Google+ Followers

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Surviving Hard Times



"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." Saint Francis de Sales


Are You Piss Poor? Good! That's better than not having a Pot to piss in!

I'm fascinated by the origin of ideas, beliefs and sayings--and search engines provide me hours of amusement as I attempt to discover how colorful sayings get a foot-hold in our language.

Every now and then when I catch myself using an odd phrase I stop to wonder what I'm really saying--and this leads me on a path to discovery that often lightens my mood despite trying situations.  That's what happened one afternoon as I found myself using the phrase 'piss poor'.

While engaged in a conversation with a friend about people feeling poor and down on their luck she shared her own story about two little girls who showed up in her daughter-in-law's backyard one afternoon.

The kids had just moved into a new home built by Habitat for Humanity right behind her daughter-in-law's modest home. This young single mother who is 'piss poor'--lost her husband at a young age and is raising two boys alone while going to school and receiving financial support from her parents. She isn't exactly flush with resources.

She hadn't yet secured a job since finishing school. But she does have an old, long out-of-use trampoline in her backyard.

One afternoon, she looked out into her backyard to see two little girls sitting on the decrepit trampoline. When she went out to greet them, they asked, 'Are you rich'?  To these children 'without even a pot to piss in' that old broken down trampoline looked like riches.

Perhaps after the recent years of economic woes, like this young woman, you're feeling piss poor. But it's all a matter of perspective. While you may be feeling 'down on your luck' or less than 'well-heeled', the good news is if you're feeling piss poor you still have options for pulling out and making money.

The expression 'piss poor' originated around the 1500s when urine was used to tan animal skins. Poor families could earn money by collecting their pee in a pot to sell to the tannery--and thus they were 'piss poor'.

But someone else was even worse off than you in the 1500s if they 'didn't even have a pot to piss in'--meaning they were so poor they couldn't even afford to buy a pot for the family to pee in--and so they were unable to make money selling pee to the tannery.

Seemingly Vulgar Terms Originate out of Hard Times

What I see in these seemingly vulgar expressions is our ingenuity to find ways to make money in dire circumstances. Life is a challenge. Since the beginning of time people have been struggling to make a life.

From the outside, others always look shinier, better, and more successful. From the inside, we see all of our blemishes, failures, losses and difficulties. Yet most of us in the U.S. are part of the 99% whose income has diminished while our struggles have increased. Most of us must work at creating a life, finding or keeping a job, and making an income in this tough economy. No one 'has it easy'--and few are 'catching more breaks' than you.



Stop Worrying and Let Tomorrow Bring New Strengths

How do you survive hard times? Are you struggling to catch a break? Are other people doing better than you? When you look around you does it seem like everyone else is breaking through the difficulties, except you?

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "with the new day comes new strength and new thoughts". When you find yourself worrying about comparing your current circumstances to others, put it down for the day and see what tomorrow brings.

"Worrying does not empty today of its troubles, it empties tomorrow of its strength." Mary Englebreit


Share the Love--Lightarted Postcards, and Heart-felt Gifts

Contact Susan for custom-made gifts. New cheerful designs are always available.

Sign Up for Free E-mail updates

For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.






Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Never Try to Teach a Pig How to Sing


Ducunt fata volentem, nolentem trahunt
The Fates guide those who go willingly. All others they drag.

Are You Trying to Teach a Pig to Sing?

It's a drag--that person who does things so differently from you really irritates and annoys you. So you take it upon yourself to fix him and show him how to do it your way--the right way. It works, right? Wrong.

Just as Rocky said to Bullwinkle (at the beginning of each cartoon when Bullwinkle said 'watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat'):

"That trick never works."

That trick doesn't even work if you attempt to fix yourself so you can fit your square or squiggly self into that round hole to please others.


 Stop wasting your time trying to make you or others into something you're not. As Robert Heinlein said:

 "Never try to teach a pig how to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig."

Does this mean people can't grow and change? No. It means there are many ways to accomplish things and we need to accept the differing gifts in ourselves and others with grace, compassion, and understanding. A pig can easily learn how to hunt for truffles but try as they might--they can't learn to sing.

It never works to attempt to make people over to be like you. It always works to encourage others become their own best selves.

"Never try to teach a pig how to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig," means we need to accept the realities of life. You can't make a pig sing no matter how hard you try--and no matter how annoyed the pig gets.

