Under the weather

It started Sunday night after family and friends had departed. Sneezing, non-stop, congestion. By Monday morning I knew. I had a cold, again!

I hate getting sick because it turns my busy schedule on its head. Juggling, rearranging, learning flexibility all over again. Ugh! What makes it worse this time is the fact that I’m leaving on Friday (tomorrow) for Portland for my grandson’s first birthday!

I awoke yesterday thinking, “I’m under the weather.” I started wondering where that expression came from. Do you know? It’s actually a maritime phrase. When sailors became ill, (usually seasick), they were ordered to go below deck and therefore below the weather. Down below, the rolling of the ship would be felt less than up on deck. They were said to be “under the weather.”

Besides “under the weather” there were other interesting idioms I looked up.

1) “Under the table” – Hidden, secret, often illegal. Something that is under the table is hidden from sight. The expression, “I drank him under the table” means that the other person got so drunk that they fell off their chair and landed under the table.

2) “Under one’s breath” – First recorded in 1832, probably a hyperbole, alluding to a sound that is softer than breathing.

3) “Under one’s belt” – Experienced or achieved. This metaphoric expression likens food that has been consumed to an experience that has been digested. (First half of the 1800s)

4) “Under my thumb” – Controlled or dominated by someone. Mid 1700s. The allusion was to a protagonist so powerful and a victim so insignificant that even the former’s thumb was strong enough to control them.

Interesting, right? And so I remain “under the weather”, hopefully better by tomorrow. :))

p.s. My blog for next week will be delayed a few days as I will be out of town! Stay tuned!



I was driving home from the barn the other day when I saw a sign posted on a fence that read, “Potentially dangerous.” I have no idea what it was referring to. I could see nothing in the area that would warrant such a sign, but there it was, warning us of something.

It started me thinking about the word “potential”. It’s a good word. A word that I would put in the same basket as “hopeful”, “possible”, “maybe”, “could be.”  The opposite of course would be words like “guaranteed”, “definite”, “absolute”, “forgone conclusion” or “done deal.” I prefer potential.

Webster defines potential as: “Existing in possibility, capable of development into actuality; expressing possibility.”  I like that. Isn’t it nice to think of something as “expressing possibility?” I love the word “hope.” Don’t tell me “no” or “it can’t be done” or “it won’t happen.”  I will cling to “hope” every time.

If we are listening to a doctor tell us the prognosis for a loved one or for ourselves, we don’t want to hear that the situation is without hope. We want to hear, even if it is a mere 10% chance, that a good outcome may prevail. Humans need hope.

Potential means that something or someone has the ability to become something more, something better than it already is. Your athletic child could potentially become a professional football player,  tennis player or golf pro. If our scientists keep getting funded, they could potentially cure cancer one day. If I stick to my training, I have the potential of winning blue ribbons on my horse in a dressage show. So many wonderful ways to play with the word “potential”.

There is a negative side to the word. Things can get potentially worse, “potentially dangerous”, as the sign read. But that isn’t a guarantee. It may not. And sometimes, it means things could go either way, potentially good or potentially bad, like when a man asks out a woman for the first time. She could say “yes” (potentially good) or “no” (potentially bad).  But remember that “good” and “bad” are our own judgements of situations. Maybe a “no” from this woman could lead him to the love of his life!

Here’s another wrench I’m going to throw into the discussion. When it comes to things like a doctor’s prognosis, if you are a believer, you know that God overrides all. A doctor gives you his best guess based on his knowledge and experience. God creates what we humans refer to as miracles, only because we have limited knowledge of what God is capable of. For God, miracles are everyday events. Doctors are human and therefore limited. God is all powerful. I choose to go with Him when it comes to such serious matters as my health.

Potential is a good word. It brings possibility with it. And for a brief while, you can see the outcome as positive, knowing that it could go either way, but nevertheless, believing in the good. Believing, that’s a topic for another day. :))


This word popped into my head yesterday. I have no idea why except that perhaps I was supposed to write about it. I love this word. I love it because it has many layers and a profound meaning. It is not a casual word. It is not a mundane word. It is a substantial word.  Once you have endured, you are that much stronger for having known it.

The definitions I found were: 1) To suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently.  Synonyms listed were undergo, go through, live through. 2) To remain in existence, to last. Synonyms: survive, persevere, remain, stay.

To suffer something painful or difficult and to do it patiently. How do you do that? It takes great strength and faith. What do you do during a difficult or painful time if you decide not to endure it?  Are you suffering impatiently? Are you ranting and raving at your condition? Are you angry with God (I was), at least temporarily, for dropping this miserable situation in your lap? Sadly some people simply do not believe they can endure and so they make the decision not to. They take their own lives. They choose not to endure.

I don’t think we are supposed to endure hardships without acknowledging their inherent difficulty. I think having an occasional pity party is fine, even healthy. But when the party is over, you must go home. Feeling sorry for yourself for short periods of time is acceptable. We are humans, after all, and have feelings. Trying to ignore your feelings can be disastrous and even crazy making.

When I think back to my two biggest endurance tests I think of my marriage during our time in Iran. (Read my book, “For Dear Life” for full disclosure). It was falling apart under the most stressful and miserable circumstances, all of which were self-created. I endured that emotional pain for two years and then when the marriage finally ended I endured the challenges and stresses of single parenthood until I felt competent enough to handle it. As I said, it was a misery of my own making. But endurance is endurance, whether you put yourself there or not. It still hurts, a lot.

