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Thursday, November 20, 2014

WHY IT IS GRINCH SEASON!

So a few years ago, my Mom confessed that she hates the Grinch.  I was completely taken aback by this; I thought love-of-the-Grinch was a universal constant, not unlike dislike-of-the-way-bowling-alleys-smell.  Just the title sequence, with the Whos singing “Welcome Christmas” gets me a little misty….LONG LIVE THE GRINCH!!!! 

I will tell you why so many people (my Mother being in obvious and flagrant violation of this) connect with Dr. Seuss’s hairy green confection:  WE ARE THE GRINCH.  Every last one of us.  We are strapping the sawed off horn to Max’s head and cracking the whip because the holidays are GRINCH SEASON and we all experience the pain of having a heart that is two sizes too small.

When does it hit you?  For me, it happened just this morning as I woke up with that panicked, tight chested feeling that CHRISTMAS IS COMING and I am SO WAY FAR BEHIND where I need to be at this point.  Sure, I have my Christmas cards bought and even those cute Christmas stamps.  Yes, I have actually sent my very first Christmas package.  Wow, I am so lucky to have a Ho-ho-ho COSTCO membership so I can send an awesome The Fruit Company Tower of treats for $29.99 shipping included, because that checks a whole lotta people off my list, stat. 

But CHRISTMAS IS COMING and every Christmas of my adult life I have played host to someone and I live far, far, away from my nearest and dearest so the post office becomes my second home except THANK YOU AMAZON PRIME for EXISTING and how-in-the-hell-did-people-do-this-before-the-internet-was-created-thank-you-Al-Gore?  I should hashtag that one, right???

Christmas is magic.  Christmas is about believing in wishes come true and a mystical spirit that actually NOTICES when we are good and rewards us for it; how awesome would that be??? 
How satisfying would it be to see the bad punished and the good rewarded?  How uplifting is it when the Grinch (or Scrooge, take your pick) realizes that he is a complete and total DIRTBAG and man(s) up and stops being the selfish-brat-abstinent-hoarder-that-he-is??? I should probably hashtag that one, too.  Christmas is about NOT being a DIRTBAG in a BIG way and recognizing that most other people aren’t dirtbags either.  Christmas is magic.

For most of us, though, the holidays are pressure.  Pressure to go, be, and do things that are completely beyond our capacity.  Pressure to be MAGIC ourselves.  A few years back, I had a Christmas epiphany—or miracle, as you prefer it.  I was losing my mind over all the Christmas cards I still write a personal note in, having a nervous breakdown over the dozens of pounds of fudge I make for teachers, neighbors, mail personnel and friends, freaking out over the myriad of packages that “needed” to be mailed and suddenly I said to myself:  THIS IS YOUR CHOICE.  If you don’t like your choice, just stop.  If you do like your choice, GO AHEAD, but STOP being such a giant baby about it.  I chose the latter.  Business as usual, without the big baby attitude.  And now?  I enjoy the holidays SO MUCH MORE.

The truth is, it is so much easier to be a Grinch than to be a Christmas Angel.  People will support your curmudgeonly ways, too, because we all feel so overwhelmed we are invigorated to see anyone break from the pack.  “Run, Forrest, run!” is what we think as we watch you willfully abstain from participating in the three-ring-circus-that-has-become-the-holidays (#)? 

But guess what?  Christmas is our annual invitation to let our hearts grow THREE sizes that day.  We can shrink away from it, go on strike, do whatever we feel is necessary to remove ourselves from the chaos, but at the end of the day Christmas is an open invitation.  To do more, open ourselves to new and exciting possibilities, experience joy as we never have before.  It waits for us, calls to us, returns for us.  So how many Christmases do YOU need before you have your Grinch/Scrooge epiphany?

THANK YOU for every card you send, every greeting you share.  THANK YOU for every gift you choose, whether thoughtfully or out of obligation.  THANK YOU for understanding that even though going-through-the-motions is all we can achieve sometimes, often it is enough.  THANK YOU for not being the Grinch, even though every green fiber of your being says that this is the way to go.  We all experience conversion at some point in our lives.  We all know that the “right thing” to do and the easy thing to do are almost always polar opposites. 

We all know that CHRISTMAS IS COMING, whether we like it or not, and our participation, while voluntary, is measured in a He-sees-you-when-you-are-sleeping (#) kind of way.  THANK YOU for being awesome.  We see you.  When you are sleeping, and when you are awake.  Isn’t it amazing how often you choose to be good rather than bad, even without an audience?  HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you.  The world is a better place because your heart is officially three sizes too big.

