FPQ #122: No Remorse, No Regret

Fandango’s Provocative Question #122 is about REGRET.

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Lucille Ball, the American actress and comedian, was quoted as saying…

“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

For this week’s provocative question I’m going to ask you to think back upon the life you’ve lived so far. And as you do so, consider this week’s question:

What is your biggest regret in life?

I suppose I could name several “regrets” I’ve had in my life, or the “biggest regret”, but I understand why I made the decisions I did at the time. So, I prefer to think of those things as mistakes, or the “roads most easily taken” without thinking ahead.

Me, a long time ago

I understand myself a lot better than I did when I was young. I was always beating myself up for stupid things I did or said, but I am nicer to myself these days. I like the way my life is headed now, in spite of being a “senior citizen.” Actually, being a senior citizen, except for reminders that my body is slowly falling apart, is quite nice. People at this age are much more forgiving, and more accepting. Every day, I look forward to traveling again, pursuing hobbies I enjoy, and relishing time with family and friends.

So I have “no remorse, no regrets.” Easy come, easy go!

FPQ #108: Do We Need a Special Day to Celebrate Love?

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Fandango’s intro to this week’s Provocative Question: Valentine’s Day is just four days from today. This coming Sunday is a day that people in love all around the globe — well, okay, in the United States, for sure — celebrate love and romance. So my perhaps not so provocative question this week is all about Valentine’s Day, how you feel about it and how you plan to celebrate the day.

Here’s my question….

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Do you consider it to be a special day, one where you express your deep love and appreciation for your significant other? Or is it just a commercialized “Hallmark Holiday” where you feel pressured to spend money on cards, flowers, candy, jewelry, and/or expensive dinners in order to stay on the good side of the one you love? Either way, what, if anything, are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?

I do believe in Valentine’s Day as a way to celebrate our love for others. Some people need to be reminded to remember loved ones or to say “I love you.” Those who don’t express themselves well verbally can get a card and a small gift. My husband, Dale, used to get me flowers every year.

Actually, Valentine’s Day isn’t like other “Hallmark holidays” – it has a long history, although the facts are a little uncertain. One story says that Valentine was a priest during the Roman Empire. Emperor Claudius II forbade young men from getting married because he thought unmarried men made better soldiers. The priest thought this was unjust and continued to marry young lovers in secret. He became a martyr (either this priest or another religious figure, the Bishop of Terni) when he was imprisoned for performing these secret marriages. He was held in the home of a noble, and there he healed the noble’s daughter of blindness, which caused him to be considered a saint. Before he was tortured and put to death on February 14, he sent the girl a note signed, “Your Valentine.”

St. Valentine – downloaded from Google Images

Whatever the story or legend, Valentine’s Day began to be associated with love during the Middle Ages, and St. Valentine became one of the most popular saints in Europe. When selecting a date to celebrate this saint, some believe Feb. 14 (originally Feb. 15) was deliberately chosen to correspond to the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, celebrating the Roman fertility god, Lupercus. Unlike Valentine’s Day, however, Lupercalia was a bloody, violent, and sexually-charged celebration of animal sacrifice, random matchmaking and coupling to ward off evil spirits and appease the god of fertility. To learn more about St. Valentine and Lupercalia, go to the History Channel’s website page about the history of Valentine’s Day.

There are what I would call Hallmark holidays (like “Sweethearts’ Day” and “Grandparents’ Day”), but Valentine’s Day is not one of them.

However, I have a special reason to “believe in” Valentine’s Day as a special day – it’s Dale’s birthday! So I have a special valentine all of my own!!

Dale and me in Amsterdam, January 2018

It’s not necessarily fun to have a spouse with a birthday on a special day like Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to get restaurant reservations for that special birthday dinner, and some places have special menus and the cost is higher! If you’re like me, who tends to forget to do things until the last minute, you’re out of luck calling around to get reservations on the actual day of Valentine’s Day. I look for that special combo Valentine’s Day birthday card, and I can usually find one or two. But generally, I give him two different cards and a gift more appropriate for his birthday than the token gift I would give for Valentine’s Day.

