Horrible-izing the Normal

Urgent

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In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,  we point a client to a list of common cognitive errors. The list includes things like 100% thinking, absolute thinking where there is no chance of any other outcome but the one we fear; it includes mind-reading and thinking with our emotions, among several other thinking errors.

One of those errors is to make a small thing a huge, gigantic thing. I call it “horrible-izing,” because  horrible is a word I hear often in my work. There are other words:  Awful, terrible, horrendous,  worst.

And urgent, urgency. A hangnail is urgent.  It must be dealt with right NOW, or horrible things will happen.

A little kid spikes a fever of 101° and we put in an URGENTcall to the pediatrician, telling the nurse or receptionist that the child has a horrible fever, and he MUST be seen NOW.

We would do better to put in an urgent call to Grandma, who has been through all the childhood fevers and bumps and cuts and scrapes. She will tell you to give the child a baby aspirin, give him a lukewarm bath, and put him to bed. Simple, no emergency, just common sense.

If we use up all our superlatives on small things, then we’re left with nothing to describe  a true emergency.  If we rush our child to the Emergency Room because he’s sniffling and has a sore throat, we’re taking up the time of the doctors and nurses who are trying to deal with the big stuff, like severe injuries from a house fire or car accident.

We really need to get some common sense.

Susie has the chicken pox, and she can’t come out to play for a few days until she’s not contagious.  Johnny has a little fever and a runny nose, so he needs to stay inside for a day or two just in case it gets worse.  Wouldn’t want  him giving his bug to the whole neighborhood.

There’s no fuss and feathers about it.  Simple, ordinary, a part of daily life.

Not urgent.

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Labels can Hurt

Clumsy

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Of all the hurtful, demeaning names we –far too often—cast at our children, this seems to me to be one of the most hurtful, and one that follows a child into adulthood. If a child hears this often enough, he will believe it always.  No matter how gifted he may be in other areas of life, he’s just a klutz. Bull in a china shop. Can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

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What we believe must be the truth about ourselves becomes a deeply-rooted image.  We do our children a great disservice when we say , “Oh, she’s the funny one, and she’s the quiet serious one.”  Or “He’s artistic.  She can’t draw a straight line.” Or, Well, her gift is (fill in the blank)  but we haven’t figured out her brother’s gift yet.”

We really need to be careful how we label our kids, even if we think it’s positive. Comparing them to each other is just not profitable. Each one is different from the other. Each one comes packaged with a unique personality. A first child has the advantage here, because all the rest of the children will inevitably be seen in terms of what “Oldest Child” has been, said, or done at the same age.  I don’t buy 100% into the “oldest–middle–youngest–child” theories. It’s impossible to have a set model that never alters from one child to the next.  However, there are times, with my clients, when I have asked, “So where do you come in birth order?”  Inevitably they will tell me what I was already thinking.

The thing to take with you from this little ramble is this: Please be careful about the labels you sew into your children’s  perception of themselves. Those perceptions can last a lifetime. They can keep a child from trying something just because he’s always been clumsy.

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Nothing New

Original

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“I want you to write a one-page original story on any topic you wish.  You know what the rules are as far as content. Don’t use bad language, and so forth.  If you have a question, you may come to my desk.”

Tired, Miss  Trumbull sat down at her desk, knowing there would be students who would come, knowing who they would be, knowing what their questions would be. The same routine took place  every time she gave a writing assignment. They were only into the third week of the school year, though, and some of them just took a bit longer than others to know what she expected.

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Sure enough, here came  Missy. “Mrs. Trumbull, is that handwritten or typed? Because-“

“Typed, Missy.  Just like last week and the week before. Every assignment I give you will be in terms of typed, not handwritten.  If you must write by hand, then make it two pages.”

“Well, because, see—–“

“Missy.  Asked and answered. Go sit down and do the assignment. “

Bryan was next. He at least had something interesting, most of the time. He was a sharp kid, intelligent and well-mannered but definitely full of beans. “Mrs. Trumbull, I have a question.”

She waited, holding his gaze with her own.

“Well, the thing is, in the Bible  it says that there’s nothing new under the sun, right?”

The kid would be a great lawyer someday.  He always set the trap before he went in for the kill. “So, like, it’s impossible for us to write anything original then, right?”

“Okay, Bryan.  If want to take a biblical direction, how about this?  Take one of your favorite Bible stories and  give it a new setting, a new conflict, different characters, and a different ending.  And no, you’re not going to be guilty of changing the words in the Bible, because you’re not presenting it as if it were true.  If you’re not comfortable with that, take a different direction. Rewrite the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, for example.”

She counted in her head, knowing he wasn’t done. He never would be. When she reached five seconds and he hadn’t said anything yet, she smiled and told him to go sit down and get started. “But—-“

“Don’t ‘but’ me, Bryan. You know better.  This is non-negotiable.” They had another stare-down, and finally he turned and walked back to his desk.

