Toxic Positivity

Recently I overheard a friend listening to some sort of motivational speaker on Zoom. It gave me the creeps. The man actually said that Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” was his personal hero. Ugh.

This speaker was a living, breathing business pep talk. Hearing his over-the-top enthusiasm and encouragement and his assurance that if you think positively, you’ll definitely get what you’re after, made me think, “This dude is about 45 seconds away from forming a cult.”

Don’t get me wrong. I think Covey’s 7 habits have their place, but he is no hero. I think enthusiasm and motivation are wonderful, as long as they don’t turn into a form of criticism or a way to not listen to what others have to say. I’ve even been known to say “An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along” on this blog, and my first book is about gratitude. But these things should be part of the overall balance.

If you’re an unrelenting Pollyanna who sees sunshine and lollipops wherever you go, then you are, frankly, delusional. There are negative aspects of life. These negative things have a need to be acknowledged, too. They, too, shouldn’t be the only things you focus on, but there’s nothing wrong with having mixed emotions, or feeling sad or angry sometimes. It’s perfectly natural.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. I was really happy to see this article in Bloomberg entitled, “Trying to Stay Optimistic Is Doing More Harm Than Good.” It makes several interesting points.

If you know someone who is living on the financial razor’s edge due to this pandemic and is telling you his or her story, for example, then perhaps you shouldn’t respond with a sentence that starts with, “Well, at least…” That sentence shows you are not hearing that person, and you’re not willing to hear them. You’re not letting them vent their anxiety. You’re not acknowledging something that is hugely impacting their lives. (And frankly, you’re being rude.)

If you are a toxically optimistic boss, you pretty much make it impossible for your team to speak up and point out issues that need fixing. If you insist that all your zoom meetings start off with some positive bit of news in the midst of a pandemic with a heaping side order of political and financial unrest, you are not acknowledging entirely legitimate sides of your staff. You’re making them cut themselves in half to feel like they’re team players.

Sometimes things suck. Sometimes people are discouraged and depressed. That’s okay as long as it isn’t the only thing they ever are. Well rounded, mature individuals know that the emotional pendulum tends to swing back and forth. Personally, I take comfort in that. If I don’t like how I’m feeling at the moment, I know from repeated experience that it will eventually change. This, too, shall pass.

Further, if you make people feel as though there’s something wrong with them if they’re not positive 100 percent of the time, then they will seek relief in all the wrong places. They may fall into depression or abuse substances. They may become victims of Ponzi schemes in an effort to gain instant success. They may fall victim to Prosperity Theology, thinking that if their attempts to think positively won’t help, then maybe if they just donate more to religion, the money will come back to them tenfold. That’s magical thinking at its worst. At a minimum, they’ll think they’re not good enough.

People who insist you always have to have a gung-ho, can-do spirit are setting you up for failure. You really are allowed to have a whole host of emotions. Most of those emotions will be relatively fleeting. If not, it’s time to seek help.

According to the article mentioned above, people feel more sad, not less, when they’re expected to hide those emotions. Yes, do your best to look at things in a positive light. Be grateful for the good in your life. Count those blessings as often as you like. But know that it’s okay to get frustrated or annoyed or stressed out or upset sometimes. It wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t have those feelings every once in a while.

Give your cloudy side a great big hug, knowing it has a place within you, too. The full spectrum of your emotions should be allowed to come out and play as needed. If not, they’ll manifest themselves one way or another. They don’t go away. They insist on being heard.

Namaste.

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Gratitude, Not Optimism

I happen to love someone who is the most positive person I have ever met. It’s a delight to be around most of the time, but it’s also a hard yardstick to be measured by. Anyone standing next to this guy will automatically look like Eeyore by comparison.

Fortunately, I’m secure in the knowledge that I’m not, in fact, Eeyore, because I used to live with an Eeyore. An Eeyore can suck the life out of any room he enters. An Eeyore is convinced that the world is out to get him.

My Eeyore refused to smile in photographs because he thinks it’s unnatural. Because of that, everyone assumes he is constantly miserable. I think he wears this like some kind a suit of armor. Then he accessorizes this suit of armor with every negative experience he has ever had in his life. He glues those things to his exterior like some twisted decorator crab. All this stuff weighs him down. This makes people avoid him, which, in turn, makes him more miserable.

