Grasshopper Mind
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WHAT'S RIGHT

FEBRUARY 2, 2023

This past week I was asked to read and respond honestly to the draft of a new author’s story.  It was an honor. I said to myself in a stern voice – “Remember you were asked to read not edit.”  No correcting spelling or grammar, no deciding a different word would have been better.  Just read.  I did just that.

 

The story was fun, interesting, relatable.  I learned quite a bit as well.  I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it because I was not looking for what might be wrong, or ways I would change the story.

 

The experience made me realize how often we approach life -- people, places, and things with a what’s wrong attitude.   We enter a restaurant – we quickly survey the place.  The wall art is crooked.  The chairs look uncomfortable.  Where are the tablecloths?  Our what's wrong  scan continues.  Why? We're here to dine – not change the décor.

 

At the expositions our company produces we go through the building like Sherlock Holmes. We're searching for exhibits that don’t meet standards. Looking for anything wrong, something we need to correct.  Why do we do this?  Of course we need to make sure everything is safe and inviting.  Unfortunately, we’re so focused on what's wrong we often overlook the good stuff. 

 

What happens when we remove our what's wrong glasses?  I don’t know about you, but my mindset changes. Instead of scowling at my car as though it got dirty just to annoy me; I look and think – that’s the best little car. It might deserve a wash.

 

What  would happen if instead of looking for what’s wrong, we look for what’s right?  If we try to be more like Pollyanna than Chicken Little?  I’m not sure,  I’m pretty sure though that  we – and those around us – would be more relaxed.  We might even discover there's a lot more right than there is wrong.

 

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HOARDER

JANUARY 13, 2023

 

When you hear "hoarder" what do you visualize? I see a home spilling over with useless stuff.  I see individuals traumatized by fear of losing any of their stuff.

 

There is another less obvious kind of hoarder. We see them every day. They may be looking back at us from the mirror. This hoarder is afraid to part with his or her hoard of money and objects; or their intangible time and knowledge. Their physical space is not spilling over. They do have a lot of unused treasure.  Their rationale for hoarding? They might need IT.

 

When my grandchildren were young, one of my favorite admonitions was 'life works on the law of the boomerang - whatever you throw out, that's what will come back to you.'  One of my quick thinking grandchildren  said 'well yes, grandma, but it might come back and hit me on the head.'  Out of the mouths of youngsters.  It did make me think.  If we throw out ten boomerangs and only one comes back and hits us on the head (or disappoints us) - is that a risk worth taking?   Yes.  These are great odds.

 

These same grandchildren, now in their thirties, heard my thoughts on giving away spare stuff, money, and time.  Grandma! We don’t have spare stuff, we don't have spare time, and we definitely don’t have spare money. OK. So, would you rather be a hoarder in training or a giver in training?  The results are in for following either discipline. Take your pick.

 

How much do you need? What do you get delight from owning or doing?  That's what you need to keep.  If it makes you too nervous, give yourself a buffer.

 

What’s left allows us to throw out more boomerangs.  Odds are most  will come back with rewards we can use.  And the boomerangs keep circling.

 

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GRASP THAT HELPING HAND

DECEMBER 30, 2022

This year with love, and some apprehension, my son and his wife gave me the perfect gift. Adventure, travel to a new place, family gatherings, sunshine, and memories. The build-up was exciting.  The result beyond expectations, and a fun learning experience.

What did I learn?  I learned that most seashells grow during their lifetime.  I never knew. The big lesson:  Realizing it is OK to accept help.  My grandson Alex owns Fishwater Charters in St Croix.  A highlight of my trip was a few hours on his boat.  My grandmother mind was saying – how will you get into that boat? There’s no ramp and you are definitely beyond leaping aboard. 

Son David assured me ‘we will give you a hand.’  Needing a hand for something that once was so easy grated a bit, but I accepted.  A hand on the dock, a hand on the boat – both extended with confidence and care.  Everyone in sync.  Perfect solution.

Made me wonder – why are we so reluctant to accept help?  Why does it take us so long to realize a helping hand helps the giver and the receiver?  The old saying ‘pride goeth before a fall’ comes to mind. Risk falling into the ocean, or accept help?  Easy decision.  It occurred to me most of life is this way.

My New Year’s resolution:   Accept help when you need it, and sometimes when you think you don’t.

Here’s a toast to 2023 and beyond. And to grasping and giving that helping hand.

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A GRASSHOPPER CHRISTMAS

DECEMBER 21, 2022

 

It seemed only right since I borrowed their name, that I should find out what grasshoppers do for Christmas.  Not so warm and fuzzy as chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but I needed to know. Turns out they don’t celebrate the season at all. In fact, they barely make it from one Christmas to the next.

 

I did discover that in mythical realms they are good luck. 

