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Jerk o’ the Week: Woeful William

woeful william common jerk

The following is an excerpt from the Little Book of Big Jerks to give you a sneak peek at the types of jerks you’ll meet inside the guide to dealing with difficult people.

Woeful William

Just like everything King Midas touched turn to gold, everything Woeful William touches turns to, well, crap. This guy is a magnet for really bad luck.

His roof leaks. His car stalls. His pants rip. His cat hates him. At one time you actually had sympathy for the chap until you read somewhere that people with woeful outlooks actually cause their own bad luck. Now you just feel like shaking him.

3 Giveaway Traits:

  • Inspired a record number of sad country songs
  • Has had a long lineup of pets that hated him, died tragically, or both
  • Always has an empty chair on either side of him at group lunches and dinners

How to Deal:

Leave at least two empty chairs between yourself and him.

How Else to Deal:

Check out the cool jerk-fighting tools in the Little Book of Big Jerks. Real-life solutions for dealing with real-life jerks.

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The Four Agreements: What Happens when They Go Wrong (Part 2)

four agreements metal sign

There is no law that makes people follow the four agreements. There doesn’t need to be. The personal anguish we feel when we decide to ignore these dandy guidelines for living is typically penalty enough.

As a refresher, The Four Agreements are outlined in a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. And those agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Never take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

We already looked at what happens when the first two agreement go wrong in a previous post. Now it’s time to tackle the second set. Ready?

don't make assumptions

Don’t Make Assumptions

Yeah, we know. Making assumptions makes an ASS of U and Me. But some of us do it anyway. And although the pithy little phrase is amusing, the outcome is usually not. An assumption is filling in the blanks, or making up a truth when we’re not sure what the actual truth may be.

Making assumptions is along the same lines as having expectations. When we assume or expect something will go a certain way, and then it doesn’t, we end up annoyed, enraged, or downright devastated. One of my favorite sayings reminds us: Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

Example of Third Agreement Gone Wrong

An organization asked if I’d like to cover and event to write up a story for their publication. Heck yes, said I, assuming the daylong assignment would give me a hefty day’s pay. The event was, after all, three hours long, involved a three-hour round-trip drive, involved taking tons of notes and spending another three hours writing up an article in all its detailed glory.

Nine hours of work should bring in a pretty good check, thought I, something like $500 with gas money and other travel expenses. Man, I could even cut back on other work for the rest of the week, perhaps take an extra day off or buy a new pair of boots!

I submitted the article with glee. They sent me a check for $100.

The work was done and the pay was non-negotiable. Had I asked about the final rate, instead of assuming it was what I wanted it to be, the story would have had an entirely different outcome. For starters, I wouldn’t have accepted the gig to write it.

fourth agreement do your best

Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Although this agreement may look pretty simple at a glance, it can actually be one of the tougher ones. That’s because it’s easy to make excuses to skip it.

We can pretend any of our half-baked efforts are the best we can do at any given time, even when we know in our souls that’s not true. We also tend to rush through things we find menial or annoying just to get them done.

Doing a crummy job on any task is going to leave you feeling crummy yourself. Trust me. Whether you’re performing brain surgery or washing a fork, always doing your best will always be worth it. This reminds me of another spot-on saying: How you do anything is how you do everything.

Example of Fourth Agreement Gone Wrong

Alas, the example of the fourth agreement gone wrong contains yet another work incident. You’d think all I do is sit around and work.

In any event, this situation arose in a past job where I was tasked with putting labels and stamps on Christmas cards to send out to the hundred or so clients.

“What crap,” I thought, “a waste of my skills. A blind monkey could do this.” I then grumbled along, slapping a label here, pasting a stamp there, and dribbling coffee here, there and everywhere in my haste to finish this seemingly crappy task as quickly as possible.

When I was done, the pile of cards looked horrible. The blind monkey who could have done the task could have certainly done it better.

Labels and stamps were all crooked and smudged. Envelope corners were bent and speckled with coffee. This outcome was not my best. It was probably one of my worst. My boss wasn’t happy. I felt rotten, mainly because my haughty attitude and actions ended up disappointing one of the best bosses I ever did have.