“One thing for sure,” she thought. “The nature of kids will never change. It’s going to be fun when Bryan hits his junior or senior year.  He won’t be so easy to deflect.”  And she smiled as Jared approached her desk.

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Annoying Bob

Flattery

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Apparently, someone had told Bob that flattery would go a long way in impressing a girl.  He was annoying. Every female in the office dreaded running into him, because he would be sure to say something like, “Good morning!  Wow! That shade of blue really makes your beautiful eyes stand out!”

Then, the poor woman would have to acknowledge the compliment, which was sure to bring on another. He could keep a person standing there all day saying, “Thank you, Bob.”

Since no one wanted to do that, they all tried to ignore him. Elaine was no exception. She’d been in the office only a couple of weeks when she realized was going to be in trouble  if she didn’t do something to stem the flood of flattery. She didn’t want to be unkind, but Bob’s presence had already started to feel more like stalking than compliments.

Elaine tried to avoided Bob as she left the building one night by managing to be in the middle of a crowd of other people. She was pretty sure he was working himself up to asking her out, and she dreaded having to turn him down. So she kept her head down, looking only at the floor.

But it didn’t work. “Elaine!  ELAINE!  WAIT!”

Her heart sank. She wasn’t going to escape. Well, it had to happen sooner or later.  Might as well get it over with right now.  Thinking  about how she was going to turn him away as kindly as possible, she  lifted her head and looked for him. And there he was, right beside her.

“Elaine, I wanted to talk to you earlier but you were never free.”

Elaine decided to go right to the point. “What do you want, Bob?”

“Actually, I wanted to introduce you to the newest partner on our team. You two will be working together on the next project. So. Elaine, this is Bryce.  Bryce, this is the girl I’ve been telling you about. Elaine.  Look, I have to run, see you guys in the morning.”

Elaine was rarely at a loss for words, but she was so surprised  that she couldn’t think of a thing to say. Bryce seemed equally at a loss.  They both realized they were blocking the exit, and they moved away in the same direction. Bryce broke the silence. “Bob has been singing your praises to me all day, Elaine. I didn’t believe anyone could be all that he claimed you are. This is really awkward. He’s obviously trying to set us up, and I was dreading meeting you.”

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Bryce looked down, looked away, cleared his throat, blushed, and stammered, “Listen, do have anywhere  you need to be, or do you have time to go get something to eat?  We may as well get to know each other.”

Elaine said, “Um, no.  I mean, no I don’t have to be anywhere. Yes. Yes, I have time to eat with you. Are you new in town?  I know a couple of places you might enjoy.”

And they walked away together, each blessing Bob for his flattery.

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Disagree Agreeably

Argument

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Notice some important things:  They’re both yelling. You can tell that by how wide-open their mouths are.

They’re not listening.  You can’t listen and yell at the same time.

Their facial expressions are a little bit beyond “I’m angry with you.” They look more like “I hate you.”

They’ve had this same argument before. How do I know?  Because they’re yelling; because neither one is even trying to hear what the other person is saying. I’d  bet my toe socks that they’ve said the same things the same way over and over and over . . . .

They’re pointing their fingers at each other. This is a classic intimidation tool, and they both know how to use it. It’s disrespectful.  It non-negotiable.

So how can anyone get their point across without all of the unpleasantness?

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Notice:  They are not yelling.  In fact, in this picture they both seem to be doing some serious thinking.  Clue:  Shut up and think!

It seems as if they are both listening and thinking about what the other person has said. Clue:  Shut up and listen.

Their facial expression are serious but not hateful.  Clue:  Shut up and think and listen.

They may have had this argument before, but they’re trying to come to a resolution. Clue: Shut up and think and listen.

They’re not pointing at each other. Clue:  Shut up, quit with the unpleasant body language, listen and think.

Finally, consider this:  If you are the person saying, “If he/she would just LISTEN to me, he/she would understand,”  then chances are pretty good that YOU are the problem. It hasn’t occurred to you that maybe YOU should just shut  up and listen.

 Here’s what 47 years of both people shutting up and listening  looks like:

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Notice that each of us is carrying a Bible.  Notice. Listen, Think. And just shut up!

If you are offended by “shut up,” I’m truly sorry to have offended you. I’ve learned, in doing years of marital counseling, that sometimes you have to use a forbidden word or phrase in order to get the attention of two people who never just shut up and listen!

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Old-Fashioned

Border

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When I was about 10, my mom taught my sister and me to do simple embroidery and crochet.We churned out dishtowels, pillowcases, doilies, and hand towels.  I don’t know if much of our handiwork still exists.  I have a couple of things from that era–dresser scarves and lacy doilies.

