Only Once

“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.” Antonio Banderas

I have an apparently peculiar quirk. I think that I should only have to do something once. Say it once. Touch it once. File it once. Isn’t that the teaching of efficiency? Oh dear…I have another quirk-I think things should be efficient.

No wonder some days annoy me. My expectations that things should run efficiently and smoothly are adversely affecting my blood pressure. Ah…a splash of insight. Many of the above expectations occur in an office and are impacted by other people; other people who are messing with my mode of efficiency.

Wait. That still admits I have an expectation of efficiency. Perhaps I could change that to a desire for efficiency, but realize that a multitude of events, and people, will complicate my hope. I do get paid for that complication. However, it does slow things down. Damn…another expectation-that I will get a lot of things done in a day. Some days it takes all day to get someone to get labs done right, packaged correctly, picked up and processed as they should be. How could that take so long? I don’t know, but some days it does.

What am I left with? Go to work, don’t expect people to be competent,  an office to be efficient, or to get much done. There! My frustration could vanish.

But who would I become?

Best I keep my quirks, and learn how to manage letting go of my expectations of others. Perhaps that was the mother of invention to the happy hour/cocktail after a day’s work!




Relaxed Yet Balanced

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

Scampi is our adolescent Bichon Frise. He plays with abandon and sleeps in contentment. I found him the other day sleeping on the top edge of the couch. It isn’t a very broad edge. The couch is a glider and moves easily. Yet he sprawled out, kept his balance and relaxed.

relaxed and balanced dog

Just watching him inspires me. His natural sense of play and ready engagement. After play time, he sleeps. I see his example day after day. I remind myself to relax and maintain a balance. Yet-I go about my crazy schedule every day.

I wrote a poem a year or so ago. I put it on a picture poster below:Slide1


I am reminded that we are the ones in control of our balance. Donald Trump has said, “If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.” There is some truth to that. Most of us have to work to pay the bills. Some of us work to change the world. Few of us work as our plan for fun.

But, how we spend any hours of the day-at work, or at play-we do decide how to engage in them. Let them take over and control our emotions (you know, work drama-it is everywhere)? Or do what you can, make the difference that you can and move on? We make that choice everyday, every hour.

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” Aristotle

Pass the Norvasc

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary.” Edgar Allen Poe

My son calls it ‘work drama’. It doesn’t seem to matter where a person works, there will be work drama. It is pervasive. It is the cause of millions of people on medication to modify high blood pressure. I felt it myself last Friday.

The pervasive questions arise, “When will this resistance go away? How many times does it have to be discussed? How many times, or how many ways, can it be said?” Then I wonder, “Why can’t I just say, ‘because I said so.’ Why do I have to couch everything is such a way that people are not offended?” Couch is a good word-please sit down and let us all be comfortable and discuss this….

I battle the decision to throw in the proverbial towel nearly everyday. My job is complex and directed by tedious, legalized diatribe regulations. If I explain them, the supposed listener looks at me with glazed eyes and the hint of reviewing a grocery list in their head as they nod understanding.

Working in a field of compliance, daily decisions are made related to what must be fixed and what can be let go. The Serenity Prayer advises me to change what I can-and to know the difference between what I can or cannot change. Hence, the need for the prayer-that knowledge is nebulous.

Friday, I stood my ground, although I nearly threw in the towel. In the end, we did what was compliant to the regulatory directives.

Sometimes, I have to let it go. The organization is too strong. On those days, I manage my reaction by reminding myself that I did my duty in informing the players involved of what was required. I am not the decision maker. I am the advisor. Then I go home and have a Margarita Meeting with me, myself, and I. We ‘let go’ of the situation, laugh and remember the story of the dog- “if you can’t eat it, or play with it, piss on it and walk away”.

Oy Vey Ist Mir

“Sedulously eschew obfuscatory hyperverbosity and prolixity.” Roedy Green

What the hell does that mean? Deja Vu. I was there yesterday. I had asked a simple question. “Please provide for me the dates that go with visit 3, 4, and 5”. I am responsible for tracking those dates. We get paid by a sponsor for those dates.

Two days later, 8 emails, known and unknown people adding to the stream of computer discussions.

I still do not have an answer.

I think Green’s quote above is describing ‘obfuscate’. In other words- to go on and on, in circles, saying nothing, being unclear in a hope to bewilder the listener. If they do it long enough, they hope you will forget the original question.

Oy vey ist mir. Oh woe is me.

The transforming flow of emotions I experience when I deal with someone who obfuscates seems to follow a consistent pattern. Impatience-Anger-Resentment-Anger-Impatience-Anger-Resentment—-these roll along until I arrive at an exasperated frustration. I get spent out.

I suppose the obfuscater feels a little smile creep at the corners of their lips. I wonder if they embrace a sense of victory.

No matter. The fallen soldier gets back up. Needed a nice dinner, little wine, distracting movie and a good nights sleep. I think of George L Griggs saying, “Exasperation is the minds way of spinning its wheels until patience restores traction.”

