Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Niceness vs. Kindness

Niceness is nice. It is mild and gentle and passive and stilted. Niceness looks good center stage. Niceness pats you on the head. Niceness is calling out Bless You from two aisles away when someone sneezes in public. Niceness opens the door for you.

Kindness tips its hat and winks. Kindness is visceral. Kindness is warm and rich and silent and private. Kindness takes you aside and offers you a shoulder, a ride, a hand, a heart. Kindness calls out the ugly in the room and silences its vigor. Kindness forgets itself.

Niceness is sugar and spice. It touches your back as it moves past you. Niceness talks the talk. Niceness knows which spoon to use and which door to open. It takes your temperature, changes the filter, files the papers, brings in the mail, and puts the cap back on the bottle. Niceness tops off your coffee.

Kindness adds a sandwich in a brown paper bag. It holds the seashell to your ear to remind you of the saltiness of the sea. Kindness holds your hair back as you weep. It knows the intricacy of your face and sees a masterpiece in its lines. Kindness remembers to close the lid. It adds a coin to your parking meter before it can expire.

Niceness tips the waiter, remembers your birthday, and brings a dish. Niceness applauds your successes. It offers you its seat, invites you to the bbq, brings a spare pen, and speaks sweetly to the stranger. It wears a pony tail, a shirt with a collar, comfortable flats. Niceness double bags.

Kindness carries the mud in a bucket. It remembers where the pain comes from and looks there to find you. Kindness stands up to offer you a seat and brings you a pillow for your back. Kindness looks into your eyes and sees you there. Kindness ties ribbons around trees. Kindness carries a flashlight.

Niceness remembers that you take two sugars. It welcomes you in the door with a smile and a hand. Niceness returns your Tupperware smelling sweet and leaves a nice note. Niceness brings something cute to the potluck. Niceness always allows you to cut ahead in line. Niceness has very good taste.

Kindness doesn't know if you like them. It takes risks. Kindness doubles over in laughter and sobs fat tears. Kindness is willing to feel the pain of being misunderstood. Kindness carries your bag the last mile. Kindness is comfortable with weakness. Kindness does not think first.

Niceness is a bit unsure. It would never offend. Niceness keeps its purse off of the table, carries Kleenex, and hangs its coat on the hook. Niceness brings cookies. Niceness knows we should be generous and good. It keeps things organized, orders the flowers, and knows where to find your keys.

Kindness carries you forward. It holds fast to your hand when all others have disappeared. Kindness has eyes as deep as a well, eyes that bring water to the surface in a wooden bucket. Kindness turns the handle to bring that water up to your lips, holding the bucket close. Kindness remembers the words of your favorite song and sings them back to you when you have lost your voice.

Niceness sends a nice Hallmark card. Niceness smells sweet and carries flowers. It is tactful and polite. Nice knows when to be quiet. Niceness shines and soothes and attracts smiles from those around it. It carries exact change, returns its cart, and kisses the smooth faces of babies. Niceness adds a sticker.

Kindness ties twine around branches to hold up the weight of the too-heavy branch. Kindness plants seeds that it will not see bloom. It touches your skin in all of the broken places. Kindness firmly marches you forward when you fear your strength is gone. Kindness rides the bus with you long after dark. Kindness has stamina and knows the taste of grit. Kindness makes you laugh.

Niceness is polite and dependable and terribly nice.
Kindness is fierce and tender and merciful.

What do you think?

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Jennifer vs. Jennifer

Controversy is my middle name and I've got a huge one for you.
I have an opinion here and, long in coming, I'm finally coming OUT.

If you've ever seen Dreamgirls, you know that Effie has some SONGS to SANG. And she does sang 'em. Oh yes.

In Dreamgirls, the story goes like this: three female SANGers come together to form a trio called the Dreamettes. When a Big Time Manager spots the Dreamettes at a talent show, he offers them the opportunity back up to a huge star on the local stage. Problem is, one of the trio makes a bigger splash than the others, forcing changes within the trio. The cost of fame is high and friendships within the trio suffer...

If you get the chance to see it, do. It's been remade several times with huge talents and huge voices.

The problem is, lovers of theater have to do this thing to prove that they are Real Fans. They have to pay homage, betray their troth, keep allegiance to one performance over the other. This is something I feel no need to do because I love performances of all kinds. For example, I don't feel the need to choose one Les Mis or one Phantom over any other. They are all wonderful and have their own pros and cons. But so many lovers of these musicals will stridently, vehemently prefer one performance or performer over others. Probably because their personal original is the best...

And that's fine for them.

Anyway, for me, this is not the case with the blockbuster, kicking ass song And I am Telling You in Dreamgirls. There IS a better performance between Jennifer Holliday's performance and Jennifer Hudson's performance

Bar none, whichever version I'm listening to at any given moment, THAT is the better version...hands down. 


