an example from Anchorman where he asks Brick what he loves;

Brick Tamland: I love... carpet.
Brick Tamland: I love... desk.
Ron Burgundy: Brick, are you just looking at things in the office and saying that you love them?
Brick Tamland: I love lamp.
Ron Burgundy: Do you really love the lamp, or are you just saying it because you saw it?
Brick Tamland: I love lamp. I love lamp.

That just about sums up writing for me in the best nutshell ever.

We do this when writing something down. Many artists will tell me they have Writer’s Block. I just had a block when I was trying to think of what that was called just now. Lol
I don’t experience Writer’s Block because I don’t suffer from a Thinking Block of a Feeling Block. I might write something down that’s complete crap, but I am never at a loss for something to say. It’s not really skill so much as I have learned to become honest and not care what anyone thinks about what I say.

Back to this website I spent too much time on. I had a giggle while reading because it started off by saying;

“Great philosophy is sometimes to be found in popular song lyrics when you read between the lines...”
They went on to give examples of several songs. I don’t dispute that there is philosophy in just about everything, but the lyrics they provided didn’t give me options between the lines, they gave me too much room.

For example; Lyrics like, “
Long is the river flowing to the sea and in my blood a shiver rising in me”
It’s not a bad lyric, but I still have no clue what this person is feeling.

Or, “The softest cloud, the whitest dove, upon the wind of heaven's love...”
Also, a lovely little rhyme and picture to go with it but I suspect the writer just liked the rhyme.

“Deep in the night, the winds blow cold and in a heartbeat the fear takes hold...”
Another lovely rhyme, but I am still left wondering what was going on.

I believe one of the number one reasons Writers experience a block is because instead of writing down what they are feeling, they are trying to write a poem or a song. That’s completely cool except that so far all I felt was the first person was cold, the second person accomplished a cool rhyme and the third person is wandering somewhere in the forest scared out of his mind.

Now these people didn’t come to me complaining about Writer’s Block, so I won’t bother them anymore. ;)
But my hope is to offer some help on how to never have it.

First of all, do you love to write or are you like Brick who is trying to participate?
If you LOVE to write, that should be just about all you need. If you love it above caring what others think, you are really in a good place. If you are honest, then you are all set.

Of course, getting to know language is good. Reading books on writing is helpful too. I maintain to write all we need is the love for it, the honesty and we need to not care who reads it. That’s just about it.

I laughed at some sketch comedy between Ricky Gervais and Sir Ian McKellan in Rick’s show; The Extras;

“How do I act so well? What I do is I pretend to be the person I am portraying in the film or play…I imagined what it would be like to be a wizard and then I pretended and acted on that day.”

Of course, it was hysterical (it’s on youtube) but all comedy aside the point is pretty funny. We over think just about everything we do and writing is no exception. This has nothing to do with the content, Ian went on to portray a very complex character (and make no mistake, that boy does have skills) but the mentality actually isn’t too far off.

If we can simplify our motivation, we can write as much or as little as we want. If we make sure the reason for doing it is pure to begin with, there should be no Writer’s Block. If we have the courage to write down what we are thinking instead of searching the English language for the best rhymes, we can feel good about what we write. It may be non-factual or inaccurate, it might be harsh but it can at the very least represent exactly what we are feeling.

I love when lessons come from comedy, because life is pretty funny really…if we can look at it that way. ;)

Writing loads of crap, but it’s honest crap. ;)

Karen :)

This is a song...This is uhh, This is a new song...It's through the eyes of one of the greatest people alive, I feel...The Lunch lady" ~Adam Sandler


Will You Ever Be Good Enough?

I've learned that no matter what you do, you’re never gonna be good enough, nothing you do will ever be good enough...so...why try?” ~friend on FB

The good part about this quote is that he is still a teenager which gives him lots of room to get out of his bad feelings. The bad part is many of our teens feel this way when they should be channeling huge amounts of energy into building their character.

The worst part of the quote is the “why try?” part. It’s another way of saying, “Why Bother?” which I keep saying is the catchphrase for the truly depressed. Giving up is the saddest thing in life to me.

In looking at the rest of the quote, there are other sad parts though that probably could be addressed before even getting to the ‘why try’ part. Breaking down quotes is not only the philosophical part of me but it also represents my need to get to the root of every problem instead of just hacking away at the branches. I say this a lot.

Let’s start with “I’ve learned”. I think this is where the problem starts. When we verbalize that we learned anything, it can inhibit us from being open enough to learn the next thing. Once we’ve decided that the lesson we think we have learned is actually fact, I believe we are stuck in that headspace. Before the thought even comes, we’ve decided we have learned something so therefore what we are about to say is set in stone and is therefore concrete and unchangeable. It’s probably better to change our mindset to “At this moment in time, I think or I feel that no matter what I do…” and finish the thought, recognizing that it’s a thought, not something we learned.

