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Giving with No Strings Attached

Do you give with strings attached?  Have you ever been the recipient of such giving?  Giving or gifting with strings attached is demeaning both to the giver and to the receiver.  It is a power play–the giver wants to control the receiver’s behavior.

The commodity involved with giving is usually thought of as money or tangible goods.  However, it can also be love, attention, effort, etc.  For example, many people use love as a manipulative tool: I love you when you’re good (ie when you do what I want or act the way I want you to act), but I will withdraw my love when you are bad (ie when you don’t do what I want or act in a way I don’t like).  This often occurs between spouses, significant others, parents and children, and other close relationships.

The giving-with-strings-attached scenario usually goes something like this: Okay, I’ll give you X, but in return I expect Y from you.  That’s fine for a formal, contractual agreement or a gift for a specific purpose previously agreed upon by both sides such as college tuition for your child.  However, in more casual giving, it is the control freak’s agenda and is resented by the receiver.

Of course, the potential giver has the choice of not giving in the first place.  If you are asked to give and choose not to do so, just say “no” and go about your business.  You don’t have to turn your “no” into a lesson, admonition, or verbal manifesto.  However, if you do commit to give (just one time, for a longer period, for a lifetime), don’t use your promised gift as a power tool, cancelling it if you get mad or don’t get your way.  Keep your word or it will result in the recipient never trusting you again.

If your gift is unconditional, it will benefit both parties so much more than if it is retractable upon your whim.  If you give unconditionally to loved ones, the benefit you receive is knowing that you gave out of love or sincerity and not the quest for power.  The benefit the recipients get is the same.  They know you trust them to make decisions for themselves.  Their decisions may not be what you would have chosen, but you’ve shown respect for them which, in the long run, is the much more valuable message.

If you give to strangers (an organized charity, a homeless person on the street, etc.), behave the same.  Don’t admonish the street beggars that they must use your handout for food and not alcohol or drugs.  Treat them with respect they they can make their own decisions about  how to live their lives.  Maybe one day someone will give to you in your time of need. Wouldn’t you prefer it be on terms of love and/or respect rather than power and control?

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Dealing with Regrets

We all have regrets, some big, some small. However, if we live our lives mired in them, we can never move forward. We must forgive ourselves. If it concerns behavior we did or didn’t do, focus on what we can do now. If it concerns other people, we can only hope that they forgive us. We still have the future where we can atone by being good, kind, loving, giving.  If we can’t do it for one because he/she might be gone, the hurt was too deep, etc, then pay it forward and do it for another. In that theme, I have a guest blogger today, my friend Roger Trammell, who presents his blog in the form of a poem.

IT WAS ALL WORTHWHILE
Happy to be
on the down-side
of the drama…
in the Dalai Lama head-space
on the pace
in the race nearly run
with worries few or none
No regrets
but some debts left unpaid.
Atonements made or not,
it’s got to be enough
at this stage of the game
time passing
whence it came…
Memories
used-to-bes
frozen in time…
recalls of falls
and risings
standing talls
and divings into pits
fit for drowning
when crowning achievements
came to the rescue
re emerging
submerging the doubting
and shouting
it was all worthwhile.
Roger Trammel 6-3-2014

I now have a “Follow” button in the upper right corner of my blog. If you want to be notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button and fill in the information. To read my previous blogs, you can find them under “Recent Posts” or “Archives” on the right side of this page. Please pass my blog along to anyone who might be interested.

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Why Do People Criticize Others?

A few years ago, I went on a wonderful, often very rustic trip to Papua New Guinea.  After returning, I got together with the man I had been going out with for awhile.  I was very excited to show him my photos.  As he was looking through them, he stopped at one, held it up to me, and commented, “Well, you certainly don’t look your best.”  Technically, he was right, I guess.  I had no makeup on and my hair was in total disarray as I was caught on film climbing out of a dugout canoe on a brackish river.  My point here is not the correctness of his statement which, by the way, was the truth as “he” saw it, but the fact that he chose that statement to make among so many others he could have said.  Here are a few possible proclamations he might have opted for: “Gee, what a neat dugout.”  “Boy, that looks like it was fun.”  “You look tired.”  Instead, he chose to trash my looks, albeit subtly–a vulnerable position for anyone.  I knew I looked a mess; he didn’t have to tell me.  It’s really hard to look great floating down a river in PNG in a dugout canoe in the hot, humid jungle after having slept in a bare-bones structure with no air conditioning, no electricity, no indoor plumbing (think a hole-in-the-ground outhouse), and in a sleeping bag on the floor under mosquito netting.  I wonder why he chose to make the comment he did.  What satisfaction did it bring him?  Was he sending me a message that he only liked me when I looked well groomed and attractive?  Was he feeling insecure that he was dating a woman who could look scuzzy sometimes?  Those types of statements–subtle put-downs–only serve to put pressure on the receiver:  I’m unattractive, unloveable, etc. unless I’m always perfect; I always have to be on.  What I’m advocating here is that we examine our motives when we criticize someone.  If the purpose is to help correct his/her behavior, appearance, etc. for his/her benefit, then the criticism might be valid.  However, if the purpose is to assuage your own discomfort, maybe that’s your problem and not that of the person you’re criticizing.  Before you throw out potentially hurtful comments, think if a positive response might be more effective than a negative one.  Demeaning another person doesn’t only demean them, it demeans you as well.  Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested.  To read my previous blogs, click on entries to the right of this page under “Recent Posts” and “Archives.”  To join my Blog Email Notification List, click here on my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com, and then click on the “Contacts and Links Tab” to access my contact form.

