Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Let other people be right when it doesn't matter

Several years ago I was at a dinner party and 2 girls got into a heated argument about the year that the movie Titanic was released (clearly this was before the life-changing invention of the iPhone IMDB app). Each of them still insists she is right. My take on this issue? Who cares!

I once had a discussion with a friend about the location of the JW Marriott Hotel on Oahu. I've stayed there a couple of times, and I know it's on the Western side of the island. He insisted it was on the Eastern side. Although I knew with complete certainty that I was right, I let the topic go. Because, once again, who cares! If he wants to visit Oahu and drive East until he hits the Pacific (and doesn't find the hotel), that's really none of my concern.

The lesson here is, sometimes it makes sense to let other people be right, even when you know in your heart of hearts that they are dead wrong. Discussions and debates can be fun, but when the conversation becomes heated, be the bigger person and let it go. There are times when you should stand your ground, like if you're making an important decision, or trying to keep a loved one from making a very bad decision. But otherwise, do yourself and your blood pressure a favor and move on to the next conversation.

All that being said, if someone who is just plain evil has really gotten under your skin and you can prove that you are right to shut them up, go for it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't go to the ATM after dark

This falls into the "don't be stupid" category.

Really, there isn't a lot to expand upon here. I don't have any personal anecdotes about being stabbed or otherwise assaulted while getting cash late at night, but I think we've all seen enough episodes of Law & Order / Criminal Minds / NYPD Blue to know that it's not a good idea.

If you must be out late at night, there are some things you can do to be a little more safe, for example, go out in a group, go out with a big guy or a dog, carry pepper spray. But really, just go with your instincts. If something seems like a bad idea, it probably is, and you should just call your mother to come pick you up.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Boys cannot read your mind

This will be the first post of many in the category of "boys are stupid, girls are crazy." I recognize that this is a bit of a broad generalization, but in my experience, it's pretty true.

I recently witnessed an interaction between a boy and girl in my daughter's preschool class that convinced me that this behavior is inborn to us as human beings. A group of kids were playing at the table with some sort of blocks or building toys. This little girl, Emily,* took something that a little boy, Aaron,* really wanted. He looked up at the teacher and said "Emily took that piece I wanted." The teacher said "why don't you go ask Emily if you can have that piece back." So, Aaron walked over to Emily and stood with his face 2 inches from hers. She did not acknowledge his presence.  He said "Emily... Emily... Emily... Emily..." while she continued to ignore him. The teacher finally stepped in and said "Aaron, it looks like Emily is really focused on what she's doing, why don't you talk to her later." 

Clearly Emily just wanted to be left alone and thought that if she just ignored Aaron, he'd go away. Aaron did not get the hint and would probably have stood there all day repeating her name if the teacher hadn't told him to stop.

So, to repeat, boys cannot read your mind. They also cannot read your visual cues, pick up on hints, or detect your mood and adjust their actions accordingly. You have to actually tell them what you are thinking and what you want from them. Of course, there is a limit to this. You don't need to tell them your every thought. But if you want something, for example, if you want a boy to empty the dishwasher (whether he's your friend, roommate, boyfriend, husband, etc.), you need to say, "will you please empty the dishwasher." Emptying the dishwasher yourself while sighing loudly and slamming cabinets while he watches football is not going to get the message across.

Also, do not say one thing if you mean another. If you want a boy to watch Grey's Anatomy with you instead of a baseball game, don't say "no, please go ahead and watch the baseball game," and hope that he'll choose to watch Grey's Anatomy with you instead. If you do, he will go watch the baseball game and will be confused if you are upset.

My advice - you will save yourself a lot of frustration if you stop trying to be subtle and just speak your mind.

*Names have been changed to protect the stupid and crazy.

(Special thanks to Barry for finding the best images.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Get your Vitamin D, but wear sunscreen. Especially on your face!

I love the sun.

Laying out in the sun has always been one of my favorite ways to spend weekends and vacation. Even when I'm at home laying out in the back yard I can forget where I am for a little while and pretend I'm on an island somewhere far, far away. The best vacation I ever took involved spending 2 full weeks laying on a beach chair in Aruba. And, like many in my generation, I spent my teen years slathering on baby oil every day in the summer (yes, even in Seattle).

