They’re All The Same

A few months ago my sister was in town with my eight year old niece.  We were talking about the college experience, as this was weeks before my daughter set sail. The conversation went something like this:

Sister: As long as you don’t join a sorority you’ll be fine. Sorority girls are all two faced and nasty and will stab you in the back. My ex husband was in a frat and whenever we met up with his college friends those girls were always mean to me. Every sorority girl I ever met was horrible.To my niece she said You will never join a sorority.

To be clear, on a political scale, my sister is far left….you can’t get much farther left. So this particular statement sort of stopped me. When her daughter was off with my daughter I asked her:

Me: What happens if you replace sorority with Jew? Or black? Or Finnish? Are those the statements you ever want your daughter to make about an entire group?

We all make generalizations and stereotypes.

We. All. Do.

If we don’t want group A to be stereotyped, then we conversely can’t stereotype group B.

We have to be really careful about the messages that we send our children. They pick up our bad habits just as easily as they pick up our good ones.

Before you make a blanket statement using “never” or “all” consider what you’re grouping together- are they really all the same? I’d like to say that all chairs have four legs. but I’ve seen three legged chairs…



How To Form an Opinion, and Have an Argument

There are many ways to form an opinion: here are some options that I’m pretty sure many people practice:

Remember- you get to choose ONE:

  1. Read one article
  2. Watch one news report
  3.  read a tweet
  4. Read a retweet
  5. Read a newspaper article over someone’s shoulder, but miss the end because they left wherever you are
  6. Listen in on another conversation
  7. Only think about one side of an issue
  8. Watch one TV station and take what they say as indisputable
  9.  Listen to same podcast with same writer, director and researcher

How to Have an Argument:

  1. Make a claim you read or heard about somewhere
  2.  Repeat as many catch phrases as you can
  3. Refuse to consider hard data on subject that negates your opinion
  4.  Assume you are right
  5. Assume the other person is wrong
  6.  Don’t actually listen to the other person speak, instead, when they are speaking, prepare in your head what you will say next
  7.  Don’t answer any questions that they ask- divert to what you know
  8.  Resort to statistics that were compiled by your neighbor’s cousin’s dog groomer
  9.  Assume that the person you are arguing with is stupid


  1. Keep a narrow focus
  2.  Incite negativity
  3. Soundbites are your friend
  4. You know everything
  5. There are now twenty ways to describe your gender and sexuality, yet only one true opinion or side to any subject

As we are amidst the holiday season, we are bound to gather in groups. Many of these groups will contain members who have differing opinions.

NO ONE SIDE IS COMPLETELY RIGHT OR COMPLETELY WRONG– the vast majority is in the grey (I knew some analysts that would tell you that 1+1 isn’t necessarily 2, which might explain the crisis of 2008, but shows that really anything is debatable)

But I’m sure if you remember my tips, you’ll have a lovely gathering….


I’m Back…

Where were we?

Oh yeah…happiness…and all it entails…

But as we are now mid December, with but a few weeks left in the DECADE, I’m going to play around little with what remains of 2019, and I’ll push back happiness to 2020, when everyone is forgetting about their resolutions…

This week I’m going to sprout about some things that have bothered me lately, and then I will segue into very light and easy posts as we all celebrate in the festivities of the season.

So today I will tell you about yesterday-

Husband and I went to see his Father. I’ll just relay part of the conversation:

Father in Law: Asks about daughter in college

Me: She’s in the home stretch. She has a paper due tomorrow that she wants to run something past me

Father in law: Yeah- when she gets her diploma it will have both your names on it

Me: That’s very disparaging towards your granddaughter (and honestly I was quite calm when I said this)

FIL: What? You’re so sensitive…it was a joke…can’t you take a joke- huff huff huff

Me: Your implication is that I’m doing the work for her

FIL: Well, I remember my wife working of my daughters works and…

I cut him off…

Me: I’m not your wife and she is not your daughter and she works incredibly hard and to say anything other is not nice.

