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Toxic Aroma

The whole family was sitting together on the sofa looking at some old photos and movies clips of the kids when they were babies. Daddy (Chris) kept asking,”What is that smell?”, and, “Who farted?”. Apparently the odor that was passing by his nose was not good. Not good at all! I was on the other end of the sofa, so I couldn’t smell a thing. (I actually thought he was imagining things.) Finally Chris realized the origin of the odor, our 4-year-old daughter’s feet. “It is her feet!”, he exclaimed. It seemed that this stench was so terrible that it couldn’t even come from a men’s locker room, never mind our dainty daughter’s feet.

Unfortunately, I am the guilty party here regarding the smelly feet. It isn’t because I let Paige wear shoes without socks today, but instead because I have passed on to her the ‘stinky-feet’ gene. For years this gene has been a real problem for me. So many times I have found myself scrubbing my feet with anti-bacterial soap in an attempt to wash away the smell. If you can call it a smell. A smell can sound nice, like roses ‘smell’. “What a beautiful smell!”, someone might say as they walk by an aromatic rose-bush. What I ‘sensed’ through my nose now, was anything but beautiful.

Realizing that Chris is suffering from the odor of Paige’s feet caused by my faulty gene, I take Paige into the bathroom and scrub her feet clean. How sad is it that Paige already knows the routine for ‘cleaning her feet’? An overall bath, sure, but how many kids run a bath for their stinky feet?

I return to sit on the sofa with Paige and her feet (that now smell like flowers) and suddenly I am overcome (actually my nose is overcome) with another vile odor. It isn’t my feet (I don’t think?). Then I notice my son Tucker and his feet that are actually covered in socks. Too bad the socks didn’t cover the odor like they did with his feet. Now the harsh reality hits me that he also has the ‘stinky-feet’ gene. Chris promptly instructs Tucker to enter the bathroom for his feet fumigation. Tucker removes his socks and Chris says, “Your feet have a toxic aroma. Let’s take care of that.”

I never heard anyone say ‘toxic’ and ‘aroma’ in the same sentence. Aroma is what you experience when you enter someone’s house after they baked cookies or burned a vanilla candle. It is too bad the ‘aroma’ of my children’s feet wasn’t more like the baked cookies, but you just have to deal with the genes you are given. I am just thankful that I live in a time and place where water and soap are plentiful (along with scented bubble bath) and I don’t always have to suffer from breathing air with a toxic aroma.

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As I look out at the swimming pool, the tiny ripples on the pool look like life – which is never smooth. There are always things – bumps in the road, ripples in the pool, lumps in the oatmeal that disturb our ‘perfect life’. How do we deal with these things? I guess it depends on the size of the bump or the ripple. Did your car just fall into a pothole? Is there a tidal wave rising in the sea as you sit on the beach? These big events are tough to deal with, but really, shouldn’t we try to cope with these big disturbances with the same ease as the small ones? We can choose to be angry with our circumstances, or instead rely on our inner strength – our ‘selves’. The inner strength lets us absorb the world around us and move on – to live another day.

The victim sees the bumps and ripples as bad luck, where the hero sees them as an opportunity. Sure, we can feel disappointment that our car was totaled in an accident or our leg was broken during an amazing ski run. It doesn’t change the fact that we as humans can decide how to respond. WE choose what we do. WE choose how to act. WE choose to accept where we are and just keep on living. Although so many things are beyond your control, the one thing we can control is our response to life’s ups and downs, twists and turns. Who do you want to be the victim or the hero?

I am sitting outside on the patio enjoying the warmth of the morning Arizona sun. For some reason the morning sun is warm vs. the afternoon sun which is scorching. I stare at the cactus sitting in front of me. It is so small and fragile. Just a tiny seedling found in the yard, now in its safe home in a miniature pot. I just watered it, although I wondered if that was even necessary. I mean it is a cactus? How much watering does it need?

The water absorbed into the soil, but I can see a few tiny water droplets clinging to the smooth surface of the cactus (not the spines!). The sun is shining on the cactus in such a way that it glistens. It makes me think of a child being nurtured and protected by a parent. The plant is glistening, shining and is so beautiful. I don’t want to do anything to interfere with its inherent beauty in its natural state.

Our children have that inherent beauty too, so why can’t we just let them be. See the beauty, enjoy the moment, and savor it, instead of stepping in and thinking we can fix them or make them better. What children (and plants) need sometimes is just to be admired for who or what they are. They really can be amazing and grow without us.

Why do I sign up for these crazy early flights for work? When I saw a 6AM flight it sounded early, but not that early. For some reason, my mind ignored the fact that I needed to back up a few hours from that time to get to my wake-up time of ‘4AM’. You have got to be kidding? Obviously no one would sign up for a 4AM flight because the thought of waking up that early is simply horrifying! Honestly, 4AM is a time you should be deep in sleep and not have to think about being awake – never mind coherent enough to pack your luggage, drive to the airport and then navigate security and the Starbuck’s queue’s. If you are going to be awake at 4AM it should be for fun, not for work. You should be at Denny’s eating breakfast after a night of drinking and revelry with your friends or waiting for the sunrise on a romantic tropical beach with your lover.

Sometimes the early morning flights are unavoidable because you have to arrive for an early meeting or you want to get home to see your kid’s soccer game. Although there are negatives of the early morning flight, there are also positives. There usually is no traffic on the way to the airport. I mean, only crazy people and workaholics would be driving anywhere at that hour. Second is that the airport is relatively quiet. The security lines are quicker because only a handful of flights leave at such in impossibly early time. Today I noticed that I didn’t spend much time hanging out at the airport (like I usually do) because by the time I got to the gate it was time to board. (How efficient of me?) or maybe it was really a sign of laziness (how close can I cut it and still make the flight?). Apparently pretty close since I arrived about 5:15 AM for a 6:00AM flight. My biggest worry this morning was that Starbuck’s didn’t open until almost 5:30 AM and there was already a healthy line of people who had formed.