Fortunately my skin tends to tan, and my daughter seems to have been blessed with those genes as well. So far so good.

I've been hearing a lot lately about Vitamin D deficiency due to people being so afraid of skin cancer that they can't walk by a window, much less leave the house without bathing in SPF50. Let's apply the "everything in moderation" rule here - you can sit outside for 15-20 minutes without wearing sunscreen. You should probably do this before 10 AM or after 2 PM to avoid the most damaging rays of the sun, but in a pinch I bet you could even sit outside for a few minutes at Noon. The sun is healing. Enjoy it.

Now, after you've spent your 15-20 minutes outside, go back in and put your sunscreen on! There's really no excuse anymore with the continuous spray sunscreen invention. Whoever invented that should get a medal. Also, always, always, ALWAYS wear sunscreen on your face. You can wear tinted moisturizer and use bronzer to give your face a lovely glow, and hopefully you'll avoid premature crows feet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Be nice to cops, IT guys and anyone making or bringing you food

Ok, to begin, be nice to people in general. Smile, be friendly, etc. That is a subject for another post.

There is absolutely nothing to be gained from being rude to cops, IT guys and anyone making or bringing you food, and there is so much to be lost.

First and foremost, cops. If and when you are pulled over or have other interaction with cops, refer to them as "Sir" or "Ma'am." Do NOT under any circumstances give them attitude. Really, the best thing to do is say as little as possible and respond to any questions they ask as clearly and humbly as you can. This doesn't mean they won't give you a ticket, but at least you won't dig yourself into a deeper hole.

Second, IT guys (or girls). If you choose/find yourself in a career that requires you to work in and office and have a computer, you will soon learn that the IT guy can be your best ally or your worst enemy. I'm not saying you should suck up to this person or be fake, but a little extra friendliness and patience, when necessary, may be the difference between getting your computer fixed quickly or spending a week with a 20 pound loaner laptop from 1995.

Last but not least, anyone who makes or brings your food. Bad service is unacceptable, but being rude to your waiter, bartender or anyone else who works in the restaurant is only going to result in worse service and spit in your food (or worse: watch the movie "Waiting" with dreamy Ryan Reynolds... I digress...). If the service is that bad and you feel the need to make a point, remain gracious throughout the meal and make your point after you've already eaten. For the most part, however, I'd suggest you let it go and complain to your friends about it later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stand up straight and walk with confidence

Even though I've heard this throughout my life, this is something that I've only recently really learned from my good friend, Alex, who exudes an air of confidence that I admire. I spent my high school years hunched over and generally feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I never really had body image issues, but I wasn't entirely comfortable with my tall, lanky self. All of us feel shy or insecure at times, but there's no reason to share that with the world. Share it with your good friends or your diary.

When you walk into a room, stand up straight and walk in like you own the place. Even if you don't feel comfortable, even if you don't know anyone in the room, when you walk with confidence you will feel more confident. People will treat you differently, and who knows, maybe you'll encourage others to feel more comfortable as well.

As an added bonus, when you stand up straight you look better. Not that everyone needs to be thin, but there's no reason to slouch and add rolls that don't need to be there.

Someday, You'll Thank Me

As the song goes, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.”

There are certain lessons in life that you have to learn on your own. Life in and of itself, is a lesson. Each day brings something you don’t necessarily expect; each day, each month, each year passes and every once in awhile you realize that you’ve learned something. Some things need only be experienced once and you learn to never let it happen again, while other things have to be learned over and over and over.

They say you get wiser as you get older – clearly the young can learn from the old, but I also feel that the old can learn from the young. I learn things daily from my now 4-year-old daughter. Mostly patience.

For the past 4 years I’ve been thinking about things I’ve learned and wisdom I’ve gained over the last 37 years, and things I want to share with my daughter. She’ll need to experience her own life to truly appreciate these lessons (I can already picture the teenage eye roll when she reads this), but maybe, someday she’ll thank me.