I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.
Henry David Thoreau
November 15, 1999
“Chanticleer* Calls”, a twice-monthly newsletter for discriminating readers, thinkers, feelers, speakers, listeners, and cogitators.
I’m not about to buck dang-near 400 years of tradition, travel and Friday sales by proposing to NOT observe Thanksgiving. However, I suggest possible benefits may derive from approaching Thanksgiving in a little bit different manner this year. As you prepare to thank everybody ELSE on November 25th, how about spending the next 10 days thanking, appreciating, and becoming more aware of yourself?
I call it, “Thankstaking.” Try practicing one of these each day until the 25th.
- Think of things you’ve done well or accomplished since Thanksgiving 1998. Pat yourself on the back for the difficult experiences you survived, the home fix-up projects you completed, the home fix-up projects you re-did until you got them right, the growing pains and stretch marks you earned, the things you did which you had never done before.
- “Once a day, every day – treat yourself.” You might remember this as the credo of Special Agent Dale Cooper from the 80’s drama, “Twin Peaks.” Treat yourself to a piece of cherry pie and a cup o’ joe.
- Read one more article in the morning paper.
- Watch a sitcom re-run.
- Have a dessert.
- Walk around the block for no reason.
- Sit and think idly for 15 minutes.
- Sit and do nothing but listen to a favorite CD.
- Use a fresh towel, even if it’s not Sunday.
- Allow others to thank you. Instead of automatically responding to someone’s sincere “Thank you” with:
- sure,no problem
- it wasn’t any problem
- oh, no need to thank me
- no sweat, don’t worry about it
… simply acknowledge them with, “You’re welcome.” Let somebody thank you, and let yourself feel somebody’s gratitude without casually dismissing it.
- Practice sensory awareness exercises to help relax, relieve ‘stress’, and generally get to know yourself better. Here’s one you can do without calling too much attention to yourself if the office snoop should walk by: Sit up in your chair and close your eyes. Come to quiet for a few moments, then gradually allow your head to drift down towards your left shoulder. Control the movement – try to move only your head as slowly as you can while maintaining continual movement. Note how you feel your neck muscles stretch, and how the sensation on your right shoulder differs from that on your left. Let your head fall as long as you can do so comfortably. Hold the position for several seconds, stretching your neck muscles and noticing how your muscles feel. After several seconds, gradually bring your head back up to your starting position, moving at the same gradual rate as before. Come to a stop as you approach what you feel as ‘vertical’. Does your right side want to stretch as well? Repeat to your right side. As you slowly recover to ‘vertical’, how do you determine when you’ve reached a centered, straight-up, ‘vertical’ position?
- Next time you find yourself reacting negatively (with impatience, stress, anxiety, anger, etc.) to something (frustrating traffic, for example), try this: Say, “This is what’s happening:” [Give a brief, factual description of what’s going on, with no opinions, personal reactions, judgments, etc.]
Say, “This is how I’m responding:” [Say what your feelings are, what you’d like to do to the other drivers, how impatient you are, etc.]
Say, “I can respond differently if I choose by:” [Give some other, less negative, reactions.] This helps reinforce the lesson that not all human responses are determined solely by the stimulus.
- Go someplace off to yourself and try to be silent for 15 minutes, without ‘thinking’ or talking to yourself – try to just observe, hear, smell, feel, etc. Attempt to experience your “aliveness” without words, on a non-verbal, silent level. Many times our talking gets in the way of our experiencing … as Gloria Estefan sang, “when the words get in the way”. Every now and then, it might help to simply experience.
- Suggestion from a GS colleague to increase your level of self-awareness … break your personal routine in some way. Wear your watch on the other arm. Wear different jewelry, or wear your rings differently. Take a different route to work. Eat with your other hand. What do you notice about yourself and your experiences as a result of the change?
- Try changing a few language habits and see if it makes a difference in how you think and feel; for example, catch yourself whenever you use the word “is” or “am” and consider how you would express yourself without using either word.