Ok, so in continuing the thought; I've learned that no matter what you do, you’re never gonna be good enough…” I think the biggest issue here is in thinking that our self-worth is based on what we do even before finishing the rest of the thought. We simply ARE good without pressuring ourselves. “Good enough” is even problematic because it’s suggesting we just have to struggle to attain a certain amount of goodness and only then are we allowed to be on earth or participate in the human race.

“Nothing you do will ever be good enough”. This sentence is fortune-telling. I don’t know anyone on earth with the capability of making such a futuristic statement or who is accurate on saying their future is doomed. We only have the capability of seeing what we have experienced not what we will experience. Even then, there is some skill involved in seeing our past for what it is without depressed emotion attached to it. If we tell ourselves we are not allowed to make negative predictions about our own future, then that isn’t allowed to be part of the equation.

So while the “why try?” is what will pop out to people as being the saddest part of the quote, it isn’t where the problem came from. There are some bigger issues like, “Who exactly are we trying to impress and why?” “Why does their opinion matter so much?” “What is our motivation in doing anything or becoming somebody super duper special?”

I feel like the solution is double-sided sticky tape.

1. Evaluate my own self worth;
Is my self worth based on what someone else thinks of me? Is my self worth damaged from someone close to me? Are they really someone I want an opinion from? If yes, why? If they are making me feel badly, why would I want their opinion? Are they even worthy of having an opinion about me?

2. Evaluate my motivation;
Am I looking for rock stardom, enjoyment or just peace and quiet? Am I seeking attention because I don’t feel loved? Am I seeking attention because I am being selfish? Am I trying to prove the ‘haters’ wrong?

The whole process of doing anything in a day shouldn’t have so much negative emotion attached to it but it does. We are humans with spirits and feelings…or should I say we are emotional spirits with human bodies carrying us around? It’s unrealistic to think we shouldn’t attach emotion to our situations, but sometimes we need to introduce some good old-fashioned logic into the equation without being so emotional. It’s a balance.

When we evaluate our past, do we know how to assess it as though we are looking at our life through a window or are we fixed on the emotions we felt during our rough times and therefore we taint what the reality is because our glasses are fogged up by tears?

The same thing goes for our future and our present. When people make us feel badly about ourselves, we sometimes have to take a step back and act like we are seeing it from outside our own emotion and ask ourselves the logical questions about our self-esteem and motivation. I don’t think we can accurately answer those questions when we are filled with overwhelming sadness. I personally have had to ask myself the hard questions about my perception of others AFTER I answered my own self-esteem and motivation questions.

The “why try?” part of our friends quote is maybe the saddest, but it’s only a result of all the thinking preceding it that needs addressing. This is exactly why I break quotes and thoughts down the way I do….to get to the root so it won’t pop back up again in the spring like twitch grass.

Maybe I just miss gardening, ;)

Karen :)

Expectation is the root of all heartache.” ~William Shakespeare


10 Tips for a Better Relationship

I read this article below. My thoughts are in brackets after each point;

1. Celebrate the small stuff.
"It's not enough that your partner knows that you take pride in his or her accomplishments. You have to show it. Making a fuss over the small, good things that happen every day can boost the health of your marriage."

(I know people who have the attitude that they aren’t going to praise the little things because that is expected and ridiculous but sometimes it’s good to do it because the other person’s esteem might need it)

2. Learn how to fight productively.
"The key to fighting productively is to recognize when a disagreement is going in the wrong direction and to take steps to calm things down and repair rifts."

(I don’t think it’s necessary to fight at all. We are adults, we should act like it. However, I understand where they are going with this and I agree it’s good to have foresight. Most people know their partner well enough that everyone by now should know if it’s going to end badly)

3. Silence is not golden.
"By staying quiet and avoiding conflict when things bothered them, they had missed important opportunities to cultivate and grow their relationship."

(Again, we are adults. We should know how to communicate. I think if we feel like we aren’t getting through to someone, we should do our own character a favor and take some lessons on better communication skills. They unfortunately didn’t teach it in school very well. We just have to Google to get pointers nowadays)

4. Don't put negative thoughts into the universe.

"Men and women who had pondered thoughts of divorce in 1980 were nine times more likely to have gotten divorced by the end of the study."

