Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just Grin & Bear It, Mister

We all have things in life that irritate us...send us to the brink of flipping out and committing some sort of heinous act.

I found myself in such a predicament a few years ago, when an associate, a grown man, began bringing a stuffed bear to business meetings. Business meetings I had to sit through. Endure.
This  bear would be introduced as Mr. Grin & Bear It, my co-worker's Administrative Assistant, and if there were any concerns about specific tasks or projects that had not been completed by this co-worker and his team, the bear took the heat.

"If this or that hasn't been done, blame Mr. Grin & Bear It"

The relationship between bear and man was becoming awkward, a bit much, in my mind, and in the minds of a few others who had mumbled their concerns under hushed breathes. When the bear began making appearances at holiday outings, theme parks etc., enough was enough.

Despite warnings from my supervisor that tampering with this man/bear bond would only further delay much needed task completion, I began plotting a "bearnapping".

I enlisted double-agent co-workers to assist me in napping the bear. Let the adventures, and ransom notes begin....

Word soon got out of the bearnapping. Ransom notes began filtering through to his owner through the hands of the double-agents. In response, an A-Team Task Force was formed to rescue this poor bear. What a great opportunity for me to become a double agent myself ! I participated in rescue efforts at every turn.

Mr. Grin & Bear It had his own facebook page so people around the world could participate in the rescue efforts.Mr. Grin & Bear It Facebook
Facebookies asked questions of the bear to see if they could get some hints as to his location. and report sightings.

The "bearnapper" (me) set up a blog as a means of "bearnapping terrorism propaganda" and was able to keep his owner alerted as to his plight. Updates were posted, pictures uploaded, and videos taunted those on the Task Force.
Where In The World Is Mr Grin & Bear It Blog

Over the next few months, the bear was frequently relocated to a new hiding places. He made cameo appearances in work-related videos. Ransom notes were delivered with updated demands, including demands for gummy bears, circus animal cookies, a Starbucks gift card, and a check for $131,000!

As the general public learned of the growing demand for gummy bears and Benjamins, would-be imposter bearnappers began to appear out of the blue.

"I have your friend in my evil grip. I demand gummy bears"

The bear had quite a few adventures while we were on the lam.... we went to San Fransisco where he was arrested and handcuffed!

....was locked up in Alcatraz for a short time

and almost flung himself off of the Golden Gate Bridge

The farce continued throughout the summer months, until the bear was safely returned to his owner at a conference in front of all who knew of his plight.

He was rescued, of course, by me! Being a double-agent definitely had it's advantages!

At the conference, following a video that resembled a scene from the Godfather promising retribution towards the bearnapper, and in front of 400+ co-workers, I appeared, disheveled and  exhausted, reporting that I had just returned from a globe trottingl rescue effort. I lofted the bear high above my head, Lion King "circle of life" style and returned him to his rightful owner... and I gladly accepted the "check" for the $131,000. But never did get any gummy bears...or a Starbucks card...Hmmmmm....I may need to strike again!

When all was said and done, the whole adventure was fun for all those involved. I was in hopes that I had not upset my coworker. His bear had many adventures, all chronicled for his owner as a fun memory.

It was a fun joke....or so I thought.

What I didn't anticipate was the day that my co-worker approached me and let me know just how much the bear-napping had meant to him.

It was more than a joke to him. It was a much needed distraction.

Unbeknownst to me, at about the same time that I took the bear, his wife had become very ill, at times requiring hospitalization, her prognosis unknown, and frightening.

Between work, visits to the hospital, caring for his family, and  prayers for his wife's well-being, he was able to escape reality for a short amount of time each day to keep tabs on his bear.

What had originally been a scheme to transform my irritation into entertainment developed into something good, something that was needed, something that was helpful....for a co-worker, a friend, in need.

I guess it's true that God uses each of us in our own unique way to lift up and support each other in our times of need.... I just didn't know I'd do that via a bearnapping.

Operation Beautiful

I am a very impulsive, but sometimes, thoughtful creature. At times, I manage to get things right... in a big way.

One day, while perusing the internet and writing my blog, I came across another blog, one with a positive message and quest for starting a public movement that, I believed, warranted a little of my participation and devotion.

I had stumbled across a site called Operation Beautiful.

The mission statement from this site states: "The goal of the Operation Beautiful website is to end negative self-talk or “Fat Talk.”  If this little blog only does one productive thing, I hope it helps readers realize how truly toxic negative self-talk is  — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Followers  are encouraged to secretly, and anonymously, post messages of positive self-worth in random locations.

