Tag Archives: life

Blame Game

I see a terrible trend developing, the lack of personal responsibility and how it impacts those around us. Whether it is a national crisis or a fingernail breaks, we are quick to blame someone else. And it’s not limited to adults or politicians, if you have the opportunity to spend some time around children, especially in a group, you will frequently hear the excuse, “It’s not my fault.” While admittedly there are times when something truly isn’t our fault, more often than not there was an element of choice involved in the incident and we made it.

Blame doesn’t solve the problem or offer valuable insight; it just gets the spotlight off of us for a while and shines it on someone else. Passing along the blame to someone else doesn’t even make you feel good; it just makes more people feel bad.

Maybe our problem is comprehending the difference between blame and responsibility. Being responsible is being accountable, reliable, distinguishing right from wrong. Blame on the other hand involves putting the responsibility on someone else, accusing and (I love this part), failing to find sympathy or understand.

Here is a perfect example. At one time I needed to move my mother’s phone service from one room to another within a nursing home facility. Because my mother has severe dementia and I wanted to be able to check in with her without interruption of service, I called several days ahead to schedule the change and was assured there would be no problem.  My mother was moved down the hall and no phone service. OK, I can be reasonable, so I check the next day, no service. After three days of no service, meaning I cannot check on my mother and she cannot call me, I called the phone company. I was told there was a problem with the initial order, and it would be another week before the phone was connected.

At this point I was still calm so I asked what the problem was and was told they really couldn’t say, but it was internal, nothing I did. I asked to talk to a supervisor, they gave me the same story, no one could tell me why but it would be, at the earliest, a week. I explained I was anxious about it taking so long because of my mothers dementia.  I also pointed out that the move is down the hall in the same facility in a town of 2,000 people.  How hard can this be? (Perhaps by now I am getting testy.) She can’t tell me anymore than that, would I like to talk to her district manager?  Of course I would! After going relating my story and getting the same response I began to plead, “Can you understand why I am upset and concerned? This is a safety issue, my mother has severe dementia.” The very curt reply was, “Well my mother is dead.”

At that point I realized I was getting nothing from this exchange. Did I want to find out why it happened? Maybe a little, but more important to me was I wanted someone to understand, I wanted someone to say, ” I don’t know why this happened but I am so sorry and I will do what I can to fix it as soon as possible.” It wasn’t just that it was taking longer than expected; it was that with every call to the phone company all I heard was blame passing with no hint of empathy and understanding, no personal responsibility. I knew I couldn’t change the outcome, but I would have been satisfied to have someone treat me like a human being.

We all want the human touch. We all want to feel the incidents of life, big or small, matter. Every encounter with another human being gives us a chance to practice personal responsibility instead of passing blame. Sometimes it just requires being quiet and not adding to the whininess of the world.

 

 

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Lessons Learned

My daughter turns seventeen today! Seventeen isn’t a milestone birthday for anything in particular; you don’t start school, or get your license or become legal to drink, but it is very important to me. I did many things in my life before I got married and started a family, and at the age of 38 I was truly blessed with a daughter!

She would say I have been a great mom but I haven’t felt that way myself and maybe all mom’s think they could always do better.  I like the way we are and even if she wasn’t my daughter I would want to be her friend. I admire her courage, integrity, spontaneity, intellect, height (she is 5 inches taller than me), tenacity, spunk, opinions, and heart.

For the past seventeen years I believe I have been more the student and she the teacher. At each stage I have learned valuable lessons from her and in honor of her birthday am sharing some with all of you.

