Archive for the ‘Assumptions & Misunderstandings’ Category

Doing the Y.M.C.A. of Life

Step 1 – Go to any wedding in America.

Step 2 – Wait for the DJ to spin The Village People.

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A. It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A. You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal. You can do whatever you feeeeel.

Village People YMCA

I’m certain that you don’t need any further instructions.  In fact, you probably have your arms raised into the letter Y  position above your head already.  I do.

Too bad life can’t be filled with such unabashed, embarrassing fun every day of the week! 

Most of the time when we’re doing the Y.M.C.A. OF LIFE, it’s a little more serious than the song. It also doesn’t involve wearing plastic construction-worker hats while dancing with an intoxicated bride and groom.

Let’s break it down…

Your life is going along just fine until…it’s not.  A relationship ends.  A family member dies.  Your car catches fire at the gas station.  Your wallet is stolen and a stranger spends your life’s savings at Radio Shack. Get the picture?

When these things happen, they are easier to process when you realize that the Y.M.C.A. is about to play.

Stage 1 – WHY

You question what happened.  You are mad….upset….emotional…can’t understand WHY.

Stage 2 – EMMM

You step back and think about it…seek to find answers and gain understanding.  Emotions are calmed as you release an audible breath…EMMM.

Stage 3 – SEE

You begin to SEE the situation differently…realize that some good has come from it…or that you’ve grown stronger as a person…or that  it is beyond your comprehension and in God’s hands.

Stage 4 – AYE


Sometimes the Y.M.C. A. OF LIFE can start and finish in a day.  Other times it takes years, with a person being stuck in the EMMM position for a very long time until they finally point both arms in the same direction and realize that…

Young man, young man, there’s no need to feel down.  Young man,  young man, pick yourself off the ground and….

Have you done this dance in  your life?  Do you ever get stuck at the EMMM?

#7 – Whiskey, Anyone?

Don’t let your eyes fool you….


  That’s the front of my shirt.  The back reads….


A lot of people look at the front and think it says “Walt Disney.”  Then they see the back and realize that their eyes played a trick on them.

Given that Task #7 in the battle of the UNswas Drink a Shot of Whiskey, the shirt fit the occasion.  The setting for this task was a motorcycle rally held in my home town.


I love riding on the back of a motorcycle and dig the whole vibe of 200,000 people with wind-blown hair and tattoos walking around the streets of town.

When I was growing up my dad rode a motorcycle and took me and my sister for rides.  We both got really comfortable riding and can easily side into the ‘biker chick’ role for a weekend, leaving our regular life behind in the dust for a few days.

 IMG_2144  Thunder 2011

Did you know that your first impression of someone is largely shaped by the environment you meet them in?  For example, if you met me at work, you might think of me as an educated conservative.  If you met me at a bike rally ordering a shot of whisky at a crowded bar, you would think something completely different.  Just like the Malt Whiskey shirt, your eyes might fool you

Me:  I’ll have a shot, please.

Bartender:  A shot of what?

Me:  Oh, a shot of whisky.

Irritated Bartender:  What kind?

Me:  Oh, I don’t know, whatever.

…and that, my friends, was the beginning of a fun-filled weekend and successful completion of Task #7.  Thanks Mike, for suggesting that one.

When you’re in different environments, it’s important to know your own BACKBONE and be consistently you, no matter where you are and what’s happening around you.  The person you are in church is the same person you are at work…at a motorcycle rally…or in Las Vegas for the weekend. 

Different Sides.  Same Person. One Backbone.

Have you ever pinned someone wrong because of the environment you met them in?  Have you ever been misjudged yourself?

Dirty Little Secrets

Almost everyone has them….things that you shhhhhh and don’t tell anyone about…secrets.

Do you have any?  I do.

Earlier this week my family and I began the monumental task of cleaning out my mom’s belongings.  Although she was sick for many years and in bed for the last two, we never moved her things…everything was left in place, exactly the way she left it. 

If there were secrets lurking in her closet, her dressers, her hiding places…we were about to find them.

IMG_1791 A smile…when I found my grandma’s bling.  Plastic, from Woolworth’s.

If someone looked though everything you owned…every pouch, pocket, bin, bag, drawer, folder, computer file, and box, what would surprise them?  Would anything be shocking? 

Would anything totally rock their world?

I realized a few things while cleaning out my mom’s closet.  First and most important (and as Sydney wisely suggested on her blog), never keep something that you don’t want someone else to find.  One day, everything will be found.

The item that rocked my world the most was a notebook that she kept under her nightstand.  On the first page was a letter from me, to her, written on Mother’s Day in 1998.  On the following pages were entries that she wrote to me…and that I had never seen before.  I took the book home, opened it that same evening, and cried my eyes out as I read her words of praise, disappointment, and self-confession. 


We haven’t found any dirty little secrets yet, and I hope we don’t.  With my mom, the person she portrayed to others was who she really was.  The things she “tucked away,” although maybe she never wanted to share them, are consistent with the women I knew.

Which reminds me…there are few things in my own house that should probably be tossed.  Now…where did I put that….

If you have secrets, is it better to share them, or not?

                      …at least with one person who knows what to burn??

Be sure to check out “the un page,”at the top, where I’ll be posting updates about the 12 ways I’m beating the Feeling of UN this summer.  Up next is #2, a date with Mr. Backbone, which is happening tonight.

Have a GREAT weekend!

The Case of the Smoking Salmon

Did you watch the State of the Union address?  I did, up until Obama said…
  • there is one government agency that regulates salmon in freshwater;
  • there is another agency that regulates salmon in salt water; and
  • it gets even more complicated when it’s smoked.

He did.  He really did say that.  Did you hear it too?

On one hand, I can understand why his speech writers slip in a joke or two.  It shows that our President has a light side.  On the other hand, I have to wonder if I really want the leader of the free world taking up international air time and putting images like this in my mind… 

© Jonathan Herrero

Yes, that certainly would be complicated to regulate at the federal level. 

Caution: smoking is hazardous to your gills, fins, and scales.  It also hinders your ability to swim upstream.

This is America.  You know that some federal agent somewhere thought that Obama was talking about that kind of smoking fish.  I’d hate to be the guy who admits it, though.

All the time, all around us, there are misunderstandings.  Words are taken the wrong way.  Actions are interpreted differently than intended.  There is failure to understand each other’s intent.  When this happens, a lot of us don’t question.  We don’t dig deeper.  We take our first gut instinct and assume that we know without a doubt what the other person meant.  Misunderstandings can be very challenging, particularly when a serious matter is involved.  Nonetheless, we have to deal with them. 

According to an article written by Nathalie Himmelrich, she explained that only 7% of our communication is expressed in the words we say.  The rest lies in our tone of voice and in our body language.  When you think about how our forms of communication have changed over the last decade (e-mail, blogging, twittering, Facebook, etc.), could it be true that 93% of our messages are up to the other person’s interpretation?  Wow…that leaves a lot of room for misunderstandings; doesn’t it?!?

In my relationships, there have been too many misunderstandings to count.  Thankfully, there haven’t been any that I can recall that escalated beyond repair.  What about you?

In what types of situations do you typically jump to conclusions? 

In what ways are you most often misunderstood?

The Chameleon’s Backbone will be taking a much-needed break over the next week.  I’ll be back with you on Friday, February 4.