(Back to what my Grampa said, “Divorce is not an option.” Well, divorce does happen but I think if we can take that away as an thought during an argument, we would be forced into coming up with a solution)

5. Plan together.
"Couples who planned a baby's arrival or who were equally joyous at becoming parents were far more likely to maintain their marital happiness or even enjoy an increase after the baby was born."

(I like seeing couples including each other in everything. I am glad to see the old-fashioned mentality of what the typical roles are melting away)

6. Maintain a circle of friends and support.

"Strong friendships outside the marriage can take the pressure off your relationship, help you work things out away from your spouse, and ultimately protect your marriage from unnecessary stress and discord."

(This is ok if you have friends who are proactive at making relationships work or don’t have a habit of bad-mouthing spouses. I believe that can pull us away from the marriage and put the grass-is-greener mentality in our heads)

7. Overcompensate for mistakes.

"Do marriage math. Even when you make a mistake, tell yourself that you're going to do at least five positive things for your spouse to make up for it, and then do them. And don't wait until you bicker to turn on the charm. Nice gestures and comments go far in a marriage, they are easy to do, and they will help insulate your marriage from being damaged by the inevitable bad days."

(Ok, I guess this can work, but I think it’s best to simply apologize and move on with the understanding of what happened and true remorse. I do agree that prevention steps are better than trying to cure something after the fact)

8. Set the marriage bar high.

"Husbands and wives who hold their partners to a reasonably high standard have better marriages. If you expect a better, more satisfying relationship, you improve your chances of having one."

(I agree and disagree. Yes there are certain things you should expect, but I suspect entitlement mentalities could creep into the picture if we aren’t careful. I think it’s more important to accept our partners for who they are, not try to change them and encourage them lovingly in a way that benefits the marriage. Being an example to them is better than telling them how to be)

9. Give it a break.
"Sometimes, improving your marriage means giving it a break. Increasing your connections with family, friends and society is good for your marriage."

(I disagree with most of this. If you have to escape your partner, you must not enjoy being with them very much. I do agree doing things for ourselves and with others is good though.)

10. Be aware of your body language.
"Eye rolling is a painfully obvious sign of contempt, and it's a powerful predictor that your relationship is in serious trouble."

(I whole-heartedly agree with this one! This is childish behavior. The thing about this title, “Be aware of your body language”; that’s silly. Everyone is brutally aware they are rolling their eyes. It’s a form of communication to let your partner know you hold contempt. I think as adults, we can communicate better than that)

Overall, I believe the problem in most relationships is the “Me” factor. I think we have to give more love and be genuinely interested in making it work because love is the most important part of life, not just our close relationships.

But what do I know? I have a history of failed relationships! ;)

Karen :)

“I hate the giving of the hand unless the whole man accompanies it.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Panda Saves Two Border Collies!

Thanksgiving is something I hear about a lot. I haven’t been in Canada for many years for our Thanksgiving there which lands in October and I don’t have family here to celebrate with so I basically don’t do anything with the day. Today is a first for me to have my birthday fall on any Thanksgiving. I’m sure it’s met up with past American dates, but I wasn’t here then. So, that is pretty cool.

I think I may hold the world’s record for most birthday wishes; thank you ever so much! It was my friend Phil who promised me that one day I have more than just him as a friend. I pouted and said I wasn’t very hopeful and was perfectly fine with his friendship. I did express to him all the times in my life where someone would leave or die and I would be alone again. He promised that wouldn’t be my life and he was right. I feel extremely loved by many people. It was hard at the time to think about even leaving my bed far less meet anyone else.

Back to Thanksgiving; what am I thankful for? Friends. Of course I am thankful for my family, but friends choose to have me in their life and this is the best part of friendship. I am thankful for my relationship with the Creator and for the journey I have been on because I feel like as I get older, I am becoming more content with life and the struggles aren’t making me resist, but I have found the wave to ride. Life isn’t perfect, but my attitude has been marinating. ;)

I have a feel good story to share. Yesterday, 2 Border Collies at a Manhattan Shelter were saved from their Death Row. There are many stories like this where dogs find their forever homes and so many owners who have given them a new ‘leash’ on life as the saying goes. I was touched by the efforts of the people involved though in this particular case and I will tell you why.

I found it was a focused effort by compassionate people. I witnessed a huge thread on FB of people coming together to make it happen. One person in particular who you guys might know; Anja (she has the Border Collie named Panda (There is a picture of Panda with her signed Stever CD on my myspace page…she’s fantastic) Anja didn’t forward the entire list of dogs who were going to be euthanized that day. As a Border Collie owner she focused her attention on the same breed. She will tell you she wasn’t responsible for making it happen, but the same mentality of focusing the energy works. She asked me to forward the stories to people I knew. I decided instead of forwarding it to the whole list, I would send it to people I knew in NY. The idea is to target the audience you want to reach. This is good for obvious reasons, but I believe it does one thing. It stops people from becoming desensitized.

