Monday, July 8, 2013

Pat Phrases I Strongly Dislike

When I talked to my previous employer on Saturday, she had another interesting observation. In her forty-eight year career as a hairstylist, she's seen a particular cycle at least four times. When sales of higher priced items like cars or houses are on the increase, sales of smaller priced items like hair and nails will be on the decrease.

In her opinion, when there isn't enough money for the larger item, there is money for small treats and when there isn't enough money for small treats, it's because the money is being spent on larger items. She also said that one of her good friends is a real estate agent and that sales of real estate have actually gone way up recently. That's not evident by the for sale signs I've seen - however - if so - and if her observation is correct - that partly explains what I've been seeing.




I spent the weekend thinking, researching, and running the numbers and came to the same conclusion made a couple years ago - which was frustrating - so I asked three women whose opinions I highly value for a yes or no answer and they all said no, that going into hair was not a good idea. SIGH.

There's no point dismissing their opinion especially as I'd asked for it - and especially as they know all the other swirling things going on in my life that won't see the light of blog - and especially as their opinion corresponded with what I was thinking - except - I really didn't want to go around and around on this issue again. I wanted an answer. And a fix. In the end, I asked myself if I was holding the money in my hand, would I spend it on retraining and establishing a business or would I spend it elsewhere. Bottom line - I'd put it on my mortgage.




Which leaves me right back at the beginning of a topic I was already really tired of and one that I thought I'd settled but somehow end up cycling through again and again. I imagine that's because life cannot be isolated into one compartment. Life is a composition of those holistic areas - emotional, physical, financial, relational, spiritual, and creative.

I've changed my mind three times in three weeks. That's not something I want to keep doing so I'll stop talking about it now and sit with what I know to be true and see what develops. If I can. I hope. It's not as easy as those pat phrases imply. A penny saved is only sort of a penny earned. It's not in my pocket to do what I like with.




We've all heard them. Phrases like let go and let God or when God closes a door, he opens a window. They drive me crazy. As if when that door slammed in my face all I needed to do was turn to the side and climb out a window. Not.

What about if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. That might work for piano scales, welt pockets, and chocolate cakes but it's rarely a good approach to keep banging your head against the same wall. Sometimes it - whatever it may be - didn't work out because it's never going to work out. And so we attempt to find a way to move on - which is damned hard work - as I know.

It's a lesson closely connected to the definition of insanity - if you continue to do what you've always done, you'll continue to get what you've always got. Often, when I think I'm doing something entirely different, I come to realize - eventually - that it's not different at all. It's simply a different version of the same story. SO frustrating and leaves me wondering how with the same interests, skills, abilities,  characteristics, and so on, do we actually move in a completely different direction. Apparently, I'm not U-turn material.




And then there's God doesn't give us more than we can handle to which I often reply that God and I have a significant difference of opinion on how much I can handle - except - recently - I've started to think about the things that God has given me to handle and the things that I've decided to handle all on my own while believing on some level that God gave them to me. That leads to another interesting question - what have I taken on that wasn't mine to take on? Better yet, how do I put it down and leave it down?

On Saturday, I was talking to a friend and at the end of our conversation she said I wish I knew what to say that would help but I don't and I don't think there is anything that would help. This is something you're going to have to figure out how to live with. And then she gave me a hug. And said I love you. And THAT was far more useful and encouraging than a pat phrase.




As you can tell, I've started on the alphabet book. We are not buying a house - THANK GOD - however, my focus is definitely on paying down our mortgage and not on small treats so I'm working really hard to use what I have in the studio. It takes a bit of digging at times but I've found that when I don't rush off to the store, I eventually come up with an answer and usually a good one.

The letters are from a quilt I made for my daughter twenty-seven years ago that alternated strip pieced fabric blocks with cross stitched alphabet blocks. I took the original quilt apart and used the fabric blocks to make a play quilt and now I'm using the letters for an alphabet book. First, I backed the cross-stitched squares with Misty Fuse, an adhesive like Stitch Witchery - that I had a roll of from my textile art days. It's light and non-gummy. A great product.




For the pages, I used a remnant of grey linen backed with Misty Fuse and then with tissue paper to make book cloth although when I watched the video again, I realized I may have misunderstood the purpose of the book cloth. Either way, I used it for pages ending up with 4 signatures of four pages each or sixteen faces over which to distribute the twenty-six letters.

Before fusing the letters to the pages, I pinned them onto the faces and then flipped through from front to back to make sure the letters were in alphabetical order. I can only imagine trying to explain to my grandchildren why Grandma's alphabet is different than the one at school - LOL. Right now, I'm figuring out how I want to stitch the letters to the pages.

