Try a Little Tenderness

Tenderness is how we express warmth and affection to our fellow man. It can be protective, or sympathetic, or just plain considerate of another’s feelings, and for each of us there is a trigger; an indicator, either verbal, visual, or intuitive, that tells us when to tread lightly in the handling of others.  Beyond that we probably give tenderness very little conscious thought in our day to day lives. Could society use a few more acts of kindness,,,, maybe a little tenderness?

Children and animals typically warrant a tender approach simply by virtue of their size or innocence (naiveté). Adults, being more ‘seasoned’ with life, tend to be a little tougher (or closed?) They may interpret acts of tenderness with suspicion or they may see it as pity, and nobody wants to be pitied. We do however, all want to be treated kindly, because no matter how tough our exterior, we are all vulnerable to hurt, and each of us reacts differently.

Society is so hung up on image; boys in particular are ‘programmed’ from a young age to be tough because… boys don’t cry(?)  In the quest to ‘act like a man’ they are constantly reminded to withhold their emotions, when they really need to let it all out. (everybody needs a good cry once in a while) In truth, I think women have more respect for a man who is sensitive and unashamed to show emotion. Now that said, no one wants to see a man sobbing into his teacups every time the wind changes direction, but it certainly would be refreshing (if not human) to indulge a fellow man his pain, for whatever reason. Allowing them to feel and share their emotions is allowing them to heal and with healing comes knowledge and growth, for all.

Tenderness is quite simply that act of treating someone with kindness in a very personal way and we could certainly incorporate more random acts of kindness into our day. Maybe it’s a matter of putting ourselves in the shoes of another. The disinterested sales person, the irate customer, the sullen family member, or the depressed friend; all have an underlying issue that has brought them to a bad place emotionally, and we can fuel the negativity or diffuse it with an act of kindness. Amazingly enough, it takes little effort to redirect negative energy and instinct will guide you as to what needs to be done, and how.

The irate customer is looking to vent. They know you’re not the reason they have a problem, you’re just the last straw, the middle man, and you can roll up your sleeves and engage in a full on battle or you can try a little tenderness to take the wind out of their sails. A couple of tactfully voiced acknowledgements of their concern will let them know they are being heard, taken seriously, and empathized with. It’ll also gently point out that YOU are not their issue, rather their potential saviour.  I’ve seen this tactic work time and time again….it’s a win-win.

The sullen or depressed individual, unlike the irate customer, isn’t looking for a fight, rather they are emotionally wounded and without knowing the cause or extent of their emotional turmoil, you can’t fix the problem. You can however, provide emotional support with acts of kindness in the moment. Listen to them talk or, respect their need for solitude or silence. Perform whatever act of kindness you need to help them lick their wounds. It may provide only temporary relief, until they are able to deal with their issue, but even temporary relief is better than none, and for that brief period in time they might feel a little bit better, and they will remember you for your kind consideration.

Not everyone will be receptive to open displays of tenderness because not everyone is accustomed to having it. We don’t all come from loving environments, but don’t let that discourage you or keep you from reaching out. And maybe your attempt at kindness with a stranger will fall flat or feel awkward, but I bet that’ll only happen once because any true act of tenderness will eventually melt the coldest of hearts. Besides, it costs nothing to be kind, whether you smile encouragingly, or joke playfully, or simply make meaningful eye contact; the act of reaching out to another in need is just good. So go on, be good, try a little tenderness. Who knows, maybe if we all exercised a little more random kindness the world would finally find peace. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? (somebody should write a song about this)


Unraveling the Threads

Life is so busy; each day filled with activity. We have our job, our family, our friends, each needing time and attention, and over the course of our adult years it’s easy to lose track of that which means the most to us. I refer most specifically to our relationships because it’s these that suffer from a hectic lifestyle. Relationships go off course over time; each of us moving in different directions, until one day our meandering pathways reconnect, but it’s not the same. Something has changed. The threads we’ve woven over the years have become tangled and we are not the same people we once were. Maturity and experience have changed us, but only marginally because our roots are original – they never change – they just grow.

Over the years I’ve encountered friends and colleagues who confide that they’ve lost interest in their spouse or partner. They can’t articulate exactly what it is that has caused this ‘distance’, they just feel like they’ve lost their connection. They no longer have the things in common they once did because while they were building careers, raising kids and developing new hobbies, they grew apart. They lost their common ground and don’t know how to reconnect, or if they want to, because they too have changed and now feel the only solution is to part ways. It’s an easy out, too easy. Why repair the shoes if you can just go out and buy new ones?

