SOCS

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Go Stop!

SoCS badge designed by Doobster of mindfuldigressions.com.

Badge designed by Doobster of mindfuldigressions.com.

I am such a games geek that the minute I read this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, “go,” I thought of the Asian card game “Go Stop.”

The game comes from Korea, where it is called “hwatu,” and it’s played with Japanese hanafuda cards.

I love hanafuda cards, which I first learned about while playing a Nintendo game. As I became more and more obsessed with them, I started reading up on their history and the various games that are played with them throughout the world.

From my understanding — I’m still no expert — gameplay of “Go Stop” is similar to “Koi Koi,” the Japanese game I’m used to playing with hanafuda cards. However, I haven’t officially played that version myself. I want to, since some aspects of it are different than what I’m used to with Koi Koi.

My main obstacle is the fact that no one I know is interested in learning these games, or they’re not inclined to play games at all, or we simply never have time to try.

So it remains on my list of technically-unimportant-yet-important-to-me goals. Because playing electronic/online versions isn’t terrible, but after a certain point, I want the full experience!

Why?

First of all, I don’t want to be so reliant on a computer to handle scoring for me. I feel like I’m just clicking cards then and not fully playing. I also don’t feel a computer plays the same as a person would; I often see it make a move that no opponent in their right mind would do. Winning that way just isn’t satisfying!

Plus, like I said, I’m a games geek — in my early zeal, I bought a few versions of a hanafuda deck, to include the Japanese original, the Korean version, and a Hawaiian deck since each one varies slightly and is better for each region’s games.

But what have I done with them so far?

Nothing; they sit here, collecting dust…well, not really, since they’re in a drawer. But you get what I mean!

This has turned out to be a bittersweet SoCS post, huh? Well, I see it as a good reminder to pursue this unofficial goal of mine; perhaps I can investigate making a meetup group event for this, like the ones that exist for everything from Scrabble to chess. As they say, if you see a need for something that doesn’t exist, make it yourself!

Which is actually a very inspiring and motivating way to look at things, big or small.

In fact, I encourage you to think about something you’ve looked for and haven’t been able to find, and consider offering it yourself — and feel free to mention it here for thoughts and feedback!

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What Can I Do For You, My Friend?

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As a child, I often visited my dad at the home improvement store he owned and operated. I liked being there, and I learned a lot from it too; in particular it taught me a lot about dealing with customers.

When customers would come in and approach my dad for help with anything from ordering custom-made blinds or scheduling installation for screens, doors and the like, my dad always greeted them with a comfortable smile, saying something along the lines of, “What can I do for you, my friend?”

The first time that happened, I remember asking him and my mother after if we knew that customer. I still remember being surprised when I was told no, that we didn’t.

“But how come he called him a friend?” I remember asking. It just didn’t make sense to me. Especially since the vibe between my dad and the customer seemed genuinely friendly, like you would be with someone you actually were friends with.

I can’t remember exactly what they said to explain this all to me, but whatever they said must have made sense, because from that time I understood—basically, my dad genuinely liked running his own business and dealing with customers, so he truly was happy to see these people and get to know them and build a working relationship with them, hopefully long-term.

The linear, young side of me found this approach amazing. Now, over the years, I’ve seen business owners and employees do something similar, but this first exposure to a dynamic like this will always stand out in my mind.

Plus I’ve also too often seen some who do the exact opposite and treat customers as people they’re doing a favor for, treating them rudely, or being abrupt and unyielding. Even if they were doing someone a favor, there’s no reason to act like that. (This is a pet peeve of mine, actually!) Besides, these customers are paying for whatever service or product they’re there for!

In those moments, I always think about how my dad treated his customers like friends, and try to do the same in my own line of work. While I have yet to actually call the people who come to me my “friend” — somehow it doesn’t come off as naturally as it did with my dad — I do my best to interact with them with a similarly open, friendly approach.

This isn’t to say that there will never be issues with customers or clients, but if you approach them in this way, I’ve personally found that things can be more easily worked out. Plus it makes whatever work you do more pleasant! I encourage you to try it too — and if you have it in you to actually use the word “friend” in this way, I’d love to hear about it!

