Posted in help, life, love, suicide

#Writing through the Pain

Do you write to get through hard times? I have always found it my solace. My husband lost his God son to suicide yesterday. We are in shock and our hearts are breaking. He left a wife and four little kids. Why? runs over and over in our heads. What could be so terrible that you feel your only solution is suicide? I think we have all been through dark hours. A time in our lives that we wonder how we would make it through the next day. But suicide? He made it through multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. We all held our breath until he came home safe. Life seemed so good, if only on the outside. Now stateside, a new baby boy, finally time with his family. Then this. I don’t understand.

To Danny, you were loved. By more than we can count. Your death leaves a huge hole in our hearts. I can’t imagine how Jessica can ever explain this to the kids. We miss you. I hope that you have found peace from whatever it was you could not face here on earth. I am sorry we could not be there to help you through your pain. We did not know. We, your Dad, your brother, Jessica – we all would have helped you through this . . . if only you would have shared your burden with us.

To anyone else reading this, if you are going through a tough time right now, call someone. Don’t try to struggle through it alone. Nothing is so bad that you need to take your life. You’ll get through it. Together – with the help of those that love you. And if you feel there is no one that loves you, I’d venture to guess you are wrong. Whether it is a parent, spouse, child or neighbor, a friend from your past – there ARE people out there that love you. Value life. Choose life.   #SuicideHurtsEveryone #YouAreLoved #ChooseLife #RIPDanWenger

Posted in children, coming of age, education, etiquette, family, help

Is Etiquette dead?

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Emily Post

Oct 27, 1872 – Sept. 25, 1960

This post has nothing to do with writing, it has to do with living. With the holidays over, I have been thinking about etiquette. What faux pas did I commit by either not following etiquette or by using out-dated protocol that showed my age worse than the wrinkles on my hand?

Without Emily Post to direct me, how do I know what is still current and what is passé?

Below is a list of etiquette I was raised with. I’m not saying I remember to use them all. What do you think is still proper and what ones should be thrown out with the bath water. (I realize that statement will only make sense to certain people – oops dating myself already.)

  1. Men (and I include boys whenever I say “men”) should open doors (including car doors) for a lady. (i.e. girls)
  2. Men should give up their seat on public transportation to women and the elderly. Note: I think women should also give up their seat for the elderly if they are younger)
  3. Men should walk on the outside (curb side) when walking down the street with a lady. Note: Did you know that before indoor plumbing, the rule was the opposite, so if someone threw dirty water out the window of their apartment, the water would hit the man, not the woman?
  4. Men should either place the hand on the small of her back or gently hold her elbow when walking. (Note: I’d settle for holding hands if appropriate.)
  5. Men never let a lady lift something heavy when they are around.
  6. Men stand up when a lady enters or leaves a room.
  7. Always RSVP to an invitation, even if it does not require one.
  8. Shoes and shirts at the table (No shoes, no shirt, no service applies in peoples’ homes too)
  9. Bring a thank-you gift when invited to dinner.
  10. If given a dish to take home, always return it full, never empty.
  11. Women should sit with their feet crossed at their ankles, not at the knee.
  12. When not eating at the table, hands should be in your lap.
  13. Napkins always placed on the lap.
  14. No elbows on the table.
  15. No slurping your soup.
  16. Children should never interrupt an adult. (Arguing with an adult is never appropriate)
  17. Respect your elders, even if you think they are wrong.
  18. Guests to wait to pick up their utensils to eat until the hostess is seated. She picks up hers first. (this applies to dessert served as well)
  19. Never leave the table, even if you are done eating, until the hostess says you are excused.
  20. Never say “I don’t like that.” Always, “No thank you. I don’t care for any.”
  21. Thank-you notes for gifts. Hand written was protocol, but I would assume an email would work today.
  22. Crude or inappropriate language does not belong at the dinner table.
  23.  This is a new one I made up – No electronics at the table.

This isn’t everything I learned. Mom, I swear there are more. But, this is what came off the top of my head. I’d love to hear what you think of these and if there is any etiquette that I grossly forgot, or perhaps a new etiquette that arose in the last century.

Posted in 2014, 80's, dating, friends, funny, guy, help, parents, readers, romance, rules, technology, writing

9 Ways Dating Has Changed In The Thirty Years I Have Been Away

candy 2013

Candy Cooper McDowall

This is a Facebook post from my daughter that I wish to share with you (with her permission).  I am sure you will love it as much as I did. No author/writer lessons here today or  Author Interview. But I think you will find some wisdom and humor.

posted August 22, 2014 at 4:51pm

When I was a teenager, my father told me I was not allowed to date until I was 16. Yes, you read that right. 16. That’s not to say I didn’t hit the occasional basketball game with a “friend” or double-date for the movies (that we walked to). But for a legitimate date, one that involved alone time between me and A BOY, I had to wait until that magical age of teen maturity. Sweet 16.

