“In The Good Old Summertime”

As I’ve gotten older, I find that they just don’t make summertime like they used to. Summers as an adult are simply not the same as the summers of my childhood. Oh, for the glorious days of summers gone by.

What’s different about summer today?  I mean it still gets hot, kids are still out of school and people still go on vacation.  What’s different is ME. I am older, wiser and saddled with more responsibilities. Summer viewed from the perspective of an adult is simply not the same as what a child sees.

When I was a kid, summer would stretch endlessly before me with untold hours of free time to fill as I saw fit. As an adult, I don’t get the whole summer off.  Life goes on as usual–just hotter.  I still have to go to work, do grocery shopping, pay bills, and clean my house.  At most I might get a bit of a break and have a small amount of additional time because certain activities in which I engage take a summer hiatus.

The heat was my friend when I was a child.  It meant that I had the opportunity to go swimming in my neighbor’s pool or at the community pool.  It also gave me the chance to do crazy things that you could only do in the summer–like try to fry an egg on the street in front of your house.  Epic fail. The egg didn’t fry; it simply tore up the pavement; however, it made for a great story to recount.

As an adult, hot weather means having to maintain the pool in my backyard. There are chemicals to buy, leaves to skim out and liners to replace.  Hot weather also allows me to have crazy adventures like opening the current electric bill to see if I can view it without having a heart attack and pay it without wiping out my bank account.

When I was growing up, summer meant going on a family vacation to the beach.  Woo hoo!  What fun.  Hop in the car and we’re off.  As an adult, I live in a beach resort area.  The LAST place I want to go in the summer is anywhere near the beach.  Why?  Well, it is swarming with pesky tourists on their summer vacation.

OK, I could choose to take a vacation somewhere other than the beach.  But going on vacation isn’t quite like it was in years past. Back then, at most I might have had to pack a suitcase by dumping my summer wardrobe in it and gathering some books, puzzles, etc. to enjoy while enjoying leisure time at the shore.  As an adult, I need a vacation just from getting ready to go on vacation.  I have to make sure things are caught up at work and covered in my absence.  I have to make arrangements for the pets to be cared for in my absence, stop the newspaper delivery, make sure bills which come due in my absence are paid in advance, get travel money from the bank, make hotel reservations, service the car for traveling, etc.  WHEW!!!!  It might be more relaxing just to stay home…..

Yes, summer was a magical time when I kid.  There was plenty of free time, adventures to be had and a lack of responsibility.  Too bad I did not appreciate back then just how good summertime was.  But since I live in the present, it is on me to make sure I have a good old summertime as an adult.   The free time may be more limited, but I can make the best of what little I have.  As an adult I have more control of what activities in which I engage and the means and ability to make things happen.  I want to look back on my adult summers when I am elderly and say, “Wow!  I didn’t realize just how good it was in summertime then.”



Impatient For Patience

So they say, good things come to him who waits.  But that’s the problem.  I (even though I am a her) don’t want to wait!  Patience is a virtue, but I want to have the virtue, as well as what I am waiting for, NOW.

Just what exactly is patience?  The Old English word for the concept was longsuffering, which term pretty well sums up what’s involved with patience–having to deal with the frustration of waiting a seemingly LONG time to get what you want.

A current definition of patience might be waiting without complaint.  In this day and age, both waiting and lack of complaining are foreign concepts to the average person.  Modern man has a fast food mentality; we want instantaneous (or as close as possible thereto) gratification.  And the knee jerk reaction to not getting what you wants as fast as you want it is to gripe about it.

To be patient connotes enduring delay, difficulty or annoyance without complaint.  Daily life give us ample opportunities to try our hand, and likely to fail, at being patient.  Please raise your hand if you never complain about:

  1.  Being left on hold for a long time;
  2.  Being unable to speak with a live person at a customer “service” number;
  3.  Being unable to speak with a live person who speaks English without a heavy accent at a customer “service” number;
  4.  Being stranded in a traffic jam;
  5.  Standing in a long line;
  6.  Standing in a short line where the customer ahead of you is telling his/her life story to the clerk/teller;
  7. How long it is taking to get a response on a job application;
  8. How slowly someone responded to your (clearly highly important) text/e-mail/phone message;
  9. How telemarketers always call during dinner;
  10. How uncommon common sense is in those around you.

The seven heavenly virtues include patience.  The virtue being described as heavenly is apt given that it would take a divine being not to want to gripe about the situations listed above.  Perfection being unattainable, perhaps we should merely shoot for being MORE patient rather than just patient period.