Of course, husband was shooting me death looks and mouthing “Stop it.”

So, let’s dissect:

  1. Was his comment funny?
  2. Was I over sensitive?
  3. Was I right to say something, or should I have left it alone?
  4. Should my husband have admonished me for speaking my mind?

This is not the first time my FIL has made a statement like this. My daughter won some award last year and when she told him about it (I think my Husband had texted a picture of her accepting the award) he stated “Oh- I see your Father bought you another award.”

How would you have handled the situation? (muzzling my FIL is an option)



Under the Weather

Hi all!

I’ve been feeling less than spectacular this week, so I’m taking a few days off! (Otherwise you’ll just hear me whine about headache and stuffy head). See you soon!


Happiness and the High Achiever

“Never Satisfied”

Cindy said that when her son was in his football days he used to have a sign that said “Never Satisfied”, and it drove her a little crazy…Can someone who is always looking for more ever be happy?

Think about it: if you are always striving, always looking for the next “thing” can you possibly be happy? If nothing ever satisfies you, when do you allow yourself to relax?

Of course, I thought about my favorite high achiever- my daughter when I thought about this topic. My daughter is the kind of person who gets 3rd place in a tournament, smiles and pumps her fist in the air when she hears her name, grins openly for the winners pic, takes the hardware…and immediately thinks about what she could have done better… She’s already thinking about the next tournament as she steps off the platform and walks down the aisle…

Is she happy?

Or does the never satisfied come into play?

As my daughter is a tad busy this week (classes ended yesterday- she’s juggling club celebrations and papers and studying and basketball…) I couldn’t interview her for this piece- I tried but was greeted with an evil sort of laugh… So I’ll give you my interpretation…

She appears to be a regular, happy mainly, content sort of kid. She has friends and pets that she loves. She has ways of blowing off steam- activities that she enjoys. She has balance in her life.

She also has goals. She is rarely satisified with her performance. But she also knows that there is no such thing as perfect. She knows that she is just trying to be the best that she can be on any given day. While the winning matters (who are we kidding-  we all want to WIN) she is completely aware that winning isn’t the only part of the journey. With every ounce of effort that she puts in, she learns a little more. She grows a little more. She becomes more adept at a task…

In most of her classes this semester, the final paper/test grade counts the most. The professors want to see that you have learned throughout the semester- how you started isn’t important- it’s how you finish. What is important is what you picked up along the way…

So are high achievers happy? Who knows? I don’t know how to set up that poll thing on my blog.

But do high achievers have the ability to be happy?

Yes- they just have a different definition of happy than others. Their happiness might be the high of competing, the joy of learning, whatever…it doesn’t matter.

Everyone has the ability to pursue happiness, the ability to figure out what beings them joy…

Everyone has the ability to figure our their definition of happiness and how to achieve it.



Do you Need Love for Happiness…

“There is only one happiness: to love and be loved.” Tom Cutler

Rachel threw that quote my way yesterday, with the comment “I don’t think it’s true, and yet I like it.” True to form, I started thinking….

I know I just said that a person can’t make you happy. I stand by that proclamation.


Do we need to love and be loved to be happy?

Remember, love can come in many forms- it doesn’t have to be just romantic. There’s love of family: parents, children, siblings. There’s love for your friends.

If we have no one in our lives- how happy are we?

Can we exist without completely and utterly alone?

I would like to say that I live in a state of complete autonomy: but I don’t. Even in its imperfect state, I love my parents and I know they love me. I experienced the ridiculous pounds of love that grandparents lavish on their grandchildren. I have a husband. My daughter. My friends…those nine or so people that I let into my head and my heart…

Let’s not even talk about how much I love my dog and cat…

So do you have to love someone?

Are humans meant to have a human connection with another person?

Maybe we don’t need a specific person: maybe we just need a person or persons.

Can you imagine your life without any love?