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Learning from Animals

I’ve written about animals before.  (See the Recent Posts list on the right side of this page:  “The Therapy of Pets”- January 17, 2014.)  Animals are the ultimate stress reducers.  Last weekend, I went on a day trip to visit an unusual, animal rescue compound near Solvang, California.  They had a variety of animals including miniature donkeys; I never knew such a creature existed.  The full-grown mini-donkeys came up to my waist.  Here I am with Princess, a Vietnamese Potbellied Pig.

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While I was scratching Princess’ belly, currycombing a donkey, or petting a tortoise, I forgot about all my commitments, obligations, must-dos, and everything else in my life that stresses me out.  Many animals are so calm, placid, easy-going, and relaxed.  (Those terms may all mean the same, but I couldn’t stop with the descriptors.)  When hanging around them, those qualities spill over onto you.  That’s why hospitals and other institutions often bring in animals for the occupants; it’s therapeutic.  It is so much better, cheaper and has less negative consequences than many of the methods people use to reduce stress: alcohol, prescription medications, illegal drugs, smoking, excessive caffinated drinks, etc.  Because of the danger to our lives, health and happiness, we must reduce the stress that life hands each of us.  One thing I use is exercise.  When I’m working on the exercise machines at my gym, I’m concentrating on the workout and not on my stressors.  Animals have that same effect on me.  Since I don’t have an at-home pet in my life right now, I’m always going up to people walking their dogs to get my “animal hit” for the day.  I ask the owner first if I can pet his/her dog.  Afterward, I always thank the dog and the owner for sharing.  Try an “animal hit” whether it be your neighbor’s dog, cat or bird, or a more exotic variety such as Princess.  Let their calmness wash over you and accompany you throughout the day.  Somehow, it puts in perspective all of the little concerns we think are so important and that we allow to drain so much of our energy.                                                                                                                         Please forward this blog to others.  To read my previous blogs, scroll down or read them under “Recent Posts” and “Archives” on this page.  If you’d like to be on my blog email notification list, click here on my book website:  AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and leave me a message under the “Contacts and Links” tab.

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Getting Cut from the Lineup

I’ll be one of several storytellers at SHINE Storytelling, April 17, 2014, 7:30pm, 2019 14th St., Santa Monica, CA 90405 ($5 donation at the door) on the theme for the evening: Taking the plunge.  I’ll talk about going from retired probation officer to actress via a senior acting class I took with my 85-year-old father, and overcoming my stage fright in the process. Check out SHINE’S website at: storiesbloom.com/StoriesBloom/SHINE.html.

I’ll also be giving an author talk/book signing at the Savvy Seniors of Calabasas on April 24, 2014, 1:00 to 2:30pm, Calabasas Library, Founders Hall, 200 Civic Center Way, Calabasas, CA 91302 (preregistration and $5 fee required).  As part of my talk, I’ll discuss the process of writing my memoir, editing it, finding a publisher, and promoting it.

Now, onto my blog:  Have you ever been cut out of something you were sure was a shoe-in for you like a job promotion, a relationship, or even an appearance on a TV program as happened to me last week?  As I blogged about last time, I am one of 60 women profiled in Marlo Thomas’ new book: It Ain’t Over…Till It’s Over.  I was contacted a few weeks ago and told I was one of the subjects chosen to be on the Today Show in a video clip in conjunction with Marlo Thomas’ appearance to discuss her book.  I jumped though all the hoops they asked for with a very short deadline.  I taught myself how to make a short, selfie video on my iPhone.  I taught myself how to upload it to a file sharing website as it was too big to email. I searched for some requested photos buried in my desk drawers of myself at my office when I was a probation officer which I then scanned and emailed.  My stress level was way up there as you might imagine.  On the day of the show, I watched only to discover that I had been cut out.  I was very upset as well as embarrassed because I had told everyone I knew that I was going to be on the Today Show; posted it on some online, group discussion sites; and blogged about it right here.  After wallowing in “poor me” for awhile, I was able to put it in perspective and turn it around.  What had I gained?  Well, there was my photo and a lovely story about me tracing my journey from probation officer to actress in Marlo Thomas’ book; I learned how to take a selfie video for when I might need to do it another time; I learned about file sharing websites; and I got a blog subject out of it.  When something like this happens, we have choices.  Of course, we all have to wallow in self-pity for awhile; that’s human nature.  But, wallowing for too long is unproductive and destructive.  We do have choices; we can choose to move on and get over ourselves.  How long it takes is up to us.                                                                                                                          Please forward this blog to others.  To read my previous blogs, scroll down or click on “Recent Posts” and “Archives” on this page.  If you’d like to be on my blog notification list, click here on my book website:  AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com  and leave me a message under the “Contacts & Links” tab.