Even though the task appeared to be a rather minor one, it needed to be done precisely as it reflected on the entire image of the company sending the cards. Yes, many of the cards needed to be redone, although I truly did my best the second time around.

Following the four agreements cannot only save you time and heartache, but it can likewise help ensure you don’t drive 300 miles for measly pay, disappoint your favorite boss, or end up losing your job to a blind monkey who can do your work better than you do.

Want to keep the four agreements top of mind? Check out Four Agreement art.

four agreements art

 

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Art Therapy Project: SATISFACTION

satisfaction cat art therapy

When the topic of SATISFACTION was proposed for our art therapy project, my mind immediately hopped to the Cheshire cat with his infamous grin. So I knew I had to create a cat.

  • Topic: Satisfaction
  • Result: Satisfaction cat made of pen, ink, glitter glue and paint on canvas. Note the illustrations within the cat’s body that depict different things that bring me satisfaction.

Artist comments:

While the Cheshire cat was definitely the primary motivator for creating a cat for the topic of satisfaction, he wasn’t the only one. Cats in general kept coming to mind with this topic. Not only is cat art fun to create, but felines frequently look very satisfied with themselves. Maybe it’s because they:

  • Sleep 18 hours a day
  • Do what they want, when they want
  • Ignore or even shun people yet still get love and attention
  • Can jump extraordinary distances
  • Always manage to land on their feet
  • Are thought to have magical, mystical, supernatural powers
  • Have nine different lives to play around with

Dang good reasons to be satisfied.

The topic also made me think of a cat perched high in the cat bird seat, next to an open bird cage, with the kind of contented grin one can only get from eating the resident bird.

I didn’t want to use the idea of eating small feathered things as the only way to be satisfied, so I let that last thought flutter out of my head altogether.

My final project result was a non-bird-eating Satisfaction Cat, featuring a rosy pink, glittery outlook, a collage of images representing things that bring me satisfaction, and a sensationally satisfied smile.

Enjoy!

satisfaction cat art therapy
Things that bring satisfaction:: Hummingbird, sunshine
satisfaction cat art therapy
Things that bring satisfaction: Planets, pulling out a splinter
satisfaction cat art therapy
Things that bring satisfaction: Flowers, garden, hugs, purple swirls from Biomat energy, headstand on a paddle board
satisfaction cat art therapy
Things that bring satisfaction: Love, dogs, lifting weights, naps, making money, LOL-ing, phone calls with mom, job well done

Dig the satisfaction cat? Check out more fun felines and other animals at rynski’s etsy shop.

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3 Tips to Survive Awkward Parties

awkward party

The idea of a party can sound like fun. But you get there and feel like a sore thumb. Being charming and keen in social situations doesn’t come easily for many folks. Even just being in social situations can fill some with fear. Rather than hiding under the hors d’oeuvres table feeling awkward, use these three tips to sail through the fete.

Be of Service

No, you don’t have to go scrub toilets or dust the chandelier. But you can look around to see if there’s anything you can do to help someone else. Perhaps the host needs help bringing up extra chairs from the basement. Or the party guest with three toddlers needs a hand getting to the table without spilling all her guacamole on the carpet.

Any little thing you do to help someone else not only feels good, but it performs the magical achievement of focusing your attention on something other than your own whirling sore-thumb thoughts.

Find a Kindred Spirit

Scope out the room to find someone who appears to have something in common with you. Then head on over and bond. Choices can include someone who:

  • Has the same bright red hair color
  • Wears funky glasses
  • Is donning a shirt or hat from your favorite sports team
  • Looks even more uncomfortable than you are

The last choice is consistently a sure bet, especially if you kick off the conversation with the simple truth about how awkward or uncomfortable you feel. You may just make a new best friend for life.

Remember the Self-Absorption Rule

One of the reasons you may feel awkward is because you fear you may say or do something stupid that will haunt you for the rest of your adult life. Stop it right there. You can free yourself from the fear by recalling the self-absorption rule.

