Tips for Dealing with Troublemakers and Toxic People

images-19 How do you deal with someone who is toxic or simply intent on causing trouble? You know the type. The person who begins a conversation with an innocent sounding premise, but then proceeds to launch a sugar-coated attack on you or places the blame for their transgressions onto you.  Toxic Troublemakers, we’ve all got them in our lives. Read more

The Stories We Tell

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After participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge during the month of April, I decided to take a break for a couple of weeks from writing here. A lot happened during April that made me reevaluate some things in my life, and to do some hard pondering about where I’ve been and where I’m going. Read more

On Being Alone With My Husband (U.B.C. – Day 13)

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Last night Ernie Hemingway and I had a free night. A night without children. The Boy was with my parents for a sleepover, and the youngest daughter was off visiting a friend in Boston and doing whatever it is young twenty-somethings do these days. The antics of my youth seem tame in comparison to some of the stuff I hear about now, but I digress.

We had the annual fund raiser at The Boy’s school last night, a fun evening for which the parents get all gussied up and go drink wine and beer and bid what we hope are absurdly large amounts of money for items drummed up for donation by the two awesomely amazing women who co-chair the event.

It was a fun night, and we got to schmooze with a lot of people we wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to meet, as our kids are not in the same grade. It was nice for the parents who are not doing drop-off and pick-up on a daily basis to have the opportunity to meet and talk with other parents. It was lovely to see everyone dressed up in their finery instead of in jeans, yoga pants or sweatpants, with hair and makeup done, their faces bright and expectant instead of tired and wanting just a few more minutes before the alarm goes off.

The best part of the night, however, was the hours after the auction. Ernie Hemingway and I got to be just “us” for a few hours, no place we needed to be, nobody we needed to pick up, nobody waiting at home for us. We got to sleep by ourselves for a full night instead of experiencing the normal routine of The Boy coming in to snuggle at 5:00 am each morning. We got to wake up by ourselves and talk about things we wanted instead of having to leap out of bed to make somebody else breakfast, get somebody else dressed or bring somebody else to school.

Last night reminded me of the myriad reasons I love my husband, reasons that often get obscured as we rush through the daily grind of life, barely seeing one another some days except for a few minutes at night when we fall, exhausted, into bed. My husband and I got to spend twenty-four hours together being one another’s best friend and confidante, instead of only being one another’s partner in family management.

It was heavenly.

Monday Morning Eternal (U.B.C. – Day 7)

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No matter where I am in my life, Monday mornings bring much baggage. When I was in high school, Monday mornings were difficult because I had to go back to rising early and schlepping off to school. I actually did walk about a mile each way to school, so in the cold of New England winters, it was a brutal walk. Of course, I didn’t help matters by wearing my little white Keds and flats with bare feet as I slogged through the slush and ice, but I can be forgiven for that; I was a teenager. Read more

Love Letter to Ernie Hemingway

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My husband, the man whom I call Ernie Hemingway on this blog, is the love of my life, my rock and my soft landing. So on this Valentine’s Day, I wanted to write him a love letter. Read more

Another Chance

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Here it is another January 1, another new year on the calendar, another chance. Each January 1, we all make resolutions regarding our behavior. It’s almost instinctual; even if we swear we’re not going to get caught up in the hype, it seems that we all stand up a little straighter, square our shoulders and try something new … for at least a few days. Read more

December: Boot Camp Perfect

Well, we’ve finally reached the beginning of the end.  The end of my year of new resolutions, that is.  According the my roadmap for this past year, December is the time to engage in “Boot Camp Perfect.”  By that, apparently Ms. Rubin means that I should follow all my resolutions and determinations all the time. Read more

The Majesty of Thanks

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True Majesty: American bald eagle in flight, July 2013

As I begin the great Thanksgiving cook-fest, with the feast looming less than twenty-four hours in my future, I thought I’d wipe off my hands on the dish towel and turn from the stove for a few moments to give thanks. Read more

Shared Experiences? Not.

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I’ve been getting questions about my experiences with particular individuals with whom I’ve had contact or relationships over the years of my life. In particular, whether my experience with people makes a statement about those individuals. It does not.

Any experience I’ve had in my lifetime and about which I may write here is MY experience. Nothing more. My writing about something makes no specific statement about the person or people with whom I’ve shared that experience. It makes a statement about ME, and how I perceived, distilled, and internalized the experience of engaging with that person or those people.

I’ve known and interacted with a lot of people over my lifetime as we all have. And guess what? The person we knew in high school may be the same at the twenty-fifth reunion, but they may also be hugely different because of the life they experienced over those twenty-five years. We may only know a father as a devoted family man who attends all of his kids’ sports and school events, but when we meet an old friend of his from college, we may find out that he was known among his fraternity brothers as a bit of a womanizer.

The girl with whom we shared a cubicle wall when we first started working at age 22 may be just as much of a flirtatious man-eater at 45 when we run into her on the street lo those many years later, or she may be a happily married mother of four who shudders to think of her early dating history. The sweet boy who worked in the office fax room and smiled shyly at you may always stay that shy and unassuming, or he may come out of his shell and develop a thick skin along the way to becoming a successful businessman who treats people callously.

The point is lives have chapters, many chapters. We all have second, third, fourth, and even more, acts to our stories. And that’s just what our lives, our pasts are…stories. Our stories. Not the stories of those with whom we’ve interacted or with whom we’ve had relationships, personal or professional.  Does the experience of the first or second chapter of a life negate the experiencing of a third, fourth or later chapter?  Of course not.

I once had a boss who hacked into my e-mail account while I was going through my divorce because he was sure that I had left my husband for him and was jealous that I was dating other men. Apparently, he thought that violating my privacy and betraying my trust was the ideal way to get me to have a relationship with him. Do I believe that he treated every other woman in his life that way? Of course not. Do I believe that he would treat me the same way now? No. Would I ever again give him the chance to treat me that way? No effing way. But simply because that was MY experience with him, in no way does my relating my experience and my feelings about that experience mean that he was guaranteed to treat the next woman he was with the same way. In fact, I am pretty sure that his later life experience of marrying and having a daughter ensured that he would never do such a thing again.

In my twenties, I had a friend who claimed she didn’t like sex. Years later, when she was in an entirely different situation and different relationship, she confessed to me that she had been so wrong about that. If her original statement had been taken as an indictment of her as a person and her ability to enjoy physical intimacy, she might never have gotten into the second relationship. But the person with whom she shared the later relationship didn’t hear about the statement until she chose to reveal it. Her new partner didn’t take her first partner’s experience and internalize it as his own.

Everyone reacts to different people in different ways. Every moment in our lives is different, and our actions and reactions vary from each moment to the next because once a moment is past, we can never recreate it.

So for anyone who thinks that my relating my experiences says something about the individuals with whom I shared those experiences, do so at your own risk. These are MY experiences, MY interpretations, MY feelings. You might be missing out on something or someone fabulous. Seasons change. Circumstances change. Most of all, people change.

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