Looking for Sweet Revenge?

Playing dead is the sweetest step in the sweetest revenge.

Maybe someone betrayed you. Manipulated you. Lied. Cheated. Insulted.

Whatever the flavor, someone hurt you and now there’s a surging flood of anger in your veins. You. Want. Revenge.

The “R” Word

When we fill wronged by someone, we want justice. We want them to feel what they made you feel. We want them to pay for their mistreatment and misdeeds.

But when we hunger for revenge, do we really know what we are asking for?

The word revenge comes with that nifty little prefix at the front: RE

re: back or again

Then there’s that solid root word in revenge: VENGE— a Latin word:

venge: protect, avenge, punish

Did You Hear Yourself?

Do you know what you are asking for with revenge? (GIPHY)

So, when you ask the Universe for revenge, you are essentially asking to experience punishment or a sense of vengeance again.

Think of revenge as a wound you keep picking: it’s only going to grow more irritated and bloody with time.

Now what about this idea of venge meaning protection? Are you really protecting yourself when you are punishing someone else? The fact that you are doing so “again” sounds downright exhausting.

The Cat and Mouse Game

I get it: you’re hurt. Angry. Hungry for justice. But we’ve already established that revenge — the idea of punishing someone else — will only inflict more pain back onto you.

Revenge is a cat and mouse game. You are the mouse. When you seek vengeance, you are only making the cat claw at you more.

The only way to end the cat and mouse game: to play dead. To surrender to the injustice, cruelty, mistreatment, and any other terrible behavior of the someone who has hurt you.

When we surrender to the what is of someone’s awful behavior, we are no longer dependent on them for peace.

Make no mistake: abuse of any kind is unacceptable. I am not saying: Allow this person who hurt you to keep hurting you. On the contrary, I’m saying:

Live your life. Focus on things and people that bring you genuine pleasure and happiness.

The cat only has power if you allow it to. Each time you get into the ring with the cat, the game will only continue.

Get out of the ring. Play dead.

Then you can enjoy your life. And what a beautiful life it is. The sweetest revenge is living your best life, filling it with appreciation for even the smallest of things: the sound of birds outside a window, the air you fill your lungs with.

When we let go of the need to justify our anger, life’s sweetness returns.

And when you feel angry, let it out to people you trust.

Don’t go seeking understanding from the source of your pain.

This life can be amazing and awful. It’s up to you how you choose to perceive it. How sweet is that?

—-

Under Attack?

The Friendship Diet

Discover the connection between food and relationships in my book: The Friendship Diet

Behind the Curtain:

Life Backstage Tells a Different Story

The front row has nothing on the real drama backstage.

The other day I was venting to my sister about pressing financial matters.

“I guess I’ll just be working well into my 70’s.”

“You could be like those older ladies I see at Macy’s. They are at least that age and so adorable working there.”

My sister’s tone was genuine, making the delivery of her words sting that much more.

“Great idea! That’s always what I wanted to do late in life.” My voice dripped with sarcasm.

“I think it would be fun.” 

Now the gloves were off. Like a water hose finally unplugged, I unleashed my anger her way.

“Fun? How can you say that? Why the hell would I want to work at some meaningless job in retail out of necessity in my 70’s?!”

Behind the Curtain of Anger

My sister hadn’t done anything wrong. The anger I unfairly threw her way stemmed from a genuine fear of which her words had, inadvertently, fanned the flames.

Fear is the backstage entity often cloaked in anger. When we aren’t in alignment with ourselves, the slightest comment or action of another can be perceived as salt on a wound.

My sister had genuinely tried to comfort me. She, of course, could only do this from her own vantage point:

“I’d love to have a job like that someday. My career involves so much responsibility. I can’t imagine not working even after I retire, so doing something in retail part time would be fun.”

Wearing Someone Else’s Shoes Hurts

When we look for comfort from someone else, we need to remember that they:

  • only possess their own vantage point
  • are not responsible for the other person’s inner alignment

My sister can hear that I’m experiencing a fiscal crisis, but that is not the same as experiencing it. Likewise, I can hear my sister express her potential enjoyment at working in retail later in life, but I can’t make myself share this sentiment.

Asking someone to feel what you are feeling is like shoving your shoe onto someone else’s foot: it’s not going to fit and can be downright painful.

