Tag Archives: life

I Propose a Ban on the word “Should”

ana-marie_finger-on-mouth-shhh

Stop saying “should” when you really mean “must.”

My Mother was a very smart lady.  I didn’t realize it growing up. To be honest, we never realize how smart our parents are when we are young. By the time I really started to appreciate her wisdom and wit, she was gone (she died at 59 – too young).  Thirty-two years later, I still hear her voice almost every day.  Not exactly how she actually sounded – that disappeared a very long time ago. I hear her words and her clarity – especially when she needed to make a point very clear to me.

One thing that she used to say, and that I now repeat often: the word should needs to be removed from the English dictionary.

When my sons were young, I tried to never use that word with them. I wouldn’t let them use it in their everyday lexicon. I always worked with them to find a good substitute for whatever they were trying to say.

My mother hated that word because of what unspoken pressure came with it.  If you think about it, when you say, “You should (do, be, say, etc.)” the listener hears something like, “If you don’t (do, be, say, etc.) then you are a bad person, or an unfeeling person, or an ignorant person or any number of other negative attributes that could be applied to the situation. “Should” often becomes a ‘pressure word’ that’s just filled with judgement. The reality is that when you place that kind of judgement on someone, you rarely get the result you were looking for. If you get what you want, then often it’s because the other person is feeling guilty or doesn’t want that negative attached to them. Either way, the other person is not acting because they feel that something different needs to happen.  What you really want from them is an honest change in their behavior – not a change from outside pressure which won’t last.

So let’s all agree – we really should remove the word should from everything we say – we will all be better for it.  My mother said so and she was a smart lady.

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

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What happens when you put meaning behind your words.

I had some very interesting requests over the more than 20 years I owned my restaurants. The strangest one came from a mother who was eating brunch with a large group of people one Sunday.  Her son, who was perhaps 6 or 7 years old, was running around the restaurant and had been generally disruptive for most of the time they were seated.

He ran up and down the aisles, pushed open the front doors without regard as to whether there were any people in the way. He hopped in between tables, disturbed other guests, and was generally ill-behaved in every way possible.  A busy restaurant is a dangerous place to be running in the aisles and jumping around – for a boy, patrons, and staff.  There is a continual stream of heavy plates with hot food on them coming out of the kitchen. My staff was having a hard time avoiding collisions with boy.  My manager asked the mother several times to please have her son sit in his chair or at the very least stay at their table for his own safety and the safety of others around him.  The woman looked at my manager, then glanced at her rampaging child with hopeless eyes, and shrugged. “What can I do?” she said.

Eventually, as the problem persisted, I finally asked my manager what was going on. He told me that they had all tried to get the boy under control.  I decided to go speak to the mother myself, the situation was getting worse not better.

I approached the woman, told her I was the owner and was concerned about the safety of her child. I then asked her to please keep him in his seat or at the least at his chair.  Her response me caught me completely by surprise.  In a very soft voice she said, “Can you please tell him? He won’t listen to me.”  I repeated her request back to her just to make sure I hadn’t misheard and she confirmed her wish that I speak to him.  While the request was shocking, I was more than happy to comply.   You see, I’ve never had a problem with saying what I mean – and making sure that people knew it.

I stepped in front of the running boy and wouldn’t let him pass so he had to stop.  I crouched down, looked him squarely in the eye, and said in a quiet, but very firm voice, “Stop running, go back to your chair, and do not move from it until your mother is ready to leave.”  I confess it may have been the same tone I used when I trained my 100 pound Akitas, but I do know for a fact my voice was quiet – and for a 7 year old boy – somewhat intimidating.  He quickly went back to his chair and did NOT move for the rest of their meal.  He would get up and down from his chair but he stayed right in his place and did not move away.  Every so often he would look to see if I was paying attention.  I would catch his eye, he would drop his gaze and not move from his seat.

You see if you always say what you mean and mean what you say, something incredible happens: people believe you – especially children and dogs.  It’s just easier that way.