In an era where relationships are so disposable I struggle to provide any support  for such moves because I refuse to believe that we can grow so far apart that the relationship is unsalvageable. Finding your way back in what was once a good relationship isn’t easy. It just takes effort and commitment and an honest memory. Think back to when you first met. Remember what it was that brought you together in the first place. Is it still there, the feelings, the attraction? Because if it is, all is not lost.

I believe what we initially see and like in a person is the root of the relationship, and like any living thing, if we take care of the root, the flower will flourish.  That we’ve moved in different directions over the years just adds threads of interest to our spool, and we all strive to be interesting.

That said, some relationships are simply doomed to fail. Not everyone we meet is meant to be ‘in’ our lives. Many are just passers-by on route to fulfill their own destiny and occasionally we place more time and energy into the meeting than is warranted. When and if this happens an amicable parting of ways is necessary, move on, with grace.

If however, you can recall with fondness the very things that once attracted you to this person the relationship is worth saving.  The many threads that now obscure the root of this relationship are the same threads that now add interest to it. This person has grown and changed, just like you, and if you make the effort to unravel the threads you may find your way back to a relationship more wonderful than you could’ve imagined and a path that leads you to home and heart. Don’t take the easy way out, because you may never find your way home.

Unravel the thread

My father’s house

On this Father’s Day, I wanted to acknowledge my own father for giving me that which he never had. Safety, security, a home; my fathers’ house was all these things to us, and more,,,, it wasn’t that way for him.

His youth was spent running with his family from the horrors of the 2nd World War. His ‘house’ was a series of bomb shelters, barns, train stations and temporary camps. He had few articles of clothing, one pair of shoes, and food was limited, but unlike many he had his family, and it is that which made him feel rich. From the time he was 9 years old war ravaged his homeland and he would be almost 30 before he felt the security of his own home again, on another continent.

As an adult he had a new life, a new wife, and three children. He had no education, thanks to the war, yet he managed to learn several new languages just to get by. He acquired skills (self taught) that would secure him a job and provide for his family. We had food, clothes, a car, all the basic necessities of life, but it didn’t stop there. He gave us so much more.

My father loved tradition, still does. Holidays were fun and festive. He made special foods. He loved to sing. He loved to dance and music was a staple in his house. He loved to read; had an astute mind and could carry on an educated debate, intelligently, and at the same time he could laugh deliriously at the antics of the Three Stooges or Bugs Bunny. He loved chocolate and red wine, and he taught us how to make traditional Pickled Herring for Christmas.

When we were children he would take his vacation from the factory he worked in to take a job as camp counsellor, so that we could go to summer camp. He couldn’t afford to pay for us and traded off his own labour so that we could attend.

He taught us how to skate and how to polka, and no one can tango like my dad.

He enjoyed our school friends and welcomed them to our home, always.

He played Santa on Christmas Eve much to the delight of his nine grandchildren and on every birthday, he sang the loudest (a little off key, but still, the loudest)

He had a green thumb, plants thrived under his care. He loved animals, all of them. In fact he had a tremendous respect for all living things.

He gave us many things, among them a safe and loving home in which to thrive, and for a man who had so little himself, he gave so much.

That my siblings and I are all established, independent and raising families of our own speaks to the value of his life lessons. He taught us to be honest, fair, and kind. He taught us to love, and to forgive. He taught us the importance of family and friendships. He taught us to work hard and play harder. He taught us to respect each other and most importantly to respect ourselves.

Finally, after 89 years he can relax and reap the benefits of his efforts. His was a long hard road and his life of tireless labour made our road so much easier. How do you acknowledge a lifetime of sacrifice in just one day a year? You can’t. We can only live our lives by his example. So we pass on his recipes to our children. We sing with them, we dance, and we make a point to get to know their friends. We even put on a DVD of Bugs Bunny every now and again, just to hear him laugh. We now do what he did, because he did it so well. My fathers’ house was a wonderful place, and he a wonderful man, deserving of so much more than one day a year

Happy fathers day


Everything that goes around really does come around, especially fashion. Bell bottoms, skinny leg jeans, hip huggers, mini-skirts. Some are worth recirculating, others are not.

Platform shoes had only a brief come back, thank heavens! They were stupid in the 70’s and even stupider 30 years later. Impossible to be graceful with a brick strapped to each foot, women stomped around like Clydesdales.  Those aren’t shoes, they’re weapons! If you have to commit a fashion faux pas with footwear go with socks and sandals – it might make you look like a priest but at least they’re safe and quiet.

Palazzo pants (wide leg pants) first made an appearance in the late 1960’s and were reminiscent of the wide leg cuffed slacks the avant-garde set wore in the 1920’s and 30’s. They give the overall appearance of an evening gown and are akin to wearing your bedroom drapes, and unless you walk with your legs wider apart than you typically would the excess material bunches up attractively just under your backside, giving the illusion you just filled your pants.

