Am I Really Flipping the Bird to the Mayans from Under a Pile of Crumpled Wrapping Paper?

Soooooo…we’re still here. Thank God the world didn’t end. I still have a ton of crap to do. Plus, I haven’t been to Prague yet.

            If you believe in a higher power, then you are recovering from a massive holiday hangover from one of the following:

A)    Eight Crazy Nights

B)    The Birth of Sweet Baby Jesus

C)    Boxing Day

D)    Festivus

E)     Kwanzaa (you guys are still at it)

F)     The Pagan Winter Solstice Celebration

Whew. December has been busy. Good thing we didn’t perish.

Or did we?

Perhaps “the end” did not occur as we imagined it. There were no molten lava fires. The earth did not swallow us whole. We were not crushed under the weight of a gigantic Auntie Anne’s mall pretzel.

While we did have some tragic weather in 2012, such as Hurricane Sandy, earthquakes and tornados, we did not have one force of Mother Nature that swept mankind off the face of the earth.  The weather systems were devastating, yet we were able to come together as a people and have the hope to move forward and re-build. We could understand that these forces were beyond our control.

How can we re-build when the devastation is the loss of an irreplaceable life?  Where do we find the hope and strength when our pillars were taken from us?  And how can we understand and make sense of the methodically senseless acts?

No, a wind did not blow all of humankind off the face of the planet. But another human being sure tried.

Maybe the Mayans are trying to tap us on the shoulder to say, “Hey, morons! Cut the sh*t. Pull it together.”

In light of recent horrific human-on-human travesties, maybe we just need to stop. Stop continuing on the way we have as a people and start fresh. The new year of 2013 is a good way to “re-birth” ourselves to be a little gentler and a little kinder with one another.

Let us turn to the Golden Rules of Life we try to teach our children:

1)      If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  I don’t know about you, but my mother hammered this rule into my head. When I was a kid I would have to bite my lip sometimes. Unfortunately, as an adult, I suck at this rule.  There are ways to tell someone they are bothering you other than, “Hey a**face! Thanks for cutting in front of me. P.S. – your hair looks like Justin Beiber’s pubes.”

2)      If you see someone crying or hurt, give them a hug.  Have you ever watched four or five year old children? Whenever another child cries, they will go up to that child and hug them. Children have an amazing ability to empathize. They have not been indoctrinated with the adult ways of “Walk it off. Suck it up. That’s your problem, not mine.” Maybe we need a little more empathy.

3)      Mind your manners.  When did we forget to say please and thank you? And why is holding the door open for another such a problem for society? You see someone behind you entering the same store, why not hold the door open three seconds longer? What were you planning on doing with those three extra seconds? Swallowing? Buy a manners book people.

4)      Make new friends, but keep the old.  The Girl Scouts were right; you can never have too many friends. Reach out to someone. Welcome a newcomer into your neighborhood. Open your circle and open your life – or maybe someone else’s.

5)      Use your kind words.  This piggy-backs onto number one. Trust me, it’s tough sometimes. Some people really blow chunks. But letting things escalate will only make matters worse. Maybe that person has indigestion. You just never know.

6)      Just because someone is different, doesn’t mean it’s bad.  We’ve got a ways to go on this one. It’s so odd to me because we tout being so open to other religions, we brag about being a democracy and having freedom of speech. Not so people. How many times have you seen someone get hammered on Facebook for their political stance (and not a stance of belligerence) because it was not someone else’s?  How many people have been belittled because they live their life to a certain moral or religious code (one that does not hurt others)?  And do we really allow others to freely share their opinions without persecution? Nope. Seriously, why do people get so insulted by someone living their lives the way they want to? When did saying, “Merry Christmas” become such a dirty phrase? I don’t celebrate any Pagan holidays, but if someone came up to me and said, “Many Wiccan Blessings!” I surely wouldn’t be insulted.  I’d kind of dig it actually. This is not a PSA for Christmas, just a current example of how we need to loosen up a bit.

7)      Don’t pick your nose. That’s just solid advice all-round.

8)      Just walk away. Let’s take some advice from Kenny Rogers, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em/Know when to fold ‘em/Know when to walk away/Know when to run.”  This philosophy can apply to anything from a job, to a bad relationship, war, or a questionable meal at Denny’s. Think of some of the problems that could have been averted.

