Monday, June 6, 2011

Don't Ask and You Might Receive

From my personal experience, I've found that although we have sayings such as "The squeaky wheel gets the grease," which more often than not is true, in a different circumstance, sometimes it's better to not ask for too much and you may get more. 

I have often observed those who think nothing of asking others for favors.  It gets irritating after a while and causes resentment.  The habitual "askers" then wonder why people are avoiding them.  On the other hand, there are those who even in times of hardship, refrain as much as possible from asking for help, and yet seem to receive willing, unsolicited help.  I believe it's human nature to prefer to do things voluntarily rather than feeling forced to do them. 

The squeaky wheel saying pertains more to one-time situations, such as customer service issues rather than personal interactions with friends and family.  I'm sure if you keep complaining at the same establishment, you'll eventually cause resentment and get less and less grease.

So let's ask ourselves if we are asking others for too much, too often, before "The needy wheel gets abandoned on the side of the road."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tenacious C

I don't give up easily--and that gets me stories to tell that may be helpful to others.  Some of you may roll your eyes, some of you may say, "Cool!" and some of you may even be inspired:

The other day I had to make some interisland plane reservations online.  I checked and was dismayed to find the fares for the date/departure times I wanted for both ways were well over the minimum $63 fare.  Oh nooo!  Who was it who refuses to pay retail?  Well I refuse to pay anything but the lowest interisland fare.

I went reluctantly to check Go/Mokulele and found what I wanted for $63 (total of $415 for the three of us).  We're not crazy about flying Go and haven't had to for years, so I admit I was taking my time completing the reservation.  I got to a page that asked for our frequent flyer numbers.  As I said, we hadn't flown Go! for years, but I know we did have FF numbers...somewhere.  I went through my email to search.  When I got back a few minutes later, I found the page had changed and I had to start over again---odd.  To my shock, the minimum fare had gone up to $71 each way person!  How could this happen?!?  After retrying several times, I checked the Hawaiian Air site and sure enough, their minimum fare had gone up also.

Resignedly I went back to Go with the philosophy "accept what you can't change" in mind.  After entering my credit card info to grudgingly pay the $463, I clicked SUBMIT and after a one of those beard-growing waits, I got a page saying "Sorry,... DNS server could not be reached..." or something to that effect.  Arrrrgh!! 

It then occurred to me to check  Did the fare increases register immediately, I wondered?  Well guess what---they still had the $63 fares!!  Just one problem though.  I went to my email and found a confirmation from Go!!  How could that be when I got a "could not connect" message from them?!  I wanted to tear out my hair at this point: to discover I could've still gotten the lower fare, but for a transaction going through that should not have gone through....hmmmm.

What if I hadn't seen the email and had gone ahead and reserved through Priceline, not knowing I already had reservations!?  Shouldn't Go cancel them because they led me to think the transaction had not gone through?  Light bulb moment!

I phoned Go and explained what had happened--that I saw that error message and assumed the reservation didn't go through so I went to make other reservations.  Apparently this was not the first time this happened and the agent graciously cancelled my reservation and credited my card.  I then gleefully went to the Priceline site where I paid the original $415--saving $48.  I was mentally drained by then, but heck $48 is $48!  More important, my perseverance paid off.

That same day we went to Ross for their Tuesday Senior Citizens' Discount Day.  We'd gone there the day before, and while shopping I realized that we should've gone on Tuesday instead, so we stopped shopping and put back the few items we'd found.  I noted down what to pick up on Tuesday with the discount, but there was a set of shot glasses that were the last of its kind.  I told my husband that I wished the glasses were a little bigger (they were under 2 oz.) but I liked the design of them compared to the plain ones or the ones with Elvis' face on them.  I then did what I think most ladies in my situation would do:  Went back to the shelf where I found them and put them behind some large boxes.  Judging from the messy shelves, I doubted that they'd be found.

So ok, on Tuesday I made a beeline to rescue my shot glasses.  First of all, remember that I'm a senior and I've been "scatterbrained" from 50 years before reaching senior status (I think I was pretty sharp until I reached 6).  So naturally the first place I checked was the shelf below where I actually hid them.  No glasses.  I checked the entire shelf again.  Nope.  Then I checked the shelf above it from one end to the other.  No glasses. 