It’s important to know what you are asking for from that person in the first place. My sister was only sharing her thoughts on the idea of working in her 70’s.

 But I had never been clear about where I was standing: blazing, unfiltered fear.

Say Where You Are

I hadn’t acknowledged the intense fear and instead danced in front of the figurative curtain with haughty anger.

My attitude had been a defiant “Can you believe this bullshit?” but inside, behind the curtain, I was peeing in my pants.

How could we expect anyone to be there for us emotionally if we don’t tell them where we are emotionally?

Spend Time Backstage

After touring the backstage area of my psyche, I got real with the fear. 

When we spend time in the discomfort of fear, acknowledging its presence, and facing it head on, the fear itself dissipates. 

The fiscal situation is still there, but my spiritual awareness of the bigger picture has kicked in, and with it, I know that my health is the most invaluable gift there is and not worth sacrificing to the external (and temporary) reality.

Backstage is where fear likes to lurk; it is a stealthy entity, hiding behind anger. But when we face our fear head-on, peeling back the curtain to the what-ifs that plague our psyches, light pours in, leaving no room for fear to hide.

A Tasty Writing Treat:

A delicious writing prompt for writers and teachers

Take a bite out of this writing challenge!

Writers know that good (fiction)writing involves basic ingredients:

  • an overall arc
  • main character
  • conflict
  • a theme

Hershey’s or Lindt

Just as with baking, we writers have our basic ingredients to make a story. After that, it’s all nuances and quality. Consider Hershey’s and Lindt chocolate: both are known for their cocoa-inspired taste, but the difference in quality is worlds apart. One only needs to look at their different marketing campaigns to notice the visual difference alone.

The Baking Mold

The talented children’s author, Laura Numeroff created her famous, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie picture book more than thirty years ago.

When we consider baking akin to writing, Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book is a delectable mold to study the craft of storytelling. Here’s a brief sample of her simple genius:

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.
When you give him the milk, he’ll probably ask you for a straw.
When he’s finished, he’ll ask for a napkin.

The End is the Beginning

Numeroff’s story ends the way it begins:

He’ll hang up his drawing and stand back to look at it [on the fridge].
Looking at the refrigerator will remind him that he’s thirsty. So…
he’ll ask for a glass of milk. And chances are if he asks for a glass of milk,
he’s going to want a cookie to go with it.

Want the full version of Numeroff’s story? Click here🙂

Making Another Cookie

Numeroff took this clever idea and created several other “recipes” in her craft:

  • If You Give a Moose a Muffin
  • If You Take a Mouse to School
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake

My Cookie

Here’s my creation based on Numeroff’s recipe

https://media.giphy.com/media/lojdXP2iv1MbFa925R/giphy.gif

If You Give an Ostrich Power… (GIPHY)

If you give Ostriches power
there will be chaos in the world
When there is chaos, the ostriches will bury their heads in the sand
When the ostriches tire of putting their heads in the sand
they will point their beady eyes at others for the problems in our world
when they see their saggy eyes on Instagram, 
they will want to spend money on themselves to look better
when they return from another trip to Mar-a-Largo
they will be energized to point their beady eyes at others again
refusing to take any responsibility
 the sand will start to look really good to them again.
And chances are, when they bury their heads in the sand
there will be even more chaos in this world.

I’d love to hear your “Circle Story” creations:-)

The Dish that Calms…Everyone

There IS something we can do to tame our frayed nerves RIGHT NOW. It’s free and lowers inflammation and our flight or fight stress hormones.

If the world were a person, it would need to see a therapist…PRONTO! Between COVID-19 and its ever-growing variants, politics on everything from abortion rights to gun laws, climate change—you name it, the discussions are more heated than a tea kettle screaming with boiled water. Throw in the omnipresent specter of social media and economic uncertainty, humanity is at an exhausting, precipitous crossroads.

It’s not surprising that the global effect of so much uncertainty over a sustained amount of time causes tempers to flare and spiritual bank accounts to feel depleted. On an individual level, anxiety and depression emerges, and mistrust of “Others” grow (whether it’s the person in line at the post office or the governor of one’s state). 

While it was before my time, the polio vaccine protected millions of American children in 1955. According to historians, back then many Americans deeply respected science.