An Eeyore likes to insult himself out loud, and is under the mistaken impression that others will find this funny or charming. In fact, it makes people extremely uncomfortable. It also makes them feel sorry for him. It’s very hard to like someone whom you feel sorry for, at least for long stretches of time. It’s exhausting.

When I tried to address this negativity in my Eeyore, he would get very defensive, and accuse me of trying to force him to put a plastic smile on his face. I could never understand that. I was trying to say that your attitude, the lens through which you view the world, impacts your emotions. Attitude is everything.

But now I realize he extrapolated a false conclusion from that. He believed that I was trying to force him toward optimism, which is nearly impossible to achieve if you don’t come by it naturally (speaking from personal experience).

Actually, that was not my intention at all. Optimism is about expectations for the future. I don’t think you can predict the future, and therefore optimism kind of feels like magical thinking to me. I hope for the best, yes, but no one knows what will happen down the road. As we’ve learned from all the false election fraud claims, wishing doesn’t make it so.

Instead of optimism, what I was trying to get across, rather ham-handedly, it seems, is the notion of gratitude. Gratitude focuses on the present. It’s about appreciating the good you currently have in life, rather than focusing on the negative aspects. This is more realistic, but it also seems a bit magical in the best sense of the word, because when you give more energy to the good that is around you now, somehow more of your future tends to become positive as a result.

I wish I had tried harder to get this point across to my Eeyore. But in retrospect I realize that he was too heavily invested in his own unhappiness to hear me. I’m sure he’s still unhappy to this day, and that makes me sad to contemplate.

To hell with optimism, frankly. But gratitude is an extremely valuable commodity. It might take some practice, but it’s a state of mind that is available to all of us. I may not always be Little Mary Sunshine, but I am grateful for so many things that it has been known to bring tears of joy to my eyes. That’s a gift I keep being given.

Gratitude, like negativity, tends to perpetuate itself. And gratitude allows you to smile in photographs. Which is another thing to be grateful for. See how that works?

This may be great camouflage, but in the end, you’re having
to carry a bunch of crap everywhere you go.

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Some Anniversaries Aren’t Worth Observing

I was told recently that an ex had written a Facebook post commemorating the 10th anniversary of our breakup. Apparently the post was quite dramatic (“Like his own personal opera playing to a packed house.”) and predictably uncomplimentary to me, quite overlooking the fact that he had let his boss, Andy Johnson, steal $3500 from me, and yet he continued to work for him. I mean, talk about not having your partner’s back.

Everyone sees their own version of history, I suppose. For me, that “fateful” anniversary came and went without me even realizing it. I don’t have it written on any calendar. It was before I was on Facebook, so I can’t even look back to see what I was posting at the time.

I’m not one to “celebrate” bad anniversaries. I don’t really get the point. “Twelve years ago today, I had my tonsils taken out with a rusty spoon!” That’s not my idea of a memory that’s worth the annual brain space. Any cake you would order for that event would have to be highly customized. And who wants to attend that pity party in the first place?

I also know someone who looks upon a certain date each year with dread because bad things always happen to him on that day. Um, can you say “self-fulfilling prophecy”? He gives the calendar, a purely human construct, entirely too much power over his life. And, dare I say it, he seems to think his life is a lot more significant than any of our lives are, from the perspective of the universe at large. If there really is some sort of fickle finger of fate, I suspect it has bigger fish to fry than keeping track of a bad luck anniversary for any particular individual.

You can’t happily move forward in your life if you’re constantly looking backward. If you’re focused on dredging up the past, you clearly aren’t happy with your present. Either way, it makes me sad for my ex. I hope someday he can move on. I hate the thought that he’s trapped back there in 2010, even though I have to admit that 2020 isn’t the best time to be living in for any of us.

If we were still talking, I’d urge him to set himself free of me. It’s clearly bogging him down, and I hate that for him. I mean, there were some happy memories there. If he can’t let go entirely, he’d be better off focusing on those things instead of the bad bits.

