Get a Life

Yup. I heard someone say that to a girl who looked really resigned and defeated the other day. Clearly the comment was not made to buck her up.

If I were inclined to butt into other people’s business, I’d have had quite a bit to say to that girl. Too much, probably. Maybe I should have. I don’t know.

First of all, I would have said, you have a life. You’re breathing, right? So clearly your “friend” doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He said that to you because the life you have does not meet his specifications. And nothing says you have to meet his specifications. Your life is your own to do with what you will.

Often people will say “Get a life” when someone is intruding upon theirs, though. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to examine your behavior to make sure you aren’t trying to push unsolicited advice onto him. Because he, too, has a right to do with his life whatever he wants.

But expressing concern about someone’s behavior because you care is not a crime. Empathy is a good trait to have. Don’t let anyone quash that in you.

Just be sure you can distinguish between expressing concern and trying to solve someone else’s problem. Give advice if asked. Otherwise just tell the person what is worrying you, in a calm and factual way, and let the cards fall where they may. After all, you’d want the same treatment, wouldn’t you?

But if allowed to butt in even further, I’d suggest that perhaps that girl might want to find a different friend. Because if someone is inclined to be that rude, and wants to shut you down so thoroughly, then you’re not being valued at all. You deserve better, girl.

If, on the other hand, you are reading this because you find yourself saying “Get a life” to others on a regular basis, you might want to a) stop and listen to what people are trying to tell you, and/or b) figure out that you are not the life police. Advising others that they have no life is rude, arrogant, insulting and unproductive. Maybe you should get a life. (See what I did there?)

https _www.askideas.com_media_65_The-older-I-get-the-more-I-understand-that-its-okay-to-live-a-life-others-dont-understand

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So Lucky to Miss You

A lifetime ago, I was traveling with a friend and having a wonderful time. But at one point I did mention to her that I missed my boyfriend. (I can’t even remember who the guy was, which tells you a lot about the passage of time.) To my shock, my friend got really, really angry with me.

Apparently, she was of the opinion that if you are busy missing someone, you can’t also be enjoying yourself, and I was therefore allowing myself to spoil the trip. To this day, I can’t relate to that mindset at all.

You see, when I am having a great experience, that’s when I tend to miss people the most, because I would dearly love to have the people I care most about with me to share in those joyful times. I can’t imagine thinking otherwise. It seems like a natural conclusion to draw.

I’m not going to start avoiding the good times, just so I won’t miss my loved ones. That would be absurd. And besides, I don’t think that yearning for someone’s company is necessarily a negative emotion.

I genuinely believe that I am lucky to have people that I miss. It means I’ve built up strong relationships over the years. It means that there are people who matter a great deal to me. It means that I know what it is to love.

Life will take you to many places. Sometimes the people most significant to you will be unwilling or unable to follow. They have their own journeys, after all. And sometimes their lives will be cut short, leaving you to forge a path on your own.

So cherish the missing. Revel in the fact that you have someone to miss. Be glad that love is a part of your life. What a gift! It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Homesharing

Every once in a while, you stumble upon an absolutely brilliant idea that makes you wonder why no one has thought of it before. It just makes so much sense on so many levels that you know it’s meant to be. That was my thought process when I saw this video.

Imagine this: a 95-year-old woman is living alone in her home after the death of her husband. She’s bored. She’s lonely. She worries that she could fall down and get hurt and nobody would know.

Enter a 27-year-old student who is new to the city and doesn’t know a soul. She, too, is lonely, and money is very tight for her. As we all know, rent in big cities is becoming outrageously expensive. And the more money she saves, the less she will owe in student loans, which is also an increasing problem.

Through a homesharing program, the student lives with the 95-year-old, and pays a reduced rent for the privilege, and now has a quiet place to study. The funds probably help the elderly woman as much as the savings helps the student. They both benefit from the companionship, and they both feel much safer. Best of all, they each make a new friend.

Perfect!

Yes, the student would need a fair amount of vetting. You wouldn’t want some old person being bullied and taken advantage of. But with some administrative oversight, I can see how this could be the ultimate win/win situation.

