Can We Forge a Healthy Rivalry?

It’s okay to disagree. If the stakes aren’t too high it can even be fun.

Opinion pieces, including editorials, should always be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, I’m aware of the irony here. The bulk of my blog posts are opinion pieces, including this one. But I tend to avoid these types of articles when the source is not, well… me.

We all know what opinions are like, and that everybody has one. But given the current societal stress level, I prefer to read about things as they are, with or without suggestions for ways to improve them, rather than expose myself to rants designed to incite fear and further division. I am trying really hard to pick my battles and resist the extreme edges of my thought bubble these days.

But the other day I was bored. And I knew that a certain opinion piece was bound to infuriate me. Even the headline infuriated me with its obvious bias about illegal immigration. I was actually surprised that it had popped up on my newsfeed, given the algorithm that I’m sure has been created for me based on years of searches. But having nothing better to do, I decided to read on, because it’s good to see how other people view the world, even when you can only take so much foolishness.

This article did not disappoint. It definitely exposed me to an entirely different worldview, as did the accompanying comments by readers. It was actually rather horrifying, because the bulk of what these people believe can be easily disproved. And yet they were dedicated (dare I say “evangelical”?) to these theories. It saddened me to see, once again, just how gullible humans can be.

The thing is, they would probably think the same of me. I know darned well I’m biased, but I’d like to think that much of my bias is supported by facts. I’d also like to think that I employ critical thinking more often than not. But I’m probably biased about that as well. Aren’t we all?

One comment that the immigration article prompted, though, actually made my blood run cold, especially since so many people liked and responded to it. One woman actually said, “The border is open because the Democrats enjoy drug and child trafficking.”

C’mon. Seriously? Do you honestly believe that the average human, regardless of their politics, would be encouraging drug and child trafficking? Then you live in a very sheltered and extremely warped world.

Normally, one would assume that this type of comment would be made by some troll who was attempting to rile people up. But you had to read the room. She was preaching to her own special choir. The echo chamber for this article was so loud that very few people, including me, even bothered to try to express an opposing viewpoint. This was no troll. This was a true believer.

Her mindset rattled me, because I cannot believe that any person can hold such unreasonable thoughts in their head with such obvious enthusiasm. The stench inside her skull must be overwhelming. Either that, or she has completely lost her grip on reality, and is taking her cohort with her.

Here’s the thing. I’m not ashamed to say that I despise everything about the Republican philosophy. But there are people in my life that I know believe in that philosophy in whole or in part, and I know that at heart they’re genuinely good people, even if I think they’re disastrously misinformed on certain topics. We just  avoid talking about politics or religion, and we get along just fine. It’s really not hard to maintain relationships with people when there is a mutual respect for boundaries.

I used to try to change people’s minds, but I’m coming to realize that that’s quite often impossible. I’m also getting a much better understanding of my own limits and energy levels, and the older I get, the more I see that life is way too short for many of these debates. Preserving my mental health is a much higher priority for me.

Could I be friends with a politician or activist who is dedicated to pushing the Republican agenda? Absolutely not. But most of us are not at that level of commitment, and I think influencing friends and coworkers through example has much more impact than any shouting match ever could. And so I live and let live, or at least I try to.

Yes, I attend the occasional protest. Yes, I make my views quite clear on this blog. And because I’m autistic, if someone asks me for an opinion, I’ll definitely give them one. But mostly, I’m just putting one foot in front of the other like most people are.

We don’t all have to agree. In fact, that is an insurmountable goal which I’m not willing to try to reach. The price is too high to pay.

For the most part, I agree with Anne Frank, though. “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

And, in spite of everything, I also believe that most people agree with that statement. It’s just that we have all been actively pushed toward polarization in recent years, and in this anonymous internet age, it’s very easy to express our extremes without challenges or consequences. But I don’t think it has to be this way.

I know some sports fans who get extremely polarized while watching a game, but the next day they can be cordial with someone who rooted for the opposing team. It’s called rivalry, not war. It doesn’t have to escalate to DEFCON 1.

I hope that someday we can all remember that it’s okay to disagree. If the stakes aren’t too high it can even be fun. It’s also okay to compromise. Because this place we find ourselves in right now as a society is untenable and increasingly unpalatable.