My second period of endurance was when my horse was in the hospital for ten days and I would go every day to visit her, hoping for a miracle that never came. When I had to put her down I was angry with God for allowing me to be in that position, a position I tried to bargain with him against. It felt like he wasn’t listening. It was an awful time which I lived through and have finally come out of into a much better place. Endurance has left my house for the time being.

How we get through our own pain and suffering will evolve as we get older and wiser. As little children it is unbearable and we fight against it, believing that it will make things better. Of course it only makes things worse. As a teenage girl my pain and suffering became opportunities for drama. When I think back to those years it is interesting to me that one of the biggest times that called for endurance was my parents’ divorce. I handled it very well, perhaps too well. I think I repressed the feelings and soldiered on because I didn’t want to deal with it. Breakups with boyfriends, however, were full of endurance tests for me. Ah, youth…

Enduring is how we get through the hard times. When combined with faith and trust, it can be an opportunity for growth and its sibling wisdom. It changes you. It molds you so that you are a little bit different than you were before.

Be patient with yourself as you endure. Be hopeful that all will be well again. (Do you see a pattern here?)

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Endure, a wonderful word to contemplate and even, perhaps, to experience.

Perception vs Attitude – What is the difference?

I decided it was time to think about two more words that are close in meaning but different. I think they are so close in meaning that people often use them interchangeably. Those words are “attitude” and “perception”. After thinking about these words for a long time, I came up with the following. Wait, I should be more scientific and give you Webster’s version first. Attitude: “a mental position with regard to a fact or state; a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state; a position assumed for a specific purpose (e.g. threatening)”. Perception: “a mental image, concept; physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience; consciousness”. Does that help? If you are like me, the answer would be – not much.

Webster aside, here is what I came up with on my own, which is not remotely scientific but based solely on what my mind and experience are telling me. Feel free to share your thoughts. Perception to me is how I see things. It could be objective, as in I perceive this to be a rainy day. Or it could be subjective, I perceive this to be a lousy day due to the weather. But it all boils down to how I see the world. My attitude is reflected in my behavior, i.e., because I perceive it to be a lousy day, I am going to complain to anyone who will listen. So is perception what you see through your own personal glasses (unlike anyone else’s) and attitude is how you react to your perception and show the world what you think about what you have seen?

Certain employees are often told that they have a bad attitude at work. To me that means that they go around complaining about their job, their tasks or the hours they are working. This is because they perceive their jobs to be unfair, overly taxing, burdensome, etc. Does that make sense? Perception comes first, and then the attitude, or behavior based on the perception, comes later.

I often tell myself that perception is everything. I believe that is a direct quote from my book. Remember the story of the four or five blind men who were touching an elephant for the first time? Depending on where their hands went, they each perceived a different animal. I say that life is like that. Because of our own individual brains and experiences in life, we see things differently. When I lived in Portland, Oregon (where it rains a lot), I perceived the rain coming down as a potential disaster. Our basement flooded almost every time we had heavy rain. I would be in bed in the middle of the night and if I heard it rain I would get a sick feeling in my stomach. I perceived the rain as “bad”. My attitude about the rain led me to go down into the basement in the middle of the night to check and see if the water was coming in through the small window over the washing machine, or through cracks in the walls. Perception – rain bad, dangerous. Attitude – I must save my house!

When we moved back to Southern California and flooding basements were left behind, I loved the rain! Rain was not a cause to panic or stress any longer. My attitude went from survival mode to relaxing to the sound of it outside my window.

How you perceive your world at any given time is very, very important. It is vital to a happy life. If you perceive someone is out to get you, your attitude will reflect that and you will behave accordingly. If you perceive life as your friend, your attitude will be more positive and your behavior will bring joy to those around you.

Perception leads to attitude which effects behavior which creates either a joyful life or a life of misery. Again, we are at choice. So much control over our own lives. Do you see a theme here?



Before my most recent birthday (we’re talking last month), my older son asked me what kind of gift would make me giddy.  He was of course trying to figure out what to get me and wanted to make sure that whatever it was I would be pleased.  It struck me that the word “giddy” is not only seldom heard anymore but seldom thought of!  What a great descriptive word it is.  “Giddy” – When I hear it I think of a young woman who has just experienced her first kiss.  It left her feeling giddy.  

Webster’s primary definition of the word is “lightheartedly silly” or “frivolous”.  Lightheartedly silly – what a wonderful way to be.  Children are lightheartedly silly creatures most of the time.  It’s in their job description.  We, as adults, can choose to be that way if we can rid our minds of all the adult chatter, the worries and stresses of our busy lives. Not an easy task but not impossible either, in small segments of time.

“A blender”, I told him.  “But it would cost too much money.  Earrings would be fine.  I would love earrings.”  How could I be giddy about a blender, you ask?  Have you ever watched “Chopped”?  It has changed my mind about food and cooking forever.  Who knew there were so many spices and sauces and ways to prepare food?  I have a wonderful red KitchenAid mixer my husband bought me for Christmas two years ago.  It is safely tucked away in a cupboard, never used.  It intimates me.  What do I put into it?  I promised him that this year I would take it out of the cupboard and use it to make something for him.  He was thrilled.

So, what did my son end up getting me for my birthday?  A red, KitchenAid blender!  He guessed at the color and the brand (what luck!).  And you know what?  When I saw it, I was positively giddy!


 pic of blender 2