Unexpected Kindness from Strangers

Over the span of our lives, we have all borne witness to the devastation that natural disasters and other mass related deaths can leave behind.

Due to the availability of today’s social media, we’ve been able to watch many of these tragedies unfold from the comforts of our living room. We’re able to listen to and catalog just about every harrowing detail of each publicized tragedy. Many of us find solace in the acts of kindness from strangers that seem to emerge during these distressing catastrophic events.

While it always inspires me to hear stories about the innate goodness of others who lend a helping hand during a crisis, I am also amazed by the kindness that so many people offer for the smaller, less critical, everyday things in life. Graciously letting someone cut ahead of you in line or offering to help carry someone’s groceries who seems to be struggling is simple kindness without expectation…just because.

In my corner of the Universe, I recently had some acts of kindness come my way from strangers during a very non-critical, utterly ordinary, yet frustrating time.

Here’s what happened:

I ordered a chair online.  The day of its expected delivery it was pouring rain.  I made a point of being home all day perched at my living room window so I could see when my chair was delivered. I didn’t want my chair to spend any unnecessary time out in the elements. As it got closer to 5:00pm I became concerned.

No chair.

I then checked my email and noticed that FedEx sent a confirmation that my chair had already been delivered to my front door hours ago…whaatt???!!  I threw open the door and walked up and down my walkway several times to make sure that somehow, I didn’t miss a 60lb box that had been delivered.

It wasn’t there ☹.

I even drove around the neighborhood for a while hoping it was sitting on someone’s front stoop. Nope.

I then called Wayfair (the online company that I ordered the chair from) and spent what seemed like an eternity with the nicest representative I’ll never meet. Her name was Corinne.  Corinne listened very patiently to my frustration and helped me process two major possibilities: my chair was either delivered to the wrong address and the recipients decided not to call and report it or my chair was lost and abandoned out there somewhere.

We kibitzed about the moral compass of anyone who would keep a purchase that did not belong to them and also how hard it was to accept the error of a delivery guy who continued to claim that he delivered my chair to the right address. Corinne and I shared stories about how hard it can be sometimes to let go and move on.  She understood.  She got me.

A new chair was then ordered (no charge to me) and was due to arrive within two weeks.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my original chair was somehow nearby. On a hunch, I called the realtor who’s in charge of the new condo complex next to me and asked if my chair had been delivered there by any chance.

And it was.

It was waiting patiently for me on the porch of their front office. Delivered to the wrong address. The realtor hadn’t been there all week and was not aware it was there until I called.

I happily walked over and was greeted warmly by a crew of workers who endearingly call themselves the “Dirt Crew”. Without any hesitation, they offered to load my chair into the back of their truck and drive it over since there was no way I could get it over to my house by myself.

They would not take any money for their time or efforts.  Just an act of kindness for a stranger.

I cancelled the order for my new chair and was told it had already traveled to Arizona and was on its way to Massachusetts.  I felt badly that it might have been catching some nice rays in such a warm place ( Maria daSilva’s comment )

but my loyalty was to my original chair…

So, why did I write a blog about a lost chair?

Simply because the kindness of Corinne and the Dirt Crew are great examples of the innate goodness that ordinary people can offer in ordinary ways and make a big difference.

The kindness from strangers is not usually planned out.  It can arrive in unexpected forms with no way to pay them back but with a heartfelt thank you.  Spontaneous generosity of someone’s time and effort toward a stranger speaks volumes of their character and their heart…their response to someone’s vulnerability.

 

I’ll end with a big thank you to all the Corinnes and Dirt Crew helpers out there!

 

Thank You for reading,

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

Embarrass Easily?

Fear of Judgement

*Theorists have studied the link between shame and embarrassment to the Fear of Judgement extensively over the years. This is a multifaceted and complex subject.

Today’s blog simply illustrates how easily we can experience this Fear of Judgement in our everyday lives in the form of an innocent misstep in public.

Can you remember the last time you tripped or stumbled awkwardly in public?

Second to helping yourself up, dusting yourself off and checking for any broken bones, what did you probably do next? Or maybe even first?