But really, he shouldn’t waste his time on me. I genuinely hope he has better things to do. Focus on goals, not on perceived failures. My advice would be to concentrate on the present, and the happy memories he can create with the loved ones he has in his life right now. Because it’s all so precious and fleeting. Life is a fragile as a soap bubble.

I’m grateful for all the past experiences that have shaped me, the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I try not to dwell on them. That’s one of the few good things about my brain getting foggier with age. If you have to write a memory down to remember it, maybe you should only write down the good stuff. Give yourself a sort of get out of jail free card. Don’t actively force unhappy memories upon yourself.

There’s too much going on in the here and now, and too many plans to make for the future, to waste time on the past. With each passing year, I become increasingly aware of how little time I have left. I want to savor the moment I’m in. I want to celebrate the triumphs, not the tragedies.

Yeah, I’m not perfect at taking this advice. I have good days and bad days. There’s bitter along with sweet. But I think I’m much better at it now than I was in times when I was surrounded by negativity.

Life is so amazingly good right now, pandemic notwithstanding. I think I’ll keep it.

happy earth spill

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

It’s All about the Spin

I know several extremely negative people. Naturally, they’re all miserable. But the funny thing is, I don’t think they even realize how negative they are. I can practically see the storm clouds over their heads that follow them everywhere they go, but to them, that’s just the typical weather. It makes me feel sorry for them. It also makes me avoid them.

I used to know one guy who would always say that he refused to paint a plastic smile on his face. He liked to wear all black. There’s no photograph of him on earth in which he’s smiling. That’s the legacy he will leave behind: the message that he was never, ever happy. It’s much more important to him to make sure that everyone knows he’s miserable. It doesn’t occur to him that that’s why people sidestep his invitations. Who wants to be around that?

Sad sacks seem to be under the impression that if people feel sorry for them, those people will befriend them. In reality, the opposite happens, and that feeds into their negative outlook, which then feeds into their becoming social pariahs, and so on, and so on. An extremely vicious cycle. More like a downward spiral of one’s own making. Friendships born of pity never last. And why on earth would anyone want that type of relationship in the first place?

I know one woman who can read a positive news article (which is hard to come by, even I have to admit) and she’ll say, “Yes, but…” and throw a huge bucket of ice water all over your warm fuzzy, making you feel all wet and soggy instead. I swear, she could sandblast the cute right off a kitten video.

Why is that necessary? It’s not as if we aren’t pelted with bad news most of the time as it is. She’s not performing a public service. She isn’t changing the situation. She’s basically saying, “Come on down and wallow in this mire of depression with me.”

There are certain people in this world who make me tense up the moment their fingers hit the keyboard. I mean, it’s one thing if you’re an activist pushing for change, or an educator attempting to enlighten. At least you’re trying for a positive outcome. But if you’re just gratuitously pooping in everyone’s punchbowl, that’s just selfish.

From personal experience, I know that the world can be a very harsh place. I know that there are plenty of justifications for feeling gloomy. But when it becomes a lifestyle, when your only purpose in life is to slather your crappy attitude over the world like peanut butter on Wonder Bread, you are wasting the precious gift of being alive.

I genuinely believe that negativity isn’t a character trait. It’s an extremely bad habit that can be broken. It just takes practice. It’s a matter of identifying a thought as negative, and then trying to reframe it. If you see dog poop in the road, instead of focusing on how disgusting it is, or how irresponsible the dog’s owner is, instead try thinking, “Thank goodness the dog wasn’t hit by a car!”

There are several angles from which to view the world. It’s all about the spin.

Looking at the storm

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Neurological Methane

I seem to have been thrown into a wood chipper of insults the week before I wrote this. At various times I was called unprofessional, lazy, cruel, ignorant, and a liar. These pronouncements were made by people who clearly know me not at all.

I’d also been informed that my apparent past cruelty has generated a very long, narcissistic, bitter, self-indulgent poem in which the author beats himself up for being ugly, a loser, and the stuff of nightmares, rather than the all-American boy of my dreams; dreams that anyone who bothered to scratch the surface would know are of a kind that I never have had and never will have. I’ve never sought perfection. What would I do with it?

