Thursday, September 27, 2012

How To Be Unhappy In 10 Easy Lessons

I like Pinterest, it's a place of (mostly) beauty on the internet when there's so much sludge out there. It's growing rapidly and although in some ways is losing the homely feel it had to begin with. I still enjoy it. One of the big hits there is the abundance of inspirational quotes. Oh My! If inspirational quotes could lift us all we'd have no need for air flight. Lots of them are lovely and I have to say, many of them have given me solace at low moments especially when they have been passed on by someone who wants you to know they're thinking of you. I've passed them on myself from time to time. More than once I've spotted a beautiful picture and quote on Pinterest only to see it re-posted on Facebook the same day...these things take wings far beyond what the original poster could have imagined. That can be a good thing. Or not.

Here's something that has gotten me thinking.

Amongst all the beautiful, and 'Godly' and uplifting quotes on Pinterest, and elsewhere too but mostly Pinterest, I'm spotting more and more sneaking in there, disguised in the same clothing of dreamy pictures and stylish fonts, some which make me feel quite uneasy. And I feel uneasy because I'm seeing them being re-posted just as much as any of the other ones which promise happiness and comfort...only these ones are not the path to happiness...they're the fast-track to un-happiness.

In My Humble Opinion

I had a perfunctory look at Pinterest today and have, with very little searching, gleaned a few to illustrate what I mean.

So what's the running theme of all these? 

It's quite obvious...think of yourself first.

Do everything I want? What if the things I want to do are hurtful or harmful to others? What if I want is to help myself to something (or someone) that out of justice belong to somebody else ( a spouse perhaps?) Or what if it is harmful to myself...drugs, risky sexual behaviour, speed?  Is a spoilt Willy Wonka-esque 'I want it!' to be the criteria for whether we do something...?  Oh dear...

Never regret anything because it was what you wanted?  I have seen that sort of selfish attitude at very close quarters...and the resulting utter devastation of numerous lives. Should the people who caused that terrible situation just say 'Ah well, no's exactly what I wanted' ?????!!! Forget about the children with lifetime scars? or the elderly mother with a broken and sorrowful heart? not to mention the injustice and cruelty to a beautiful wife?  Oh NO!!! Regrets of things we've done wrong can be the impetus to be better, to try and make up for what we've done, to atone...maybe even...apologise?

Your 20s are your 'selfish' years? Oh really? What if that is all you have? Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow. Not one of us.  A small child can be selfless, and saintly and a master of their own ego. What is the excuse for or benefit to anybody of someone in their 20's being 'selfish'? I can't think of one. And what happens when the last day of 29 is passed?  Is it likely that after ten selfish years a person suddenly become unselfish, caring of others...caring of a spouse, children? I don't think so. Ten years of self-centeredness is nothing but laying the groundwork for a lifetime of self-centeredness and unhappiness. The very special decade of the 20s is the time to strive to learn to be the best you you can be, to build up qualities and character. To learn how to serve, to love, to give of oneself. Selfishness and self centeredness are not attractive at any age be it two or a hundred. We all know elderly people who use their age to excuse themselves from manners or kindness and to justify their own selfishness...not nice.

Please whatever you like...make yourself happy first...think of me, think of me!! 

And the last one...walk away from what no longer serves us. That is the saddest one of all. What no longer serves us or makes us happy. Dump it, dump them, walk away, let go....

Don't Dump People...Don't LET Go!!! 
 What if there's nobody underneath to catch them?

So people may not deserve our help. They're still people. I have seen the Sistine Chapel once or twice. It is magnificent. There is one tiny detail I love that is not often pointed out in the guidebooks or the tours. In one corner depicting the souls of the damned tumbling into Hell, gnarled and blackened arms waiting in hatred (and might I add...selfishness) to pull them down. Amongst that scene of despair there's a little detail of hope. A man is leaning down the edge of the pit. In his hands he is grasping a rosary beads. Clinging onto that beads he is hauling two wretched souls out of that cesspit. He didn't give up on those two who were maybe people he could have been justified walking away from. They may not have been great friends, but he was. He went to the gate of hell for those two men. He went to the gate of Hell but he didn't go in.

The gate of Hell was far enough.

Can I do that?

Would I?

Should I?

Yes, I should.

Should not walk away from people.

(Here again I'm not advocating staying in an abusive situation. Everything in this blog is aimed at your common or garden person with common or garden lives.)

