Just Sayin’

Just Sayin’

With all the talking, chatter, expounding, and expressing our opinions that goes with the open-ended cultural territory we all inhabit these days, it’s no wonder, just sayin’ is a popular linguistic add-on to many a modern conversation. Being a personal essayist, I am no exception.

I’m guilty of using the phrase and so is my ten-year-old nearly-step grandson – in one of his first texts to me using his newly gifted cell phone. It’s a profuse and ubiquitous concept and linguistic aid. Now I shall break it down.

“What’s on your mind?” Asks Facebook. To which, many FB members respond with a photo, a memory, a meme, a quote, a fleeting thought, a suggestion, prayer, advice, or simply an observation about the day, life, news, politics, the weather, and more.

Bloggers – online diarists, many of us, overshare as a career. We self-disclose with abandon, for a living. I guess it’s the definition of overshare that perhaps has changed. It was once called diarrhea of the mouth.   Just sayin’ implies anything goes, as well as, “the more the merrier” – talk, talk, talk, talk. It’s an information glut – wisdom; not so much, not so often.


The first amendment to our Constitution gives every American freedom to speak and to write, without government interference. But, is there no restraint of another kind governing the content or the extent of our speech? I’m not sure. This might be a problem.

I recently binge-watched the first season of The Crown, on Netflix. A striking cinematic and relational contrast was established on screen between the two sisters, Elizabeth (the Queen) and Margaret. The Queen because of several things, not least of which is her anointing as head of the Church of England, and her sworn duty to the people of the United Kingdom, over which her government presides – appears stuffy, self-important, relationally distant, and insecure without the advice and coaching of one or another government official. Her sister, on the other hand, without a role of such magnitude, has the luxury and freedom to be fun-loving, individualistic, sarcastic, jovial, even frivolous in her doings and in her speech

Margaret is considered the real and likable one, and Elizabeth, unembodied by sentiment or individuality of any sort is the stern, unimaginative, serious sister, by comparison.   In fact, the Queen was forbidden by the Prime Minister (Churchill) as well as her grandmother (Queen Mary) to ever show individuality – she was to remain always, the Crown, and none other.

As to speech, the contrast between the sisters, was evidenced by restraint and duty to country above all else in Elizabeth, versus no holds barred, just sayin’ ramblings of a privileged individual in Margaret; that privilege, granted to her by the Crown itself. Both sisters by virtue of their royal birth had the right to expound publicly. However, Elizabeth’s restraint, even her silence is considered her primary role as Sovereign.

We Americans, known for our independent and individualistic spirit, relate more readily to Margaret, and later to Diana (the people’s princess). We don’t understand Elizabeth’s restraint, silence, or duty to something higher than herself – we really don’t get it; we don’t get her and wish her to just loosen up. We’re the epitome of the self-centered, just sayin’ lifestyle.


Thus, the rise, in the U.S. of the self-proclaimed expert. When I was growing up, it was understood that an expert was someone with advanced knowledge or experience in a subject or exceptional skill and ability in a field.   These people, few in number compared to ordinary folks, were sought for their expertise. Today, it seems that experts are everywhere and advanced education or years of experience have little to do with their platforms, popularity, or influence.

Television personalities judge fashion, with no more expertise nor taste than some of my more sophisticated neighbors and acquaintances. Hip-hop artists tell us what booze to drink and how big our bums and boobs should be. Reality stars of “leaked” sex tapes tell us how to grow our brand; and live decadent, consumer-rich lifestyles – while collecting hefty pay-checks from the networks and products who sponsor them. Movie and television personalities, some of them actors by trade, coach us on everything from how to dress, what to eat, who to vote for, how to look like them, what cars to drive, how to raise our children, and which credit cards to carry – all while themselves living in a bubble in a far, far away land, securely ensconced away from us.

Of course, we knew the personal exploits of movie stars from a generation ago – Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, and so on, but they weren’t walking infomercials like contemporary celebrities. Gone – or at least out of the lime-light, are experts by virtue of their education or years of experience; to be replaced by a category of human being called an opinion-maker.