I have a secret stash of pretty post-it notes in my desk. Some of the post-its have been treasured for almost 10 years! I hate to use them on something frivolous. I actually hoard pretty post-its and will chastise anyone who touches "my precious".

This Operation Beautiful is anything but frivolous. So, out came my pretty pieces of paper; pink hearts, purple butterflies, peachy flowers...
Operation Beautiful had posted a challenge for readers to anonymously place unlimited messages of self worth on a specific date and time. I accepted the challenge. As the date neared, I diligently penned my own positive affirmations; some simple, some profound. And when the moment was right, I slipped away from my desk at work and placed pretty affirmation post-it notes all over my workplace. Post-its on the bathroom mirrors, post-its on co-worker's computer monitors, post-it's on the copy machine.

I was stealthy... nobody caught me and I was very proud of my accomplishment...even giggled to myself  when I started  hearing people ask about the post it notes.

I denied all inquiries. I didn't know a thing about it, but thought that it a pretty cool thing.

And, then, a male co-worker, whom I barely knew, from another suite came to my cubicle with the sticky I had placed on his computer. The post-it simply said, "you are loved."

"Did you do this?"he asked .

"Do what?" I replied.

"Did you put this on my computer? I stepped away from my computer for less than a minute and when I came back, this was on my computer". He held up the sticky again so I could read it.

"Hmmmm, wow,  ummmm, nope, I've been at my desk almost all morning", I lied.

I could tell that he wasn't buying it. But I held fast that I didn't know anything about it.

And then, I noticed that as he was looking at the ground in front of him,  little salty tears started welling up in the corners of his eyes and threatened to spill out onto his cheeks.

"If you did this," he said, "thank you. I really needed to hear this right now."

I stood up and gave him a wink and a little hug, and still denied putting that sticky note on his monitor. He hugged me back, held on tight.. he just kept saying thank you.

"I have no idea  what you're talking about", I lied, "but you ARE loved" I told him, truthfully.

I didn't know this coworker very well. My relationship was nothing more than a friendly professional one. He's always been helpful and kind, but I knew nothing more about him. I didn't know anything about his home life, his personal life.  I didn't know that he was going through a messy divorce and custody battle and he was questioning whether or not life was worth sticking around for.

Just when his life was appearing to be at it's lowest point, a little butterfly post-it note reminded him that he has blessings in his life ... and that he was loved.

I went home from work that day with a renewed sense of purpose, myself. I was reminded that even the smallest gesture can be monumental to someone. I was reminded that everyone has a story before they reach us, and we need to recognize and be sensitive to that. I was happy, and, yes, even proud, that I had held on to those post-it notes and had taken the time to follow through with my little project .... my post-its had more than served their purpose.

Those butterflies, hearts, and flower post-it notes stayed up on the mirrors and computers for many, many months after I had placed them there. The cleaning crews would clean the mirrors around each and every one of them. I would catch a glimpse of them on monitors as I walked by coworker's desks.

So much good came from each little piece of paper.

Here is your challenge, reader. I challenge you to make a difference in someone's life today... take one simple little piece of paper and anonymously tell someone that they matter... that they are loved.

It's not difficult to do... even put one up on the mirror in your own bathroom... because you are loved, too.

PS.... please visit and like them on facebook... I think the message here is an important one for all of us.


I am a crack pot.

Yes, you read that right. I called myself a crack pot.

Some of you who have known me for some time can attest to this fact. I am crazy, I am zany, I am ... weird.

But, I revel in my weirdness, my uniqueness. Like it or not, it is who I am

I have embarrassed my family, embarrassed my friends, embarrassed my coworkers. All because I am a bit "over the top" in my actions and my goofiness. *shrug*

I have written stories on my blog about crashing family reunions of people I am in no way related to...
Who invited the white lady?

I bring Ken and Barbie to dinner parties just to break the ice, (I don't know why, but those dolls end up losing their clothing every time!).  

I really have donned a coconut bra and grass skirt to sing backup for a local band.

No, this is not me! But, I do possess that shade of lipstick.

Not only am I crack pot, but I am a crack(ed) pot.

But there is a reason for my escapades; my unpredictable zest for loony adventures, my instability. I want to create memories for people, as well as myself. I want to see the funny things in an ordinary day. All I need is an opening in a conversation and I'll jump in with both feet with a silly story or anecdote. It's just who I am. It is when I am my most comfortable.
I want to be a crack(ed) pot that waters the landscape of life. People are a lot like flowers, you know. Shower them with kindness, love, laughter...memories and they will flourish.

