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.


Invisibility and Voicelessness

I would love to tell him how much he has impacted my life.

Dear Husband and I go to the local YMCA about 4 days a week and have come up with an athletic, albeit joint-preserving workout that we do in the pool. It’s a wonderful experience. This is the first time in my life that I’ve had an exercise routine that I actually look forward to, and have managed to keep up beyond a week or two.

In fact, we have been pretty faithful to the routine since before the pandemic. I’m rather proud of us. (I doubt it’s a coincidence that my willingness to exercise came along right about the time I started to actually love my life. Thanks, DH!)

Naturally, we enter the YMCA and check in at the front desk in the lobby. We love the staff at the Y. They always make us feel welcome.

Some days it’s rather crowded, and we don’t stick around to chat. I’ve never been a fan of crowds. I suspect I’ll never be able to drop the pandemically-inspired social distancing habit, because I have thoroughly enjoyed not catching a single cold in two years. That’s a record for me.

But on the day that inspired this blog, something peculiar happened. As we opened the front door, an electronic voice said, “Welcome to the YMCA!”

The voice sounded like it was coming from a speaker in the ceiling, so I faltered a bit. Since the lobby was relatively busy, I looked over at the staff and said something in passing like, “Okay. New disembodied voice. That’s creepy.”

They were too busy to respond. I assumed it was the opening of the door that triggered the recording. I felt kind of sorry for the staff, who would probably have to listen to it 1000 times a day.

As we walked past, I noticed that there was a new employee, and I made a mental note to say hello on the way out. We were kind of in a hurry to get into the pool, because it would be closing in 45 minutes. But before we got out of the lobby, a woman that I’ve never seen before said to me, “Thank you for talking to my student. He needs the practice.”

Huh? We hadn’t talked to that new staff member. (I assumed he was the student in question at the time.) But like I said, we were in a hurry, so I just nodded and smiled and headed for the locker room.

I mulled over the strange situation as I changed into my suit, and the mulling continued as I did my stretching exercises. I mean, there must be something I was missing. What was going on?

As the exercise routine progressed past the initial warm up, it hit me. Like a brick. And I was mortified.

The electronic voice kind of reminded me of Stephen Hawking. Electronic voices are sometimes used by people with neurological disorders such as ALS (like Stephen) or cerebral palsy. Amongst all the families crowding the lobby, clamoring to get memberships and ask questions, there was a young man in a wheelchair, kind of off to the side, looking toward the front entrance. I had seen him in the lobby a few times recently. He was always just sitting there. Every time I saw him, I assumed he was waiting to talk to the staff, or waiting for a ride. Beyond that, I had never given it much thought.

He was the one who welcomed us. His speaker must have been aimed upward and it bounced off the acoustical tile, making it sound like it was coming from the ceiling. And I hadn’t even looked at him. In fact, I arrogantly criticized the voice as being creepy within earshot of him.

Omigod, I felt horrible. I should be the poster child for tactlessness. It must have been such a big deal for him, getting this job, only to have someone mock his voice. I wanted to crawl under a rock, and take my stupid, insensitive, big mouth with me.

I had to do something. I had to apologize. Additional mulling ensued as I did my laps and tried to figure out what the heck to say to the young man. Clearly he had been working there for several days, and I just breezed right past him without even looking at him every single time. (In my defense, though, today was the first day he was using the electronic voice.) I couldn’t wait to get back out to the lobby and make amends.

Since the pool was about to close, when I came out the lobby was deserted, except for the staff, including this young man. I walked over to him and asked if it was him who had greeted me earlier. He said yes. I explained that I had been confused, but that I had absolutely no excuse for my rudeness. I told him I was mortified that I had behaved so badly. I told him that the next time he greeted me so warmly, I would definitely greet him right back (whatever that means).

His eyes were so expressive. He seemed so happy. His assistant told me that his name was Rich, and that he was volunteering at the YMCA, and would only be there for a few weeks. She assured me that he hadn’t been offended. I told Rich that I was really glad he was there, and I thanked him for talking to me.