Opinion-journalism of the twenty-first century is now the norm, with objective reporting no longer even a difficult to obtain goal.   I was taught in high school English, the importance of maintaining objective distance when reporting the news.   There was a boundary between debate, opinion, and news.

Evidence and verification of journalistic speech is no longer part of the long, long ago, accepted pseudo-scientific-method of journalism.   Now, most news resembles the gossip column of old. The new buzzword in journalism is transparency – a fancy word for telling it like it is from one point of view (using facts to support that perspective only) – neutrality be damned. Let the buyer (audience) beware, I guess. Do I buy it? Good, if yes. Go screw yourself, if no. In other words, it’s okay to be biased in reporting if you’re clearly biased – making sure that one’s bias is open and obvious is the only restraint needed.


Another use of the just sayin’ suffix, is in the vein of the, “no offense, but…” criticism. For example, “no offense, but your hair is so 1990, you would look cute with so-and-so’s haircut.” It’s a form of masking or softening a critical or snipey* comment, so as not to be perceived as critical, bitchy, or a snipey* human being.   After all, “I’m just sayin’!

(*Author’s note – spell-checker, auto-correct and other such monitors of my English grammar, syntax, and such does not like the word snipey, which I made up. I like it so I added it to my dictionary – just sayin’.)

Happy 2017 ya’ll:)


Attention-Span Waning

A few years ago I noticed that grandma’s attention span narrowed when after a holiday dinner and a game or two, she was ready to go home to get into her nightgown and “relax.”  Gone were the hours spent in conversation, lingering at the table, after dinner.

I’m getting grandma more and more as the years pass.

Don’t make me go to a movie, the theater or any other extended, confined, indoor event where I can’t wander off if so inclined.

Speaking of wandering off.  My daughter and I went shopping together a while back – a rare event, the last few years.  We had a great time.  I bought random things that I sort of needed for a long time but the occasion hadn’t presented just the right items in my path, like this time.  We laughed that, for us, we were buying a ridiculous amount of random stuff (gotta love Ross!).

She said, a couple of times that while she was browsing (something I’m not great at, preferring the more pointedly targeted, get-what’s-on-the-list kind of shopping), “I turned around to say something to you and you had wandered off.”  She giggled and so did I.  It was true.

You see – I knew this.  It’s not like Alzheimer’s or dementia.  I knew full-well that I had wandered away.  It was because I lost interest in our relatively stationary position.

I needed “something else” to see.  I needed to move on to the “next.”

My “problem” is being still.  I get restless.  Maybe I’ve reverted to three-year-old parallel play behaviors.  I was engaged with my daughter in shopping, enjoying our time together but I had to broaden my scope of browsing compared to her more prolonged focus.

I enjoyed our time “together” enormously, but needed moments of separation to give the togetherness meaning, I guess.

I love the pause button.  I don’t like to be forced to sit still for long.  I need to get up frequently to divert my attention – to spread it around.

I like to be alone from time to time – on a daily basis.  I like quiet with solitude, regularly.  But stillness – not so much; it has a time limit until I get antsy.

Maybe that’s why I prefer books with lots of subheadings, and/or short chapters (I could easily read War and Peace if it followed this requirement).  I need to get up frequently to stretch my legs, get a snack or drink, maybe answer an email or do some business, wash dishes or do laundry before coming back to it (without losing the continuity of thought).

After a meal I like to get up, for instance, to prepare dessert and serve it or refresh drinks, etc. – anything to shake up the monotony that creeps in (it’s not you, it’s me:)).

Games after dinner work for me.  They keep things moving.

Then, I crash.  I, like grandma before me, like to put pj’s on and chill with my own company, ideally in front of the fireplace and a burning candle, to recharge.  Awhhh.