I could not believe those shot glasses had disappeared!  For one thing, Ross had a surprisingly large selection of shot glasses--maybe in preparation for New Year's partying--and secondly, those shelves didn't look like anyone had bothered to straighten them. 

I went back, looked a third time.  As I searched, I noticed that I could see through to the next aisle.  Suddenly in my stubborness, I thought of going to the next aisle and looking at my shelf from the back, so I did.  Sure enough, halfway down the aisle, I saw what appeared to be my box of glasses, but they weren't--they were actually the glasses I had wished for (slightly larger, similar cut).  Like the ones I'd hidden, they were pushed to the back of the shelf, visible only from the next aisle's adjoining shelves.  Instead of immediately going to retrieve them, however, I continued down the aisle, still peeking at the back of the shelf and suddenly saw the set I'd hidden!  How on earth had I missed them?  I could've sworn I'd checked behind every larger box on the shelf.  Very weird.

I then went to the correct aisle and reached behind boxes to retrieve the two sets.  It was almost spooky how the second set of glasses were exactly as I'd wished for.  It was almost as if the set I'd originally hidden had led me to them.  Like these tiny shot glasses came alive and eluded me until I found the other set first. 

Either that or there was one unhappy shopper who arrived later and found the set she'd hidden was now replaced by a set of tinier glasses!

People say we should ask the Universe and we'll get what we want.  Well, I had kind of hoped for something more than shot glasses and $48, but who knows, maybe we have to start small.  All I know for sure is that perseverance paid off twice in one day and gave me something to write about!

Monday, September 27, 2010


A recent study  concluded that young people today have less empathy than those in the recent past.  Considering how long "Christina and Ali" lasted on America's Got Talent, I find this surprising, but then maybe that was a sympathy issue, not empathy, although the two are closely related.  Or maybe the more empathetic oldsters were voting for them while the less empathetic youngsters voted for the Prince Poppycock, who knows?  [I was rooting for Michael Grimm since my extremely empathetic tendencies are not allowed to interfere with my music appreciation.  The name of the show is not "America's Got Sob Stories"]

I don't recall being very empathetic as a teen or young adult.  I tended to see things in black and white, right or wrong, rather than seeing the gray areas.  As I grew older, I became better able to put myself in the shoes of others and a new dimension to life opened up for me.  The way I see it, being empathetic leads to better understanding of others which facilitates acceptance which leads to less fearfulness and resentment which leads to a less stressful, happier life.

As an example, in 1996 when I first discovered the internet, I was under the influence of what I heard on the news and had a fear of Arab terrorists.  I became addicted to chatrooms and inevitably encountered people online from dozens of foreign countries, including the Middle East.  I avoided the Arabs, Pakistanis, and Indians at first, not trusting any of them, but I soon realized they weren't what I had prejudged them to be at all.  Once my barriers broke down, I accepted them (or rejected them) individually just as I would any person I met in my realtime life.  I found myself doing a complete turnaround and ended up becoming enamoured with Middle Eastern culture.  Even the tragedy of 9.11.2001 did not change this new attitude because I understood that the average Muslim in the Middle East is not preoccupied with hurting Americans.  One less fear, one more year to live--ok, I don't know this as a fact, but sounds reasonable, no? 

A little fear is normal and probably good to have to keep you on your toes, but a person who lets fear color his views and dictate his actions, is to be pitied.   These people have clenched fists, hearts, brains, and---ok, you know.  With everything clenched, there's no healthy flow going on. 

Besides alleviating fears, empathy is also good to develop because it reduces resentment.  You may look at someone getting special treatment, for example, and feel resentful, but have you first put yourself in their place?  Physically handicapped people get the coveted parking spaces and it's annoying when we're circling the parking lot for the third time, but really, would you want to be in their shoes?  When you're able to reduce resentment, you're another step closer to Happy.

Lastly, developing empathy, besides overcoming fears and resentment, may actually become a useful tool for you in personal relationships.  When you can empathize with others and better understand them, you can work better with them.  Don't be surprised if you find yourself liking people more than you used to.  I think you'll even like yourself more too as a result!