In ancient lore they are a sign of encouragement.

Grasshoppers date back 250 million years.

Grasshoppers can only jump forward.

Farmers don’t like them. 

Grasshoppers do not hurt people or each other.  

 

SO UNTIL NEXT YEAR:

 

Holiday wishes from Grasshopper Mind

 

May all your luck be good luck. 

 

May all your dreams come true.

 

May you age in wisdom and faith. 

 

May you move forward at your own pace – helping others along the way.

 

Happiness, Good Health, Faithful friends -

 

Peace

Grasshopper J

Christmas 2022

NOISE - BAH HUMBUG

DECEMBER 13, 2022

Scrooge, curmudgeon, killjoy – call me whatever you like. Chances are I won’t hear you anyway.

 

Loud music, loud automobiles, loud commercials, loud conversations (especially where people seem to be talking to themselves) loud lawn mowers, louder leaf blowers, loud beeping, buzzing, and ringing from ovens, computers, doorbells, telephones, even elevators telling you which floor you are on.

 

Peace and quieter, would be such a gift.  If we can travel to the moon, develop medical miracles, create technology that allows us to see and hear friends around the world, ovens that (supposedly) self- clean, and vehicles that silently take us where we want to go…why not a quiet leaf blower?

 

All I want for Christmas is a quiet moment or two. Time to say thank you for the amazing improvements we’ve enjoyed during my lifetime. Time to make a silent and sincere request for ways to turn down the noise, Time  to turn up the dial for really listening.

 

Can you hear me now? Oh well, maybe next year.

 

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WHAT WOULD YOU SAY

NOVEMBER 27, 2022

Our family spent Thanksgiving at a favorite place in West Virginia.  We were thankful for the beautiful surroundings, wonderful food, extreme activities, and leisure time.  Especially the leisure time.

 

Most of all we were thankful we could be together.  Ours is a lively group, no lack of conversation. We rarely talk about the weather.  We talk about each other’s lives

 

One asked those gathered around the table ‘what do you like most about your job?’  Not a single answer included making big money, although some are well rewarded.  The answers centered on ‘helping’ – helping young children learn; helping clients balance the emotional and financial aspects of a significant purchase; helping artists find their marketing voice; helping clients back to health.  The obvious joy came from helping others.  As Matriarch of the clan, I admit to being a wee bit proud.

 

Next came a question both difficult and profound “If you thought this might be the last time you’d see someone, what would you say to them?”  The question was just to think about.  We couldn’t resist answering.  Answers ranged from share a good memory, thank them for something they’d done, ask their advice.  I recalled my Irish father’s parting words as I left England in 1951.  Back then when moving to a new country, you didn’t know if you’d ever again see those you were leaving behind.  My father said “Noli Temere” which in Gaelic means, “don’t be afraid.”  Thinking back ‘don’t be afraid’ was more encouraging than “be careful.” 

 

Thanksgiving is a time for taking stock. Where we’ve been, what we’re doing, what gives us joy, where we’re going. What and who we’re thankful for.   It’s a perfect time to answer the question ‘what would I say?’ and share it now with those you are remembering.

 

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IT'S WHAT YOU SEE

NOVEMBER 14, 2022

IT’S WHAT YOU SEE

 

Sunday morning, I had the luxury of reading the Wall Street Journal cover to cover, including the magazine.  It had the usual mix of good, bad, and really bad news, along with some well written and thought-provoking editorials.

 

The magazine portion was devoted to fashion.  I wondered why the models look so glum.  Blank stares. Superior looks. Bored expressions. No smiles. No joy.  No delight in showing off the outrageously priced clothes they are wearing.  Benefit of the doubt -- Those skimpy and complicated outfits don’t appear too comfy.

 

Later in the day I visited the mall and observed the people shopping and roaming.  Most wore comfortable looking clothes.  And yet, smiles and eye contact were sparse.  Even in line for ice-cream, no smiles of anticipation.  I did get a hopeful happy smile from an infant being pushed along in her stroller by an iPhone-engrossed adult.

 

We usually smile when we see friends.  It’s instinctive. Why not when we see the harried store assistant? The musician providing sidewalk entertainment?  The server who messed up our order.  Are our smiles reserved just for friends?  Thoreau said, ‘It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see.’  Perhaps if we could see more people as potential friends we’d smile more.

 

We don’t need the wide ear to ear smile. We can’t always be jovial.  Just turning up our lips when we see people is enough, it says ‘I’m glad to see you.’  It makes us both feel better. 

 

As for the models? A nice fat hamburger, along with the smile might help. The rest of us – as the old saying goes … remember, your face after 40 is your own fault. 

