"If it's not fun, why do it?"

Seat 2D

Baby.
Sick baby.
Sick baby on a plane.
Sick baby on a plane on my flight.
Oh no! 

We’ve all been there, trapped on a flight with a screaming child, shrinking into our headphones, preparing to suffer for the next few hours however long the flight takes. Or if he’s not screaming, we mumble the mantra “I hope the kid doesn’t cry.” Because nothing, except maybe a toothache, seems more painful than. Being trapped. With a baby. With a baby on my flight.

This baby on a plane tale has a different story arc, however. Facebook exploded with shares about an anonymous gentleman on an American Airlines flight.

The flight attendant came over and told me you were waiting to switch seats. You were giving up your comfortable, first class seat to us.

Kelsey Zwick (on Facebook)

Kelsey Zwick & Lucy (via Facebook)

One thoughtful, generous first class passenger switched seats, giving his to a woman encumbered with a baby wearing oxygen tubing on a flight from Orlando, Florida to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kelsey Zwick was transporting her 11-month old daughter, Lucy, to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to be treated for chronic lung disease. Narrow, crowded coach seats hardly seat an adult comfortably let alone one with a baby on her lap. A stranger saw this and thought the mother and child would be more comfortable in first class. Now that’s class!

Having never flown first class, my thoughts wandered to the price of a first class seat. They aren’t discounted. Rarely can one be obtained for a mileage award. Even if someone had gifted him the seat, giving it up would have been somewhat painful. My point is, this likely cost the donor some bucks or caused discomfort! Other thoughts swarmed around “Wow.” Would I have been so prescient, so generous of spirit, to give up my comfort — the amount I paid! — for someone I didn’t know? someone I hadn’t met?

I like to think of myself as kind, maybe a bit noble (cough cough). But when faced with the question I just asked, I admit I would not have given my seat. I’ve given up my seat on the subway, ceded my place in line in a store, yielded to other traffic, and the like. Those actions have no monetary value; at worst they cost me some discomfort or time. When it comes to parting with substance or chattel I’m more chary. I think it comes from feeling like I will miss out on something. Mr. 2D saw a situation and did not compute a balance sheet. For whatever reason, he saw a situation and acted. He rose to the occasion.

Things to think about:
Can I be more charitable? More thoughtful? More giving? How can I rise to occasions — no, not just rise, but clearly see occasions — where I can be a giver, beyond my comfort? How can I be a more sensitive citizen of this world where superficial looks glance off people and on to the next interesting thing? How can I feel more deeply? Will there be a time when I will not calculate my potential “loss” into my equation of giving?

 

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Job Hunting

On a sunny autumn afternoon men worked on a roof beside a bright orange crane. Shingles filled the skip dangling from its line. Orange safety cones tied together with flagged caution tape delimited the edge of the work area. Each man wore a fluorescent safety vest.  Faint calls sounding like “ho” and “wait” reached my ears when the crane moved. The hanging weight could knock any one of the men off the roof to his death, I mused, reducing a frail, hard hat-encased skull to shards. A man could lose his footing, fall and roll down the bumpy shingles, accumulating scrapes and abrasions along the way. Or, under the hot sun, with heat radiating from below, dehydration and heat stress could strike a man, rendering him helpless. In another reality, a man rolled helplessly bleeding down the slope toward the edge, toward certain agony, and maybe death.

Crane on a roof. © JustHavingFun
Crane on a roof. © JustHavingFun

I’m sitting at my desk watching, waiting. I click on the “Submit” button to whisk my credentials into the big, black, maw that is the Application Machine. Another notation on my job application log, another application sent to the electronic cloud. If I am lucky, I will see an email pop up in my inbox stating the company received my application and it will be reviewed. Out of the 175 or so applications I’ve sent off, 87 replies were received, a quarter of those from the job agent I sent the application through. Only 28 companies sent a “thank you but no thank you” note indicating no further action was necessary, the job was given to someone else, I was no longer a contender. I’ve had 3 phone interviews, one leading to an in-person, on-site interview. One out of 175 is 0.57%. Quiet rejection.

I am a heavy load, dangling from a crane high, on a roof. Will I make contact with anyone? Or will I settle to the roof and have the contents removed, to be used for something constructive. Some Automated Tracking System bot parses my résumé; an “r” could invalidate me if I wrote “data manager” but the company wants someone with “data management” skills. It’s a knife-edge determination, and I don’t know the rules which change from company to company, application to application. 

