LindaGHill

Staying in the Present

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SoCS Badge by Doobster of MindfulDigressions.com

This week’s thought-provoking Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, planned and organized by Helen Espinosa of This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time while LindaGHill is traveling, is “present.”

I love this choice, as the word can be used in so many different ways. I’ve chosen to use it to refer to staying in the present moment.

I was inspired to interpret the prompt this way after recently seeing a quote about this concept online which immediately resonated with me. I couldn’t remember it exactly now, so I quickly looked it up so I could share it with you here:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.”
— Corrie Ten Boom  

Beautifully said, and so true. Yet how often don’t we all persist in ruminating on the past or obsessing over the future? We know this rarely produces any positive results, but we do it anyway. And all it does is ruin the present day.

I know I do this. I’ve obsessed over decisions I’ve made (could I have done something different, and better?) or concerns about what lies ahead (will there be layoffs at my job?)…the list goes on and on.

But what do these thoughts really accomplish, short of scaring and/or depressing me?

Nothing.

In fact, this all reminds me of something else I recently read, the book Choose Yourself! by James Altucher (which is an interesting read that I recommend, by the way). In it, he stresses that this way of thinking is pointless. I decided to briefly stop my stream-of-consciousness writing one more time to look up his point on my Kindle and share it with you word-for-word in order to do it the justice it deserves. Altucher writes:

“Most people obsess on regrets in their past or anxieties in their future. I call this ‘time traveling.’ The past and future don’t exist. They are memories and speculation, neither of which you have any control over. You don’t need to time travel anymore. You can live right now.”

I had never thought of it this way, in terms of it being worthless time traveling, and immediately found this perspective so brilliantly simple. That’s exactly what this is, and who wants to spend their days focused on “memories and speculation?”

Not me.

Anything not happening now is not the present, and therefore there’s nothing you can do about it. So stop trying! It’s an exercise in futility!

Of course, this isn’t to say you should just give up on planning for the future and working to achieve your life’s goals — that’s all well and good. But once your thinking gets to a point of lying awake at night in fear of events you can’t control, that’s when it has to end.

For example, what if there are layoffs at your job, as I mentioned worrying about before? Can you control that? Not likely — and certainly not by worrying about it.

What you can do is stay up-to-date with your marketable skills and keep performing to the best of your ability on your current job so that if there are layoffs that affect you, you’re in the best position possible to find new employment, prepared with good references and abilities. Or maybe your employer will see how hard you’ve been working and you’ll be spared. Either way is win-win.

Plus, many times our worst fears never end up happening anyway, as I found out firsthand years ago when faced with this worry about layoffs. I’d heard rumors of cutbacks at my job, but as it turned out, no layoffs ever occurred, luckily — so I went through weeks of self-imposed stress and anxiety for no reason at all.

And when it comes to questioning your past, particularly decisions you’ve made and now regret, someone I worked with once shared a good perspective on this. He told us that we’ve made the best possible decision every single time we’ve had to make one.

Every single time.

Sounds a bit simplistic and overly positive, doesn’t it? But it makes sense. See, while you may now see a way that might have been better, you made your choice based on what you knew at the time, so it was in fact the best decision you could make.

For instance, let’s say you were offered two comparable jobs at similar companies and went with job A, which offered a better salary and shorter commute. However, you’re no longer happy there because your company is struggling, resulting in a tense environment and severe budget restrictions. You may wish you had gone with job B, which is at a company that has since experienced lots of rapid expansion and success. Sure, it’s easy to feel some regret, but you have to brush that off and certainly not blame yourself — you need to recognize that you made the best possible decision you could have at the time, given the information available to you at that present moment. There’s no value in thinking, “That was so dumb of me, why did I do that?” There’s likely no way you could have known otherwise back then. In other words, everything only looks so clear in hindsight.

Or, as “they” say, it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback!