Practice Makes Perfect? Not so fast.

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Practice something imperfectly, and you’ll be worse off.

We’ve been told since we were very young that if you want to be good at something, you’d better practice. What we often miss is the fact that if you practice something poorly, you will NEVER improve. In fact, I guarantee that you’ll be worse off than if you had never practiced at all.

I’m not sure that everyone understands that concept.  I do, however, always find it fascinating how many people think that repetition is all that is necessary to have a skill.

I can absolutely, without any doubt whatsoever, tell you that if your goal is to learn a skill and to be able to do it really well if you just practice it a lot without paying attention to how you’re practicing (i.e., practicing carefully and correctly) you will not improve – you will simply be continuing to do it as poorly as when you started – just maybe faster.  This holds true to everything from learning a language (where not only vocabulary and grammar are important but also a proper accent) to your workout at the gym, to learning how to poach an egg.  It pertains to every skill you want to learn.

Think about learning how to ride a bike.  Most of us learned at a young age after spending some time on a tricycle and then a two-wheeler with training wheels attached.  Yes, it’s practice – a whole lot of practice.  But, what you don’t think about is that you are also learning how to balance properly on two wheels that are turning, how to pedal at the same time you are in motion in order to keep those wheels turning which will allow you to stay upright or that you are learning how to pay attention to the surface you are riding on in order to avoid obstacles and holes.  It’s necessary to learn ALL of these separate skills well in order to accomplish your original goal of learning to ride a bike properly.

Practice only makes perfect what you practice perfectly.

A Friendship Can’t Rely on Mind Reading

Photo_By jean-gerber

Can your friends levitate at will? Why should they read your mind?

I’m always surprised when someone is upset because a friend didn’t “just know” what they wanted or what they would do in a given circumstance. “Why didn’t he/she just know how to…” – and you can fill in the blank. The situation may range from truly trivial things to serious situations. And their big surprise is that a friend – without knowing anything – missed a big opportunity to prove the depth of their friendship.

I’ve never understood why people think that others can read their minds. Why not just levitate off the ground or use the heat beam from their eyes? Okay, so that’s over the top – but really – ? It’s like a competition. They’re not satisfied with normal relationships and normal ways of communication – “friends” have to be god-like. And that’s just plain silly.

If you want help with something or want another person to do something for you, with you, at you etc. then you’d better speak up and make sure your friend knows what you expect.  It just doesn’t make sense to me that friends can’t be clear in their needs from the other person but feel perfectly entitled to be upset when the other person doesn’t already know what is needed from them.  Really, I just don’t get it.

Personally, I’d be totally creeped out if my friends could read my mind – I mean, seriously. Isn’t that some kind of stalking? Just sayin.

Do not count on mind reading to get you what you want from a friendship – period.  The Great Carnac only worked on late night TV for Johnny Carson.  Well, actually sometimes not so great for him either!

S__t or Get off the Pot!

Photo by Mallory Johndrow

Why complain if you’re not going to do anything about it?

My father was a really smart guy.  He was actually a rocket scientist when that was a new thing in the 60’s and 70’s.  But, he had very little tolerance for someone who complained continually about the same thing but never did anything about it.  He would always say “they need to s—t or get off the pot”.  I imagine that was a popular thing when he was growing up and there was only one bathroom in the house!

As I get older I find that I often use him as a reference.  It’s always strange for me to hear his “voice” come out of my mouth – but like I said he was a really smart guy and I always feel really smart when I do.  His frustration over people who refuse to change but love to complain is a frustration I hold as well.

I’ve never understood why someone will complain about something that is happening either to them or around them and then just prefers to continue to complain regularly about that same thing but won’t do anything about it.  If the thing is that annoying to them why don’t they just remove themselves from either the thing or the situation that is causing the thing to happen?  Perhaps they just like to hear the sound of their voice and think that if they either complain loudly enough or often enough it will stop.   I’ve got a secret – the thing will continue to happen until the situation changes.