Potter and vase. © JustHavingFun

Potter and vase. © JustHavingFun

I am the potter’s clay. Amorphous, my shape to be determined at her will, I’m a blob on the wheel, circling, spinning, whirling under her fingers. Whom shall I serve? What shape will I be? Where will I end up? What colors will I wear? She pinches and prods, draws me upward, but I don’t know my final configuration, destination, function, reception, toleration, utilization.

Well, it’s time to refill my coffee and get back to the search. As much as it has been fun conjuring images and playing with words this past hour, it is time to point my arrows at some targets. Again. At least I don’t have to beat on doors and get rejected to my face. 

Submit has multiple meanings. I submit my résumé, and I wait in submission. I have every confidence that my qualifications will spark interest somewhere and the job hunt will terminate, happily. But until then, some days I feel like I’m at the edge of the roof, avoiding the crane’s load; other days I feel shapeless and unformed. 

Today? I have hope.

 

Sock Earrings

Love socks? Love knitting socks? Love comfy, cozy toes? Here’s a small tribute to warm tootsies! These little earrings boast a heavenly blue dangle. Maybe I need to knit blue socks….

Sock earrings. © JustHavingFun

Happiness is My Choice, 16

I make my own frame of mind, and therefore, I choose to be contented. I want to be a force for Good. If I am dependent on others to determine my level of contentment, I will lose my serenity when (not if) they change their moods. I will cede my desires and my capability of being a source of Good, and follow the whims of others. That is not how I wish to live, nor how I see my role on the earth.

Driving, with happy thoughts. © JustHavingFun

Driving, with happy thoughts. © JustHavingFun

Yesterday I tried an experiment. I drove toward home after an appointment. The sky glowered, low and gray, and the wind whipped up a chill. From inside my cozy car, I decided to bless all I saw. I thought about each person I saw and stated something positive aloud:

  • A man sitting on the bench at a bus stop, huddled over: “Stay warm.”
  • The UPS delivery van driver coming toward me: “You help so many people.”
  • A group of teens standing at the corner after school: “Have fun with your friends.”
  • Someone getting into a car: “Drive safely.”

At each utterance, I felt a frisson of joy. I was sending good wishes, blessings, into the universe! I changed the world.

HaSameach b'Chelko: One who is happy with what he has. © JustHavingFun

HaSameach b’Chelko: One who is happy with what he has. © JustHavingFun

Focusing on the pleasant readjusts my attitude, too. I could have been vexed by the pokey driver who was somewhat erratic, seeming to pull over then come back to the center of the road. Instead, I said kindly, “I can understand your confusion, but next time, please use a signal.” I do it other times, too:

  • Hearing sirens in the distance: “I pray nobody is ill or in need. Please help them and may the responders be protected.”
  • Seeing a flock of birds whirl above: “How beautiful your flight is.”
  • Commenting on a person’s appearance: “Your hair looks so nice.”
  • A helicopter circles above: “Let the police be assisted in their duties.”
  • At an intersection: “I am glad all cars stopped and drivers are patiently waiting.”

Our words have power. When I choose to focus on the pleasant, or on the condition of others, not only do I change myself, but I also let loose power in the world. We understand that the Creator used words to create everything. Modern science shows that our thoughts change our brain biochemistry. Nothing is random, it is all connected.

So for today, I choose to manifest Goodness and Pleasantness. May my comments inspire others to be positive, embrace serenity, and be happy.

Lame lament

Broken nail, shattered dreams.

Broken nail, shattered dreams. © JustHavingFun

Woe the loss, sad is the day. My thumbnail broke.

Brittle nails that break scourge my female sensibility. Despite being an inconvenience when playing guitar, long—or in my case, even fingertip length—fingernails seemed to be a hallmark of femininity. Filing, shaping, polishing, and having colored nails announced some mastery of the feminine identity, as much as high-heeled shoes or pouffy hairstyles when I was young. Somehow this connection followed me to this stage of adulthood. Thus, the lament.

How could this be? And here, I have invested time and money into preserving its length and shape, giving it hue and shine, an armored coat of lacquer to protect it. Yet it broke, in the same place as usual, saying “nyah nyah” to the care afforded it and the color applied.

Maybe I should have chosen a stronger color than number 80, a bubblegum pink. Eighty seems not to be my lucky number. Perhaps a springy green (74), metallic studded gray (88), or armor blue-black (87) could have averted this tragedy, mishap, failure. Gold (72) for richness couldn’t have prevented a break, nor could the delicacy and fair dusting of pink sparkles in a clear background (82). But setting aside fickle numerology or the vagaries of color protection in nail polish, the fact remains that my DNA codes for brittle nails and any color would have failed me.