All of this leads me to a story I'd like to share with you. Perhaps you've heard it before. Maybe this is the first time. Regardless, I hope after you read this, you recognize that you are a crack pot, too!

The Cracked Pot Story

A water bearer in India had two large pots,

one hung on each end of a pole which he carried
across his neck. One of the pots had a crack
in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always Cracked Pot 2
delivered a full portion of water at the end
of the long walk from the stream to the
master's house.  The cracked pot arrived only half full.

For two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it
spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

Why?" asked the bearer. Waterboy with Cracked Water Pot

"What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house.

Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.

But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?

That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers
to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots.

But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them. There is a lot of good out there.

There is a lot of good in us!

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Flower Power

Isn't it amazing what we women will subject ourselves to for the sake of looking pretty?

We rip the hair out of our legs with inquisition-like torture devices...

We yank out our spare eyebrow hairs with scalding hot wax...

We grind our nail beds down to paper-thin remnants to afford us the luxury of acrylic nails...

And.... while we do all of this, we subject ourselves to a sense of culture shock while sitting in the local nail salon.

Now, my intention here is not to offend anyone with this post, but rather, make light of a situation that any of us who patronize the local nail salon deal with; the culture and language barrier.

Many times I have sat in my chair at the salon and have listened to the technicians as they speak among themselves in their native language. Sometimes, the tone is harsh, other times it is hushed... but often, more than not, there is laughter involved.

When there is that occasional giggle while someone if hefting my tree-stump of a calf over their shoulder so they can remove the callouses from my Shrek-like feet, I can't help but wonder if I am the butt of their joke.

I try to just let it go... smile and gauge my tip-o-meter based on my level of comfort and how much I believe I am NOT the source of their giggles.

Back in the mid-90's, when getting a pedicure in the local nail salon was gaining in popularity, several of the women in my neighborhood, including myself, were being treated to the luxury of a pedi every now and then. Nothing makes one feel better than to have  pretty toes...something our men appreciated.

Nail art was becoming all the craze, but us ladies weren't about to spent $3 of our men's hard-earned money on such frivolity. One neighbor and I joined forces to learn how to paint those pretty flowers on our nails ourselves.

We studied diligently next time we got a pedicure ... watching the flower-painting technique we would soon master. We ran off to the local drug store for all the necessary supplies: white polish, toothpicks, top coat, polish remover, etc.

We practiced painting flowers on each other's toes as we sat in the back yard, lemonade in hand. We were so proud of ourselves as we practiced the technique of applying little drops of polish and dragging the end of the toothpick through the drops to form little flower petals. We became flower artists!!!

That summer, as we neared the date for our annual rivier trip with our hubbies, kids, and boats all in tow, we planned to get a pedicure and treat each other to flower art...saving $6 at the salon, which would be happily inserted into the nearest nickel slots at the river.

I made an appointment at a new salon that had just opened in the mall. The salon had all of the newest equipment, new pedicure chairs that massaged you into submissive pedi-bliss, skillfully trained technicians with names I could pronounce, and a rainbow of nail polish to choose from.

As I sat back in my massaging, vibrating chair, I was fully relaxed. So relaxed that I didn't even notice the chatter that I couldn't comprehend. I was pleased to be spending a little pamper time on myself, and was looking forward to getting my flowers painted by my friend later in the day. I was oblivious to everything else going on around me.

I had selected a beautiful hot pink polish for my toes, perfect for the river and a color that would be sure to compliment my soon-to-be-acquired sunburn, and settled in for the painting to commence.
As the technician began painting my toes, she asked me,
"You want flowas on you toes?"
"No, thank you", I replied.
"You sure, you no want no flowas on your toes? Is summatiiiime.... you wear dresssss.... look so priteeeeee. I paint nice for youuuuu"
"No, thank you. I'm fine"

And then she said it...............

"You sure you no want flowas on your toes?"
"You know... you get flowas on your toes, you no look so FAT" !!!

Awkward silence... and then giggles...giggles all the way down pedicure lane ...and this time I comprehended the source of the giggles!!!

My tip-o-meter flat-lined. There was no resuscitating it.  Not only did I NOT get "flowas on my toes", but Susie didn't get a tip, either!!!

I was hurt, embarrassed, and highly offended.  I paid my bill, sans tip, and returned home to sulk.

But, now I laugh about it... I have matured enough to joke about it...I accept and love myself for who I am .. fat and all.

Some days, I get flowers on all ten toes and I tell myself that I have nearly disappeared  I am so model-thin .. I am a Flower-Power Ninja; stealthy...thin..invincible !!!

I'm off to go get a pedi...with flowers..Ten of them!!!