I think that there should be a homesharing program in every city. If there is an elder advocacy agency of some sort near you, please have them watch this video and then perhaps have them reach out to student housing offices at local universities. This is an idea whose time has come!

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Contaminated Connections

I remember sitting on my couch with an old friend in Florida. We were having a pleasant chat, just as we had done dozens of times before. Then he looked out the screen door toward the park across the street and said something disgusting and hateful and racist about the guys who were playing basketball therein. I refuse to taint my blog by repeating it.

I could tell he meant what he said to the very marrow of his bones, and I was horrified. In that instant, reality shifted for me. I had never heard this man talk like that before. It wasn’t part of my truth about him. And yet, I could tell that in that instant his mask had fallen away, and I was seeing the real ugliness inside him.

And the weird thing was, he knew I’d seen it. As I sat there with my jaw hanging open, he got up, walked out of my house, and I never saw or heard from him again. I was relieved.

Normally, if I think someone is acting out of character, I don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I try to get at the root of the aberrant behavior. I try to explain why I am feeling the way I feel about it. I try to salvage the relationship. But some things are just a bit too revealing about a person’s basic values. Some things cannot be undone.

It’s not as if we were expressing opposing views about Brussels sprouts. This was major. Some things you can’t simply agree to disagree about. Not if you value your own integrity.

It’s hard to maintain a friendship with someone when you lose respect for that person. It alters the context of every interaction you’ve ever had or ever will have. The foundation crumbles, and the whole structure collapses like a house of cards.

I had a similar reaction when a female coworker, upon discovering that an 11 year old girl had been sexually abused, said, “Well, she must have wanted it.”

After my head exploded, we did our best to avoid each other from then on. There’s no recovering from that. It just says too much about the person that you are, deep, deep down, where it matters most. It says too much about the way you view the world and the people in it.

It’s sad to lose a friend. But it’s heartbreaking to discover that the friend you thought you had never really existed in the first place. Fortunately, these situations are rare. I’m glad to say that I haven’t had an experience like this in years. Maybe I’m becoming a better judge of character with time. But unfortunately, to have a healthy home, sometimes you have to take out the garbage.

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Okay, Now I Can Die Happy.

I just had the most gratifying conversation with an old friend from college. He told me I had a huge impact on him, and that I made him socially conscious. Wow. Just… wow.

I had no idea. And I’m all the more honored because I know him to be a very socially conscious person. I can’t take credit, really, because I’m sure it was within him all along, but if I was the catalyst for bringing that to the surface, well, that’s gigantic.

And it surprises me because I’ve always sort of felt like a quiet background kind of person. I don’t think of myself as a mover or a shaker or an influencer (to coin a term). I stand on the periphery a lot. Somebody has to prop up the walls.

So hearing this from my dear old friend does my heart good. A long-standing item on my bucket list has been to have a positive impact on someone. That’s no small thing. I have no children of my own, so the opportunities for substantive impact on my fellow man are few and far between.

It had me thinking about the people that have had an impact on me. There have been quite a few. Have I told them? Some of them. I shouldn’t assume that the rest know. And they deserve to!

Take a moment to think about the people who have made you a better person. Reach out to them. That’s what I plan to do.

And you never know. You might just be giving them this news at a time when they really need to hear it. It’s the most delightful feeling in the world, knowing you’ve made a difference. It’s life affirming.

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Daily Affirmations for a True Friend

A dear friend of mine is about to move thousands of miles away from me. She has been a steady source of support since the day we met. She’s my champion. She has my back. I can always count on her to keep her promises and provide pep talks when needed. She doesn’t judge me. I don’t feel the need to vacuum or dust before she comes to visit. She loves my dogs. If she saw anyone mistreating me, I’m certain she would claw out their eyes. I have told her things I’ve never told anyone else. And best of all, she makes me laugh.

Now, that’s a true friend. And just because she’ll no longer be just down the street, that doesn’t mean the friendship will end. No way. Our pseudo slumber parties will just be a bit more of a logistical challenge.