I remember pretty distinctly sitting at the dinner table telling my dad that I had been asked out for my first date, and having to ask his permission to go. He tried to be funny. He failed. I will leave the out the details.

However, this was 1982 or thereabouts. There were rules. Some of them were imposed by my dad. Some were just, you know, how it was done. But there were guidelines we pretty much all knew ahead of time. It never occurred to me they might be variable. They just… were. Which, I suppose, was fairly naïve considering dating in the 8Os was not very much like dating in the 50s, which is equally not like dating in the 20s. Still, these were the times I knew, along with the rest of my contemporaries. We were trying to act all grownup in our awkward bodies with our rampant hormones and having no idea what we were doing, guessing at societal norms in order to know how to proceed. Whether we followed them or not is not the point. They were there.

Fast forward 30 years…or so…

Stepping back out into the world of dating as a single woman in her 40s, with almost grown children watching, has been daunting. I’ve changed. The world has changed. But the one thing I did not expect is that DATING HAS CHANGED. Caught me totally off guard with that one.

I was scared enough as it is, with my previously unscarred heart now battered and slightly bruised. But at least, I thought, this time I had experience. This time, I knew what was coming. This time, I am all grown up in my not-too-shabby-for-my-age body, possibly with some raging hormones (which are likely menopausal), having some idea of what I am doing, because this time I KNOW the societal norms that tell me how to proceed. Whether I follow them or not is not the point. THIS TIME at least I know the rules.

Hah. Ahaha. Ahahahahahahaha!  WRONG.

I give you…online dating.

If you had said the words “online dating”  in the 80s we would have wondered what laundry had to do with your love life.

And so at this time, I would like to enumerate for you lucky souls who are NOT negotiating this newly-laid digital landmine, or maybe those of you who are jumping into those waters again, what is it like to be a teenager of the 80s dating in this new millenium. For those of you already doing it, high five for bravery.

80s Rule #1 – If a boy asks you out, he probably likes you.

I mean, he had to get up the nerve, look you in the eye (or write you a note), get made fun of by his friends, and then wait nervously for you to say yes. You don’t do all that for somebody you aren’t really interested in. It’s too nerve-wracking.

2014 Version – If you see a picture of someone you find interesting, and he sees yours, you might start a conversation. You will probably be emailing or texting for awhile. This might lead him to ask if you possibly want to get coffee or something. Maybe. He might just flirt. Or be cautiously distant so that you aren’t sure if he is interested or just bored from sitting home alone. And then right about the time YOU are ready to ask HIM if he wants to get coffee or something, because, you know, you are a modern confident woman and he already said he likes coffee, he will suddenly disappear and delete his profile. Likely in the middle of the conversation you were having and probably right after he just asked you out for that coffee.

80s Rule #2 – Your date must pick you up at the door.

There was no way in hell my father was going to miss out on the chance to terrorize any potential suitor of mine, even while being polite. I think it was the smile that threw them off. The anticipation of meeting The Father was likely much worse than the experience of meeting The Father himself.

2014 Version – Your date must not know where you live for a very long time.

It’s very possible you don’t have a good idea of what your date really looks like, since those pics he uploaded were from when he still had hair. (Side note: Beware the naked bathroom selfie. That would have gotten you arrested in 1982.) And since you are a single woman now, probably alone in the house in the primping hours prior to any first date, for safety’s sake, a new guy can’t get within 100 yards of you without a room full of caffeinated strangers, who may or may not be looking up when you walk in, but could at least call 911 if they heard screaming.

80s Rule #3 – Your date pays for dinner.

His dad probably slipped him a 20 on the way out the door, and reminded him to tip the waiter.

2014 Version – You get there early enough to buy your own coffee so there is no awkward reaching for your wallet as he reaches for his, not knowing if he really wants to buy your coffee or just feels socially obligated. Or he buys his own coffee and leaves you standing there feeling like a dolt for assuming those were together.

80s Rule #4 – If it is a nice date, he might ask you out again before the night is over.

I mean, you like each other. It was fun. Why not?

2014 Version – If it is a nice date, he will likely wait until he gets home, and then text or email you a day or two (or 5) later to see if you would like to go out again.