As I walked away, I heard his assistant whisper to him, “See? That’s what we like to see.”

I haven’t seen Rich since. I hoped I would, but two days later I headed off on a two week vacation. He’s probably off to his next volunteering venue by now.

That’s truly a pity. I would love to tell him how much he has impacted my life. (I may have to ask the staff to send him a message, or a copy of this blog post, or both.)

After walking out of the YMCA that day, I began to think about how many invisible and/or voiceless people there are in this world. I have often complained that I have become more invisible as I have gained weight and aged, and I truly hate it.

It’s frustrating to want to be heard, to want to contribute, and instead you’re overlooked. I genuinely believe that everyone has a story. I believe everyone has a right to be seen. They have a right to tell their story.

And yet, Rich made me realize that I’ve spent my life overlooking certain segments of the population. People in wheelchairs. People with the same body type as my abusive stepfather. Beggars on the street. The elderly. Why do I do that?

My overlooking people doesn’t come from a place of malice. Truly, it doesn’t. It’s just that I’m a very introverted person, and I don’t cope well with large amounts of stimulation, so in order to cope, I block quite a bit out.

And, may God help me, those groups are usually easy to block out. They aren’t usually loud or aggressive or pushy. Like me, they are often resigned to their invisibility. So I suppose I hopped on the bandwagon, which rolls merrily along through life, gazing over the heads of most people. Shame on me.

I intend to make more of an effort to see people. I mean, really see them and hear them. I want to delight in the diversity of this world. That might take my introverted self way out of her comfort zone, but I think it will be worthwhile.

And it was Rich who taught me that. I’m grateful for him. But that’s not the only way he has changed my life. And I’m very excited about this next bit.

While doing research for this post, I discovered an organization called VOCALiD. According to the website, it began in 2014 when the head of the company went to an assistive technology conference, and noticed that the bulk of the people there who were relying on electronic voices were using the SAME voice. That’s not right. Everyone should have their own voice.

Granted, voice technology has come a long way since the voice that Stephen Hawking used, but still, there still weren’t a wide variety of choices in 2014. Imagine a little girl with cerebral palsy having to use the voice of a man. That would be, dare I say it? Creepy. Imagine her having to use the voice of an old woman. That would be wrong, too. Everyone who needs a prosthetic voice should be able to have one that fits their age, gender identity, nationality, and personality.

That’s how VOCALiD was born. They wanted to collect a database of as many voices as possible. (Currently 91,000 voices and counting.) Once they did so, people could have a unique voice, not a one size fits all voice. With this ever-growing database, they can use one voice or blend the sound of several to create your own special voice.

The way they zero in on the perfect voice for you is quite interesting. Apparently, many people with neurological challenges can at least vocalize their vowels. It seems that those vocalizations constitute a unique voice “DNA”. Once they have that, they can filter their database to find a variety of voices for you to choose from that have a similar DNA.

But here’s the cool thing. If you speak with no impediments, you can donate your voice to their voicebank. And it’s really easy to do. You record your voice remotely, even from the comfort of your own home. They give you a series of voice prompts to read at your own pace. It does take a couple of hours, but once you’ve read all the prompts, you’ve created every necessary sound to allow people to have a full vocabulary and be able to communicate with the wider world.

Check out this delightful video for more details.

I am signed up to do this soon. I can’t wait to give someone a voice! I love the idea of someone finally being able to feel like she’s speaking the way she’d expect herself to speak. The idea just makes me really happy. (I’m sure I’ll blog about the experience when I’m done, so watch this space.)

I hope you’ll hop on over to VOCALiD and donate your voice as well. Allow a voiceless person to have choices. Let them finally be seen and heard. We need you!

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Get Back

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the back of someone in my entire life.”

Recently, I watched someone leave, knowing I’d never see her again, and I thought, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the back of someone in my entire life.” I wanted to dance around. I wanted to sing, “Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead.” (Oh hell, I’ll admit it. I actually did.)

