Encouraged By Your Interest I Answer Minnie Driver’s Existential Questions

These 7 questions are from the podcast Minnie Questions with Minnie Driver. In December I asked you, my gentle readers, if these questions would be of interest to you and there was a resounding YES! My answers are as follows

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Artwork created by Zen-Den the Retired who has figured out how to draw pictures on my iPad.

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When and where were you happiest? 

When? Now. Where? Here. Granted there’s nothing about my current midwest suburban lifestyle that years ago I’d have thought I’d like, but I do. I’ve adapted. I’m grateful for where I’ve landed.

And with whom, of course.

What quality do you like least about yourself? 

I still tend to be a perfectionist in certain situations. I’ve overcome it in the sense of meal planning and daily schedules and wardrobe decisions, but when it comes to interior design decisions or word choices/grammar I get in my own way because I want things to be perfect.

I know, I know, progress not perfection.

What relationship — real or fictionalized — defines love for you?

I’m going to go with a fictionalized relationship and say Amy Pond + Rory Williams.

They travelled with the 11th Dr. Who [Matt Smith] for a while and their love for/commitment to each other was so strong that Rory once guarded Amy’s tomb for thousands of years, just in case she would come back to life. Which she did, eventually [because time travel, like a bowtie, is cool].

They were honest with each other, kind and adventurous, accepting each other’s foibles for what they were, quirky personality features.

What would be your last meal?

Once upon a time Z-D and I were in Hawaii on Christmas Day. We didn’t have reservations at any restaurant so we ate our Christmas dinner sitting on chaise lounge chairs by the hotel pool.

We ordered from the poolside menu, choosing the only items that were still available. Thus we each had a tuna salad sandwich on wheat, a small bag of potato chips, a cup of pineapple cubes, and a couple cans of light beer.

It was memorable and delicious.

What person, place or experience has most altered your life?

I don’t have a specific answer for this question. Maybe going to college altered my life? Or having a house built altered my life? Or learning about reiki altered my life? Or writing this blog altered my life?

All of the above, none of the above, I do not know for sure.

What question would you most like answered?

I’d like to know why some people are only happy when they’re clinging to their problems.

They blah-blah-blah about their problems, sometimes even ask for advice, but if you offer a solution, or suggest that it’s not really a problem, then you are the foe in their narrative. How dare you deprive them of their precious problems!

Can’t you see how put upon they are?

I understand the need to vent for a while but there comes a point when you have to fish or cut bait. Do something or shut up about it.

What in your life has grown out of a personal disaster?

I’d say blogging. Years ago I had emergency surgery, called volvulus, to remove part of my large intestine that unceremoniously had knotted itself shut [plus while the surgeon was in the neighborhood he removed my appendix]. After 6 days in the hospital in a morphine haze I was sent home to recover.

Come to find out healing from major abdominal surgery was a huge lifestyle change. No longer was I the walking-est yoga girl ever. Instead I was told to not exercise vigorously, to not stretch, to not lift heavy objects– and pretty much to sit still.

For 13 months.

So I did the only thing I could think to do while sitting still, I threw myself into blogging as a way to pass the hours and feel productive. Thus thanks to emergency surgery I became Ally Bean, the blogger you know and love today.

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Questions of the Day
What do you think of Minnie’s questions? Yay or nay?
How do you feel about my answers? 
Will you answer Minnie’s questions on your own blog? Why or why not?
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Forget Resolutions, These Are My 2023 New Year’s Rejections

My brain trust. Obviously

How My New Year’s Rejections Came To Be

THANKS TO EVERYONE who read my last post and answered my question, a call to action, about what I should write about next.  You’re the best, my personal brain trust.  I was feeling indecisive and needed some help.

I’ve never asked for guidance like that before and given the chance to tell me what to do y’all came through. Come to find out my brain trust wants me to write about what I’m rejecting in 2023.  

Oddly enough I tossed that topic into the choices at the last minute before hitting publish.

A friend and I had been talking about how comfortable we are rejecting trends and ideas that at one time would have seemed important to us. We got laughing about what we dubbed our New Year’s Rejections.

We weren’t saying that a particular idea, a solution, or a way of living is bad for everyone, just that something doesn’t work for us. Rejection is a sound concept if you’re clear about your underlying assumptions and what space you’ll create in your life because of it.

 What I’m Rejecting This Year

GETTING TO MY LIST of New Year’s Rejections a la 2023, I give you the following that I shall be rejecting for at least a year, maybe longer:

Newsletters – From a marketing point of view I understand them. They’re a way for a business/author to distribute information to their customers/readers keeping everyone up to date. They’re predicated on the hope that the customer/reader actually reads the newsletter and doesn’t send it directly to spam.

However as a person who receives these newsletters, I don’t like them. I rarely read them because they seem more like advertisements for new products than sources of information. There’s no engagement with the company/author and I sense I’m a mark, a pawn in someone’s game. This makes me feel irritable so I’ve unsubscribed to the ones I was receiving.

