Archive for the ‘Infringements’ Category

My Pumpkin is Frozen…and other things that don’t go as planned

Lately, my life has not been going “as planned.”

The calendar tells us that autumn has arrived….and we welcome it.

Welcome Fall

Autumn is wonderful.  It’s a time of hearing the crunch of leaves under our feet…for breathing in the crisp, fresh air…for finding beauty in the witness of nature changing slowly from one season to the next.

Beauty of Autumn

But on this Saturday morning, October 29, many of us wake and scream…my pumpkin is frozen!

Frozen Pumpkin

We find that winter has made an unexpected early arrival.

Winter in October

Winter in October 2 Winter in October 3

Each day, we go about our lives, expecting the expected…until the unexpected happens.

Yesterday, my family received unwelcome news.

Like snow in October, we adjust.  We deal.  We go into our closets to find our boots and our gloves.  We tromp through the snow and the slush.  We shield our faces from the wind.  We muddle through the unexpected…knowing that one day, maybe when we least expect it… we will again feel the warmth of the sun.

It will thaw our pumpkins…………………………….and brighten our days….

IMG_2623 IMG_1801

…and fade the memory of an unwelcomed season.

How do you deal with unexpected and unwelcome news?

I’m going to try hard to write a few posts this week and catch ya’ll up.  I’ve truly missed being here on a regular basis and commenting on your posts as well!!

The Middle Seat

I am back from Business Land…all sticky and wet.  Ya see, I had a middle seat on the flight home.  The mad-at-the-world lady to my left spilled her entire drink in my lap…with three more hours of flying time to go.  I just knew there was trouble brewing when she barked at the flight attendant for an Ocean Spray Cran•Apple and two vodkas.

An apologetic “I’m sorry” would have been nice…combined with a quick cleanup with paper towels.  No such luck.  She wiped up my seat with her shirt.  Then, she pulled a leopard-printed fake fur over her entire body and went to sleep.  So, I spent the remainder of the flight in vodka-drenched pants sitting beside what looked to be a human-sized cheetah. 

Not good picture-quality…but sometimes words are simply not enough…

Thank goodness there wasn’t trouble to my right.  Just a nice lady reading her book.  Thank you nice lady, because I hate being the meat in the middle of a disaster sandwich.

I feel like I’ve had the middle seat in life over the past few years.  My life in isolation is pretty good, but a lot people around me have been going through some tough times.  Health problems…money problems…relationship problems…Cran•Apple and vodka problems. 

And when you’re in the middle seat, your family and friends’ mixed-drinks problems are prone to spill all over your lap.

When the spill happens, you have a choice about how to react:

  • become a mad-at-the-world cheetah lady (place blame);
  • demand a proper cleanup (judge);
  • move to another seat (walk away);
  • order your own double vodka (ignore);
  • clean up the mess yourself (enable);


  • you can recognize the spill, get up, grab some napkins, dry your pants, make sure the middle seat is dry, and sit back down for the remainder of the flight.

Lately, I’ve been sitting back down in the middle seat.   But, there are certainly situations where I’ve placed blame, judged, walked away, ignored, or enabled other people’s problems.  My reaction usually depends on who the person is, where they fall on my People Pyramid, and the seriousness of the situation. 

In some situations, like dealing with my parents’ illnesses, I will never move from the middle seat.  I know there will be more messy spills…more leopard printed coats creeping over the armrest…and more books wide open on tray tables begging me to read a few lines.  That’s okay, because I know that I have a choice…and when I am in the middle, it’s because I feel it’s the right place to be. 

How do you deal with other people’s messy life-spills?  Are there any that you’re dealing with right now?

If you liked this post, you may also like Freeze Power and Emotional Osmosis.

Freeze Power and Emotional Osmosis

I didn’t post yesterday because I was frozen in place on a park trail.

While I was taking a walk with my favorite 7-year old, she held up her hand and said…

“I have freeze-power. When I go like this…

you freeze…and you can’t move until I unfreeze you.”

She didn’t unfreeze me until today. No need to worry…I was lucky enough to be wearing a warm winter coat.

Are you aware of YOUR super-duper powers?  You do have them, don’t ya know.  You might not be able to freeze someone instantaneously by holding up your hand like my favorite 7-year-old, but your emotional state is infectious to everyone around you.  And in reverse, you are constantly being infected by the emotions of people who you’re spending your time with. Think of it as Emotional Osmosis.

The theory is this…

  • If you spend much of your time with miserable people, then, over time, you will become miserable.
  • If you spend your time with happy, energetic people, they will infect you with happiness and energy.

This has long been a concept in business success. Leonardo Da Vinci believed it.  Shakespeare even wrote about it in Julius Caesar.  More recently, in the book called The 48 Laws of Power, a National Bestseller, Law 10 is titled Infection: Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky. It talks about Emotional Osmosis and advises…

There are people who attract happiness to themselves by their good cheer, natural buoyancy, and intelligence. They are a source of pleasure, and you must associate with them to share in the prosperity they draw upon themselves. This applies to more than good cheer and success. All positive qualities can infect us. If you are gloomy, gravitate to the cheerful. If you are prone to isolation, force yourself to befriend the gregarious. Never associate with those who share your defects – they will reinforce everything that holds you back.


Thinking about myself, my state of mind can definitely be influenced by the emotional states of others.  I just spent three days with a good friend who is smart, thoughtful, positive, fun, outgoing…and speaks her mind.  It was like a virus.  She infected me with positivity and I feel happier already.  I believe that other people can’t change your BACKBONE, but they can definitely push on it…one way…or the other.

What do you think about Emotional Osmosis? Is the theory valid?