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The Fear of Being Alone

Marlo Thomas’ new book entitled:  “It Ain’t Over…Till It’s Over: Reinventing Your Life–and Realizing Your Dreams–Anytime, at Any Age,”  has just been published.  It tells the stories of 60 women who have reinvented their lives, and I’M IN THE BOOK.  A promotional campaign has just been launched, and Marlo Thomas will be interviewed on The Today Show to promote her book.  I will be in a short video clip as part of her interview on the show, and I’ll be telling my story of retiring from my 37-year career as a probation officer and becoming an actress in my senior years.  In Los Angeles, CA, it will air Monday, April 7, 2014 on NBC between 8am and 9am, and again between 10am and 11am.  Check the NBC website for show times in other areas.  Watch it if you can!

Now, onto my blog.  I always used to be so afraid of being alone.  I don’t mean alone for a few hours; I mean alone in life.  That fear seeped into my everyday activities and still influences me.  How many more decades is that going to continue?  I don’t have that many decades left.  I must do something now.  I’m sure some of my poor decisions in a few prior relationships stemmed from that fear–better someone than no one.  How many people remain in bad, destructive marriages, relationships, or friendships because the alternative, being alone and unloved, seems worse?  I did.  I remember in junior high school that if you were seen by classmates outside of school engaged in activities like clothes shopping, going to the movies, etc. by yourself, or worse–with your mother, you’d be considered as someone who didn’t have a pal to go with–a loser.  A friend recently confirmed that she’d had the same fear, and still does.  Now, as a senior, I’ve learned to do many things by myself without a second thought.  However, there are still some activities that I avoid if I don’t have a companion.  I don’t travel alone; I don’t go to a movie alone; I don’t go to a restaurant alone.  I reject those pursuits automatically without consciously thinking about them.  Recently, I wanted to see a movie that all my friends had already seen.  I simply told myself that I’d catch it on Netflix, and I moved on to thinking about something else.  I know a lady who travels all over the world by herself.  I admire her–envy her.  I’d like to be able to do that–just call a travel agent and be done with it.  Even though I’m a personable woman and attract people easily, deep down inside I’m afraid that if I travel alone, no one will talk to me; they’ll look at me with pity or scorn because I don’t have someone to be with.  On a conscious level, I know that’s ridiculous.  On a subconscious level, that old lesson from junior high school still controls me.  I’ve broken so many old bonds and blossomed as a result.  I want to break some others.  How about you?              Please forward this blog to others.  To read my previous blogs, just scroll down or click on the entries under “Recent Posts” and “Archives” on this page.  If you’d like to be on my blog notification email list, click here on my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and leave a message under the “Contacts & Links” tab.

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Ending a Friendship

I appeared on the Film Independent Spirit Awards Show a few weeks ago in a short, comedy video clip playing the mother of the show host, Patton Oswalt.  Click on this link to see it (I’m toward the end): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGoVtQeUvNw

Now, onto my blog: Have you abruptly terminated a long-time friendship or relationship in sudden anger at something your friend did?  Have you had that done to you as was done to me awhile ago?  I wonder, was the offending behavior really the felony you imagined, or just a misdemeanor?  Maybe your friend unknowingly pushed a button that you’re hardly aware of yourself.  Perhaps the action reminded you of something hurtful that someone else did to you in the past.  However, just because the behavior was similar, were the motives the same?  For example, did your friend stand you up like that other person did because he/she got a better deal, or was it for another reason?  Did he do it with malice, or was it without realization that it would hurt you?   Did you tell him that his behavior was painful to you and give him a second chance?  Or, did you just expect him to read your mind and know?  These are all things we must think about before terminating a long and valuable relationship.  Everyone makes mistakes sometimes (both the dropper and the droppee).  We have to be more forgiving of each other’s mistakes.  On the other hand, if you terminated the friendship because the offense was just one more of a long, established pattern of behavior (or some other motive such as jealousy), then that was a relationship you had been wanting to end but didn’t fully realize it or didn’t know how.  I have described two very different scenarios that resulted in the end of a relationship.  Be careful in ending a worthwhile friendship in anger, because you might be hurting yourself as much as the one you dropped.       NOTE:  Please forward this blog to anyone who might be interested.  To read my previous blogs, click on the entries under “Recent Posts” and “Archives” on the right side of this page.  If you’d like to be notified of my future blog postings, click here on my book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com and leave a message under the “Contacts & Links” tab.

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