“After World War II, you had antibiotics rolling off the production line for the first time. People believed infectious disease was [being] conquered. And then this amazing vaccine is announced. People couldn’t get it fast enough.”- David M. Oshinksy, medical historian at NYU and author of Polio: An American Story

Compare the absolute faith of Americans in 1955 regarding the polio vaccine and science in general to Americans fractured, ambivalent feelings toward the COVID vaccines available and recommended by both WHO and the CDC.

Where’s that therapist for humanity when you need one?

There IS something we can do to tame our frayed nerves right now. It’s free and lowers inflammation and our flight or fight stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline).

What is this simple, free, and highly beneficial thing that helps each of us and those around us?

Kindness. Yes, giving someone (even a stranger) a genuine compliment or speaking compassionately to yourself reduces inflammation and boosts our emotional wellbeing.

“Many scientific journals suggest that there is a strong link between compassion and the vagus nerve, which regulates the heart and controls inflammation.” -Gabrielle Bernstein- Miracles Now

The vagus is the longest nerve in the human body and makes up our sensory and motor fibers. When we demonstrate an act of kindness to ourselves and others, we are literally helping to regulate our heart.  According to Dr. Fredrickson and Dr. Kok, “people with a higher vagal tone have better overall heart health, lower levels of inflammation, stronger social bonds, and tend to exhibit better emotion regulation.” Psychology Today

So if you want to start feeling good, turn off the news and start appreciating the good you see—in yourself and others. Serve up kindness to those around you, offer a generous dish of self-compassion and watch its miraculous effect grow.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/05/03/988756973/cant-help-falling-in-love-with-a-vaccine-how-polio-campaign-beat-vaccine-hesitan

Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201705/kindness-towards-oneself-and-others-tones-your-vagus-nerve

The Key to a Healthy Relationship

Self-awareness starts with a simple but powerful shift in questioning.

Most of us are familiar with the now famous commercial: Jake, from State Farm. Jake (actor, Kevin Miles) is helping a married man (actor, Justin Campbell) get affordable insurance through State Farm in the middle of the night. His bathrobe-clad wife, (actress, Melanie Deanne Moore), grabs the phone from her husband’s shocked hand and with air quotes asks:

“What are you wearing, ‘Jake from State Farm?’”

The dumbfounded Jake answers honestly, “Uh, khakis.”

What is it about this commercial that we find funny? A wife’s assumption that her husband is getting stimulated by some form of infidelity when the audience knows he IS getting excited, but by State Farm’s insurance policy.

Off screen and unscripted, we make assumptions in our relationships. Those assumptions are based on our inner dialogue, our inner stories. The key to rewarding relationships, whether intimate or work-related, is self-awareness. 

But what does that mean? What does it mean to be self-aware of our inner dialogue and inner triggers? 

According to psychologist and author (INSIGHT), Tasha Eurich the key to self-awareness is a shift in questioning: Ask WHAT, not WHY.

So, if we were to take the wife who happens upon her husband at 3am talking in hushed tones to Jake from State Farm, her current inner dialogue seems to be assuming the worst. We can see this when she yanks the phone from her husband; we can hear it in her clipped, accusatory tone and her anger disguised as sarcasm. Her inner dialogue goes something like this:

“Why isn’t my husband in bed with me? Why doesn’t he love me?”

Instead, this fictional wife can ask empowering “what” questions such as:

“What is making my husband speak to someone in a hushed tone in the middle of the night? What can I learn from his body language? What can I learn from this moment? What can I learn about myself from my reaction?

The shift from “why” to “what” paves the way from victimhood to insight, from a sense of failure to a sense of purpose.

The most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. So, it behooves us to understand ourselves and our reaction to others. Relationships offer a spiritual mirror to who we are. When we get into an argument with a loved one or a colleague, we are given the opportunity to learn who we are. When someone “rubs us the wrong way” or makes us feel uncomfortable, we need to ask, “What is this feeling trying to teach me?”

Asking WHAT instead of WHY fuels our growth, dispelling anxiety and depression while strengthening our inner compass. We can’t change others, but we can work on ourselves. And when we are in a place of greater self-awareness, our relationships become healthier.

Nostalgia, Not Regression

There is a subtle yet distinct difference between appreciating the past and regressing back into who we were then.

The colleagues I worked with for the past several years are back at school, preparing their respective classrooms for that timeless yet momentous occasion (that somehow always goes by in a dizzying blur): the first day of school.