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A popular Valentine’s Day gift is candy. Especially if you are a woman looking for something to give your spouse or boyfriend, candy is usually the default. But neither Dale nor I need to have such temptations in the house! I could get flowers for him – after all, why shouldn’t a woman get flowers for a man? Men like flowers, too, at least most of them seem to. But if I got him flowers and he decided to surprise me in the same way (since candy is a no-no), we’d have too many flowers and it would seem more like an even exchange than something special. I think this is why neither of us bothers to buy the other one Valentine’s Day gifts anymore. I have to find a gift for him anyway.

It used to be a double whammy when I was teaching, because invariably there would be a Valentine’s Day party for the kids, and parents would bring in all kinds of goodies that I generally found irresistible. That would be after hustling the night before to sign a Valentine’s Day card for each student from the packs of 10 or 12 that I’d bought at a store. I didn’t usually worry about providing treats, because parents usually did that, but I generally would get at least a bag of candy so I could give one or two pieces to each child along with the card.

Then after the festivities at school, I’d go home and…there’d be candy or possibly a birthday cake. Fortunately, I am not teaching anymore, and being retired, it’s our job to sit back and let the kids do special things for us! In fact, our daughter has already warned us that she plans to make her dad a cake this year, which she hasn’t done the last few years. (But she’s all domesticated now that she’s married – she or her husband often cook special dishes for us.) That said, instead of being able to get together and share it, she’ll probably have to drop it off over the fence of our complex and we’ll be stuck eating the whole thing! I shouldn’t complain – everything she cooks is great and often quite innovative, but I seem to be in a perpetual struggle to lose weight!

My brother-in-law celebrates Valentine’s Day every year by performing “Singing Valentines” with his barbershop quartet. I don’t know if they will do it this year, but I will miss seeing it in our community dining room (which is closed due to Covid). Anyway, it’s a great surprise gift for someone’s special sweetheart and the group earns quite a bit of money that day!

Whatever the case, although we should celebrate love every day, I think it is a wonderful thing in these always challenging times to have at least one day called Valentine’s Day.

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FFF: Giza Plateau, Egypt

For Fandango’s Flashback Friday, I am reposting this from 2 years ago.

https://amoralegria.com/2019/02/05/journey-to-egypt-part-2-giza-pyramids-an-ancient-boat-camels-the-sphinx/

Posted on  by amoralegria

December 24, 2018

Our first full day in Cairo began with a trip to Giza to see the famous pyramids and the Sphinx. Egyptologists have identified 118-138 pyramids commissioned by ancient pharaohs as burial tombs. The oldest known pyramid is the step pyramid located in Saqqara, which we did not visit.

Egyptian pyramid building was developed over time. The step pyramid was the first pyramid structure, but to develop a smooth, continuous line took several attempts before the geometric measurements were just right. If too wide at the base, the pyramid would cave in for lack of sufficient support. If too narrow, it would become “top-heavy” and collapse under the weight of the stone. There is a pyramid known as the “bent pyramid” (which is not at Giza), that has sides that are somewhat curved.

The pyramids of Giza, including the Great Pyramid, are located in the Giza complex about 13 km (8 miles) from downtown Cairo, on the edge of the Western Desert.

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One of our first views of the Great Pyramid, the sun rising over it.

They were built at the height of pyramid building during times of absolutist rule, about 2580-2560 BCE (Before Common Era – formerly known as BC, Before Christ). The largest and oldest of these, the Great Pyramid, or The Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), was part of a complex consisting of a valley temple (which no longer exists) and the mortuary temple of the pharaoh Khufu (2nd pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty in ancient Egypt’s “Old Kingdom”), of which only the basalt pavement remains. The mortuary temple was connected to the pyramid containing the pharaoh’s tomb. The complex took about 20 years to build and the pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.

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Map of Giza complex

Originally the Great Pyramid was covered with a smooth layer of limestone and some of the stones used can be seen around the base.