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


The Easy Truth?

Autistic people equate the truth with being kind.

I was just diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in December of 2022, a few weeks before my 58th birthday. I wrote about what caused me to seek this diagnosis here. I’m rather new at this stuff, and I’ll be blogging quite a bit about various aspects of it as I go along, reading and learning and wondering what this means for me, as I suspect that quite a few other people are experiencing a similar thing.

Check out my autism category for a list of relevant blog posts, and never forget that 1) I’m just one person, writing about my personal experiences with a thing I only just learned I had. 2) No two people on the spectrum are alike. 3) I am not a medical or mental health professional. 4) I’m not attempting to write a one size fits all autism advice column.

Lately I have been doing a lot of research on autism in an attempt to figure out who I am now that I have this newfound diagnosis. I’ve been reading books and blogs, watching movies and Youtube videos, and listening to podcasts on the subject. A lot of them resonate with me.

With each new insight, I’m gaining understanding about things from my past that used to confuse me quite a bit. Not a day has gone by since my diagnosis that hasn’t come with at least one puzzle piece falling into place for me. It frustrates me that I didn’t get these insights when I was younger and could have adjusted more easily. At the same time, I’m also learning about autistic traits that I definitely do not have, and that causes me to count my blessings. (That’s a subject for another post, if I can figure out a way to tactfully broach it.)

So far on this journey, one of the many sources of insight that I am most grateful for is Orion Kelly’s YouTube page. I watch so many of his videos lately that I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t recall which one served up this pearl of wisdom, but it has been percolating in my mind ever since. I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something along the lines of, “Autistic people equate the truth with being kind, whereas neurotypical people equate lying with being kind.”

Oh, my holy hell. Wow. Puzzle pieces are falling into place left, right, and center with that one! That pretty much explains the bulk of my misunderstandings with others for the past 50 years. I should have that tattooed on my forearm so I can remind myself of it on a daily basis.

  • This explains why I am so hurt when I discover I have been lied to, because I don’t find lying to be kind at all.
  • It explains why I hurt people without intending to, because when I tell them the “kind” truth, they are shocked and offended that I didn’t, at the very least, keep my mouth shut instead.
  • It explains why, when I’m asked for an opinion and I actually give it, people get upset, because they didn’t really want my opinion. What they were looking for was validation in the form of lies. (But I’m sorry. Those shorts really do make you look fat.)
  • It explains why I stir up controversy by kindly telling people not to bake Christmas sweets for me as I’m trying to lose weight. I think it’s kinder to tell people that and save them a lot of time and money. But apparently neurotypicals feel its kinder to accept the sweets year after year after year and say thank you to the baker, and then either throw the sweets away or pass on the gift of poor health to someone else.
  • It explains why I don’t keep things that I don’t like or need just because someone has given them to me, only to find out that they’re really upset to discover that their gift is not cluttering up my house. They interpret the thing’s absence as some sort of personal attack.
  • It explains why I get so frustrated with people who hem and haw and don’t just tell people what they desperately need them to hear. (That’s the plot line of every single movie on earth. I want to scream, “Just tell him!”)
  • And most of all, it explains why I get so irritated, especially at work, when people are willing to put up with an inefficient or incompetent status quo rather than implementing solutions. People would much rather avoid ruffling feathers than introduce change, even if the change would be a vast improvement.

Just thinking about these things has me agitated. Even though I now see where I go off the neurotypical rails, I don’t think I’m capable of making any adjustments because of it. I genuinely feel like a horrible person when I lie to people. It wounds my soul to do so. What you see is what you get. At least now I kind of see why people don’t like what they get from me. I doubt I’ll ever be able to relate to the reasons they take a different path than I would or could, though.

Many people have told me that they admire the fact that I’m a “straight shooter”. But I’m starting to realize that many of those same people have taken advantage of this honestly streak in me. This is something that has always happened to me at work. People will come to me with complaints, knowing that I’ll speak up about the issue, so they themselves don’t have to stick their necks out. It’s as if they use me as some sort of a justice-seeking human shield. I shield them, but they don’t have my back when I am the object of someone’s wrath as a consequence.

