Posted in Life As I Know It

10 Lessons a Puppy Teaches

We recently added a new member to our family. His name is Duke. He was in the foster care system, saved from a rough beginning in Alabama, and now he’s all ours. Yes, as the title indicates, he’s our new puppy, and that makes us a three-dog home. Continue reading “10 Lessons a Puppy Teaches”

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Posted in Soapbox

Mean People Suck

I have some serious sarcasm flowing through my veins. It’s nothing I aim for—it’s just there—and I imperfectly strive to keep it in check.

sarcasm-o-meter

I remember making jokes in 4th grade, and—though the kids were laughing—sometimes I would hear, “You’re mean.” I didn’t intend to be, but since my humor could be at someone else’s expense, at the very least I was mean to that person. I’ve remembered that always. I don’t want to be mean—I just enjoy making people laugh. I know what it feels like to be the butt of someone’s joke, and I don’t want to create that feeling for another.

But I fail, for sure. Sometimes the laugh apples are hanging so low off the tree I can’t help but pick ‘em. Still, that’s no excuse. (Sometimes, though, when a person’s being a major jagwad, I don’t feel bad when I shoot a caustic arrow his or her way…That’s probably still wrong, but it can feel like a kind of justice—especially when it’s on someone else’s behalf.)

And while I am still guilty of sharp comments, I learned long ago that there is a perfect subject for me to make fun of: me. So I am my own best target. And when I make fun of myself, I totally get it and don’t get mad. And since I am the butt of many of my own jokes, it explains why I have a big butt. So it all makes sense.

When I had my son, I thought to myself, “If there was one word you could pick to have as a descriptor of this kid as he grows up, what would you want it be?” My immediate response was kind. Not nice, but kind. (Don’t get me wrong—as Frank Burns said, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice,” I know…but that’s not enough.) Nice is pleasant and obliging…but kind is compassionate and helpful. At least that’s how I see it. Kind runs deep and is grounded in loving others.

We need more kindness. Mean people suck. And it’s not just about being mean for a laugh. I’m really sick at heart when I see how easy it is for people to be nasty with their comments—both in the real world and the cyber world. The Internet has afforded an anonymity to people to just be horrible to one another as they comment on articles, blogs, and videos. Just awful…and for what? How is that okay? This past election season nasty comments didn’t even need anonymity. Facebook was rife with cutting and mean-spirited crap from both sides of the aisle. It really made me sad…and still does.

It’s simply not okay. And while we are all human and will all fail at times, in “The World According to Lisa” (which is super awesome), we need to strive harder to see to it that the Meanies lose. Just imagine what our world might be like if kindness reigned supreme…if the whole world played a game of Kindness Tag…Tag! I’ve tagged you with kindness! You’re it! Go be kind to another! (And tag-backs would totally be allowed!)

But we can’t depend on the “whole world” for anything, can we?…So it’s up to us in our own little world…where it still absolutely matters. And maybe it will ripple out and impact more than you could ever possibly know.

I hope you agree. But if you don’t, I hope you’ll be kind in telling me so!

Posted in Life As I Know It

Ask Dad. He Knows.

Two cents' worth of shoelaces?
Two cents’ worth of shoelaces?

I fell in love with the movie It’s a Wonderful Life when I was just a little girl. Back then, they showed it numerous times during the holiday season, and it’s a safe estimate to say I’ve seen it close to 100 times…so I’m a tad familiar with it. I think most people are familiar with it, too, as well as the main themes of the movie. The ideas of “Each man’s life touches so many other lives” and “No man is a failure who has friends” are the one-two punches of the movie and still so relevant today.

But there’s lots more to be learned in this lovely movie, too—like don’t ride your shovel onto thin ice…a turntable can make one helluva rotisserie…whispering into someone’s deaf ear is a great way to admit your love without having them know it…it’s best to periodically check the floor when dancing…and the valuable tip from Uncle Billy that has served me so well in life: when drunk and in doubt, choose the middle hat.

Think you might be on your way to deliver poison? Best ask Dad.
Think you might be on your way to deliver poison? Best ask Dad.

Indeed, the film is loaded with life lessons, but there’s one in particular that I want to take a moment with, and the title of this post probably already clued you in. Ask Dad. He knows. When George is presented with the problem of delivering what he knows to be deadly “medicine,” he barges into a meeting and attempts to ask his dad what to do. Of course, later in the film you can connect the dots to know that the dad he really needs to ask about his big problems is The Dad of All, but his earthly one is pretty damned important, too. In fact, when George’s dad dies, it ends up shaping the rest of his life.

When I began my love affair with IAWL as a child, I had no idea the parallels that George Bailey and I would have, with a key one being that my dad died just about the same time of life as Peter Bailey left George. His chances to ask his dad disappeared, as did mine.

And, oh, the things I would have loved to ask my dad…Of course, plenty of serious life issues, but lots of others, too. Like how was “Oh, I trust you, it’s just your date that I don’t trust…” supposed to ever even appear fair? And why didn’t you wear shorts except for swimming? And couldn’t you have used another comparison instead of “poodle” when I got that one perm in junior high?

For the years lived without him, lots of questions from my 20s would have begun, “Dad, why do guys…?” and there’d be the specific one that asked, “What do you think of this guy?” In my 30s, I know one question would have been, “How do you like your new grandson?” And now in my 40s, I still find myself wondering, “what would Dad have thought?” about any variety of things.

But all of these questions are no longer possible to ask. So, my friends, I want to encourage you: if you still can, ask Dad—and ask Mom, too. From the silly to the serious, if you don’t ask…you’ll never know. Don’t let them take too many answers with them. After all, it IS a wonderful life, and the more we learn about and love one another, the better.