Walking away from those who no longer serve us is to start out on a long road that has no visible end. As is well known, Holland is the world leader in walking away from those it deems useless. The rate of euthanasia on The Netherlands has increased by 73% in the last ten years. Last year the Dutch Physicians Association (KNMG) approved extending euthanasia to lonely people. The people cast off by those whose purpose they no longer serve.

What a despairing stance for a society to take. Rather than show kindness to somebody who is lonely, to be selfless with our time and keep a lonely (oh yes, maybe boring, dull, un-serving to our personal gratification or goals, but someone all the same) person company,  it's so much easier to cast them off.

Euthanasia...mercy killing...merciful to whom? The person who feels uncomfortable driving by a door knowing they should, but are unwilling to, call in and visit perhaps?

So sad. The best Holland can offer the lonely is an offer to kill them.

Walk away from your father, your wife, your friend who no longer makes you happy or serves your purpose. Very very sad, and very sad for the person who does that cynical thing. That is the fast track to unhappiness. Self seeking has never made a single person happy, deeply happy from within. Oh yes, superficial pleasures of course give a saccharine sweet taste. But pleasure is not happiness. Happiness ultimately comes from emptying yourself for the sake of another. Contentment and peace and joy come from seeking the good of the other rather than ourselves.

I have this little rant inspirational piece of advice I give our children to try and let them see the futility of only seeking one's own happiness over another's. The mindset of children can tend toward Me First! That's not FAIR! I WANT! ME! MY! MINE!! I've seen marriages I know wherein this attitude also resides. 'Well I just told him I DON'T iron', or cook, or this or that...I give you everything except...

So this is roughly how my Mom speech goes...

"There are eight people in this house (adjust numbers accordingly). If each of you is trying to make yourself happy, that's ONE person looking out for your happiness. On the other hand if each person is trying to make the others happy over themselves that's SEVEN people trying to make YOU happy! Wow"

Which would you prefer?

Now I know quoting Mother Teresa is a bit cliché but I'm choosing her because she has universal appeal among Catholics, other Christian denominations and non-believers of every sort.  I think it's correct to say she had interior joy, here's why...
If you want to spend your life pitifully barking up the wrong tree in a selfish
 self interested pursuit of pleasure, follow the advice of those pins.

If you want to be happy...Don't.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Out Of Nothing...Something Comes

For some reason, maybe it's the ebbing of Summer, I don't know, but quite a few people I know both in real life and among my online (also real-life) friends are feeling low just now.

All of us have times like that during the course of our lives and when it hits it can be very difficult to see light or hope at the end of the tunnel.  All the inspirational quotes and beautiful pictures on the entire internet don't really wash when  from our perspective we're living in a rut, or our outlook seems bleak, or just boring.  All the dreams we once held of how our life was going to unfold just look like bubbles that once sparkled with the brilliance of  hope but which are now burst and gone leaving only the memory of something that was beautiful for a while.

I'm not talking about major crises or actual depression here.  I've said it before on this blog, depression is an illness that needs to be attended to sooner rather than later and no amount of 'snap out of it'  advice is going to cure it.  If you think you may be depressed please go to the doctor.  At the very minimum, tell someone.  No, here I'm mainly talking about disappointment or when things just don't seem to be going well, circumstances really.

God works in mysterious ways.  Oh does He now? We've heard that one so often we don't hear it any more.  So God works in unemployment, or monotony, or loneliness, or the myriad of circumstances that aren't what we'd hoped for our lives?

I think He does.

Here's why...

This summer, to celebrate her 16th birthday,  I brought my eldest daughter and some of her friends on a trip around the magical off-the-beaten-track back streets of Dublin.  It was a beautiful and memorable sunny day spent with the loveliest of girls.  We browsed the market stalls, the button shops, the Doll's Hospital and ate lunch in Old Dublin. Just lovely.  We were winding down and I was starting to think of heading home in time to avoid the rush-hour traffic when we stumbled on a little shop whose window display lured us inside. 

Whereupon I spotted something I fell in love with immediately.   


And in particular...


The reason this little phrase grabbed me was because it summed up things that had happened to me.  You might think I'm referring to more recent events but I'm thinking back much further to a different period of my life. 