Assumption rejected? I am gaining valuable insight and information.

Cocktails – As I imbibed a few over the holidays I realized that: 1) I wasn’t taken with any of them; 2) they were fussy and expensive; and 3) that I prefer a shot of top-shelf liquor neat, or on the rocks, or with a splash of club soda. Thus I’ve decided to simplify my life, save money, and forgo mixed drinks.

Assumption rejected? I am having fun because I’m drinking something fancy.

Steps Per Day – I’ve never been one to judge my physical healthiness based exclusively on numbers, whether the numbers are external validation &/or criticism. I think that trusting myself to know how to live my life is the best approach, especially when it comes to walking.

To wit, there’ll be no recording of my steps each day. Instead, I’ll move when I want to, the amount I want to. I’ll walk with no preconceived idea [10,000 steps] of what I have to accomplish each day.

Assumption rejected? I am being healthy by focusing on and knowing a number.

Sweet potatoes/yams – Okay, I understand the reason why these starchy vegetables are good for me. They’re filled with fiber and minerals and magical properties helpful to women of a certain age. However, potatoes shouldn’t be sweet, they just shouldn’t. If I eat a potato, it’s going to be a basic old Idaho spud– or some redskin new potatoes.

Assumption rejected? I am eating something good for me.

Word of the Year – In 2011 I started picking one word to be my word of the year. I’ve continued this tradition for about a decade BUT more years than not my word of the year hasn’t made me feel good about my life.

That is, instead of getting a smoother or simplified or enjoyable year, I’ve gotten the opposite. The gods have laughed in my face. Thus I’m foregoing a word of the year to see if, by chance, I don’t need it.

Assumption rejected? I am living my best life because I circle back to a word, a 21st century talisman for self-improvement.

AND FINALLY THREE READER COMMENTS…

ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES with Alexa:

“Our Alexa is a buttinsky quite often. Just yesterday, I was chatting with my husband and daughter about crackers and Alexa piped up, “I’ve added crackers to your grocery list.” No thank you, Alexa. And then she wanted to know if we wanted a suggestion for something she thinks we need to re-order. NO THANK YOU ALEXA.”

~ Suzanne

“That’s funny what Alexa did and said. I’ve had her answer questions on TV when her name is said in a commercial or TV show.”

~ Jean

“We have never activated Alexa or Siri on any of our devices, finding the idea of them sitting there listening to our inane chatter rather creepy. Unbeknownst to us, however, my husband’s new Kindle reader came with Alexa activated. One evening, we were watching some show in which an actor asked his device to find a particular song he had been looking for. Almost immediately, a voice came from Bill’s Kindle asking if this was the song we were looking for, and some piece of music started playing. We did lose our stuffing, and disabled the little snoop faster than you can sing ‘Hit the Road, Jack.'”

~ Donna

Sorry, Not Sorry: The One About 3 Holiday Pet Peeves That Vex Me

It seems to me at this time of year everyone has at least one pet peeve that vexes them. Perhaps you’ve noticed this, too.

Now that we’re officially smack dab into the season of Forced Frivolity Rampant Consumerism  The Holidays, I want to tell you what vexes me the most. You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve narrowed it down to 3 pet peeves, succinctly explained below.

See if they resonate with you, my little fruitcakes, then you may share yours in the comments below. To get you started, but please don’t feel limited by, at the bottom of this post I’ve created a list of possible peeves* that do not bother me but I’ve heard about– oh. yes. I. have.

📷 ONE 📸

IF YOU SEND A HOLIDAY CARD that is a family photo or you put a family photo inside a regular holiday card, please I beg of you, tell the recipients of the holiday card who these people are.  Do not say a vague “Joyeux Noël from the Jones-Beauforts” BUT instead list the individual names of the people + pets in the photo. Do not assume we’ll recognize everyone in the photo.

You do know who they are, right? So why not share that information with the rest of us?

🌲 TWO 🎄 

IF YOU PUT UP A TREE to celebrate Christmas, do not overdecorate it.  Less is more.  There is this design concept known as negative space that, stick with me here, posits that an object is more noticeable and therefore appreciated if there is emptiness around the object.

I’m happy that you’ve invested in twinkling lights & colorful bulbs & tinsel & strands of pretty beads & personally meaningful ornaments, BUT do not cover every stinking inch of every branch on the tree so that all I see, anyone sees, is a big triangular-ish blob of shiny.

I want to see the details of your beautiful decorations, truly I do, so could you make that happen, please?

🍪 THREE 🍬

IF YOU’RE A BAKER OR CANDY MAKER, I ask of you to be forthright about what kind of sweetener you use. Some of us cannot digest artificial sweeteners while others avoid natural sugar at all costs. I don’t care how you sweeten what you make, that is not my concern, BUT for the love of all that is good, be honest about what is in the goodies.

You do understand that you can make someone sick if you lie about it, right?