But here’s what’s important: I hope she can say the same things about me as well. Friendship is a two way street, after all. We’ve both lived through some long rough patches. We could both use a little shoring up now and then.

So what follows is a list of things I want you to read out loud, dear B, when times get tough. I want you to always remember these things. I want you to say them so often that you believe them as much as I do.

  • You are one of my favorite people on the face of the earth.
  • Anyone would be lucky to have you in his or her life.
  • You are intelligent and hilarious and fun to be around.
  • You are as tough as nails.
  • You are beautiful inside and out.
  • You have a lot of gifts to give to the world.
  • You are extremely talented.
  • You have amazing insights.
  • You are a survivor.
  • You are compassionate and kind.
  • You deserve joy and goodness in your life.
  • These are all things that no one can take from you.

I really ought to make you tattoo all of this backwards on your forehead so you see it every time you look in the mirror. But if you forget, you can always call me, ’cause you know I’ll set you straight. I love you!

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For Pete’s Sake

Many years ago, in the virtual world of Second Life, I made a friend. Let’s call him Pete (so I can have a cool blog entry title). It was purely a friendship. We were both in relationships at the time.  I enjoyed talking to him. He had a very creative mind, and was very good at banter, which is something I appreciate quite a bit. So we’d banter.

He lived in Seattle, and at the time I lived in Florida, so the odds of ever meeting face to face were pretty long. (I remember saying on more than one occasion throughout my life, “Who would be crazy enough to live in Seattle with all that rain? Depressing!”)

As time went on, I was in Second Life less and less, but we’d keep in touch. Exchange the odd e-mail. Flirt a little. Joke around. Nothing dramatic. But it was nice.

Then in early 2014 he moved several hundred miles from Seattle. Ironically, I moved to Seattle that August. Two ships that passed in the night. But he gave me lots of great advice on things to see and do here, and good areas to look for housing. That was a big help.

Occasionally he’d pass through Seattle to visit his son, but we never did meet. He always seemed to be here on days I worked, or I’d be out of town, or his time would be limited. He did say he might be moving back to Seattle at some point.

Then, about 6 months ago, he abruptly stopped responding to my e-mails. I knew he was still alive because I’d see him log in to Second Life every now and then. But he didn’t reply to my messages there, either.

I will never know why my friend disappeared. But I have a theory. I think that he’s back in Seattle, and the prospect of actually meeting me was too daunting for him. Was he expecting me to show up for coffee wearing a wedding dress? Please.

It kind of makes me sad. I really did consider him a friend, and it would have been nice to cross paths now and then. If something more had come of it, great. If not, that would have been okay, too.

Instead, as I walk down the streets of Seattle, I’ll sometimes look into the faces of the men I encounter, and I’ll think, “Pete? Is that you?” Sometimes I wonder if he crosses my bridge, and if so, have I ever made him late for some part of his life by opening it?

One thing is for sure: He’s somewhere out there, depriving himself of the opportunity to know a pretty awesome person. What a shame.

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My Love/Hate Relationship with Cortana

I have finally managed to upgrade to Windows 10. The year-long delay was not for lack of trying. I’d upload it for about 5 hours, then try to install it for another 5, only to be told there was some sort of error, which, when researched on-line, seemed to be some catch-all code with no solution.

I must have heeded their nags and tried to upgrade about a dozen times, because I hated Windows 8. (And what happened to Windows 9?) It reached the point where I was sorely tempted to drive up to the nearby Microsoft compound and throw my laptop at the security guard. “Here. You figure it out.”

But then about two weeks ago, after I’d long since given up all hope, I apparently clicked on something without even realizing it, and the next thing I knew, I had Windows 10! Oh, happy day! More or less.

Yes, there’s a learning curve. And I had to iron out quite a few glitches. And I STILL can’t get Google Chrome to work properly, but over all, I’m liking what I’m seeing.

The feature I am having the hardest time getting used to is Cortana. You’ve got to understand. I’ve got very humble electronics. No smart phone. No Siri. Nothing that responds to my voice. The GPS in my car often exasperates me. So this trend toward anthropomorphizing our gadgets is relatively new to me.