But how can we be more patient? It is important to note that impatience involves emotions and feelings–frustration, anger, etc.  Patience, on the other hand, involves a mindset.  We are more likely to be patient if we recognize and take into account three key points.

First, things take time.  As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  We set ourselves up for frustration when we expect things to happen on a short timetable.  It is possible, but highly unlikely, that you will be hired for the perfect job, achieve a lifelong dream, etc. overnight.  As my dad used to remind me, “Good things are worth waiting for.”  So expect some time to elapse before you reach your goal.

Second, we need to be flexible.  Expect the unexpected. Life rarely plays out in the precise way that we imagine it will.  And aren’t we glad?  I mean, how boring would it be to have things always unfold as we thought they would? Don’t you enjoy good surprises now and then?  Again, we are setting ourselves up for frustration if we box ourselves in by expecting that things must play out exactly as we had in our mind that they should.

Third, we need to be realistic.  There are always going to be bumps in the road, and things do not always go smoothly.  People will make mistakes, accidents occur, etc.  We are living in the real world and stuff happens.  If we anticipate that there might be traffic as we travel along the beach highway during the summer, we may not like it, but we won’t be caught off guard.  If on on the other hand, we live in la la land and think we’ll just breeze down that highway at record speed, we will be sorely disappointed and quite frustrated. Exhibiting patience would be a pipe dream.

Patience may be a virtue, but it is also something that has to be achieved.  It simply doesn’t happen; having the correct mindset is crucial.  We are on our way to becoming more patient if we recognize that things take time, if we are flexible about the procedure by which our goal is to be achieved, and if we are realistic about what things might occur in between point A and our destination.  Thank you for your patience in reading to the end of this post!

Points To Ponder:  About what things am I impatient?  What concrete things could I do to increase my patience about these situations?








Worthless Words

My mom was found of telling me, “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”  If you don’t mean what you are saying, then your words are worthless. Why waste your breath even voicing them?

Words are the currency of communication between humans.  For effective communication to occur, the words exchanged must have some value.  Sadly, though, the words we tender to  others are often worthless.  There is no value to them when they are spoken with little or no thought given and they do not mean what they would appear to convey.

Worthless words are part and parcel of every day conversation.  Here are a few phrases we frequently use which lack value, i.e., they are worthless.

  1.  “How are you?”  Confess.  You don’t really want to know any details.  You are just using the requisite phrase to begin a  conversation.
  2.  “I’m fine.”  Your world could be about to implode, but you would give this response if  asked “How are you?”  It’s the socially acceptable but typically inaccurate reply.
  3.  “Call me if I can help.”  Are you  truly expecting someone to take you up on that  offer if you make this offhand statement?  And are you seriously intending to  provide whatever assistance is requested?
  4.  “That’s nice.”  If this phrase is the best response you can give, chances are that  whatever it is is really not nice at all–you simply cannot say what you truly think.
  5.   Let’s get together sometime.  Voicing this phrase equates to getting together on  the 12th of Never.  If you are so vague about a subsequent encounter, chances are  you aren’t motivated to have one.
  6. I’ll call you.”  This particular phrase is commonly dropped at the end of a first date. Not only is it worthless, it is a lie.  The speaker has NO intention of making subsequent contact, but it would be rude to say, “Yup, this date was a disaster.  Have a nice life.”
  7. “I don’t mean to be rude, but….”  Yes, you DO mean to be rude.
  8.  “Nothing’s wrong.”  If a woman gives you this response, you can bet your bank  account that something is wrong.  If you take this statement at face value, you are  making a WRONG move.
  9. “What do you think?”  If a speaker asks this questions after voicing an opinion, he is not seeking your thoughts.  He is fishing around for you to agree with what he just said.
  10. I love _______ (insert noun of your choice, i.e., pizza, football, Brad Pitt, etc.)”  You don’t really LOVE this person or thing, you just really like or enjoy it/him.  Actual love is devalued when we use the word “love” so casually.

When we offer money to someone, we deliberately stop and count out the amount.  We don’t just reach into our wallet, pull out whatever we can grab and hand it over.  When using words as our currency, we should make the exchange more like a business transaction.  How?  Take a moment to consider what we are handing over and make sure what is tendered is appropriate. In other words, we need to engage our brains before opening our mouths.

Our words will have value if we mean what we say.  The less time we take to consider what we are saying, the more likely our words are to be worthless.  The words in this post clearly have value because I took a great deal of time thinking about which ones to use and yes. Mom, I meant what I said in this post!

Worth thinking about:  What useless phrases do I use?