I've never made a book like this before. I'm winging it step-by-step and I'm sure it'll turn out fine but if I need help, this darling little girl definitely knows what she's doing. Too fun. Talk about an innate teacher.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - friends who tell the honest truth

30 comments:

  1. Hi, Myrna,
    I am a longtime blog reader of yours, though I rarely comment. Your insight on life often amazes me, and I appreciate that you take the time to write. (I know that maintaining a blog is not an easy thing.) I am self-employed--my husband and I run the family resort that has been around for 70 years now. As I age, some of the tasks get harder, and some of them just get old. My pat phrase that I hold on to is that God must want me to be here, because He hasn't told me to be anywhere else yet. It really helps to calm me down when I feel antsy, like I am a hamster on a wheel and I perhaps should be doing something else. It can give me the patience I need to go clean a cabin yet again, or work on that latest load of endless laundry.

    Learning to live peacefully with all of the questions in my mind is hard sometimes.

    Thanks for all that you give to us through your blog and your creative work. It means a lot!

    Sincerely,
    Barb in Northern Minnesota

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    1. Thanks. Sometimes it'd be nice to know why we're not meant to move on yet when we have a yearning to move. As you said, learning to live peacefully with those questions is REALLY hard.

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  2. I heard something once, not sure where, that if there is doubt, don't! I tend to follow this whenever I am torn with choices and it has been a good "mantra". Good luck with whatever you decide...Anna

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    1. What a fabulous mantra. Thanks for sharing it.

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  3. People say the stupidest things when they don't know what to say. Keeping quiet or as your friend did, admiting there aren't words, is better. I get those phrases (or similar) with respect to fertility. I'm not keen on any of those phrases either. After so many losses, I'm not overly keen on this path God has for me even if in my head I believe he's got to have a reason for it. Reminding me doesn't help. You have a very wise friend to just say she doesn't know what to say.

    I love the book. What a great way to keep a treasured quilt.

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    1. I know that in the past I've probably said some of those stupid things but as I age and see life differently, I'm learning to be more like my friend and admit I have no idea what to say. It's much easier.

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  4. I can't think of anything helpful to contribute, Myrna and I agree with your dislike of all those pat phrases so I'm just sending you a virtual hug.

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    1. Thanks. I really appreciate the hug.

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  5. I HATE the "God will never give you more than you can handle" phrase, another version of which is "God knows who he can trust with the hard things." It was said to us when our 10 year old son was lying in a coma with a traumatic brain injury after a hit and run accident. I nearly clocked the person who said it. I would just as soon not be trusted that much, thank you very much.

    However, recently, another take on that is that God will often give us things that we can't handle, because he wants to handle them for us. I still don't like it, but when the hard things turn me towards God and the admission of my own weakness, well then, somehow, God provides the strength I need.

    This in-between place is so uncomfortable. I like what Barb said above - that until God moves her on, she'll work at being content where she's at. Not easy.

    hugs,
    Lorrie

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    1. The second paragraph should begin with, "However, recently, I've heard another take on this,...

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    2. The first comment went into spam. How weird.

      I recently read Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing To See and she talks about a similar experience at her daughter's funeral where someone said they understood her pain because they'd lost a pet. She's pretty blunt in the book on what she thought about that. It truly is better to say nothing at times.

      When my husband was so sick, it was the people who took action that I truly appreciated - the ones who looked after the kids, made meals, paid bills, and so on. Through that experience, I learned to do more of those kinds of things.

      No matter how I look at all those phrases, there's a part of me that says I'm exhausted and I don't want to deal with any more growth experiences right now and God should know that but it seems that remaining still can be equally exhausting.

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  6. I agree with your dislike of "pat phrases". Not helpful and so annoying at times. And they always seem to come out when you are struggling or in the midst of something tough. I agree with Seaphinalina that your friend was wise in her words. I get "stuck" sometimes in a situation and in the way it makes me feel. I'm a step-mother to an awesome 14 yr. old boy. I've been doing this since he was 2 so we do great together and with his Dad as a family. However, he is NOT mine and I'm not the only "mother" in his life. Which sometimes means we (my husband and I) have to parent by committee. And I teach teenagers for my career!?! So I have to "suck it up". However, I've now sucked it up to the point of having an ulcer. So I need to figure out how to deal better/differently somehow. Which also "sucks"! VBG.
    I think what gets me is that there isn't an easy, clear answer. I need to work on myself and figure out how to live with my frustrations differently and learn to not let it eat at me (literally). Thank goodness I've got the summer to figure that out (hopefully) before I add job stress and commitments back into my mix.
    But as a good friend once told me, sometimes it's okay that it's not okay. Some things don't need to be rationalized, sometimes they are just managed and that's the best you can expect or do.
    So that's my story - kind of a rant, actually. Sorry about that. Know that I'm cheering for you and sending a hug your way. It's a beautiful day where I am, I think I'll get out into it for a bit. I hope you have a good day as well.

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    1. I know what you mean about stuck. It's the damned if you do and damned if you don't position or the one where if you bring this up, you're going to have to deal with "stuff" and you don't feel like dealing with it even if it needs to be dealt with.

      An ulcer is a definite sigh of the body saying no. Have you read that book? I can't remember if I mentioned it before but it's called When The Body Says No. Might be helpful. I'm not sure. I haven't read it but it was of tremendous help to a friend.