For years, I loved working with students but also felt a yearning to work with students in a different capacity. When the opportunity presented itself, I grabbed my personal career brass ring and started working for a non-profit literacy agency. To say that my experience is both enjoyable and rewarding is an understatement. Each morning, I feel like I’m waking up to some career fairytale, singing like one of the 7 Dwarfs “Hi, ho, hi, ho, it’s off to work we go…”

And yet, I miss my colleagues and friends at school. I miss seeing their smiling faces as we share the unspoken adrenaline of preparing for another school year. I miss the smell of books, the various personalities that make their way through our classroom doors, the camaraderie of teachers.

So how can I miss something that I yearned to leave?

According to life coach and author, Martha Beck (THE WAY OF INTEGRITY), sensing or experiencing an “impending transformation brings on a spasm of nostalgia for the life…known so far.”

There’s a reason we call it growing pains! The prefix TRANS (transition) literally means across or beyond. To go beyond something can shake us up, ejecting us from our comfort zones. It’s why the smoker who finds the willpower to give up cigarettes, while proud of their success, can also experience sadness, knowing they can’t share a smoke with their friends anymore. It’s why the victim of abuse who leaves their abuser is finally free but craves the familiar cycle of violence.

It’s why I can revel in pursuing my career but still wax nostalgic and sad about missing the first day of school.

“If you start honoring your true nature and find yourself missing your old culture, don’t panic. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself time and space…” (Martha Beck)

I haven’t outgrown the classroom, but I did outgrow my role as public school teacher. I can appreciate the nostalgia that comes with time away from the classroom, but I don’t want to return there just because it’s familiar.

When we embrace our transitions, honoring how we feel along the way, a world of possibility arrives. And that’s where the real magic happens.

Feeding Our Creativity

A simple piece of cardboard decorated with illustrations and voila–there’s magic to feed one’s creativity!

As a middle school English teacher, I am a big fan of project-based learning. Projects provide that delicate balance between intellectual stimulation and creative challenge. Today, with the deer-in-the-headlights reality of COVID-19 and its domino effect on us emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I want to share a project much-loved by my students that you can do at home: creating a play.

The photo here shows a simple cardboard cut out for puppets to do their magic. The puppets can be easily constructed from socks, yarn—even raisins for the eyes. Much like our creativity that is emerging in the kitchen as a result of our current reality, our imagination can also find exploration through self-created theater structures and scripts!

Here’s a baseline to get you started with kids of all ages:

  • Choose a scene/setting
  • Create characters (give them unique traits/mannerisms/features, etc.)
  • Think of a juicy conflict
  • Consider whether or not a resolution is needed—cliffhanger anyone?

When you are finished with your script (or perhaps improv is the soup de jour;-), consider posting your creative production on YouTube or Instagram. Who knows? In an effort to feed your imagination, you might just stir up someone else’s!

Feeding Our Minds

Remain curious and open to learning new things!

A colleague reached out to me over the summer and let me know about a teaching opportunity that involved working on camera for our school district. I jumped at the chance.

The audition involved creating a mini lesson, replete with standards and curriculum that followed the state’s guidelines. It required a specific rubric to follow. 

Did I know what I was doing? Absolutely not. With content as a teacher, I shine, but with technology…well, that wasn’t in my wheelhouse. But I wasn’t going to allow a lack of experience using technology to impede me from doing something I love: teaching AND teaching on camera!

Creating the material for the lesson didn’t take me long, nor did the Power Point itself. Uploading my video with me on camera simultaneously…well, let’s just say, I didn’t eat for the entire day and it was dark outside by the time I was ready to hit submit to the district with my uploaded lesson.

Playing around with the unknown of the technology was frustrating but by the end of the full day, I had accomplished a new skill.

When I inquired whether or not my fellow teachers were auditioning as well, they looked at me as if I had acquired several heads. Their responses ran the gamut of:

“I don’t want to give myself anymore work.”

“That sounds too hard—no thanks.”

“Uh—no.”

In the end, over one-hundred teachers submitted their audition (I’m part of a large district), so there were plenty of teachers, eager for the exciting opportunity. 

