Category Archives: My life

The Difference Between Like and Respect

I was having dinner on a friend’s deck with a group of like-minded women when we got the news: Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.

We all reacted differently even though I’m certain we were all feeling the same way. One of us burst into tears. Another just sat silent while a third stood up and started clearing dishes. Me? I cussed. I cussed because Notorious RBG was a role model and a heroine. I cussed because I know what is at stake. And I cussed because some people I know will see her death more as an opportunity than a reason to  mourn.

The following words are for those people: I may like you, but I can’t respect you.

I like you because we might laugh together or share common interests or talk about our children.

But I can’t respect you because your vision of what our country’s future holds for those children isn’t one of diversity and inclusion and equality.

I can’t respect you because you believe your narrow definition of Christianity is the only legitimate religion.

I can’t respect you because you can’t discern the difference between journalism, opinion pieces and fake news.

I can’t respect you because you share information on social media that validates your opinion even if when the information is a complete lie.

I can’t respect you because you support political candidates and listen to pundits who claim that liberals aren’t real Christians.

I can’t respect you because you are a one-or two-issue voter who makes decisions at the ballot box based on dogma rather than on the scope and impact of a variety of policies on people’s day-to-day lives.

I can’t respect you because no matter how many times someone has tried to explain the difference between “gun control” and “taking away your guns,” you choose to listen to propaganda from the NRA,

I can’t respect you because you are voting for politicians who care about money more than they care about the well-being of people.

I can’t respect you because you think patriotism is marked by saluting a flag rather than by honoring the first  amendment.

I can’t respect you because you throw around the word socialism when what you are really saying is that you don’t want your tax dollars being used to provide services for people you have decided are “undeserving.”

And most of all, I can’t respect you because you are supporting politicians who have shown general disrespect and even criminal behavior toward women.

I know these words will offend some of you, and now you probably won’t respect me. I don’t care.

I’m 53 years old, and I’ve fought hard to become a strong, opinionated woman who cares about minorities and immigrants and the poor and people of different faiths.

I’m writing this because even though there are a lot of people I don’t respect right now, I couldn’t respect myself if I left these words unsaid.

Also, I’m fairly confident that Ruth Bader Ginsburg would approve.

The Experiment

When I was about five years old, my mother pulled a chair up to the kitchen counter so I could watch what she was doing.

She got a soup bowl out of one cupboard and a container of cornstarch out of another.

“We are going to do a science experiment,” she explained.

She poured the cornstarch into the bowl then slowly added water. When the mixture was exactly the texture she wanted, she told me “stick your finger in until it touches the bottom of the bowl.”

I tried, but the mixture was solid, and my finger didn’t even dent it.

“I can’t,” I said.

“Yes you can, ” she replied. “Try again.”

I poked at it again with the same results.

“It doesn’t work,” I complained.

“Yes it does. Look.” she said as she put her finger in the bowl. I watch in amazement as what had felt like a rock to me oozed around her finger.

She removed her finger and told me to try again. I did and was once again met with resistance.

“Don’t poke it. Instead just lightly touch it.”

I followed her instructions and was delighted when my finger began to sink into  a gooey substance.

I don’t remember if my mom talked about the science behind our experiment, but apparently it had a lasting impact as I’ve been thinking about it recently.

From an early age, my approach to dealing with problems has never been subtle. I’ve been called blunt,  forthright and outspoken. I’ve taken in pride in the fact that I always let people know where I stand and, most of the time, exactly what I’m thinking. I’m not good at quietly expressing my thoughts and then letting them soak in while I patiently wait for a response. As my husband knows, when I don’t get a response, I keeping poking until I get one.

Generally, that works, but sometimes it doesn’t.  Recently, I’m not only getting resistance when I make a stab at addressing a situation, I feel as though every effort is bouncing back and bruising me. I guess that’s why I’ve been thinking about that experiment at the kitchen counter with my mother more than 45 years ago.

Maybe my mom was attempting to tell me that sometimes you have to stop trying so hard to make something happen and  just need to let the situation unfold. In some circumstances, that may be the right approach.

