Quite Something

Archive for January, 2012

My writing buddy

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

If you’ve read many of my previous posts, you know that, in addition to psychology, I’m very interested in the WWII era. My parents were married in 1942, just five months after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Last fall, I wrote a freelance article about a place called Solomons Island in southern Maryland, which is where the amphibious training took place before the actual landing in Normandy on D-Day. My sister lives on Solomons, and when I learned about its WWII connection, I decided to pitch a short article about it to Military Officer magazine. It was published in October of 2011.

My Uncle Dick was in the infantry in WWII, and wrote a book about his experiences called Normandy to the Bulge. Before he died, I helped him re-publish it on Lulu. If you truly want to understand the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, this is a good book to read. Even if you don’t like combat books, you’ll appreciate Normandy because it’s not gory. Based on his wartime diary, it covers more of the everyday experiences and the friendships that developed out of the hardships they endured.

In 2007, my mom and I self-published her WWII memoir, All on Account of You. It’s interesting to read these brother and sister books from the same time period. My dad was stationed on the homefront, in Key West, FL, during the war. Together the memoirs give you the whole picture of the time period.

Also, not long before he passed away, my uncle wrote a short book, Painting the Milkweeds, about their experiences growing up in the 1920s and 1930s. With the three books together, you can follow the evolution of one American family and their experiences in the first part of the twentieth century.

My uncle died several years ago, but when I re-read the stories, I can still hear his rich Irish storytelling voice relating them to us. We shared a love of writing and I miss his weekly letters of encouragement. I know he’d be proud that his books are still selling, and that I’m still writing.

Rocket relationships

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Yesterday my phone rang, and my caller ID read, “Phone Scam.” It turned out to be a recorded call about reducing my credit card rate, so it was not quite a scam, but I was impressed at how very helpful technology is getting to be these days!

When I related the incident to my brother, he mentioned that it would be cool if phones had lights to let you know how important the call was so you could decide whether or not to pick up. Perhaps a green light for my 93-year-old mom or one of the kids (especially when they’re in trouble), a yellow light for friends calling to chat, and a red light for those wannabe friends (with the never-ending lists of complaints) who just want to unload.

I took it one step further and decided it would be even more helpful if people had identifying descriptors written on their foreheads when you met them. “High Maintenance.” “Kind.” “Hopelessly Romantic.” “Snarky.” “Steer Clear at All Costs.” “A Definite Keeper.” Wouldn’t it be nice to know up front? But I guess part of the joy of friendship is in uncovering the mystery.

In Laura Berman Fortgang’s book, Take Yourself to the Top, she shares some very useful tips for creating the life you want. Most have to do with clearing out that which is not feeding you, and actively choosing people and activities which do. She describes three types of relationships:

• Those that will sink you. These are the energy-draining ones, which drag you down and, eventually, use you up. Fortgang says, however difficult it is to accomplish, those relationships simply need to go. You may feel some guilt when shedding them, but you will feel tremendous relief once you have done it.

• Those that will float you. These are more balanced, with give and take, and they’re pleasant enough, but they aren’t terribly special. It’s okay to have some relationships like this, but you don’t want to devote too much of your time to them.

• Those that will rocket you. These are the powerful ones that inspire you and spark your creativity. They give you energy and bring out your best self. You’ll want to spend the majority of your time with these types of friends.

As a highly-sensitive person, some people are simply too loud or demanding or intense for me. My tendency is to back off quickly, because I’m too nice, and too loyal, so once I’m in a relationship, it’s hard for me to disentangle myself from it. But I’ve learned recently that some relationships just need a little tweaking.

I may need to see someone less often, or for shorter periods of time, or do more emailing with them and less in-person visiting. At that level, even highly energetic friends with strong personalities can be quite enjoyable. It’s hard to set firm boundaries, and friends can balk at first when they feel us pulling back from them, but they can and do adjust. If they don’t get what they need from us, they eventually move on, and that’s okay, too.

We may not have lights on our phones that indicate how we should respond to others when they reach out to us. But we do have internal monitors that tell us exactly how we’re feeling when we’re with people, if we just pay attention to our gut feelings.

Now is a good time to do an inventory of your relationships. Consider which of your friends support you, light a fire under you, or make you happy.

Then you can decide whether it’s time for some paring down, or whether you just need to do a little tweaking.