If you’re like me, you probably looked around to see who bore witness to your fumble and thought the following:

“Did anyone see me do that?

How did I not see that pebble or that elephant?

So foolish…

Why do I feel flushed?”

A few weeks ago, I was on my morning walk engrossed in the sights and sounds around me when I stepped right into wet cement.  AARGHHH!! NOOOO!!!

I didn’t notice there was fresh cement right in front of me on one of the new sidewalks in town.

While it would have been acceptable if this were Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in the heart of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame it was instead a Walk of Shame in Pembroke, Massachusetts.

Me:

“I cannot believe I didn’t notice this was wet cement!

Who saw me?  How do I explain this?

Why wasn’t I more focused?  What was I thinking?  Ughhh!”

I was so embarrassed.

And so, it goes.

We can quickly shift into shame and self-criticism for even a minor mistake…but especially a mistake made in public.

Why?

“We want – and need- to be valued by others” – Thomas Hendricks, Ph. D

When we expose our flaws, especially in public, we wonder if “our value” to others will be judged…” what will they think of me now?”

Embarrassment is a primal emotion that dates back to our tribal origins.  “It is an emotion that signaled to us that we weren’t contributing to our tribe and could lose our standing…maybe even death.” – Huffpost 2016

Yikes!

While I doubt any of us in today’s world fear death for any mistakes made in public (well, I hope not), we are still hard wired to feel some level of shame when our imperfections are exposed. 

As social creatures, our public mask and outward presentation helps us stay in character.  It is how we want others to perceive us.  

“All it takes is a fall to suck the coolness right out of you” – Ellen Degeneres

Ha!

The fear of judgement from others when we are not at our best (especially in public) can easily feed into any existing insecurities we may already have about ourselves and shake our confidence (public speaking is another good example).

So, while it may be human nature and instinctual to stop, drop and look around when we experience an unexpected stumble and lose our balance, it is the extent and length of our inner dialogue (level of self-criticism) that determines whether we stay stuck in feeling “less than”.

No one is perfect; awkward public missteps happen and the fear of judgement is in the eye of the beholder. The sooner we can let go of our embarrassment and discomfort about our imperfections, the sooner we can get to where we were going.

*Note to self:  It’s ok that you stepped in wet cement Brunnie. You were able to get someone to fix it and smooth it over. It could have happened to anyone.  Relax and let it go…”

So, until the next blog:

Have a nice trip and see you next fall.

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

*Wordpress seems to format differently with email versus cellular devices. If the video does not pop up automatically at the end of the article, just click on the word video above.

Funny Ellen video on embarrassment in public

 

 

Aging Gracefully

What does that mean exactly?

And is there an ungraceful versus graceful way to notice the changes of our aging mind and bodies?

Let’s see…

Is it ungraceful to be surprised by the unruly random facial hair I sometime notice in the mirror now while waiting for the traffic light to change on a sunny day?

Is it ungraceful to cautiously, yet automatically, grab on tight to the railing when approaching a steep set of stairs to make sure I don’t slip and fall and maybe break a hip?  

Is it odd that I can sometimes go into a room and forget why I went in there? And even more odd that I then begin to get involved with something else that I’ve decided needs my attention?

What about mixing up the names of my children and grandchildren and yes, even their pets on occasion? Ok…well maybe more than just on occasion.

Is it ungraceful to have an ongoing emotional dilemma over whether to let go of my landline after all its years of service?  Waahhh…breaking up is hard to do.

And what about those moans and groans that seem to happen involuntarily when I stand up from a position I’ve been sitting in for a while? Yikes!  When did I turn into an old man?

So, as I look over this list that could definitely be longer, I wonder if I’m aging gracefully, ungracefully, or just simply aging?

Unless the fountain of youth has officially been located, we are all aging in every moment of every day.

While there are a gazillion anti-aging products, surgeries, tucks and lifts available to us that can help smooth out the noticeable changes of gravity and elasticity in our bodies, in the end, you can run but you can’t hide.  Death shows up for all of us regardless of how much work or money we’ve put forth into masking our aging appearance. Some of us may just look firmer and more supple in our caskets than others.

“She’s 90 years old but she looks great!

