Posts Tagged ‘People’

The Role of Anger

Just like stress, anger has its place and its positives. Just like stress, too much of it…. not so positive. In fact, just the opposite. Very destructive. Still, I think these two states often get a bad reputation because we tend to focus on the extreme. Even when I hear the word “anger” I tend to think of a crazy person screaming at someone else for no good reason. For example, some soccer parent yelling at the referee of his 7 year old’s game. Doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense – no matter what the ref may have done.

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Angry Talk (Comic Style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But, think about the typical, more subtle anger that you may experience on a regular basis. It’s the anger that makes you realize you aren’t being treated as you should. It’s the anger that makes you respond. The stress may have been the signal for your body and mind to pay attention, and then anger might take over as a call to action. The trick is really what do you do with that anger and when do you do it.

If you allow the anger to settle and you stew on it, this can be problematic. The event that stimulated the emotion might grow exponentially in your mind and unfairly so. But, on the other hand, if you wait awhile, your anger may dampen and you may act more appropriately rather than too passionately in the “heat of the moment.” Just as with most things in life, I am still learning and still trying to figure things out, and this whole anger issue is no exception. But, I also do know for sure that it is true what my mom always says “age tends to put things in perspective.” So the delicate balance of when to respond to anger is one of those things that you get better at determining as you get older.

I think the bigger issue is what to do with the anger. I know that anger can be used in a positive way. Anger can force someone to do something that he needed to do, but just didn’t want to do for various reasons. Anger can propel someone to create for the greater good for the injustice she saw. Think about how many wonderful organizations and groups were started because someone was “fed up” with a wrong situation.

The challenge to all of us is to use the anger in a directed way that will ultimately benefit us. I have come to learn that there really are positives in all things, even tragedy and crises. Anger should be no exception. Next time you start to feel anger creep in, consider what you need to do with it.

If you are interested in hearing more views on anger and strategies to overcome it and use it for benefits, please listen to my interview on Wednesday, February 27th at 9 am EST with Janet Pfeiffer of Anger 9-1-1 radio. If you click on this link  , you’ll see a purple microphone that you can then select (about halfway down the page).  It’s a live show, so I would love to hear from you.


The Benefit of “Hanging Out”

English: Map of Lake Michigan. Category:Michig...

English: Map of Lake Michigan. Category:Michigan maps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A vacation of any sort is good for the soul, but of course, there are many types of vacations, some full of activity and others with some built-in relaxation time.  The recent trip I had with my two small children to Michigan to visit my family there was a nice break, and it definitely had a little of both: lots of activity, but still low-key with enough down time to be helpful.  My kids had a fantastic time with their cousins and I was able to “hang out” and do very normal things, something that I miss on a regular basis.  Because my husband is so ill, my days are usually filled with helping to care for my husband, tending to his needs and the needs of our family, and there is usually very little time left for “hanging out”.  So, while in Michigan, I tried to savor these experiences.  One afternoon, we all went to Lake Michigan.  I watched with such joy as my kids buried each other in the sand, threw balls on the shores, and froze their toes off going into the cold water.  That night, we had a campfire, drank wine, and talked about all kinds of things.  Another afternoon we watched a niece participate in an Irish dance competition and then visited my alma mater, Michigan State University.  We walked by the river, had lunch in a restaurant, and drove around campus.  Other days we visited the zoo, fished and went tubing in the lake, and in general, just “hung out.”  It felt so good to be in this relaxed environment, woes temporarily on the back burner.

One evening, one of my high school buddies came over for a visit.  It had been several years since we saw one another and that last time was at a high school reunion, where talk is often minimized as people are so excited to see as many old friends as possible in the few short hours of the actual reunion itself.  It was so nice to talk with my friend this past vacation trip, just hanging out in my sister’s backyard, drinking a beer and laughing.  It was as if we spoke on a regular basis, without much time passing since the last time.  I was reminded of my friend’s genuineness, her infectious smile, and her overall kindness.  It occurred to me, upon reflection of the night that I am most fortunate in so many ways.  Here was this person, after so many years, still so lovely.  I know that if I needed her, I could call.  I know she would be willing to help.  I know that she cares about me and my family.  What a gift that is.

So what role does “hanging out” play?  Connecting with another person can remind you that there is goodness in the world is an obvious benefit.  Having some down time to laugh is good for the spirit.  Having those moments when you can reflect, even if it is just for a moment, on the small miracles in front of you is important.  In my case, to observe my children in action: how they behave, how they interact with others, how much they have physically grown – all these were all neat to digest.  Hanging out can also give you the extra encouragement or burst of energy you need to make it through the next emotionally-charged and draining time.

When times are so troubled, it may seem very counter-intuitive, but taking a bit of time to “hang out” with friends can be just what you need – medicine for your psyche.