 

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THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

NOVEMBER 7, 2022

 

This has been a busy and inspiring month.  Celebrations, loss of friends, being with and hearing from longtime friends, meeting new friends.   At every turn the spotlight, both sad and spectacular, has been on the importance of friends.

 

At one celebration a young friend asked, ‘what keeps you well and happy?’  Without hesitation my answer was staying connected to friends. My family are my best friends.  Other friends are the family I chose, or who chose me.

 

Another gathering was to thank special individuals for giving their time and skills, expecting nothing in return.  When thanked, their response was that’s what friends are for.

 

Yet another heart-warming event was to honor those with unique challenges; and those who make their lives better.  The life givers said … they walked into our hearts and are part of us.

 

Milestone birthdays with no presents needed.  Just showing up or sending a friendly hello saying, "I’m here for you.” 

 

It’s interesting how friends pass our friendship test.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, there are many people who walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.  What she didn’t say is that these footprints will not make your heart heavy.  These footprints create a footpath to real friends. The faux friends -- what’s in it for me, when it’s convenient friends -- never make it onto the path.

 

Can you believe there is  a National Friendship Day? How silly. Friendships are not built in a day. Strong friendships need time and nourishment to grow. Let's hear it for hot biscuits and coffee, afternoon tea and scones, a glass of wine on the porch -- doesn't take much, it's the company that counts. The telling of tales, the catching up, the being there.

 

My wise mother who, the older I get, the more I seem to quote her told us that to have a friend you must be a friend.  Wiser words were never spoken. That’s all we need to know and remember. 

 

 

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THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR

OCTOBER 18, 2022

I’ve just returned from a beautiful gathering.  Women and men of all ages and backgrounds.  We were together to honor and congratulate a special woman, a special friend.

 

No one crept out early. No one wanted to leave.  Everyone wanted this brief period of joy, pride, and togetherness to continue.  And when we did leave most of us were smiling, filled with gratitude for friends old and new, young, and older.

 

We shared memories, happy and sad occasions since we’d last talked.  Promised to stay more closely in touch.  Laughed at the old ‘do you remember?’ stories.  Commiserated about how quickly people seem to take umbrage.  Gasped at how old our children are.  No politics.  No Covid. No mean words.  No pity parties.  Just friends enjoying friends.

 

It made me wonder why we don’t create more opportunities to be together.  We’ve all figured out by now (surely) it is not the food on the table, it’s not whether we’ve dusted, or remembered flowers – it’s the friends around the table that matter. It’s the memories we make and share.

 

And so – I emailed four friends before the glow receded; and said … I’m having a get-together for colleagues on the 25th; there will be lots of leftovers – why don’t we get together on the 26th and polish them off?  Just like that.  If there are no leftovers, we’ll bring in pizza.  It’s about friends.

 

My mother was the friend of all friends.  The milkman, the mailman, the dustbin men, the breadman, even the rag and bone man – come on in, have a cup of tea, rest a while. How’s your family?  Nine kids, surrounded by laundry – but always time for a friend.  As the saying goes -- A friend in need is a friend indeed – and that she was.

 

Thanks Linda, my friend, for bringing all of us together today. That’s what friends are for.

 

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PROBLEM SOLVING

OCTOBER 3, 2022

My friends and I enjoy discussing things we have little chance of changing. Sounds like such a waste, but not really.  We always seem to learn something. The latest chat was about finger pointing, losing sight of the problem.  In other words, attacking the person and not the problem.

 

And yes, the discussion was prompted by political advertising.  However, politics is not for the Grasshopper, so we’ll not dwell on that scene.

 

We each had examples of how the words we use affect us. One woman recalled an error she made on her first job.  Her report person said this would never have happened if YOU had paid more attention.  Probably true, but the mistake was made.  How much better, how much more productive, if the supervisor had said Let’s take another look and see what went wrong.

 

Another recalled a proposal she had written.  Her manager read it and harshly remanded This is WRONG, can’t you ever get anything right?  Would the results have improved had the supervisor said Does this look right to you?  Allowing the writer to relook and relearn.

 

We had the attack by gossip example.  We’re getting a new neighbor.  Another neighbor says – “I was surprised to hear that she…”  Anything starting with those words is rarely flattering.  Gloria Vanderbilt might have said “if you have nothing good to say come sit by me,” but gossip usually makes us wary of the gossiper. It never solves anything.

 

Why do people do this to each other?  Turf protection? You need to remember I’m smarter, better informed, and superior to you. Lack of confidence on the part of the attacker? I don’t know the solution either, but you’ll be talking the fall.

 

Whatever the reason, we five agreed that focusing on the problem, sharing the good or bad outcome, and avoiding personal attacks along the way is an ideal route to the best results.

 

If you see errors in this musing, just kindly ask - Did you mean to say this, Joan?

 

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