Your Opinion?

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Peace and Compassion

I tend to take things personally - that is, until I finally begin to see that someone else's behavior actually has nothing Nothing NOTHING to do with me. 

This behavior (of taking things personally) probably began as a young girl with my sensitivity to the emotions of those around me and of the other external factors that influenced me as well. Most likely I learned to be self-critical and other-compassionate pretty early in life...because it's been one of those battles that I struggle with pretty often, as it turns out.

It would be one thing if this propensity only hurt me. Which it does. But I have also hurt other people with it. I remember years ago feeling that internal pain and confusion and other more physical expressions of the emotions about a friend of mine who, in my mind, was behaving in a certain way toward me. By the time I figured out that her stuff was, in no way, about me, I had really damaged that friendship.

This month I've been relearning this.

Some things have been feeling personally hurtful (sorry for the vague blogging) and, again, after about a month of dealing with it badly, I, again, realize that it's time to learn that lesson again, the one where other people's issues aren't about ME. I have to be vague about it because it's the right thing to do as it's not my issue, but believe me when I tell you that I need to post this particular meme on my wall or something. It sure makes me tend to damage things by accident...things that are already fragile, fractured, or simply burgeoning.

And so, as I learn this lesson yet again, join me in learning that when you finally learn that a person's behavior has more to do with their own internal struggles than they ever did with you, you learn peace and compassion.

And it changes everything.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

36 Questions that make People Fall in Love

I was watching/listening to random videos on Youtube the other night while doing some online work when I ran across a channel called Jubilee that puts out some fun and compelling content. Content mostly to do with what happens when you put people together and see what happens. I was enjoying a series that they put out called Tea for Two where they would bring together two random strangers* and have those strangers answer some questions to challenge their ways of thinking or just their intersectionality of life.

In Tea for Two videos, the content creators took the ideas from a New York Times feature article called The 36 Questions that Lead to Love and wondered if, indeed, these 36 questions could lead to love with random strangers. The NYT article is hidden behind their pay/account wall, but other websites talk about it. You can find lots of links if you look for them.

ANYWAY, tonight my ultra logical/left brained husband agreed to go through the questions with me for fun. FYI, that's how a left-brain shows you love. They tell you yes to silly things.

Each question showed more and more how opposite we are, how we are probably incompatible, how much we know one another, how meaningless these quizzes are, and how ridiculous such a claim is, that 36 questions make people fall in love. What does do it though, what makes people fall in love, is intimacy, vulnerability, trust, authenticity, effort, and fun. 

At the end of the questions, the last one asks the participants to gaze into one another eyes for four minutes without talking. And my silly, logical, DEAR husband looked into my eyes for four minutes.

Yeah, we were in love at the end of the questions.

* I have no idea how they chose the random strangers.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Edith Ann says: Calling Bullshit

Sometimes you just have to pass along good stuff!

I'm feeling ill today, so I'm sitting, wrapped up, watching a video set shared with me by my brilliant friend Edith-Ann Zecca.
You can check this series, "Calling Bullshit", out at this website:

Their lectures are available free on Youtube or through that link.
These guys, Jevin West and Carl Bergstrom at the U of Wash, do a NICE, approachable, and understandable college-level course's aim is to teach you how to think critically about the data and models that constitute evidence in the social and natural sciences.

They're also on FB:

If you watch it, tell me what you think!

The Debunking Handbook

Saturday, July 13, 2019

21 Grams

No, not that kind.

What do you think of when you hear the word soul? This is a word that I resist like crazy because so many people think of a soul as an actual thing, as a spiritual, incorporeal part of a human being, an eternal and everlasting immortal identity.

And the interesting thing about this particular way of viewing soul is that it's not only old, it's also new. *Some ancient religions often include the belief in a spiritual part of a human being that continues on after death. The ancient Egyptians had an incredibly complex conception of a soul, a conception that has many parts to this non-physical thing: the Ren, the Ba, the Ka, the Sheut, and the Ib, among other parts. Ancient Hinduism and Jainism both have concepts called jiva and atman which is the immortal essence or soul of living things that lives on after death. The Muslims have Rūḥ and Nafs, and many shaman and spiritual traditions have concepts of spiritual components to humans. Some even teach that non-biological entities (such as rivers and mountains) possess souls. Yes, souls are all over the place in religion.

The current Christian concept of the soul, uncomfortably for some, seems to have developed about 600 BCE as a result of contact with Persia and Greece. Someone else can debate the Biblical references and the myriad of various Christian conceptions of the soul...

HENCE, I cannot tolerate any use of the word soul unless it is defined carefully.
I am perfectly willing to discuss a soul when we discuss a soul as an essential part of a human being, their basic identity or humanity. That idea allows for the soul to stand in the place for the psychological term self. And I'm OK with that. Even the philosophical idea of essence appeals to me because it refers to the essential properties that make a person who they are. No spirits or woo necessary. Thank you to Aristotle for that one.

