December 16th – “Fill your pockets with jellybeans and chocolate kisses and pass them out to everyone you meet. It’s all about sharing the love.”  

 

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One of the perks of having an office job is that when the holidays come around,  we have lots of edible goodies that arrive by mail! Every year, we get boxes filled with chocolate, truffles, candy, fruit, cake, cookies, wine, cheese, and other wonderful treats.

Yesterday, I had a mini bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes and they were heavenly! It’s really one of the moistest cakes I’ve ever had. I’m sure that there are preservatives in it, but I couldn’t taste any of the weird artificial stuff most pastries have.

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I didn’t have pockets full of jellybeans or chocolate kisses to give to my friend, so I STOLE this treat from my office. Yup, not only do I lie, I also steal!

I could justify my actions by telling you that the cake was probably going to go into the trash at the end of the day because my coworkers don’t over indulge in desserts like I do, but it’s not necessary. I could also make an excuse that I’m simply trying to follow my horoscope, but that isn’t true either.

I wanted to bring joy into someone else’s day. I thought that the cake was so delicious that it would be a shame not to share it with my friend. That was good enough reason for me. I don’t think that stealing automatically makes me a bad or unethical.

My small act of theft reminded me of a documentary. Shanghai Ghetto is about Holocaust survivors who fled to Shanghai during WWII. One of the most poignant interviews came from a woman who recalled a Chinese kid stealing food from her family. At that time there were many Chinese locals who were even poorer than the Jewish immigrants. There was no judgment or anger about the situation. Her mother simply explained to her that that kid must have needed the food more than they did.  He wasn’t a bad kid.

While it’s easy to see the world in absolute rights and wrongs , or “shoulds” and “should nots” as I like to call them, there are many gray areas. We each use our experiences, judgments, and feelings to figure out how to interpret those gray areas.

Over the years, I’ve let go of a lot of shoulds and shoulds nots.  The less I see things in absolute terms, the better I feel. Don’t get me wrong, I still have strong beliefs about many things. I just don’t get hung up on the little things anymore. It frees up my time to tend to the important stuff.

In my book, stealing cake for a friend is small stuff. Bringing joy to someone’s day is the big stuff.

October 15th and 16th (Part 1)- “Better plan to work this weekend”

Fall finally arrived in the form of dark clouds, gusty winds, and pouring rain – the perfect time to stay in and do some reading (or, in my case, work).

My cat philosophy book is en route from Amazon, so I went to the library. I had plans to pick up two books which were recommended by my friend, but there were no copies available. I ended up in the “new” section and picked up a mini James Patterson book called Little Black Dress. I had never read a Patterson book before, so I thought, “Why not?”

The book was terrible! I thought that I would be able to relate to the main character, Jane Avery, who was advertised on the back cover as “spend[ding] her nights alone with Netflix and Oreos.” Had I bothered to read the first line at the library, I would NOT have taken this book home. It started with, “I spotted it on the Bergdorf sale rack.”

Despite my inability to care about the unintentionally pretentious character in the story, I finished the entire book. I kept going partly because I had nothing else to read, but mostly because I hoped the story would somehow redeem itself. I don’t like seeing people fail (especially when watching theatre), so I have a habit of sticking it through to the bitter end. I’m sure Little Black Dress isn’t representative of James Patterson’s entire body of literature, but it will be a while before I pick up another one of his works.

What I learned: If I want change, I need to let go of bad habits. When my gut tells me that something isn’t working, it’s probably a good idea to abandon ship! I can often get sentimental and attached to a thing/person/idea, but my feelings rarely have any power in altering the situation. I sure had magical thinking when I thought that hoping that the book would get better would actually make it better!

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sleepingbearAfter my hour and half of cringing through Little Black Dress, I read the first few pages of Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden on Google books. It was amazing! Here’s a short sample:

Hallie stopped. Her breathing was quick. Her choice was to go back in to the snow and die with Harry, or live beside the slumbering bear to warm their nearly frozen bodies. She chose the latter. The big bear seemed dead and even thought it snuffled. It didn’t move and its eyes were closed. Alongside were two cubs, one dead, the other alive and nursing.

I felt so engaged and alive reading The Red Garden. It was easy, enjoyable, and it immediately healed my self-inflicted wounds from Little Black Dress. I can’t wait to read the rest! Thank you for the recommendation, River!

What I learned: Sometimes it is hard to see how bad something is for me until I stop doing it. I hadn’t realized that Little Black Dress was causing me so much pain until I experienced joy when reading The Red Garden. I had truly forgotten how fun reading fiction could be!