January PINK Article

“Is 2021 going to be the year of substitutions? No, No, No, A Thousand Times NO!” The Uphill Skater

My first job when I went back to work after I stayed at home with my children was as a substitute teacher. I absolutely hated it. It was the worst thing I had ever done. There are some things that you just can’t substitute and teachers are one of them. Either I fell in love with the class and had to leave right away or or I did not click with the class and the teacher was out weeks longer than expected. I couldn’t win. I feel the same way about many things that we call substitutes. It is not the real thing and that is a fact. Sometimes it works, but most of the time it just doesn’t.

In these days of Covid restrictions we are substituting going out to the movies with staying home watching Netflix. I guess we have to do this, but let’s take a shower first and get dressed. We should not be sitting in our jammies with popcorn butter dripping all over the blanket we are wrapped in and our house a mess. Take out and delivery are also big, and I get it that is necessary but again, are we eating out of the carton or pizza box in a sweat suit with bare feet and unwashed hair? And speaking of our living space, Covid experts say that dust and germs and bacteria go hand in hand. Clean your house and put up some decor. Have a life!

Pay It Forward. I have already started paying it forward in a big way, but believe me it is not easy. I have paid for the groceries of the lady behind me in line, bought coffee for the next person in the McDonalds drive through, and given a parking space that was clearly mine to a pushy guy in an SUV. Not easy, but boy, it actually evoked quite a feel good rush. I plan to continue to do this. Obviously I can’t buy everybody’s groceries on a long term basis, but I can always say a kind word, give a compliment, do a favor, call someone, and so on. I know you understand this, so get started yourself. Honestly, I can’t tell you what a moral booster this is.

Next, Let’s trade in grumpy for kind just like you would trade in that old car or a better new one. Use some emotional substitutions. How can that work? Well, how about this: smile when you really don’t feel like it. Try to interact with others in a positive way by stopping the negative talk that is so prevalent these days. Don’t watch things on TV that make you mad unless you are prepared to do something about it. (My husband saw something on the news the other day that made him furious and he started to tell me about in a furious way. No, No, No! I am not having it. I told him to write a letter and I’ll be darned if he didn’t do it. We both felt better for days!)

Being downhearted is a bummer. Some days we can’t help it, but we can head it off at the pass if we have a plan. Then, on those days, we can have a quick “go to” happy place. Have a book of happy quotes, keep a favorite old movie handy, know where to go for a lovely walk, give your dog a bath, play some music and just for fun, dance to it. I can’t believe I am saying this, but eat something. Often, nothing else will do. Don’t substitute a piece of celery for a brownie either. It doesn’t work like that and we all know it.

Finally, even in these times, do not substitute mediocre for great. Keep your chins up, all of them! Be your best self. Inside all of us is a truly kind and lovely person which is our true core self. If that is not your case, fake it and feel your spirit soften. We all need to be good to each other every chance we get. You can’t substitute that. Love, Judith

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