Is a waning attention span yet another aspect of some patterns of aging that nobody ever told us about?  It might be just me.  But, when I saw the miniature pattern of it (myself and grandma), it makes me wonder if it’s universal in at least some aging personalities (maybe the introvert personality)?

Please don’t get all clinical and tell me there’s something wrong with my brain.  I’d much prefer to stick with my usual pattern of thinking and standard psychological defense for anything in my personal behavioral arsenal that I observe and write about: “this is just a variation of normal.”



Under Cover

Today, when I was walking on a macadam road between hiking trails; a slight wind came up and a deluge of brown leaves took flight.flying-leaves

I thought it was pretty.

Then, I thought, “there goes my leaf cover in the woods.”  Soon, the leaf cover will be replaced by snow cover.

Some of us are concerned about “cover.”  For example, our cats have always been wary of open yard (of which, we have little), and when outdoors seek the cover of shrubs, trees or garden plants.

When the leaf cover has gone for the winter, I feel something akin to naked, exposed, or empty.  Snow cover doesn’t provide the same sense of enclosure and protection as leaf cover, because it’s cold.

The first thing most of us think when we hear, “under cover,” are spies.  An under cover operative is one who has assumed another identity – they’re somebody else for a time, so that they can obtain covert information while remaining safe.  Their real identity is protected by their concealed one.

“Cover” is a euphemism of sorts for “blanket;” and most introvert personalities are all about under the covers.  We like our own company most of the time and are easily overwhelmed, out in the open.  Like our cats, we have an eye toward cover, at all times.

Another simile – like spies, we introverts also guard our identity and feel most of the time when we’re out in the open, that we’re pretending to be somebody else.  All the small talk necessary to negotiate the open makes us feel “not ourselves.”

So – cheers to all the introverts out there; well, not so much out therebut to snuggling under cover for the winter:)


About Opinions – “I DON’T CARE!”

When you read this post, think Kevin Costner’s dad-character in 3 Days to Kill, listening to his teenage daughter’s “special” ringtone selected just for him: “I don’t care!” – and it’s shouted in that throaty, what I used to think was a demonic voice (from Iona’s song, I love it).

This suggestion for how you may approach the subject matter of this post might seem more apropos to teen angst and selfish rebellion than me – an introvert, trying to sift through mountains of cognitive rubbish; and giving up in exasperation.

But, here we are.  I have a decidedly low tolerance for the opinions of others.  There’s also no inkling in my body, mind, or spirit to revere other human beings, pointedly celebrities.  I’ve never had heroes – because they’re human beings with flaws, just like you and me.  I don’t get the reverence for these people.

I just don’t care.

This probably seems a bit ironic, given I’m writing this in the form of a blog post – expecting others (whom I purportedly don’t care about their opinions) to respond.  However, if you think a bit deeper, you’ll see – (I hope), that I highly value the experiences of others (just, not their opinions) and in turn I hope others would value my experiences.

My opinions don’t matter either.

For example, I’d much prefer reading personal essays than follow someone on Twitter. I’m not sure I do social media well.  I wonder sometimes if social media is simply too social, in the small talk sense, for an introverted personality.  We’d rather get straight to the real stuff instead of wasting time on social foreplay.

Opinions are not truth, they’re perceptions about the truth which are framed in a point of view.  Period.  And, everybody has one, just like that appendage at the end of the colon, that expels waste (trying to keep this polite).

There are so many voices in our world, all clamoring for our minds, money, and attention.  I know, when I get on the Internet to research something, I start out excited and hopeful – but end up disappointed, confused, and further askew at having tried to connect to a concept, cause, person, or organization – who aren’t, after digging deeper, what they were presented to be in their social media “trailer.”

Everybody from experts – and what a plethora of them exist on the planet, to “reality” stars or celebrities posing as experts (always in areas outside of acting) hand out advice on everything from child rearing to cooking, nutrition, wealth management, and fashion.  And, they write books about their suppose-ed expertise – books, which ordinary people with just as valid experiences, buy.

