Friday, November 30, 2012

Get It Down In Black And White!

Barbara: I was just directed to this really interesting study done by Ohio State University professor, Richard Petty. Maybe you saw a blurb about it too?

Basically, he and his team of researchers discovered that when people write down their thoughts—in this case intrusive, negative ones—and then threw the paper away, it made a HUGE difference to their attitude. But it only worked if the participants actually did the physical work of recording the thought and throwing it away.

We read so much stuff about “visualizing” that it was interesting to discover that people who just imagined writing down their problem and throwing it away had no change in attitude. But those who performed the action were actually able to wipe the slate clean (maybe not forever, but certainly for the time-being).

On the positive side: writing your constructive thoughts down and tucking them away someplace (a pocket/a drawer) did help to “safeguard” them. These thoughts were more likely to manifest in a positive outcome (either you feel better about a thing, or you feel empowered to do something)—I guess much like if you write down a resolution and keep that paper somewhere, it will stick more than if you make the resolution and think about sticking to it.

Petty is quoted as saying this: “At some level, it can sound silly. But we found that it really works -- by physically throwing away or protecting your thoughts, you influence how you end up using those thoughts. Merely imagining engaging in these actions has no effect.”

Please read the article for more info and to make your own assessments, but what I find fascinating is how much this resonates vis à vis our current trend here on the blog to write down our Five Crazy Things, or to decide in writing in the comments section or on the blog itself how we feel about a variety of things, what bothers us, what we love, what we hope for, what things we want to change. We do commit it to paper in a way (and yes, interestingly, the researchers found that “writing it down” did count on computers—and trashing something, or safeguarding it, did work if you threw your comments into the virtual trash, or filed them away in a special file)

So thanks, Richard Petty, for the unwitting pat on the back for all of us writers-down-of-problems. Let’s encourage each other to keep writing them down—but also to throw away the crap and protect the loveliness.

Deb: I love this, Barbara, and am going to employ it more and more. I started a few years ago when I felt hard done by, betrayed, or hurt to type a full-out exploding spewing diatribe that I could save ... read ... save ... and delete. That has worked so well for me. Although they do say that the written word resonates so much more with the soul than the typed word. But it sure worked for me. Less and less I need it though. That’s a good thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Deb: Recently Justin Bieber was the halftime act at the Grey Cup Game here in Toronto, and I was appalled to find out that he was booed. Booed throughout his performance and booed when he came on stage. WTF?

Some people will say that it was because he wore overalls the day before to accept a Queen’s Jubilee metal. First off, let me say that he explained himself saying that he was backstage doing a meet-and-greet and had to be presented the award in a small stadium room. Even the Prime Minister tweeted his support and made a joke about the fact that he had told the Biebs that he, too, would be wearing overalls.

Some people booed because, as they said, they simply don’t like him or his music. Really? Booed him for that, did you? Listen, I am not a fan of the Biebs in that I don’t have his music on my iPod, but I am not supposed to be a fan. His music isn’t for me. I am not his demographic. My version of the Biebs was the Monkees and David Cassidy. Every generation has theirs. But I do appreciate the fact that whether or not he is your cup of tea, he is a talented, very hardworking young man. I think he deserves respect for that. I am ashamed of the fact that a stadium full of people (not all of them, clearly) booed him. What are these people thinking? I hate the booing. Hate it. Hate it for anyone. Not a fan of our mayor. I would go so far as to say I do not like him or the job he has done in this city. Yet if I were introduced to him, I would shake his hand and say “How do you do?” And in a public forum I would never ever boo him!

I hate when the out-of-town team is booed anywhere in any sport. It is the vestiges of Roman Gladiator days that I wish had disappeared! I find it rude and childish, mean-spirited and offensive. In the last months, from the presidential debates to the Beibs appearance I have heard more boos than Halloween on steroids. I find it the basest part of our culture. Does anyone ever stop to consider the fact that these people are just trying to do what they have been elected to do or hired to do? They are bringing their skills to the table, like them or not. They are human beings, after all. Just picture yourself trying to make a point at a town meeting, or making a presentation at an office meeting—and people boo you. You make an appearance in the room, you simply step in, and you are met with boos. Think about that for a second. I think you will find that it hurts.

I don’t even care that I sound like an old fogey today. This is so rude. It makes me so sad that this young man stepped on to the stage in that halftime show and was jeered and booed. Add to that the fact that he was hired to do that job. Shameful.  Because no matter who he is, or who you think he is, I can guarantee you, he was hurt. Who wouldn’t be?

The individual who is being attacked is doing his or her best to bring their talents. As a member of the chorus of boos, you have nothing to offer but your cowardly mob mentality.

Not really a talent is it?