I’m not that shallow, and those types of insults are not in my nature. That, and it would take a special kind of person to be that lowly and beneath contempt so as to merit some iron-clad, lifetime-guaranteed seal of disapproval from me. From a purely statistical standpoint, most of us, this person included, are average. (So sorry to disappoint you out of your exaggeration.) That’s not an insult, it’s just a fact.

I’m average. You’re average. The average person is, well… average. If you think you stand out that much, you think way too highly (or lowly) of yourself.

But this is a person who wears his wounds on his chest like badges of honor, a man in his 50’s who still blames the shit we all go through in high school for his current misfortunes. It saddens me, but no one can heal him. He can only heal himself. And to do that, he must first fall out of love with the cruel, cruel world in which he seems to take a perverse pleasure in dwelling.

Ah, but if the world is cruel, you don’t have to try, do you? Failure is pretty much guaranteed. No need for higher education or taking risks or making an extra effort that way! You need not stick your neck out at all. Whew. What a relief!

Why do we give the negative so much extra weight? We all do it. These things ferment in our brains, producing gasses that seem to alter our judgment and perspective in the most toxic of ways. Neurological methane.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ve been tossed into the insult blender for a reason. It’s an opportunity for growth. But I’m not gonna lie. It smarts. And it stinks. But then growth isn’t always pretty.

This much I know: I’ve wasted entirely too much time trying to reconcile my knowledge of the person that I am with the opinions that I’ve been tarred and feathered with this week. Why do I let them clog my pores when I’ve received so many more compliments than insults in my lifetime?

You can give someone a million compliments, support them financially and emotionally, do everything you can to broaden their horizons, and yet all that is forgotten based on some remark that you can’t remember or even imagine having said. That’s the remark that generates a poem. (Or, let’s face it, a blog post.)

Insults are somehow more emotionally dense. They are the virtual fruitcake of words. I get it. I really do. That’s why it’s so important to be kind to one another.

The more you chew on these insults, the more altered your truth becomes, until nothing good can be celebrated or remembered. What a waste. I’m not going to live my life eating that fetid stew, no matter how filling it is.

I choose pragmatism, and therefore, joy.

Thanks, Angiportus, for coming up with the title for this post!

http _vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net_plantsvszombies_images_0_0e_ToxicGloomShroomSticker

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

 

 

Support vs. Supremacy

Do you feel like an outcast? Do you feel abnormal? Do you have social anxiety? Are you lonely? Misunderstood? Having trouble fitting in? Do you have a health issue, or a fetish or an addiction? Can’t get a job? In a toxic relationship? Do you want help?

Odds are quite good that there’s a support group out there for you. Thank God for support groups. I highly recommend them. Having the camaraderie of like-minded people, who are working together toward self-improvement, is priceless.

A good support group will discuss the issue at hand. It will help individuals talk about their struggles with said issue, and also allow them to brainstorm possible solutions. It will celebrate triumphs and parse failures to redirect people toward a more positive path. The ultimate goal is to get you into a better headspace, and help you build a better life for yourself.

Self-improvement isn’t easy. It takes work. It requires commitment. There are no shortcuts.

Unfortunately, in this era of social media, it’s easy to think that there are shortcuts. For every support group out there, there’s an online forum for people who want to stay right in their toxic place. Want to remain an anorexic? There are plenty of people just like you who will be more than willing to encourage your march toward death. Don’t want to face your fear? You can simply hide in your house and interact with a wide network of people who are doing the exact same thing. Do you prefer to blame others rather than make changes yourself? You will always be able to find people who will join you in casting blame, spewing hatred, and inciting violence.

But how’s that working for you? Being allowed to vent your bile with people who agree with you might feel good at first, but has it solved your issue? Are you happier, healthier, more functional now than you were before? Or are you simply more angry?

Let’s take, for example, your basic Incel group. There are many reasons why one might be involuntarily celibate. If your self-esteem is poor, if you feel ugly or awkward or socially-inept, if you’re isolated or depressed, you could benefit from a group of others who are going through the same thing. You could learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. You could learn that you’re maybe a lot more normal than you first realized, and that would do wonders for your self-image. A group like that, with the goal of helping you find ways to form a healthy romantic relationship, would be ideal. Unfortunately that’s not what on-line Incel groups do.

