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You Make Yourself Sad

I recently read a quote that gave me pause.  It came from the stoic text The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. One translation of the 167 AD text went:

If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs thee, but thy own judgement about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgement now.

The more common way this quote is written — on inspirational posters and coffee mugs:

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it, and this you have the power to remove at any moment.

In other words, if you’re upset, it’s not the event or situation or person causing you to be upset but the power you’re giving that event or situation or person.  You can just snap your fingers and say, “you know what?  I’m not going to be upset anymore.”

I call bullshit.

I always call bullshit when I encounter this attitude.  Does it work on small things: absolutely.  If I’m frustrated because the house is a mess or someone cut me off on the road or someone isn’t returning an email, it is in my power to decide not to let these things bother me.  I know this is true because sometimes they bother me and sometimes they don’t, depending upon my current mood.  If I just received great news, I’ll laugh at the fact that the house is mess and turn it into a funny Facebook status update.  If I’m in a terrible mood and everyone leaves their shoes by the front door… watch out.

The word that makes me call bullshit is “any”: “any external thing” or “anything external.”  Once we lump all pain together and say all emotional pain should be treated equally by our hearts and minds, I’m going to call bullshit.  To paraphrase John Green, some infinites are larger than others.  And in that vein, some pains cannot be contained or changed; they can only be endured.

This community knows you can’t just decide to feel otherwise; at least not on your own timetable.  Feelings change over time, but that is just it: it’s time that wears the rough edges smooth.  There are things that you can do to speed up the process, but you feel things when you’re ready to feel things, and those feelings may not come when you force them but mosey into your heart like a cowboy entering a saloon, casually eyeing the room for danger before deciding to sit down at the counter.

I guess I just showed my hand in how I feel about stoicism in general.

What do you think of the quote?

October 18, 2017   7 Comments

No Woman is an Island

The Guardian recently had an article about the Scottish island of Eigg.  I am a sucker for all things island-related; the more remote and bleaker, the better.  I’m not against Bora Bora, but my heart starts pulsing like a homing beacon when I see pictures of underpopulated, craggy settings.  I love grey rocks and I cannot lie.

The article opens:

Small islands are like celebrities: they loom far larger than their actual size, they are pored over by visitor-fans and they become public possessions, laden with reputations and attributes they may or may not embody.


(And it feels pretty damn accurate when I think about my favourite celebrities.  They’re less of the Bora Bora variety; a little more off-the-beaten path and therefore remote, with dark, bleak hearts.)

But there is more:

Fredrik Sjöberg, an author I visited on the tiny Swedish island of Runmarö, believes small islands possess “a peculiar attraction for men with a need for control and security” because “nothing is so enclosed and concrete as an island”.

Ooooh, you had me at control. I loooooooooove being in control.


The literary academic Peter Conrad offers a more Freudian interpretation, suggesting that an island is a “uterine shelter” surrounded, like the foetus, by fluid, and attracting men in search of a mother or a primal source of safety.

Oh. Yuck. You totally had me celebrity swooning and control and then lost me the second you brought fictive pregnancy into it.

Let’s brush that last one under the rug, shall we?

It’s actually a fantastic article about an island community that bought itself, about ownership and freedom.  Our fears about islands and the reality of those spaces.

I think there really are two kinds of people in this world: those drawn to small islands and those who prefer mainland.  In my heart, I’m an islander living on mainland.  What are you?

October 17, 2017   4 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 164: Theater

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


If I really love a show, I’ll go and see it multiple times.  I know there are people who love theater because of its fleeting nature, but I am someone who likes to re-read books and re-watch movies.  The idea that something exists only for a short period of time and then disappears forever makes me anxious.

I combat that feeling by seeing the same play multiple times.  I recently did that with a play I liked — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights — and I meant to see a third time before it was gone forever.  (Yes, I know they’re making it into a film, and there may be other productions in the future, but this particular one will be gone forever.)  But it’s totally sold out, and I have a busy week.  So no extra show for me.  It makes me really sad to think that once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Do you like fleeting things like theater or do you prefer more permanent mediums like movies?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.