But here is my other take away from that long ago experiment: when you let things rest and happen at their own pace sometimes all you get is covered in muck.

History tells us that change only happens when people are willing to poke their fingers at the problems and keep poking until they make cracks.

I don’t need muck. I need change.

And Now For Another Lie

When I was growing up, my mom baked a cherry pie every February in honor of George Washington’s birthday. The tradition was tied to the story about how, as a child, the first President of the United States chopped a cherry tree with his new hatchet. When his angry father confronted him, young George admitted what he had done because he couldn’t tell a lie.

The story was the basis of many elementary school lessons, and only as an adult did I learn that the story of the cherry tree was itself a lie. Author Mason Locke Weems added it, along with other heartwarming stories, to the fifth edition of his book The Life of Washington. Historians believe that Weems included the story to make Washington a virtuous role model that could influence the behavior of children.

He wasn’t alone. The history I learned in school almost always portrayed honorable men who built a perfect country on unquestionable values. In truth, the men were imperfect humans who built this country on the backs of others.

But for more than a century, history was written by people like Parson Weems, who wanted to shape it into a tool that could be used to control what people believed, and therefore how they behaved.

My elementary school classmates and I were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America. We used crayons to color pictures of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria while reciting “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” No one taught us about the genocide he perpetrated on the people of Haiti.

In Junior High, I had to memorize the presidents of the United States and their accomplishments.  I was taught that Andrew Jackson was the seventh president, was nicknamed “Old Hickory” and founded the Democratic Party. I was an adult before I learned how he abused his power to remove Native Americans from their homes and was  responsible for what is now known as the Trail of Tears.

In high school, the lessons about World War II covered how America helped defeat Germany and end the Holocaust. There was never any mention about the Japanese internment camps on U.S. soil.

For the most part, what I was taught was factual. It just wasn’t truthful. America may have been established on the principles of equality and freedom, but those principles only applied to white men. When the south tried to leave the United States to preserve slavery and its economy, the Confederate message was clear: equality and freedom weren’t the most important values; power and money were.

As a nation, we are still struggling with those conflicting values.

On Thursday as I was leaving work, a pickup truck stopped in front of my office. A large confederate flag with the handwritten words ‘heritage not hate” was flying from the back. I winced.  I wanted to stop and ask what heritage meant to the driver, but I knew that would be pointless.

Some people think they have to hold on to relics of the past to justify their belief system.

Instead, we need to distinguish between erasing the past and learning from it.

We can still eat cherry pie on Washington’s birthday because we like eating cherry pie. We just shouldn’t eat it because we think it makes us more patriotic. Taking care of each other and honoring our true history is the only way to do that.

The Racist In Me

My kindergarten school picture

Nearly fifty years later, I don’t clearly remember my first day of kindergarten, but I know I was miserable and complained that I didn’t fit in.

What I really meant was that I was the only white student in my class.

That didn’t last long.

On the second day of kindergarten,  Mike Donahue switched classes and joined mine.

I have a few other memories from that year: sitting on the floor at the feet of an elderly tribe member who taught us her native language; participating in the annual root feast; wearing the wing dress my mom had sewn, and being chased and taunted when I was walking home from school. My tormentors, a group of older children, told me I didn’t belong and I needed to move off of the reservation.

The next year I did. I started first grade in a classroom full of white students like me.

When I was younger, I used to tell people that, because of those experiences, I knew what being a minority felt like and that I had experienced discrimination.

I didn’t and I hadn’t.

When I complained about being the only student with my skin color, my white, well-educated parents stepped in to ensure I had a friend in my class. When I lived in a place with a very different heritage than mine, my professional parents bought a house elsewhere among people with similar backgrounds.

In other words, what I actually experienced as a child was white privilege.

I’m still experiencing it.

I guarantee that no one has ever clutched their purse a bit tighter when they’ve seen me in a  parking garage. No one has ever called the police because I look suspicious when I’m walking my dog in their neighborhood. I’ve never been patted down or had my car searched when I’ve been stopped for speeding.