- Catch yourself whenever you say “allness” words, such as all, totally, absolutely, every, none, certainly, without a doubt, never, always, etc. Do you really mean that? We tend to use a lot of these ‘extreme’ words in our daily conversations. In many cases, they cause us to develop distorted views of what’s actually happening and can lead to unrealistic, and unrealizable, expectations.
- Catch yourself whenever you make an observation or state an opinion, and add the phrase, “… to me.”
- Contemplate the 160-year old wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” More Emerson inspiration from his essay on Self-Reliance.
- And after all that hard work getting ready for it, I wish you the best ever regular family-gathering, turkey-eating, football-watching, ad-reading, floor-napping, Christmas card-writing, calorie-disregarding, memory-making November 25th.
Our single friends in London apparently eschew the “meat market” scene, instead preferring to meet and mingle while shopping in the grocery market. According to an article distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, Sainsbury’s – a large British grocery chain – is testing a concept called “bleepers,” The adventurous single shopper may participate by programming a beeper-like device with his or her personal interests, preferences, hobbies, etc. If the shopper passes another bleeper-equipped shopper, the devices “bleep.”
(I am not making this “bleep” up – this is no “bleeping” joke. These bleepers are allegedly already deployed in Japan.)
But that’s not the interesting part …. the interesting thing is, “if their hobbies are compatible, the bleepers start bleeping and flashing simultaneously, loudly indicating a potential partner in the offing.”
(I guess “offing” is a section unique to British stores, maybe where they keep the kidney pie and haggis.)
A dating service owner comments: “It is tremendous to set up something that gets people together, and it certainly beats the other supermarket tactics of [cart] banging or asking about the ripeness of melons.”
How positively cliché, what – ripe melons? Indeed!
“The comments of the Dallas Morning News regarding “Obscenity on ‘Hope'” reminded me of a PBS documentary I saw recently. The documentary was about the discovery of an outbreak of syphilis in a small community in Texas. Fifty cases were detected among adolescents and when they were interviewed, it was discovered that they had had sexual intercourse with numbers of people with which previously only prostitutes could vie. The adolescents were as young as twelve and were from well-to-do families whose working parents generally left them to fend for themselves. When the health care officials called a community meeting to discuss the epidemic, the parents could not believe what they were telling them their children were doing. Only when a visual aid showing the links between adolescents having sexual intercourse that looked like an unkempt ball of yarn did the magnitude of the problem hit home. An official interviewed for the program said that the parents needed to spend more time with their teenagers, that even though it seemed they were able to take care of themselves, they still needed guidance. She was disappointed that even after the presentation, parents still didn’t seem to realize that the problems with their children stemmed from the lack of time they spent with them. Considering this story, it’s not surprising that a mere obscenity on TV would not receive much of a response.
“Something else I found interesting was an interview the reporters did with a fourteen year old boy who had been active in the orgies and other youthful activities. A religious group attracted him for a short time and got him to give up his evil ways. One of the group’s methods of attracting the wayward youngsters was to have a Rock ‘n’ Roll band perform in a hall where the kids could dance, etc. Preaching was intermingled with the music and the adolescents were encouraged to pray, told they were loved, etc. The fourteen year old went along with it for awhile but lost interest when God did not respond to his prayers. He had set up a series of tests that God failed and came to the conclusion that the religion was a bunch of bunk.” – in Pennsylvania
“Per your comment: Seeing her alongside these other women caused me once again to think to myself, “I need to update my ‘map’ of what 80 looks like. … Being close to someone elderly makes you realize how much they have to offer us, if only we take the time to listen and learn. Some of the best advice I ever received was from my grandmother, who died two years ago at the age of 96. She thought she was grown when she was 18. When she turned 25, she realized how silly she was at 18, but how mature she was at 25. At 40 she realized how silly she was at 25, but how mature she was at 40…..punchline? At 95, she realized how immature she was at 80. Life is a continual growth experience -chose to learn from it, and adapt. – in Plano