I will always have a lower opinion of someone who displays a lack of integrity. It feels as though that’s hardwired in me. Just as I would never intentionally thrust my hand into an open flame, it would feel unnatural to me to obfuscate. Because of this, I expect the same from others. But I rarely get it.

That, and the truth is much easier for me to keep track of. I lack the capacity to remember lies so that I can appear consistent. The truth does not require a filing system in your head. You can just figure out what the truth is again if the situation comes up more than once. In that way, the truth really does set you free.

Ironically, it’s my very lack of obfuscation that causes people to be confused. And then their confusion confuses me. It never occurs to me that people may assume I’m being insincere. That’s probably because neurotypicals are insincere all the time because they think that’s kind, so it’s only natural that they might think everyone is equally “kind”.

I think I’m going to start experimenting with giving advanced warning for my communication style. For example, when someone asks my opinion, perhaps I can ask if they really want it, because my autistic tendency is to actually give it. If they don’t really want my opinion and they manage to admit as much, then I’m perfectly content to keep my mouth shut. Sadly, they’ll probably use that moment to kindly lie. (And by the way, my opinions aren’t always harsh or negative. They just lack subtlety and are therefore unwelcome.)

Even after I read my warning label to you, you don’t want to retract your request for my opinion? Well, then, you asked for it. QUI TACET CONSENTIRE VIDETUR is one of my mottos. “He who remains silent appears to consent.”

Sometimes I think the ouroboros should be my spirit animal. Like a snake devouring its tail, I seem to be trapped in a communication cycle that, however well-meaning it may be, tends to circle back around to bite me right in the, er . . . tail.

Like the way my neurodivergent mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!

A Deep, Deep Discount

The arrogance.

There is nothing that irritates me more than not being taken seriously. I don’t mean that you have to agree with everything I have to say, but don’t be dismissive. Don’t roll your eyes or smirk or do a bitter little laugh that implies “Oh, here she goes again.”

There’s nothing more rude than assuming that what I’m saying must be wrong because I’m, I don’t know… me. How am I supposed to make a touchdown if you instantly place me 30 yards deep into my end zone, while you allow others to start on the field?

It’s especially annoying when I happen to be expressing an opinion. Opinions aren’t facts. They’re how a person feels about a subject. Again, you don’t have to agree, but to imply that I don’t really know how I feel, or that how I feel does not bear any consideration whatsoever, or that you know how I should feel better than I do? Nope. Not acceptable. My opinion does not require your stamp of approval to be valid.

If you’re not even willing to entertain what I’m trying to say, then why do you bother asking my opinion in the first place? It’s insulting. It’s a waste of time. It makes me think rather less of the person who is doing it.

I come by my irritation honestly. I am discounted all the time. All. The. Time.

Sometimes it’s because I’m a woman. Sometimes it’s because I’m of a lesser rank in one pecking order or another. And heaven forbid that things happen the way I suggested they would, or that others eventually come to the same conclusions that I did. Do I ever get an apology or even the tiniest bit of credit? Of course not.

A few examples:

There’s a minor repair that is long overdue in my office, and I have even volunteered to do the work myself, if they will just provide me with a particular product that I’d need to do the job. I’ve been asking for over three months now. First, they sent me a different product, and I explained why that wouldn’t work. Next, they ignored me for weeks. But I kept asking.

Mind you, this product costs less than 5 dollars, and it’s readily available at a store where they shop for supplies on a daily basis. The fact that they refuse to provide said product when it’s so cheap and easy to get leaves me with only one conclusion. They think I don’t know what I’m talking about and/or they don’t think the issue is important.

I remodeled my first house, for the most part, all by myself. I may be “just a girl”, but I know what I’m doing. And why would I lie about the importance of the issue? Why on earth would I make all this up?

And to add to my irritation, winter is finally upon us in terms of temperature, even though the solstice has yet to occur. That means that the needed repair is going to be much more urgent. But I guess since only three of us will suffer by freezing in this office, it’s insignificant. Forget about the fact that as the problem worsens, our options for repairing it will be ever more expensive and time consuming.

But, you know, my thoughts don’t matter. They’re not even worth hearing. The arrogance!