I had a guy say to me in all honesty, “I never ask a woman out for a second date while we are still on the first date, because then it avoids the whole awkward refusal thing.” Because truthfully, the chance of being turned down for the second date is much higher when you don’t know each other to begin with. I can’t exactly fault the guy. So you might be waiting for awhile for that second request. Or it might not be coming at all. Hard to say.

80s Rule #5 – If it is a nice date, there might be a goodnight kiss.

There might not, if one or both of you is shy. But there was little chance of more happening on that first date than a bit of awkward groping in the driveway. Not to say that more wouldn’t happen later, but much first date action was unlikely.

2014 Version – You have to state in writing on a public forum whether or not you are willing to have sex on a first date.

I wish I was joking.

80s Rule #6 – Once you are a couple, it is ok to slide across the bench seat and sit next to him while he is driving.

2014 Version – First, you probably aren’t even in his car for awhile. See Rule #2. But if you have made it that far, the bench seat is long gone. The best you can do is try to hold hands over the console between the bucket seats and hope you don’t lose feeling in your wrist.

80s Rule #7 – If your friends like him, he’s probably ok.

2014 Version – If he’s ok, your friends might like him. But not necessarily.

80s Rule #8 – If things don’t work out, there is probably an emotional breakup in person, but if he’s a real heel, it might be over the phone.

But if he did that.. COWARD! Couldn’t even look you in the eye. (spit) And then all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.

2014 Version – If things don’t work out, a text message is a convenient and efficient way to get out of a potential relationship without having to bear witness to the other person’s heart breaking right in front of you.

But then, all your friends and family get to say mean things about him, and he wasn’t worth your time anyway.

Some things don’t change that much at all.

80s Rule #9 – If it all goes well, you gaze happily into each other’s eyes, put your picture in the newspaper, and start planning that over-the-top wedding with the giant cake and people from your dad’s office you’ve never met.

2014 Version – If all goes well, you slowly introduce each other to your respective children, quietly move in together one dresser drawer at a time, and maybe sneak off in a private little ceremony to tie the knot at some point. But not necessarily. Let’s not move too fast here.

Wish me luck. At least now I know the rules.

Candy Cooper McDowall ©2014

 

Posted in disabilities, education, elder care, exercises, Florida, help, meditation, pain, pain relief, peaceful, purpose, relax, service, yoga

YOGA INSTRUCTOR JEAN ERLBAUM WROTE SIT WITH LESS PAIN

Jeanie and Stella Wisdom
Jeanie and Stella Wisdom

Jean Erlbaum, M.S., E.R.Y.T., L.V.C.Y.T, author, has been studying yoga and meditation since 1965 and has been teaching since 1972. An Experienced Registered 500-Hour Yoga Teacher, she is certified as a teacher of several styles of yoga, meditation, and stress reduction. She has studied Zen for over thirty years and in 2012 was designated as a senior Dharma teacher by Boundless Way Zen (Worcester, Massachusetts). She offers classes in Greenfield, MA, and Naples, FL, where she lives with her husband Richard Rumelt and their two dachshunds, Stella and Oscar. Richard and Jean have two daughters, Anna and Libby, who live in New York City.

Jeanie is a friend and colleague of mine through Marco Island Writers. I know you will want to know all about her new release, Sit With Less Pain.

Jeanie, when and why did you first become a writer?

I have been writing since my chubby little hand could form letters. Growing up I was not given a lot of space for expression. I think for me writing was a survival technique, a way of staying true to myself. Even when I was very young, I wrote essays and stories. I rarely showed my work to anyone. I wrote for myself and I wrote every day. As I got older I did begin to share my writing with friends and teachers. I began to feel confident about my ability to put words on paper, but I never considered myself a “writer” and never thought about being published. To me a “real writer” was someone who did creative writing – fiction or poetry. As an adult I have almost always written opinion pieces or instructional essays. Now that I have a book published, maybe I can begin to consider myself a writer. I have been encouraged to be more receptive to that designation by my wonderful Marco Island Writers Group!

What  is your book about?

Here’s the synopsis for  Sit With Less Pain:

Relieve and release the stiffness that comes from prolonged sitting—at a desk, behind the wheel, or on a meditation cushion—with these easy-to-follow exercises. Free yourself from pain with this beautifully illustrated guide. The book is organized anatomically, helping readers to immediately focus on the part of the body that causes them pain: tense shoulders, stiff knees, sore hips, etc. Sit with Less Pain also includes instructions for flowing series of movements, which combine several exercises into smooth sequences, for readers who have mastered the individual stretches and want a more complete experience. Gorgeous, clear illustrations and lay-flat binding—which lets the book stay open at the proper page—will help readers perfect the poses. Companion CD’s are available with  the author’s soothing voice guiding you through the sequences offered in the book. You can chose tracks and design your own unique stretching sessions focusing on the parts of your body that need special attention.