I vote for more personal essays online – more people being real and sharing from their experience; and fewer experts, celebrities, or ordinary human beings, telling us their opinion.

I don’t care!

Stealthy cover-up of one’s Crazy!

“I am of the mind that EVERYBODY‘S a little bit crazy – different degrees of crazy but crazy enough. Through STEALTH and espionage, one can cover up one’s crazy and be deemed well-adjusted. But even then, it peeks its silly head out through the generations to reveal the root. It is clear which rock(s) I was hewn from.” – from my 2015 memoirrocky-path

Accepting Loss

dark-clouds-with-sun-behind-and-puffy-clouds-and-blue-sky-alongsideI selected this photo to begin this essay because there is a whole lot of light behind those ominous clouds – and there is a whole lot of light behind grief, too.

I visited my eye doctor the other day. Part of my exam included a visual field test. I worried just a little bit about attention deficit during the test – wondering if I got bored or fell asleep for a second or two while waiting at the ready for any flash of light, however vague or sharp, to appear to the right, the left, above or beneath the center yellow dot that I was instructed to never lose sight of. It seemed like the test lasted forever, but realistically it was probably three minutes for each eye.

Yay – I passed – so attention deficit or sleep apnea aren’t a concern at the moment, at least.

How does this relate to accepting loss, you might ask? Well, I’ll explain.

If you want the cliff notes version of this essay – speaking of attention deficit; then, this is the paragraph for you. The whole point of acceptance of loss is to acknowledge it, even focus on the loss (like the yellow dot in my visual field test), while not losing sight of the periphery which is everything else (your entire scope of vision – all those vague and sharp lights appearing to the left, the right, above and beneath the yellow dot) that makes up one’s life.

Grief – its stages have been identified, even quantified and are well-documented; those stages being: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In fact, however, the manifestations of grief are most likely highly individual and somewhat chaotic rather than the supposedly orderly, sequential, progressive, nor so easily defined stages that are implied or stipulated in the scientific, clinical, or popular literature.


Awareness of grief and where we might stand in its possible stages might assuage our getting stuck somewhere, unresolved. For example, bargaining sounds familiar, as does denial. We often bargain with God, whether overtly or under the cover of prayer, reason, argument, or resolution to “do better.” And, one wouldn’t be considered a good Christian in some circles if you don’t spend some time in denial.

Grief is complicated. It comes not just at the death of a loved one, but at the death of a relationship; the loss of a job or the demise of an expectation, dream or hope for something imagined – or a combination of some of these means of loss. Grief also arrives at the doorstep of the loss of the healthy functioning of one’s mind or body or the decline of an ability that everyone, aging (and that’s everyone) must either grow aware of or live with its unacknowledged effects.

I’ve had issues with the stage of acceptance, in general. Having grown up under the Protestant work ethic, my learned and practiced response to any challenge to the hopes that were within me is, “I can work it out;” work, being the operative word.

“Accepting the things I cannot change,” control, or fix, is the hard part – the faith part, of the Serenity Prayer. It’s a conundrum and a paradox when I find that my work ethic, evangelical past is at odds with my fundamentalist, faith past – a dueling contradiction.

I get the Apostle Paul’s statement from Romans 7:19, paraphrased – “I don’t want to sin, but I keep doing it anyway.” In other words, I want to accept the things I cannot change, but I keep trying to change, control, or fix them anyway. Let me offer a simile that everyone who has dieted can relate to. It’s like when you determine not to eat something you’ve deemed against your diet, and all you can think about is that food. Can you say chocolate?

The grieving process is important – I’m not certain why. Point of fact, Jesus, in His Beatitudes of Matthew 5 includes among the Blessed – those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. So, there is something to be said for the process of mourning, for at the end of it is comfort – or as the stages of grief proffer: acceptance.gray-and-red-clouds-1Do you remember the biblical saying, paraphrased – red at night, sailor’s delight; red in the morning, sailor’s warning?  Those red clouds at dusk seem overwhelmingly foreboding, but they point to a nice day tomorrow!