You Make me SOOOO Happy

“You make me so happy”

I told my daughter that if anyone ever says those words to her she is to run. Just run. Run far and run fast.

You can not make someone happy. You can make them miserable, but you can not make anyone happy.

As Janie commented earlier in the week, happiness comes from inside- no one, and I mean no one can make you happy. They may do things that bring you joy, or make you momentarily happy, but they can’t make you essentially happy…

But what is happiness?

I’ve thrown this word around a lot this week, but we haven’t really defined it. The problem is, it’s one of those indefinable words that means different things to different people. In order to be happy, you have to think about what it is that you want in life.



What do you want in life that will make you happy?

For me, happiness is a book (preferably good). Hot, sweet tea. Comfy clothes. Health. A hand to hold (I know this one seems contradictory, but it can be literally any hand- even a mannequin hand). A roof over my head and floors beneath my feet. Fresh delicious food. Music.

I do not look to others for my happiness.

And neither should you.

If you are not happy with yourself, with who you are, it is impossible to be happy with someone else. No one has the key that turns on your inner light- only you do. And remember- telling someone else that they are the reason for your happiness is a lot of pressure. Do you want to be responsible for someone else’s happiness? What does making someone happy even entail? Does it mean you can’t make a mistake? That you need to be perfect? Can anyone ever live up to being an ideal?

If your goal is to be happy, you first need to define what it means to you. Then you just have to do it. But don’t expect someone else to provide you happiness….it’s just not how it works.

Do your own brand of happy….


It Was the Equipment…

“The other kid was mean to me.”

“I didn’t get the good bat.”

“The teacher didn’t make that clear.”

“She cheated.”

“It’s not my fault.”

Have you noticed that people are out to get you? Every person in the universe has made it their goal to destroy your hopes and dreams?

Every time something goes wrong, it’s the fault of someone else, or something else. It’s never your fault. Nothing is ever your fault. The litigious mindset has entered the everyday…

When did we lose sight of personal responsibility? As TJ remarked yesterday, part of being independent is accepting that sometimes when bad things happen, it is your fault.

Bad grade? Well, did you study enough?

Iffy review at work? Did your performance this past year really exceed expectations?

Not make the team cause you’re too short? Well maybe, but then again, maybe you just weren’t good enough…

Does blaming something/someone else really make the rejection/bad grade/whatever  better? Or does it just put a Band-Aid on the situation?

If we’re trying to improve our self confidence by placing the onus of responsibility of someone else- we’re doing it wrong. We MUST accept that there are people that are better than us. We must accept that there is a whole wide world of people who can do things and do things well. While I have no doubt there are times when the “less deserving” has gotten something, you can’t just assume that this is the always the case. Blaming doesn’t make it any better. You can’t live your life blaming outside influences for the state of your life.

It’s that whole resilience thing again…

Next time something doesn’t go your way (or your child’s way) think about why it went wrong. Think about ways in which you could have been better. Unless you’re in a ski race and your boot inexplicably breaks, try not to put the blame on something else. This does not mean “blame” yourself. (Blame should not be a word that anyone uses on an everyday basis) Just try to come up with a different plan of attack for the next time you try something. Figure out what went wrong- learn from the experience.

No one makes every team. (Michael Jordan didn’t have a stellar baseball career) No one wins everything. No one glides through life with no setbacks. Everyone fails sometimes. When these things happen, it’s just life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Accept that and move on.

Blame only moves you back. Blame never moves you forward.

Accept that…and move on…




Make it Easy

So we just threw the word happy our of the parental lexicon…

Independent was a word that a few people threw out as a possible substitution, and I think that’s a pretty good choice…

“Yes my dear child. I just want you to be independent.”

I like the sound of it. But what does it mean? And more importantly, how do we guide our child towards independence?

For purposes of our discussion, let’s say that being independent means being self sufficient- knowing what you need and how to achieve it. Being able to take care of yourself. Don’t all parents want to know that their kid knows how to survive?