She looks at least 10 yrs. younger due to that excellent face lift she had a few years back!  What’s the name of that cosmetic surgeon???”

I saw an add recently that I thought was hilarious. It’s about knowing what your Age Give-Away Zones are. Seriously?  Do we really need to be educated about this?

Nora Ephron wrote a book entitled, “I Feel Bad About My Neck”, in which she states that if you want to know how old someone really is, you just have to look at their necks regardless of any surgeries and attempts made to hide their chronological age. Too funny ~ yet so true.

So, what is the message in today’s blog?

Just be who you are.

Maybe aging gracefully is about how we choose to experience and live our lives as we turn the pages in the calendar.

While each birthday brings its own set of changes and adjustments to gray hair and wrinkles, it is still a privilege to grow older. Not all of us have this gift.

I can live as if I’m waiting for my last breath or I can live my life as fully and as happily as possible with wrinkles and all.

For me, maintaining healthy habits, staying active and connected to a strong support system while savoring and enjoying the  moments of every day that I’m alive is how I choose to grow older and not just get old.   I’m keeping it simple with lots of laughter and gratitude along the way:

I have adopted the following mantra:

Is this graceful or ungraceful?

 

Thanks for reading,

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

60’s, Single and Dating?

So, “you’re out there”. 

Welcome to the dating scene.

You’re either on a dating site searching for “the one” or you’re frequenting clubs and meet up single events hoping the “wrong one” doesn’t approach you or ask you to dance. You might also be the brave warrior willing to accept the occasional blind date that well-meaning friends and family convince you is a perfect match.

Note to well-meaning friends and family:  Just because we’re both single, doesn’t mean we’re soulmates!

And while those of us out there in the dating world can agree that we’re not looking for perfection, we’re all looking for the same thing at any age:  love, acceptance and partnership with someone who “gets you”. But trying to find that right partner can be a winding, exhausting journey of dates that typically requires polite small talk while silently trying to assess whether a second date is likely. And if a second date is not going to happen, there can be long moments of awkwardness while stealing glances at the time and/or the nearest exit.

Check please! 

This game of trial and error can be time consuming and nerve racking but for those of us at a certain age there can be additional considerations and challenges.

Let’s start with technology. 

Meeting a new partner can happen organically at any moment, but if Mr. Right doesn’t live next door, the internet is a good place to start.

Navigating a dating site for the first time as a baby boomer, however, can be overwhelming, confusing, and maybe even laughable.

Upload photos from camera roll, Facebook, jpg, GIF…whaatt??? Tech support please! I need a millennial!

And then there’s the dilemma of what photo to use:

Do I upload my glamour shot photo from the 80’s, the picture of me with my grandchildren at the zoo, or the photo of me blowing out candles at my last birthday hoping the number of candles on the cake is not too noticeable?

So many decisions.

But once you’ve successfully signed up for your online dating experience the fun can then begin!

Those of us, however, in our older years excited about starting a new chapter in our lives might have more questions to ponder with our prospective romantic partners than singles in their 20’s and 30’s.

For example:

What is your history?

Widow/Widower or divorced?  If divorced, what is your relationship like with your ex?  How many children/grandchildren do you have?  Do any of them still live with you?  Will my children like you? Can our families blend well?

And… 

What is your perspective on the aging process?

How are you making the most of your retirement years? Are you active or sitting around waiting for the pearly gates to beckon you?  Are there medical issues associated with your aging and are you managing it well? Are you invested in self-care and a healthy lifestyle? What are your goals for the future?

 

Why so many questions?

Most of us dating in our older years are generally clearer about what we’re looking for in a romantic relationship. We’ve acquired enough life experience to know what worked and what didn’t work in our past.

Those of us coming from failed marriages hope to choose more carefully this time around.

 

There is a greater awareness in midlife that falling in love with the “potential” of what a partner can be rather than the “reality” of what someone already is, is just a recipe for disappointment. We can’t change or fix anyone – some of us have learned this the hard way.