OPI gel color samples.

OPI gel color samples. © JustHavingFun

What genetic advantage could weak nails have afforded my great-great-great-etc.-grandmothers all the way back to Sinai? Lacking steel tweezers, tough nails could have removed splinters; minus bamboo backscratchers, they would have pleased many generations of itchy backs…. Useful for picking up nickels off counters, scraping excess paint from a canvas, making that tap tap tapping sound when drumming fingers on a tabletop….

What an impractical question, and a more impracticable answer. Weak nails just are. There’s no explanation, no justification. Having snagged on my blouse and pulled off, the nail tip fragment is now lying on my desk. I hadn’t the heart to toss it in the trash as I am writing. I’m staring at it, it is staring at me, and we are staring at each other together. It’s a stalemate.

Broken nail tip. © JustHavingFun

Broken nail tip. © JustHavingFun

It hurts, but it doesn’t hurt hurt. May this be my biggest tragedy in life. A broken nail. May we all not suffer more than a broken nail. Two broken nails even. That should be the worst thing to happen. Ever.

 

Kaddish

“These are people who were killed because they were Jewish, they are bodies of holy martyrs.”
—Rabbi Daniel Wasserman

Words do not come. A leaden ball occupies my lower half; a river of ice runs within. My hometown community suffered a loss that is larger than the holy souls whose lives were ripped from them as they worshipped. This wasn’t supposed to happen here, not here, in America. But this is not about me; rather, it is about my people, my town, my tribe, my family. It’s personal.

Despite the all-too-familiar terror attacks in Israel—Ari Fuld, Ziv Hajbi, and Kim Levengrond Yehezkel murdered within the past six weeks; despite the Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher murders in France; despite the shooting attacks at Jewish Community Centers—Los Angeles and Overland Park, Kansas;  despite attacks on Jews individually and collectively worldwide, this was not supposed to happen here. Certainly not in my town, on the streets where I walked, in a shul (synagogue) where I have been, the spiritual home of many people who I know. It’s not about me but it’s personal.

Pittsburgh: Stronger than hate

Pittsburgh: Stronger than hate

The synagogue shooting on Saturday, October 27th occurred on the 18th of the “bitter” month of Cheshvan, or MarCheshvan on the Jewish calendar. The month is characterized as being bitter because it has no holidays. Now it has 11 more yahrzeits, death anniversaries. A madman targeted Jews, came into our place of worship, and murdered 11 people, wounded 6 more, including brave responders from the Pittsburgh Police.

My uncle, who was a hidden child in Holland during the Holocaust said, “It feels a bit [like] when I was 7 or 8 and people disappeared and you did not know whether [they were] picked up or in hiding or what.” You simply did not know.

We awaited the names of the deceased, and as they were released on Sunday morning, we sighed and cried whether we knew them or not. Our family members were on that list; everyone I know knows someone who knew someone…. It’s not about me but it’s personal.

The first of the funerals are today. It is Jewish custom to bury the dead as soon as possible, but it was not possible in this situation; the funerals will continue through the week. I know the pain of the waiting—it is tense and confusing to those of us accustomed to quick burial. We Jews do not have wakes, our dead do not lie in front of us. Not usually, but this situation is beyond unusual. People are planning to arrive from all over to mourn with the bereaved families. However, my synagogue emailed a funeral notice with a request that only close friends and family attend shiva (the seven-day period after burial where people visit the bereaved to offer condolences and support). We all want to mourn together but we must respect the privacy of the families.

At the graveside, the kaddish prayer will be recited by the mourners. “Glorified and sanctified be G-d’s great name throughout the world…” it starts.  The ending is a call for peace, “May He Who makes peace in His heavens make peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.” Kaddish affirms the existence of a Creator and extolls Him. No mention of death or loss are contained in the ancient Aramaic words. It has always given me pause: in the moment of our deepest grief we raise our voices to G-d, to Whom else can we turn?

I’m having a hard time not reading the news, like I’ll hear something new, some detail that will help make sense of the shootings. We’re all talking about it: Pittsburgh, gun control, mental health; hate sites; online forums; Israel; safety; what to do. Glued to the radio, the streaming media, video clips, Facebook—I must consciously disconnect. My sense of safety and surety shivers in horror. What next? How? The questions keep coming. It’s not about me but it’s personal.

