How To Handle Seriously Negative People

Moods are just as contagious as a virus. The Killjoy bug can remain in your system for days, even years! Psychologists have a name for this, they call it

Emotional Contagion

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Some people have a perpetual negative outlook on everything. The weather is awful. The food is terrible. Everything is ugly.  Even if you aren’t normally a glass is half-empty person, if you spend enough time around someone who is you will soon start feeling the same way.

Do you have people like that at work or in your family?  You can let them infect you with their gloomy attitude, or you can try to keep away from them.

If you are the resilient type, you can ask what’s wrong.

Sometimes if you dig a little deeper, you might find the source of the black outlook. Chronic pain? Grief? Poor self esteem?

There are tons of reasons why people can be so negative.

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If you are constantly around people who are obnoxiously moody, try telling them their bad mood affects you too. Hopefully they’ll think it over and agree with you. Life is too short to be a sourpuss.

the antidoteJust as bad moods are contagious, positive vibes and sunny dispositions can spread too.

Do what you can to keep your emotions healthy.

Stay clear of bad moods. Stay close to good ones.

And remember to walk on the sunny side of the street.

Technology is the Devil

Bobby Boucher: Mama, when did Ben Franklin invent electricity?
Mama Boucher: That’s nonsense, I invented electricity.  Ben Franklin is the Devil!

I learned lots of lesser known facts about life after watching Adam Sandler’s The Waterboy.  Foosball, girls, electricity, and poor Ben Franklin is the devil.

Can you imagine what Mama would do if Bobby brought home an iPhone6+?

NO SON OF MINE IS GOING TO BE PLAYING WITH NO EYESPHONE! EYESPHONE IS THE DEVIL!

Does Mama, even with her overdramatized, overprotective, and outrageous behavior, have some wisdom for us? Is technology wicked? Does it rob us of love, relationships, and even take our soul?

What are the costs of technology, of living in a digital world?

Switchfoot at The Landmark Theater, Syracuse, NY
Switchfoot at The Landmark Theater, Syracuse, NY

We watch concerts, see sunsets, live life through phones. What used to be face to face conversations are done online.

I do it too! I text friends who are sitting across from me. I Skype my kids instead of yelling upstairs to tell them dinner’s ready. I hardly even use the “landline” phone anymore.

It’s great to have this technology, but have we gone too far? Interpersonal communication with a physical human being that includes touch, facial expressions, inflections, tone – remember that?

I don’t  believe technology is the devil.  But it can be a baneful influence if we let it. If you want to be healthy and happy there has to be balance and moderation in everything.

How about you? Do you need to pull the plug on your technology, even a little?

Why not give it a try? Turn off your phone. Shut the computer. Take a walk. Read a book. And when your break is over, grab some clean, cold, high quality H20 and watch The Waterboy.

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Overwhelmed? 5 Easy Ways To Say No

Unless you are a toddler or a teenager, saying no doesn’t always come easy.  Whether it’s your boss piling your desk with tedious projects or your kids wanting you to host a last minute sleepover.  There are times you say yes when you want to say no.

If you actually look forward to hours of overtime or loud tweeners playing all night video games, sounds like you are all set.

But, If you find yourself saying yes when you really want to say no, try these 5 easy ways.

Decline with grace. I really appreciate you thought of me for this assignment, but I will need to decline at this time. Maybe another time?

Compromise. A sleepover sounds like fun! But not tonight. Let’s look at the calendar and pick another date that will work better.  How about I take you kids out for ice-cream instead?

Advise an alternative.  I can’t give you a ride to work. Are you near a bus route?  Have you considered a taxi? Is there a car pool you can find? Do you know anyone who lives by you?

Stall. If you aren’t sure of what to do, buy yourself time. I can’t give you an answer this minute.  Let me think about it and I will get back to you.  How can I reach you, and when do you need my answer by?

Pass.  Just say no. Be nice, grateful, with the apology nothing more than a simple,

I’m sorry I can’t help you.

Skip the details of why you can’t do something.  It’s too much blah blah blah.

18969144739_e872b4904a_mPeople don’t have the time to hear the why, they’ve got to find someone to help solve their problem. And this time, that person is not going to be you.

After you say no, don’t fret about it. We are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or letting a friend down that we end up second guessing ourselves and feel guilty for saying no. Don’t feel guilty for wanting balance in your life.   Plus think of how your friend would feel if he found out you said yes even though your heart wasn’t in it.

A word to the wise on saying no; Don’t be too quick to decline an opportunity. Saying yes can be a strategic move and may open a door to a rewarding new adventure.

