Last week, half of the sisters were out of town, so Lisa and I met one on one. These are rare occasions since we both have commitments that keep us very busy and out of trouble. I was thinking about how pleasant our visit was and then I got sidetracked (surprise, surprise).
I realized as I thought back, that during our visit, I was sending myself very negative messages about guess who? ME. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband, my son, my sister and her husband, my nieces and their families, and my stepdaughter and her family. Sadly, the worst relationship I have seems to be with myself. Continue reading →
I’ve always prided myself on being able to keep up with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to complete tasks. Well, scratch that “always” off the books. It seems that everything I need to do today requires technical knowledge that I struggle with.
Writing our Sidetracked Sisters Blog has always been fun for me. Recently, it seems like the programs we need to understand and use have become more complicated. Every time I make notes about what I need to do and how I need to submit my writing, something has changed. So I try to use my version of “common sense” and I really mess things up. I refuse to give in to failure and yet I dislike feeling like I’m not keeping up.
I enjoy doing voiceovers. So what’s stopping me you ask?? You guessed it. Technology. Every time I think I understand what I need to do, I make things worse. The programs I use are totally different from anything I have used before. Just about the time I think I understand what I’m doing, I don’t. I know I need to spend more time practicing and yet even the practice gets frustrating.
Asking for Help
Then the most humiliating part comes when I seek help from others who have always understood my deficiencies. They tell me that they don’t think things have gotten more complicated or hard to deal with. When this happens, I want to hide under the covers and pout. I even have a “help me” button on my desktop to call in the rescuers. Sometimes that doesn’t even work.
I started a new job recently which I really enjoy. Only one problem exists. You guessed it, a whole new set of programs and technology. I’m slowly learning and I have very nice people in the IT department that are helping it all make sense. I think this process is going to work.
Even watching TV to relax has become a challenge. Our son signed us up for one of the pay-for networks. So now I have to have email addresses and passwords to utilize this gift from our son. I think I’m overthinking things.
Android vs iPhone
What else about technology bothers me you ask? I recently switched from a Samsung phone to an iPhone. I asked myself what could be so difficult about a different phone? First of all, I can’t figure out how to pair my hearing aids with the new phone. My first attempt created the complication of having all of my phone calls come into my hearing aids instead of my phone. While this had some benefits, it did nothing to give me control of the app I had on the phone to control the various features of my hearing aids. I still haven’t figured this one out.
In addition, I also have a different car which allows for phone services wirelessly. I don’t think I have the energy to share with you all of the features of my 2016 vehicle that I have not yet been able to use. That may be a story for another day.
I think my major complaint about technology is that I was sold on it by being told how much time it would save. So far I haven’t experienced these great time savings. When I find myself trying to figure out what my computer has done at 2 am, while my husband has been asleep for hours, I don’t find the time savings very relevant.
Yes, I have heard the acronym “GIGO” (garbage in, garbage out). I say to that, I’d like to place my computer in the garbage instead. OK I know I need to calm down. I’ll quit my rant and see if I can figure out how to go watch something on TV that might help me relax.
In our neighborhood, there is a person who lives at the corner who hangs dog treats on the bushes next to the sidewalk. A small sign tells dog walkers to “Please take one.”
She is putting a little love out into the world.
The other day, I saw a woman in the grocery checkout line who was wearing a dress identical to one that I own. I thought that it looked nice on her. A few minutes later, as I was driving out of the parking lot, I saw the same woman. She was walking to her car with her shopping cart. I rolled down my window and hollered “Hey, I just wanted to tell you how great you look in that dress. I have the same one at home and I love it.” She replied, “Thanks, I got it on sale at Kohls.” I answered back, “Yeah, I even wear it just like you do, with leggings and a jacket”.
Just putting a little love out into the world.
“I love humanity but I hate people.” poet Edna St. Vincent once famously wrote. In the same way, I often really need to make an effort to connect and engage with people. It is so much easier to talk with my family or work on my own shit rather than engage with the people I meet every day.
With that being said, it brings me happiness, even joy when others go out of their way to interact, engage, or reach out to me.
Writing thank-you notes was not taught or encouraged when I was a child (or perhaps I just don’t remember). As a teenager, I hated the little triangular-folded notes that friends passed at school to one another. As a young adult, I knew I wouldn’t keep in touch with friends after I moved.
But I’ve saved and charished EVERY note, letter, and spontaneous correspondence that I’ve ever recieved.I have a collection dating back over 40 years! I store sweet notes from friends in a nightstand drawer. When I was dating my husband-to-be, I printed and saved every email from that first year. I still have every love note from my high school boyfriend. Every letter my ex-husband penned are tied together with a string…in a box…in my closet.
It is time to reconcile this dichotomy in my life. I want to be appreciative, thankful, and supportive. (I should have probably begun this project at the beginning of the Covid shutdown.) But anyway, my sister Michelle suggested that what I was talking about was “happy mail”.
So I conducted a Google search.