(UPDATE: Admin finally provided the product I needed. It only took 13 weeks.)

And I get that same dismissal any time I walk into male-dominated territory and attempt to contribute to the narrative. I walk into a mechanic’s shop and explain what’s going wrong with my car, and I’m not believed. I walk into an auto dealership because I’m hoping to purchase a car, and they think I haven’t done my homework, and that I’ll primarily be interested in learning about features such as the makeup mirror in the visor, or that certain buttons were designed so one won’t break one’s nails. (Never mind the fact that I don’t wear makeup and I keep my nails cut short.) And the arrogance of some doctors when I’m attempting to explain what’s going on with me, the person who has occupied this body for 57 years, is beyond the pale.

Don’t worry your pretty little head, honey. Just take my word for it, or buy this overpriced lemon, or shut up and take the damned pill. Why do you insist on thinking?

Even my own mother, may she rest in peace, was such a product of her generation that she would discount me all the time. When she was cold, I used to tell her that you do lose a lot of body heat from your head, so if she’d put on a hat, she’d feel warmer. I told her that every winter for decades. She ignored me. But when my brother-in-law said the same thing to her, exactly once, she put on a hat, and said she did, in fact, feel warmer. I wanted to scream.

Throughout my adolescence, I kept telling her that my mattress was too short. She said I was being silly. I spent 7 years having to sleep with my feet and ankles sticking out over the edge of the bed. Even when I showed her that this was the case, she didn’t believe me or her own eyes. Then, one day, when we were moving, I took a break by lying on my mattress, which was, for the moment, in the front yard. My feet were hanging off one end, my forearms were hanging off the other. She looked at me and said, “Wow, that mattress is way too short for you.”

My head nearly exploded.

After spending the summer in the Youth Conservation Corps, I was looking forward to showing my mother and my oldest sister the many construction projects we had done. I was really proud of them. My sister wanted to go see a certain project, and I said, “We might want to skip that one. To get to it, you have to go several miles down a road that’s covered with deep, soft sand, and I guarantee you that your car will get stuck.”

She said nonsense, and insisted we go. I told her it was a really bad idea. And sure enough, her car got stuck and had to be towed. She was furious.

So when I suggested we see a different project, she refused to go. (She often meted out this form of punishment, and I think she delighted in it.) I told her the work site was on a paved road, with a paved parking lot, and there was absolutely no risk in visiting that site, and still she refused. And at first, she convinced my mother not to go either.

Why would I lie when I hadn’t lied about the first project? What would my motivation be? Did she think I wanted to ruin her car or something? Did she think that, at the age of 16, I was incapable of distinguishing pavement from sand? It felt like I was at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. I half expected one of them to turn to me and say, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”

Eventually, my mother did go with me, and was impressed by what we had accomplished. Unfortunately, by that time I was so frustrated at having to beg to be believed that the compliment fell flat for me. I still struggle with the idea that she felt I couldn’t be trusted but at the same time knew that I had done some very complex construction work that required a great deal of trust.

Another example: When I mentioned to someone with no drawbridge experience that opening a drawbridge for a vessel on a river that has a strong current is much different than opening for one on a canal with almost no current at all, he said I was wrong, and that, anyway, the canal had a strong current.

I only sit here 5 days a week, looking out at this body of water, and the behavior of the vessels thereon, all shift long and have done so on one bridge or another for more than 20 years. But of course, I’m wrong. (He also believes in mermaids, and that homosexuals are aberrant. So yeah. He’s an expert. Pffft.)

Like every woman on the planet, not a day goes by when I’m not underestimated. I’m told I shouldn’t feel the way I feel, shouldn’t react the way I react, can’t possibly know how to do x, y, or z, and that I need to be quiet and just take whatever comes my way, all while being told that I should smile much more than I do.

Discounting people seems to have become the cultural and political norm. Women are not even allowed to control their own body parts. Politicians are ignoring their constituents. I worry that all of this will end badly.

There is no end to the damage that can be done when people believe that they have a right to determine who gets to be heard. It’s like a heinous, twisted, even more despicable version of banning books, because the censorship takes on human form.

I am so f**king over it.

An Annoying Opinion about Little Free Libraries

The very first paragraph set my teeth on edge.