Give it a try.  Next time someone asks if you can do the coffee run or if you can host Thanksgiving dinner, say

sorry, I can’t help this time.

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Would My Dad Know Who I Am Now?

Father’s Day is a happy day for some, and a sad day for others.  And then there are those like me who are happy/sad.  My dad is gone, but I have a husband who is a wonderful father to my three boys. Now we celebrate the day spoiling him with presents, good food, ice cream, and miniature golf.

My father died when I was twenty.  I have spent more years living without him than with him.  The hardest part for me now is realizing he never got to know the grown up me.  He knew me as a child, his youngest daughter.  I was daddy’s little girl, but my heart aches when I remember how mean I was in my later teenage years.

He knew me when I was bratty and terribly moody.  I have one vivid memory of a sunday afternoon when he drove me back to nursing school. I don’t know what he said or did, but I clicked my tongue, rolled my eyes, and said something horrible to him.  Did he shush me, or lecture me about my behavior? No.  He just looked away and watched the numbers change on the elevator.

He died shortly after that. Why is it on Father’s Day I have to remember that stupid day?

If I had a magic bean that could grant me one day with my dad, would he know me when he saw me? Would he recognize my face, my voice? It’s been thirty-one years and I’m not who I once was. I’ve changed in so many ways.

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I would know him.  His deep brown eyes, his big, toothless smile.  He loved popcorn, country music, horseshoes, and staying up late to watch John Wayne and Kung-Fu movies.  He was most content reclining in his lawn chair in our backyard, smoking his lucky strikes while listening to the birds songs and the scratchy buzzing of the locusts.

I would know my father.  He is etched in my memory, cut into my heart. I’d recognize his voice, his walk, his whistling.  He’d smell of old spice and Wisk laundry detergent.

My tall, kind, patient, long-suffering, always there till he wasn’t, dad.

I think he would know me. I imagine him saying,

Sweetie, I saw it all.  Your career, your wedding.  I was there when your boys were babies – handsome kids. Will reminds me of myself when I was his age.  I saw them walk across the stage to get their diplomas.  I saw it all.  I’ve watched you all these years, and you have made me so proud. I love you.

Of course he would know me – he’s my dad. He would always know me.

I love you too dad. Miss you. XO

Me and my dad.
Me and my dad.

Originally published June 16, 2014

Out Of The Mouth Of Abe’s

Why is it that some people languish in suffering while others who have similar troubles thrive despite?

It amazes me how people with things like crippling arthritis, cancer, disfigurement, chronic pain, traumatic abuse or other terrible circumstances can adapt and cope despite the pain of their situation. They continue to believe that just to be alive is a grand thing.

Others groan about a hangnail and see life’s little inconveniences as monumental tsunamis. They make sure you know just how miserable they are and don’t you agree the world is a wretched place?

Yeah rain oh rain stop fallin'... I said the bridge washed out and I can't swim and my baby's on the other side..Slim Williamson
Yeah rain oh rain stop fallin’…
I said the bridge washed out and I can’t swim and my baby’s on the other side..Slim Williamson

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Yes, life is full of pain and suffering. It is also full of joy and hope.

Bad things happen. Life isn’t fair. And you have a choice of whether to accept that and rise above, or

you can cloak yourself in sackcloth and ashes and live in misery.

Yes, I do believe we can live and thrive in spite of an awful childhood, a debilitating disease, a loved one gone too soon, or any other tragedy that has crossed our path.

How??? You ask, How can I go on? How can I be happy? You have no idea what I’ve been through.  

You’re right. I have no idea what you have been through. But I can try to understand. I only know what I have suffered through, and I can share with you what I know to be true.

I know good triumphs over evil. I believe there is a God who loves us, despite what the world tells us.  I am sure we are never truly alone.  I can say broken hearts heal, and the pain lessens in time.  I am certain that no matter what, life is always worth living.

When you arise in the morning – let your first thought be what a glorious privilege it is to be alive.

To breathe, to think, to create, to hope, to love.

Be the person who carries on despite suffering.  There are many who stand by us, offering us their life and words as a comforting embrace and reminder.  Here is Abraham Lincoln’s heartfelt condolences to a friend.  They are just as timely today as they were in 1862. ALquotescover-JPG-18

No matter what you are going through, no matter what has happened – let me, like Abe, alleviate some of your suffering.

You are not alone. You are more resilient than you think. Life is what it is. Suffering is inevitable,

but misery is optional.