But I have been the person who has clutched her purse a bit tighter when she’s seen a black man in a parking garage.

And I absolutely hate that.

My parents raised me better. They taught me not to judge people by the color of their skin. My education specifically addressed prejudice. I am a licensed social worker whose professional ethics are grounded in fairness and equality. My children and friends, who are all strong advocates for diversity, expect more from me.

And yet, I’ve had those moments when my immediate reaction is to clutch my purse tighter.

Living in a racist society has influenced my reactions, but, I am still responsible for them. I am responsible for acknowledging them and I am responsible for changing them.

America should be too.

The Break

I’ve been making a conscious effort to appear as though I’m maintaining my mental health during the past few weeks. But on Friday, I fell apart. I only got out of bed when my puppy Jasper jumped on top of me insisting I pay attention to him.

Paying attention to Jasper always requires getting out of bed.

The rest of the day, my emotions cycled between anger and despair. I was feeling powerless in almost every aspect of my life. And I hate feeling powerless. I’ve always been someone who believes in dealing with problems instead of ignoring them. But confronting the biggest problems in my life hasn’t been working for me lately.

The impact of the new reality of social distancing due to COVID-19 is only partially to blame. The truth is, I’m struggling with a lot of negativity. One particular situation is getting progressively worse, and I’ve been foiled at every attempt to address it.

I loathe the thought that anyone describes me as helpless, but that is exactly how I was feeling yesterday. And since self pity has always been one of biggest pet peeves, feeling that only made me feel even worse.

So I did everything I could to “snap out” of my funk.

I spoke with a couple of friends who encouraged me. I did my best to celebrate my husband’s birthday. I posted silly photos celebrating National Siblings Day on Facebook. I took a couple of long walks. I ate healthy food and took my vitamins. I sent silly text messages. I reviewed the daily devotion I’d committed to read every day for Lent. And I cried. I cried a lot. And then I got mad at myself for crying.

This morning, I woke up to the sun shining and to Jasper once again jumping on me.This time, he didn’t need to drag me out of bed. I was prepared to face the day even though my circumstances were exactly the same as they were yesterday.

I’d like to say that, through some amazing self talk, I’d been able to improve my attitude. But that would be a lie. Instead, I think I needed a day of self pity and crying before I could move on.

That probably goes against the sage advice of any self-help guru. (I don’t know for sure since I’m as resistant to reading self-help books as I am to giving up, giving in or being deferential to people who don’t earn my respect.)

But yesterday, I was absorbed in self pity. And while it felt horrible and went against the essence of whom I like to believe I am, I think my psyche needed to stop fighting. For at least one day, I needed to put down the boxing gloves and just feel the pain of every punch life has been throwing at me lately.

It’s humbling to admit that, but it’s also liberating. I realize that I wasn’t giving up or giving in. I was just giving myself a break.

Life sometimes sucks, and despite our best efforts, we can’t always fix it. Sometimes we can’t laugh our way out of a bad mood or find the silver lining in the grey clouds. Sometimes we just have to hold on tightly while we ride out the crap storm with the understanding that this too shall pass. And it will pass even though it won’t happen as quickly as we’d like.

In such cases, a little self pity might actually be acceptable.

Life Is Chaotic – Listen to the Peeps

I am writing this on a Saturday that is the punctuation mark on what is perhaps the longest week of my life.

The Covid-19 pandemic has elicited some of the same raw emotions as September 11, 2001. Only instead of witnessing the amount of damage human beings can intentionally do to each other in a matter of hours, this week felt like watching a failed rescue attempt in slow motion. I can see a person standing on railroad tracks in front of an oncoming train. That person is not only oblivious to the danger, but he’s inviting all of his friends to join him. And that scenario repeats itself over and over again.