Lessons I’ve Learned from My Daughter

  • Onions are round and look like a ball, but they don’t bounce very well.
  • Even though powdered cocoa looks like chocolate, it doesn’t taste near as good!
  • Pumpkins are round and look like a ball, but they don’t bounce very well either. (And it is very embarrassing to your mother if you choose to try it out on live television!)
  • Just because you like peaches one day, doesn’t mean they won’t end up on the floor the next.
  • Spoons are nice, but sometimes your hand works better when you’re really hungry.
  • Boxes of cake mixes make great building blocks and step stools.
  • My most expensive silk negligee  looks better on a toddler as a Halloween costume than it ever did on me.
  • A piece of masking tape can occupy a person for at least 10-15 minutes.
  • Sliding on the tile floor in your stocking feet is really fun.
  • Everything doesn’t have to be done a certain way to be right.
  • Relaxing is not a crime.
  • You can accept others easier if you accept yourself.
  • Perfectionism is overrated.
  • Family traditions are important and very comforting.
  • We can agree to disagree and still be okay.
  • Mom’s aren’t always right and that’s okay too.
  • It is fun to share makeup and clothes!
  • Families are happier with a puppy in the house.
  • Privacy is important!
  • You never get too old to need your Mom.
  • We will learn from each other the rest of our lives.

Perception Deception

Perception seems like such a straight forward thing. We assume that what and how we perceive something, whether it is the weather, our boss, our relationships, a news story, or the size of our hips, is reality. Not so fast. We might physically see or experience the same thing as someone standing next to us, but we perceive it differently. That’s because perception involves taking what we see or feel and running it through our mental filters that are based upon our own past life experiences.

Too often we rely on our limited experiences to make judgments and decisions every day. We perceive situations, food, music, individuals and even whole countries by an often outdated, second or third hand experience.  If you’ve attended a high school class reunion or happened to run into someone who knew you as  a child, you know what I’m talking about. No matter what you have become, done or accomplished former classmates assume you to be as you were ten, twenty or thirty years ago. Our experiences have changed us but those who knew us before often hold onto their past view of who we were.  Is it any wonder we have discord and misunderstandings in the world?

Let go of preconceived notions and expand your day-to-day experiences, pull yourself out of the rut of ‘same old, same old’ and learn to fully appreciate the variety that exists in the world.  Where do you start? Small, of course and work up!

1. Retrain your palate.  Are you a regular who eats the same thing for lunch or breakfast? Is Wednesday always meatloaf and Friday pizza? Has it been years since you set foot in a new restaurant? Mix it up a bit and try that new Mexican place, give Brussel sprouts a chance, or grill salmon the next time instead of burgers. The worst is you won’t like it and you get to try something else the next time!

2. Culture won’t kill you  Do you remember a museum as some place an adult made you spend hours of time when you really wanted to be outside? Many museums today now have interactive exhibits; often feature local artists, and shows that change every few weeks. Check out what museums within a sixty mile radius have to offer and note the exhibits or special activities they have planned for the summer.

3. Ear for music I always loved stations that played music from my college years but shied away from current pop and country. Then my daughter got an iPod and as I downloaded tunes for her, guess what? I actually liked many of the songs! Now I find myself tuning into different stations in the car and learning lyrics to new songs. My taste of music has expanded and so can yours.

4. In your own backyard Often we plan elaborate trips and vacations to far away places but spend little time exploring what is within a few hundred miles of our home. I’m not saying give up your get-a-ways, but also take time, save money and energy by exploring the sites within your area. A quick, on-line search can reveal a year’s worth of day and weekend trips to satisfy your quest for adventure.

5. Set in your ways Do you always sit the same place at the dinner table, church, in the car, or the family room? We can become so comfortable in ‘our seat’ that we become irritated when someone dares to sit there! Let it go and try moving yourself around so you have a different view of the same old places. You might like it.

No excuses, branch out, stick your big toe in the water and dare to try something new. Be brave enough to open yourself up to new experiences, new points of view, and perhaps new connections.

“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Leo Tolstoy

 

 


Multi-Tasking

You hear it on the nightly news and network morning shows. You read about it in newspapers, self-help books and magazine covers. Everybody is supposedly doing it and wanting to learn how to do it better. Therefore, it must be a good thing-Right?

Wrong, just because it makes a good sound bite and EVERYBODY wants to say he or she is doing it does not make it right for you. (Didn’t your mother ever give you the ‘If everyone is jumping off a cliff does that mean you should’ speech?) Are we so programmed that we are eager to jump on the latest bandwagon without questioning the validity for ourselves?