The idea of the soul as being an intellectual or creative energy, this I like too. The True Self. The persona or personality. The subconscious. All of these are perfectly fine with me.

I'm thinking about this quite a bit these days because I've been reading a bit about neuroscience and there is a great deal of talk about the unique mental and psychological processes that create thought, identity, and behavior in a person and, in some circles, some people might call this thing the soul. If the word soul didn't have so much religious baggage, it would be a perfect word to use in this case.

Our brains, our very identities are infinitely complex and changeable. The entire field of neurology intrigues and occupies a place about ten notches above my head. I try to understand, but can only comprehend small bits. But I'm determined, deep down in my soul.

I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts.

* This is a very, very simplistic discussion of these complex ideas.
* 21 Grams

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Friday, July 12, 2019

99 Things I Love

  1. The Kids and Jerry, of course
  2. John's Humor.
  3. Bollywood Movies
  4. Floral Scents
  5. Pistachios
  6. Ellie and Maddie
  7. Hot Tea 
  8. Traveling 
  9. Taking Pictures
  10. Winged Victory of Samothrace
  11. Mary Oliver Poetry
  12. Steak: Medium Rare
  13. My Children's Eyes
  14. Swimming Pool Smells
  15. Hydrangeas 
  16. Embroyered Pillowcases from my Grandma
  17. Sunday Afternoons
  18. Calvin and Hobbes
  19. Scrabble
  20. R&B
  21. Saturn
  22. The Moon
  23. My Jewelry
  24. White, sheer curtains
  25. Sleeping
  26. Clean Hair
  27. Hockey
  28. Beat Boxing
  29. Old, Wavy Window Panes
  30. Going Barefoot
  31. Mom's Plants on the Front Porch
  32. Family Pics on the Wall
  33. Cottages
  34. Real Kindness
  35. Gorgeous Wood
  36. Leather Shoes with Tassels
  37. Completed Laundry
  38. Root Beer Barrels
  39. Wildflowers
  40. Antiques Roadshow
  41. Amazon.Prime
  42. Cat-eyed Make Up
  43. Dreadlocks
  44. Movies of the Babies
  45. Kitchy Glassware
  46. College Campuses and Libraries
  47. Leather Satchels
  48. Clouds
  49. Autumn Leaves and Snow Flurries 
  50. Hippie Jeans
  51. Being 55
  52. The Great Courses
  53. Bikes with Baskets
  54. Street Art
  55. The Saxophone
  56. Katherine Hepburn
  57. Flossing
  58. Streetlights
  59. Cool Shades
  60. Minty Breath
  62. Smooth-Writing Pens
  63. White Teeth
  64. Word Games
  65. Flowering Trees
  66. Appetizers
  67. Garden Monuments
  68. National Geographic
  69. Maps
  70. Paleontology
  71. The Venus of Willendorf
  72. NASA
  73. Les Miserables
  74.  Pizzelles
  75. Doodling
  76. Geology
  77. Lip from Shameless
  78. Marsha Linehan
  79. Reading
  80. Beautiful Glass
  81. Our Brains
  82. Youtube
  83. Terry Gross and Fresh Air
  84. Random Acts of Kindness
  85. Northern Exposure
  86. Blue Hair
  87. Earth
  88. Richard Armitage
  89. Fiber Arts
  90. Lexapro
  91. Being Happy
  92. Stealing Spoons
  93. RCT2
  94. Tyler Knott Gregson
  95. Genuine People
  96. Dinosaurs
  97. Control F
  98. Hot Baths
  99. Myself

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Letter to Elizabeth in Korea

Dear Elizabeth:

On the other side of the planet, you are spreading your wings, stepping out, dancing in the sun, and exploring what you can do on your own. It's been incredibly surreal that I, a little girl from a small town, a girl from a very racist family, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, have a daughter in KOREA, making meaning in her life! It's weird to think about how far your generation has moved from the generation before me!

This trip to Korea, I sincerely hope, is life-enriching and goal-creating for you. You have many secret dreams and wishes for your life and I hope that this brief trip to the literal other side of the planet, ON YOUR OWN, shows you your ability to rise above the difficulties and shows you your ability to absolutely shine in your own skin. With some time to ease into the summer, you have learned resilience and commitment in these first few weeks, Elizabeth, and it has been a real honor to be your mother, your life line, as you learn these things about yourself.

You have extended your hand again and again until some people finally had the courage to extend their hands back. I hope you notice that they were there all along, just unwilling or unable to take that courageous step as quickly as you could. Humans are difficult things to understand and to live with. But SOOoo worth it.

And, Dear Korea, you small far-off country of large culture:

Look out, Dude, Elizabeth is COMING!!!!!!

With love, Mom

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