My observation and educated guess about mourning is, we are better served if we invite it not to pull up a chair and stay, at length. It’s best that, at some point, we accept the loss. Yes, we should welcome grief as a temporary guest; even immerse ourselves briefly in its embrace, and fully feel it. Then, bid it adieu.

I’m not saying this is easy and I’m certainly not prescribing any time frame for its process. In fact, I’m prescribing nothing, but I am certain that grieving people have to just hurt for a while; swim around in its pool and be saturated by it. No words, no scripture, no gesture will stifle the indescribable pain of loss – until that mystical moment when the veil is lifted enough to actually exhale. We must take advantage of that moment to step out from under grief, move away from it and free our personality and soul from its lingering effects.

Loss is universal, experienced by everyone, everywhere throughout time. Some have had more than their share of loss of loved ones; even the cruel, seemingly untimely loss of loved ones. Others have had to suffer the loss of dignity or self-esteem, maybe many times over. Most of us have lost dreams or expectations, hopefully temporarily only to develop new ones – easier said than done; spurring us toward the new and fresh blank slate of the future.more-clouds-2016

I’ve had some higher education in psychology, sociology/anthropology and family studies and I could cite some studies, theories and philosophies but my Gibbs-gut feeling (as in that of Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS) is that some food, work, alcohol, drug, or sex addicts’ lifestyle choices are the result of grief having permanently camped out in their souls.  The loss of who they hoped to be; who they were expected to be, can’t be reconciled with who they are or who they have become; so they soothe the source and succor the grief – never having accepted their loss.

Some of these gut feelings were confirmed in the first century Greek philosopher, Plutarch’s essay, “Consolation to His Wife.” As graciously as the author of Proverbs 31 commends his wife, Plutarch, in this essay, lovingly approves his wife’s comportment on the occasion of their two-year old, only daughter’s death. He compliments his wife’s conduct as one of “a noble woman and a loving mother.”   She, apparently bore her sorrows honorably rather than splashing about in them, at length.

According to Plutarch, some things one might notice in an individual to whom grief has made its home are: pettiness, narrowness; and a confined, unsmiling and fearful soul.   Everybody’s got their grief’s to bear.   I along with millions of other church goers, have sung the hymn,

  • ’What a Friend we have in Jesus,’ …
  • All our sins and grief’s to bear!…
  • What peace we often forfeit,
  • O what needless pain we bear,
  • All because we do not carry Everything to God in Prayer!”

This hymn goes on to laud Jesus as the perfect friend to share our sorrows, discouragements, burdens, weaknesses and I would add – complaints. Friends, as precious, forbearing, and well-meaning as they are, simply are not as well-equipped to contend with and ultimately dispel our grief as is our God. As friends, we don’t always know how to comfort or aid those who grieve. I know for a fact, I’ve made the effort poorly and certainly inadequately, at times.

Like Job’s friends, what we think we’re offering is comfort, sympathy, empathy, and relief; but our efforts might very well be felt as accusation, schooling, fear, blame, or defeat.   Don’t get me wrong, friends, especially those who have gone through your particular circumstances of grief can be a godsend. Just knowing that someone else on the planet has felt the same way you do is a comfort; thus the success of support groups for various types of loss; from the death of a loved one, to divorce, domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, or suicide.gray-and-red-clouds-2

Plutarch warns his wife, however, against friends offering condolences. He cautions her not to overindulge flamboyant grief but to memorialize the one lost by “transpose(ing) yourself in imagination.” Plutarch says, “It would be a perversity for you to find fault with your estate and chafe at it when others would cheerfully choose your lot even with the affliction which now distresses us. Nay, this present sting should make you sensible of our numerous blessings which REMAIN UNTOUCHED…. Shall we meticulously search out faulty passages in our lives for condemnation and cavalierly neglect the mass of our blessings.”