They’re out of fashion these days. If you don’t  know how to do it yourself, you can find all sorts of things in antique shops. Or, you can find machine-crocheted edgings.  Or you could even learn how to do it yourself!

I keep hoping such finery will become popular again. I’ve noticed lots of lacy tunics and shrugs over the last couple of years, so I guess there’s still hope.  I’ve also noticed more knitted lace, as well. I love the look knitted lace gives to a sweater or  shawl. Very elegant, and if you make it yourself, you’ll be the trend- setter among your friends.  Well, maybe. Not everyone loves lace. Some find it too fussy and old-fashioned. I just think it’s pretty.

There are some things in my linen closet that were made by Terry’s grandmother and his mother, Cut work, tatting, fine-thread crochet. I know how to do all that, and someday maybe I’ll dust off my skills. I’ve already used up some leftover yarn to make thick, tightly-crocheted potholders.  They’re pretty and practical.

If young girls tell you they don’t want to sit around doing fancy work all day, take away their cell phones. A couple of days of withdrawal will happen.  You could lock them in their rooms and shove bread and water at them until that’s over, and when you unlock the door again (this is a fairy tale) they will say, “Mom, could you teach us to crochet?”  and everyone will live happily ever after.

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I Wish I Could Put a Bandaid on it!

Today’s post on both my blogs.

Linda's Bible Study

I’ve just realized something.

Looks like I’m down for the count. Not sure what that means yet. I have an MRI scheduled on Monday the 10th, but I can’t get in to see the surgeon until Nov 14 and I have no idea how long before he schedules surgery, IF he schedules surgery.

Remember believing that putting a Band Aid on an owie made it feel better?  Does any have a very large Band-Aid?

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In the meantime, I can’t work. That’s not good for us at all, but there’s just no way I can climb stairs, sit in my chair several hours. I’m taking strong pain meds and muscle relaxers, and the doc gave me renewal indefinitely. I find that rather scary. The pain is in my sacroiliac joint, left side. So that involves the sciatic nerve, and basically i’m a little old woman tottering around with either my…

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Neglect

I’m sorry I’m neglecting the Bible study on Isaiah.  I’m in too much pain, and on too much medication, to be able to think straight.  I have an appointment Wednesday with my pain doctor–the one who told me no more shots until January.  I have no idea what he’ll have to offer me, but I’m very willing, at this point, to have the surgery he mentioned before. And now, some help from the lighter side of life:

'Hah! ? you think you've got lower back pain?' Chiropractic concerns

0afd06b1e79e14c7a9861bbaf7c8869c         Getting older is . . . making noises whenever you bend down or get back up.'Uh,uh,uh, you weren't lifting with your legs were you?!'

See?  You can laugh even when it hurts 🙂

Update

Save myself from writing two blogs this morning 🙂

Just Writing!

Well, here I am on my  fourth day of pain pills and muscle relaxers.  Apparently they’re working at night.  I’m sleeping well. But the daytime presents a host of challenges. Walking huts, sitting hurts, and lets not even talk about bending over.

However, my daughter’s birthday gift this year was to take me to Reading to hear Jeanne Robertson.

This shouldn’t be a problem, right?  A friend went with us, and If I couldn’t drive to Deb’s then she could. But the driving was no problem. And Deb drove to Reading. We parked in a parking garage, and that’s where the trouble started. We had to walk from there to the venue.

I have an excellent cane, and both my daughter and our friend know my situation. We walked very slowly, and got there wit no trouble.  When it was over, my friend  Deb went back for the car and…

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Sunday Morning Coffee: Update

Well, here I am on my  fourth day of pain pills and muscle relaxers.  Apparently they’re working at night.  I’m sleeping well. But the daytime presents a host of challenges. Walking huts, sitting hurts, and lets not even talk about bending over.

However, my daughter’s birthday gift this year was to take me to Reading to hear Jeanne Robertson.

This shouldn’t be a problem, right?  A friend went with us, and If I couldn’t drive to Deb’s then she could. But the driving was no problem. And Deb drove to Reading. We parked in a parking garage, and that’s where the trouble started. We had to walk from there to the venue.

I have an excellent cane, and both my daughter and our friend know my situation. We walked very slowly, and got there wit no trouble.  When it was over, my friend  Deb went back for the car and picked me up. An usher was even kind enough to bring me a chair while I waited.

I took my meds and crawled into bed. It wasn’t until somewhere around 3:3 a.m. that I knew I was in a lot of trouble. And I’ve been in trouble ever since. No let-up until or unless I go to bed, and I wake up right on time for my next dose.

So, you might ask, was it worth it?  Was it worth risking all this pain just to hear some commediene you can watch on You Tube?”

Oh, you betcha 🙂  Its the same as the difference between watching a sports even on TV or having tickets to see it live.