Plus, who’s to say with 100% certainty that job B would have worked out better for you personally anyway? Perhaps your colleagues wouldn’t be as easy to work with as your current ones, or your direct supervisor wouldn’t be as reasonable as the one you have now. All of these are just simple scenarios, but I’m trying to point out that you never truly know how another route would have worked out, so there’s no point in worrying about it now.

Besides, even when we have made a mistake, that’s part of life — and nothing is a lost cause. You’re in a less-than-fulfilling job? Start looking now for a new one. You moved to a bad apartment? You can always move again. I’m not saying it’s a snap to make these changes, but they’re always possible.

In moments like these, whether I’m questioning past decisions or getting stressed thinking about the future, it helps me to remember that doing so isn’t worth it. I should just stay in the present moment. I hope this is a helpful reminder for you too!

My Two Cents on “Dress Code” Rules During Royal Visit

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In November, it was announced that Prince William and his wife Kate will be visiting the United States, specifically New York City and Washington, D.C., in early December.

The news about this visit also specified that any media professionals covering the royal event need to adhere to a “dress code” set by Buckingham Palace. If they do not, they will not be allowed in to report on the events.

Here are the rules directly from the official website of the British Monarchy:

Attire for journalists covering Royal engagements

Journalists wishing to cover Royal engagements, whether in the United Kingdom or abroad, should comply with the dress code on formal occasions out of respect for the guests of The Queen, or any other member of the Royal Family.

Smart attire for men includes the wearing of a jacket and tie, and for women a trouser or skirt suit. Those wearing jeans or trainers will not be admitted and casually dressed members of the media will be turned away. This also applies to technicians.

I have some thoughts on this.

Let’s start with the “technicians” part.

How can even the technicians be required to follow these guidelines?  They stand on their feet most of the day and have to handle bulky cameras and other heavy equipment; would sneakers (aka trainers) really be that big of a deal? Especially if they’re the kind of conservative sneakers that are more like shoes, and are in good condition, as opposed to bright neon ones or ratty old gym sneakers? Would that really just ruin the event?

Secondly, and possibly even more importantly, how can people be required to adhere to these rules not only in the UK, but abroad?

That would be like me going to a party at someone else’s house but telling the host what I think they should wear. All the manners books in the world would tell me that I was being rude if I did that; if I’m not the host, I don’t get to dictate things like that. So how come that basic etiquette doesn’t apply here?

To be clear, I do understand the merits of dressing your best on the job, especially for a noteworthy event like this. I also agree with showing basic respect; I’m not saying it would be right to roll up in ripped sweatpants and a stained shirt, whether you’re interacting with royals or anyone else.

I can even understand media outlets telling their staff members to dress their best, so that their companies are represented well in front of such famous public figures.

I get all that.

But there’s something about Buckingham Palace mandating this dress code that bothers me. It seems so out of line. The technician clause seems especially unnecessary and uppity to me; I think that’s what set me off, actually.

For the record, I don’t even dislike Prince William or Kate; I’m not a follower of royal events either. This just stood out to me as not right as soon as I heard it.

In fact, the adverse side of me wants to see someone manage to violate this dress code.

I have fun picturing someone coming in seemingly appropriately dressed, being cleared to enter, and then somehow being able to quickly take off that proper outer layer of clothes — only to reveal jeans and a simple shirt underneath.

The horror!

This topic came up when I was speaking with family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and it turned out it’s not just me who found this dress code to be a bit much. In fact, my mother thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if a well-known person or dignitary of some sort were to show up and – gasp! – be in violation of the dress code.

Let’s say it was President Obama, but he had jeans and a blazer on. Wouldn’t he have to be let in anyway?

That concept made me laugh as soon as she said it! She’s so right; it would have to involve a high-standing figure for this scenario to play out this way. And I would love it if someone too prominent to turn away did something like this, just to mess with the royals…although most public figures wouldn’t want to do that. Still, it’s fun to think about…and that’s my two cents on the royals and their “dress code” on our turf!