I pledge to make my corner of the world a place where light rules, and not the darkness. Do a mitzvah. Do many mitzvahs. I am Pittsburgh, but more so, I am a Jew. Let light reign.

  • Joyce Fienberg, 75
  • Richard Gottfried, 65
  • Rose Mallinger, 97
  • Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
  • brothers Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54
  • husband and wife, Sylvan, 86, and Bernice Simon, 84
  • Daniel Stein, 71
  • Melvin Wax, 88
  • Irving Younger, 69

They were murdered for the crime of being Jews. It’s not about me but it’s personal. I’m a Jew.

Hashem yinkom damam, “May G-d avenge their blood.”

Orange Holiday

The night glows with a just-past-full moon and jack o’lantern fairy lights festoon doorways and rooftops. The haunting season flourishes in the suburban area around my home. Or, as I like to call it, the Orange Holiday season.

The decoration mania surprises me, but not too much; after all, the “holiday stores” have been open since September. Blowsy fake cobwebs, oversized spiders with glowing green eyes, lookalike headstones planted in lawns—this is my America. In the suburbs, skeletons walk, pumpkins grin, a big ol’ spider hovers, and a tree posing as an owl supervises this nighttime array. Ceramic faux pumpkins laughed while I wrangled a tugging dog. One house even had a “laser show” with green ghosts flying around on the brickwork. Yes, flying. It moved! These are not Martha Stewart’s tasteful decorations; most of the ones I see are plastic, with LEDs, and reside in the dictionary under the word “tacky.”

Halloween yard decorations

Halloween yard decorations. © JustHavingFun

To stop a thief, light a light-Duquesne Light (Pittsburgh Press)

To stop a thief, light a light-Duquesne Light © Pittsburgh Press

Now this may not look so odd to you, but this display startled me. I was walking the dog down a sparsely lit side road and had forgotten to bring a flashlight. Peering ahead to prevent tripping over broken sidewalk, I noted which houses were completely dark and eerie. [An aside: Indoctrinated by the 1970s advertising campaign, “To Stop a Thief, Light a Light” promoted by Duquesne Light, dark houses look menacing to me, awaiting Bad Things To Happen. Note Chilly Billy on the same page.]

The houses that were lit loomed out of the darkness. Nearing the end of the block, the dog lunged for a car, yanking me closer to the Halloween house. He paused to sniff and I paused to click. How could I not? Ceramic faux pumpkins laughed while I wrangled the tugging dog. Will they attract many more trick or treaters banging at their door on October 31st?

What is this fetish to decorate the house exterior? If all the decor is outside, does one feel more festive inside? Why? You can’t see it if you are not outside!

If you don’t go the plastic or ceramic route, you can always carve your own pumpkins. (With all the pumpkins purchased, does anyone eat them or the seeds?) Have you noticed there are now professional pumpkin carving master tool sets for sale? This is a thing! “Sick of buying new pumpkin carving tools every year — only for them to break yet again?” the article asks. I didn’t know. I’m terribly behind the times, especially what is now “in” for the Orange Holiday. The dog does not care.

Halloween ceramic jack o'lanterns. © JustHavingFun

Halloween ceramic jack o’lanterns. © JustHavingFun

Soon the Orange Holiday will pass. If I recall correctly from walking the dog this way last year, this particular home will be ready for the “Red & Green” holiday soon, decked with rows of jolly candy canes lining the walk. We mark our seasons by the colors of the holidays. More on that observation later.

Happy Halloween!

Book Review by Capote

Other Voices, Other Rooms

Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I’m a voracious and voluminous reader, I’d never read anything by Truman Capote. Other Voices, Other Rooms is his first book, written in 1948. Set in the rural South, it paints a strange-to-my-eyes picture of a world that passed and hopefully, is gone. I understand this book was semi-autobiographical, and sure that it was scandalous in its time.

I found myself captivated, however. Capote’s writing style is lush and descriptive, peppered with unusual sentence length and punctuation. I found myself rereading certain phrases which had the richness of caramel melting on the tongue. THIS is literature, I kept thinking. At the end of the book I had many questions.

I came away from it thinking that I was missing something, that I needed a discussion group or an English teacher to guide me through what I read. Maybe it was the time-bound language, the context of the story and my unfamiliarity with that place’s history, the juxtaposition of whites and Negroes, superstition and youthfulness, or the vague sexualization of the scenes that leave me feeling a murkiness when I tried to parse what I read.