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The pyramid consists of 2.3 million blocks of stone obtained from nearby quarries. Since building it took 20 years, this means that an average of 12 of the blocks would have to be put into place every hour, 24/7!  The largest granite stones used in the King’s burial chamber, weighing 20 or more tons each, were transported all the way from Aswan, more than 800 km (500 miles) away!

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Looking up the east side of the Great Pyramid

Although the Greeks suggested the pyramids had been built by slave labor, modern discoveries of a work camp associated with Giza indicate that they were probably built by skilled workers, organized into groups according to skill level.

Most of the limestone casing that covered the structure were loosened by a massive earthquake in 1303 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD). In 1356 AD these were taken away to build fortresses and mosques in Cairo.

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I am 5’6″ – compare my size with just one of the huge stones behind me that were used to build the Great Pyramid!Most of the limestone casing that covered the structure were loosened by a massive earthquake in 1303 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD). In 1356 AD these were taken away to build fortresses and mosques in Cairo. 

The original entrance to the Great Pyramid is on the north, about 17 meters (56 feet) vertically above ground level. This entrance, although blocked off, can still be seen today.
20181224_095949You can also climb partway up the pyramid under this sealed entrance.

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The red arrow points to Dale and me climbing up the base of the pyramid. 

This diagram shows the entrance, passages and chambers inside the pyramid, but access today is forbidden. In the King’s Chamber, the only object is a rectangular sarcophagus, which was likely lowered into the chamber before the top of the pyramid was added.
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On the east side of the Great Pyramid were three smaller pyramids for King Khufu’s three wives and it is possible to go inside one of these. A cavernous hole in the side of this structure is the entrance. You descend into a lower chamber on a ramp fitted with slats to maintain your footing. I took one look and said, “No, thanks!”

However, Dale and some of the others in our group did go down there. Inside the chamber there is really nothing at all to see. Someone took these photos of Dale and fellow group member Nancy Wheeler inside the empty chamber.

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Around the outside of Khufu’s pyramid are boat pits large enough to hold full-sized boats. The ancient Egyptians believed that boats would be necessary to transport the king and his family to the afterlife.

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These heavy stones were laid on top of the boat pits to preserve and seal in the boats underneath. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

One of the ships sealed inside the pits has been reconstructed and now resides in the Giza Solar Boat Museum.

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Heading toward the Giza Solar Boat Museum
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Model of Khufu’s boat, inside the museum (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
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The Great Pyramid with queens’ pyramids alongside, from the causeway near the Sphinx.

Next we took a camel ride.
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I had never ridden a camel before so my only experience riding an animal was on horses. First the handler has the camel get down into seated position so the rider can mount.  Its front legs bend first, then its back legs. Camels have very flexible knee joints! (I hope they don’t get arthritis!)
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Mounting the camel wasn’t that easy – I had trouble getting my right leg over its back!
Once I was on, the handler motioned for me to hold onto the saddle horns, both front and back, while the camel stood up again, going through the same motions it used to sit down. It was like being on a bucking bronco!

I continued holding onto both saddle horns, even though it was a bit awkward, until the handler told me to hold only the one in front. He also motioned me to sit farther forward, almost until I was practically sitting on the camel’s neck.
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I then gripped the front saddle horn and hung on for dear life. A camel moves very differently from a horse – it’s almost an undulating motion, as if we were at sea…perhaps that is one reason why camels are called the “ships of the desert.” Their bodies, while seemingly gangly, are uniquely suited to the desert environment.

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My experience, however, was not helped by the fact that my camel was a naughty beast! Instead of following the handler’s instructions, who eventually had to hold him on a tighter rein, he would wander in the opposite direction until pulled back, or approached another camel for a little tête-a-tête! Also, he kept bumping up against another camel ridden by a young woman in our group, so that my foot was crushed between two camel bodies! (No harm done, except that my shoes smelled like camel for the rest of the trip!)

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The handler insisted on taking multiple photographs of us on our camels – this is the best of them, in my opinion!

I was greatly relieved when it was time to get off – although it required that “bucking bronco” movement again!