 

 
 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

WHY I AM STARTING A RELIGION CALLED WTF

After much serious contemplation, I have decided to go ahead and start a religion called “WTF”.  No dues necessary; no screening process either—if you want in, you’re IN!  The religion of WTF is not meant to replace or undermine any current religion that is working for you.  We are not a missionary congregation.  But if you are laboring under structures, whether they be relationships, jobs or yes, even religions that are causing you pain, WTF might be for you.  Because we fervently believe that life is too short for bullshit.  In fact, I considered calling the religion “Life Is Too Short for Bullshit”, but I think WTF is catchier, don’t you?  Okay, so let’s establish some ground rules…er, I mean “Commandments”, isn’t that the proper word for a religion?  Our first commandment is this:  THOU SHALT NOT LET ANYONE COMMAND YOU TO DO BULLSHIT THAT MAKES YOU MISERABLE.   Unless it’s your parents, we'll keep that one—go ahead and honor your parents because you will just feel better if you do.  You'll be all, “Look at this bullshit I put up with from my parents, aren’t I a great kid?” and your friends will totally agree and then you will be happy.

We should probably have more than one commandment, so how about:  THOU SHALT NOT LET ANYONE MAKE YOU MISERABLE FOR ANY REASON.  Because WTF?  Why should anyone have that kind of power over you?  And, at the risk of being stoned to death in my church parking lot, I will go so far as to blaspheme:  DO NOT LET YOUR IDEA OF GOD MAKE YOU MISERABLE.  Because there are a million religions (including a new one called WTF that is FABULOUS, I hear) and if your religion is making you unhappy, then it is NOT DOING ITS JOB and should be kicked to the curb.  For example, if you are gay but belong to a church that says being gay is bad?  Kick that God to the curb!  Why invest in a God that supposedly creates “defective” equipment and then condemns it for being so?  Life is too short for bullshit, my friends, and that stinks of bullshit to the high heavens, as it were.   My BFF used to say we need to choose our own brainwashing, and if “Choose Your Brainwashing” is not already on a T-Shirt or bumper sticker somewhere, she totally has dibs on that.  Which brings us to our third commandment:  THOU SHALT NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT HOW OR WHO YOU ARE IS WRONG OR BAD.    Unless you are one of those guys who lights your farts on fire.  Because seriously, dude, we need to draw a line somewhere.
Darn it, this starting a religion thing is definitely harder than I thought it would be, because now I have to somehow figure a way to screen out those dudes who light their farts on fire…I guess the internet will be a useful tool in this, because the kind of guy who lights his farts on fire is also the kind of guy who is likely to film himself doing it, so we can have a one question screening process:  is there a video of you lighting your farts on fire on the internet?  I think this will adequately discourage any applicants from doing so in the future too, don’t you?  Okay, now that we’ve settled that, let’s get to our fourth commandment (the original plan was to have one, but like I said, this is harder than I thought it would be)…THOU SHALT NOT YUCK SOMEONE ELSE’S YUM.  In other words, don’t be the jerk who tries to make someone else feel bad about who they are or what they like.  I will give you an example of how I did this recently:  an exceedingly nice young man was telling me of his vacation plans, which included camping out at a Christian folk rock festival, going to a world famous shooting range and drinking at a Monty Python inspired pub.  My response:  “Are you telling me your holiday plans or just making a list of stuff I never want to do?”  See, you shouldn’t do that.

I guess I am not an ideal leader for my own religion because I am frequently guilty of yucking someone’s yum, especially if I can be HI-larious when doing so.   Then again, a religion with a first commandment of thou shalt not let anyone else command you to do bullshit that makes you miserable probably shouldn’t have a “leader” per se.  You know how power mad people get when they think they are in charge, they start thinking other people are ”beneath” them and that maybe those people aren’t worthy of things like, say, “living wages”.  So let’s scratch the leader thing entirely.  In fact, let’s go ahead and “borrow” a little tidbit from our old pal the Buddha:  be a lamp unto yourself.  You are your leader.  Who better to make decisions for and about you than YOU?  You are the world’s foremost expert on you and we defer to your greater wisdom about yourself, how’s that?  Great, I really think WTF is coming together, don’t you?  I feel good about it so far!   And if nothing else, WTF is all about feeling good about yourself and what you do.  So I am definitely already getting in a groove with our mission on earth.
In synopsis, I have started a new religion called WTF and we have a VERY simple screening process if you are interested in joining and it is entirely FOC (free of charge).  You are the leader as far as your practice is concerned, and therefore in charge of all important decisions regarding your life.  However, we do ask that you try to avoid people and situations that make you feel miserable and also make a concerted effort not to make others miserable as well.  So who’s in?