Friday, September 10, 2010

"I Got Nothing"

One conclusion I've come to within the past few years is that people tap out.  I didn't do extensive research, it's my own conclusion.  What do you think?

I first wondered about this as a music lover who appreciates songwriters more than musicians.  I'm sure you've noticed yourself that as a whole, our favorite musicians, many of whom are songwriters, simply don't come out with the great songs they were so prolific with early in their careers.  I'm not just talking about Three Hit Wonders. Even "superstars" like Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Sting, Lionel Richie,  and Michael Jackson, who write/wrote much of their own material, haven't had memorable hits in the last decade.  Am I wrong?
Next I noticed that I was abandoning my favorite novel writers, one by one.  Where their early books brought me thrills, laughs, and joy that ended too soon, I noticed that a couple of writers were getting so tedious to read that I couldn't get past the first chapters.  Another author--I mercifully will not reveal any names--seemed to have a computerized "subsequent novels" template because she used the same lines and situations over and over in every book until it grated on my nerves.  Was it me?  I went to and looked up four of these "favorite authors" and was amazed--ok not really--to see that where their earlier books were getting close to 5 star ratings, their later books were each getting fewer and fewer stars, and the reader reviews expressed the same complaints I had.  Ah ha!  More evidence of tapping out!

And then there's the most personal evidence that people get tapped out: me!  When I first began my clothing craft business 19 years ago, designs simply poured out of me.  Where some clothing lines may have a few truly unique ideas per season, I produced literally dozens of designs in just a few years.  As the years passed, I had fewer and fewer new designs and even when I introduced something new, I noticed that the old designs outsold the new! 

So why am I providing evidence that younger people may be "better" than we seniors?  Don't we have enough going against us?  In reality, if you plan well in your youth, you'll find that you're much happier and better adjusted as a senior, even if you're "tapped out" in your field.  Sure it was exciting to be "flavor of the year" and it's always better to be a "has been" than a "never been," but for most, age brings the comfort of no longer having to keep sharpening the edge.

The message, therefore, is to make the most of whatever you excel in and don't assume there's a never ending source within you.  [This may sound negative, but it's not written in stone, in the same way that not everyone who smokes gets cancer.]  My point is to plan for the future even though you feel your creativity will support you forever.

And just because I may be tapped out of new clothing designs, does NOT mean I'm tapped out in every other creative genre.  I will now attempt to write some music! 

Friday, July 9, 2010

So You Think You Can Judge

Sometimes you think you know what you're looking at, but maybe, just maybe, you're wrong.  As you saw from the video above, a different "point of view" resulted in a totally different image.  This happens in everyday situations, too.  We see things happen and make snap judgments based on what we've learned in the past, or on what's been drummed into us by our families, friends, teachers, the media, etc.  

Say, for instance, you see a young man driving a gleaming, expensive car down the street.  You think, "Hmph!  Must be some rich spoiled brat. I hate guys like that! Damn it, wish I was born into a rich family, then I can cruise all day, too!"  Well guess what--no, he didn't steal the car--he's actually delivering a car he worked all day on detailing.  Oops! Kind of changes the picture, huh?

We've all made those misjudgments, but finally somewhere along your journey of life, you'll have that epiphany that maybe you have to take a little time to consider other perspectives before making a call. Yes, it does make decisions and judgments a little more difficult, but it also shows maturity and wisdom. It can also cut down on stress because you'll tend to be more understanding towards others. 

Seeing things in black and white can be harsh...being able to see the shades of gray in between softens the picture--and life--a great deal.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Was He Thinking---and What's He Thinking Now?

In a chatroom long ago I had an argument with a 19-year-old who insisted that he'd never change his opinions.  Gosh I wish I could find that guy again.  Imagine a 33-year-old with the stagnant mind of a 19-year-old.  His handle was "BOSS" so obviously he thought he knew everything. 

At that time--14 years ago--I had no proof for my argument that his thinking would change, but since then there have been numerous studies done showing brain activity changes with maturity.  I don't think we ever needed scientific proof that old age changes the brain--insert "mental-pause" joke here--but these studies showed there are significant differences between teen and adult brain activity.  When you couple this fact with the experience you have to draw on as you get older, it'd be more difficult not to think differently.