Because I work at a social service agency, this wasn’t a week of self isolation or working from home. I oversee four offices that provide a variety of programs, including two food pantries. So this was a week of making plans, then changing plans then making new plans. It was a week of worrying about keeping staff safe, and clients safe and volunteers safe. It was a week of witnessing leadership failure and self-serving decision making.  It was a week of hearing fear in the voice of a learning-disabled client with autism who had been living in his car when he first arrived at our office. He had finally been able to get his own apartment by working two jobs at two restaurants as a dishwasher. And this week he lost both of those jobs.

All of that was weighing heavily on my mind when I took my energetic puppy Jasper to a local park for a long walk in the woods on Thursday evening. The temperature was unseasonably warm,  so a lot of people were taking advantage of one of the few recreational venues still available to us. Several fathers and sons were fishing. Athletes were running around the parameter of the park. Families were walking their dogs. And several people were standing still just listening to the spring peepers.

The tiny frogs were raising their voices to welcome the evening and provide me with a reminder that no matter what is happening in the world, we can always find beauty, peace and comfort among the chaos.

Amid the challenges of this week, family and friends reached out via phone calls not just text messages. Volunteers went beyond the call of duty to make sure our clients received the help they need. My amazing co-workers never complained about the increasing demands on them. When life gets scary, there are always kind people to help navigate it.

The sky was almost dark as Jasper and I finished our walk. As the last person in the park, I stopped for one last time at the edge of the pond. I took out my phone and did my best to capture a short video of the moment. The ducks called to each other as the peepers raised their voices in a joyous chorus.

“It’s okay,” they chimed. “It’s okay.

 

The Problem


Every time I think I’ve dealt with the most difficult person I’ve ever met, God laughs. And then another difficult person enters my life.

And  every time I’ve struggled with the chaos and hurt that person leaves in his or her wake, I tell myself the same thing:  “I’m supposed to learn or gain something from this situation. One day, I will look back and tell myself, ‘Oh that’s why that happened.'”

And up until now, I’ve been right.

But recently, I’ve had a hard time believing myself and in myself. This time, I’m fairly confident that even God isn’t laughing,

You see, I’m dealing with the most narcissistic and manipulative person I have ever met. And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump (who I’ve never actually met anyway). However, I still respond when people ask if dealing with this person is like dealing with Donald Trump.

My response is, “it’s worse.”

That’s because most people recognize that Donald Trump is a narcissist. Those who support him obviously don’t care, but at least they recognize who and what he is.

Not so for the individual that I’m currently forced to deal with. In fact, this person is so good at manipulation that I was almost a victim of their false charm and gaslighting.

A part of me wishes I had been.

If so, I wouldn’t be so angry and frustrated,  I’ve wasted too much time dealing with the narcissist’s efforts to manipulate. I’ve wasted too much energy being flabbergasted that people in positions to stop the path of destruction actually believe the narcissist instead of those who are complaining. And I’ve lost too much sleep  searching the internet for ways to deal with a narcissist.

Unfortunately, all I really learned is that calling out a narcissist only makes the situation worse.

I didn’t have to Google that nugget of information. I learned it the hard way.

That which brings me back to what I’ve always told myself, “Eventually, you will look back on this situation and recognize how much you learned and why you needed to learn it.”

In the meantime, I have to find humor in how ridiculous the situation continues to be and to find solace in the fact that I have a great support system. Just the other day my husband sent me a text message reminding me to channel my inner Stuart Smalley. “You are good enough. Your are smart enough. And doggone it people like you.”

He only forgot one thing, but it didn’t come from the mouth of Stuart Smalley.  Instead, it’s from that great philosopher anonymous.

“I’m thankful for all those difficult people in my life. They have shown me exactly who I don’t want to be.”

Horton, Jo Jo, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For the past few month’s, I’ve been feeling like Horton the Elephant in Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s book Horton Hears a Who.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, the Whos live on a speck of dust that is floating through the air, which means their entire civilization is at risk of being destroyed.

Because Horton has such big ears, he is the only jungle animal that can hear the Whos. Initially, he saves their community by putting the speck of dust on a clover so he can carry and protect it. His efforts are undermined and ridiculed by the other jungle animals, who try to destroy the clover. Horton rightly believes the only way he can save the Whos is by ensuring their voices are heard by the other jungle animals.