In the interest of full disclosure, I operate a little free library, and it has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Based on community feedback, it has also become an important part of the neighborhood. I am proud to take part in any endeavor to increase literacy.

So when I read an article entitled, “Are Little Free Libraries helping locals survive COVID? L.A. weighs in” I struggled to avoid taking many of the criticisms therein personally. I get that it’s an opinion piece. The majority of my blog posts (including this one) are opinion pieces. But this article hit me where I live.

The very first paragraph set my teeth on edge. It discussed a LFL curator’s irritation at finding a Star Trek novel in his box, and one that is in the middle of the series, no less. He said, “Why do people give away unreadable books?”

This curator is missing the point. If you’re trying to promote literacy, you have to appeal to a wide variety of readers. Not every tome is the great American novel, and, for that matter, not every reader is looking for the great American novel. There are plenty of people out there who love to read Star Trek, in or out of sequence.

Yes, you should curate your library. I’m not going to leave porn or three volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica or books that peddle false information in my box. But are a lot of the books in my box books that I would never read myself? Yes. This is not “Barb’s Bookshelf”. It’s a humble little library to encourage people to read.

Another person interviewed for the article complained that she took a book from a LFL and it turned out to be awful, and that seems to have put her off ever using this resource again. Oh, come on. Who hasn’t read a book that turned out to be awful in one’s lifetime? You can get awful books from the library, from a bookstore, and from Amazon. Awful books exist. It’s the chance you take when you’re a reader.

Another person said that these libraries are eyesores and “supposedly-cute trash receptacles full of books that should have never been published.”

Where did this author find so many snobs? It astounds me. I’m so sorry that we don’t all meet your highbrow standards. We, the great unwashed, have as much right to read whatever we want as you do. If you don’t like little free libraries, don’t use them. It’s that simple. But most LFLs that I come across are places of community pride. Yes, you’re going to see neglected, run down ones here and there, but most are well kept.

Another person said that these libraries are “a place where books go to die.”

First of all, if I notice a book has not moved in quite some time, I remove it from my library and replace it with something else. That’s what responsible stewards do. I also recycle books that have been donated to me that are water stained or are crumbling to dust. My library is no trash receptacle. But I can’t afford to constantly buy pristine, shiny, brand new books to make sure my inventory meets with your approval. Sorry.

Another interviewee said, “We would never take a nice book of ours and put it in that trash-depository bookshelf…We can’t support that situation, you know?”

To that I say, “Why is that, exactly? Afraid your nice book might get pawed over by some dirty blue collar worker who needs something to read on his sweaty lunch break? Worried that someone who’s used to lower quality books might develop a taste for something better? Worried you might start a trend toward ‘better’ books in your neighborhood? Gasp! Scandalous!”

Yes the author posits that these “curbside bookhouses” are no educational substitute for a robust library system, but newsflash: We aren’t trying to be. We’re just providing access to books for those who can’t or won’t access them any other way. Most public libraries seem to appreciate that, and aren’t threatened by our modest efforts.

The article purports to be an opinion about LFLs and COVID, and yes, it does mention the current fear of touching anything, let alone books. Yes, I tend to use the hand sanitizer I provide, or wash my hands, before and after rummaging through my library, but let’s not overlook the fact that more and more cases of COVID are being found to be caught via airborne droplets, not physical touch. Wash your hands, yes. Wear a mask, definitely. Quarantine books before reading them if it makes you feel more comfortable.

But the main purpose of this article seems to be to portray little free libraries as the inferior, pedestrian pursuit of people who don’t understand what good literature is. And therein lies the crux of the problem with this article. It’s that sort of elitist attitude that makes these libraries so vital.


Read any good books lately? Try mine!


Diagnosed with Inflammation

Sometimes diplomacy is not what’s needed.

Recently, someone I respect very much told me that my blog is inflammatory, and that he found that disappointing. Even though I can’t deny that accusation, it did make me sad. It made me feel as though he viewed my blog as flawed, and since my blog is basically me on a page, it is kind of hard not to take it personally.