Incel groups place the blame on others. It’s the fault of women that you’re not getting laid. Yeah. You’re just fine the way you are. Its them. They are shallow and only go for muscular, gorgeous men. Because of that, you are not getting the sex you’re entitled to. That attitude rapidly devolves into misogyny, and then you get people encouraging violence. They celebrate mass killers. They encourage rape and spousal abuse. They say they’d feel soooo much better if someone threw acid into women’s faces.

But the thing is, how does that solve your problem? Do you think that attitude or behavior is going to bring you love? Because I’m here to tell you that you could be the most gorgeous man on the planet, but I’m not going to find you attractive if you want to throw acid in my face. And I’m fairly certain I’m in the majority, there.

Incel groups are also based on a lot of false premises. Most women aren’t looking specifically for muscular men. In fact, a lot of us find extreme muscles kinda gross. We all have different tastes. The fact that many men, who are fat or not well endowed or deformed or have scars, still manage to find love, will tell you that most women aren’t as shallow as these Incel groups would like you to believe. We are looking for love, too. (In fact, the way these groups insult the physical attributes of women, and only prize the “gorgeous”,  “unattainable” ones, show that the members are the shallow ones, not the women.)

And, uh, by the way, no one is “entitled” to sex. Healthy sex is a mutually given gift that is shared between people who respect, admire, and love one another. Love. Not hate. Equality. Not superiority or entitlement.

Incel groups are not about support. They’re about male supremacy. That gets you nowhere. Believing others are inferior isn’t going to render you more popular with them.

If you really want to improve your life, look at the people you associate with. Are they trying to help you improve? Are they a positive force, or are they toxic? Are they encouraging anger or violence? That isn’t going to do you any good.

To be clear: groups that marinate in negativity become extremists, gangs, and/or terrorists. You can do better than that. Everyone has felt like an outcast at some point. I guarantee it. But I know there’s awesomeness within you. You just have to nurture it to make it grow.

Hate is the wrong path. Take the high road. It may take some effort to get up there, but in the end, you’ll be all the better for it. Onward and upward!

https _2.bp.blogspot.com_-hDlp3Ou1Iuw_UQz1dYGU57I_AAAAAAAALwQ_ulE8WKTtjgE_s1600_Divorced+Praying+Mantis+Support+Group
The right group for you is out there. I promise.

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Examining Irritation

True confession: I get irritated by stupid stuff.

It’s not that I enjoy irritation. In fact, it irritates me. But sometimes it feels beyond my control.

The good news is that the older I get, the more level headed I seem to become. I think part of that is due to the fact that I can’t work up the energy to be annoyed as often as I could in my younger days. I just can’t be bothered.

Oh, but there still are things. Someone cutting ahead of me in line. People blocking grocery aisles to chit chat. Rude individuals. All things Trump. The common denominator here is that people aren’t playing by my rules. I have no idea why so many people have overlooked the memo that I am Queen of the World, but there you have it.

Another thing that has improved with time is my self-awareness. I am getting better at seeing the physical warning signs of my irritation so as to nip it in the bud. Is my heart rate increasing? Am I feeling adrenalized? Am I starting to fidget? Uh, oh. Time to evaluate the situation.

First off, am I already Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? Then I need to H.A.L.T. Because any one of those four states are bound to cause me to overreact. At times like those, I’ve been known to look for a reason to be irritated. How stupid is that?

Next, I need to really look at what I’m feeling. Sometimes irritation is a mask for other, less comfortable emotions. Fear. Fury. Depression. Grief. Disappointment. Dissatisfaction with your relationship with the person who is triggering your irritation. A feeling of being disrespected. My own stupid impatience when someone doesn’t comply with my self-imposed time line.

