Five ways to relax when you least want to.

I am not a patient person, so I have to practice the art of relaxing when I don’t want to relax a lot!  I can’t say I’m perfect at it, but I have learned a few things as a result of this practice.

  • It’s ok that I’m impatient.  It means something is important to me. I don’t have to feel bad about things mattering.  
  • Just because things matter doesn't mean I get to act like a raving lunatic. It’s ok to be passionate about something, but acting psychotic is not a good way to make what I need to have happen happen.
  • Things take time – more time than I would like, but I’m pretty sure that time is perverse. The quicker you want something to happen, the longer it will take for it to happens which is why I need to
  • Find something else to do. Since I can’t make things happen when and how I want them to, and pushing on it would make it not happen or ruin my chances of it happening, the best thing I can do is go do something else totally unrelated.  It’s a good way to burn off excess energy and be productive at the same time. And finally, 
  • Be open to change. I can’t tell you the number of times that the work I did while waiting for something else to happen turned out to be something worthwhile.  And sometimes, by doing this, I figure out how to work around the thing I am waiting on so I don’t need to wait for it anymore. 

As I said, I’m not a patient person. But I have figured out how to channel my nervous energy into productive behavior, even if it doesn't get me any closer to getting what I want.  And isn't that a better that spending your time fretting, not doing anything?

What do you do when you are nervous, anxious and impatient?

May we all balter more!

Don’t worry if you look silly, do what you enjoy anyway.

Balter is a middle English word, it means to dance or tread clumsily. I love that there is a word for this and that we can finally change the axiom, dance as if no one is looking into – May we all balter more!

I agree with the sentiment that we should dance as if no one is looking, but really, that’s a solitary thing.  It’s about claiming your clumsiness and enjoying yourself anyway.

What I liked about the idea of baltering is that it is social. We all balter.   I know I balter. My son and my husband certainly do. But my son has dyspraxia so he can be excused, he can’t help it.  Given that we can’t really help but balter from time to time, why not acknowledge our common tendency to balter and make our baltering dances, not a symbol of independence, though that is important. But rather a way to bring us all together as the flawed humans we are.

Our problem isn't that we aren't alone. The problem is that we are alone and we don’t want to be.  We want to have a community or tribe that we feel we are a part of.  By wishing that we can all balter more – it encourages us to reach out to each other to enjoy each other’s company in all our collective awkwardness.  And that’s a good thing. Because the more we celebrate our baltering, the less we feel constrained to dance as if no one is watching.  Who cares if they do. By baltering unabashedly, we encourage other balterers to join us in our dance.

And isn't that so much nicer than dancing alone?

Overcoming regret

Regret is a double edged sword.

On the one hand it feels bad. On the other, it spurs us to action.  It turns out that the things we regret most are actually the things we have the most power to change.

According to research – summarized by Barking Up the Wrong Tree - - the things we regret most are, not getting an education, our career choices, lost romances, parenting, self-improvement and not taking enough time for leisure.

You know what is great about this list?  They are all fixable.

Maybe you didn’t get the education you wanted. So, make an effort now, to get more education. There are online courses you can take from major universities Maybe you made some bad career choices in the past. Well, muster up the courage and make a change. Now.

I’m not sure there is much you can do about lost romances, but you can certainly learn to parent better.  And self-improvement?  That’s a lifelong endeavor for a Humanist.

For me – the most important thing is leisure. I am really bad at it.  I love what I do. I love writing and thinking and I literally have to schedule down time to be with my family or I would spend my life thinking things and writing them down.  But I know it’s important to keep me sane and happy and I don’t want to miss my son’s childhood. So I schedule time and stick to it.

The best bit of advice I ever got was that we don’t regret the things we do, we regret the things we don’t do. If you are living with regret, there is a cure. Go do that thing you regret not doing.  You don’t have to accept the status quo if you aren’t happy with it.  With the exception of failed romances.  I feel pretty strongly that if they failed, there’s a reason they failed and those are best left alone.  But everything else, go for it.

What do you regret the most and what are you going to do to fix it?

Raised without religion, and it shows

Replacing religious phrases with humanistic ones.

This comes up a lot.  For people who are not religious anymore, how can they express things like sympathy for someone who sneezes, but do so in a way that isn't religious.  And this is a problem because in America, the common thing to say when someone sneezes is bless you. Which is a religious phrase.  For humanists like me and other atheists, that’s a meaningless phrase. Kind of like calling your loved one a little onion, except religious.

I don’t have this problem, because I was raised without religion. No one in my family ever said, bless you when I sneezed, so I didn't learn to say it. When we sneezed, my dad would look horrified, move away from us and yell, “Don’t do that!”  As if anyone has the ability to not sneeze when your body needs to sneeze!  I always felt that while it was amusing, it wasn't very helpful either.

With my son, when he sneezes, I have to suppress the urge to yell, don’t do that because now I understand my dad’s response. It’s pretty gross when someone sneezes near or at you, like kids do with their parents.  They are spreading germs. So – don’t do that!  However, I have taught myself to say – Elbow! This is to remind my son that his next 2 sneezes, because sneezes come in threeses (#truism), should be directed towards his elbow so that he will not spread his horrid little germs to others, me included.

I realize my family’s approach to the whole, what do you say instead of bless you isn't very helpful. But when you think about it, there is nothing helpful you can say to someone who is sneezing.  You don’t know if it’s allergies or sickness. Perhaps it’s best to not say anything because  – I hope you feel better soon, in the meantime, please do your best to minimize the harm of germ spreading through sneezing as much as possible is a bit wordy and a little rude and again, not helpful.

Maybe my dad was on to something. By saying exactly that in an overtly humorous way – he made his point without being rude, sort of. My point is that if the best a 3rd generation freethinking family can do is yell, don’t do that!  We should probably stop worrying about whether people say bless you when someone else sneezes.

And yes, I do have to suppress the urge to yell, don’t do that, whenever a stranger sneezes near me. I was clearly raised without religion, and it shows. I actually envy the people whose instinct is to say bless you. They at least appear to be less selfish than our instinctual response really is.

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