Here's My Tale:

The job I had in my working days was in itself  lovely, always interesting and fun and lots of endearing street-wise children and teenagers to keep us on high alert and the days would usually fly by.  There was one big problem though, with quite a large workforce of un-sackable people, there was an endemic culture of bullying.  Now that wasn't so long ago but thinking of it now it's incredible how little understanding there was then of the seriousness of workplace bullying.  If it were to happen now there would be lots of paths of recourse for people but back then there was no right to reply. The chiefs were horrible to the Indians and that's the way it was. 

Some of the 'chiefs' would go so far as to only address an 'Indian' through the medium  of someone with a status closer to their own.(even though it was typical for the younger staff to be more educated and qualified than their superiors).  In fact the head of the entire organisation when sitting on an interview board was known (and I witnessed it myself) to sit sideways to the interviewee and speak over her shoulder, such was her disdain for the necessary 'evil' of staff beneath her. I'm not making this up, it's true. In general the bullying was not personal and there was great comradery amongst the troops. Though it would get everybody down from time to time,  I had never been particularly targeted as such.  That is, until I was transferred to another location and had a new 'boss'.  It has never  happened me before or since for someone to take a total dislike to me.  

There was no reason for me to be bullied or picked out because I'm not embarrassed to say that I was damn good at my job.  Work-ethic had to come from within as not working at all was not a punishable offence, in fact many's the time I saw clock-watchers/sick-leave experts get promotion after promotion over the head of good workers simply on their ability to schmooze at an interview.  You see the in-house interviewers knew nothing about their staff because of their attitude and didn't have a clue who was deserving of promotion.  Well anyway, that's neither here nor there, suffice to say this woman took a total dislike to me for no just cause. Now remember that the workplace culture then was no right to reply.  I had no option but to take daily humiliation, constantly being called into her office, smirked at and demeaned.  I was still friendly with the rest of the staff, including four other 'bosses' who all disagreed with the way I was being treated but it was terrible to live like that.  As I'd turn in off the main road every morning to the place I worked I'd feel a cloud descend on me and my palms would become clammy.  

I began to think of how I could get away from this rut.  I looked into changing career but that would have meant going back to college and my means were slim to pay for fees and support myself at the same time.  So instead I applied for a career break and my application was accepted.  By word of mouth I secured a job as an au-pair with a family in Palermo, Sicily.  After work every day I'd stay on to learn Italian in one of our language booths and I was saving up every penny for my trip. Soon I'd be free!!

And then my plans came to a standstill.

My mother got Cancer.

I decided to postpone my career break and see how things went but I was still planning to go to Italy.

Shortly afterwards something terrible happened.

The Supreme Court in Ireland interpreted a constitutional inclusion which gave unborn babies and their mothers equal protection and which had been put there precisely to give our country protection from the international heave to take away that protection, to mean EXACTLY  the opposite. The unborn in Ireland no longer had constitutional protection.  I'll never forget that night, I didn't sleep a wink.  

I cancelled my career break.  

So back to my work with no real sign of a letting up in the bullying by my boss.  In some ways I felt sorry for her as I figured that anybody who felt they had to treat people like this couldn't have interior peace or happiness.  All the same, in spite of my continued 'cheerfulness' I was just so down.  My mother was sick, my job had lost any enjoyment that had been there, it was the days of high emigration in Ireland and my original group of friends from my job's halcyon days had mostly headed to England or America, and now I knew I was going to be involved in something nobody should ever have to address.  I wasn't depressed but to be honest, I wasn't too far off it.

Then one day, when I felt I couldn't spend another minute in that place, I sat staring at a newspaper during my break and spotted a notice about a pro-life demonstration at Government Buildings that afternoon.  Just to get away I went and asked for a half day's annual leave.  I was replied with the bitchy response of 'short notice' and 'unacceptable' but both she and I knew the quorum was well covered and she had no choice but to grant the leave.  

I took the bus into town and found a good viewing position on the steps of Buswells Hotel to listen to the speakers.

Now that morning in another part of the city a Professor in the Medical School woke up feeling unwell and telephoned the college to cancel his lectures for that day.

One of the lectures that was cancelled was that of a student in Pre-Med.  He was drinking coffee in the canteen flicking through a newspaper that was lying around when he spotted the same notice which had prompted my own half day.  Having nothing else to do before his next lecture, being pro-life and having a certain attraction to swimming against the tide he decided to stroll on down and have a look.  So he took the short walk from his college to Government Buildings, strolled the length of the street and went back to college in time for his next lecture.

Now the girl (me) standing on the steps caught a brief glimpse of the student as he passed,  recognised him as being from her own town, thought to herself  'Oh, he must be pro-life' and thought nothing else about it.