Nothing works until Jo Jo, the tiniest Who of all,  joins the effort.

I may not be carrying around a clover, but I am carrying around a lot of concerns. I’m worried that something I’ve cared for and nurtured is going to be destroyed, and the people who could truly protect “my speck’ won’t listen.

Fortunately, unlike Horton who felt all alone in his efforts to protect his clover, I know I’m not alone. Many of us carry clovers. And, like Horton, we persevere because we have to. We are responsible for those who have less power.

Dr. Seuss understood this and passed the message on through his books.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. understood it and passed the message on through his speeches.

And they both understood that no voice is ever too small.

Jo Jo had a tiny voice that made all the difference to the survival of the Whos. Members of the Civil Rights movement were the voices that changed the world.  And all of us can be a voice for someone who needs our support.

Be a Horton. Or be a Jo Jo. Or be both. But most importantly, be someone who does what you can to make the world a better place for others.

Hypocrisy and the Art of Forgiveness

I was a bit irritated when I walked into the retail establishment and saw both clerks were already helping other people. I had specifically planned to be at the store when it opened so I wouldn’t have to wait in line. A couple of uncooperative traffic lights had disrupted my plans, and now I was stuck waiting.

The assistance I needed was simple and could have been quickly addressed, but the guy ahead of me was in no hurry. Instead, he seemed oblivious to anything but the long list of complaints he was making known to everyone in the store.

Being forced to listen to him was making me even more irritated,

And so while I waited, I judged him.

I judged him to be an uneducated, racist, redneck. I also guessed that he was about my age, which is why his anti-technology rant was so intolerable.

He was in the store to pay a bill and was complaining about the late fee. His bill had been due on Christmas, and he told the clerk that he couldn’t pay it because the store was closed. The woman politely told him that didn’t have to pay the bill on the day it’s due but could pay it in advance. He ignored her statement and told her that his previously bill was due on a Sunday, and he couldn’t pay it because the store was also closed. The salesperson politely told him the store IS open on Sundays. She also noted that he could pay his bill online.

And that’s when the anti-technology rant began. The man used his limited vocabulary to explain that the one time he tried to pay a bill online, the bank  had taken the same amount of money out of his account every month. When he called to complain, he had to talk to someone who couldn’t speak English very well.

“I’m an American, he said. “I speak American. If people are going to work in this country, they need to speak American too.

That’s when the clerk surprised me. “My husband is from another country. He’s working to learn English, but it’s been hard.”

She said it nicely without any note of condemnation or disagreement with the customer. She was just stating a fact, and, surprisingly the man said little else. He didn’t apologize, but his rant stopped. He paid his bill with cash and left mumbling to himself.

“Wow,” I told the clerk, “that was amazing. You have so much patience.”

“I have to. I work retail,” she said. “I have to forgive people because I can’t go through my day angry.”

“I’m still impressed,” I said. “Especially since he was so angry about people from other countries. Where is your husband from?”

“Honduras. He’s been here nine years, and he still struggles with the language.”

“Honduras,” I repeated.  “Wow, I bet he came here for a good reason.”

“The cartel took over his family farm,” she said. “We are still trying to get the rest of his family up here but we aren’t having much luck.”

I chose not to engage her in a conversation about the current immigration system or political environment. Instead, she asked me what I needed, and, as expected, I was soon out the door.

But the encounter stayed with me for much of the day. I was angry at the man but impressed with the clerk. I envied her ability to remain unruffled and almost kind to such an ignorant fool.

Only that night, when thoughts about the day raced through my mind as I was trying to fall asleep, did I recognize what a hypocrite I was.

My job is to advocate for people who struggle.

My job is educate the public about how stress, and adverse experiences, and lack of early childhood education can have a lifelong impact.

My job is to work with people who have few resources and little exposure to other cultures or countries.

My job is to help people just like that man.

For all I knew, the man was illiterate or have a learning disability. He might have grown up in an abusive, hate-filled environment. He might live where there is no access to technology because of geography or finances. He might have emptied his bank account to pay that bill.