People know Anja and her dog Panda the Border Collie, therefore she can speak with a certain amount of authority when she talks about the welfare of Border Collies. I’ve been following Panda’s story and pictures for a long time now. (Poster Pup, perhaps?) People who feel connected to her and Panda will listen to her. I did! Then, I felt strongly that she knew what she was talking about, so I forwarded the two dogs to the appropriate New York people I knew. I didn’t make it happen, a lady came forward on FB and took the one dog and someone else was able to at least get the second dog out of the no-kill zone and to an intermediate place. Both dogs were supposed to be destroyed yesterday and they are both safe.

This whole thing is an example of how people can make things happen by focusing their energy and talking about topics they are an authority on. It is the best way to effectively make change happen. I find too many issues today are a melting pot designed to be fed to desensitized people and it’s not working.
Anja made a bunch of really good connections yesterday and feels a new calling in her life and THAT is the best part of what happened as far as I am concerned.

Each of us has our own thing we are either passionate about or an authority on. I really would encourage you that if you want to make a difference, to focus your energy on what you know, what you are called to do and what you are good at because in that you too could feel the overwhelming enlightenment that Anja feels today after finding her calling in life. She woke up today I am sure with a sense of purpose and value.

Too many people try to chase a big dream they saw on TV and aren’t good at it, don’t feel connected to it and don’t connect with an audience because the audience doesn’t see them as knowing anything about the topic they are ‘trying out’. Do you remember me doing a blog a long time ago about a woman who baked her way out of foreclosure? She was good at making pies, so she started selling them. Now she’s gone on to save her house and is growing a healthy business. She took what she was good at, what she loved to do and what she was an authority on and she has found her calling by being able to inspire and share her story!

I believe each of us should look for the joy in our life, the thing we know a lot about and the gifts we have and channel them towards the greater good, not the greater bank account, the greater good.

Wondering if the name Panda helps the cause, after all, the news seems to love sharing Panda stories,

Karen :)

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~Dalai Lama


You Don’t Have to Do Anything You Don’t Want To

I get invited to parties and functions. If I was super bored out of my mind, I could crawl into every corner of Los Angeles’ ‘steamy’ scene.

My answer when someone asks if I want to, I say. “I don’t want to.”

The answers people usually give range from “I’m washing my hair” to “I have to stay home with my pet parakeet, he’s not feeling well”. I don’t know if you can’t find the energy as I get older to bother with excuses, but basically my answer is “I don’t want to” because it’s the truth.

Then the follow-up question is; “Why don’t you want to?” and my answer is “I just don’t want to”. I had a giggle this past year when a friend of mine was moving from her apartment and she asked me if I wanted her ‘Smores Maker’. At the time I was more eloquent and said, “You know what? You should give that to someone who really wants it and will use it and appreciate it”. The wording was a nice way of saying, “I don’t want it, I won’t use it and I won’t appreciate it.” Lol

I actually don’t mind when someone asks why I don’t want to. I’m not annoyed because after all, they cared enough to invite me to begin with. Their follow-up question might be enough to get me out of the house for a night when I am feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes, you say no because you are used to saying no. I’m glad when they ask it, but I remain as honest as possible in my answers.

If I get asked enough times to do something you don’t want to do, I tend to wonder if the person knows me at all. It’s kind of like when someone buys me a pink sweater. Well, of course it’s not something you will see me wear. If someone is that way off base with me, I don’t think it’s wrong to tell them I don’t wear pink. Does this sound crass? Let me explain;

If someone is that confused about who I am and has not paid attention to the fact I never wear it and there is nothing in my home that’s pink, I think they must have taken no interest in me. Now in all fairness, if a lady who lives next door to my Gramma who I have met once wanted to knit me a pink sweater, I would let her know how sweet that was. I’m not suggesting someone has zero motivation by not knowing my colors but when people who are close to me want to take me to a Hollywood VIP Party, I have to really ask myself, ‘Does this person know anything about me at all?’ I have learned to assess who is my crowd and who isn’t. This could come off as only some people are allowed on the Playground. That’s not true. The perspective I have is that they are trying to drag me to their playground where I can’t be free to play and I feel caged.

To go to some club and spend 6 hours there is the most ridiculous waste of time I can imagine. What I can do at home in 6 hours gives me more joy. I’m really a home-body. I have learned to love the quiet.

