Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: positive outlook

Trumped – A Pinochle Tale

When I ask people if they play pinochle, most say no. They’ve heard about it, maybe seen it in a movie before, but they don’t play.

Does anyone play cards anymore?

We used to, especially when the boys were racing dirt bikes. There were many nights spent at the table in the camper playing cards. Now that we’re four independent adults at home, it’s a rare occasion that we can play. With college, jobs, dates, and home projects, we just don’t have the time. Lately, we’ve taken up playing pool instead. The game is shorter, and we don’t all have to be ready to play at the same time.

The word “trumped” is such a visual for me. Whatever you are doing, when it seems everything is going against you, you’re about to lose the whole thing, and then BAM, trump card.

You don’t know what a trump card is? Well, let me explain.

Without getting into all the nitty-gritty details, one player in each round of pinochle picks the trump suit and those cards beat all the others. You want to pick the suit that you have the most of, naturally. Then as the other players lay their cards down, K, 10, A…you’re turn comes up and you can’t beat those cards, so you throw down your trump card and you win the trick. It’s vital that you drop that sweet card dramatically and then, with a flourish, sweep the cards to your pile in triumph. I think it’s a rule.

Games are just mini-non-binding versions of real life, pinochle included. You usually play with a partner. There is the whole game and there are rounds within it. You can be winning several rounds and then lose the whole game and vice versa. Sometimes you get crappy cards dealt and you have to do the best you can that round. A good partner that knows the rules and has predictable patterns of playing is a plus. And then there’s the trump card, that card that gets you out of a jam. Hopefully, you have more than one!

What’s my trump card in life?

It depends on the situation, I suppose. When I was a kid, it was my brother. Bored, nothing to do? Can’t go to the park alone? Need someone to ask a question at the store? There was my brother! Problem solved. I win the trick.

And then there’s when someone trumps you. There you are, humming along, all your ducks in a row, and then someone trumps you and you lose the round. Once I was dating a guy I worked with and thought I had it made. He was tall, amazingly handsome, super fun to be around. I mean, he had a car of his own! A card gets slapped down out of nowhere…he dumps me for a roller-skating snowflake in the Christmas Parade. Trumped.

These days my trump card is my short attention span. It used to drive me crazy that I couldn’t focus on one thing for very long, but over the past few years, I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. When there’s just too much to think about or something big and scary looms ahead, I can feel overwhelmed with panic and worry. But then something always comes along to distract me; the dishes need to be done, my son needs help with a term paper, there’s roadrunner in the front yard, and my brain is on to something else. I trump your stress with my short attention span! Win!

The key to winning this game is knowing what your cards are and how to use them. Yes, Kenny Rogers was right. “You got to know when to hold ‘em.” We’re dealt one hand when we’re born, one as we grow up, another as we become adults, and on and on throughout our lives, one round after another. With each hand, we organize and use our cards as best we can to win as many tricks as possible, rack up the points, and move on to the next round.

Eventually, we come to the end of the game and, unlike a game of cards, no one really wins in life. We only play well or play badly. We can enjoy the game, the camaraderie, the snacks and drinks while we play whether we’re winning or not. Or we can grumble and complain about the poor hand we were dealt and our partner’s lack of focus. Both attitudes get us to the end of the game, but only one makes for a pleasant experience.

What’s your trump card?

There are too Many Experiences out There!


Photo by Eli Francis on Unsplash

“There are too many books in this world to waste precious time reading ones we don’t enjoy.”

A reader posted a meme about someone saying they didn’t like a book (acceptable) but they didn’t finish it (unacceptable). I think that’s ridiculous. Reading is supposed to bring us joy or information. If I’m not enjoying the book, I rarely get much information from it. And so…it’s a waste of the precious time on this earth that we are given to continue.

Now, there are books that moved a little slow for my taste at first or the subject didn’t quite hold on to me, but I kept at them because the writing was good and I wanted to give it a fair shake. Those books ended up being great for the most part. If I have to force myself to keep reading or don’t have the urge to keep reading the next chapter, I put that book down. It may not even be a bad book. It just isn’t for me.

You know what’s strange? The same goes for the rest of life. If it doesn’t bring you positives, let it go. There are so many experiences in this world and we have so little time on this planet. Why would we waste that precious time on things that aren’t serving us? Sure, there are things we have to do, things we need to do to survive or to take care of our loved ones, but if we do them from the right frame of mind, they end up being positives as well and worth doing. Why would we deliberately choose to stay in a situation, a job, a relationship, anything, that brings absolutely no joy to ourselves or someone we cherish? Just put the book down.

How about we all practice taking responsibility for our own happiness for a change? If you’re unhappy, unsatisfied, unfulfilled, change something. Change the process. Change your surroundings. Change the direction. Change your attitude. Take back the control of your own life instead of just floating along with the flow.

Start with the book you’re reading. Just like each book is not for everyone, each life choice is not for everyone. Do what you love. Be where you love. Accept responsibility for your own life choices. Go for it.