Note: This post was written as part of LindaGHill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt was: “‘sense/scents/cents,’ with a bonus word this week – ‘sent.’ Choose one, use them all or simply write whatever comes to mind- it’s up to you!” I went with sharing my two cents on this recent news story that we were just discussing over the holiday weekend!

One-Liner Wednesday: Comedy

“Comedy is the art of telling the truth about what it’s like to be human.”

-from The Hidden Tools of Comedy: The Serious Business of Being Funny by Steven Kaplan, published in 2013 by Michael Wiese Productions.

Note: This post was written as part of LindaGHill’s One-Liner Wednesday. Check it out and take part if you can; it’s a lot of fun!

One-Liner Wednesday: Wasting Time

“You cannot afford to waste another minute being unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and underutilized.”

-from Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches, published by Amistad (September 9, 2014).

Note: This post was written as part of blogger LindaGHill’s One-Liner Wednesday. Hope you you found it helpful!

One-Liner Wednesday: Life Purpose

“If an issue makes you feel upset, that’s an indication that your life purpose involves helping to resolve that issue.”

– quote pictured in a lovely post on jsack1’s blog this week and attributed to “Assertiveness for Earth Angels.” I loved it the minute I read it and had to pass it on as part of LindaGHill’s One-Liner Wednesday!

Memory is Faulty: Stream of Consciousness Saturday

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It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in Stream of Consciousness Saturday, organized by blogger LindaGHill, and I’ve missed it! So here I am in time for this week’s prompt, which is “memory.” My first thought on this?

That memory is faulty — yet how often don’t we overlook this fact, often to our detriment?

I can’t tell you how many times I, or people around me, have wasted time and/or gotten upset with someone else based on something “remembered” which turns out to have been incorrect. This effect is compounded when it’s based on someone else’s memory.

Instead of first asking the person about what was said or done, and considering all possibilities, many of us get stuck on the one way we’re sure something happened.

Why do we do this to ourselves and those around us? If we need any proof of how bad our memories can be, just take a look at the countless stories of eyewitness accounts which have turned out to be proven wrong — if people can misremember important details in such serious situations, who are we to think our recollections of more minor events would be any better?

Take, for instance, the following sources confirming the unreliability of eyewitness accounts and our memories:

(Incidentally, although I’m writing this off-the-cuff as per the SOCS guidelines, I had to look up and link to some sources here so I don’t sound like my stance is baseless!)

There are countless other results that pop up when you search for this topic, but they all boil down to the same conclusion:

Don’t over-rely on your memories.

Just don’t assume that what you remember is 100% accurate — and certainly don’t let it affect how you interact with others. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Oh, and by the way, as I write this, I’m also telling this to myself; in no way am I above jumping to conclusions based on inaccurate recollections! Just ask any of the relatives or co-workers who I’ve been convinced have an item of mine that I need — I’ll swear they borrowed it last or that I saw them put it someplace…

only to discover that I had it somewhere else all along.

You know you do it, too. Hopefully you can remember that at least? 🙂

Funny Quirks, or Smart Moves? (Stream of Consciousness Saturday)

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I have some funny little ways; idiosyncratic things I do that people often find odd. I’ve written about some of them before, and a few more have come to me that I thought I’d share.  I’d love to hear what you think of them, either way! Here goes…

When I’m shopping at the supermarket, I wish I could just casually toss the products I want to buy into my cart and be done with it, like I see so many other shoppers around me do.

But I can’t.

No, instead I am compelled to closely inspect all jars, cans, containers and bottles. And I mean, closely.

Now I know many people do a form of this with certain things, like checking that eggs aren’t broken or that fruit isn’t damaged or too ripe before buying them.