Barbara: Well, if being appalled by this makes you a fogey (which I do NOT think it does), then paint me fogey too. I didn’t watch the game (which is the Canadian equivalent of the Super Bowl), but heard a passing reference to the booing. I was so surprised that I thought the Biebs must have done some horrible thing—like a hit and run, or a nasty tweet. To find out he was booed for being himself is so shocking and, frankly, disappointing, I don’t even know what to say. Thankfully, Deb, you did a bang-up job of saying it all. This riles me especially since I’ve only heard lovely things about the boy—and he’s also still a boy, people! Sadly, he had to experience a hard life-lesson in how the “reptilian” brain gets the better of too many people. Like you, Deb, I have always always hated the booing. You know what I love, though? Unabashed cheering and clapping. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Five Crazy Things: Lazy Days

Barbara: Seeing as the holidays are fast upon us and that many of you just enjoyed a Thanksgiving long weekend and that I just enjoyed an extended holiday because my daughter and her boyfriend are home, what are your 5 favourite ways to loll about doing (or not doing, as the case may be) when family and food are the main focus?
1. The long walk (even in the cold).
2. Playing games (which my immediate family hates, but my extended family loves—well, some of them—so the holidays are my only chance to partake).
3. Listening to music (this might sound odd as, of course, we can listen to music any time, but strangely I only really listen to music when I’m in the car or working out. But when people are staying over, the music comes on—oh, and especially the live music, guitars and piano!—that listening to music is almost a sense-memory connection with being around loved ones).
4. Eating junk food (maybe the only time I indulge in “bad for you” treats like chips and cookies).
5. And, of course, chatting. Catching up, challenging each other with conundrums (“What would you do if you knew the world was going to end in 5 days?”, etc), sharing accomplishments and fears, just chatting.

Deb: Lovely one, Barb. And because we have been together with our little nuclear family these last months, I have been living some of these and I love it!
1. Playing games after dinner! We have been doing this with girl and boy and having such fun!
2. Talking and laughing around dinner prep. Some interesting info always comes up.
3. Yes, walking. Winter walking. I love love love winter walking.
4. I have music on a lot especially during dinner and I love it.
5. Dinner at the table with boy and girl every night. Candles, fireplace, music!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Whatever Home

Barbara: I love my home. I certainly spend most of my time in it: I work in it, play in it, entertain, relax, gather my family in it. It is the centerpiece in my life. The constant. I love my home.

And yet, much like we sometimes do with other beloveds, I’ve started to take her for granted. It used to be that in the early days I would lavish her with attention. I’d make sure she had the latest lovelies. I would read everything I could on how to nurture her and bring out her best side (I had subscriptions to decorating mags, bought several other issues, and accumulated a pile of coffee-table books in her honour). I bought her flowers.

But I think I got tired of the responsibility. It takes energy to be an attentive partner. Energy and thoughtfulness and time. And I think, as the children got older and became more independent, that I wanted to put all of these energies into other things: namely, my writing projects. Into me. She was the one thing I felt I could let go.

Don’t get me wrong: she’s still lovely and clean and presents a good façade. These basics still occupy (a very small) part of my time. But she’s definitely getting shabby around the edges. Even things that I might have put off before because the money was allocated elsewhere (like in my kids), are only now being put off … because I don’t feel like it! If I want that sofa recovered, well, I’m going to have to take the pics, find the place, get on a waiting list, and send the sofas to refinishing school. But it’s too much work, I whine to myself, I don’t have the tiiiiiiiime. So instead, I continue to sprawl on the worn, busted seams, writing, reading, lolling, but not tending.

I’ve started to feel guilty about it. A few years ago, I kinda owned my negligence: this was my time, I didn’t have enough of it; I’d done so much on the house much over the years, it was time for a break; she was fine, fine with it, I tell you! I scoffed at the idea of restorations and changes; I let my magazine subscriptions lapse; I didn’t eye the gorgeous home deco books; I didn’t troll the net for decorating ideas; I didn’t envy my friends who were renovating. But, like I think happens in even very good relationships, one day your partner lets you know you’ve been too distracted, too negligent, and you wake up and take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. “Good relationships are 2-way streets”, “You complete me”, “I see you”, “If I want this to work, I have to do the work.” I wasn’t living the platitudes anymore!

Now I just feel bad for the state of affairs. If my house were a person, she might cheat on me right about now. Or up and leave me. It’ll take some work, but I think I might need to woo her back. After all, I do love my home.

Deb: I think the difference between us in this regard is reflected in your comment, “But I think I got tired of the responsibility,” and I get it. But I think the difference between us is that the house care and feeding is such a joy to me, not a responsibility. It is another creative outlet in my life, something I do for recreation. I have always been crazy houseie! I remember painting and wallpapering my first apartment (and every single one that came after) and friends would question the fact that I was putting soooooooo much work and I guess money into something I rented. My response was always, “It’s my home!” As Barbara and I were saying a few minutes ago on the phone when we chatted about this, it is not only our home, but our workplace. And for me, if my head isn’t filled with the clutter and neediness of my home, my mind is free to work. Plus—COME ON! Who doesn’t love taking an old piece that has been in the cupboard and featuring it in a new place in the home? Or switching art around and seeing it in a whole new light? Or slipcovers for an old chesterfield??? Be still my heart. But be still in a perfectly appointed space!