Here are some sketches I made of my camel in my journal later:
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After this memorable experience, we visited the Sphinx and the Valley Temple of Khafre (see map above), but first, we viewed the Giza plateau from the vantage point of a hill where we had gotten off the camels.
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The Sphinx, while it dwarfs in comparison to the pyramids behind it, is the largest sculpture in the world carved from one solid piece of rock: cut from limestone bedrock,  the head has since been restored using layers of blocks.
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The Sphinx was a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head. The Great Sphinx of Giza is thought to represent the king Khafre, whose pyramid tomb stands behind it.  Although the head and much of the body has eroded over time, its long front legs and paws are solid rock.DSC_0051

The Great Sphinx faces east and is 73 meters (240 feet) long from paw to tail. At its highest point it is 20.21 m (66.3 ft) tall, and 19 m (62 ft) wide at its rear haunches. It was built during Egypt’s Old Kingdom, during the reign of King Khafre (c. 2558-2532 BCE).
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In between the paws of the Sphinx, there is a stela (an upright stone slab on which is carved some kind of inscription, like gravestones) created during the New Kingdom by Thutmose IV (son of Amenhotep II) describing a dream which justifies his right to rule. A brief description of this dream is in an online article Between the Paws of the Sphinx by Dr. David Livingston:

Thutmosis had been strenuously driving his chariot over the desert. After awhile, he lay down in the shadow of the Sphinx’ head, all that was visible above the sand. While sleeping, the Sphinx came to him in a dream and assured the future Pharaoh that if he cleared the sands away, the Sphinx would, in turn, make Thutmosis the next ruler. Thutmosis did so and, sure enough, he became the next Pharaoh!

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Causeway which originally led to the funerary temple of King Khafre

Although it is possible to look at this stela between the Sphinx’s paws, we did not do this, instead going into the Valley Temple of Khafre which is in front of it.

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Why are we all looking down at the ground?
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Because Mohamed (our trip leader) pointed out that the original granite floor of the temple was still visible here.

Sources for the historical and technical information above were from the following online articles:
Great Pyramid of Giza
Pyramids of Giza
Great Sphinx of Giza

Next: Christmas Eve Dinner and Visit to a MosqueTags:Ancient CivilizationsBoatsCamelsChurches & TemplesEgyptGizaHistoric SitesHistoryMonolithsPhotographyPyramidsRuinsTransportationTravelogueCategories:AfricaAncient Art And Historical SitesEgyptPhotographyTravelTravel JournalWriting

What a Nuisance!

This is the Word of the Day prompt, whose host defines this term thus:
 GABBLE-RATCHET. As well as being an old English dialect word for a noisy child, a gabble-ratchet is any nocturnal bird (particularly geese) that makes a lot of noise at night, once considered to be an ill omen.

I was attracted to this prompt today due to this unusual word!! The definition I found for gabble-ratchet is a bit different, from New Miriam-Webster Dictionary online:

Definition of gabriel ratchet
Miriam-Webster says the term derives from gabriel-ratchet, whose definition is:

dialectalthe cries of migrating wild geese flying by night which are often popularly explained as the baying of a supernatural pack of hounds and to which various superstitious significances (as forebodings of evil) are attributed.

I like the first definition better, but I am very familiar with the sound – a lot of Canada geese hang around our community’s campus when the weather is warm enough, and when they fly, they gabble-ratchet! So I am incorporating this unique word, with two other prompts from Fandango’s FOWC and The Daily Spur into my poem about

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CANADA GEESE

Canada geese everywhere
In pond and grass, and in the air
They leave their poop all over the place
When I walk, I look down, just in case
At the path where they have wandered
Poop here, poop there and over yonder
A gun is fired to scare them away
But they don’t care, they come back anyway
The swans in the ponds only chase after them
When their cygnets are young, but mostly ignore ’em
In the fall, those darned geese fly overhead
In V formation, full speed ahead
Their gabble-ratchet is music to my ears
They’re finally gone…until next year!
BUT
I wish I could say they really go away
But mild winters invite them to stay!
Call grounds crew to complain or snitch
But Canada geese have found their niche
I guess living with geese is just the price
We have to pay for a campus so nice!