But I’ve been told that what I do goes beyond that. Some examples:

  • I look under the lid of products like peanut butter and cottage cheese to make sure the inner seal is secure.
  • I unscrew the cap from a carton of milk or juice to confirm the inner plastic pull-tab is still in place.
  • If I buy a product that comes in a spray bottle, like hairspray, I do one test spritz to make sure the atomizer nozzle works.
  • I squeeze cans to make sure they don’t feel swollen and full of air.
  • I check paper products that are wrapped in plastic, like paper towels, to make sure there are no holes in the wrap that have exposed the product to dirt.
  • I look over and gently tug the foil seals on yogurt containers, to be sure there are no holes or gaps in them.

Now it occurred to me as I was writing this that I must sound like Mr. Bean when shopping. You’ll see what I mean in the video clip below, which I then had to look up on the official Mr. Bean YouTube channel:

And maybe, just maybe, I am kind of like that. But I must share why I have these funny quirks when shopping. Quite simply, in the past, I’ve come home with spray bottles that won’t spray, food products with a missing or loose safety seal, and so on — items I can’t or won’t use, all of which have been an annoyance, especially when I really needed the item in question. Plus it’s also a hassle to have to return to the store; sometimes I haven’t wanted to bother with that, so I end up throwing out the product and losing the money.

Basically, once I’m inconvenienced by something, I tend to remember it to the point where I will go to great lengths to avoid it again. And that is why I neurotically check everything before I buy it.

For the record, though, doing this doesn’t take as long as it might sound — I’m not quite as crazily in-depth about it as Mr. Bean there!

And on somewhat of a side note: I usually try to do my quick checks in plain sight of a supermarket employee and/or other customers, even though at one time my instinct was to try to hide my paranoia. But I never want it to appear that I’m actually secretly tampering with products; I want to make it clear I’m checking and buying each item. And when I have found an issue (it really does happen more than some might think), I tell an employee so that no one else ends up taking the defective item home.

The benefits of what I do at the store also extend to anyone who eats from the food I buy once I get it home — not only are the items as secure as possible, but I take some additional protective measures at home, too. For instance, once I open said jars and bottles, I quickly wash the insides of the lids and caps with soap and water. This is especially true with products like peanut butter, since items like that are not consumed in full once opened and some of it will often touch the lid; I want that lid clean before that happens! Otherwise, I picture germs just sitting in the jar day after day, spreading throughout. So, washing it with soap and water first gives me some peace of mind! Now no one has to worry about the germs of anyone else who may have opened the jar in the store, then closed it again without buying it for whatever reason — although I admit that likely doesn’t happen a lot. But still…

So, while some say what I do is funny, in a weird way, I say I’m just being a smart shopper. And in a sense, I’m performing a public service, also helping those who shop where I shop and eat from the food I buy!

But what do you say? I’d love to know your honest opinion!

Note: This post was created as part of LindaGHill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt was: “funny/haha or funny/peculiar.” I clearly went with funny/peculiar, as per the opinions of people who have shopped with me and found my ways strange…!

Reruns, I Love You So! (Stream of Consciousness Saturday)

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Reruns are my guilty pleasure; almost an addiction of sorts.

I probably watch a lot more of them than I should; although to be fair, the word “watch” isn’t completely accurate since I tend to just leave these familiar, favorite shows on in the background as I do other things, especially tedious errands like sorting laundry, shredding papers…you name it, a loved rerun will always make the chore fly by, whether the show is being rebroadcast on TV or I’m playing a DVD. Plus since I’ve seen it before, I’m not likely to get so sucked in that I focus more on the show than on what I’m doing.

Usually the reruns I’m drawn to are from sitcoms; I rarely want to watch old dramas and mysteries again, even though I loved shows like 24 and Lost when they were on the air. For me, the main draw of those shows was the suspense, which doesn’t exist once you know how things turn out!

Nor do I usually rewatch movies, unless it’s Christmas and we’re talking about A Charlie Brown ChristmasElf or A Christmas Carol (the Alastair Sim version from 1951, of course; in my opinion, none other compares!). Perhaps because movies are longer and more involved; I’m more likely to get distracted (or on the flip side, bored) by them.