Turn Heads With These 10 Gramazing Words!

Awesome is an excellent word.  So is amazing. But don’t you agree they’re over used?

I had an awesome time.  That movie was amazing.  How ya doing?

Amazingly awesome.

I like to use the A words reverently, sparsely, when no other words will do.

Maybe you’d like some alternate words to use too?  Try These 10 gramazing stand-in words. They’re fun, and just as powerful. Sprinkle them in your writing or in your feedback to others.

Kryptonian You reached kryptonian heights with that speech!

Fly That car is so fly!

Kickass  Those are some kickass moves!

Wicked That sequel was wicked!

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Transcendent I am blown away by his transcendent writing.

Capital You did a capital job on the presentation!

Magnificent The hotel was simply magnificent!

Rawk That song is so rawk!

The honey pot The finale was the honey pot – a sweet ending to a perfect day.

Double rainbow brilliant Are you kidding me? That was double rainbow brilliant!

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Why not try your hand at coming up with your own sparkling wordage to describe something really impressive?

How about exponentially excellent. Deluxe. The capstone. Over the top great. Phi Beta Kappa…

And when no other word will do,

go ahead and use awesome.

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Change: (part three) Action!

Action is a great word. It invokes feelings of anticipation, excitement, and a now we’re finally getting somewhere mindset.

The actors who take their places – The runner poised at the start line – The traveler boarding the plane –  and now you, ready for change.

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Stanley Kunitz

Isn’t a relief to finally be doing something? The hardest part is done, here where you are, in action, is where you were meant to be.

You’ve thought about it, planned for it, and now you are living it.

Mixed with the excitement you have a bit of fear and if you’re like me, a lot of urgency.

Ready, set, action!

I found this video on slo-mo cat physics that struck me as a sort of analogy for this action phase. From the startled eyes to the landing on her feet – I loved it.

Change is really a growth process with periods of rapid development,  low dips, high points, and maintenance (which I’ll talk more about in part four).

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living. Anatole France

I wish life/behavior changes were as easy as a free falling cat landing on its feet.  It just isn’t. That explains why people drop out of college, quit going to the gym, start smoking again, rack up debt, or go back to jail.

Lasting change requires motivation, a sensible plan with attainable goals, and persistence.

You want this, you’re set, now do it!  Don’t worry about later, tomorrow, next year. Keep focused on here, now.

Ready, set, action –  start the process of change.

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If you are working on changing a behavior or habit, listen to this NPR broadcast, Habits: How They Form and How To Break Them.

Need a recap? Go here to part one: why we resist. Be sure to come back next week for the final part four: maintenance.

Change (part two): Preparation

Bob Dylan said there’s nothing so stable as change.  Pre-Dylan philosopher Heraclitus put it this way:

The only thing that is constant is change.

Stable, constant.

Permanent, certain.

Whether you like it and seek it, or hate it and run from it: everything always changes.  Most change is out of our control. Consider the weather, someone else’s attitude, road conditions, home/car repairs, illness, accidents, and layoffs as some of the stuff in life we can’t change.

There is still a great portion of stuff we can.

In part one of this blog series on change I discussed why we resist change and challenged you to think about one area in yourself you’d like to change.  Go back and reread it if you need to.  You should have written down one thing. If your thing is “big” like these –

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break it down into smaller, more defined short term goals.

If your desired change is to “get healthy” (good choice!) what are the smaller steps that lead to good health? Write them down and circle one.

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Start with that. It’s good to have high aspirations, but don’t set the bar too high. Think of change as a muscle.  In order for muscle growth you have to begin with a weight you can actually lift. You add on as tolerated, allowing the muscle to adapt to grow. If you start out high and hard, you will likely get injured or give up.

What it is it that you want to do? Define it. Imagine it. Put it in writing. Organize it. Gather the knowledge you need, enlist help, start equipping yourself with the tools to help you be successful.

changeYou have now entered the action phase of change. I’ll talk more about action in part three.

Preparation is key to successful change. Know what you want, and educate yourself on how to get there. In between here and there establish clear, manageable steps.

Until we meet again for some action, here’s a little Dylan inspiration…

Gonna put my good foot forward and stop being influenced by fools.

Remember. You got this.

Change (part one): Why We Resist

What makes us resist change? Why would we rather stick with a job we hate, stay in an abusive relationship, keep smoking despite illness, and endure unnecessary hardship rather than do something to make it better?

Why do we?

Is it fear of failure? Uncertainty of the unknown? Apathy?

It’s D. All of the above.