The Gift at the Restaurant, Served with Love

The other night my two children and I went to a store to buy some birthday presents.  While we were there, they noticed a restaurant under the store that was connected by a staircase.  Both excitedly asked “Can we eat there?”  It was dinner time and the restaurant served good food, so I thought we would splurge.  We paid for our items, walked down the stairs and were seated.  The kids’ eyes were wide, looking around at all the colorful items.  They were excited to be eating in a “real” restaurant since if we do go out for a meal, it is typically a fast-food restaurant that has a playground indoors.  Table manners and proper etiquette are not required at such venues and so I found myself a bit anxious at what was to unfold before me.  At home, things never go as well as I would like at the dinner table, so what was to happen here in public? 

We were off to a good start with the host presenting a treasure chest to the kids that contained some really interesting toys.  A pleasant surprise.  We then selected our food and had a brief conversation about our days.  After the food was served, my 3-year daughter didn’t seem interested in her food.  She picked here and there, but didn’t eat much.  I began to worry that I was wasting money.  But then I bit into my salmon.  It was delicious.  Salmon is one of those items that I love, but would never attempt to make myself.  The salmon was cooked perfectly, it flaked off my fork into my mouth.  It melted in my mouth and the compliment sides on my plate went down my throat equally as well.  I paused and realized I was actually having a nice meal (not just French fries and a burger while hearing screaming children play on the play structure).  It was a good feeling.  Then the sadness followed.  My husband couldn’t be with us.  As usual these past years, it was me and the kids.  I missed my husband and being a family.  Jim is so sick that it is very difficult to get him out of the house.  Then the idea of him physically eating is another story.  He has a trach and a feeding tube and all his meals are ground up in a blender and inserted through a feeding tube.  He has not had the pleasure of tasting delicious food in his mouth for many, many months.  I know Jim would have loved this salmon just as much as I was.  I tried to shake these thoughts and concentrate on the positive and the gratitude for the moment.

I looked to my 5-year old son.   He was enjoying his meal as much as I was.  He was engulfing his shrimp and telling me how much he loved his food.  I replied with a story about when I was young and told him that when we would go to a restaurant, it was so special because you just didn’t go to restaurants very much those days.  I reflected on how if possible, whenever I could, I too would always order shrimp.  I loved them so much and reminded him that I still do like to eat them.  He paused.  I could see the wheels turning in his head.  He looked to his plate.  He had one more shrimp left.  Only one.  He looked at the shrimp.  He looked at me.  He did this again and then said, “Here you go mom.  You have my last shrimp.”  I smiled widely and said “No, sweetie.  I didn’t mean for you to give me your shrimp.  I was just telling you a story.  You eat it.”  He shook his head back and forth, “No really mom, I want you to have it.”  Again, I protested and again, he insisted.  I decided to take him up on his offer.  I thanked him as much as possible, told him how proud I was of him, and then I put that shrimp in my mouth and swallowed.  It was the best shrimp I’ve had in a long time, mostly because it was served to me with love and the reminder that relationships are important and that kindness can go a long, long, long way.


How the World Spun from Awful to Restored in 24 Hours

Within 24 hours (literally), my life spun on its axis and was about to flip off into space.  I had one of the worst phone calls followed by devastation and then about 24 hours later, a phone call and email that restored my faith that belief, gratitude and good people can change the world.

24 intertitle screen capture

Image via Wikipediachange the world.

The fact that I can state that this event was one of the worst of my life may be surprising to some of you who know how difficult life has been in recent years for me and my family.  I have had horrible things happen, including rushing my husband to the emergency room and almost having lost him two years ago.  We have also dealt with his tracheostomy and overall health struggles to breathe and walk and work remarkably well (all things considered).  So, why would this latest event be so much worse?  I think it was the assault on my daughter.  My sweet “baby” who just turned 3 years old and who has never really known her healthy daddy – he has been so ill for her entire life.  This sweet “victim” was targeted and I felt like the torpedoes couldn’t get any worse.

Here is the 24 hours…..

On my way home from work, I returned a phone call to the HR representative who was now handling my husband’s case.  Unfortunately, my husband was not able to get well enough during short-term disability leave to return to work and now he was switching to long-term disability.  The person wanted to go over logistics with me and tell me some details that would be contained in a letter that would follow in the next few days.  He spoke a mile a minute and frankly, I couldn’t take it all in – I felt like he has been at his job for so long that he has forgotten that most people on the receiving end would not be accustomed to thinking in legal speak.  Still, I was alright with it because he told me a letter would follow and I would be able to read the details in the letter.  But then the bomb hit – “our daughter no longer had a spot at daycare.”  I could not register what this meant.  He replied “Do you have another option for daycare?”  I tried to keep my cool for I knew if I lost it, the man would have no desire to help me.  “When does she need to leave daycare?”  He told me he didn’t know, but as soon as possible.  I was shocked.  I felt like pulling over to the side of the road and throwing up.  When I think back to this commute, I am surprised I could physically drive.  I don’t remember it.