It’s Okay to Step Back

Have you ever smashed your face against a mirror and tried to look at yourself?  If you haven’t, then you’re just gonna have to trust me when I say…you can’t see much more than a huge noise and one giant eye.  It’s kinda creepy.

Or, have you ever looked through the peephole of a hotel door?  Ya know, like when you don’t believe that the 8AM tap tap tap and “Housekeeping!”  scream could possibly be legit.  Also creepy.  The only thing you can see through those peepholes are huge heads and stick-figure bodies.  

When you get too close to something or look out through a tiny hole, it’s hard to see clearly.  I know.  It happened to me.  Not with a mirror.  Or a peephole.  It happened with life.  For nearly a year, I looked at the world like this….

There was something right in front of me…forcing my eyes to look through a tiny distorted opening.  My view was constrained.  I wasn’t seeing life’s totality.  Whatever the something was…it was too close. 

Then, I took a step back.  That one step was a difficult one to take, but it allowed the something to be identified.  Whew!  Metaphorically let’s call it a leaf.  Practically, let’s call it an issue, a problem, a situation, or a crisis.  My something was the Grave Truth that I talked about in the post tiled Graves and Phantoms.  My mom’s illness.

Once I identified the something that was constraining my view, happiness was sure to instantaneously return.  Wasn’t it?  Unfortunately, it didn’t.  Seeing through it, around it, or past it wasn’t easy.  The something was finally clear, but everything else became a blur.  Ugh! 

Recently, I took another step back.  This time I had the help of friends and family to give me a backwards shove.  The something (my mom’s illness) was still directly in front of me, but I could now see clearly around its edges to the world beyond. 

Then…it happened.  I took a giant step back.  The something is still there.  My mom is still sick.  Her care is still very important.  But, it is no longer constraining, altering, or totally blocking my view.  In fact, I can finally see how the something is contributing to the beauty that surrounds it.  My family is closer than we have ever been.  I’ve witnessed levels of compassion that I didn’t know were possible.  Life is valued as precious gift…and I better get out there and make the most of it.

If there is an issue, problem, crisis, or situation in your life that you need to take a step back from, it’s okay to do so.  I’m not saying to step away.  I’m suggesting that you step back.  There’s a big difference between stepping away and stepping back.  If you don’t allow yourself to step back, it will be impossible to see life clearly and put your something into context.  

Was there ever a time when you needed to step back from something in order to appreciate its beauty in your life?  Did you?  What was the result? 

If you liked this post, you may also like The Long View.

So, the answer to Wednesday’s Brain Strain question is:  Leaves on the ground, looking through the hole of a leaf.

Life Weeds

Finding myself with a free Sunday morning, I got busy making a to-do list. 

  • Feed Cats
  • Work Out
  • Wash Car
  • Buy Bridal Shower Gift
  • Write Blog and Check E-Mail
  • Make Dinner

Seemed like a pretty good list to me and I was ready to start tackling it.  I love Sundays when the day is all mine.  Nice, relaxing, glorious, no-work Sundays.

But then, the unthinkable happened.  Cue the Jaws soundtrack – Dun-Dunt…..Dun-Dunt……Dun-Dunt, Dun-Dunt, Dun-Dunt!   Before I even poured my first cup of coffee, Mr. Backbone reminded me that I promised to help him weed.  Aghhhhh!  Jaws just grabbed my to-do list and swallowed it whole.

So, the weeding began.  The flowers looked pretty…

and some wildlife came by to visit…

while we dug and cut and pulled and plucked out weeds…

Did I mention that I hate to weed?  Hands – dirty.  Back – sore.  Manicure – ruined.  At least weeding doesn’t require too much mental power. 

  • Step 1 – spot the weedy intruder
  • Step 2 – plan the attack
  • Step 3 – dig out the root
  • Step 4 – toss away

Wow – just four easy steps to get rid of pesky weeds interfering with the design of my beautiful garden! 

Whooa – wait just a minute – could these same steps possibly apply to life?  

Step 1.  Spot the Intruder.  Is there an unwanted nuisance present in your life?  Is it using up some of the essential nutrients that you need (time, money, faith, health, etc.)?  Is it disguised as a flower or is it ugly and thorny?  Is it growing aggressively? 

 My Answer:  Yes, I think I have a Life Weed.  And, it’s disguised as a flower. 

Step 2 – Plan the Attack.  The method of attacking the Life Weed will depend on its make-up.  Is it a new weed or has it been growing for a while?  Does it have deep roots?  Does it need to be pulled gently or can you just yank it out?  Are its roots entangled with your BACKBONE?

My Analysis:  I’m generous about giving my time to help others and help good causes.  Being generous with my time is part of my BACKBONE.  Lately, however, I’ve been feeling over-committed.  I have a full-time job, household, family obligations, and I’m involved in several volunteer organizations.  I tend to join more and more groups and don’t cut back (aggressive weed growth).  These groups are taking up too much of an essential nutrient (alone time and time with my family) and choking me out.  I think the top of this weed needs to be cut off and its roots pulled out slowly.   

Step 3 – Dig Out the Root.  If you don’t dig out the entire root of the Life Weed, it will grow back.  How far do you have to dig down to get the whole root?  Start digging.  Find the root.  Get it all.  You might even apply a little Weed-Be-Gon for good measure.

Step 4 – Toss Away.  Toss the Life Weed far enough away that its seeds won’t blow back onto fertile ground. 

Do you have any Life Weeds that need to be uprooted?

If you have any advice about planning the attack on my own Life Weed, I’d love to hear your ideas.  Comment above or send me an e-mail at

I’m off finish my to-do list.  Only one item left…

Make Dinner Order Takeout