Multi-tasking sounds like a great idea but the premise is false; you cannot possibly be doing several tasks with equal attention and emphasis. If you have ever driven on the interstate and watched someone put on their makeup, tie a tie, or dive for something on the floorboard as they hurl their vehicle down the road at 75 miles an hour, you know what I mean. That being said, I admit to being a victim of the multi-tasking mindset until I realized that I was losing focus. I was doing several things in mediocre fashion and not even remembering most of it.

There are plenty of people, organizations, and companies ready to solve your time management dilemmas. I did a Google search for time management and came up with 756,000.000 sites. If you really want to multi-task and waste a lot of time, sort through all those someday! In the past couple of days I have run across the following article titles:

-11 Time Management Tips
-5 Categories for Effective Time Management
-12 Easy Ways to Organize Your Work Life
-10 Quick Time Management Tips
-Top 10 Time Management and Productivity Tools

Titles like these leave me wondering, is it 10 tips or 11? If more is better, maybe I should go with the 39 tools. Is a category better than a tip? How can there be 39 tools if someone just told me there were 12 easy ways?

Time management tips, books, and articles are as prevalent as diet books and should be treated the same way. There are undoubtedly some good ideas in all of them, but that does not mean every method or idea is right for you. You will have to make choices. Choices require thought, reflection, and being honest with yourself.

It is often easier to accept someone else’s solution or opinion, but they rarely work for us. Multi-tasking can be a form of avoidance used to distract us from facing the situation and doing what needs to be done. To gain focus so you can make intelligent choices on how to best use your time, try the following exercises.

1. During the day, preferably first thing in the morning or last thing at night, empty your mind. Do this without distractions and interruptions. This can be done by writing out everything that is on your mind or sit quietly and mentally click through what is junking up your brain and visualize dumping the contents into a dumpster. Experiment and find out what works best for you. As you do this, you will begin to notice recurring patterns, concerns, and even worries. List them, invest your time, and deal with them so you are free. Often dealing with them means changing the way you view them or your attitudes.

2. You may not realize it, but every waking moment your brain is filled with mind chatter. This internal conversation is framing the way you see yourself and everything that happens to you, and most of it is negative and judgmental. Your mind chatter, or whatever you choose to call it, makes you feel both afraid to do something and guilty if you do not. Good news! Research shows that even a slight decrease in your negative self-talk increases your ability to respond to the world more creatively. My favorite way to combat negative messages is the rubber band trick.

Wear a rubber band around your left wrist if you are right-handed or your right wrist if you are left-handed. Each time you catch yourself thinking negatively, pull on the rubber band and give yourself a flick. I guarantee this will wake you up and make you take notice! If your wrist is red and swollen at the end of the day you know your negatives out weigh your positives. I use it myself and like it so much I had special rubber bands made to use and share with others

 Darla Arni 2011


Welcome!

Do you have too much to do but not enough YOU to handle it all?             

You are not alone. I feel like I’m living with a full plate of ‘to dos’ and no fork to move them off the plate. In fact I believe most of us are. One day my daughter came into my office and forever changed my life by saying to me, “Wow, you have a full plate with no fork.” (See About FPNF for more of that story.) And the rest is history. Or it will be when I’m rich and famous and sharing this story with Barbara Walters. Okay that might be pushing it but a girl can dream.

I grew up on a farm as an only daughter with two older brothers. In fact, there wasn’t another girl for miles around so I played boy games or I couldn’t play at all. I vividly remember being exiled to the outfield with a left handed glove and told to stay there but don’t tell my brothers I said that; they have a different story. They are wrong. Really, trust me on this.  

I live in small town Missouri with a semi-retired husband, a teenage daughter, a Yorkie, a Terrier mix we saved from the pound, and my mother who lives in the local nursing home. I am a speaker, author and artist (in a past life I was an art teacher) who regularly uses stories about my family in my work, which is why I NEVER want them to travel with me when I speak. We tried it once in Baltimore and it wasn’t pretty.

I spend most of my days trying to cram all the living I can into the time I have! I hope you enjoy my blog. You can count on me sharing day to day revelations, lots of stories, recipes, and how tos and pictures of my art and DIY creations.

As Rosanne Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”


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