In many cultures, we are taught to suppress “negative” emotions. But emotions don’t hold a positive or negative charge. They are what they are. You feel what you feel. If you suppress that, it’s just going to find a way out in other ways, such as irritation when your boyfriend leaves his dirty socks in the coffee mug. It helps to check in with yourself about what you are really feeling. (For example, you’re annoyed, and frankly a little scared, that he doesn’t care enough about your feelings to put the mug in the dishwasher and the socks in the hamper.) If you aren’t adept at that, and many of us are not, I suggest that you consider therapy. I highly recommend it.

Another thing I try to do is a reality check. When I get irritated, I try to figure out which one of my rules is being violated. (As in: footwear and kitchen utensils don’t mix.) And then I try to remind myself that a) people are not mind readers, and b) not everyone goes by the same rules. (If both the footwear and the kitchen utensil are dirty, perhaps your boyfriend doesn’t see their intermingling as a big deal.) Then, maybe the two of you can discuss your versions of these unspoken rules and form a consensus. That would be ideal.

Probably the most important thing to think about, though, is that you are never going to be able to control other people’s behavior. Never. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t partially to blame for not hearing you when you tell them, however ham-handedly, that their behavior triggers your irritation. What it does mean is you have total control over your side of the equation. You can change the way you react. You can examine it, deconstruct it, and make alterations within you. You might be surprised. That could lead to changes in the other person, too.

But take your irritation seriously. It’s horrible for you and everyone around you. Here’s when irritation gets out of hand:

  • When you find yourself annoyed at what you know, logically, is a trivial thing.

  • When you get aggressive by yelling or being hostile or becoming violent.

  • When you have a chronic problem, such as getting annoyed, over and over again, at the same thing. (How is that working for you?)

  • When your temper gets worse when you drink or take drugs.

If any of the above applies to you, you have an anger management problem that you should take seriously, and I encourage you to seek help. Your life doesn’t have to feel like a miserable nightmare, and those around you shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells, either. Life is too short for everyone concerned.

irritated

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The Stink Eye

In order to get to my designated parking space here at work on the drawbridge, I have to drive along the bike lane for the whole length of the movable span. Most people are used to this, or don’t care. But every once in a while someone gives me a dirty look. And in Seattle, dirty looks seem to come with disapproving head shakes.

Do they apologize when they finally realize I’m parking? No. Never. That would be tantamount to admitting that they behaved as pompous know-it-alls when in fact they know nothing about the situation. We can’t have that, now, can we?

Come to think of it, glares, as a general rule, are pretty arrogant. They mean, “I think I have the right to sit in judgment.” They mean, “I think I make the rules.” Or worse, “I am the social norms police.”

And giving someone the stink eye rarely achieves your goal. It just makes people think, “A$$hole. Who do you think you are?” And then they continue doing whatever it was they were doing. So, congratulations for setting off a negative energy domino effect. Do you feel better now?

It must be awfully stressful to believe that you have to be society’s moral enforcer. Me, I have a hard enough time keeping myself in line. The last thing I need is to have to control total strangers, too.

Here’s an idea: Mind your own business. I don’t care who you are. The stink eye is never a good look.

Stink Eye

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Messing with a Scammer

Early one morning, I was staring blankly at my computer screen, in an utter fog, wishing I weren’t allergic to caffeine, when the following message from my friend G popped up in Facebook Messenger:

“Hello Barbara?”

I knew right off the bat that this couldn’t be G. First of all, he would never call me Barbara. (The only person who ever used my full first name was my mother when she was pissed off.)

But the other big hint that this couldn’t be G was the fact that he passed away 3 months ago. For a split second, I wished fervently that it was really him, that his death was a huge mistake, but I knew better.

And that instantly infuriated me. This was clearly a scammer, and I bet he reached out to everyone on G’s contacts list, so that must have been a painful jolt to his wife and kids. How cruel.

So I decided to mess with this person.

Me: “Hi G! How are you?”

(As I typed that, I wished this guy was burning in hell.)

G: “Am fine, Busy online Searching on what to invest my Grant Money on and you?”

(Yep, definitely not G. G knew how to punctuate and capitalize.)

Me: “I’m good. Same old, same old.”

G: “Good. Was wondering if you’ve heard about the federal government grant?”

Me: “No I haven’t.”

