Friday, November 25, 2011

Shop, Drop and Stop

On your mark, get set—go! It’s Black Friday! There’s no stopping us now—shop, shop, shop ‘til we drop—not literally, of course. We’re on autopilot. We can’t stop shopping, moving, talking, doing. There is at least one thing that’ll stop us—a funeral. Do you groan at the sight of blinking hazards, orange “funeral” signs and the lengthy line of cars snaking past you even after your light turns green?
At a funeral l attended last week, I heard that it’s state law to stop for a funeral procession. Later that same day, I came across a second funeral. As the mourners crawled through traffic, headed to the cemetery or to the family meal/repast, their light changed from green to red. Wouldn’t you know that when they kept moving, one of the drivers outside the procession starting beeping? If I had questioned the beeper, I’m certain the driver would come clean and admit to wanting to get home for an “important” TV show.   
In our zippy, fast-paced lives it’s difficult to slow down to acknowledge someone else’s grief or to simply savor a moment. In earlier posts, I‘ve suggested ways to question, examine and modify our behavior. Well, I’m offering another challenge: sit. Yep, that’s it. I think this guy is on board. Have a listen:

It’s easy, or is it? Try sitting and doing nothing for a full five minutes—no listening to music, no texting or tweeting, no watching TV. Don’t let the silence stress you out, believe me, it won’t last forever.
Let us know how you feel after tuning out the distractions that compete for your attention, we’d love to hear what you discover.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fa-La-La-La-I’m beat!

Let me officially announce the start of the Christmas shopping season. I know—I’m too late.! Sooner than necessary, the music plays, the decorations sparkle and Santa sits on his throne. Traffic snarls make us late and the never-ending stream of stores catalogs fill our mailboxes. Newspapers bulge with coupon offers and the frenzy to get your dollars will continue unabated until well past the last gift-wrapping party. The shopping season flows well into January with the long lines for Christmas gift returns, New Year’s Day sales and opportunities to purchase a little something nice for yourself.

Thanks goodness online shopping allows us to shop at two a.m. in our pajamas, if we want. That’s efficiency.  Of course, it also makes more time for hosting and decorating, creating an even more frenzied holiday season. I’m tired just thinking of it all. Shouldn’t we slow down? A night spent camping out in front of a store doesn’t count. Watch this:

It’s time to stop and smell the poinsettias, admire the sun glinting off the snow (it’ll be here again soon) and enjoy a warm beverage by the fire.  This year let’s break the Christmas shopping insanity cycle.  How will you modify your holiday season to grab a few more moments of peace?     

Friday, November 11, 2011

Got GPS?

Raise your hand if you use a GPS. Are they installed in all new cars yet? I have a “mature” vehicle and it definitely didn’t come with one. We do own a portable GPS, but I avoid using it because I’ve heard stories about drivers who faithfully follow directions from the voice in the box and end up in the wrong location anyhow. I depend on directions printed out from the online services, I need to clutch that paper and see my route laid out, line by line.
I’m also bothered by that pleasant GPS voice. When I’m in the car and the voice says to turn right, I feel  we should turn left just to make it say, “Recalculating….”  My husband and I joke that manufacturers should design a nagging GPS so when you miss a turn it yells, “Hey! Didn’t you hear me? What’s your problem? Do you want to be late?” Now that’s a gag gift.  Speaking of gags and directions, take a look at this:

Like the driver in the video, I will ask for help when I’m lost. Usually, after I ask for directions, I discover that my destination is right around the corner. The other day, I couldn’t find the candy section in a store. I looked around for a little while and finally asked a nearby clerk for assistance. Can you believe he pointed to the shelf next to me and there sat the candy?
Sometimes we’re perfectly positioned to reach our destination, but if we click off the GPS and discard those printed directions too soon we'll find ourselves peering out and thinking, “How in the world did I get here?”   
Who or what functions as your GPS? How do you stay grounded and headed in the right direction?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Real Reality

Yes, fact is stranger than fiction. The famous writer, Mark Twain, suggested that fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities—truth isn’t. Given the outrageousness we hear in news stories and reality shows, it’s no wonder we feel like drama addicts constantly feasting on the spectacular, unending, over-the-top, idiosyncrasies of life.  Sure, reality shows exaggerate drama for TV, but after we sweep away the wackiness those same shows might offer a little nugget of truth and a lesson to boot.
Let’s consider a show like Wife Swap. Two families, with contradictory lifestyles, switched wives for two weeks while the wives slowly introduced their versions of “normal” life to their new families.   Although the title seemed questionable, no hanky-panky occurred. At its best, Wife Swap taught a lesson; at its worst, well…it sometimes epitomized bad reality TV. Most of the families eventually accepted recommendations from the new wives, but sometimes—they didn’t. Have a brief peek at an episode:

Why do reality shows grab our attention? Are we fascinated by the abnormal or do we want assurance of our own normality? I bet you could star in a reality show. What would you name it and what aspect of your life does the world need to see?