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Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

I spent last week on a beautiful cruise with my husband. We visited the islands of Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico, on the biggest cruise ship of the world (the Harmony of the Seas, by Royal Caribbean). It was amazing, breathtaking, beautiful, and a blessed experience that I am truly grateful for.

All of these beautiful locations had one thing in common. Ok, they all had more than one thing in common; they all had breathtaking sights, beautiful & friendly people, and crystal blue water. But what they also had was an abundance of people on their cell phones.

Thanks to the miracle of technology, people can now take selfies anywhere. I. Mean. ANYWHERE. We spent seven days on a gazillion-ton boat (which we nicknamed Boaty McBoatface, of course), and we visited three breathtakingly beautiful islands. And there, in the middle of what should have been a once in a lifetime experience for most of the 6,000 + passengers aboard the boat, I found a sad (and surprisingly large) number of people more interested in searching Instagram and Facebook, and taking staged-to-look-spontaneous selfies to post for their followers on social media, than they were in just taking in the miracle around them.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for taking photos to remember where I have been and who I was with. I have a sketchy memory at best, and photos are the best way for me to make sure I have a record of the adventures of my life. But I don’t mean a selfie-photo-record with my hair just right, my clothes just so, and my makeup (what makeup?!) ready for prime-time. I mean photos of me and my husband neck deep in ocean water laughing so hard one eye is closed, or the hermit crab named Hermie that we spent some time with, or the waves crashing into the side of a spectacularly green island. A real photo record of what took place.

Has our society swung too far? In a world where likes mean more than interactions, and a perfect selfie is how we judge each other, what does it mean when a five year-old on a beach in Jamaica has a selfie stick and is more interested in that, than in building sandcastles with his parents (both of whom also look like they just got off a runway in Milan, and spend 45 minutes posing continually for their own selfies, with their own selfie sticks).

Let’s back up one step further. What does it mean when we now have a stick, yes, a STICK, named after an epidemic of needing-to-look-perfect-at-all-times people, whose goal in life seems to be to take and post a perfectly posed, perfectly rehearsed, not-at-all-spontaneous-but completely-staged-to-look-candid photo of oneself, just to see how many people will react to it? And if the reaction isn’t what we hoped for, we take it down and put up another one? What is going ON?

I believe this is a very sad statement. In a world so preoccupied with looking perfect for the next shot of self… we’re not only judging and shaming those around us who don’t look the way the media expects, but we are also completely missing the life that is going on around us. Reminder: we only get one shot at that life, whizzing by; seconds ticking as our cameras are clicking.  

As a passenger on the world’s biggest cruise ship, in the world’s bluest ocean, going to places and having experiences that only a tiny fraction of the world’s population will ever be lucky enough to experience, what I should be doing is stepping back, and breathing in the beauty.

But FIRST, let me take a selfie. 

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A Ticket to Gratitude

Several weeks ago, my husband and I were at a family gathering in a residential neighbourhood. We parked our vehicle along the side of the road between two driveways, hopped out and waved to some family who had arrived at the same time as us, and went inside to enjoy a great get together.

A little over an hour later, we came out to our car to head home. And as we climbed into our vehicle, we realized that we had a ticket on our windshield. I got out, grabbed the ticket, and jumped back into the car. I unfolded the paper and giggled a little as I realized it was a parking ticket. Seriously?

My husband and I both laughed – we thought at first that it must be a prank. But as we read it a second and third time, we realized that it was in fact the real deal. The City had issued us a ticket. The ticket said that we had ‘blocked in’ a residential driveway.

I hopped out of our vehicle, feeling terrible that we had parked someone in! I needed to figure out which house deserved an apology. As I walked around our vehicle, slowly looking at the ground to see either footprints or tire tracks as a clue to whom we had ‘blocked in’ (it had been snowing that night, so it was easy to see who had come and who had gone while we had been inside) I slowly realized – there were no tire tracks or footprints leading to or from either driveway.

In other words – no one had tried to come or go; we had not blocked anyone in or out. But on this random Saturday night, we had annoyed a complete stranger enough for it to cost us almost $100.

As my husband and I drove away, uttering all the usual ‘this is ……’ expressions, I stopped to think. While I fully admit that we had been illegally parked within the letter of the law (we were not 1.5 meters away from the edge of each of the driveways that we had parked between), I realized that it must have really taken someone a lot of effort to be irritated enough to call the city on a Saturday night, and get a parking official out to their neighborhood to write us a ticket.

And the more I thought about this, the more I felt sad and sorry.

I felt sad for whoever it was who had such a terribly bad day that their only way to feel better was to punish total strangers who had done nothing wrong.

I felt sorry for whoever it was that had no other way to feel happiness or validation in their own life than to pick on the general world around them.

And then and there, I made a choice. Instead of continuing to feel wronged and to perpetuate the cycle of anger and irritation, I consciously chose instead to think a positive thought. A positive thought for the person who had ‘hurt’ my husband and I that night – that they would someday find a way to stop hurting others and start feeling happy in their own skin.

Today’s world is full of people who hurt, and who don’t know how to channel their hurt other than to hurt those around them. They feel so wronged by everything and everyone that the only way they can feel better is to purposefully punish the world right back.

Those of us who can stop this cycle need to do so – we need to afford these people our grace and our gratitude.

So the next time you get cut off in traffic even though you’ve had your turn signal on for blocks, or the next time you get shoved on the train by a stranger who is yelling loudly into their cell phone and doesn’t even give you a second look, be graceful. Remind yourself that you are the lucky one – you are the one whose life is going right and who doesn’t feel the need to wrong those around you to make it through your day.

And if someday, you get some sort of ticket like my husband and I did – use it a way to a place of grace in your own life – and be grateful that your life is your own.

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Hair Trigger

Lately I find myself thinking…’I hate it when people do that!’ and ‘I hate it when that happens!’

Why? Why is it that we are all packed up in a society so tightly wound that we exhibit hair triggers for the simplest things?  People who don’t hold doors for others. People who do not get up for those in need on a crowded train. People out with other people at a restaurant ignoring each other in favor of their phones. People who shove their way into a croweded elevator without letting anyone off. None of these things hurt me, or quite frankly, affect me in any way. But I see these things and my first instinct is “ARGH”.

In today’s world of elevated stress levels…I have decided to take a new approach. HAHAHA. Laughter… the best medicine, yes? So instead of having a hair trigger, I’m going to laugh. No one is getting hurt and no one is worse for wear.

So rather than raising my blood pressure, I’m lowering it by laughing. And looking around at those I see being annoyed by the same things as me… I chuckle just a little. Life is too short. I don’t want to be bugged anymore.

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