I'm not saying that the changes will be drastic and immediately noticeable, since they happen over years and our attitudes are shaped by our culture, upbringing, friends, experiences, etc.  A son of a Nazi growing up along other Nazis is probably not going to suddenly become a flower child once he's 30, unfortunately, but still he won't have the same opinion on everything.  Maybe he'll decide chocolate is his new favorite flavor instead of vanilla, who knows?  There's hope, however, that by age 50 he'll have life experiences that will change his attitude.

Up until my early thirties things were pretty much black and white to me, too, although I wouldn't have gone so far as to declare that my opinions would never change.  I look back now and shake my head remembering judgments and decisions I made.  Making decisions seemed much easier in those days.  As I gained experience and knowledge over the years, all the different angles and outcomes have to be considered before I can make a decision.  Young people just "do it" without considering every consequence and they have the energy to carry out their often risky plans. 

Perhaps that is how it's meant to be and how mankind progresses.  The world probably would be a much different place if people were born with the wisdom and better judgment of the elders:  "Are you kidding, I'm not going to join Caesar's army and risk dying or coming home a paraplegic!" or "No Orville, I'm not getting into that flying contraption!"

So while there are a lot of bad decisions being made in our youth (deciding to smoke, trying meth "just once," letting a guy--or girl!--talk you into unprotected sex), thank goodness for that stage in life when we don't know enough not to attempt the impossible dream.  So keep trying the impossible, but beware of the possible.

And if you're 19 and don't believe me, please save this in your personal time capsule to open when you're 59.  I dare you!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sorry, No Do-Overs

One thing I never thought about when I was young was how it's easier to change your life for the worse than the better.  You can easily ruin your life in a few seconds, but it's almost impossible to improve it to the same degree in even a few minutes.  Then once you've chosen that fast/easy/fun path, it could take years to fix and you end up working ten times harder!  It's a lot like the way it is with food: the majority of food that tastes the best is bad for us, yet fast/easy/fun to eat; then you have to work hard to undo the havoc it does to your body and health.  Damn.

I have no explanation as to why Life is this way.  I'm sure religious people would tell you that Life is meant to be a test for us (Losties will probably agree), but I wonder if it's not instead the reverse:  that Life came first, then came Society, which set up the complicated rules and invented the good-but-bad-for-ya stuff---like Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Frosted Flakes, and crack. 

Rather than look for the answers to life's mysteries, I think you'd be better off for now just accepting the fact and being aware that it just can take just seconds to drastically change your life. A few examples:
  • Choosing to drive while drunk and getting into an accident
  • Choosing to try anything addictive "just once"
  • Choosing to have unprotected sex
  • Choosing to cheat in any way 
These bad choices are sometimes not conscious decisions, but impulsive acts that took just minutes, if not seconds, whose consequences often last a whole lifetime.  More of these bad decisions are made by young people because they've lived less years and had less time to witness--in real life--what bad choices can do.  Perfectly understandable.  Of course there are a lot of older people who have very publicly made these bad choices, so obviously there is no age limit when it comes to catastrophic choices.

All you have to do is be aware that a second can change a lifetime with no second chance and I think you'll be more apt to take your time to make better choices and have a better life.  Simple!

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?

What becomes of the brokenhearted? They get over it and so can you. I speak from experience...multiple experiences! You don't have to be a Buddhist to recover from a broken heart, but Buddhists believe in non-attachment and the transience of life, two concepts that I believe are essential for healing a broken heart. As a teen I didn't consciously take those teachings to heart while experiencing my various heartbreaks, but in retrospect maybe I subconsciously did, because I recovered relatively quickly. Sure there are tenacious souls who refuse to disengage themselves and face the reality of a lost love. It's sad that they waste their lives that way when they could move on and find happiness and fulfillment in a thousand other ways.

Here are some of my ideas that may help:

1) List down the heartbreaker's negative characteristics. Everyone has them! If you can't think of anything wrong with their character (aside from the fact that they don't want you), look further, for instance "His mother is controlling, she'd be a pain as a mother-in-law," or "He wants to become a famous basketball player and then he'll probably cheat on me." Dig deep! Believe me, there's always something. Nothing wrong with rationalizing when it comes to alleviating pain! After you look at your list, hopefully you'll feel lucky to have lost him.