G: “The Grant is placed for those who need assistance buying a home, paying for bills, starting their own business, going to school, or even helping raise their children with old and retired people .This is a new program, i got $100,000 delivered to me when i applied for the grant and you don’t have to pay it back.”

(I cannot believe anyone would fall for this scam during the Trump era. No way on earth is the government going to give us money to help ease our suffering, without some serious strings attached. This scammer must think the streets here are paved with gold.)

Me: “Wow. That’s good luck considering all you’ve been through.”

(Like, uh, dying.)

G: “Thought you might have heard about it already?”

Me: “No. We haven’t talked in months.”

(That’s putting it mildly. If only we could.)

G: “I contacted the online claiming agent through link and he checked me.”

Me: “Checked you for what?”

(Rabies? Psychopathy? A serious lack of common decency?)

By the way, we should talk about the 900 dollars I owe you.”

(I threw that in just to see if I could get this guy spun up and excited and waste more of his time. The more of his time that I wasted, the less time he’d be spending scamming someone else. But at this point, the scammer went silent for a day. I guess it takes one to know one. So I decided to give it one last try.)

“Seriously, though, I do feel guilty for not paying you back yet.”

G: “Forget about that yet. I know when you have it you will pay up.”

(What a mensch. Especially since I never asked G for money in my life.)

“Let’s talk about the good news. If you click on this link and fill out this form, you might be able to get the grant money, too.”

That’s when I started getting bored with the game. Of course I wasn’t going to click on any link and turn over my social security number or my bank or credit card information, or open myself up to ransomware. So, for my final salvo, I decided to let him have it.

Me: “Sorry, ‘G’, I’m not going to click on your link, and here’s why. You stole the identity of one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever known. He was kind and generous and supportive. He also died three months ago, leaving behind a lot of people who are heartbroken and who loved him very much. I doubt a scammer like you will ever be able to say the same thing, because you don’t build relationships, you take advantage of people. I think the real G would be highly amused by the fact that I’ve been able to waste so much of your time. I also think that since he was very protective of his loved ones, he’d be outraged to know that you probably also reached out to his wife and children, who are still grieving, and this must have given them considerable pain. Sitting in your dingy, third-world room in front of your crappy computer, you already know what I’m about to tell you: You are cursed. Maybe that’s revenge from my friend G and people like him, or bad karma from the pain you cause when you rob little old ladies of their life savings, or maybe it’s just your fate, but you wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t desperate for the one thing that will never make you happy: Money. Know this: NOTHING will ever go right for you for the rest of your life until you change your ways and try to have a positive impact on people, rather than a negative, toxic one. Right now, you are pathetic. But you don’t have to stay that way. It’s up to you.”

I doubt any of this will sink in. I’m sure it wasn’t even read. But I have to say, I feel cleansed.

scammer

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Feng Shui Lite

Recently, a friend pointed out to me that, according to the feng shui bagua, my “marriage, relationships, and partnerships” region is located in my guest room. My guest room isn’t particularly welcoming. It has become the dumping ground for all the stuff I have yet to unpack. It kind of looks like the front yard in Sanford and Son, if I’m honest. This can’t be good. That is, if you go for all that feng shui stuff.

I do and I don’t. I’m not a feng shui extremist. I don’t believe, for example, that if I leave my toilet lid up and my bathroom door open, then I’ll lose all my money and energy. But I know, based on experience, that some spaces feel comfortable and welcoming, and some set me on edge.

I also agree, in theory if not in practice, that clutter is a bad thing. Neat and orderly rooms allow one to relax and breathe. They’re also a lot easier to keep clean and dust-free, and makes it actually possible to find stuff. That can only positively impact you.

Feng shui also teaches you to focus on your goals in life. It has you examine your existence in minute detail, and encourages you to make changes therein. I’m all for that.

So, if I organize my guestroom, do I believe that I’ll find love again? Not directly. I don’t believe in magical thinking. But while I’m doing all that organizing (if I ever do), somewhere in the back of my head I’ll be thinking about improving my love life, and setting that intention may cause me to make changes in the way I present myself to the world. Who knows what might happen as a result. At the very least, I’d have an uncluttered room.

Feng_Shui_Bagua

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