 

One of the privileges of growing older is the wisdom of being able to forecast the probable success of a relationship within a short period of time; sometimes within minutes after meeting someone.  In fact, I’ve often thought that instead of meeting a first date in a restaurant, for example, we could consider “drive though” dating.  This is how it works: once you’ve decided to take the plunge and meet a stranger you’ve been communicating with online, an arrangement is made to meet in a parking lot and through the crack of your car window the date begins.  If you’re pleased with the small talk, you can move on to part 2 of the date which is actually shutting off the car engine and continuing the conversation. Perhaps now you’ve committed to a parking spot.  You’re interested and are making progress.

The bonus is that you don’t have to spend time and money meeting in a restaurant if your first impression doesn’t feel right.

Drive through dating is time and cost efficient and the best part is you can drive away at any time.

All jokes aside, renewing our passions in our older years is exciting and invigorating.

Go for it!

Happy dating and best wishes in your search!

 

Brunnie Getchell

M.Ed., Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy Tale Childhood

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s March.

It’s been a little over 2 months since most of us dutifully made our annual list of promises to improve our lives somehow.

We either pledged to do more of something or less of it.

We either resolved to take on a new life perspective, foster a healthier habit, increase our income, develop six pack abs or, for me, learn how to fold a fitted sheet properly.

It’s March.

And how are those resolutions going so far?

Some of us are staying strong and following through while others are limping along doing our best when we can, or when we remember.

Why do so many of us fail to stick to our New Year’s resolutions?

  1. Unrealistic goal setting: maybe asking too much of ourselves given our personal capacity or choosing goals that are too lofty or too vague.
  2. Time management: maybe not enough consideration of how much time it would take to realistically devote to these new goals in the way it was intended.

Researchers say that we’re more likely to stick to our New Year’s resolutions when there’s “an immediate reward”. We all like to see the success of our work sooner than later.

So, maybe making our goals more specific and breaking them down into manageable chunks is a way to guarantee a longer lasting commitment.

 

Remember that goals and resolutions can be rewritten and modified at any time.

Today might be as good a day as any to reexamine those New Year promises.

 

It’s March.

 

*And then there’s the 3-month rule.  In very small print at the bottom of your list of New Year’s resolutions, there is a disclaimer.  It’s an escape clause that clearly states that if you haven’t been working on your goals by now and don’t think you’ll be able to by the end of the year, you are then completely absolved from any responsibility or guilt to uphold your commitment to your resolutions.

I think I made that up.

Brunnie

M.Ed, Mental Health Counselor, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy tale Childhood

 

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So, It’s Valentine’s Day… and??

The hype around Valentine’s Day starts around the middle of January.

Stores quickly fill up with candy, cards and gifts for that special someone way before all the Christmas ornaments, wrapping paper and dancing Santa’s are completely packed up or shipped away.

How did this day become such an international day of gift giving, love and romance?

The origin of Valentine’s Day dates back to the middle ages. Romans celebrated a Pagan ritual feast in February in which women were randomly gathered and then somehow, matched up with men, becoming a traditional “day of wild fertility and love.”

Sound like a modern-day speed dating experience gone wild.

But over time, Valentine’s Day became less barbaric and morphed into a day of romantic gestures and proclamations of love, heralding this day as the biggest day for lovers.

Hallmark cards made these expressions of love easier by providing couples with the right words to say for that special someone. Valentine’s Day cards became the biggest card sending holiday second to Christmas.

Lucrative big business.

Thinking of something original to write has become almost unnecessary.

And does underlining the words inside the store-bought card, somehow make it your words?

Confession.  I’ve done that. Haven’t you?

And while not all couples acknowledge this holiday with all the fanfare of gifts, cards and candy, it’s still more common to witness those who are coupled up, glazed over at their local card shop, trying to find that special card or gift that will prove to their partner how much they are loved.

 

But what if you’re single?

How do you walk past all those Valentine Day Cards, including the candy aisle and not think?

“Ugh…I’m single” …and it’s Valentine’s Day…where’s my gift? wahhh wahhh”.

Can you still be ok? Absolutely.

Maybe it’s about shifting the meaning and any exclusivity you assign to this day.

