Archives for July 2013

20Jul

The Universe Knocks but You Can’t Hear

I just have to share this story about the photographer at my wedding.  I got remarried at age 54.  I found myself in love again for perhaps the third time in my life.  The man I am marrying is already 60.  He is a good man who took very good care of his fatally ill wife and after a time of grief and loneliness I found him.  Our story is not all that unique, we are a bit alone because both of us are the only ‘standing’ adult in our families; we have no parents and no living spouses.  We are both the only surviving parent of our kids.  It was kismet that we should find each other.

I say this partly because of our dates, I left Florida on September 29th 2009 and his wife passed away (they live in Florida) in October of 2009.  I lived in Virginia until May of 2010, enough time for me to have some retrospection and enough time for him to be lonely.  So at the end of June, I went on a date with him and I knew without doubt that he was the man for me.  After a couple of years of dating and then cohabitating we decided to get married.  When you have grown children you think it will be simple, kind of like when you are teenagers, but no, it is not the thing.  It is quite complicated with grown children.

In any case, we are precise people who enjoy “partying” and hanging out with our offspring.  Precise, nonetheless, we know what we want.  How can you be over 50 years old and NOT know what you want?  Well – that is another question isn’t it?

So, back to my preciseness: I hired an expensive wedding photographer and what I wanted was not exactly wedding pictures.  I explained very clearly, this is not the normal wedding, we are mostly interested in capturing pictures of our children and our families.  Our kids are incredibly important to us and it is so seldom that we get them together that it is very important that we get portraits of each family and I also want to make sure to capture our entire family.  “Please understand, I am not all that interested in the wedding photography of the moment, I really just want great pictures of all of my family, please.”  Wedding photography of the moment is all that goo-goo nonsense of wedding rings and cakes, etc.  I am a 54 year old woman and I am not even buying flowers, I am not buying flowers because I want my money for food, friends and family – not flowers.  Over and over again, I emphasized, I am not the typical bride!  (Duh, just look at me…)  I couldn’t have been more clear if I was crystal.  She kept not listening to me.  The photographer just was not hearing me, but I did not realize it until my wedding day, she showed up in ripped jeans.  I think she thought it was cool, but it was a disappointment to me and it showed me in a very clear way that we had not made the connection that I thought we had made.

I thought the photographer understood my message.  “I am paying you a great deal of money and I want you to picture my entire family and each family unit.”  I provided her with a typed list with names so that she would be able to check off each and every one.  I told her earnestly “please make sure that you go around the party and snap pictures of each grouping so that I have a record of everyone who attended my wedding.”

So many issues, it is difficult to list them all, but the bottom line is that she did not hear ME.  She heard wedding and bride and groom.  She did not listen and she did not do what I asked her to do, rather what she wished to do for a WEDDING.

I spent ten minutes on the phone explaining to her that I wanted a group shot of our grandsons, I was letting her know how important this facet of our wedding was to me.  Cousins who lived a thousand miles from each other were having a reunion and I wanted it expressed in photos.  These are the kind of conversations I had with the photographer over and over again.  To my chagrin, she focused on her idea of ‘wedding’ and spent very little attention on my requests.  The pictures of my grandsons together are very few and at best, they are clumsily done.  On the other hand I have a half dozen pictures of my wedding dress hanging from a tree (???!!!).

At one point during the reception, with great effort, we finally got 8 of our kids onto the deck, she was supposed to be getting pictures, but instead stopped to talk with a guest about photography, it was completely unnerving.

I repeated before she left the reception: over and over, to make sure that she documented the guests by taking pictures of everyone.  Somehow, in the aftermath of editing and preparing my discs for me, she completely forgot that part.  I have pictures of the wedding cake, I have pictures of the wedding rings, but I have not one picture of my husband’s brother-in-law.  So even though she had taken thousands of pictures, she deleted my panoramic view of guests.   She was editing her idea of a wedding rather than responding to me, the person who had hired her.

Before she had produced anything for me, she called me and said that the final payment was missing out of her bag; she said that one of the kids must have taken it (?)  Why make up something when you don’t know?  In the meantime, I received the missing check in the mail, one of her neighbors had found the check in a muddy ditch next to her home and mailed it to me because my name is printed on the check and the neighbor did not recognize the photographer’s name.  It bothered me deeply that she would be so frazzled as to lose the check and then to accuse “one of the kids”?!!!

So here is the thing, it’s one of those relationships that cannot get fixed, a wedding is one of those events that once they occur, they are done!  I can’t recover from the wedding photographer’s mistakes in thinking.  She thought she was doing a wedding, I begged her to understand that it was a family reunion and that I dearly wanted documentation of my family.  She did not ‘hear’ me.  What she heard was ‘wedding’, she could not hear my words over her own words that were running through her head.  And that really, is the point of this story, if the universe knocks, you have to be able to ‘hear’ and that means being open to new ideas that are not your own.  You must be capable of listening to someone else’s idea of reality.  This does not mean they are correct, you can discard their idea of reality, but when they are paying you – well you could be losing your own career in addition to this client.

I do want to add that the photographer was not a complete disaster, she was able to capture some very important moments that needed to be documented.  Her creativity with words and wedding cakes were not needed here, but those moments of love and tearful joy, those moments documented, were worth every dime and more.

The Best Moment

16Jul

Men Really “Get” It; Women, Not So Much

What men really get and women do not, is that there is a solid difference between men and women.  There is not only a difference, but there is a mystery.  There is something about being a man that women just do not understand.  There is something about being a woman that men just do not understand.  The issue is that women think that they understand and men know that they do not.