Want Social Media Fixed? Share Only Love Instead

Little flowers shared to social media.
It’s the little things.

Is there a way each of us can “fix” social media? I think so. What if we started using it to share more of what’s awesome in our world?

“Be brave,” says my spirit.
“Wait,” says fear.
“Have courage,” says my soul.
“Not yet,” says worry.
“Dare,” says my heart.

-Rachel Marie Martin

All of this and more, it speaks to me on so many levels. Thinking about writing, relationships, and my own self-expression, I’m sitting here on a Monday morning, trying to think of something positive to add into the world. I can think of several, but I’m afraid the negativity is sucking me down. I want to write about THAT! I want to say what’s on my heart, but at the same time I don’t want to feed the monster.

There are two big things on my heart this morning. The first of which is news media. Why do we keep watching these people, the vultures of all the ugliest parts of our world? They feed off our despair, our pain, and then feed it back to us as if they are doing some good for the world.

“The people have a right to know!” and “Freedom of the press!” is what I hear, but what I see is a group of people getting in the way, clamoring for a good view, and speculating to the world about the disaster that has just happened, spreading fear and terror to the masses.

Why? If something terrible is happening in another state, is there anything I can do at that moment to fix it? No. Is there something I should know to stay safe where I am at the moment, therefore needing the information? No.

The only reason they are on the tv is to get me to watch, to raise their ratings, and to sell advertising time. This is not news, it’s sensationalism for ratings. It’s making money off people’s fears and insecurities. It took me less than five minutes to be reminded of why I do not watch these so-called news channels.

The second thing is this idea of “stopping hate,” as if hate is what is driving people to hurt each other these days. Newsflash: People have always hated other people.

Do you know what’s worse than hate? Despair. We can hate another person and feel no need to take any action against them. But when we despair, when we feel there is no other way, that we have nothing to lose, we lash out in anger.

A person in despair acts out in many ways, all of which are prevalent these days. Some medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol, some do themselves harm in other ways, physically and mentally. Some “live for the day” and throw themselves into hedonism, following every desire hoping it will bring them momentary joy. And some commit violence against others. Like a child without the means to communicate his anguish, he decides he has no other choice but to hurt others the way he is hurting, and he’ll use any tool he can find.

How can we help? I can think of a simple way. Stop sharing it on your social media. I know we think we’re helping our cause by raising awareness, but we’re not. We’re only causing people to despair. Every time we point out another hopeless cause, every time we point out the cruelty, the injustice, the hate we find in the world and then blame it on someone else, we create more despair.

It’s hard not to do it. When I see how much one person is hurting another, or hear of one cause I believe if we only put our minds to we could fix, it’s hard not click “share” and show others in the hope they will join me against it. But that’s the problem. We’re all trying to get others to join us AGAINST something or someone.

What can I do to help? Spread hope. Spread joy. Share the highs. Share the love. There is so much in this world that is better than it has ever been. Why focus on what is not?

As I sat eating breakfast with my teenage son, discussing these feelings I have, the sadness I find in my social media feeds, he was baffled. His young friends and the pages he follows don’t seem to have this urge to share the negativity for the most part. It seems that’s an “old person” way to use the new technology. We have something to learn from our children.

A couple years ago, my sons taught me how to change my social media feed by unfollowing friends that only post the negative, and not liking and following news channels. I find my news in slower media forms, printed magazines and newspapers.

That simple change filled my social media feeds with positivity, science, religion, relationships, and writers I love. It’s been a wonderful change. I do still have a few friends that consistently share the ugliest of things. I love them but I have to tune them out for my own sanity.

And then, when something like this past weekend happens, even my most positive friends are shaken, and rightly so. That’s when I choose to put my phone down completely and let the dust settle. I don’t need to know the details as they happen. I don’t need the play by play, the body count changes, or the speculations as to why it happened.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It means I’ll wait until the event is over and read about it in a rational and complete way, one that doesn’t tear at my heart as if my own child is dying in my arms for days. Since I can’t control what others post, and I know it will hurt me for no useful reason, I put my phone down and I turn the tv off. I turn to my home, my family, my friends and my local community and live.

What if we all did that? The honest truth is that in this world, people are hurting each other and dying every single day, all over the world. It cannot be avoided. It cannot be worried and legislated away. The only thing that will make anything better is love.

Love those around you, love them unconditionally whether they “hate” or not. Don’t push more people into despair by shutting them out. Stop giving people more reasons to feel like they have no other choice but to fight. Love people even when they make bad choices, or choices you believe are wrong. Love people when they are angry and love them when they hate you.

Start creating joy around you. Start creating love. Start sharing love, unconditionally and in as many ways with as many people as you can. And you can start with your own social media feed!

Want to read more of my thoughts on the positive use of social media? I wrote “Will the Negative Effects of Social Media Destroy Civilization?” after I read “Ready Player Two.” Go check it out!

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