He suggests we can either quench grief entirely or diminish its size and intensity by tweaking what we pay attention to. I’ve tried this. When I notice myself getting petty, my point of view narrowing, feeling fearful, with a complete inability to smile – I recognize the possibility that grief has attempted to make its home in my soul.

So, after entertaining it for a moment – some might recognize lingering grief as the inkling to feel sorry for yourself or have a pity party for one; I take it to God and together we un-invite all guests to my pity party and switch up the theme of the party – we’ve all heard of divorce parties, wakes, memorial celebrations; all converting the pity party to a psychologically and spiritually useful celebration of what remains intact in our lives, including our memories of the person or thing that is now lost.

In those celebrations we can focus our attention on:

  • Recollecting the good things from the past about the thing/person that is presently lost: recalling the pleasure, delight, happiness the thing or person brought to our lives;
  • Transposing and reshaping our reflectionsfocusing on what the relationship or memory brought to our lives; rather than on what its loss took away from our lives;
  • Bringing to mind the essence of the lost person, memory, ability, dream, hope, job, or feeling – and treasuring that essence in absentia of the death of the concrete relationship or dream.
  • Acceptance.

Through this process of mourning, we’ve transformed our pain of loss to the blessing of Matthew 5:4 – comforting memories. Acceptance allows us to live on in a measure of peace.hole-in-cloudsSee that blue hole in the clouds?  That’s where the blessing is:)


En garde – sort of: My Battle with Insomnia


Here’s yet another case of me – not doing something I’m supposed to do.

You might think I have a preoccupation with sleeping, given the fact that sleep is the subject of several of my essays.  Well, it’s probably a case of “the grass is greener,” or wanting what you don’t have, can’t have, or wish you had.

Sleep at night – every night.

Trying to force sleep.

Consciously letting this day recede into the past, and enter a tranquil present.

Trying to force breath through my nose when my nostrils are solidly clamped down in an allergy-suppressed sit-in of sorts. I try another approach, as if there is another way to breathe. That, having failed, I breathe a little through my mouth, at risk of self-labeling – “mouth-breather.”

What was that “twitch” in my right forearm? Spasm? Always alert to signs of Parkinson’s.

Restless legs – unsettled.

The atmosphere isn’t right. It’s too cold with the fan on but too still with it off – stifling. Covers up to my chin one minute and thrown off as enemies; or thrown over like a discarded beau, the next. Tank top feels just right one minute and peel it up and fan myself with it the next. Night sweats compete for attention with the humidifier – allergy-reliever, at my head.

Which position? Fetal cuddle is my favorite to get started but never for the long haul. On my back is the keeper but not the starting point.   Sometimes – like this time, neither works.

Mantra: sleep, sleep, sleep . . . nothing.

Right fetal cuddle again, covers to chin. Too warm. Throw off the covers. Repeat.   Stop it and decide, Ms. Goldilocks.

Eyes tear up and spill over, burning a little. Open mouth breathing – drool a little. I hate a wet pillow.

Adjust legs so that they aren’t right on top of each other.   Why are my knees so bony?   Overlapping, slightly ajar. Twist ankles into a pretzel, pastry knot.

Read a while. Too tired to read. Very sleepy.   Try again.

Why don’t I drink? From the looks of social media, everyone else drinks, especially wine, especially women.

Tried raiding my baking liqueur stash, mixing a little Kahlua with half a slim-fast chocolate shake; tasty, but didn’t induce sleep.

Random thoughts leaping across genres.

Wiggling feet, ankles-wrapped. Legs moving at the knee, as if on hinges.

Mantra again: sleeping, sleeping, sleeping. Did this ever work?

Nope. Word-find puzzles. Too tired to continue for long.

My heart thumps in my back, then in my arm pit. Very body conscious. My heart flutters in my chest, thumps in my throat and in my arm – under the floor boards of my body, a la Edgar Allan Poe.

Insomnia feels like a big waste of time. Spending time frivolously. Misusing time, somehow.

Insomnia is a reminder that I should be sleeping but I’m not.   Is it defiance? Or rebellion?