I found blogs and You-Tube videos dedicated to sharing appreciation to small business customers. There are also scrapbookers and “junk journalers” who share stuff with each other unexpectedly through the mail. These were BEAUTIFUL and inspiring works of art that people were sharing with each other in an effort to “share the love”.
I found it totally overwhelming!!! Some of these creations must have taken days or weeks to collect and construct.
I don’t consider myself a fluent writer. So I write a sloppy copy before I transfer the words into a notecard. It relieves my writer’s block and prevents me from stressing about making a mistake.
What I am proposing is buying and using store-bought blank notes and writing something thoughtful and direct like this blogger.
I also don’t believe that these notes need to be sent in the mail. They can be surreptitiously stuck under a windshield wiper, taped to a house door, or placed anonymously on a co-worker’s desk.
My mom calls these “Iris letters”. They are the less familiar cousin and the opposite of “onion letters”. (Glinda versus the Wicked Witch of the West.) An Onion letter is what you might send to a business to complain about the mess the plumber left after fixing your toilet or the rude comment the customer service rep made when you returned an item at Wal-Mart. Onion letters help a business correct wrongs. Iris letters acknowledge and appreciate service workers or businesses that go above and beyond.
I should have sent an Iris letter a few years ago to my local Aldi.
After checking out all of my groceries, I realized that I had neither cash nor credit cards in my purse. Upon realizing this, the cashier volunteered to pay my $80+ bill until I returned. She said that she knew I was a regular customer and that I’d be back.
Profusely thanking her, I instead asked her to just put my cart of groceries to the side. I zipped home. Returning a half-hour later, I had cash in hand. Thanking her again, she smiled at my appreciation, and I vowed to myself to write a note to the manager. I intended to appreciate, honor, and celebrate her good deed.
My goal was to share a little love and bring recognition to this kind woman.
Lately, I find that I have absolutely no patience with the people and things around me. I’m sure my family will say that I’m always like that, but I think it’s been getting worse. Yesterday, I found myself slamming my phone down on my desk simply because the screen would go into sleep mode too soon. Today, I feel like I’m just trying to pick a fight with anyone that crosses my path. Even as I sit here writing this, I can hear the person across the table from me crunching on food and it’s making me feel crazy.
In our family, we all like to help each other with projects, especially home projects. Just one word of warning. If Sandy is creating be sure you understand the parameters of the project. We were asked to help wallpaper Michelle’s bathroom. That request sounded tame enough. Right??
The day that I’m writing this is exactly 8 weeks until June 1st.
June always feels like the beginning of summer to me. Summer..sleeveless shirts, shorts, sandals (read no more covering up with turtlenecks, sweaters, or fleecy leggings). I’ve used these items to camouflage my fluffy body for a few months. Putting on weight happens soooooo effortlessly. I weigh myself every Monday (mostly) and watched the numbers creep up, pound by pound, each week. I wasn’t trying to lose weight, just trying to stay the same. But I was struggling.
You know when you’re struggling.
Slogging along in life.
You can smile at your neighbors. You take out the trash on Fridays and make sure your family is fed. Brushing your teeth happens. But you lose touch with yourself. There is no bandwidth, no energy to do what makes you feel good and be healthy. I was in this place for about 8 weeks after Christmas and through February. Here is what I’ve learned if you want to gain 8 pounds in 8 weeks:
Livin’ the Couch Potato Life
Don’t exercise! In so many magazines and blogs I’ve read recently, I’ve heard about how you can’t easily lose weight by exercising. But let me tell you, you sure can gain weight if you don’t. I regularly walk each morning with Stella, and now our puppy Evie. But have you tried to exercise or do yoga with a puppy? I wrote about my daily routine here. But sometimes you just don’t FEEL like exercising. So I’ve been walking and when I get home, there is just so much to do. Breakfast, writing, homeschooling, making the bed, cleaning the grout on the kitchen floor…
Carbs are Your Friends
Eat carbs like a teenage boy. I have a husband, two teenage sons, and a daughter who dances 8+ hours a week. Carbs are staples in our kitchen. When I’m feeling tired, meals are served with pasta, rice or bread. (Last night, we had spaghetti for dinner and I not only ate several slices of warm, soft, chewy Italian bread, but I slathered sweet butter on each slice…yum!)
Drink alcohol daily. I love going to my parent’s house. Dad makes the best Brandy Old Fashioneds–sour, not sweet. (I got him this gift last Father’s Day and I have really enjoyed it!) Since my one son just got his driver’s license and needs practice, we go over and I have a couple of drinks EVERY night…I’m not driving…right?
I’m even having a hard time writing this. I think I may be having an anxiety attack at this very moment. I am serious about how I put on the weight, but I’m not genuine about having neutral feelings about the gain.
You see, no one but me knows that I’ve put on a few pounds. I don’t look a lot different, but I FEEL different (and not in a good way). I’m stiff, my arms feel weak. There is a bike tire around my middle. I notice that it’s harder to cross my legs when I’m sitting in a chair.