It’s not the first time I’ve felt this way, and it probably won’t be the last. Unfortunately, there are a lot of toxic people in this world. It’s amazing how much their poison ripples outward, splashing all over those who are unfortunate enough to reside within their realm of influence.

I’ve also seen more than one person walk away forever, knowing I’d miss them very, very much. There are a few that I still occasionally cry over. People leave for a variety of reasons. Everyone has a different path to take in this world, and sometimes two paths can run parallel for a time, and then completely diverge. It’s part of life. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.

This got me thinking about backs in general. Turning your back can actually be aggressively rude, as was demonstrated to me quite recently by someone who wanted to make a point of telling the world that she did not want to acknowledge my existence. It came off as awfully childish and dysfunctional, but to each her own.

And then there’s the fact that no one can be as intimately familiar with one’s own back as others are. I have no idea what the back of my head really looks like. I mean, I’ve seen pictures, and have looked at mirrors aimed at mirrors, but it’s not the same. I don’t know what I look like when I walk away. I don’t think I’d recognize myself in a crowd if my back were turned.

The bottom line is that backs can be warm and cuddly, vulnerable, hostile, regal, defeated, strong, heartbreaking, excruciatingly painful, or a blessed, blessed relief. Maybe I should stop griping about the aches and pains mine gives me, and appreciate its complexity a bit more.


I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that? http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

I Don’t Have to Respond

Boy, oh boy, am I about to save myself a heck of a lot of time!

It’s really weird when it suddenly occurs to you that you’ve been operating under a self-imposed rule. Because, just like that, you realize that if you were the one making the rule in the first place, then, hey, you don’t have to follow it anymore, do you? Ah, the freedom!

For example, if you live alone, you don’t have to make the bed if you don’t want to! Woo hoo! If you’re the only one who ever sees the back yard, you only have to mow it when you feel like it. Sweet!

I had one of those epiphanies just the other day. Here it is: I don’t have to respond to everything. That’s huge.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in common courtesy. I make it a point to say thank you and excuse me. That’s the type of lubrication that’s required to keep a civilized society running smoothly.

But I don’t have to respond to unsolicited advice. I don’t have to correct rude behavior (unless I’m looking for closure). I don’t have to explain myself or justify anything. (But I still believe in doing the right thing.)

Just because someone asks an idiotic question, that doesn’t mean I’m obliged to answer. Not every comment requires my input. Not every insult needs to be avenged.

There’s also really no point in carrying your side of an argument if, when all is said and done, it’s not going to change a thing. Your energy is limited. Save it for the positive stuff.

Sometimes it’s okay to let the other person have the last, stupid, selfish word. Whoa. What a concept.

Boy, oh boy, am I about to save myself a heck of a lot of time!


Like this blog? Then you’ll love this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Do You Know What Your Problem Is?

Tell me: when a conversation starts that way, is there any chance of it going well? And can a person who is that tactless and cruel really think that he or she has all the answers? It beggars the imagination.

The way I see it, we are all like icebergs. Only the very tip of who we are is on view. There is a whole lot beneath the surface. Anyone who is looking at just the visible parts of you and then passing judgment is not dealing with a full deck.

Honestly, isn’t it hard enough to solve your own problems without attempting to tackle the problems of the rest of the world? I mean, criminy sakes, get focused. If you actually have the gall to talk like that to people, then you clearly have a lot of interior work to do.

The next time I’m asked that question, I hope I have the presence of mind to say, “Here’s my problem: I have been putting up with people who think they could live my life more effectively than I do.”



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


Every once in a while, I think about the many people I’ve met on the internet who have come to be good friends. It’s a different world. As a young adult, before the internet, I could not have conceived that these types of connections were even possible. But children today are growing up taking these long distance relationships for granted. (With adequate supervision, I fervently hope.)

I’ve met several of these people face to face, and we are friends to this day. I’m going camping with one of them this summer. (Waving hello to Martin.)