I am grateful to note that I was one of the 25 fortunate teachers to get “cast” for the TV virtual teaching. And when we met for the first time this past week, I was not at all surprised by their positive energy. I felt like we all felt we had earned a “Golden Ticket” like something out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Our lessons will air on local TV weekly for 30 minutes. Since it’s only local to our state and city, I want to share the lessons I’ll be creating here for any potential parents or students out there, hungry to feed their minds. To that end, I’m my first episode at the close of today’s blog post. Feel free to use the lesson as a starting point or follow along directly and participate in the activities.

I encourage you to consider an area of your life where you find yourself reluctant to try something new and go for it anyway. When we push ourselves past our comfort zones, real growth takes place.

Happy learning–for all of us!

Students can bolster their reading comprehension skills through this 10 minute video, connecting text to reader.

Rupi Kaur’s Gift to Humanity’s Appetite

It’s no wonder Rupi Kaur is the author of two New York Times bestselling poetry collections. The twenty-seven year old writes with a brave vulnerability that draws us in; through her metamorphic journey we are also changed, encouraged by her candor to seek our own inner exploration.

I couldn’t resist sharing the excerpt below from Ms. Kaur’s latest publication, the sun and her flowers:

“you are a mirror
if you continue to starve yourself of love
you’ll only meet people who’ll starve you too
if you soak yourself in love
the universe will hand you those
who’ll love you too
– a simple math”

Kaur’s words remind me of the famous quote by former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” The world is a reflection of our own perceptions. If we perceive ourselves as unworthy of love, we will continue to feel starved; if we believe that we are deserving of love, we will receive its unending sweetness.

Kaur is correct: It IS simple math. But I am so grateful of her grace with words for offering us a much-needed metaphorical mirror to determine whether we are nourished or starving.

It’s Not Personal

      When we go within for messages instead of outward, we are serving ourselves the best emotional nutrition.

Years ago, a friend introduced me to a jewel of a book: The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. According to Toltec wisdom, there are literally four keys or agreements that, once practiced, offer us a world of inner peace and freedom:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best

Ruiz writes that the cause of most human suffering comes from not following the above four agreements. And boy, is Ruiz right! This simple yet deeply insightful book has been my go-to for years. All four agreements work together and affect each other. 

As our world continues to grow more virtual each day, it’s become clear to me that we need a reminder in not taking anything personally. While we are each the center of our individual worlds, we are not the center to others. As Ruiz states so eloquently:

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in.”

Words are a food for the soul. They possess the power to fuel or render us famished. But if we aren’t mindful, the words others serve us can make us sick. When we don’t take their words personally, we can continue to feed ourselves a diet that nourishes.

You can’t go onto social media now without reading someone’s vitriol regarding everything from a person’s weight to their political stance. If heeded, insulting words carry nutritional poison. But if you grow still, you will soon become aware that someone who is not happy with himself/herself serves those negative words. The poison they dish out is coming from within. You have the choice, the free will to not accept their toxic serving. Happy people don’t serve unhappiness—they literally don’t have it in them.

Actions that are cruel or toxic aren’t personal either. Ruiz notes this even in the extreme: “Even if someone got a gun and shot you in the head, it was nothing personal.” Again, negative behavior of any kind is a reflection of whatever is going on in another’s world and not about you.

This week alone, I have found myself grateful for Ruiz’s reminder that nothing is personal:

  • My friend calling me sleep-deprived after a 12-hour shift, articulating that I just don’t understand what she is going through.
  • My parents not calling on my son’s birthday, only to find out that they got the date mixed up.
  • Five people showing up to a virtual pre-launch book event of The Friendship Diet (after inviting over 100 folks) 

           Not taking anything personally also applies to compliments. While it feels good, we need to remember that, “If they tell you how wonderful you are, they are not saying that because of you. You know you are wonderful. It is not necessary to believe other people who tell you that you are wonderful.”

           When we go within for messages instead of outward, we are serving ourselves the best emotional nutrition. Looking outward for praise is a dish that will always leave one hungry for more; looking outward for guidance on who you are is the culinary equivalent of “too many cooks in the kitchen”: at best you end up with a hodge-podge of inedible messages and at worst, you experience emotionally painful heartburn.

            Nothing is personal. As Ruiz reminds us, when we know that nothing is personal “You can choose to follow your heart always. Then you can be in the middle of hell and still experience inner peace and happiness.”