      The only thing I've managed to work with when there isn't any clear answer is the answers I do know such as the things I know I don't want. It's not an answer but it helps somewhat.

      LOL - not a rant at all. Thanks for sharing and for the hug. Enjoy your day.

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    2. Thanks for the book suggestion - my library had it, so I've borrowed it to my e-reader. Take care,

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  7. Mmm, insightful comments. Over the last few years of turmoil and tragedy, I came to a complicated conclusion. I think and over-thing too much. Sometimes just 'marking time' is OK. Career choices, family dynamics and peripheral events tend to cloud my focus and therefore lead me to frustration. I don't know about the pat phrases thing, well intentioned mostly I suspect we all have gone there. I do know that everyone will face difficulties, tragedy and stress. May we each learn through experience that sometimes it is better to say nothing. Best wishes.

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    1. I agree AND... I think and over-think things as well. I have a hard time "just" marking time and struggle with what's the point when there often isn't one or it's simply to exist within those things that you enjoy and are gifted with. I overlook my resting spaces by trying to make them into something more or feeling that somehow I "have to".

      Yes, everyone will face difficulties. Some lives seem to have more of the negative which has the "benefit" of learning how to transverse those times with a bit more grace and the ability to pass that learning along when asked for. My daughter called me yesterday with an upset that's far too familiar to me and since she was asking, I was able to share what I've learned. Like you, I've reached some conclusions that are helpful.

      I'm sorry you've had years of turmoil and tragedy. That's very hard. HUGS.

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  8. Hi- I'm thinking of you and sending a virtual hug. I too am grateful for people who are willing to say the difficult truths and am glad you have spared yourself unhelpful expenses. A while ago you mentioned teaching some online classes such as everyday creative sewing, and I'm selfishly hoping that's an option for me to take in the future. BTW, the alphabet book is truly delightful!

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    1. Thanks for the hug. I'm glad to have been spared the expenses as well. I would love to teach again and time will tell if that's possible. Without a high enough percentage of people telling you that they'd like to take a workshop or someone actually organizing one for you to teach, it's hard to know whether to invest in that direction as well. Right now, there isn't sufficient affirming feedback.

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  9. I think the going back and forth on your decision and changing the decision and direction - that's normal in problem solving. You come up with a solution that seems to work but on further consideration, it doesn't address all aspects of the situation. So you go back and come up with a new solution, now armed with more information. And maybe that doesn't quite get you where you want to go either. It's okay. There's a better answer in you, it just needs to come out. Maybe more mental space or something, so things fall into place.

    I think the creative process is much like this, too. It just feels worse when it's your life you're talking about and not a piece of fabric.

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    1. Thank you. You're right - it's worse talking about my life versus fabric - like falling apart in public BUT it's also encouraging to hear and to share that it's a normal process and a valuable one. LOL - I'm not sure I should make more mental space. I'm pretty good at over-thinking already.

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    2. Myrna, yes, over-thinking - that's not mental space, that's clutter. It is for me, anyway. It's when I stop thinking about an issue that the answer comes to me. Decluttering physical space seems to help this process.

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    3. Yes... like resolving a design issue but cleaning house. LOL - cleaning is easier than resting with the unknown. But I can. I'm sure. We'll do it together.

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  10. Sorry the answer, whatever it is, is so hard to find, Myrna. Guess it just hasn't made itself apparent yet. Hopefully, soon.

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    1. The other perspective is that it has made itself apparent - to not work, to rest, to explore within the studio - and I'm refusing to accept that as the answer. I'm pondering that.

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  11. I too am sorry that the path forward is not perfectly clear. But as hard as it has been (and continues to be), you do seem to identified some significant issues. That is true progress, even though it may not feel like it.

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    1. Thank you. I agree. Identifying some significant issues is truly helpful - if only to prevent me from running full speed ahead in the wrong direction. This is good.

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  12. Myrna, Everybody can give you opinion, but unless it comes from you, the question will always remain open. Would it help if you did some part time work on trial basis at a nearby hair cutting place, to figure out if you are still enjoy the same way or more, than you did before and you can also test your personal thresholds - how long you are able to stand, whether the chemicals agree with you, etc etc..

    I can't stand pat phrases either. "Don't worry.. It will happen, when it will happen". Yeah, Like that helps!!

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    1. Thanks. In the case of asking my friends, their opinion coincided with mine. The thing I'd need to upgrade even to get some part-time work in a budget shop would be my cutting skills - at the very least to be more current - and that would be at minimum a $4,000 investment for the one week course, travel, accommodation, food, and so on. I think I'm best to wait.

      I know I've used some version of that phrase in the past - perhaps even to comfort myself in a situation like the one I'm in - waiting for something - but as you've said, it's no comfort at all.

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  13. A hug from here too. None of these questions are easy.

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    1. LOL - no, but they are consistent. Thanks for the hug.

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.