The same goes for me engaging in conversations where I feel bullied to talk to someone. My answer is, “I’m done with the conversation.” I have been accused of not finishing the argument. Some arguments don’t have an end, some people talk in circles in a condescending, dizzying style and I have learned to recognize that. Plus, my time is more valuable. When asked why I won’t finish the conversation, my answer is; “I don’t want to.” You can’t get more honest than that. This also protects my spirit without compromising my character and lets people know I don’t engage in war.

Well, then I get accused of not loving them the same as others who get my attention, therefore I don’t spread true love. I love what a friend told me yesterday; “People are never banned, only the mentalities.” I am not putting up a wall in between me and others, I am protecting myself from further harm. I am protecting my spirit. Nobody has to listen to false allegations, abuse or anger from another person if they think it’s harmful. I had a Mother who pulled me from an abusive relationship for my own good. I distinctly know what is healthy for me and what isn’t.

It’s not my job to fix anyone or enlighten anyone here, I simply share. I am not the all-knowing, all-powerful shepherd of the flock. I’m not some strong Psychiatrist or Doctor who is so strong in spirit that I can handle any scene or any dialog from any person. Those people are truly gifted. I am one sheep with some typing skills and a camera. It’s unfair to put that on me. If I don’t want to do something, I simply don’t have to. Through my own journey and struggles, something I have learned is to be very careful about what I engage in so my spirit doesn’t get damaged in its fragile state. This doesn’t mean I consider myself weak, it’s more like a Diabetic being mindful of how much sugar they ingest. In short, I know what’s good for me and what isn’t. That is the extent of my ‘power’ over here; just the realization that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.

Overall, like the pink sweater I am more annoyed if someone doesn’t pay attention enough to know me first. Being asked to go to a Hollywood function is their assumption that because I live here and work here I must do those things too.
Being put on some ridiculous pedestal because I have a large community around me is equally as insane. For those who know me, you’ll know I consider myself just as messed up as all of you. Hahahaha

For those who TRULY know me, you will know that by trying to engage me by pressing buttons or cornering me into a conversation it’s not going to end well. This shouldn’t be a shock when it goes to pot.

I believe we can really help people, we have the power to do this. I believe we can love people too. I think it’s important for each of us to watch out for one thing though. Does the thing you are being asked to engage in compromise who you are? If someone wants you to do something, engage in something or even wear something (lol) that isn’t a part of your character or could do damage to your character, I think it’s good to really assess the pros and cons.

Too old for peer pressure,

Karen :)

Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission.”

~Arnold Bennett


Are You Chopping off your Own Branches?

I am more than happy to disperse advice to musicians. Frank and I have produced so many records and I have written seriously over a thousand songs (some pure junk) and some for other musicians. As I have also mentioned, I have been a ghost writer on records where I am not allowed to say I wrote the lyrics. I’ve basically been at it for a long time. Music used to be an external hobby in my life which turned into a career. My view of that was very flawed though.

I get a lot of people emailing me asking me for some music industry advice and I am more than happy to share my latest view on my career/hobby; it isn’t actually a hobby or a career after all. It’s an appendage.

Something I hear often is how musicians tell me how they have sacrificed so much for their music. It’s a word I am quick to react to; sacrifice. I would encourage any artist, writer or musician to ditch the word when describing their art. Sacrifice means there is a choice involved. Perhaps you have to choose work over music; that seems pretty standard.

Instead, I encourage artists to view their art, music or writing as an appendage of themselves. When life is really hard and you need to eat, you don't cut off your arm, right? If music is part of everyday life regardless of whether people hear it or not and it's as natural as an appendage, you don't even entertain the option to remove it. It’s not even in the equation.

For me, music isn’t a choice. Once I realized that it wasn’t a hobby or career to begin with, it was able to fly without my pressure.

If our art is way of life as opposed to pressuring it to "do" something, I believe we can enjoy the new freedom.

That is an example of a non-physical or detached appendage which still moves with us. People who connect deeply with their friends or animals understand this concept also. There are people who we have picked to be a part of our life and we wouldn’t prune them from the tree because it’s just not an option. People who have dedicated their lives to helping animals quite often don’t choose to do that, it chooses them.

I believe when we let someone or something choose us, it’s a deeper connection. I see this with children whose parents want them in Karate and yet they walk by the music store where a giant magnet from a guitar is calling them on their walk to Karate class. A child cannot explain why an instrument draws them in, it just does. If it calls to them and they accept it, it becomes like a branch on their tree. When we wander about thinking of what we should do to feel connected to something or someone, it almost always feels disconnected and therefore, we can ditch it at any time, easily without guilt or much effort.

I gave this musician’s advice to a friend yesterday and he said, “call me crazy I already feel better about my music simply by removing the fight from the equation.”

