Tuesday, June 09, 2020

The Assertive Gene

having or showing a confident and forceful personality

I'm mulling over why so many of us women have trouble being assertive after an online discussion on the topic this morning.  But I can see why, after reading this definition.  It's intimidating.  And a bit unnerving.  I really like the "confident" part.  I think all of us would like to be confident in our choices and our lives, but "forceful"?  

Yeah, no.  

I'd rather be subtle, tactful and pragmatic, peacemaker that I am. I would like to be a force to be reckoned with though.

I do have some maxims that I try to live up to: 
  • Ask for what you want. Because people aren't mind readers and you have nothing to lose by asking.
  • Don't get mad, get even (aka win, not whine). I can either internalize the negativity and selfishness that life seems to be dealing out now or I can donate to my local food bank, support my PBS and NPR stations and volunteer for a candidate--and feel my heart expand instead.
  • Catch them with sugar not vinegar. I'm happy to be polite and listen in the hopes to learn about how you think and then exchange ideas and facts. 
  • Don't overthink it. Tact is good, but sometimes just saying right out loud what you know to be true and right is powerful and righteous.
I am beyond fortunate that my grandma and my mom showed me how to be a strong and confident woman in the time before feminism was even a word.  My grandmother was a risk-taker who immigrated alone, with no English, when she was just a teenager, right after WWI.  She took on the state who asserted eminent domain and won.  My mom always drove equally with my dad on trips and worked outside the home when most women did not.  She was a full contributing partner, not a passive sidekick.  

I'm more tactful than either of them.  But I have opinions and thoughts and can be as stubborn as a limpet in a tidepool. 

I may not know if my self-confidence is environmental or genetic, but I'm grateful that it's the rich soil my personality is rooted in.

Especially now since speaking out against injustice and racism and inequality is important. It's not a time to be quiet. It's time to shout out in support of justice, of brotherhood, of equality.  Although I thought these ideals were self-evident, I've woken up to find that not everybody believes that same. It's time to listen, to exercise empathy, to share experiences and the wisdom the years have taught us. 

Be assertive. Be a force for good.

Thanks for hanging in there and listening. 


Sunday, June 07, 2020

Guideposts #116

There is a crack, a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.

~Leonard Cohen

Sunday, May 24, 2020

My Sunday Guidepost #115

Caring for others creates the spirit of a nation.

~Pat Nixon

Friday, May 22, 2020

Party Time in the Garden

Yeah, it's that time of year when the peony buds become huge explosions of color and scent overnight. Festiva Maxima is a glorious white with unpredictable red color breaks. This year the breaks are minimal. No complaints!

This peony holds a special place in my heart.  She came from a wonderful neighbor who loved gardening as much as I do. It sprouted out in her front yard, much to everyone's surprise, after she removed the overgrown junipers. It's officially Festiva Maxima, but I always think of it as Joan Winkel. I wish she still lived two houses up so we could share our enthusiasm. 

And it's my most rambunctious and reliable peony.  I think it knows how much I love it!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Iris is the Goddess of the Rainbow

Every day brings another old friend into the garden.  Like my very favorite bearded iris--Batik. (Shhh, don't tell the other iris.)
I admit that I like the floral showoffs. If I'm going to expend time and effort, then I might as well know the rewards are well worth it!

The buds on the peonies are getting bigger and showing color so I think they'll burst out if we get even a tiny bit of warm weather or sunshine.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Snip snip snip

The coronavirus has us all living life differently.  During this quarantine, I did something I've never done before. I cut my mom's hair. 

I'll pause for a sec while you contemplate the possible outcomes.

Yeah, everything from "what a great job" to "uh-oh".

I trim my bangs and ends when they get too rambunctious.  I am the designated barber for my guys.  Even the dog lets me cut her snowshoe toes, back skirt and ear mats. 

But I've never attempted anything that a decent hairdresser could probably do in their sleep.  Not that you'd want them to.

Her hair (my mom's, not the dog's) is shorter.  It seems to be even side to side. There are no obvious holes or chunks. She says it feels much better.  I noticed she didn't tip me though.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Bright Spots In My Day

Things that are making me smile today:
  • Lilac buds outside my window.
  • Dirt under my fingernails.  (Even if a brick and my fingernail had a disagreement.)
  • Temps in the 60s.
  • A rapidly-disappearing list of Spring garden chores.
  • Sunshine beaming into the bedroom.
  • Fresh compost for the roses and peonies.
  • Green grass.
  • Photos of my grand-niece in the dog crate when I was babysitting her three years ago.
  • Winsor & Newton paints and Canson Watercolor paper.
  • Giraffe spots.
  • Pepperjack cheese, Dave's Killer Bread and pickles.
  • Cookie dough.
  • My gorgeous, sexy husband.
  • Making a list of forty-five things I love about him. (Guess which anniversary is coming up?)
  • The Sultans of Swing sung by a Frenchman.
  • Putting flower shams on sofa cushions.
  • Storing the fall/winter area rug.
What small pleasures are making your day beautiful while you are practicing Social Distancing?

Friday, January 24, 2020

Watercolor Playtime

January is good for one thing...I unleash my artistic side.

This year I discovered a fabulous site for those of us budding artists who love watercolor but know pretty much nothing.  Let's Make Art appeared on my Facebook feed around the holidays with subscriptions and kits, and I loved their ebullient paintings.  After the New Year I discovered that they offer tutorials on YouTube AND they have free download outlines.  What a welcome inspiration and an easy way to learn!

Sarah makes me laugh as I paint along. She has a last name and no, I've never met her, but she feels like a friend and I giggle as I paint. She's so positive and upbeat and self-deprecating and supportive. Her motto is "be kind to yourself." A good reminder for me since there is a lot of trial and error as I dive back into watercolor.  I'm happy with my flower-filled truck bed, but I'm not showing you how the VW Bug turned out or the bunny.  Room for improvement!

So, art keeps me sane in the cold January winteriness.  If I must be stuck inside waiting for my garden to stretch and rediscover chlorophyll, then at least I have something fun to work on.

How do you keep you spirits up after the fun, color and festivity all disappear?

Friday, January 03, 2020

Vision 2020

I just plain love the sound of Twenty-twenty and the way it rolls off my tongue.

I can't separate it from the time when it was just a good thing to hear from the optometrist.  Not that I needed one back when I possessed 20/20 vision and reading, threading needles and seeing distant hills clearly was so very easy. (I am grateful for bifocals!)

But onwards to the point:  a New Year needs a new phrase that encapsulates what I hope to achieve this year.  Last year was "complete".  And indeed, I completed many projects that were a long time waiting, and boy, does that feel good!  And I worked on making my personal life more complete.  Only to realize that all of us are a work-in-progress.

Of course.

For Twenty-twenty I've chosen "more or less". This will be a year filled with repeatedly asking myself whether I need more or less.  More of this friend or less?  More of chocolate biscotti or less?  More of couple time or less? More family time or less? More nativity sheep or less?  More spring bulbs or less?

I already find myself looking with fresh eyes and a different point of view as I move through my day.

I suspect that my pile of donation items will grow as I find that I'm happy with the cream of my various obsessions and willing to spread the remainder for treasure hunters at Goodwill or the SPCA Thrift.

I also figure that I will be more aware what people and activities I truly and deeply treasure.

I hope Life surprises me with unexpected choices in 2020. May it be a year of peaceful moments and quiet joy, of deepening love and rewarding friendship, of boisterous laughter and naughty puns, of children's hugs and doggy kisses, of healthy activities and a wealth of character, idealism and altruism.

Change is good, growth is good, as is stability and balance and forgiveness.

Keep the faith,