The greater issue here is that I have responsibility without authority. Horrible place to be. You have visited there I am sure. It is not on Rick Steve’s 100 places to go before you die travel log.

So, when I am rested what do I do? I remind myself that this is not my circus, not my monkeys. I become a documentation specialist. I do what I can do, I let those who may have authority know, and then I have to let it go. I could be stubborn enough to push the question until I got the answer. In those cases, I might as well draw a circle on the wall of my office-at head level-walk up to it, as though it was my target, and bang my head against the wall. Right in the circle, right on target.

But what would I have done to myself? Obtained a headache and wasted my time. So I focus on what I can do. Where I can make a difference.

“You’ve done it before and you can do it now.  See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” Ralph Marston

Tribute to JJ and Tara

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France

Life can be lonely. Life can be challenging. There are so many people that are eager to criticize and re-direct you. People clamor for parts  of you. You have to constantly multi-task. 

Then you come home. A little fluff ball is running to greet you. He/she is absolutely delighted that you are home. With a big smile and happy eyes your puppy curls up to you. Getting up? Ok. He gets up with you. Sitting down? Ok. She sits down with you. Walking into another room? Ok. He walks at your heals. Cooking dinner? Ok. She sits at the corner of the kitchen and watches you cook. 

It doesn’t matter what you do, or what you say, your loving pet is there for you. JJ and Tara were such companions. A Silky Terrier and a Maltese. Then one day, they both got very ill. So ill, they looked at us to help them. Final loving action was to assist them in their final rest. Wrapped up in our arms, their journey with us was completed.

I would wish that one day, should I fall so very ill that I cannot live my life, that there will be such a loving process to assist me in my final journey. 

We are grateful for the comfort that JJ and Tara provided us.

Soils of Life

As many of you know, we broke ground for the new addition to our historic home. It involved renting a track hoe to dig the deep vault for the cellar stair well and then a more shallow trench for the footers on the perimeter of the planned addition. The track hoe got most of the dirt out.  The track hoe was the easy part. Well, as long as the shovel didn’t hit the historic old brick house!

Then we had to crawl into the trenches and the cellar vault to ‘square the corners’ and ‘straighten the sides’. My back complains when I pick up a shovel, so I sat in the dirt with my little spade and threw spade fulls of loose dirt up and over the trench edge. There was a mixture of soils, and rocks, to get out of the trench. The rocks were occasionally large. We unearthed many beautiful foundation stones. Some of the dirt just fell into my little spade and was easily thrown out of the trench. Then there was the clay. Stubborn, hard to move, clay. I had to practicallyscrape it; layer by layer to get it to budge. It was a slow, strenuous process.

As I dug through the variety of soils, I kept thinking about life. Life has many issues: health, wealth, relationships, jobs, duties, responsibilities… the list goes on. I thought of life issues like the different soils in this trench.

Rocks-obsticles that drop into your life. You can leave them and make a lovely rock garden around them. You can perhaps stack them and create a water feature. You can handle them and remove them from your path.

Dirt-day to-day issues that arise. Irritations that must be dealt with. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Heart ache.

Clay-day to-day issues that arise. Irritations that must be dealt with. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Heart ache. But with the clay, the issues were not processes. They got stuck in the mire. They compacted over time. They stubbornly would not forgive nor forget. They hardened over time and then were even more difficult to deal with.

We all have rocks and dirt that come into our lives. Packing them down and hoarding them in our hearts places us in danger of living in the clay.

“We need the compassion and the courage to change the conditions that support our suffering. Those conditions that support our suffering. Those conditions are things like ignorance, bitterness, negligence, clinging, and holding on.” Sharon Salzberg

The Candle Burns

“Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” Samuel Ullman

Slide1 This is a poem I wrote about a year ago. I felt I was in danger of losing my fire, my enthusiasm, and my joy. Life can pull at you from many directions. There are times when I think we have to pull back and mend the wick.

I love to see older people laugh. It is inspiring for me to know that it is possible to maintain a sense of humor as we go through the twists and turns of life. I also see older people who are cynical. They can be difficult and draining to talk to. They eek negativity on any given subject.

So how do I maintain my sense of humor and avoid cynicism? After all, when people disappoint you, you begin to question their motives. That is the birth of cynicism.

I think one way to avoid cynicism, and the theft of  your enthusiasm, is to stop trying to figure out the motives of others. Omniscience is out of our reach. Remembering that helps me let go and consequently embrace my own life. 

Embracing my journey, knowing that what ever happens in my life, is part of me-it has been allowed for a reason-it molds me into who I am. What hard part of my life would I erase? I may want to erase them, but they are what nurtured me and urged my soul to anchor deep. They, in the end, brought me a sense of being centered.

So, as I wrinkle, I am hopeful that the smile wrinkles come first. I desire that the spark in my old eyes will provide warmth to another on their journey. 

“You don’t stop laughing because you grow older. You grow older because you stop laughing.” Maurice Chevalier