2) Think of the time you're using mourning your "loss". Why let anyone have that much power over you and your time? There is so much you can be doing instead. I guarantee you if you spend too much time moping around, there will come a day when you'll be angry at yourself for wasting precious time. It can cost you your job if you're not focused, or if you're in school, turn your A into a C---there goes that college scholarship!

3) Being brokenhearted results in very real physical stress that affects your health. Again, you're giving too much control to another person---control that rightfully belongs to you.

4) For the "moving on" step you're about to do, think carefully--writing them down--about how you may want to improve yourself for the next relationship. What lessons did you learn from this broken relationship? There's no sense in moving on if you're going to make the same mistakes again such as looking for someone with the same personality as the heartbreaker's, or again acting possessively or jealously.

5) Change begins within you. No one should depend on another for happiness. We must each be independent, strong, and secure. This doesn't mean become a hermit; it's good to share happiness, but you are complete within yourself. Don't buy into the "he completes me" hype. If a person needs another to "complete" them, then it seems to me they're not much of a person on their own.

Unless you're one of those unfortunate few who insist on dwelling in the past, as early as a few months from now, but more likely in a year, you'll think "that was silly of me to think I was going to die without this person!" or in five years you'll think "OH...MY...GOD!!! What did I SEE in that guy/girl?!?!"

It's truly amazing how feelings change. You'll wonder if you're the same person and well, you're NOT. Same DNA, but true to the transiency of life, you're really not the same person because you're constantly growing. Cells die off and are being replaced, hormone levels fluctuate, etc. With each new experience, you're learning every day, and that changes your emotional/mental makeup. And soon, VOILA! The broken heart gets mended literally and figuratively!

Every single day you wake up, there's a NEW YOU, and that's what I call HOPE!

*Photo by Brian McCarty

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Six Lessons in 30 TV Minutes

Last night for 30 minutes I was watching three shows at once: Anthony Bourdain, The Big Bang, and Behind the Scenes of the Bachelor.  Who said TV is a waste of time? Lessons can be learned from them all:

1) First lesson is that although I felt pretty smug about being able to watch three shows at once and getting the gist of all three, of course it left me wondering about the parts I missed.  Ah, so very like life itself.

I pretty much hate The Bachelor show now because it's just ridiculous, but I did have a curiosity about what they'd reveal in the 20/20 behind-the-scenes special. 

2) It bugs me that people criticized the bachelor (Brad Womack) who didn't choose a girl.  He was given 25 girls, but had to eliminate 10 after only a couple of hours so maybe "the one" was inadvertently eliminated the first night.  Out of the 15 that are left, we find from this "behind the scenes" show that some of the girls each season are chosen not because they fit the bachelor's checklist, but for the entertainment of the audience (for instance, they chose "drama queens" hoping for conflict)!  So this poor guy was supposed to find his life mate from maybe ten girls?!

So my second lesson is that even though you think you're watching reality TV, you're not.  Even "real" isn't necessarily real, so beware!

3) There's also a bad lesson here:  Our values are warped when we vilify someone for not lying just to satisfy our desire for a "happy ending." 
4) By the way, read my blogpost "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?" because as much as I dislike her, I want to thank Melissa Rycroft for proving my point.  Yes!!  When she was "dumped" by Jake last season, she was devastated...and now she can't believe she even wanted him.  So yes, your blindness does tend to clear with time.  It's a miracle!

5) On the Anthony Bourdain "No Reservations" show, he visited China and ate grilled butterfly larvae and crispy crickets.  I was surprised to hear the comment, "Well if China rules the world in twenty years, at least it'll be FUN."  I never thought of China or Chinese as fun before, but took this as a lesson to start seriously thinking of what it'd be like if/when the U.S. weren't the world power.  For young people, it's a wake up call to get serious about having a life plan because you don't want to end up catching crickets for a living.  Ok, I'm kidding, I'm sure they don't catch them one by one, but you know what I mean.

And yes, there was also a life lesson to be learned on "The Big Bang"!  Sheldon wanted revenge on Wil Wheaton and since I had no idea who that was (yaaaay I'm not a nerd!!!) that's not the lesson. 