I continued, “Certainly there must be an exception to the policy.  Isn’t there someone I can talk to about this?”  He responded that if an exception was made for us, it would have to be made for everyone.  I replied that certainly there weren’t that many cases when someone was out on long-term disability who also had a child in daycare.  He replied that this was true, “most people who have young children are healthy and young.”  As we went back and forth, I had remembered that this man had children of his own (I dealt with him when my husband was out in the hospital originally 2 years prior).  I couldn’t believe that someone who had children could be so cold.  He basically wanted my daughter removed from daycare at the end of the day.  The idea of this was heart-breaking.  My daughter just turned 3 and she was to move to another building with the “big kids”.  She was so excited to start her new school.

The insult was almost too much to take.  I have been able to handle all things up to this point, but this – this was too much.  I was literally sick to my stomach and pleaded with the HR person to talk to someone for the exception.  He told me he would put in a call, but not to get my hopes up and that he would call me the next day.

That night I returned home and had a tough time looking at my daughter.  I was truly sad.  I told my mom about the event and ironically, she had just signed a piece of paper for my daughter’s transfer to the new school earlier that day.  The week prior, I had taken a tour of the new school.  How could this all be happening?

I went back and forth on whether I should tell my husband about it.  This was the one huge fear he had on taking the leave (not that he had any choice on the matter – there is no way he could physically work right now).  I ultimately decided to do so because he needed to know and I thought he might know someone I could talk to – someone who could make an exception for us (daycare is run through his work, not mine).

The next morning, I called my daughter’s teachers at pre-school – two wonderful and caring people who love my daughter so much.  After telling them of the situation, one teacher told me to fight it and would have the other teacher call when she returned from an appointment.  Because I was busy at work with meetings, I didn’t talk to the teacher until the late afternoon.  When we did speak, she told me exactly who to get in touch with and to go straight for the top in terms of people who could help because of the urgency of the situation.  The teacher was so kind and so helpful, I knew that I had some things going for me.

I wrote an email to the contact person, hit send and rushed to a meeting (for which I was late).  When I returned to my office 2 hours later, not only was there an email waiting on me, there was also a voicemail.  The wonderful woman at the top (the contact) had gotten in touch with the person who could help and in less than 2 hours, my daughter’s daycare spot was restored and her life was back to being cushioned in love by caring teachers.  She would be in her safe, loving school with her friends.  To say I was relieved is an understatement.  I am unbelievable grateful.

When I looked at the time of the email, it was 5:10 pm.  The time that I hung up the phone the night before with the HR person was just prior to 5 pm.  What an amazing 24 hours it had been.

As I reflected on this 24 hour whirlwind, I think I had all the emotions that any one person could have in a lifetime.  To say I was stressed is obvious, but I quickly went from wanting to vomit while on that phone call to a mode of action.  I was plotting how I could care for my daughter and then I decided that there was no way that this was going to truly happen.  I just couldn’t believe that the world could be that cruel.  I decided that my daughter would be in that daycare.  I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I knew it would.  This action came to be.  My daughter’s teacher saved me with the contact information and the contact, the wonderful contact, did the rest.  My faith in belief turning into reality was restored.  My faith that there are good people in the world, people who want to help was restored as well.

I am grateful.  Truly, truly grateful.

The Miracles of Leaves, Birthdays, and Einstein

The leaves are turning colors right now and falling off the trees inRaleigh,North Carolina. My daughter, who just turned 3 years old on Monday, thinks this event is specifically for her.  It started in late summer, after her brother celebrated his birthday, when she would ask longingly “Is my birthday next week?”  In order to help her conceptualize when her birthday is, I would respond, “The leaves have to turn colors and then it will be time for your birthday.”  Over the weeks, she transposed this in her mind to become that the leaves are changing specifically for her birthday, for her.  I too have decided this makes sense. “Of course they are sweetie,” I would say with a smile.  And truly, I mean this, why not?

I have been pondering for awhile now a quote that I read on a lovely blogsite that I am following.  I would highly recommend visiting Life Literati found at where the author gives some great quotes and reminders of gratitude for both the big and little wonderful things that happen every day.

One quote I read on this site was from Albert Einstein: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”  The fact that leaves change in a particular fashion every year is neat.  You can explain it by science – the cue is the decrease in daylength and moisture levels; chlorophyll stops being made and the other pigments that have been masked by the chlorophyll can now shine through as so we see red instead of green.  The fact that leaves change in this way year after year can also be thought as a miracle.  It is wonderful to see the hidden come out, it is a reminder that things change, things are temporary, but that things return.  There is a predictable nature in the change.  And, the change is forecasted around my daughter’s birthday.  It is a miracle that this miracle event happens around my miracle daughter (but that is another story perhaps for another post). 

And what a powerful message to be reminded of on a daily basis!  There are signs around us reminding us of the miracles of life, the predictable nature of change and return to order in due time.  Even when life is horrible, when my husband’s health is so poor and when it was difficult for him to help celebrate our daughter’s birthday, I focus on that fact: things are temporary and I can help restore order in my own way.  Instead of focusing on the cold weather and dark times (with long nights) that lie ahead after the leaves fall, I focus on the wonderful miracle of those leaves changing colors and the fact that they are singing a birthday song to my daughter.

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