Sit With Less Pain by Jean Erlbaum

Few of us at Marco Island Writer’s are traditionally published? How did you find your publisher?

I have been teaching yoga for many years. One of my specialties is teaching yoga to people on meditation retreats. People who sit for long periods in meditation get achy in very specific ways. I designed classes that addressed those specific problems. One of the people who attended one of those retreats turned out to be an editor for Wisdom Publications, a Buddhist publishing house. He liked my classes and asked if I would consider writing a book to share the techniques I had developed. (He had no idea that I loved writing – he just knew he liked my yoga!) Even though I had never considered writing a book before, I immediately said yes. I liked the challenge of such a focused commitment and I welcomed the opportunity to empty my brain of 40 plus years of yoga information. (As I was writing the book, I often did have the sense of just tilting my head and pouring all these theories and techniques into the computer in front of me. And it was a relief to empty out in that way, to pass it all on.)

What do you hope readers will receive from your book?

As I was writing the book, I began to imagine that it could be beneficial anyone who sat for a long time – not just meditators. It could be helpful to people who sit in an office all day or behind the wheel of a car or truck; I realized that the techniques I designed could easily be adapted for folks in wheelchairs. As I started telling my yoga students and local health providers about the book I was writing, many people requested copies and told me how helpful they thought the stretches would be for them and for the people they worked with. After a while, I sensed that these people were not just being polite. I began to understand that techniques I was relaying in the book could be helpful in alleviate pain for many, many people. Along with the physical stretches, I added an element of meditative awareness to the exercises, so a wider audience could benefit from the centering and calming aspects of yoga. I decided also to create companion CDs for the book, so readers, once they have seen the instructions and illustrations in the book, can be led effortlessly through the stretches. My hope is that readers will enjoy doing the stretches and gain mental and physical ease in their daily activities.

Where can reader buy your book?

Jean’s website: http: www.sitwithlesspain.com  (This is the only place currently that you can get the companion CDs.)

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Sit-With-Less-Pain-Meditators/dp/0861716795/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1396274570&sr=1-1

Barnes&Noble : http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sit-with-less-pain-jean-erlbaum/1117543237?ean=9780861716791

Wisdom Publicationshttp://www.wisdompubs.org/book/sit-less-pain

Powell’s: http://www.powells.com/biblio/62-9780861716791-0

IndieBoundhttp://www.indiebound.org/book/9780861716791

iTuneshttps://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sit-with-less-pain/id789539748?mt=11

Companion CDs for the book are available: $25 for a set of two chair yoga cds, $25 for a set of mat yoga cds, $45 for all cds. Contact jean.erlbaum@verizon.net, www.sitwithlesspain.com for ordering and more info.

 

Here is an excerpt from the Introduction to the book:

 Yoga can bring us into the authentic embodiment of each moment. When we pay full attention during a forward bend, we can drop all memories of how our back has been, judgment of how it should be, worries about how it may get worse, or fantasies of how to make it better. All there is in that moment is the stretch, the breath, and any physical changes or insights as they occur. Yoga used this way is not separate from meditation practice—it becomes the practice. By fully sinking into the specific sensations of each pose, we create the possibility of relinquishing the usual busyness of mind and expanding beyond the usual constrictions of the body, beyond the boundary of “this self.”

We can create regular yoga sessions for ourselves and take the visceral awareness this practice promotes into our every day lives. We can cultivate a larger yoga: an ability to align with our body while sitting, walking, washing the dishes, or climbing into bed at night. We can cultivate mindfulness of what changes with each movement and of the stillness that remains even as we move through our days.

Yoga can help us go beyond watching the movements of body and mind; it allows us to become “bodymind,” to embody this one thing we always are. My hope is that these stretches help you as much as they have helped me, so that we all can sit deeply and live with grace and flexibility in all circumstances.

Thank you Jeanie. This has been so much fun. As you know, my daughter is the owner of three yoga studios in Miami and has a nationwide non-profit organization that teaches yoga as an alternative to violence to at risk youth.  You handle the other end of the spectrum – the older generation and the less nimble.  Thanks so much for sharing with us today on Author Interview Friday at Writing Under Fire. Best of luck with your book launch.