City Girl In The Country – With Ticks!

deer_tick_1I’ve come a long way since my first experience with a tick.  There’s no more screaming or thrashing or hyperventilating.  But as I discovered today, I still can’t claim dominion over my faculties when the little buggers are stuck on ME.

I thought I was handling myself well when, while showering at the gym, I found three ticks inhabiting a sensitive region of my body.  Devoid of tweezers, and unwilling to wait the several hours until I returned home, I threw myself together and headed for the drugstore.  Friend happened to call in the process and commented that I was handling myself surprisingly well.  She couldn’t see how fast I was driving.  Anxiety was building.  But I patted myself on the back anyway.  Not bad for a city girl, I thought.

Perhaps the cosmetics cashier wondered what kind of diva runs through CVS on an emergency tweezer purchase, ripping through the packaging on her way to the car.  But she could not have been as perplexed as the woman who watched me peel out of one parking spot near the entrance of the store to a different spot at the far end.  You know, the spots where the employees park and LEAVE THEIR CARS for the day.

Frantic to remove the invading ticks, I dropped my pants and began plucking.  When all three were tossed out the window, I performed another thorough scan of the nether regions of my body to make sure I hadn’t missed any.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I glanced up at the car beside me and saw a man, cup of coffee in hand, jaw dropped and eyes wide.  I froze briefly, matching the surprise on his face.

Contemplating my next move while putting myself back together, I smiled sheepishly and considered introducing myself.  He had just seen me half-naked after all.  Instead, I opted for a casual shoulder shrug and a wave.  Whatever.  I had ticks!

Off I drove to meet husband so we could exchange cars.  Still not convinced that I was tick-free, I asked husband to check my backside.  He refused, siting our location as too public.  Newly desensitized to potential onlookers, I insisted and threw myself prostrate into the back seat of the car with my shirt up.

Alarmed at my lack of decorum, husband tried appeasing me with a perfunctory exam lasting all of one second.  “You’re fine.” He declared.  “I’ll do a check when we get home.”

Are you kidding?  A tick could be infusing me with Lyme Disease by then!  Despite my begging, husband stood firm, which left me thinking….Had this happened in young adulthood, husband would not have hesitated when his wife threw herself in the backseat asking for a bodily examination.  Just sayin’.

A few hours after parting ways, husband phoned in a bit of a huff to report that he had picked up a friend of mine – a hitchhiker.  Excuse me?  A little fellow, he explained.  Tiny, black, crawling up my arm.  Husband detailed a rather frantic encounter with a tick as he tried to remove it while driving on the highway.

Oh, I see.  So you, country boy, had to remove a tick immediately, without even stopping the car, for fear of its consequences.  But when your wife has ticks embedded in her, you tell her to calm down.

Husband reverted to an accusatory defense strategy – something about sabotage and planting ticks in the car.  I admitted to dropping one of the ticks on its way out the window, but let’s not lose sight of the real issue.  Country Boy is a fraud.  Chalk one up for City Girl.

Getting Noticed

trophyIt’s awards season at school and not every child is receiving an award.  This is great news for families with high achievers but not so great for the remainder.  Or is it?

Sure, it’s fun to be on top, to be part of that crowd, to be selected.  We want to be recognized and appreciated, deserving or not.  When we’re overlooked, it can be deflating, as if our ‘doing’ wasn’t enough.  The problem is that the not doing enough feels more like not being enough, which is a slippery slope to travel.

Winning can be treacherous.  It’s addictive, like caffeine.  If we become praise-dependent, we are in danger when the winning ends, (as it eventually will) because the high goes with it and takes a chunk of self-image along for the ride.  We recover,yes, but do we ever stop seeking the reward?  If you love coffee, do you ever stop being wistful when you smell that aroma?

We humans enjoy praise and approval.  Sometimes, a simple pat on the back is all we need to stay motivated.  How many times have you heard a person complain about being unappreciated by a boss or a spouse?  A little recognition goes a long way.  The problem is, there’s no guarantee in life that you’ll be given due accolades.  The truth is, it’s no one’s job to approve of us – except us.

When Principessa lamented that she had been passed over for an award which she felt she had earned, her perception was one of bewilderment and frustration.  “What do I have to do to get noticed?”  Therein lies the problem.  When the self-satisfaction in a job well-done is dependent on recognition, we suffer.

“Go ahead,” I advised.  “If you want a ‘doing’ award, then DO.”  Do the parlor tricks where you hit a ball 90 mph or block the most goals, or get the highest test grades.  Practice as hard as you can.  Stay up late studying.  Worry yourself silly.  Pile your efforts on top of your talent and go for it.  Teachers and coaches will notice you with a certificate and a handshake.  You may even get a scholarship, which will make your parents extra happy.  But none of these things guarantees your success.  You may have more choices for college; colleges like people who achieve on paper and in the field.  It’s a bonus if you end up being a good kid too.  But these admirers can’t promise you happiness, or even a good career.

There will be no awards for most mature teen.  If there were, you would win.  There is no prize money for most honest and loyal.  You’d win those, too.  Heck, I could list a hundred things you do ‘better’ than your peers.  But the point is not to feel better than.  Your job, my dear teen, is to figure yourself out – how you want to contribute to the world and who you want to be. If you never win an award in the process, smile and say thank you for the not noticing.  While all eyes are looking in the other direction, you are working on humbleness and self-motivation. Without the complication of external feedback, you are free to explore yourself and develop your own unique purpose that is not dependent on another’s opinion.

You don’t need people telling you you’re doing a good job at life.  There is no such thing.  There is no good life or bad life.  There is only life, full of limitless potential.  What you do with that potential is your choice.  What others think of your choices -the way they do or don’t take notice – is their business.

Principessa, I admire you.  I don’t tell you all the time because I don’t want you to rely on my admiration.  My words are of better use in helping you find what will sustain you for the long haul.  My job is to nurture your passions and  help you discover the greatness  in yourself, for yourself.  Because when all the award ceremonies are over, you still have to live with you, even when no one is watching.

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