It is like being a parent, if you are not a parent, you have no way of experiencing the wide range of emotion that parenting brings to an individual.  Because of that, you cannot judge a parental reaction very well.  You cannot evaluate what is essentially a mystery to you.

Men accept that women are not known to them.  It was a man who coined the term “the mystery of a woman”.  You may hear them talking about women and discussing with each other how they really do not understand women at all.  On the other hand, if you listen to women talking, they seem to think that, not only do they know all about men, but they also understand all of the mysteries of the universe.  Women won’t admit that men are essentially very different and that a feminine evaluation of them may miss the mark of reality completely.

I’m not saying that women are particularly better at being “know-it-alls”.  I really am not!  Men can be really dumb too.  The current attempts at legislating birth control and abortion are spectacular examples of men being “know-it-alls”.  What I am saying is that men will admit they have no clue about women.  Women will not admit that they have no clue about men.  For the last 50 or 60 years women have been trying to communicate with men as if they are women and it is not working.  Men have a special language that does not include a feminine perspective at all, they all know it.  It does not matter to them if women understand this masculine language and that is a demarcation line in itself.  Women want to and think they should ‘understand’ everything.  Men just don’t have that need…

14Jul

When Perception is Real and Life can Break Your Heart.

For my friends, who know me, of course I do not believe that perception is real.  In many ways my thinking is concrete.  If you are pregnant, no amount of thinking will make you ‘realize’ that you are not pregnant.  There is an objective reality my friends!

I think what I may have been mistaken about is this idea that folks do alter their reality through thinking and that when a few people get together to think thoughts it can impact reality.  What I mean by this is that if you have a perception that a person you work with is lazy.  You will not recognize difficult work or hard effort on their part; you will minimize any performance so that you can maintain your thoughts about the person being lazy.

So let us say that you dislike someone intensely and you attribute to them faulty behavior.  You will give the most benign activity a nefarious description.  “Look at how she turns her head that way, she is a stuck up bitch!”  But then let us say that you never quite have a conversation with this person, so the person does not know about your thoughts and feelings, nor does this person know that you are often conversing in a negative way with others about this person.

So then, others talk to this person from your conversation and now this person is confused.  “Well everyone thinks you’re stuck up.”  Whenever we speak with someone, we are speaking to them from our own thoughts, beliefs and feelings, indeed, we speak FROM the conversations that are inside and outside our head.  So, if this person that you do not like, or perhaps feel negatively about, has no idea of your internal conversation, you may be surprising them.  In fact, you could be unwittingly ambushing them.  This is a sorry state of affairs and is much more difficult to deal with then honest and forthright communication.  The person you dislike, does not know that their behavior is affecting you and therefore has a disadvantage, not only in communication, but in action.  How can you respond and defend yourself, if you do not know that the ‘crime’ is?  How can you respond to well meaning friends who ‘ambush’ you with their own rendition of reality – people who have no intention of having a conversation – people who simply want to tell you – how to be?

I think it is a shame that people will go to great lengths to NOT say what they are thinking and feeling, but the thinking and feeling is pervasively experienced by all.  Bystanders will buy into one of these versions of reality and that is when “perception is reality”.  And then, You really are a bitch…

11Jul

A More Pleasant Way of Saying “Fat, Dumb and Happy” is “Satiated, Blissful, Ignorance”

02Jul

“Good Stuff” and Feeling “Special”

I did something this morning that I have not often done in my life.  I wore all of the “good stuff” to work, right away, without hesitation.

My daughter sent earrings and a bracelet on Saturday.  Normally I would put them away and wait for a special occasion.  No way!  My husband doesn’t like it, but I am admitting that I am aging.  Because of that, I don’t want to wait to do anything anymore.  I want to wear all of my pretty clothes and jewelry right here and right now.  It may be aging, it may not be.

I heard a story about a man sadly talking about his wife.  After her funeral he was going through her dresser drawers and he found a beautiful new night gown delicately laced and obviously expensive.  It made him cry because he knew that she had been saving the night gown for a special occasion.  I totally understand her.  I grew up in a house with six other kids.  If you wanted to eat, you came to dinner early, if you wanted a new dress for school, you saved your money from scavenging for pop bottles and redeeming them at .03 cents a piece.  If you got something nice, it was to be savored and adored, not to be touched and roughed up.  Anything nice had to be hidden and watched over.  Because luxuries were hard earned, they were saved…

The habit is hard to break.  You can gain financial superiority and you will still be holding that lace nightgown in the original box and you do not want to use it.  Once you use it, it is no longer special.  Yes, yes, that feeling of specialness that comes with the gift or the new item.  Feeling special can come in a box with tissue and ribbon.  That is the other reason for hanging on to these things: if you have never had much attention, a little bit of attention must be savored and again, adored.  As happens so often with these beliefs that are leftover from childhood, you may not even be aware that they are there until someone tells you a story, as did happen with me.

It’s been happening with everything.  The china and the crystal were never to be touched unless there was company – but when company came over they wanted to run around and have fun; we always used paper plates.  So now I want to serve dinner on china, just for us – for no other reason – just for us.  Then I think about being special and now I see, if I am to be special, I must make it happen.  I must be a special me, I must use my nice things, I must appreciate the jewelry my daughter sent to me on Saturday.  It is me who must make these things happen.  Then I must trust that they can and they will happen again.  I must realize that I cannot cling to the specialness of that jewelry delivery on Saturday.  It is over, that special moment came and then it went.  I will get another moment like that – and in the meantime, I have learned that I must appreciate such moments while they are happening.