I was just happy that my early rising resulting in me actually getting to my destination on-time (unlike the day my 6 AM flight was cancelled and the airline postponed my flight to the next day). Today I arrived in Denver on-time, but then my co-worker had a delayed flight, so I ended up waiting around for a while anyway. Sometimes the early bird doesn’t always get the worm, but flying early certainly helps you make the most of your day…assuming the airlines cooperates with your plan.

Why do siblings fight so much? Is it because they are competing for attention from the same people – their parents? Do they desire so much attention that even bad attention will do? What is frustrating is that it seems like even if the kids can get along for what seems like a few seconds, the situation disintegrates to teasing and punching (usually when I step out of the room).

Obviously age difference causes a big ‘difference’ between kids. While one wants to watch Teletubbies, the other wants to watch Star Wars movies. If by chance they are able to agree on something to watch, like Spongebob, then the disagreement process moves to who gets ‘that seat’. Inevitably they HAVE to HAVE the same seat. Why is it that they can’t just get along? Is it greed? (I want what I want without regard to what you want?). Do children learn this behavior from adults? I mean adults can get that way too, can’t they? It isn’t rational, but it still happens. As humans we have greed and conflict.

Conflict isn’t all bad though. I recall a manager telling me that ‘ruffling feathers’ would ultimately result in ‘smoothing out’ of the feathers. When someone challenges you (the conflict) it makes you question your own views about things. This is healthy isn’t it? When I am honest with someone it makes me feel better, but then I worry it made the other person feel worse. I have found myself apologizing for being too frank at times. Is this what happens as conscious adults? We don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings? Do we avoid conflict? And is this healthy?

Now I look over and see the kids sitting on the patio sofa as the 7-year-old reads a book to the 4-year-old, their heads down as they look at the pictures on the page. I think to myself, “So what if the kids fight because they disagree sometimes. At least they are being honest with themselves, their needs, and their feelings.”

This week I observed something strange as I saw friends become non-friends. A little honesty on Facebook taken the wrong way and the next thing you know people are ‘un-friending’ and quitting Meetup groups. Deep down it is much more than a spat and maybe ‘friend’ was too strong a word to begin with (maybe acquaintances would have been better). Normally I wouldn’t think much of this sort of thing (quibbles amongst friends) but it bothered me because from the surface one person told the truth and the other attacked instead of listening. They were given a mirror, but they didn’t want to look at it. It made me wonder why people have to be on the defensive because of the truth?

The truth can set you free, but only if you listen to it. In this case, someone was willing to go out on a limb and say what needed to be said. I mean if your friends can’t tell you the truth, who will? If you can’t listen to your friends, who can you listen to? Sure, your friends can get on your nerves or irritate you sometimes, but are you going to end a friendship over the truth? Is it so difficult to accept?

Oddly, tonight my 7-year-old was reading a story about a robot. The book talked about all the things that the robot could do, but the boy who owned the robot said the robot’s best talent was being a friend (the boy said this as he was hugging the robot?!?!). Is this the direction our world is going in? Your laptop computer becomes your best friend? Will robots replace our friends because they don’t tell us the truth and they don’t ask questions? I will say that robots are good at unconditional ‘love’ and maybe humans have lost the ability to do this in a sense. If robots can replace humans for ‘friendship’ what do we need more humans for? Supposedly humans have this higher brain function, but it doesn’t look like it sometimes (just watch any reality TV show and you know what I mean).

So I wonder, can you be a better friend today? Or should you just buy your friend a robot to replace you?

Why do women obsess so much about looks and weight? I find myself doing the same thing at times, which surprises me. I realized this past year (after putting on some weight) that I wanted to break the cycle. In some cases it is good to be concerned about excessive weight gain, because you don’t want to be unhealthy. Unhealthy can mean ‘weighs too little’, but hopefully most people realize they shouldn’t starve themselves and then run 10 miles a day. Just look at Christian Bale in “The Machinist” If you see this movie, or even just the photos you immediately see the more disgusting side of being too thin. If you see what Christian Bale looks like normally (ladies, you know what I am talking about here) then you also know that ‘thin’ is not really a good thing and having more weight is a lot more appealing.

If you want to worry about looks so much that you end up looking like plastic is that a healthy choice? Is it healthy to obsess and worry that you don’t look good enough? Improving your looks may seem like it makes you feel better, but you only feel better because you ‘think’ you look better. In reality you are trying to fix a confidence problem with improving your looks, when instead you need to work from the inside out. Change the inside and you actually change the outside too.

How many times have you seen a beautiful woman, but she has a sourpuss expression or she appears unhappy? The pretty hair and the tight body are just not enough. What people see is energy. They see your inner glow – your positive radiance. The energy is what draws them to you and makes them want to be around you. Sure, we all want to put our best foot forward (comb our hair, put on clean clothes, or put on a little lipstick). The point is we make the energy, and through it can enhance our looks or attractiveness to others.

Without a complementary combination of energy and looks, you get a fireball (just energy) or a facade (just a shell). Worry only about looks or weight and you end up focussed more on the facade and not enough on your inside energy. What is important is balance and the whole package. The next time you get ready to go out somewhere, think about generating positive internal energy for the same amount of time that you spend getting dressed and fixing your hair. You might be surprised at the results.