6) In the sub-plot, Howard demanded that Leonard ask Penny to find him a girl and they all had a double date.  Things didn't look good because the fixed-up couple had no interests in common.  It ended nicely, though, because they discovered that they both had unbearably controlling mothers--one Jewish and the other Catholic--and now had a common goal: to flaunt their relationship to upset their moms.  The lesson here is that perhaps mothers shouldn't smother!  Maybe we should hope for World Smothering because perhaps it will eventually lead to World Peace as all children marry out of their religions.  *Plugging ears so as not to hear the backlash while humming John Lennon's "Imagine"*

Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy Birthday?

Today is Oprah's birthday---also Adam Lambert's and Tom Selleck's--- and by the way, it's mine too.  I always considered it very cool that I was born on the very same day Oprah was born....until today, that is. You see, years ago when I first discovered we were born on the same day, I had this fantasy that I'd get invited to her birthday party on TV. Yesterday I discovered that today's show will indeed have an audience of people who have Jan. 29th birthdays. Yikes! How did I not hear of this opportunity? So instead of feeling happy on my birthday, I admit I feel a bit sad and envious. This means I'm having to work on my birthday---work at trying not to feel bad feelings on my birthday.

Too bad there's no product to instantly remove these negative feelings, like those Tide stain removal pens. Ok, sure I could make myself some margaritas I guess, but aside from drugs and alcohol, I mean. [Actually I'm eating chocolate right now as I write this.] Judging from some of the comments I saw on the Oprah message boards, I'm not alone in feeling like I missed the boat, there were quite a few other 29thers who also missed the invitation for tickets. I think we're all wondering what birthday gifts she'll give the audience. An ipod or camera, ok, I can live without...especially since I have those already...but I need a new car.

I'm sure you all have had feelings of missing some once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It could be as trivial as this one, or major like others I've had. How we choose to console ourselves is really more important and indicative of how successful we are at acceptance and adapting. Missing an opportunity gives you yet another opportunity: to prove your strength or crumble.

I'm not sure what eating a box of chocolate qualifies as, strength or crumbling?  I suppose it depends on the quantity of chocolates eaten.

Meanwhile, against my better judgment, I will watch the show anyway---assuming my chocolates don't run out---and try to be strong no matter what she gives her audience. Hopefully she'll give them a trip to Hawaii.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

If It's Not One Thing It's Another...Or Is It?

All you have to do is read "Dear Abby's" column for a week to realize that people are simply not satisfied.  Sure, many of the letters written to Dear Abby pertain to serious problems, but what about those letters from happily married husbands who are worrying about boyfriends their wives had 20 years ago?  Or couples who are arguing about leaving the shower curtain open or closed?  [These two letters really did appear in the paper yesterday.]

As Gilda Radner's character "Roseanne Roseannadanna" would say, "It's always something!  If it's not one thing, it's another..."  If it's not getting fired and not being able to pay your rent, it's forgetting your coupons in your other purse and not saving 15 cents on that box of Ziploc bags. 

You may be stressing out today about a very serious problem, but rest assured that someone down the street feels just as bad about their TiVo not recording "Grey's Anatomy".  Scary, but true.  People love drama and I'm not referring to the TiVo'ed ones.

When you learn what is truly worth agonizing over and what is trivial, you've made progress towards a happier you.  You can always get your drama fix on TV instead.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sometimes It's Good to Fool Ourselves...

Don't let them tell you that the $3000 vacuum cleaner will get your house cleaner. I own one of those--although I paid $1200 20+ years ago--and I just realized today that it's my $20 Eureka Boss that gets my house cleaner. No kidding!

I have to first give credit to my DustBuster that originally led me to this epiphany. I bought the rechargeable DustBuster just for traditional reason--quick clean-ups--but it came with a floor attachment and next thing I knew, I was whizzing around every other day vacuuming the floors for 10 minutes (that's how long the battery charge lasted). The battery eventually gave out and I replaced it once, but when it ran out again, I realized it was not very cost-effective to keep replacing the battery for $30, but I just loved my handy little floor buster!