Here’s the deal (and here’s when I hear my Dad’s voice) no one wants to hear about it over and over again.  If they don’t want to change the situation, then they need to change their behavior (at least around me) and just – shut up!

The Answer Will Always Be “NO”

Photo By Brooke Cagle

Leave a question unasked, the answer will always be “NO” – #Justsayin

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from friends, family and co-workers who say, “I was afraid to ask,” or “I didn’t want to seem – insert anything here – (stupid, greedy, needy, etc.) so I didn’t ask.” Sometimes we think, “they will just say no anyway so I won’t ask.” There are a gazillion of other excuses as to why the request for whatever it was they wanted was never voiced.

I can tell you this with absolute certainty, if you never ask the question, the answer will ALWAYS be “no.”  It’s a truth I repeat too many times to count and yet somehow it’s a statement that is always met with a look of surprise and then “you’re right” comes out of their mouth.

It took me a really long time to absorb this truth but I will say that if you can manage to absorb it too you will get the answer you want more often than the “no” you think you is inevitable.  I think we make the assumption that the response will be negative so that we aren’t disappointed if the “no” actually happens.

But here’s the thing, you just might get a “yes.”  Of course, you might not really want that “yes” but I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you wouldn’t have asked if you didn’t want whatever it is.  Try it and let me know how well it works for you!

 

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

on the precipice of happiness

I am always telling people to be present, deal with what’s on their plate at that minute, try to plan ahead but always move forward.  If you’re always moving forward in a positive way and completing tasks and goals you will live a very full life.

Unfortunately what I see more often is people that are constantly worried, worried about how unruly or crazy their life is right now, stuck where they are because of this worry.

The truth is that if you stay worried about how complicated your life is right now you will run out of time to be happy.  Don’t wait for it to “get better”.  We are only given so many days to be on this planet with friends and family around us experiencing life-be happy now.

There is no benefit to staying stuck unless you love that look.  It’s definitely NOT for me!

I Want To Be Just Like You

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I was out with a really good girlfriend last night.  When it comes to my “group” of girls she’s a relative newbie- I’ve known her less than 2 years.  BUT, and this is a really big but, she’s one of those people that when you meet them you instantly know they will be a lifetime friend-a bestie.  She will definitely be in my circle forever.

She’s incredibly smart (street smart in particular which is WAY more important in life than book smart-I don’t care who you ask), funny, quick on her feet in all circumstances, socially very clever and –oh- did I mention that she’s tall and beautiful with a smoking body?  No?  Well she is.    She’s the kind of girl that you could easily hate but she’s way too sweet and caring to do that.

She can keep up with me, which is no easy feat as I move at 100 mph most days.  She says she loves that I can keep up with her!  So here’s the thing.  Last night she said that I’m her role model after her mom and that she wants to be ME when she grows up (she’s turning the big 4-0 in a couple of years)!  No one, and I mean NO ONE has ever said they want to grow up to be me.  I love that she sees me in that way, I don’t understand it but I do love it.

Here is my view on that- I think that it’s important to become the person that you needed to have in your life when you were growing up.  Be the person for others that you needed for you.

I’m not saying I didn’t have support when I was young but my family did things in their own way as all families do and as the “creative one” in the bunch in my house I’m not sure that they always understood me or what I wanted although I think they did try.  I didn’t see them as unusual or as interesting as I thought I was.

I was always looking to go out and be the person who traveled, saw theater, ate out experiencing different cuisines and did what I viewed as exciting things.  Them – not so much. Although my brother did take a trip to Mexico to go to a weekend long concert which my Dad tagged along to as the only way they’d let him go.  My brother ended up needing my Dad to get them the hell out of there went the concert went sideways!

But I digress.

I guess I’ve grown into that person that I wished I’d had in my family.  The one that was as “crazy” as I was and am and could run circles around almost anyone around them.  It’s a fun way to live I can honestly say. So, here I am- apparently that person for this best friend of mine.  Wow!!! Here’s to the wild ride.

