Looks can be deceiving

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

We simply assume that the way we see things
is the way they really are or the way they should be.
And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.
~ Steven R. Covey

According to Urban Dictionary, when you assume, you make an “ass” out of “u” and “me.”  Unfortunately, I’m typically the single most “ass” involved in many equations.  For example, about a month ago, one of my friends mentioned something during our conversation and, instead of asking for clarification or paraphrasing for comprehension (which is something I always recommend), I went off “half-cocked” and assumed I already knew what they were talking about.  I believe it’s human nature to sometimes hear what we want to hear, our minds made up in advance as to the outcome.  But perhaps a majority of misunderstandings could be prevented if we all took the time to set aside our own agendas, biases and self-centered attitudes to really listen.  Before we regret our behavior.

Have you been presumptuous lately?

Word-of-the-month: flibbertigibbet (n)

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[Image credit: Arvind Balaraman]

This month’s vocabulary booster is flibbertigibbet, pronounced ˈflibərtēˌjibit (if you have time, check out the online audio pronunciation key).  This term is a noun (person, place or thing) and, depending on which online site you visit, its definition revolves around a flighty, excessively talkative person — typically a light-headed young woman who is irresponsible, scatterbrained or silly.  A few of its synonyms include busybody, gossip, meddler, snoop and tattler.  A sample sentence might read: She plays a flibbertigibbet on the popular TV sitcom but, in reality, she is a down-to-earth woman in full control of both her career and family lives.  Another example could be: Every company typically has at least one flibbertigibbet you can go to if you want to hear up-to-date news about your co-workers (but not my company, of course).

Do you have at least one flibbertigibbet in your life?

A mini mental holiday (when time is limited)

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[Image credit: Gregory Szarkiewicz]

Sometimes my judgment needs a serious overhaul.  For me, a mental holiday oftentimes does the trick (or a swift kick in the rear).  But there never seems to be time enough to plan — let alone take time out for — the former luxury.  For example, the other night I packed my schedule pretty tightly.  After work, I planned to pick up a prescription, scrub the bathroom, wash clothes and make dinner.  Following a break to eat and clean up the kitchen, I was going to dust and then attend Yoga class.  Once home, it’d be time to shower and hop in bed.  My reality?  After work I came home, changed into my comfies, poured a martini and spent the evening on a date.  With my laptop.  While I put my best-laid plans on hold, writing substituted for much-needed therapy and cheese and crackers my sustenance.   And you know what I realized?  Mini mental holidays sure beat a swift kick in the rear.

How do you maintain a healthy mental self?

Grammar lesson #15: subject/verb agreement (Part 1)


[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

Subject/verb agreement is a topic that frequently trips me up in my own writing.  Here are some easy guidelines (borrowed from Owl Purdue online writing lab) to help us all agree.

  • Rule: When the subject of a sentence contains two or more nouns (or pronouns) connected by and, use a plural verb.
  • Example: He and his girlfriend are shelling on the beach.
  • Rule: When two or more singular nouns (or pronouns) are joined by or, or nor, use a singular verb.
  • Example: Neither the dog nor the cat is in the cabin.
  • Rule: If a compound subject includes both a singular and a plural noun (or pronoun) connected by or, or nor, the verb must agree with the part of the section nearer the verb.
  • Examples: The author or her friends write each day.  Neither her friends nor the author writes each day.
  • Rule: Doesn’t is used with a singular subject; don’t is used with a plural subject.  Except in the case of the first and second person pronouns I and you, use don’t.
  • Examples: She doesn’t like being in third place.  They don’t like the logistics.

As always, check out www.owl.english.purdue.edu when in doubt.

What grade do you earn when it comes to subject/verb agreement?

Outsmarting our demons

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[Image credit: frederico stevanin]

On average, I spend close to six hours at the gym per week.  Add to that another couple of hours pursuing other physical activity, like walking, hiking and swimming (learning to dance is still a goal for 2012).  My reasons are simple: strengthen my bones, keep in shape, maintain my sanity and fight this aging thing (kicking and screaming the whole way).  Over the past few weeks, however, each time I’ve slipped on my tennis shoes or weight gloves, I’ve been attempting to outrun, out row, out spin, out lift and out step my demons.  You know the ones.  The should’ves, would’ves, could’ves that haunt during waking hours; the doubts or regrets we take to bed each night.  That’s because no matter how hard we try to outmaneuver them, they’ll hang on until we fight back.  And just like we need to identify and address our “ickies,” we must outsmart our demons — no matter what it takes.