Friday, November 7, 2014

WHY IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER

How can you not love Bill Murray?  The man is transcendent, lyrical; the ultimate true-to-himself and therefore a rock solid example of life leadership.  However, I get that he may be somewhat generational, so I will only say that if you are a boomer or a Gen-Xer who doesn’t love Bill Murray, then frankly, I think you might be a little off.  Or have a “banana in your tailpipe”, in Eddie Murphy-speak. 

Anyhoo, one of my personal favorite all-time Bill Murray movies is (drum-roll, please!):  the epic summer camp classic, Meatballs!!!  This opinion you need not share; there are so many good ones to choose from.  But between my sister and my best friend from high school, I have quoted this particular movie more often than maybe any other—because, as you know, there are children starving in India and you are walking around with a whole sombrero full of peanuts.  I hope you sleep well.  But the quote that defines “Meatballs”, as it were, is more straightforward and somewhat less (?) comical…“IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER”.  Here is the link to watch Bill Murray at his finest delivering this classic motivational speech:  (I’ll wait).

Okay, when you are done laughing, let’s discuss…does it matter? 

Why?  Can you build a reasonable case for it?  Do you want to?  Or do you want to say, as the entirely less entertaining Tom Cruise said in Risky Business, “WTF?” 

Hmmm, this is turning into a movie quote trivia game, huh?  But guess what…it just doesn’t matter.  No, it doesn’t.  There are very few things in life that need to be taken so seriously that we cannot take this advice to heart.  Boyfriend breaks up with you?  Fantastic!  That ass obviously didn’t appreciate you anyway.  Lose your job?  Did you love it?  Did they love you?  One of these things obviously isn’t true, so good riddance to bad trash. 

The great and powerful Louis C.K. even goes so far as to say divorce is always good news.  Because what great marriage ever ended in divorce?  Ah, King Louis, you steal my heart away.
Victorian era author Samuel Butler once famously said, “The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously”.  Word up, Sam.  How many times in your life, if you are exceedingly and extra honest about it, have you worked yourself up into a tizzy over NOTHING.  NOTHING. 

I will go ahead and call myself out by saying my number is legion.  Perhaps you have more self-control than I do.  But more often than not, as my “drama” played out, I discovered that I had been harboring the infamous “tempest in a teapot” and that a lot of my suffering could have been pre-empted by the wisdom of Bill Murray…it just doesn’t matter. 

My husband used to irritate me when I was in a frenzy by quoting the Blues Travelers song, “It won’t mean a thing in 100 years”; I’d be all—“well, yeah, if you are here in 100 years, you can let me know how that all worked out because I’LL BE DEAD”.   

Of course he (and Blues Travelers and Tom Cruise) are right.  For most things, WTF is the most appropriate response.  WTF is the key to freedom, as long as you don’t use it to turn your parent’s house into a bordello.

Now surely you have heard the expression “Leap and the net will appear”.  This sounds like empirically bad advice, am I right?  But it really is a more graphic and less foolproof sounding version of WTF…it is a credo against playing it safe. 

You think you’re not pretty enough or rich enough or successful enough?  HA!  WTF???

Seriously, DO YOU THINK IT REALLY MATTERS???  Elizabeth Taylor, arguably the most beautiful woman in the history of the planet was MARRIED to Larry Fortensky!!!  The thought of having to kiss that guy makes me want to throw up in my mouth, and I am no Elizabeth Taylor! 

Rupert Murdoch, author of three failed marriages (all good news, says Louis) and creator of FOX News (all bad news, say I) is a super rich guy who is less than admirable in almost every way, IMHO.  So you got looks and/or money?  IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER.  The only thing in the whole wide world that matters is this:  are you happy?  Are you? 

If not, LEAP!  And the net will appear.  If you are happy enough, BRAVO!   YOU ARE MY HERO.
Honestly, at the risk of sounding like some sort of hedonist, MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY.  In a “please drink responsibly” kind of way but SERIOUSLY.  What if we were each responsible for our own happiness and nothing else?  Do you think this would be chaos?  Do you think you are the only person on the planet who cares about how your actions impact others?  Do you think your unhappiness is serving any single human on the planet in a constructive way??? 

WTF, dude?????  WTF, I say!  Nora Ephron, who could be riotous or condescending in fits (See:  Why Sleepless in Seattle Bugs Me”) once said—“If children had to choose between their mother being happy and fulfilled in Hawaii or crying in the next room, they’d choose crying in the next room every time.”  Ha.  Funny stuff. 

But who in their right mind lets an 8 year old dictate their choices?  NO ONE WANTS AN 8 YEAR OLD IN CHARGE BECAUSE THEY KNOW NOT OF WHAT THEY SPEAK.  But you do.  At least as far as you are concerned.  And you don’t need to be prettier or smarter or richer, you just need to be BRAVER. 

Because apart from this, it just doesn’t matter.  Leap.  You are so worth it.