I love hearing that. I feel like he can now begin a really solid relationship with his music because he let go a bit. I am super excited when I hear that.

Ok, so there is a case of things which we shouldn’t prune. If music truly is a part of your life, even if you must have it cranking from your speakers every day, how do you feel when you chop the branch off?

I maintain a musician or artist can’t cut off their own arm. They bleed to death. Something inside us stops the saw blade from cutting in. I think if our art is such a big part of who we are, the spirit will protect it. If we damage the limb, the spirit will help repair. I found that the spirit would do it loudly…with all the tools in its toolbox so I couldn’t ignore that it was under repair. When I would try to walk away from the art, it called me back. It’s a healthy relationship that can’t be ignored unlike all the codependent relationships I have had, we grow together helping each other. It frees me, I set it free as well.

My own relationship with music has helped me to strengthen the relationships I have had with others too. I don’t put pressure on friends, they don’t put pressure on me. I do what I can to let them grow, they give me the freedom to grow. I don’t control the music now, I let it flow. I don’t put heavy demands on it.

Of course there are still parts of my tree that need pruning. I just need to be careful not to cut off the ones which share my main arteries. ;)

Too tired to fight even if I wanted to…energized because I choose not to…such a cool reward.

Karen :)

“A stricken tree, a living thing, so beautiful, so dignified, so admirable in its potential longevity, is, next to man, perhaps the most touching of wounded objects.” Edna Ferber

A sure cure for seasickness is to sit under a tree.” ~Spike Milligan


The Happiness Bookends

“Happiness is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
Helen Keller

“I just want to be happy”. It’s a phrase which has probably come out of more people’s mouths than we can imagine. Happiness quite often seems like the goal.

But what if happiness isn’t the end goal? Or what if we took it away as a potential end goal?

I think what happiness should be a very short-term goal that we should be striving for sooner than waiting. We tend to wait until we find the dream house to have happiness, the new car or the perfect relationship. I maintain happiness should book-end things…it should be the beginning and end and morph into the next beginning. These periods could be seconds. You could have so many beginnings and endings that they could end up taking up every second. Let me explain;

If I can be happy with myself first, I can be of assistance to someone else which will add to my happiness.
That’s the book-end. The happiness has the potential to eventually bleed right through the task so we can maintain it.
If I am miserable, sad or unhappy, I am unable to muster up the energy to help anyone else

The bookend works on us too. We might have to put contentment on the first bookend in order to want to help ourselves and then we can be happy knowing we helped ourselves.
We may have to put rest on the first part of the bookend so we help ourselves.
We might have to put forgiveness on the beginning.
We might have to get rid of the bookends which look heavy but don’t have the substance to hold up our shelf like guilt, anger and jealousy.

I used a small vase with some coins in it to hold up some books. One day, it came crashing down and scared my Filthy cat at the time. It wasn’t strong enough to hold it up.

I think we are looking for things to hold up our “goals” which just aren’t powerful enough to do it.

For me, helping others is my bookshelf. I feel it’s my calling and my purpose. I am happy to do it and I feel happy when I do it. My book shelf seems fine now.

When my motivation in helping others has selfish motivation, the bookends are susceptible to falling. If I am constantly irritated, impatient, annoyed, angry or jealous, it’s only a matter of time before those bookends come off the shelf and bring all my self-centered goals with it.

What I believe finding happiness with ourselves can do is put us in a good frame of mind to fulfill our purpose and can only be achieved through us, not others or other things. If we create the happiness, if we find the purpose in it all, we can feel good at night going to sleep knowing that shelf is sitting stable and everything is functioning.

I think happiness and helping others goes hand in hand. I have found great purpose in helping.

What if there isn’t just one big purpose for us? What is ‘purpose’?

We have an idea of the things which serve a purpose in our lives, but what about the things which serve no purpose? We know how to push obstacles around in our house. We understand how to move items from one room to another but can we identify the things which actually serve a purpose? I finally took some items to Good Will which served no purpose. There were some chairs I never sat on, a table beside my bed that was too low for my water anyways and many clothes which haven’t been worn in a few years.

I have a rule now with my household items; if they serve no purpose in me achieving a purpose, they can go to someone else.

How can we rid our own character of the things which serve no use or the things which inhibit our growth? Is there a cinder block sitting precariously on our bookends or books?

I truly believe one of the biggest cement blocks we can have on our shelf is ill intent. When our hearts have poor motivation, selfish incentives or fake enthusiasm it negates everything we have that is good.