Celebrating love can happen on any day, it’s just that commercialism over the years has been focused on romantic relationships. It’s understandable that some singles might be emotionally triggered by all the hype of Valentine’s Day. I know in the past, this has been an issue for me as well. It’s clearer to me now, more than ever, that feeling grateful and acknowledging my support system (those around me who I love ~ family, friends, grandchildren) is what the meaning of this day is all about.

Valentine’s Day is more about the love you have than the love you think you’re missing out on.

And then there’s celebrating ourselves.  Let’s not forget self-love.

How can we treat ourselves on Valentine’s Day whether we’re single or not?

This can be as simple as scheduling a spa day, a weekend getaway, ordering out a favorite meal, buying ourselves some flowers, giving ourselves permission to engage in a little retail therapy or guilty pleasures.

For me, in addition to all those possibilities, it’s also about honoring one of my first loves.

Chocolate

I love chocolate as much as Oprah loves bread.

And while I do understand that chocolate is no substitute for human connection and can have a high caloric value, it’s still how I personally help out with the overstocked chocolate surplus that begins on February 15th.
#CommunityService

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers whether you’re single, coupled up or “it’s complicated.”

Brunnie

Chocolate Cake Love:

M.Ed, Mental Health Counselor, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy tale Childhood

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Dings and Dents of the Holidays

So, the holidays are officially over.

I’m exhausted.

Shopping, planning, shopping, planning. Cooking, shopping, planning. Doing more, more and then more.

Do the holidays really require this much work or is it that we bring this on ourselves?

Many of us, myself included, are determined to have a Hallmark/Lifetime movie kind of Christmas experience. One in which we’re creating memories that are magical and inspirational that even Santa Claus and Unicorns would be proud of.

But then there’s the aftermath left behind. The dings and dents of holiday overindulgence.

Excess, excuses and self-imposed pressure.

I admit I am guilty of all three.

For example, I rationalized and redefined cheat day regarding my consumption of food so many times that gradually it became cheat week stretching it out to cheat month with no ending date as of yet.

My thoughts about food since Thanksgiving sounded something like this:

“It’s the holidays. No worries.  I’m definitely going back to the gym as soon as the holidays are over”. “I have a sweet tooth.  I can’t help it.  These cookies are really small…I’ll only have 1 or maybe 8. That’s not so bad, is it?”

“So, this pie has bourbon in it?  And those are called Rum Ball Cookies because they really have rum in them? Ok, so a cocktail and a dessert in one??

Hmmm… There’s definitely a convenience factor here.

And is it possible to have too much cheese?”

Then there was the Credit Card Shuffle.

An excuse to overspend.

Here’s what I often thought while buying gifts this year:

“I haven’t used this credit card in a while.  It should be ok.  Yes, it went through!  Yayy!! Sufficient funds! Wow!  That’s a nice surprise 😊.  I may not be able to pay it all off at the end of the month but that’s ok…it’s Christmas. Giving is good for the soul”.

True but who’s paying for all this stuff?

And in addition to over eating and overspending I confess I spent way too much time thinking about how to host Christmas Eve.

“I wonder if the meal I’m planning to serve for Christmas Eve is ok? Will I have enough food? Will it be special enough? What else can I do to make this night special?  Games? What kind of games?  Will my guests like the games I choose? Should I have prizes?

 Or what about doing a Reenactment of The Christmas Story? Too much?”

Aargh!!!!

Self-Imposed Pressure.

Exhausting.

So, how do we avoid too many holiday dings and dents that can keep us spinning and drain us emotionally, physically and even financially?  The answer to that is not at all profound or new. Maybe just a reminder to:

*Keep it simple, realistic and loving. Nothing has to be perfect.

*Hold on to traditions that matter most and let everything else be optional. Be open to new ways of celebrating the holidays that fit with changing family situations.

*Do your best to stick to a budget.  Gifts don’t buy happiness (well…within reason😊)

*Be kind to yourself ~ learn how to say “no”. We can’t do it all…and when we try, we’re often left with dings and dents like a car “that just drove through a hailstorm”.

Happy New Year!

Brunnie

M.Ed, Mental Health Counselor, Advanced Certified Hypnotherapist, Life Coach, Author of eBook, Finding Happiness Even Without a Fairy tale Childhood

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