Friday, November 23, 2012

When Good Brows Go Bad

Deb: My eyebrows are antsy. Apparently no one told them they were lifers. As a result, they are trying to escape. Taking the cowards way out, they plot after hours, when I am asleep. Unlike the hairs on one’s head, eyebrow hairs do not suddenly stick up or fly away in broad daylight while you are looking in the mirror. Head hairs are the fair players we depend on them to be.

When you are losing head hair, you know it. It falls out. When your ends are splitting or your grey is growing, head hair is totally upfront about it. No so with the sneaky brows. They possess the stealth clandestine traits of Geisha who’s late for work.

I guess we should have known all along we couldn’t trust the brows. I mean, come on, look at how easily and swiftly the brow can change your emotions or express your thoughts. They are the Hal of facial parts. They are con artists, these brows. These shifty, funny, happy, crafty, devilish, sheepish, angry, pained, disappointed shape shifters.

The mistake we make, I fear, is the plucking. For at that point, just as we are reaching puberty and our bodies start to party, we start plucking the brows. Poor plucked bastards. And we pluck and we wax and we weave. And finally, with themselves raised, the tables turn. And now they are in control. We are hapless Keir Dulleas.

And while I sleep the vengeful brows are curling and twisting and reaching for the light, looking for the end of the tunnel. And when I wake up, there is nothing I can do about it. So I pluck.

And the cycle repeats. Your move brows.

Barbara: Hilarious, Deb! I’ve noticed the eyebrow rebellion—mostly on men, whose brows tend to be more … hirsute. The head turns, it hits the light just so, and there it is this strange, otherworldian filament, doing god knows what, but not in the least resembling a “normal” eyebrow anymore. That said, for myself, I have to say, the brows are more in “disappearing mode”. As is most of my body hair. I guess it’s still a good development—chores like shaving and plucking and waxing have taken more and more of a far-backseat (compared to grooming days of yore). Of course, I may still face the errant brow escapades one day, but for now, the escape seems to be all a disappearing act.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Anxious Visiting/Waving It Buh-Bye

Barbara: On Tuesday, I sat down to write my Wednesday blog-post, and as you may have guessed by my “unexpected” Wednesday Five Crazy Things, I ended up getting sidelined by life. There were monumental glitches in the work I was doing that needed incredible focus and patience to overcome and deal with, there was the fact that I had my original Wednesday blog-post half-written and then DISCARDED IT!! (accidentally) (let’s just assume it was likely the most insightful, articulate, epiphany-inducing piece I have ever written and now it is lost in the cyber-garbage and we will never know), and then there was the subtle but pervasive thrum of worry because my daughter was due home from her stay in Paris and there were major travel snafus along the way. She was scheduled to arrive home at 2pm, and we brought her into the house from the airport at exactly 10:30pm!

The irony is that I had been starting to write about a recent lesson (or re-lesson, as this is one of those I need to keep learning and learning and learning) about dealing with anxiety.

The other day, a friend entertained and delighted us with a great motto when it comes to dealing with anxiety—or really problems of every kind. 1. You see the problem. 2. You acknowledge the problem (yes, this is an important step). 3. And then you wave it buh-bye as it recedes into the distance.

And not only is this sound “anxiety advice”—I will draw your attention to this post where Deb utters the magic words: “Don’t go there twice” (you live the imagined worst-case scenario once when you imagine it, and then again IF it actually happens)—but it is also sound “problem advice”. Why? Because truly every horrible, terrible thing that happens to us does eventually recede into the distance. We can only deal with issues when they happen, do the best we can, and, yes, carry on. Either way, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we hold on to our pain or not, the event does recede into the past. So the nutshell of acknowledging it and waving it buh-bye is an effective one—for me, certainly.

But, ironically, as I was trying to write this piece the first time (you know, the version that is absolutely mind-blowing and breathtaking, but gone), I was nursing an insistent, burrowing worry around my daughter being in hiccup-plagued transit and not home, safe and sound with me (as she is now, quietly watching a classic musical on TV in the other room). That anxiety made waste of my day, causing me to not solve problems in a timely or reliable way, and probably caused the tragic accident of hitting the delete button on what may have been my life’s opus. Oh well. Lesson relearned.

Deb: Barbara, as you know I have lived these scenarios and I totally subscribe to the old and well-worn phrase, “these should be our only problems”. Don’t get me wrong, dear readers, we LOVE our blog and our bloggie community, but I have to say that we know after these two and a half years, that when we mix it up, we know that you guys instinctively know that we have a good reason. Even if that reason is to have a conversation and cup of tea with our child.