FPQ: School Daze

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I haven’t participated in Fandango’s Provocative Question lately, but I’m back! And #104 is a good one for me, because I am a former teacher and education has always been an interest of mine:

Today’s provocative question is about formal education. We all have our opinions on how best to educate and prepare our children to succeed in today’s highly complex world. So this begs the question:

What do you think is the one subject (or thing) that should be taught in school that isn’t?

Oh, there are many answers to this question! Students today don’t learn about half the things they should nowadays, and especially in the U.S. Therefore, I cannot just name one, but three, but grade level may determine the priority given to each.

  1. Life skills: this includes how to maintain a bank account, how to treat others in a civil society, how to live on your own, conservation, the responsibilities you have as an adult, parenting, managing a household or a budget, etc. This encompasses a wide range of topics, which are always changing (for example, in the past I might have said “how to balance a checkbook” but young people don’t use checkbooks anymore). This should be taught in middle school and high school. In middle school it could be more about decision-making, civility, and diversity. The curriculum should be somewhat fluid, because different communities might have particular needs and students have different needs. High school students maybe even should have some input about what is taught.
  2. History should be a required subject every year of high school, and also middle school. One high school year is not enough to learn all of U.S. history, which is always being added to. And standards for teaching history include many things that we weren’t taught when I was in high school, such as Native American history, and minorities’ contributions to our society. (When I was in school, it was mostly about leaders, dates, etc. We had Black History but it was a separate subject and not mandatory.) At least two years should be dedicated to U.S. history, possibly three, and at least one year should be world history.
  3. Starting in elementary school, from kindergarten on, all students should learn a foreign language. This is a very rare thing in American schools and most Americans are not only monolingual but woefully ignorant about the rest of the world. Even high schools don’t always require it. All research shows that the best time to learn another language is before the age of 12. My local school district in Des Plaines used to have Spanish classes as part of the curriculum in elementary school but only once a week and this program was discontinued along with the dual language program when budget cuts had to be made. It should be as important a class as math or English. One of this country’s major shortcomings is ignorance of other peoples and cultures. We are a large country and a world power but so is China and all their students learn foreign languages starting in elementary school. In fact, BECAUSE we are a world power, we should be more knowledgeable about the world . If other nations can teach these things, why can’t we?

    One good way to start elementary school students to learn another language is to implement a dual language program. Many school districts have bilingual programs, but that is not quite the same. Each school would select a foreign language that is predominant in their community and hire teachers fluent in both languages. Then the regular curriculum – math, reading, science, social studies, etc. could be taught in both languages from the beginning! Instead of trying to figure out how to find the time to teach foreign language, just integrate the foreign language into the regular curriculum. This would have the benefit of teaching children academic as well as social language. There are some good examples of dual language programs in the U.S. (which in some cases have replaced regular bilingual programs) and Canada has had them for a long time. But it isn’t a priority here, so therefore, unless you live in an enlightened district, it won’t be done. I have taught in a couple of dual language programs and it is definitely the best way to teach children a second language.

You may wonder, how on earth is it possible to add all these extra things to the curriculum? I don’t know about life skills, but these other subjects (language, national history and world history) are part of the regular curriculum in most countries and judging from recent studies, the major industrialized countries are all doing a better job at educating their kids than American schools. I remember learning that in a typical British school, kids may have up to 11 regular subjects each year! (If you are in Britain and reading this, perhaps you can verify if this is still the case.) In the U.S., we have for too long emphasized the teaching of subjects that are part of standardized testing, so social studies and foreign language became less important or even ignored. Learning about other countries – history, geography, politics – and their languages is so important in the world we live in today, and I think we do a great disservice to our students by not giving these subjects the emphasis they deserve.

Oh, and by the way, ALL students should have, as part of their regular school supplies, an iPad, tablet or laptop computer. Yes, all this costs a lot of money, so why not budget more for education and less to build weapons?