The problem with a kid learning how to become independent is that many parents aren’t thrilled with the idea of their kids being able to exist without them. It makes parents superfluous. One minute they’re parents…the next…nothing…

Let’s throw in a real life example: A few weeks ago, my Sister in Law told my Husband that their Mother was upset with my Husband. (Yes- this is what passes for communication in his family- just look up passive aggressive in the dictionary) Why was MIL upset? Because my husband never asks her for anything. That’s right- he is independent and able to take care of his needs, and his Mother isn’t happy about it. She needs to be needed…

Unfortunately, when you have parents like this, it often skews your thinking. My daughter whined over the weekend about how she wants someone to pick her up from school for Christmas break. FYI- we don’t own a car, and there is a perfectly good train line from DC to NYC. My Husband was beginning to relent, while I made the case that she wasn’t a hobo jumping onto a freight train with her stick and bandana full of possessions hanging off her back. She takes Amtrak- with nice seats and wifi and ability to charge your electronics. Bathroom and snack car. This isn’t exactly slumming it…

My husband was trying to be nice, but he was also trying to make it easy for her. (He was also trying to make her happy, but that’s yesterdays blog) He also likes the thought that she still needs him.

My thought is that she has to learn to get to and fro on her own- it’s part of the learning experience. I want her to know that she can do it. It boosts up your confidence when you learn to do new things- when you figure our how to get by.

Yesterday morning we got a text: my daughter got a great price (yay on cyber Monday deals) on a train ticket home at the perfect time for her to leave school. No one needed to pick her up at school- she would make it home by herself (exactly like she did for Thanksgiving)

Finding a good price. Knowing your schedule. Figuring out how to get home. These are all life skills. These are the skills that lead you towards becoming independent.

Independent is a good thing. It doesn’t mean you don’t need someone anymore. It just means you have the ability to survive on your own. And don’t we all want to know that our kids have the means to survive?

The Worst Parenting Mistake

“I just want you to be happy.”

How many parents have uttered this line?

How many children have heard it?


as parents…

When we say these words, are we setting up our children for a lifetime of disappointment?

What does it mean to be happy?

Tick- tick-tick precious seconds are accumulating as I’m waiting for you to come up with a sufficient answer…

What is happiness? How do we achieve it? Why do we want that one thing, above all others, for our children? What does it really mean when we say we want them to be happy?

First off- is anyone happy all the time? I know I’m not. I broke my favorite mug a few weeks ago. It pissed me off. I was having a conversation with one of my closest people and I said something that annoyed them- neither of us is really happy about that. I could continue with all the other things that recently annoyed me, but you get the gist. We can’t be happy all the time.

And this beats around the bush that I’ve been blogging about for a month: our kids expect to be happy and when something takes work, or doesn’t end up according to plan, they get depressed. They wonder what is wrong with them – they wonder why they can’t be happy…because their parents just want them to be happy…and deep down no kid wants to disappoint their parents…

Some kids don’t look for a job, or a career, or their own apartment, because having to do these things might not make them happy. Who wants to go to work at a specific time every day and do work? That certainly doesn’t make most people happy…

Even when things go right- the partner, the career, the car, they wonder why they are not in a perpetual state of bliss. Their expectation is that, like everything else in their young lives, happiness is supposed to be 24/7/365.

I may not know what happiness is, but I certainly know it’s not 24/7/365.

So why do we say “I just want you to be happy”?

Why don’t we say- ‘I want you to pursue happiness- go for the things that will fulfill you and help you grow and learn. I want you to live a life with few regrets, while knowing that everything comes with a price, whether literal or figurative. I want you to know that it’s OK if there are times when “happy” isn’t your predominant emotion- being happy all the time is too much of an emotional burden.

With all the words in our language- how did we become so focused on HAPPY?

Why don’t we try another word- How about as parents we say:

I just want you to be resilient.


I want you to be happy 50% of the time.


Just be the best you that you can be- in whatever form that takes.