But Cortana is trying really hard. She talks like the perfect friend. “Ask me anything,” she says. “Hi! How can I help?” “Anything I can do for you?” “What’s on your mind?”

So just out of curiosity I asked her, “What is the meaning of life?”

She sent me to Wikipedia. Sigh. I have to say that this was one time when Wikipedia didn’t give me a satisfying answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I doubt any of my other friends would have been much help, either, but at least we’d have had an interesting conversation about it. It would have given us more opportunity to bond.

So, Cortana, don’t get too comfortable. I still don’t consider you my bestie, even if you act like you care, and you’re always willing to be there for me. Keep trying, though. You never know. You might grow on me.

Cortana

Applying for Friendship

I was sitting in a crowded little theater, waiting for a friend to do his one man show, and I was chatting with another friend. Someone asked us how we met, and my friend said, “She was advertising for friends, so I applied.”

It’s true. During my first storytelling experience, in front of a crowd of 150 people, I explained what brought me to Seattle, and at the end I mentioned that with my weird work schedule, I had yet to make many friends here, so if anyone had room in their heart for me, there I was.

Afterward she came up to me and said, “I’ll be your friend.” And she has been, ever since. A lot of really fun experiences with her would never have happened if I hadn’t spoken up. How lucky am I?

Sometimes, even if you think it should be blatantly obvious, you just have to put your intentions or desires right out there for all the world to see. “I’m looking for friends.” “I want to be in a relationship.” “I vont to be alone.” “I need help.” Whatever it is that you want, need, or plan to do, spread the word.

People cannot read your mind. I sincerely believe that the majority of misunderstandings stem from the fact that we often forget that simple point. We are so used to hearing the thoughts inside our heads that on some level we overlook that no one else can.

So my advice for the day is, SPEAK UP!!!

Don't worry. I couldn't read your mind even BEFORE you put on the tinfoil hat.
Don’t worry. I couldn’t read your mind even BEFORE you put on the tinfoil hat.

A Different Breed of Ladies’ Man

The other night I had dinner with a friend who was just passing through. His work takes him all over the country. He fascinates me because we couldn’t be more different. But in a good way.

I have to admit that normally extroverts get on my nerves. But his is a pure, clean, distilled form of extroversion. He’s not attention seeking. He’s not aggressive or loud. He’s not in your face. He just genuinely and truly likes people. He likes meeting them, talking to them, interacting with them. Especially women. He has this affinity for women.

I’m not quite sure how he manages it, but he’s drawn to women without any perverted intent whatsoever. He genuinely seems to respect them and isn’t trying to get anything from them. He’s not on the hunt. He doesn’t have an agenda. It’s refreshing.

At dinner he made it a point to learn the name of the waitress, and whenever she stopped by to check on us, he included her in our conversation and asked her opinion. As the restaurant was crowded, we sat at the bar. Throughout the night he’d also turn and chat to the much older lady sitting next to us. He helped her get ketchup out of the bottle. He recommended the smoked sea salt. The cherries with our salmon were so delicious that he said to her, “You’ve got to try this,” and put a cherry on her plate. I was charmed. By the end of the night he knew where she was from and what she was doing here.

Don’t get me wrong. I doubt he lacks for female intimacy. I even contemplated making a move myself once or twice as we enjoyed our salmon. (Well, not at that exact place and time, but… you get the picture.) And even if he had rejected it, I’m quite confident that he’d have done so with aplomb and would have allowed me to maintain my pride and dignity.

But (and this is unusual in a man), I strongly suspect that he prefers a certain level of connection before he goes to that place, or else it would be as hollow and unsatisfying for him as it would be for the other person. I thought to myself, “This is a rare creature, indeed.” I think I’ll just appreciate the fact that he’s on the planet, roaming free, and look forward to future opportunities to interact with him in his natural habitat. Because it’s a delightful, friendly place indeed.

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[Image credit: choosetodanceintherain.com]