Change can be hard.  It can also be easy.  One thing is certain: change is inevitable.

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If you don’t like something in your life, change it.

If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

Let me give you an example.

I’ve had a chronic pain condition (burning mouth syndrome) for over three years. I am reluctant to blog about it because I don’t see the point in giving something so afflictive any more attention than it deserves.

I hate it. It can be all consuming and at times unbearable. Presently, I have exhausted all management therapies.  I’ve stopped googling it as I can’t bear to read other BMS sufferers lament about how poor their quality of life is.  It makes me feel hopeless.

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Somedays I do crawl up in a ball and go to sleep.  Sleep is sometimes the one thing I can do to escape the pain.

I can give in to hopelessness.

Or,

I can change the way I think.

I can redirect my attention to something else.  Take my focus off the problem and put it somewhere else.

I can do that.

Instead of putting a spotlight on the pain and allowing it to have control of how I live and what I do, I can put it in the background.

Accept, but not empower.

That has been the one thing that has helped me deal.

It has taken me 3 years to figure out I needed to change my thoughts.

What about you?

Is the problem the problem? Or could it be how you think about the problem?

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There are at least two views.

A rut or a grave?

Half empty or half full?

A mountain or a mole hill?

Lemons or lemonade?

A weed or a flower?

All changes, even the ones we crave can be sad. We leave behind something that was a part of us, our life. We knew it well. Kind of like an old shoe.

Remember, If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change. If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.

Is there something you need to change?  What’s stopping you?

Today, I only ask that you think about one area of yourself or your life that you need to change.  That’s the second step to change (contemplation).  Pre-contemplation is the first step – you already experienced that when you felt the nudge to read this post.

Think about how your life will be better after you make a change.

Whatever it is you need to change trust me when I say, you got this.

We all need change.

Jim Rohn, American Entrepreneur and motivational speaker said so well,

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Next week: Preparation

7 Tips (plus 1 bonus) To Make Your Wait Times More Productive

Are you good at waiting? Not me. I have been known to abandon my handful of stuff rather than stand in a long line at the grocery store.  Redbox pains me. Even when I reserve online there is always a couple in front of me browsing and contemplating like it was a major decision. C’mon people – this is Redbox.  Aren’t there only like two movies worth seeing?

Thank goodness for Amazon Prime.

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As I write this I am waiting with more than fifty other women (yes I got up and counted) to get a mammogram.  I wait to get it, then wait to have it read, then I usually get called back for more images. Wait again for second reading. Three hours later…I’m home.

I get that waiting is a part of life.  I am prepared for today’s wait.  I can take it. Otherwise, waiting for me is torture.

Restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, drive-through banks, 1-800 customer service, airports, free delivery option, slow Internet, amusement park lines, traffic – we are always waiting for something.  Instead of  complaining or leaving, why not put that wait time to good use?

According to Ask.com,

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My fellow Impatienatos, I give you

7 tips to make your wait time more productive.

  • Play cards. Keep a standard deck of cards handy. This is my secret for making restaurant waiting tolerable. There are so many quick, fun games to play you may be disappointed to see your food finally arrive.
  • Read. A magazine, book, or newspaper. Truly, there is nothing like leafing through the latest issue of Forbes or People. Or reading a chapter of that book you never have time to read. Perfect for airports, doctors office, car shop.
  • Learn a new language. Try Duolingo. You can do this in traffic, in line, really anywhere.

Aprender un nuevo idioma es bueno para el cerebro.

  • Clean out your wallet. Throw out old coupons, organize your cards, and find that loose change at the bottom of your purse.
  • Strike up a conversation. You’re both in the same predicament, why not chitchat and maybe make a new friend?
  • Write.  If I didn’t have to wait, I wouldn’t have written this post. Write a letter, a poem, an essay, or a list of things you need to do.

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  • Relax, breathe and just wait. Finally, an opportunity to do nothing.  Waiting can be a beautiful experience if you think of it as a welcomed time to slow down, put away your stuff and just be present.

I have a busy life and I know I’m impatient.  But waiting doesn’t need to be a chore.  It can be a welcomed change of pace.

Well, my wait here is over. Just under three hours and I almost (remember where I am) enjoyed myself. At the very least, I was productive and I did something good for my health. I am happy to say I got a normal result.

Do you have any suggestions that can help make waiting more tolerable, or productive?

I didn’t forget…here’s the bonus.

Bonus tip: Feed your brain with useless knowledge. This will come in handy for a game show or the next trivia game night.

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