9)      Share.  We can take this one step further from the split-a-graham-cracker-with-your pre-school-buddy.  Share your feelings with someone. Your fears and worries. Share the good stuff too. Share your love and share your talents. You never know who you might help by doing so.

10)  Don’t hit others. We could also put into this category don’t shoot/stab/machete others. Seems simple enough.

Let me clarify: I am no expert in “We should all do XYZ to be a better ABC.” I don’t think a smile will take away all the bad in the world. But I have read Chicken Soup for the Soul. Plus, I am a human being, just like you. And I hurt, just like you. And I get happy, just like you.  Maybe if we start treating each other like fellow human beings, instead of reasons and scapegoats for our problems, we just might make it.

Just like a rotten apple sitting in a barrel of fresh apples, some people are going to be crazy and act crazy. We can’t control people like robots. But we can work on ourselves and do everything we can to create a safe place to live.

So let’s pretend the world ended and start over in 2013. Let’s make it fresher, better, kinder.

And maybe firmer too, because let’s face it, we’ve all had one too many mini-quiches this December.

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Am I Really Nominating My Mother for a Tony Award/Nobel Peace Prize/ESPY?

December 1st – a glorious day. The beginning of a month, a day to really kick off the holiday season, also…

My mother turns 70 today.

Now I don’t know about you, but being able to say one has walked the face of the earth for seventy years is quite an accomplishment in my book. I dream that by the time I get to seventy I will have accomplished some pretty amazing things to justify the roadmap that will surely be etched all over my face. Like invent something that stops people from complaining about overage fees in AT&T commercials.

My mother is no different. She really has done some pretty cool stuff in her lifetime: raised three kids, traveled all over the world, worked as a nurse in pediatrics and obstetrics, married my dad (that’s an accomplishment in itself), and the list goes one.

More importantly, it is not what this great woman has achieved; it is more what she has taught me and my siblings in this life:

1)      Any time is a good time for chocolate cake. Seriously – any time.

2)      Always soak dirty socks. Somehow when she does laundry it is better than taking it to the cleaners. She pre-soaks grass-stained items. She is a like an ERA commercial, but for real.

3)      Use of the phrases: “Don’t go there.” “You go girl!” “It is what it is.” And, “Well, it could be worse.” Will cap off any conversation nicely.

4)      Stay young at heart. I know this idiom is overused, but really, she is. She is up for anything, has a positive attitude about even the crapiest of events, and she watches Extra  to keep up with the gossip. ‘Nuff said.

5)      Keep Kleenex, wet wipes, and colorful lipstick in your purse. It’s the woman’s McGuyver kit.

6)      When all else fails, use condensed soup to jazz up a chicken dish. It works. Word.

7)      Wear your sunglass, even indoors. It creates an air of mystery. It also will also salvage your irises.

8)      Give a damn. If there is one thing that my mother is the queen of, it’s giving a crap. The little things matter, the big things matter more. All people matter, even the jerk-wads.

9)      Color, highlight, or frost your hair. No one knows how Stonehenge came to be. Just like no one knows if my mother has gray hair.

10)  Be thankful for what you have. Good health? Check. Roof over your head? Check. Food to eat? Check. Glass of wine and People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2012 edition? Bonus.

I could write a book about what my mother has given to her children, but the most important thing she gave is how to be a good person.

This past weekend, we held a birthday celebration for my mother to ring in the big 7-0. All three of us kids tearfully spoke about why she is so tremendous. The theme of each speech was how to be a kind and caring person. You can teach a kid how to ride a bike, but you can’t teach them how to be a good person. You lead by example. If there is one thing I can pass down to my daughter from my mother, it is this very thing, to be a good person.

Today I would like everyone to raise their glass of wine, whiskey, or prune juice in a toast to my mom. If you see her, give her a hug, buy her a latte, or compliment her on her scarf from Chico’s. She is a fabulous lady and deserves an award of some type. I will be giving her the, You are my mother and still putting up with my baloney award.

Of course, my mom would get embarrassed if she actually received an award for her awesomenes, and really, she doesn’t need a trophy. Everyone she meets instantly knows how amazing she is. And really, isn’t that the most important thing? The feeling you give to others.

That, and seventy years of hospital corners.