And all this happiness chatter aside, what if it’s possible that our individual purpose is to be a link in the bigger picture? What if we thought less about our own happiness on a single scale and started slotting ourselves into where we are needed based on being called to do so?

For me, this can only be achieved by simply paying attention. I am all done arm-wrestling life into submission. If I am needed, that is where I will be.

Helen Keller said, “Happiness is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”; fidelity meaning devotion, dedication and faithfulness to a worthy purpose.

I like that she said worthy instead of greater. I always believe in finding the greater purpose in things, but I like the choice of ‘worthy’ because it means there is a reason for it

Dropping off some more books and CDs today…hope they can serve a purpose for someone,

Karen :)

Talk about bookending a quote;

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” ~Helen Keller


Do You Have a Habit You Want To Break?

Andrew Rosen wrote out 5 steps to breaking bad habits;

Step 1: Identify your bad office habits

Routine makes us feel safe, but don’t hide under the umbrella of familiarity for too long. The problem with habits is that we let them control us. Our subconscious kicks in and tendencies take over—without us even thinking about them.

Monitor yourself for a full week as you go through average work days. Jot down any potential habits in a job journal. Whether it's an arbitrary ritual like tapping your toe three times before you enter the building or sipping on an afternoon diet soda, include it on the list. The point here isn’t to nab every habit and routine, but to find a starting point.

Step 2: Determine which habits are hurting you

Let's shoot big; identify the habit that affects you most negatively. It could be wasting time, putting physical or mental stress on your body, fatigue (from that diet soda), etc. Look at the short-term and long-term picture and prepare to face your worst habit head on.

Step 3: Stop your habit dead in its tracks

Sometimes stopping a habit is as simple as recognizing it. Next time you find yourself carrying out the habit, say to yourself, "Stop!" If you have the luxury of yelling it aloud, do it. If you’re in a public office, say it in your head (rather than risk looking bonkers).

Create a physical or graphical reminder that represents the negative outcome of the habit, and access that reminder when you need it. With the soda, for example, hang a picture of decaying teeth near your desk (or maybe in a drawer you open often, where your co-workers won’t see it). Next time you reach for that soda, you’ll at least consider drinking water instead

Step 4: Replace your bad habit with something awesome

Because office life is conducive to repetition, the same routine that created your habit might help you replace it with something useful. Instead of reaching for a coffee or candy, or rather than participating in gossip and complaints, do something that’s good for you.

Here’s one example: every time you receive a new email, instead of dropping what you’re working on, take a deep breath and clear your mind. Another positive work ritual, one that helps reduce eye strain, is practicing the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes of staring at a computer screen or document, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

From breathing to stretching to resting your eyes, there are a million positive things you can do while at work.

Step 5: Hang in there

Some habits are deeply embedded, so don’t expect to replace them overnight. Instead, focus on vigilantly monitoring your habits and routines for weeks or months. Consider making “habit inventory” a weekly ritual.

Habits can be powerful, so why not have them work for you rather than against you? Master the art of habit replacement and watch your work experience improve.

His article was about the steps to take in breaking workplace habits more specifically. I have a few of my own I am working on breaking;

1. Gossip/Bad-mouthing; I found certain times of day and specific things were doing it. Not watching the news and changing my home page periodically to a new, more positive website was the habit that had to first be broken to get me out of the gossip and bad-mouthing habits.

I also had to realize that whoever I am speaking about, I can’t possibly know everything about them because a news broadcast said so, therefore, I don’t qualify as an authority on them.

2. Furrowing my brow; My love for Beethoven sometimes has me trying to look like him. When I get tense, I clench my jaw, furrow my brow and quit breathing. I am glad to say I now breathe deeply several times a day. It started out telling myself to, now I just do it regularly.

3. Anxiety; what was once considered a warranted emotion turned into a habit. I found myself getting anxious or upset in reaction to things that simply don’t require concern. Basically, my guard was up for anything coming my way. I had to assess what was a problem and what wasn’t.

4. Arguing too much; I have learned to pick my battles because essentially, I know how to argue about everything under the sun. If you are looking to pick a fight, you will find something to complain about.

5. Controlling people; I finally realized it isn’t my job to change anyone or make sure their life is going according to my plans. I have learned to let people make their own choices. In relationships, if we try to force someone to love us or pay attention to us, it’s not going to be the kind of love we will ultimately want anyways.

I want to add a sixth one on and that is Packratism or Pakratitis. It’s the accumulation of unnecessary clutter in my life. :)

Before breaking any of these habits, I had to really want to though. Without the desire to change things or break habits, it’s almost impossible to follow through.

Do you have habits you want to quit? Is there a step that has to happen inside your head first before that can be broken for good? Maybe we are rushing to break the habit before the mindset is changed.