But for all the good friends I’ve made, in the virtual world of Second Life, or via my blog, or on Facebook, there have been at least as many who have taken a piece of my heart and disappeared with it with no explanation whatsoever. Lorraine, Steve, John, Vicki, Brian… yeah, I’m talking to all of you.

I don’t have a problem with them not being in my life anymore. The choice is entirely theirs. Some friendships are annual, others are perennial. I get that. What I have a problem with is the lack of closure. For all I know, they’re dead. That’s a horrible feeling. It’s cruel to make someone grieve when grieving may not be the appropriate response.

There’s something about being able to hide in cyberspace that brings out the worst in people. I strongly suspect that none of them would be this rude face to face. And yeah, explaining why you’re ending a relationship is never fun. It would be tempting to skip that step entirely. It’s understandable to want to avoid the awkward stuff. But people have a right to their closure. They have a right to understand why. They have a right to learn from their experiences.

Depriving people of such rights without so much as a by your leave reveals something rather ugly about you. Just sayin’.


Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Actually, No.

Here’s the thing. (Yes, there’s always a thing.) I was raised to be a good girl. My default position is to respect authority. Be cooperative. Don’t make waves. Accommodate others. And above all, always, always be polite.

Well, you know what? Fuck that. All those values are great if everyone is playing by the golden rule. But it’s been my experience that most people do not. As a result, I’ve been bullied and taken advantage of my entire life.

I’ve had it up to here. (No, not there. Much higher than that. Here.)

I’m over it. I’m done. I will not be pushed around anymore. Not by strangers, not by loved ones, and definitely not by politicians. I am establishing the sharp boundaries that I’ve always allowed to remain fuzzy at best. This far, and no further.

I’m not planning to become a bully. I’m not going to be gratuitously rude or selfish. But I won’t be passively stepped on. I am learning to stick up for myself. I’m learning that I have a right to say no. It’s frustrating that it’s taken me so long to figure this stuff out.

We need to teach our children to be respectful, yes, but also not to take any crap. Because as the world becomes more crowded, there will be plenty of crap to go around. And then some.

It is possible to be kind and strong at the same time. It’s okay, and very necessary, to stand in your power. It may take practice to reach that acceptable balance. But it can be done.


Be kind. Be strong. Be grateful. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

“No, it’s because you’re a jerk.”

A few years ago, I was downtown in a large crowd of people, anticipating a huge fireworks display. The weather was mild, and everyone seemed to be in a festive mood. One guy was a little too festive. Extremely intoxicated, he started screaming and cursing at his family. And this was a big guy. Everyone was intimidated by him.

There were no cops in sight. His horrible behavior was putting a damper on everyone’s spirits. It was as if someone had poured toxic waste into an otherwise crystal clear pond. People actually started moving away from this guy, even though there was very little space left.

The matriarch of his rather large family finally said to him, “You are embarrassing us.” And the guy looked around at the staring crowd and paused. But full of liquid courage and liquid stupidity, he shouted, “What? You got a problem with me? It’s because I’m _________, isn’t it?”

I am intentionally leaving that space blank because I’ve seen this play out before, and any word would fit. Young, old, black, white, male, female, Lithuanian, Laotian, Christian, Islamic, short, fat, ugly, straight, gay, left-handed, French speaking… it could have been anything. It would have been just as stupid.

We all have qualities that set us apart from the people around us. Sometimes when people react negatively toward you, it’s not because of those characteristics. It’s because you’re acting like a fool. Unfortunately, bad behavior transcends race, creed, religion, gender and orientation.

So next time people look at you with disdain, before you go there, ask yourself if you’re in fact being a jerk. Yes, prejudice exists in the world, and it’s wrong. But often the most simple answer is the correct one. There’s every possibility that you’re just an a**, plain and simple.

[Image credit: liquidmatrix.org]
[Image credit: liquidmatrix.org]

A Real Stand-Up Guy

I know this guy with severe ADHD who is extremely socially awkward. In fact, most people consider him rather weird. He doesn’t pick up on social cues. He doesn’t get when he takes a joke too far. He doesn’t see when he’s making people uncomfortable. And he can’t tell when people are embarrassed for him.