Belly tops – those skin tight waist hugging tops that end 2 inches above your navel are fine on anyone who is a size zero, but if you boast any kind of excess around your middle they are a frightening advertisement for a healthy appetite and its’ trademark muffin-top.

Ah, the ever popular mini skirt! Timeless and tiny, these get shorter with every generation. Sporting these means you cannot bend for water at a fountain or to retrieve a dropped item. In fact, you can’t bend at all, ever, because doing so would expose ¾ of your derriere. They invite catcalls, whistles, and a host of mouth-sucking sounds from men on the street, and they’re drafty, excessively so.

Leggings have made a comeback and unlike the older fabrics that had no give, leggings now stretch and move with you, thanks to spandex and other elastic materials. The downside is that they also ‘grow’ with you so it’s no longer easy to sense those excess pounds creeping on the way we used to when our clothing felt tight. To combat this designers have launched oversized shirts and sweaters to hide the multitude of growing sins.

Maybe I’m just conservative. I think people should dress for their size and their age but apparently good fashion sense is rarer than one might think. Just look around you. What possess some people to leave their homes looking the way they do? Do they not own a mirror? And if they do, what are they seeing in their reflection, cause it can’t be reality.

If you have a belly, belly tops are not for you. If you have a healthy rump, steer clear of palazzo pants unless you want to look a circus tent. And if you have to wear a mini skirt you’d better be under 18 years old and a size zero. And if you have no fashion sense, take heart, because no fashion sense is still better then bad fashion sense.

There’s nothing wrong with dressing to enhance your look – we all have beauty so go ahead and advertise. Vanity is a good thing. It just means you care about your appearance and we all have different ideas about what attractive is. I do however, think dressing suggestively, provocatively, or even for the shock effect, is a cry for attention, and the sad thing is that this kind of attention is generally pity, not the admiration or approval the wearer is seeking.


Me, myself and I

There are those in this world who are loners, introverts even. They’re not anti-social, they simply prefer to be somewhat anonymous; they are the observers versus the center of attention. I am not one of those people but I do understand their need to be alone.

I love a party, I love a crowd, and I try to keep a steady stream of friends coming through my house because I so enjoy being social, but there’s one person, above all others, whose company I enjoy most. Mine.

I love time alone with me. I talk to myself. I sing really loud. I crack jokes I find so funny, I laugh until I cry. In short, no one entertains me as much as I do and I thoroughly enjoy my own company. A well-educated gentleman I worked with years ago caught me talking to myself in my office one day and commented that he’d read that highly intellectual people were noted for ‘talking to themselves’. A little embarrassed at being caught enjoying myself with me, I was flattered but let’s face it,,,,,I’m no genius. When I walk in to a room people don’t generally say, “Wow, I bet she’s really smart!” They might, however, say “She’s really fun?” (jeez, I hope so!)

You know the crazy, thing about all this is that I rarely feel lonely. I like the company of just me, myself, and I. The three of us have a ball! We laugh and we talk. We dance, and we sing. We have the same taste in music, so whatever I play, we all enjoy,,,, go figure! We crack open a bottle of wine (because I hate to drink alone) and we have a girls night, just the three of us. It’s a wonderful friendship and necessary for me, but it does run its’ course. After a couple of hours of revelry I need real people again.

Solitude may be a state of isolation or seclusion, but it doesn’t have to be lonely. In fact, quite the opposite. Being alone with you is a good way to really get to know yourself. You’ve no one to impress, no airs to put on, so the real you emerges. What a great way to get to know who you really are!

It’s human nature to be social, we crave the company of other people, but I think it’s just as important to feel comfortable with yourself just you, alone. For many this is a grim prospect. They’re not comfortable in a solitary scenario. It makes them focus on their ‘aloneness’,,,,, suggesting what, unpopularity? It also causes some to dwell on why they might be alone; perhaps they have somehow pushed away the company of others. You couldn’t be more wrong! (ok, there are exceptions here. There are people who are just plain unpleasant to be around so if you find yourself alone too much, it’s probably you)

For most, time alone is time well spent. We all need to regroup. Time to think. Time to talk…to no one, because ‘no one’s’ a better listener to you, than you. And no one understands your thought processes, no one knows your vulnerabilities, better than you. Who better to spend quality time with? No pressure, no judgement, just an interested non-threatening participant.

Maybe I’m crazy. Fortunately I don’t care what others think in this regard because for me, time spent alone with myself is therapeutic, enlightening, and fun….which reminds me, I have a great joke to tell myself later…. it’ll kill me, and myself, and I….all three of us’ll really crack up!

Me myself and I