A month or so later as I was sitting with some other young people brainstorming who we could get on board to help us with the up-coming canvass on a treaty which was going to have implications connected to the court's recent misjudgement.  I mentioned that I had seen such-and-such's son walk by the demonstration that day and maybe he'd be interested in helping out.  So I was given the job of tracking him down and asking him.  

So I did.

We have been 17 years married this year.

I am sure God was guiding my path all along, 
even though it seemed miserable and thorny.

 If I hadn't been being bullied,
If my mother hadn't gotten cancer,
If baby X hadn't been so unjustly and cruelly treated,
If I hadn't cancelled my longed-for career break,
If a lecturer hadn't been unwell that day,
If the lecture hadn't been cancelled,
If someone hadn't discarded their newspaper
If I had been standing on the footpath instead of the steps...


 would never have happened...

and these children:

couldn't possibly have existed.

Out of nothing...something came.

I'm glad my eldest daughter spotted my eyes mist over when I read the caption on that plate as I remembered all that.  I got the plates for my birthday a few weeks later.  

If you're feeling low, I hope this story gives you some hope ♥

Friday, September 7, 2012

Shine On...

When I was in college I lived at home as it was within commuting distance.  In order to be on time for classes I would catch the earliest bus and to avoid rush hour traffic. The result of this was that I was always first to arrive, me and one other guy that is, he was a commuter too. To pass the hour we'd head to the student canteen and drink coffee. We'd chat a bit and then he'd pass on the newspaper he had bought to read on the train journey.  It was always the same tabloid and because I must have been brain dead back then for want of anything else to do, I'd sit and read the seedy gossip, the titillating snippets and the lewd jokes and quickly pass over the scantily clad page 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 girls.  I knew it was rubbish then, just as I know it's rubbish now.

But every morning, after killing time with that sickly diet of the lowest common denominator, I wished I could shower.  I'd feel kind of tainted.  As though what I'd just read had stuck to me.

Just how I felt after the amount of study I put into my last post. Like I needed to wash it off.

Be sparkly clean again. 

But to be quite honest, having a shower in my bathroom has been a bit of a irritation to me this last while.

You shower cubicle is made of glass..

Y'know the mineral residue that builds up on the glass of showers? The one where the minerals that are dissolved in the water stick to the glass like concrete when the water evaporates?  Of course I know you're supposed to have a conveniently placed squeegee  so that you can wipe down the glass after every shower. That's what Supermom does.  The problem with that is that my shower usually lasts all of about 1.57 minutes and I have about the same amount of time left to put on my make up and do everything  else I need to do before the next thing I need to do.

(Having said that, an afternoon shower when I've managed to slink away un-noticed and double-locked the door is sheer bliss).

I quite often clean as I go and have been known to scrub the shower while washing my hair but in general, squeegeeing the shower doors is not usually high on my priority list, I just don't have time...and I'm willing to bet you don't have time either.

Now that residue once it builds up is the devil himself to remove.  With eight bodies and eight heads of hair to be kept clean along with zero motivation coming from six of those and minimal time available to the other two, the bottom third of my shower doors is not exactly what you'd describe as sparkling. I've tried lots of things. Nothing has really worked.So of late I've just been resigned to a dull sheen on my shower rather than a glittering sparkle.

But a girl does like a bit of sparkle.

Keep Calm Everyone!!! Help is at hand!!

A day or two ago I was enjoying my nightly visual holiday on Pinterest, that little haven of loveliness in the middle of the dump heap the internet is fast becoming. If you haven't dipped in there yet, here's a little taster with my own favourite board, (feel free to follow me if you like). Of course, a bit of snarkiness can be found there too but much less than some other sites.  

Well anyway, I came upon this pin:

Uses for magic erasers.  I knew I had one or two in the back of the cupboard under the kitchen sink from the time little girl #4 coloured our newly painted sitting room wall with black crayon.  Worth a try I suppose.  So off I went, rummage rummage, found my old magic erasers and headed upstairs...

...where I let loose on the shower doors...

Oh my goodness gracious me!!


Here's my results on one door.  I put a towel behind the glass to show the before~after contrast. Now I have to tell you it takes a little bit of elbow grease, not too much, but it's one of those jobs that's so satisfying that you start looking for what else you can try it out on.  

Pretty good don't y'think?'s fun.  The children will love it! 


So, Girl, there you have it...

Now where are those scented candles and oils???