No, my favorites vary depending on my mood but usually include episodes from sitcoms like:

  • The King of Queens (my all-time favorite!)
  • Perfect Strangers (I never see this in reruns anymore on TV, but I have seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and am eagerly hoping for the rest to be released)
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (although I can’t stand the episodes after they switched the actress playing Aunt Vivian; Janet Hubert was the best)
  • The Honeymooners (none of my peers like this show, but I love it!)
  • I Love Lucy (I always find most of the jokes and plotlines to be very relatable and amusing even today, versus some other old shows that seem too dated to watch other than for nostalgia’s sake)
  • Frasier (I’ve seen all of the episodes thanks to Netflix, but still put on a rerun of it now and then when it airs on TV)
  • The Middle (yes, this is still on the air, but it’s also already in syndication too, and I love putting an episode on when I find one or remember to DVR it — and occasionally I catch one I hadn’t seen the first time around)
  • Keeping Up Appearances (this is a British sitcoms from the 90s; it’s a bit slapstick but I like the main character’s uptight ways and her forced attempts to move up in social status, failing each time)
  • As Time Goes By (another show from England; it starred Dame Judi Dench and featured a mature, understated form of comedy I like a lot)
  • Becker (rarely do I catch this on TV but I have it on DVD; it featured Ted Danson in an ornery role, playing a doctor from the Bronx)

This is by no means a complete list; I’m sure I’m missing another couple of shows. But this is a pretty good idea of the kind of reruns I love. I can’t give them up and can’t imagine not being able to re-enjoy them via reruns, DVRs and DVDs. I love the technology that makes this possible; without it, it’s quite possible I would never get anything done!

Note: This post was written as part of LindaGHill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday; this week’s prompt was the prefix re-. The word “reruns” popped into my mind and I ran with it — with a rerun on quietly in the background, of course (The King of Queens, if you were wondering)!

Magical Furniture (Stream of Consciousness Saturday)

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It’s amusing to me how age affects the things we say or do, particularly how young children feel free to say things adults normally wouldn’t. I recently thought about a time when I did that myself as a child and had no idea that what I’d said was wrong, since I fully didn’t understand the whole situation in the first place. The memory makes me laugh but at the same time, I can see why it was cringe-worthy! Here’s what happened.

One day when I was about 6 or so, my mom and I went to visit a neighbor in our building who’d invited us over. Soon after we got there, we sat on her sofa and the woman offered us each something to drink. When she went into her kitchen to get the drinks, I put my arm on the sofa’s armrest and noticed that when I did so, a little powdery cloud appeared from the fabric.

I hit the sofa arm again on purpose and another little puff of powder appeared.

I was fascinated, and began hitting the sofa repeatedly.

“Look, Mom, POWDER!” I yelled with delight.

To me, this lady’s sofa had a magical quality to it — what fun it was to produce this mysterious powder with just a slap from my hand! What was it exactly? And why wasn’t our furniture interactive like this?

I couldn’t get enough — until my mom quickly hushed me and gave me a stern look that clearly indicated I should stop what I was doing, although I wasn’t sure why.

The whole incident only lasted a minute or two, but I remember it clearly since I found the sofa so enthralling, having never seen furniture do something like that before.

Plus once we were home, my mom explained that the powder had been dust, and that it would embarrass the woman if she had heard me pointing it out because that meant the sofa wasn’t too clean. I kind of got it then, but it took a few more years of laughing about the incident whenever it came up for me to fully see why this could have mortified the neighbor had she been in the room to witness it.

Ah, the wonder of youth — only a kid can see dusty furniture as magical and think nothing of pointing it out!

Note: This post was created as part of LindaGHill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt was “young, old, or anything to do with age.” I chose to write about youth, having recently begun enjoying thinking back on and writing about my childhood!