FPQ #98: I Just Want Peace

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Welcome once again to Fandango’s Provocative Question. Each week Fandango poses a provocative question for our consideration. Fandango says:

By provocative, I don’t mean a question that will cause annoyance or anger. Nor do I mean a question intended to arouse sexual desire or interest. What I do mean is a question that is likely to get you to think, to be creative, and to provoke a response. Hopefully a positive response.

Last week I asked for some suggestions for potential provocative questions and a few of you came through with some good ones. This one comes from Paula Light over at Light Motifs II. Her question revolves around interpersonal relationships. She asks…

When it comes to your friends, your spouse, your significant other, or members of your family, is it better to confront them about things they say or do that bother or upset you or is it better to try to ignore those things in order to maintain peace in your relationship?

It depends on several things: how close I am to that person or how well I know them; what the issue is (really important or trivial); my mood; the kind of person I’m confronting.

With my husband, I sometimes ignore whatever it is that bothers me (like leaving the toilet seat up) or if I am in a prickly mood, I will say something like, “I really wish you would…” But if it is really important, I will say something right away. Sometimes Dale is on the verge of saying something inappropriate (well, I know it’s inappropriate – Dale has no filter sometimes!), and I intervene to stop him, so he doesn’t offend the people he’s talking to or embarrass me (because he rarely gets embarrassed – that’s part of having no filter). What really gets me is when he picks on me to correct a habit and then HE starts doing the same thing! Like turning off lights. OK, I know our monthly payment to this senior community includes utilities, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about wasting electricity! I am always concerned about the environment, and don’t like to waste resources unnecessarily. He used to tell me to turn off the lights, but now he is the primary guilty one. I often just do it myself, because he does a lot for me, for us: laundry, dishes, and other things for the umpteenth time without complaining.

There are some people who are very sensitive, however. I have a friend that I really have to be careful what I say. I don’t criticize her ever. Sometimes she’ll be telling me something, and I say, “Oh, really?” – which is a common response to show interest – she takes it the wrong way, getting very defensive as if my response implied that I didn’t believe her.

I usually don’t confront family members, either – I’m too accommodating. My sister, for example, does something that is really annoying – during a concert or play, when I’m sitting next to her, I hear her murmuring to herself. She always does this, so I figure either she doesn’t realize she’s doing it or she can’t help it. I don’t know why she does this. Maybe it’s not that I’m accommodating, I’m just chicken! I don’t want to provoke or offend her, and I know I have little habits that offend other people too. Would I want them to confront me? I guess I would if it were serious, like if I had really bad body odor. I would want my friend or relative to tell me so I could do something about it.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I don’t confront most people about stuff that annoys me. Sometimes I avoid the person, if it’s possible – it depends on my mood. Dale is the only one that I do confront now and then. After all, I have to live with him, and nowadays, while we’re stuck at home, we’re together almost all the time.

In fact, when other people confront my son, I defend him even when I know they are right. That is because I don’t want him to be provoked because he easily gets out of control and starts yelling and swearing. He is very sensitive, so if someone hurts him, he overreacts. Then the other person gets mad and starts yelling and swearing back. But I know that he is fundamentally a kind person.

I’m also very sensitive. When someone hurts me, I tend to withdraw and lick my wounds, but if it happens often, I will confront the person. Dale sometimes yells “SHUT UP!” at me when he could react less strongly, or he yells at me from across the room in a tone of annoyance when we are on vacation, in other words, in a situation where others in our tour group witness it – that is very embarrassing. I do talk to him about this, but only when we are alone in our room. I have gotten into the habit of reminding him about this BEFOREHAND – because I know it’s going to happen when he gets annoyed when I linger to look at something or take a photo.

I think I know why I am reluctant to confront people about the things that bug me – I just want PEACE and HARMONY among the people I’m with.

Love, Peace, and Harmony #thoughts , #ThinkPositive , #love, #Peace , # Harmony , #SPIRITUAL | Peace quotes, Harmony quotes, Humanity quotes

Why can’t we all just get along?