You Might Have to Give Up on a Friend

Sometimes, You Have to Let Go and Move On

This took me a long time to figure out but I’m going to share it so it won’t take anyone else forever to realize this truth.  You cannot, and I mean cannot in every sense of the word, make a friend care about anything.  You can’t make them care about you or what’s happening in your life and for sure you can’t make them care about themselves and what’s happening in their lives if they don’t want to.

If you’ve ever had an addict, drugs or alcohol or anything else, in your family or if they’re a friend you’ve come up against this.  It is one of the hardest things to deal with.  It is human nature to want to help, to “fix” whatever is wrong – at least it’s mine.

It happened with a friend of mine a long time ago and until that person decided to deal with their own issue it didn’t get resolved.  I was lucky; they did decide to change before their behavior killed them.  The old saying that someone has to hit bottom before they can find their way up is very true.

But, I’ve also been faced with a friend who was participating in some really bad behavior who was convinced they were just fine and didn’t want or need help to quit.  It didn’t matter how many wonderful talks we would have on the subject where they would agree that perhaps they weren’t really being that wise in their choices and I would be hopeful that they would change.

I finally had to give up on them and remove them from my life.  I gave up not because I didn’t care about them anymore but because they didn’t care about themselves.  I had to recognize it and accept it.  Cutting them out of my life wasn’t easy, it sure didn’t mean I still didn’t love them but it did make my life easier.  You can only hit your head against a brick wall so many times before you realize that if you stop you’ll feel better.

Online Dating? Skype Before a Visit!

Dating sucks but online dating can REALLY suck. I thought, though, for a hot minute that it was a good idea for me, so I signed up for a couple of sites. I was cruising along checking it all out, finding out that I really didn’t want to go meet someone for coffee just for practice. The acceptable gene pool was REALLY, REALLY tiny!

Anyway, I started messaging with someone who lived on the east coast (I’m on the west coast) and we spent a lot of time on the phone, as well. He had me convinced that the distance was not an issue as he traveled for work and I travel to NYC, as well, so we could meet fairly often if it all worked out. He sounded pretty great on paper, his pictures looked OK and his family looked pretty stable (at least in the photos). Let’s just say that when we finally met in person, after about 6 months of communication, there was more than one reason why he couldn’t manage to send me any recent pictures of himself! My takeaway from all of this…

NEVER agree to meet ANYONE who lives far away WITHOUT SEEING HIM ON SKYPE FIRST!

The First 10 Minutes, Why They’re So Important

I’m reminded regularly of one of my basic truths. A person will tell you who they are within the first 10 minutes of meeting them. It’s funny but we all do the same thing when we meet someone for the first time – we make assumptions about their character, how nice or angry they are, if they seem genuinely happy in their life, if they’re rich or bright. Listen carefully. You know about assumptions.”

This is the thing. That’s why it’s so important that in those first 10 minutes when you first meet a person. You have to listen to what they are saying – truly listen and not assume. This means not only listening to what they are saying but also to what they aren’t saying. When we don’t listen carefully, we either miss the red flags that are waving wildly in our faces or, just maybe, the fabulous person in front of us.

How Many Full Moons Do We Have Left?

It’s funny. We all find ourselves getting cranky over something that someone else has said or done to us that we perceive as mean. I know for a fact that I’m guilty of that. I’ve always said that I may forgive but that doesn’t mean that I forget – mind of an elephant and all that.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was complaining to a really wise girlfriend about just that – a slight that I thought I had received from someone else and what I thought I would or could do about it. She looked at me kind of funny and then she asked, “How many full moons do you think you have left in this life? Is this worth the 5 minutes we are talking about it, much less spending any time actually doing anything about it?”

Her answer stopped me COLD and at that point, I decided I was going to let “it” go. I’ve been reminding myself of that ever since. I think it’s a pretty good thing to remember.