October 16, 2017   13 Comments

Past Embarrassments

I was trying to fill out a form in Hebrew recently, and it asked me for a bunch of names.  While you use a normal last name configuration for secular things like banking or mail, you use a lineage configuration in religious situations.  The formula: Name, daughter/son of Name and Name.  That name never changes, even if you change your last name with marriage.

While I clearly know all of my siblings’ names and a few other people’s names off the top of my head, I have to look up everyone else or ask them.  No problem: I had a ton of names written down in our wedding program.

Let’s start by saying that while I remember that the program was a little on the long side, I hadn’t seen it in 16 years.  Josh and I both fell over laughing when we pulled it out of the storage file.  First of all, it was BOUND.  It had so many pages — 22 in total — that our wedding program needed to be bound.  Next, it went into ridiculously minute detail on not only every aspect of the ceremony as well as our feelings and thoughts on every aspect of the ceremony BUT it also included ridiculously minute details about everything that happened OUTSIDE of the ceremony.  Like stuff we did the week before.

But the worst… the absolute worst… it was written so earnestly, so passionately, that we barely stopped short of rubbing each other verbally with goose fat.

Who were these assholes who used to inhabit our body? What made them think printing a 22-page program would be a good idea?

So we want to apologize to everyone who attended our wedding. And we promise: our next life-cycle event program will be brief. Definitely under 16 pages. We clearly learned our lesson.

October 15, 2017   10 Comments

664th Friday Blog Roundup

You get to hear my annoyance because the store in this story requires you to create an account in order to leave them a message online.  And I’m not creating an account.


I received an email from a bookstore telling me that best selling hardcovers were 30% off.  Click “see all” to see the list of books.  I think I will.

So I clicked “see all” and saw that — WHAT? — John Green’s new book was on the list and was 30% off.*

Awesome.  I’ll just run over to the bookstore and buy John Green’s new book.

So I go into the bookstore and pick up the book.  I take it to the counter to pay.  The cashier charges me the full amount.  No, I tell her, look at this email on this handy little smartphone I have in my pocket.  This is YOUR email stating that the book is 30% off.  She could see it, but she wouldn’t honour it because it was not coming up that way in her machine.

So I left the store without the new John Green book because there are other bookstores in town and while the errand was now a waste of my time and energy, there was the principle of the situation.  I’m not going to reward a store for falsely advertising a product.

I looked on my phone and saw a nearby store was selling it at 20% off the cover price.  I walked over to said store and — lo and behold — it was there at 20% off, just as they stated.  So I bought the book.  Errand redeemed.

What is the point of all of this?  That John Green has a new book out.  And if stores are going to advertise, they need to honour their advertisements.  And that it’s easier to be cranky about false advertising than everything truly awful happening in the world right now.

* Yes, I just took screenshots of the email and the website because I’m that cranky right now.  I am right.  They are wrong.


It’s Friday the 13th.  I have this compulsive need to type that every time the Roundup falls on the 13th.


Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.


And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Searching for Our Silver Lining has a post about the “I’ll nevers” we make when we are in crisis.  As she admits: “I made a lot of statements and promises about how life would be one day when I was no longer in the trenches.”  She recounts a particularly trying day and says, “A big part of it was the guilt I faced as I could literally see the 2012 Cristy, with all the ‘I’ll nevers’ that I swore up and down not to do staring me in the face.”  This post.  That’s all I’ll say: this post.  Read it.

My Path to Mommyhood has a post about the often-used phrase “as a mother.”  But it’s not what you think.  It’s about the one time… maybe ever?… a person has caught themselves and corrected themselves in the moment, realizing their feelings maybe came from something larger than this one role.

Lastly, The Road Less Travelled has a post about buying diapers for her SIL’s niece.  What I thought was most interesting was the different feelings she and her husband experienced in the moment.  You’ll have to click over and read to the end to discover their reactions.

The roundup to the Roundup: Sharing my annoyance.  It’s Friday the 13th.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between October 6th and 13th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

October 13, 2017   12 Comments

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