The self-absorption rule confirms that 87.3 percent of people are generally so self-absorbed and caught in their own spinning thoughts that they wouldn’t even notice if you said or did something stupid – or frankly, anything at all.

The other 12.7 percent? Well, they’re probably drinking and wouldn’t remember any stupid antics either. That leaves you totally clear and free to dance naked with that lampshade on your head!

Seriously, though, these three tips can help immensely when in an awkward social setting, even with your clothes on. I know because I use them myself. And if all else fails or the tips seem too tough, I have one more fallback that works to get through awkward parties every time. Just start playing with the dog, kids or cat.

Wondering how to deal with other situations, like encountering jerks? Get 12 terrific lifesaving tips from rynski’s Little Book of Big Jerks.

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Dos and Don’ts for Painting Your Bathtub

paint bathtub

Bathtubs and shower areas are supposed to be places where you get squeaky clean. When they’re streaked with water stains, corrosion, and weird brown filth that only seem to get darker the more you scrub, it’s high time to do something about it.

Unless you have the cash to pay for a new whirlpool tub its hefty installation, that something involves painting the bathtub and shower area. I did it myself with pretty amazing results, so I’m sharing some dandy dos and don’ts.

Don’t pick the same bland color (aka white). Repainting your bathtub and shower area gives you a chance to pick a groovy color that makes your tub a showpiece. I went with battleship grey and black.

Do get the right kind of coating. Crayola markers won’t cut it. The same holds true for indoor spray paint, outdoor spray paint or basically anything not specifically designed for a constant flow of water, shampoo, soap scum and dirty feet.

Research led me to KlassKote, which is some incredibly heavy duty stuff. It’s a waterproof epoxy paint that can stick to basically any surface as long as you prepare the surface properly.

Don’t skimp on properly preparing the surface. If the stuff doesn’t stick, you’ll just have to do it over. Nobody wants that. Proper preparation involves filling in missing or rotting caulk, scrub-a-dubbing off existing soap scum, sanding all surfaces, wiping off the sanding dust, and applying a coat of epoxy thinner that smells like the bowels of hell.

Do wear a chemical mask. I skipped this step, a very big error. My fault, not the company’s, as it does have a clear warning (I read after I nearly passed out twice from the fumes and bowels-of-hell smell from both the thinner and the epoxy paint).

Don’t expect a good shower, or any shower, for at least four days. It takes the stuff at least four days to fully cure in temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees. If your house is cooler, expect to wait at least a week.

Do make good friends with the YMCA front desk people down the street in the hopes they’ll let you take a free shower.

Don’t arrive at the YMCA without the $10 for the daily guest pass they’ll make you buy to take a shower.

Do replace the hardware. No use in perking up your bathtub and shower with new paint if you’re just going to put the same old corroded faucet, handle and shower head.

Don’t expect all faucet systems to be created equal. Unless you purchase the same brand as your existing hardware, it’s likely the installation will require ripping open part of the wall to install new valves and pipe fittings.

Do keep your receipts. That way you can return the new brand when it doesn’t fit and use the money to buy the same brand as your existing hardware.

Don’t try to put on the new faucet when you’re tired, cranky and fed up with life. It will result in a tantrum when the faucet shoots off and creates a fat ding in your brand-new, epoxied tub.

Do keep extra epoxy so you can fix up dings when needed. Store it in a temperature-controlled environment, like the hall closet instead of the garage or outdoor shed. Otherwise it may blow up and create bowels-of-hell stench and fumes throughout the entire neighborhood. (I DID heed the warning on that one.)

bathtub before painting
Bathtub before painting. Yuck.
bathtub after painting
Bathtub after painting. Yum.
bathtub before painting
Bathtub before painting, putrid bottom and drain.
bathtub after painting
Bathtub after painting, sensational bottom and drain (especially when I put the drain cover on after the photo).

You can complete the whole project in a few hours if you’re properly prepared. If you give it a whirl, let me know how it goes!

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