Just 8 little pounds and all this fuss?!? It’s just a symptom of a larger problem, really. I’ve lost sight of myself, not taking care of ME. I’ve gotten wrapped up in the day-to-day and everyone else’s needs. Can you relate?
I’m wearing yoga pants and athletic shoes so I must be burning calories, right?
Well, we have exactly 8 weeks until the “beginning” of summer. Let’s walk a little more, ditch the sugar, and say no to flour.
Are you still with me?
Let’s drink lots of water and have some “come to Jesus” time with veggies and leafy greens!
That’s my plan. Check back on June 1st to see how well I fared.
I remember driving with my mom in the passenger seat. I might comment on a pretty house. She answered me with silence.
When I asked my mom for her opinion on how a new dress looked on me, she would reply with “I wonder what it would look like on me?” She wouldn’t answer my question.
If I asked for her opinion about a new couch or a new pair of pillows for the living room, she would only respond to my question by asking, “What do you think?” She WOULD NOT add her 2 cents worth.
Opinions. I hated that my mom had NONE. (It still pisses me off and she passed away almost 20 years ago).
Now I am an older woman and I don’t want to be voiceless. I want others to ask my opinion and value my thoughts. I have experience, damn it, and life has taught me a thing or two.
You go through life with your kids (as babies, toddlers, and young children…and they adore you! Then they become more independent, but still need you and start growing into their own. When they become “tweens” and teens, the change begins. This is not a fun period of life for a lot of parents of teenagers, as you begin to feel that you are viewed as out of touch. They know everything and work very hard to show this to you. Actually, the fact is this is when they are the dumbest. (This must be true as I read it on the internet!!)
Fortunately, when your children become twenty-something adults, they seem to love your opinions, some of your tastes, and are usually, you see I say (usually), fun to have around.
Then, when your children have children of their own, they become your friends and you love to be around them. Grandparents are VERY valuable!!!
Then, something happens, they bring around their friends. They have fun talking and sharing ideas with each other. Since you have been having a good time with your child/children you feel justified to share in their conversation. (Especially if they are on your domain.)
Well, guess what, I have discovered that some of their friends think you are a total uneducated, unworldly, and just plain boring person! What?!? I have gotten the feeling, somehow, that I am “in the way”, an obstacle to navigate around.
The result…people either ignore your insightful comments or ignore you completely. I’ve gotten this look that says, “We were talking…who are you and what do you know about anything”?
I’ve seen several articles over the years about the “invisibility” of older people, especially women. See here, here, and here.
If you are lucky you might even get an opportunity to share a thought or experience. After you ponder this idea, god forbid, you think your opinion must be needed or even appreciated. Well, think again. You must have happened to have been included because you probably heard the conversation, by accident I’m sure, and thought surely they wanted your opinion. Don’t kid yourself. This is not the case. The proof is when you are told, “I knew I shouldn’t have shared this topic with you.” So much for being included.
I had a mother who never gave an opinion. It seemed like It made me think that she must not be very smart since she never expressed herself. Well, guess what, I now know why. She just got shot down so many times that she decided it wasn’t worth it. So she just gave up.
On the other hand, my mother-in-law gave opinions when asked (usually not what you wanted to hear), but everyone loved her for it. One of my favorite memories of her when I asked her for her opinion about a rustic mirror that I put above my sofa. Her response? “I think it is the stupidest looking thing I have ever seen!” On other occasions, she would reply with, “Well, YOU have to live with it.” She shared her unvarnished opinion with heart and an indifference to whether you would agree or not. It still makes me giggle when I think of the vehemence with which she shared many opinions.
Well, guess what? This old senior citizen will never shut up, so get used to it. Somewhere there has to be someone that likes my opinions and wants to listen to some very worthy and worldly advice. I want to be heard and my opinions appreciated by people over the age of four!!!!.
So what is the solution? Do you have a suggestion? I am not going to give up who I am. I am going to continue to express my opinion. My mom lost her voice when it wasn’t valued. I don’t want that to happen to me…
When I was growing up, I always thought relationships had to be 50/50. Give and take needed to be equal or the relationship would not succeed.
In reality, what I discovered was that relationships almost always consist of an unequal number of contributions. If one person is having a great day, they might contribute 80%. If the other person was having a bad day or a troublesome day, their contribution might only be 20% or less. The goal was to have the total equal to 100%. Unfortunately, that didn’t always happen.
Almost 7 years ago, we began by introducing ourselves, “Sidetracked Sisters are Sandy & Judy (sisters) and Lisa & Michelle (sisters). We are 4 sides of the same coin…(hmmmmm – how is that possible?). Some say we are very much alike, yet others say we are as different as they come. We are family and LOVE to torment each other.”
But you probably know that already if you’ve been following us for a while.
Sidetracked Sisters started as a home-based crafting group. After several years, we began writing our blog where we shared thoughts and 178 writings on random topics.Continue reading →