First of all, I’d like to think that my blog isn’t inflammatory all the time. I do write about nature and travel and my dogs and my gratitude for the many gifts that we are all given by the universe. I write about hope and courage and decency. I write about the many things I have learned and the many things I still need to learn. I am proud of this quirky little blog of mine.

But yes, my politics are blatantly obvious. Yes, I call out public figures. I do not give Trump a pass on his idiocy. Sorry. I’m hardly alone in that. And if you put yourself out there and are reaping the sweet benefits of your fame, you also have to be able to drink the bitter dregs of your infamy as well.

Let’s face it, though, politicians and their ilk are not reading my blog. They’ve got much bigger fish to fry. My blog is a mere clownfish in the overall media ocean. No meat on this bone.

But my respected friend felt that my inflammatory remarks might offend those people who disagree with me. He has a trait that I’ve never had: diplomacy. He tolerates dissention much more than I ever will. He is all about smoothing things over. His gut reaction is, “Well, now, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion…”

Well, now, I couldn’t agree more. And this blog is my opinion. My forum. My sandbox. That same friend has also informed me that I need to develop a thicker skin, but apparently that advice does not extend to my readers.

In case you did not realize this, dear reader, you don’t need my permission to disagree with me. And I strongly suspect that those who take offense do not read my blog for long. And that’s okay. There are plenty of forums out there that will support every opinion under the sun. (Don’t you just love the internet?)

I have this fantasy that people from the future will stumble upon my blog, and they’ll appreciate seeing how one person felt about current events. Count on me to give my unvarnished opinion about what is happening, right as it’s happening. (And none of us can deny that a heck of a lot is happening these days.)

By all means, put your thoughts out there as well. I highly encourage you to do so. But for facts, researchers might want to look someplace other than this blog.

I genuinely feel that our politics say a lot about who we are. So, yup, I will make sweeping judgments about certain political attitudes. I can like you as a person and think your political views are foolish and a poor reflection of humanity. If you don’t want to hear me call out views that I find irrational, then don’t read my blog.

Here’s one thing you’ll never see on The View from a Drawbridge, though: the kind of hostile, vicious personal attacks that I’ve been treated to on the internet in the past few days. I’m not a politician. I have only a marginal influence over a very small circle of friends. I know tensions are high, but I don’t deserve the bs that has been hurled in my direction recently.

I would never call an individual, total stranger’s comments asinine, or attack their character when I’ve never even met them. And I will call you out if you do so in any forum of which I’m a part. Because to me, that behavior is unconscionable. I’ll attack groups. I’ll attack public figures. But I’ll never verbally beat up an individual. That’s crossing the line.

But yes, I’ll call out an individual who is attacking me, or going after anyone else for that matter. I’ll protect those I care about from the harsh injustices of this world as long as I draw breath. That’s a promise.

Sometimes diplomacy is what’s needed. Sadly, diplomacy is not my skill set. Knowing your skill set is a part of what makes you an adult.

But sometimes diplomacy is not what is needed. Sometimes, you need to take a stand. You need to step up when someone is feeling bullied, even if you can’t relate to the feeling, and even if you think the bully in question is usually practically perfect in every way. That’s what’s called integrity, and it takes courage.

Even diplomats have to respect that there are limits. Boundaries matter. No one could mistake me for Switzerland, but I have boundaries just the same. So if you want to play in my sandbox, play nice. Otherwise I’ll invite you to find another sandbox, and if you persist, don’t be surprised and don’t blame me if I hit you with my verbal pail.


Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


I’d Love Your Advice

You might be surprised at the results.

In recent years, with the benefit of age and life experience, I’ve come up with a strategy that has greatly increased the positive energy in my world. It will sound counterintuitive, but when I have a goal that I’m trying to reach, no matter how small it may seem, and even when I already know how I plan to reach it, I will ask for someone’s advice.

Have you ever seen the look on someone’s face when you tell them you’d like their opinion? Pure delight. You just gave them the highest compliment on earth. You value their insight. You respect them. You want to hear what they have to say.

Be sure to be genuine with your request. Even if your game plan is in place, by employing this strategy, you may be rewarded with some fabulous ideas that you hadn’t considered. It never hurts to get someone to look at your project from a different point of view.