He has this really strange view of women. I think in his mind we all wear gloves and pillbox hats and are so fragile that we must be wrapped in gauze padding in order to function. He means well, but it puts people off.

Because of this, people stand him up all the time. A bunch of people even stood him up at his own wedding. How rude is that? (Fortunately the bride showed up.)

I could go on and on about how heartless and cruel people can be, and how it’s a horrible thing when you take advantage of someone who is socially weaker than you are. But the fact is that he’s an adult and needs to take responsibility for his own life. So my advice to him (which he won’t take) is to stop considering people his friends when they treat him like crap. Even he can see when that happens. He just doesn’t think he deserves better. What a shame. What a waste.

The bottom line is that water rises to its own level. In other words, if you allow people to treat you like shit, a lot of them will do so. Set boundaries. Certain behavior should be a deal-breaker when it comes to friendships. Go for quality, not quantity. You’ll be much happier.


“We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve”

That is one of the main messages in the movie The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and it really hits home for me.

My whole life, I’ve had a problem with boundaries, or, actually, a lack of boundaries. In essence, I’ve allowed people to step all over me because I was obsessed with being a nice person. Even if someone was unspeakably rude to me, I was never rude back, and I certainly didn’t call them on their behavior. I’ve allowed myself to be ripped off, stepped on, and emotionally abused. As a child in school, when I was bullied or beaten up, I never fought back. I’ve always found it amazingly difficult to say, “No,” “Go away,” “Leave me alone,” or “F*** off.” In short, I’ve taken massive amounts of crap in my lifetime because if people see an opportunity to take advantage, they will do so, and I practically had “WELCOME” tattooed on my forehead.

This lack of boundaries goes hand in glove with accepting the love we think we deserve, because when your borders are kind of fuzzy, you begin to think you deserve the intrusions you suffer as a result.

Ah, but the universe is a wonderful teacher, is it not? It often seems as though the very type of person who needs to be put in your path so that you might learn and grow will be dropped there like an obstructive boulder, and you will be forced to go over, under, around or through that person to get to the other side.

I have to say that being in a relationship with someone with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder can be brutal and devastating, but it can also be an opportunity for growth like no other. When someone in your life knows how to push your buttons and doesn’t hesitate to do so, you learn exactly what your buttons are, and that gives you the opportunity to explore the reason behind those buttons. That can be quite useful.

When you are essentially living with a big old bully, you either learn to stick up for yourself or you cave in under the pressure. I decided to stick up for myself. And now, I must say, I don’t take crap from anyone. I am a woman of steel.

At first I was a little militant about it, a little rigid. I can see how it would have been easy to become a bully myself. But with time I learned to tone it down, and now I don’t push, but neither do I allow intrusions on my boundaries. I’m not afraid to establish my very reasonable rules, and if someone doesn’t like those rules, well, there are plenty of other people out there to play the game with.

The other day one of my coworkers said that she needed me to go through all our grocery bags that we use for trash bags and throw out the ones that had holes. Five years ago I might have done it. I’d have resented it, but I’d probably have done it. On this day, though, I just looked her square in the eye and said, “Uh…no. If you have a problem with bags with holes in them, simply throw them out when you come across one.” And that was that. It was a little thing, but for me it was a triumph, and a hard-won triumph at that.

But all this boundary drawing has had a delightful effect. Many of the people I love are actually behaving much more courteously, and it actually seems like it’s a relief not only to me, but to them as well. People actually like to know where the limits are. It makes it that much easier to travel through life without bumping into stuff. And having boundaries of your own teaches you to respect those of others as well.

So the trick is to determine the kind of love you want, and better yet, the love you don’t want, and then apply the restrictions accordingly, and you’ll be amazed how well your personal frontiers will be respected.

Peace in the kingdom. Maybe it’s not that hard after all.