Note: this post was created as part of Stream of Conciousness Saturday organized this week by LindaGHill, as well as the Bee as part of Love is in Da Blog; the prompt was “friend” and/or “acquaint.” I thought this was a great prompt; although I didn’t know what to write initially, once this memory popped into my head, the choice was made for me. 🙂 

Excuse Me, Jennifer Aniston?

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This weekend, I was reading an article on Huffington post that linked to another article and so on and so forth — you know how the Internet can be a time warp — and somehow I saw a link to the headline, “Jennifer Aniston Talks Motherhood And The Unfair Pressure To Have Kids.”

While I don’t closely follow Jennifer Aniston or most celebrity news, the headline intrigued me since I too feel strongly that people shouldn’t be made to feel weird if they haven’t had kids yet, or don’t even want any — yet this does happen way too often, particularly involving women.

So I clicked it. (The Internet wins again.)

The article referred to statements Jennifer Aniston makes in the January 2015 issue of Allure, and although her comments were brief, I was surprised at how candid she was on this topic and how much I found myself agreeing with her.

For instance, I completely understood what she meant when she said, “I don’t like [the pressure] that people put on me, on women — that you’ve failed yourself as a female because you haven’t procreated. I don’t think it’s fair.”

As a woman with no children myself, I was nodding and thinking, Right on, sister!

Until she said that not having children “doesn’t mean you aren’t mothering — dogs, friends, friends’ children.”

Excuse me?

This is when she lost me.

Who said women have to mother anyone in the first place?

Would this quote have made any sense if a man was saying it?

Try to picture George Clooney saying him not having kids doesn’t mean he’s not fathering his pets, his friends and their kids.

You can’t? That’s because he would never say that. No guy would.

And no one should about women, either.

Women do not need to mother other beings to be valid as people in our society. That’s the point I thought she was making.

This part of her statement was, if anything, proof that she buys into the expectations on women. Trying to spin them in a new way doesn’t hide that.

Now look, I’m not usually one to split hairs and dissect every nuance of a person’s statement. But in this case, I think she completely ruined the point she was trying to make with the idea that women can still be motherly without having kids. And I was unexpectedly bothered by that, as well as comments people have made saying her statement was “brilliant.”

Brilliant for a Stepford wife wanna-be, maybe.

On a side note, another aspect I disliked about what she said is the concept of friends “mothering” friends. Who wants that?! There’s only one person I enjoy being mothered by, and that’s my mother!

In fact, one of my closest friends once had another friend take on a motherly dynamic with her, and let’s just say it was not a fun experience for her! (Although those stories do make us laugh now.) So Jennifer Aniston saying that women can mother their friends, oh and their children, is just plain weird. I mean, do your friends really want you trying to mother their kids? “Oh, I told Johnny he could have a few more cookies. Look how happy he is!” Yeah, your friend is really going to love your motherly “help” there!

To be fair, I think Jennifer Aniston used the word “mothering” to mean being “loving” or “giving,” to counteract the notion of childless people, especially women, being selfish.

However, there’s a big difference between mothering and being loving and giving; you can by all means be all three — which is a beautiful thing, don’t get me wrong — but you can also be loving and giving without mothering in any form.  This is another reason why I found myself strangely disappointed when I read this. Her point had been making so much sense until then. I felt like she took so many steps back with her statement — all while she was trying to be so progressive.

But maybe I should calm down. Some would say that as a female, being easily annoyed like this isn’t the motherly way I should be acting towards others.

I apologize, my sweeties. Now please go have something to eat. You all look so thin…

Note: This post was written as part of LindaGHill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, which was skillfully organized this week by author Leigh Michaels while Linda is away. This week’s prompt was “excuse,” which we could use either as a noun or a verb. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write with it until I read this and wanted to comment on it, and the idea of using Leigh’s excellent prompt as a verb in a rhetorical question hit me. 🙂

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!

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…!