While shopping at KMart I came across this Eureka corded handheld/floor vac and at first I balked at the idea of the cord hindering my "zipping around" the house. Anyone who knows me, however, would understand that the $22 price tag was the deal maker. That and a 10 foot extension cord that hubby already had. [Helpful hint: Because the filter looks very questionable, I covered it with a piece of cotton cloth fastened with a rubberband. The vac's suction is still strong enough and this way you get double filtering. Works fine! Next I'm going to try using a coffee filter.][Update: I got ambitious and cut up my Kirby micro-filter bags and made disposable filters that cover the cheapy filter with a great!!]

For a lazy housekeeper like me, a $20 vac DOES get the house cleaner than a $3000 one that just sits in the hallway closet. The key is ease of use=more frequent use! Just the thought of dragging out the heavy vacuum cleaner is such a turn-off, while the skinny cheerful yellow model stands almost invitingly in a corner.

If I've learned anything over the years, it's the fact that I have to constantly fool myself into doing anything I don't like to do and a vacuum cleaner that looks like a toy really helps.

Another trick is the old "I'll just clean the kitchen jalousies and that's IT." (Kitchen jalousies=one window). As I said, I hate hate hate cleaning, but something in me is perverted in that once I start cleaning something (which might be once in several months), I have a hard time stopping even though I tell myself "Ok, you did the kitchen, that's enough." Myself says, "Well look, I just washed the rag and it could still wipe a couple more jalousies..." So myself gets fooled into doing the whole house.

Lest you think I must have a clean house this way, think again. I may be fooled, but it'll take another six months or even a year to fool me again. I'm not THAT stupid. *LOL*

I try to do the same with exercising. "Okay, just move around for 5 minutes" will usually result in a 15-20 minute activity....but again, unfortunately, doesn't happen as often as recommended. We bought a Wii Fit and that lasted about a month. Now when I do get on the Wii, it says something sarcastic like "Oh! You haven't been here for 37 days!" or something to that effect.

Give me a break!! I have more important things to do, like sit at the computer all day checking my email, reading celebrity gossip, blogging, reading movie spoilers, putting my cut-out face in different hairdos, googling stuff, and oh yeh, working in between all that. Which reminds me, I have assignments due and sewing for the Koloa Plantation Days fair next week! Now how will I fool myself into getting all that done?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nothing to fear but Fear itself...

If you don't already know this, I'm telling you now: Everything changes. I didn't understand this til I was in my 30's and I'm still learning even now. I noticed lately, for instance, that I feel saddest or hopelessest (just made up that word) in the morning when I wake up. Strange, but after I've done my washing up, much of my dreariness seems to have gone down the drain. Interesting!

The world is going through a massive shift this year and we don't know how long this uncertainty will last or what the outcome will be. Hopefully something good will come from this huge malfunction resulting from greed and immorality. A return to basics, I suppose? Hard lessons on what's truly important in life? How to do manual labor? Renewed interest in canned Spam and sardines? I don't know.

I watched "Law and Order" the other night and since they like to advertise "ripped from the headlines", I'm assuming people are flocking to street fights in New York City. Can "Thunderdome" be far off?

Cheer up! Is it another internet myth or is it true that the happiest people live in Nigeria? That's what I read several years ago, and that was BEFORE the Nigerians scammed everyone with those "please help me claim my money" emails. *LOL* Maybe that's why they're so happy, they had that up their sleeves?

More likely, however, it just shows that the simplest life can be just as happy or happier than one full of unnecessary expensive crap. The Brahmin on the East Coast may look down on us simple people, but having less to keep track of or worry about is IMHO bliss. Imagine how some people worry if their new BMW will get dinged or if someone will have a nicer suit or handbag. I don't know about you, but I breathe a lot easier after the first ding. I've been breathing easy for ten years now.

I heard on "The View" that some ladies judge others by their handbag. Holy crap! I honestly had no clue...imagine being naive at 55! I laughed out loud at how pathetic that was. Why on earth would I care what some dumb purse-obsessed lady thought of me??? I mean obviously the values of that kind of person is seriously skewed and frankly I'd PREFER not to be admired by that kind of misguided fool. Oh.. I think her name is Elisabeth Hasselbeck. *LOOOOOOL*

What is my point? My point is that we often THINK we need something--be it a certain guy or girl, or a certain Jimmy Choo shoe--but really, we don't. All we need is a mind that can easily wrap around any situation.