What an odd opening for today’s reader: Joel Knox lost his mother who was estranged/divorced from his father. “Orphaned” and staying with a family friend (aunt?), a letter arrives from the father and prompts the friend to send him alone from New Orleans, a cosmopolitan city, to a place so rural that there is no transportation available. He catches a ride with a worker from the turpentine factory and is deposited in Noon City, which is hardly a city, and is more like a one-street town. After some time, Joel locates a ancient Negro man, Jesus Fever, with a mule who can take him to the family estate. Already the reader is thrown into a world that is very different from modernity.

The characters are exaggerated and mysterious. Joel comes to live in a home that doesn’t feel like a home. Surrounded with situational mysteries, the people he meets do not clarify the situation he is in. Idabel and Florabel, the twins who are a tomboy and a flirtatious belle, live somewhere in the swamp. The tension between Joel and Idabel is palpable and in a way, the two ends of a see-saw, going up and down. The adults Joel lives with, Miss Amy, his erstwhile step-mother, and her effeminate cousin Randolph, are mysterious and vague, and provide no guidance for the boy. Joel does not learn that his father, Mr. Edward R. Sansom, is bedridden and paralyzed until some time after he arrives. It is only much later that he suspects his father could not have written the letter summoning him. Joel feels closest to the servant Missouri Fever (Zoo), Jesus Fever’s granddaughter. Zoo is scarred by her former husband, Keg Brown, and relies on folk charms, religion, and superstition to protect her. Background characters include a Negro population who are voiced in dialect, and are distinct from the white inhabitants of the town. An inanimate character, their home, Sully’s Landing, sets the mood, too, being ancient, damaged, sinking into the ground, and having no indoor plumbing or electricity.

Like I said before, Truman Capote’s writing is lush and he creates vibrant pictures allowing the reader to peek into a world, feel the heat, and the mosquitos biting.

I felt a bit like Joel, exploring the unknown wilds of a new land. Every action had overtones and meaning he simply didn’t know at first. Only the sheen of manners and a deep desire for love and relationships kept him out of trouble and allowed him to navigate in this new scene. Is he naive? I think so. Is the situation unfathomable to him? It sure was to me! The undescribed illness that keeps him comatose (?) and bedridden for a few months in the fall creates a dependency upon Randolph, and that relationship is full of overtones I’m not sure I’m reading right. I felt restless at the end, unfulfilled.

I enjoyed the visit to this world. I don’t enjoy feeling like there’s something I’m missing, however. What am I missing in context having read it 70 years after its publishing, having grown up in modern cities, and after the Civil Rights movement. I’m certain to follow up by looking for literary critiques, both contemporaneous and modern, on this work.

View all my Goodreads reviews

Dance with Spikes

I saw these men’s shoes that reminded me of a bulldog’s collar a few weeks ago at Mondawmin Mall. Stores at this shopping center cater to a primarily African-American clientele. Even taking differences in culture into account, aren’t these shoes a bit… extreme? Are they the product of fun and delight or an abominable show of déclassé style?

Spiky shoes. Ouch! © JustHavingFun

Spiky shoes. Ouch! © JustHavingFun

Whoa! I thought. Who would wear that? Spikes and pyramids spangle a black glitter background. These shoes look mean! Or… something. I don’t know how to interpret them! Through my middle-aged white-lady eyes, they are hideous and mysterious, ostentatious and camp. They made me laugh. They shout c’mon! Let’s go!! 

I guess I’m not the “going” type.

There’s no accounting for tastes in fashion. Call me a fuddy-duddy but I believe young men’s underwear should be on the inside of one’s pants, contrary to the popular (amongst some) “sagging” style. Likewise, I’m still shy about visible bra straps and form-hugging fabrics that show EVERY bump.

Still, I had to go into the store and photograph this display. While there were similarly spangled women’s stiletto-heeled pumps across the aisle (women’s shoes having been torturous and outrageous for a long time)*, it these male styles boggled my mind.

New Arrivals; Ready to Party! © JustHavingFun

New Arrivals; Ready to Party! © JustHavingFun

I like a good amount of glitz however, and I’m always up for a celebration! So when I went inside the store, I saw that the bulldog collar shoes had cousins that were ready to party! The multi-colored glittery ones, third from the left, attracted my eye. Any guy wearing these shoes has to know how to have fun, F-U-N! Now I’m ready! Let’s go!! I want to dance with Mr. Sparkly Toes.

Have you seen any “extreme” fashions lately that have captured your imagination? Let me know in the comments.

——–

*(I have some real strong opinions on women’s footwear, but they are for another time.)

How do I react when disasters occur? What is my response to adversity?