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* Here is a list of 10 holiday pet peeves that I’ve heard mentioned emphatically by other people:

  1. Reciprocity regarding the exchange of Holiday cards, obligation or opportunity
  2. Christmas music, yay or nay
  3. Party games that involve gift exchanges
  4. Incorrect use of the letter “s” when addressing a card or gift to an entire family
  5. Location of outdoor holiday decorations, near the house or out in the yard creating possible obstructions/distractions for drivers
  6. Appropriate day on which to take down the holiday tree inside your home
  7. Use of tissue paper or shredded paper inside a gift bag, yay or nay
  8. Hostess gift for an open house party shouldn’t be wine because you only take wine when it’s a dinner party
  9. Holiday newsletters, yay or nay
  10. Bow on holiday wreath goes at the top, the bottom, or the side

PLEASE NOTE: In an attempt to make our home connection to the internet reliable and faster, we’re changing our internet service provider tomorrow [Wednesday], going from coaxial cable to fiber optic cable. Fingers crossed this change goes smoothly, but if not… it’s been great knowing you I’ll see ‘ya when I see ‘ya. 

Know What I Mean, Ally Bean? 4 Things I Say Because I Am Me

This is funny, I say wisely

Let the flapdoodle & twaddle begin…

I don’t know if other people do what I’m going to tell you I do, but what I do is so ingrained in me that I don’t think about it unless I intentionally decide to write a blog post about it.

[Nice sentence, huh?]

I compiled the following of that which is ingrained in me by paying more attention to myself than I normally do, which is to say tuning in to who I am when I’m on auto-pilot.

So here’s what I’m getting at: I have specific things I say to myself when prompted by certain situations.  These things are not profound, but they are an indication of who I am when left to my own devices.

Allow me to explain below.

1

I am a magnet for good.

Years ago I read an article about how you should have a mantra you say whenever you go out into the world.  This mantra should empower you AND tell the Universe how to treat you.

There was a list of mantras and I picked this one, primarily because I like literal images I can envision in my pragmatic brain that also have a figurative component that makes my English Lit major heart happy.

2

Learn something!

I say this out loud whenever I see a school bus filled with kids drive by the house.  Those little trapped faces stare out at me and I feel for them, thus I bless them with what I believe is a good idea.

3

I park in “H” for hell.

There’s a story behind this one.  You see, whenever I go to any big box retail store that has a huge parking lot wherein rows are designated with letters of the alphabet I do one particular thing.

I cannot take credit for dreaming up this idea.  My mother and her friends did this.  Naturally she encouraged me to do the same thing.

Thus being a dutiful daughter I picked a letter, “H” for hell, and always park as close to it as I can.  Mom approved, although she rolled her school teacher-y eyes at me concerning the why of the letter I picked.

4

Tres bien

I say this in the morning as I pour my first cup of coffee into a mug.  It’s a blessing and a goal and a hope all in one phrase.  I will admit, however, that sometimes I say “muy bueno” or “very good” which impart the same meaning, just in different languages because variety is important.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Do you, like me, consistently say things to yourself in certain situations that if overheard might make someone wonder about you?

If so, care to share what you say?

If you were forced to decide, do you think this post is more flapdoodle-y OR twaddle-ish? 

A Rare Sunday Blog Post In Which I Grumble Unimaginatively About A Rare Early Snowfall

“Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

Oscar Wilde said that, but I say WHATEVER.  I don’t see that dude standing here dealing with weather whiplash like I am.

You see, and I am a bit grumbly about this, after falling back one hour last Sunday we had a beautiful week of sunny days and agreeable daily highs in the 70s. I was running around outside wearing shorts and a t-shirt and sandals.

Life was good, in a warm busy way.

However yesterday *bing bang boom* we had our first snowfall of the season.  This isn’t statistically the norm.  Our first snow usually arrives in December [sometimes as late as January] meaning that I’m supposed to have a few more weeks of autumn.

With a gradual decline in the temperature.

With me going from shorts to capris, then pants.

But there I was yesterday morning scrambling around in the closet looking for jeans and a sweater and boots.  Clothes I enjoy wearing, but prefer to deal with in an organized, systematic way.

Not by throwing open drawers and storage bins, rooting through piles of turtlenecks trying to remember which ones I actually like–and which I ones I tolerate because I bought them & they’re here now.

Anyhow, because I’m sensing that the cold is here to stay and because I’m not ready to deal with it in a mature way, I wrote this rare Sunday blog post.  By talking about the early snow I do realize that I’m avoiding the obvious: that is, I could be doing something productive like getting my winter clothes in order.

But instead I’m complaining.  Not quite whining, but grousing, hoping to find the silver lining in this cold wet unwanted cloud of early snowiness that makes me feel like hibernating inside until next spring.

Which I should not do.

Thus if you see the silver lining in any of this please point it out to me.  Or if nothing else, distract me from the weather with your warm personality and joyful thoughts.

You know you want to.