And therefore, we have nothing to fear but fear itself...or even, we should desire not to desire.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friends Are At Your Fingertips

I started talking to people from all over the world almost 13 years ago when I discovered the internet. It was like a dream come true for me: I found my niche in life. Chatting on the internet was the perfect medium for me because I'm not the greatest speaker. I never realized it until then that my fingers could actually talk better than my mouth could. That discovery coupled with my inherent curiosity about people of different cultures turned me into a monster Chataholic.

Those chataholic days are long gone, however. My Pakistani friend, Dilshad, was right. At the height of my chat addiction, I couldn't imagine not being able to chat, but he said "This is just a phase for you." I doubted him because he was "only" in his twenties and I was sure I was twenty years WISER than he. Turns out he was right because I rarely chat anymore. It was wonderful while it lasted and I met dozens of interesting people from all around the world. I even met many in person and guess what: not one weirdo! It certainly changed my attitude and made me less egocentric and less fearful. Despite differences in cultures, people are basically the same around the world.

It cannot be said enough that the internet has revolutionized the world and will hopefully continue to change people for the good and bring cultures together. That may be wishful thinking, but I can hope. Imagine if I weren't the only person to venture into a chatroom and befriend people from Sweden, India, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Holland, etc. etc. I liked to imagine that I was an ambassador from Hawaii, promoting better understanding and friendship.

Much has been said to discourage people from meeting others online, but in my experience there have been far more good stories than bad. As long as you are cautious and don't divulge too much information, talking to others online can be enriching. In my opinion, the people who think the internet is not the place to connect with others have very little experience doing so. After all, you can go out of your house and meet people IN PERSON who have hidden agendas, too. Just read your newspaper and you'll see what's happened to someone who encountered a bad person in their own neighborhood. You may very possibly be safer staying home and talking to people online! *LOL*

I still communicate with many of the people I've met online and they remain "friends at my fingetips"!

Thanks for reading!
Aunty Kalina

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Valuable and Timely Advice

If I were you--assuming you're younger than 40--and if I had any extra cash (aye, there's the rub), I'd open an investment account ASAP and start investing in either individual stocks and/or mutual funds. There is no better time than now, especially if you're in your 20's.

The advice I give to all young people is SAVE NOW, NOW!!! I mean NOW!!! Even if it's "only" $50 a month..or whatever you can afford to save! Forget about waiting til later because you'll have to save even MORE later due to compounding interest, inflation, whatever. I'm no expert, but all I do know is, I started saving from the time I started working parttime in high school. My husband and I started investing when we were in our 20's with the help of a "financial advisor" from what is now Ameriprise (I'll be happy to refer anyone!). We knew nothing and still know very little about the stock market or mutual funds, but yet today we are "comfortable" despite never having high paying jobs.

Now that the stock market is in the dumps, we lost almost half of the value of our investments and yes, it's scary, but I haven't taken out a single dollar because I'm confident it will eventually be worth it to wait. This is why, for the new investors, it's such a great opportunity. You get to buy in at super low prices.

I recommend talking to an advisor (ours doesn't charge anything as he gets paid by Ameriprise) or you could even open and manage your own online account. For individual stock advice, Jim Jubak at is pretty good. I wish I had listened to him when he advised switching to cash last year!!

If you do plan to invest, do so gradually, do not plunk a chunk in the market all at once tomorrow. As all advisors recommend, invest a little every month to take advantage of "dollar cost averaging."

Once again... do not wait. You'll thank me later, believe me! (By the way, I get nothing for linking to Jim Jubak.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What am I doing here?

Welcome to my first post! I don't know what to expect from this posting, but I'm just following a dream. I live a very contented life and often feel that I'm not contributing enough. Being myself, I'm not one to go out and help people build houses or clean beaches, so I wondered what I could do to help others. I've been online for over 12 years and have made many friends online as well as offline and one thing I've been told by many people is that I'm a good listener and am able to make others feel better when they tell me their problems.

I have no professional qualifications for being a listener/advisor and I don't make any claims to that effect. I just have my life experiences that have taught me, the personality that I was born with (developed over 55 years), and best of all, I'm not your mother. *LOL* I'm your Aunty!

My blog posts will hopefully help you to look at life in new ways. Feel free to leave comments to let me know your concerns or questions!