WBAL news reports flooding in the Baltimore area, July 2018.

WBAL news reports flooding in the Baltimore area, July 2018.

When nature doesn’t seem so natural, when events confound me, when a roadblock is placed in my way, do I panic and flounder about, or do I go forward by choosing a different route?

So many events, even daily occurrences, do not go the way I expect them to go. Surprises can create joy or terror. By their nature, surprises are… unexpected. We do not foresee them, changes in routine disrupt comfortable patterns of action, and we can become amused, befuddled, or even crippled. Some reactions are beyond control; the aha moment upon seeing fireworks and the pain of a broken bone force themselves upon us equally, though not equally desirable.

Surprises follow a spectrum. Good or bad. Big or small. Delightful or horrid. For some reason, we mostly focus on the small, bad, everyday experiences. These events captivate us and take over our thoughts. Our emotions cascade in response to the little things, and they build on each other. Predictably, some of these “bad” things may be somewhat within my control. I think that’s why they are so annoying.

Roadblocks. Most of my “bad days” start with small roadblocks:  I forget that the coffee supply needs to be replenished, so I may be unready to face the day. Like many people, my morning coffee—the anticipation of inhaling that sharp aroma and sipping the warm liquid—can propel me into the world some days. When I don’t get what I anticipate and desire, my 3-year-old self may emerge. All due to a small, unpleasant surprise. The jar was empty. Someone (i.e. me) did not put it on the shopping list.

And if I let it, the bad day can continue. I get drenched in a rainstorm walking from the parking lot to my business. I could have checked the weather report but missing my coffee threw me off, so I didn’t have the foresight to carry an umbrella. By the time I got to work, the heavens opened and the deluge splashed around me. Naturally, I wore sandals, so my feet got soaked, too. Then once in the office, while drying off, I missed the call saying the 11 o’clock meeting was being moved up to 10. At 10:15 I notice the department sounds quiet and nobody is around. Glancing at my online calendar, I see a flashing notice asking me where I am. Yikes!

Affirmations for positive thinking.

Affirmations for positive thinking.

Late for the meeting, the boss glares at me when I slide into my seat. I fail to pay attention to the presentation and missed the project update. After the meeting I realize I left my lunch in the refrigerator at home. I nibble on some crackers I keep in my bottom drawer but they don’t appease my hunger. Then my computer reboots in the middle of a calculation and I hadn’t saved the file. It’s all lost! Worse and worse. I’m in a brown mood the rest of the day after that. I just cannot get caught up. Everything snowballs into a big mess. By the end of the day, an acid ball roils in the pit of my stomach and I can’t wait to go to bed. It’s still raining when I leave the office and my feet get wet again. Say goodbye to that lousy day. But wait! I forgot to stop by the market and buy more coffee!

I can rewrite the scenario above, change my outlook, with the following directions: stay calm, be peaceful, get centered. I can control my reactions to today’s challenges.

Catastrophizing the lack of coffee, beating myself up for having forgotten to purchase it, started my descent into a “bad day.” How could I turn that around? Isn’t it inevitable that would trigger the events of the day? Any one of those little adverse events could confront me on a given day. On a catastrophic “I didn’t have my coffee” day, they become mountains to scale, larding my mood with the foulest of weightiness. Drawn down further and further, I see only the bottom of the hole. That thinking certainly is not compatible with serenity.

Frustration Ahead!

Frustration Ahead!

Happiness is my choice. Lighten up. It’s coffee, not surgery. We take everything so seriously so that when a stumbling block appears, we trip.

Here’s what I would do to change that day: There’s no coffee. I’d reach for a pen and scribble it on the shopping list mounted on the refrigerator door. Or more recently, I speak aloud, saying, “OK Google. Add coffee to Shopping List.” After listening for the confirmation, I would reach for some tea. Sipping it, I would notice the sky looks gray, or listen to the weather report. Changing out of sandals and grabbing an umbrella, I would leave the house for work. And so on.

Not quite what I wanted, but it will suffice. It will suffice. The world will not stop spinning because I don’t have coffee. It’s not the end of the world. I can get coffee later. I can go to a drive through, or stop in for a cup somewhere if I need it so badly. Living with life’s little disappointments—living life on life’s terms—makes my day manageable, pleasant even. Fewer worries. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Roadblocks are blockages, not necessarily solid barriers. We find alternate routes, travel different byways, employ substitutions, and there’s no need for panic or dismay. Putting things into perspective allows us to cope, weather the storms, and live a more comfortable, pleasant existence. Happily.

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