Do you have a demon or two that require outsmarting?

Dissecting the muse

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[Image credit: sscreations]

Thoughts that trigger the mind and cause us to react,
the more things change the more things remain the same. ~ D.M.

I read the above quote on Facebook yesterday.  The latter half of the saying (compliments of Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr) is familiar to me and, although somewhat circular, makes sense.  Things may change, like jobs, relationships, financial situations, health and/or dreams, while the reality of life — the here and now, or status quo — is unscathed.  As for the first part of the quote, perhaps D.M. might be stating that various feelings may cause the subconscious to elicit a certain type of response.  And, depending on the direct correlation with Karr’s contribution, these feelings either 1) have no bearing on the current logistics, or 2) any deeply held emotions and/or reactions remain unaltered despite changes on the surface.  Or maybe a little bit of both.  Whatever the intended meaning, this passage speaks directly to my writer’s soul.

How do you discern the above quote?

Great expectations


[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

My oldest sister recently told me I’m too hard on myself.  Although her observation came as no surprise, it forced me to take a closer look at another of my “ickies.”  She was referring to my self-imposed expectations, which no one can possibly live up to (including myself) and, unfortunately, tend to ooze onto whoever is closest to me at the time.  I think the remedy to this, however, may be attempting to live out the words I read posted on Facebook the other day:

Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think,
not wonder, not imagine, not obsess, just breathe,
and have faith that everything will work out for the best.
~ Anonymous

The meaning of this quote removes a lot of pressure for me,  and might just signify a new beginning.  Because with that advice, maybe I can finally learn to live in the moment — Today — knowing Someday is already covered.

Are you overextended when it comes to expectations for yourself and others?

Doing the right thing

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[Image credit: sippakorn]

Doing the right thing for someone else
occasionally means doing something that feels wrong to you.
~ Jodi Picoult

This is a tricky one, because 1) we tend to be a “me” society (no offense) and 2) we’re not mind readers.  Focusing on the latter reasoning, how can we know what’s best for someone else?  As parents, this might be labeled “tough love.”  However, when it comes to any kind of relationship, the other party simply may not be strong enough to do the right thing.  In either of these scenarios, it’s not our feelings that count if the end result benefits our friend or child or spouse.  It’s called putting someone else’s best interests ahead of our own.  Others have been doing it for us all along; we just probably haven’t noticed.  But be reassured that everything happens for a reason, and Someday it will all make sense.  At least I hope so.

Do you do what’s right for others, despite your doubts to the contrary?

Doubt paralyzes

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[Image credit: Jeroen van Oostrom]

Fall down seven times, stand up eight. ~ Japanese Proverb

Doubt can be debilitating.  Who doesn’t struggle with feelings of not measuring up (see Never settle for second best) or faulty judgment?  If you are a doubter, you know it can be as destructive as fear if allowed full reign.  It may paralyze progress or prevent us from pursuing our dreams, figuring out what works and what doesn’t and how to get back up after we’ve fallen.  And not once or twice, but as many times as it requires (provided we take the first step to begin with).  Doubt also begets second-guessing — of whatever it is we strive to do or to be.  Remove doubt, and we discover (to the irritation of our naysayers) that we do measure up but according to our agenda, not theirs.  So what if you fall down seven times?  Stand up again, dust yourself off and know with absolute certainty that it’s always the write time to believe in yourself.

Are you defined by doubt or assurance?

Going through the motions


[Image credit: savit keawtavee]

Another life lesson I’ve learned is that sometimes we have to dance the dance — go through the motions — even when we don’t want to.  As with most things in life, it takes two (or more) to tango.  And over the years, our dance partners range from boyfriends or girlfriends to spouses or children.  Or all of the above.  These moves we’re practicing possess names such as compromise, commitment, sacrifice.  So day in and day out, we go through the motions.  Sometimes we trip up, but for the most part, we muddle through.  Although no pomp and circumstance trails in our wake and no fireworks light the sky, in time we may recognize a sense of contentment filing the empty spaces.  Perhaps former dreams finally receive that facelift we’ve been saving for.  Then, if we’re lucky, when Someday arrives we’ll be dancing because we want to.

Life may not be the party we hoped for,
but while we’re here we should dance.  ~ Author Unknown

Do you dance because you have to, or want to?

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