And remember, you don’t necessarily have to take their advice. Either way, you’ve just made a huge deposit in someone else’s emotional bank account. They’ll remember that.

This approach will also keep you humble. It will remind you that you aren’t the only person with solutions in this world. Going it alone isn’t always the best way to get ahead.

I have never gotten anything but positive results from this tactic. Try it. Pick one person during the course of your day and say to them, “I’d love your advice.” Extra points for asking someone who rarely gets to give advice, like a young person or an elderly person.

See what happens. I think you’ll like it. I guarantee that the other person will.


An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!


Just My Opinion

It seems I’ve ruffled a few feathers of late.

Well, it seems I’ve ruffled more than a few feathers of late. Most of those feathers seem to be firmly attached to Trump supporters, and that’s perfectly okay with me. I can’t imagine that we’ll ever see eye to eye.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a journalist. I’ve never claimed to be one. I’ve never wanted to be one. If you’re looking for facts, you’ll want to look elsewhere. What I write are for the most part opinion pieces.

My whole life I’ve been told that I have strong opinions. For decades I took that as a character flaw of some sort. I tried really hard not to have opinions, but it just wasn’t in me. Those failed attempts caused a great deal of self-loathing and wasted time.

Then, with maturity, I realized that everyone has opinions. I just tend to express them more than the average person. So why not turn that into an asset by way of writing a blog? Well, that isn’t going to make everyone happy. So be it.

I think the confusion occurs when people assume that I insist that everyone should agree with my opinions. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. After all, who the hell am I to dictate what anyone else thinks? I don’t consider myself an influencer.

I speak for me, not for anyone else. My opinions are mine. This blog is mine. It’s therapeutic for me. If this were the 19th century, I’d probably be writing a diary. It’s wonderful to have a broader forum. But rest assured that your participation is voluntary.

I’m writing it for me, and if my readers enjoy it, I view that as a delightful side benefit. Many times you give me broader insight, or inspire other posts, or get me interested in topics that I would never have thought to pursue. I’m grateful for that.

But if in the process of writing this blog I step on a few toes, I’m guessing those toes will take themselves elsewhere eventually. I hate to say this, but I really couldn’t care less either way. That’s one of the few facts I’ll lay claim to.


Ruffled Feathers
Ruffled Feathers

Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!

What Are You Known For?

How are we described by others?

Recently I overheard someone proudly say, “My grandma was known for making the best apple cobbler in the county.”

That got me thinking. Is everybody known for something? I believe they are, at least to the people who love them most. I’ve heard people described as the type that would give you the shirt off his back, or the strongest person I’ve ever met, or, on the opposite extreme, a massive jerk.

Do we know how people truly think of us, or how we are described by others? Well, I certainly don’t. So I decided to ask. I reached out to about two dozen friends and loved ones, and posed this question:

If everyone is known for something, what do you think I’m known for?

I decided to keep it that simple, and only elaborate if someone asked for clarification.

Most didn’t bother to respond. That disappointed me greatly, but that’s typical with any type of survey, formal or informal. Even that taught me a little bit about who will actually step up for me, or at the very least, who lacks concentration and/or is epically busy.

Of those that did respond, many came back with the easy, surface stuff. I’m known for being a bridgetender and a writer. Those who aren’t in touch with me as often mentioned that I’m known for being a fractal artist, even though I haven’t made a fractal in years.

Those were legitimate responses, and nothing to be ashamed of. But it made me realize how important it is to properly frame your question. What I was hoping for, really, was not what I’m known for by people in general, but how would you describe me to others? What has been your personal experience with me? What makes me unique in your eyes?

But there were those who delved deeper. One smart aleck said, “Epic farts.” But even he got more serious and went into more detail after a little bit of prompting. Here were some of the responses I received:

  • Supporting someone in need.

  • Makes me laugh.

  • You’re unique. A fair amount of women I just can’t “talk” to.

  • Loving.

  • You mean what you say. You tell it like it is.

  • An advocate for those you feel have no voice.

  • Brave, independent woman who takes no nonsense from nobody and loves her husband and dogs and job.

  • You care about right and wrong so much that your blood boils when you see what you believe is unjust.

  • Perception.

  • Delivering your opinion in a most enlightening way.