Standing in that store wearing my middle-class, well-educated, self-righteous attitude, I had judged him based on nothing but how he was behaving in what was probably a very stressful situation for him.

I did exactly what I am always complaining other people do: I made judgments based solely on my personal perspective and experiences.

I could have spent a sleepless night worrying about my hypocrisy, but I didn’t.

Instead, I took to heart the words the clerk had uttered that day: I have to forgive people because I can’t go through my day angry.

She was right. What she didn’t say was that sometimes the person we have to forgive is ourselves.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Fifty-Two Little Lessons From Life’s Bumpy Road

Last week, two of my high school classmates passed away in completely unrelated circumstances. I was never more than an acquaintance of either woman, but their deaths affected me deeply.

They made me think about my own mortality.

Even though I’ve been known to say “I’m so old,” I really don’t feel old. In fact, on most days I forget that I’m even an adult. My friends and colleagues can certainly testify that I frequently forget to act like an adult.

But when two people from my graduating class died within days? That not only made me question what I’ve actually done with my life, it also made me reflect on everything I still want to do. In all honesty, it made me wonder about my legacy.

Amid those thoughts, I considered how much I’ve changed since high school, how much I haven’t changed, and all of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. And I realized that aging shouldn’t be measured by the crow’s feet around my eyes or the laugh lines around my mouth. Instead, it should be measured by all the nuggets of truth I’ve picked up among the successes, mistakes, joys, heartaches, worries and moments of peace I’ve experienced on this bumpy road called life.

I’ve had 52 years to accumulate these little life lessons, so it seems appropriate that I share one lesson for every year of that journey:

  1. Be a goofball. Life is so much more bearable when you find ways to be a goofball.
  2. If a situation or person makes you uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to walk away. There’s a reason your’re uncomfortable.
  3. If something reminds you of song, then start singing it out loud . . . unless you are at a funeral. Then just sing silently or people will give you angry looks.
  4. Speaking of funerals, always act as though you recognize the person in the coffin. If you don’t, never yell out loud that you are in the wrong place. You probably aren’t. The person in the coffin just doesn’t look like the person you knew because of the makeup or clothes or hair. Or all of the above. After yelling you are in the wrong place, you will immediately realize that you are in the right place because people you know will check to see if you are all right.
  5.  Never hesitate to tell someone that you love them. Unless you don’t love them. Then you should hesitate.
  6.  Spend time with people who are younger than you.
  7.  Spend time with people who are older than you.
  8. No matter what the weather is, spend at least 30 minutes outside every day. Extreme cold, extreme heat, wind, rain and snow will do more for your soul than staying cooped up inside every will.
  9. Comparing yourself to other people will never make you a better person no matter how hard you try to be as good or as strong or as smart or as successful or as talented or as skinny or as pretty. You are disrespecting your own unique traits, and are just making yourself miserable.
  10. Not everyone you meet is going to like you. Why would they? You certainly don’t like everyone you meet.
  11. If you want unconditional love, get a dog. No human will ever give you the unconditional love that a dog does.
  12. At least once a year, spend time lying on your back looking up at the clouds. You’ll always see something  interesting. When you get older, you might see some floaters against the blue sky, but you should ignore them. The shapes you should pay attention to are the ones in the clouds.
  13. Trying to be perfect only annoys other people. Instead, be genuine. The only people who are annoyed by genuine people are fake people. And who cares what they think?
  14. Always keep at least one toy in your office. If you can’t play at work, you should find another job.
  15. Never be ashamed of your opinion. However, make sure you don’t confuse opinions with facts.
  16. If you are in an accident, your underwear is the least of your worries. Medics and health care professionals don’t care if your underwear is clean or in perfect condition. After you’ve been in accident, your underwear is probably neither anyway.
  17. Vote in every single election.
  18. Never pretend to like music or movies for the sake of someone else.
  19. Don’t listen to advice from people who say you should eat your dessert first. Trust me. Eat your vegetables first.
  20. Don’t let you cat pee in the dryer vent. I say this, but I have no earthly clue how to actually achieve this. If someone knows how to prevent your cat from peeing in the dryer vent, please share it with ever cat owner you know. They will be forever appreciative.
  21. Become a student of history. Read books or newspaper articles. Listen to podcasts. Watch documentaries. There is so much truth in the quote “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’
  22. Do your best to remember people’s names and something that is important to them. Don’t do this for their sake. Do it for yours.
  23. Get a little bit of exercise every day.
  24. Admit your mistakes. Always admit your mistakes.
  25. Get a copy of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder). Seriously. Every day you are going to have to deal with irrational people whom you don’t understand. If you have a copy of the DSM,  at least you can try to figure out what is wrong with them. You might not be able to actually to that, but going through the DSM will keep you so busy that you’ll be less irritated.
  26. Find those friends with whom you can bitch about other people. I know this doesn’t sound kind, but let’s face it, we are all human and other people annoy us. Find those friends who are annoyed by the same people and keep them on speed dial. It can save your sanity.
  27. Visit the world’s churches and cathedrals just to enjoy the architecture and the sense of serenity.
  28. Recognize that money will never buy happiness but using your money to help others will make you feel happy.
  29. Spend more time listening to music and reading than watching television.
  30. Learn to forgive. Forgiving is so much better for your mental health than holding a grudge.
  31. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you forget. There are some people who are better just not being in your life, and you have the right to make that choice.
  32. It’s just as important to forgive yourself as it is to forgive other people. But since you can’t walk away from yourself, you have to make a conscious decision to learn from your mistakes.
  33. Medication can help with anxiety and depression, but so can gardening. When life is tough, plant flowers, Get dirt under your fingernails. There is nothing like the feeling of satisfaction of getting all of the dirt out from under your fingernails after a day of gardening.
  34. Buy and wear colorful clothes. Most of us went through a black clothes phase at some point. Despite what we thought at the time, there is nothing interesting about black clothes.
  35. Carry an interesting purse. It’s the best conversation starter ever.
  36. Always wear a bra when you leave the house. Always. Even if you are wearing a t-shirt, a sweatshirt and a coat to walk the dog. You might think there is no reason to wear a bra, but something might  happen. For example, you might fall down, shatter your wrist, and end up in the emergency room.
  37. Trust your gut more than the advice of other people.
  38. Never, ever accept credit for someone else’s ideas or work.
  39. Always wear your lightest clothes to the doctor’s office and remove all jewelry before being weighed. If you are going to the doctor’s in the winter, wear shorts and pretend you just worked out.
  40. Find your passion and you’ll find your tribe.
  41. Don’t regret your past. If it wasn’t your past, you wouldn’t be the person you are now.
  42. Don’t accept anything at face value.
  43. Give compliments. Just make sure they are genuine.
  44. Never strive to be the most important person in the room. Strive to be the most understanding.
  45. Spend some time with trees. Seriously. The energy and vibes you can get from trees are amazing.
  46. Feed stray animals. If your neighbors complain, lie.
  47. Sometimes you have to lie to keep the peace, but never tell a lie that could hurt someone.
  48. Learn to master the eye roll. Then keep sunglasses handy.
  49. Always remember that no matter how much you want other people to understand your point of view, they are hearing it from their point of view. That means words you didn’t intend to be hurtful can be hurtful anyway and statements you make as explanations can be taken as accusations. Knowing this doesn’t fix anything, but it does provide perspective.
  50. Spend less time trying to figure out someone else’s motives and more time ensuring sure your own motives are good.
  51. Find and keep friends who can cook.
  52. Remember life is like a satisfying bike ride. Sometimes you’ve been going uphill for so long that you are exhausted and feel as though the climb will never end. And just when you think you can’t go on, you reach the top. Then you can relax into the joy and exhilaration of going downhill. Sometimes your are just riding on flat surface maintaining. And every time you ride, you get stronger and learn another technique to make you a better cyclist.  All of those struggles and joys become memories, and the string of memories each of us creates becomes our legacy.