Off to take more extraneous items to Good Will,

Karen :)

“The hard must become habit. The habit must become easy. The easy must become beautiful.”
~Doug Henning


The Hockey Bag; It’s not just for Equipment

“Enacting one of the nation's most aggressive environmental measures, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to ban plastic grocery bags in unincorporated areas of the county. The ban, which will cover nearly 1.1 million residents countywide, is to the point: "No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag." Grocers who choose to offer bags will sell them for 10 cents each. Environmentalists hope that the ban will help diminish the 6 billion plastic bags used in LA each year, 1.5 billion of which ends up as "urban tumbleweed" on the street.”

First of all, I am glad to see LA catching up with the times, hopefully other places will follow. Canada has been doing this for a long time…it does work.

I remember Ellen Degeneres telling a contestant on American Idol not to go barefoot in Hollywood because it was a ‘dirty town’. Of course, she meant that in a few ways, but I was horrified to see the amount of pollution on the streets on Los Angeles when I came here. In Canada, we have massive fines for littering and we recycle just about everything we can. People in my neighborhood back home were really into composting too. There are blue bins in my neighborhood, but what you can recycle is really limited. I feel this is an important step to take.

What I couldn’t get over though is how many negative comments were under it. I’ve come to realize that some people are so infested with negativity that they will have something bad to say if the article was about providing fruit and vegetables to children at school. We seem so programmed to be cynical and skeptical of everything. I saw arguments like, “What is the purpose of this ban, why are people so concerned about the environment? What about us seniors who can’t afford these bags?”

I couldn’t believe it. Yes people are short on money, but 10 cents a bag? Oh wow, I can guarantee there are more things in your cart that will clog your arteries that you spent 5 bucks each on. Who doesn’t have some bags at home anyways? I’ve seen Canadians bring in hockey bags to put their groceries in and they are happy to do it. It’s not like we have to go kill our food like the old days! In fact, when you get your food home, you barely have to cook it either. ;)

Yesterday I was talking about positive VS negative thinking. This kind of negativity puts us at a standstill with any solution. There is a saying in one of the companies I work at, “If you have something to complain about, you better have a better solution.”

I see this plastic bag movement as a solution that has been proven to work in other countries. It’s frustrating to simply point out the bad things. It’s like in politics or religion; I tend to not talk about these topics because they are riddled with negativity pointing out negativity with no solutions. I would rather us find ways as a community here to figure out how to be a helpful friend.

The statement, “If you have something to complain about, you better have a better solution.” It’s awesome. Now of course, it’s good to have someone playing Devil’s Advocate to make sure things aren’t being steered in the wrong direction. What I love about it though is that it rewards people who are solution-oriented. I love people who give something some practical thought and then come up with an answer. We spend way too much time just pointing out what is wrong with the other players with no other resolution in its place.

If we don’t have a solution, could we lovingly spur thoughts in others by asking questions which will result in a way out? The statement this person made was not only obstructive, but made a redundant statement suggesting seniors have no money (separate issue, real…should be addressed…but separate nonetheless)

This is happening all the time in our relationships too. We have a hard time staying on topic to come up with solutions. The issue we have with our spouse not spending time with us turns into him also not cutting the grass, taking out the garbage or painting the house. It’s a no win situation.

I am really trying to remember the statement, “If you have something to complain about, you better have a better solution.” It’s been working well. It causes the people within the company to come up with well-presented strategies before presenting them and it’s a huge time-saver. It also keeps everyone’s brains thinking and moving forward which I LOVE!

A person may have an excellent argument for why someone is wrong in their actions, but the person who piped up about the bags costing money still is missing the point that when they get their groceries home, their bag is going in the garbage. The problem will still exist.

My point is to stay on point though. There should be a different meeting about seniors having no money. It’s just like when I blog here, I can’t cover every topic to make sure everyone is happy.

Besides, my brain can only digest a topic at a time. I was in many relationships where a hundred topics would get thrown up in the air. Some would float at the ceiling like a helium balloon and some would crash to the carpet below…none would get resolved.

I keep reminding myself to stay on topic, omit the negative redundant statements that aren’t helpful and try to allow someone to have a solution…encouraging them to be solution-oriented even if they don’t have it worked out completely. Solutions like song-writing happen in stages. Stagnant water will create a film and sludge which is a brand new problem.

Wondering if using that hockey bag is very healthy…oh well…it’s still a step forward, right? ;)
Karen :)

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” ~Native American Proverb

That quote was hijacked and used for so many arguments lately, but I believe they really did mean ‘the earth’ when they said it.