So the next time you try to take on another person as your make-over project, know 'that  little piggy' doesn't want to learn how to sing your tune or dance in step with your timing--so stop wasting your time and annoying her!  Let her learn her own dance and tune.



Stop Wasting Your Time and Annoying Others

We all have 100% natural, healthy, effective ways we prefer to deal with the world around us--and all of them are perfectly sound ways to get things done. You can stop wasting your time and annoying others by acknowledging these differences and learning how to make a constructive use of them.

  • Where in your life are you trying to teach a pig to sing?
  • Who are you annoying most--you or another person?
  • Do you want to continue wasting your time or being annoyed?
  • Are the Fates guiding you? Or are you being dragged to the obvious conclusions?
I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Winston Churchill

**A special thank you to Vicki Brown, a member of Linkedin MBTI discussion group for sharing "Ducunt fata volentem, nolentem trahunt"


Share the Love--Lightarted Postcards, and Heart-felt Gifts

Contact Susan for custom-made gifts. New cheerful designs are always available.

Sign Up for Free E-mail updates

For more than 25 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lighten Up: Down Home Humor from Mark Twain and Will Rogers



 
'The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged.' Ovid
 

What's Your 'Carrying a Cat by the Tail' Experience?

I love the witty humor of Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Whenever I start taking myself too seriously or getting stuck in my thinking, a quick search through my Twain and Roger quotes pulls me out of a foul mood 'faster than green grass through a goose' and has me laughing at myself in no time.

Mark Twain can evoke an image like no other and bring it home to rest for me. Here's one that tickles my fancy:
"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."
Each time I visit that quote, the image of carrying a cat by the tail sears into my brain and elicits a full out belly laugh in me. And while I've never actually carried a cat by its tail, I know exactly what it means ---and you do too.

Just picturing myself carrying a cat by its tail makes me consider where I might be doing that in my life. Oh--it's never a real cat--rather the metaphorical cat by the tail--that person I just had to engage who's spitting mad and clawing at everyone looking for someone to bite.

It doesn't take too many 'carrying your cat by the tail' experiences for me to learn the benefits of taking a different approach with that person.

Looking for someone to bite


What have I learned to do differently by seeing those individuals as cat by the tail people?

  • Don't poke at them--and don't showcase them in undignified ways in which they feel totally out of control.
  • Always give them a place to hide so they can choose to come out and show themselves when they're ready.
  • Ignore them and go about your business until they're ready to meet you out in the open.
  • And if they can only stand the light and openness a short time, let them quietly go back to hiding undercover.

When a person is spitting mad and looking to take it out on someone, stay out the way or you will become the target--warranted or not.

The Shocking Truth



If Twain fails to lighten my mood and help me see the error of my ways, there's always Will Rogers' humor for switching on the lightness:

"There are three kinds of men:
The ones that learn by reading;
The few who learn by observation;
The rest of them have to touch an electric fence." 
 
Most of us start out life having to touch the electric fence---and some, like Bart Simpson, continue to learn in that manner.

As a kid growing up surrounded by cow pastures and orchards, I spent a lot of time running around with neighborhood kids exploring the world around us. One day a pack of us decided it would be fun to touch an electric fence with all of us holding hands just to see what would happen. The person at the front of the line touched the fence with a single piece of wet grass and that current whipped through our bodies, zapping us with a wallop.

Did I suspect it was a bad idea? Yep. Did I do it anyway? Yep. Did I do it again? Nope. Like carrying a cat by the tail, I learned first-hand why that wasn't such a good idea--and I've never forgotten the experience.


As Will Rogers says:

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."


We often choose our learning lessons, by bucking the wise counsel of others or our own better judgment. Sometimes we just have to step in and experience that wild ride for ourselves. We suspect what we're about to do is not a good idea, but we're going with it any way.

If you discover you're one of those people who still has to learn by 'carrying the cat by the tail' or 'touching the electric fence' so be it. Your learning experiences are sure to pack a wallop.

As Will Rogers says:

"Do the best you can, and don't take life too serious."

 
"If you find yourself digging a hole, stop digging."

Sign Up for Free E-mail updates
 
For more than 30 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes changing easier than ever before.

If you're interested in learning more about closing the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, join the Lightarted Living mailing list. Sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Share the Love--Lightarted Postcards, and Heart-felt Gifts

Contact Susan for custom-made gifts. New cheerful designs are always available.