  • Integrity.

  • Curiosity.

  • You are adventuristic. A ‘seize the moment’ sort of person.

  • You appreciate the now.

  • Heart to heart sharings of intimate fears.

  • Your ineffable sexiness (this one made me blink, and blush.)

  • Candor.

  • Courage.

  • Compassion for animals.

  • Patience and persistence in pursuit of making a good life for yourself.

  • Reverence for the use of language to convey your insights.

Wow. Just… wow. These were wonderful observations. They certainly made me proud. They humbled me. Some of them were extremely unexpected. But I’ll take it.

This experiment also taught me a lot about how different my inner self is from my outer self. The two ways I’d describe myself were not mentioned by anyone. I would think that I’d be known for my intelligence and the fact that I have no filter whatsoever. But maybe I see myself that way because I use the intelligence as a suit of armor to hide behind, and I spend a great deal of time doing damage control for my lack of filter.

The bottom line is that I’m really glad I asked this question. I would recommend that everyone try this with their loved ones. The education you get from it, in ways both predictable and unexpected, is priceless.

Check out O
One of my copyrighted fractals.

Hey! Look what I wrote!


How dare you?

Recently, someone I know spent a great deal of time trying to talk a friend out of getting a divorce. She was convinced that this divorce would be the worst possible thing her friend could do. She applied a lot of pressure and created a ton of doubt. The jury is still out as to whether she changed her friend’s mind.

But the whole time this was going on, I was thinking, “How dare you?”

First of all, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors in any relationship. And it’s not for you to decide how someone else is to live life. Even if what that person is doing seems like a monumental mistake, it could be the catalyst that brings on greater things for him or her in the future. At the very least, the experience may be an important life lesson. The choices one makes are what shape that individual. You don’t have the right to determine someone else’s shape.

In my opinion, the only time you should try to intervene in another person’s decision-making process is when that person is contemplating suicide. Because that’s the one choice in life from which one cannot turn back. Give your opinion about other things if asked, yes. But don’t get all definitive unless someone is about to step off a cliff.

I came by this belief the hard way. Once, I was in a relationship that was making my life so miserable that I decided it was time to move on. I had all my stuff packed. I had decided what to say. I was ready.

And then I made the mistake of telling my oldest sister. And she screamed at me. Because she liked the guy.

At the time, my self esteem was so low that that was all the discouragement I needed. Maybe she was right. Maybe this was a huge mistake. I mean, he was a nice guy. A great guy. Was it his fault that he left me feeling unfulfilled and alone? Was it his fault that I felt as though we had no common goals, that we were working toward nothing, and that our future would forever be exactly the same as our dreary present? Was it his fault that I felt more like his mother than his partner? It’s not like he beat me or cheated on me. What were the odds that I’d wind up with anyone better?

And so, with tears in my eyes, I unpacked. And he never knew. And we stayed together for another 12 long, miserable, unsatisfying years. What a waste. What an unbelievable waste. For both of us, because he certainly deserved more, too. It’s one of my biggest regrets.

Discouragement is an interesting word, when you think about it. It basically means that you are taking away someone’s courage. No one has a right to do that. Ever.


An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!


Reinforcing One’s Worldview

“You’re absolutely right!”

Come on, admit it. You like reading stuff that agrees with your already established mindset every bit as much as I do. It’s such a relief to surround yourself with a stereophonic chorus that’s chanting “You’re absolutely right!”

So imagine my sheer joy, my unparalleled delight, in finding two articles in a row that say what I’ve been longing to hear for my entire life. I want to stay in this emotional paradise forever. I don’t want to read another thing. You can’t make me.

The first article, entitled Cheese Protects You From All Causes Of Death, Says Science shall henceforth be my bible for all things dietary. I mean, come on. Cheese. You know what I’m sayin’?

The second article, entitled Hot Baths Might Be Just As Good For You As Exercise, Study Reveals is every bit as lifestyle affirming, as far as I’m concerned. Whenever I sink into a hot tub, my body screams, “Yes!!!!” So it’s high time I stop feeling guilty for listening to it.

Now, if I could find an article about sitting in a tub full of melted cheese, my cup would truly runneth over.


Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!