How NOT to get Snookered — are your Vulnerabilities Showing?

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“An Open Book” 16×20 mixed media on canvas (SOLD) PRINTS AVAILABLE

Young couples typically want what’s best for their children. As far as reasonably possible, parents will fork over the cash to provide their children with the best. I must admit I’ve done the same thing over the years and learned the hard way that not every salesman is honest, nor is every purchase a smart one.

After going through several “duds,” I finally told my children they could ask for anything at Christmas time except those nasty toys they saw on T.V. Why? Because I’d learned that most did not deliver what they promised. A few items were not only unsafe, but downright scary.

Unfortunately, I have a soft spot for learning. If there’s a toy or a tool out there that promises to help my child tell time, tie his own shoelaces or eat his peas, I’m there. Convince me you have something to shorten the time it takes to potty train, and I’ll shell out the necessary bucks. Even promises to “equip my child for the future” may widen my eyes and indicate that I’m ripe for the kill.

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“With these Hands — Love” oil on acrylic under painting

I had on that sappy face the day an encyclopedia salesman rang my doorbell and greeted me with his eager enthusiasm. At the time, I had a one year old and a two year old. He drew them in and praised me for wanting the best for them. He showed me my children’s future turning page after shiny hope-filled page of his illustrious, illustrated leather-bound set.

I pulled my husband into the decision making, and he, too, crumbled like a cookie. We both swallowed the Rep’s spiel hook, line, and stinker. Too late we realized that by the time our children were old enough to use them, the books would be outdated.

With the advent of the internet, the whole encyclopedia business was a washout. I had to smile when a recent T.V. commercial showed an encyclopedia CEO telling his staff: “We’re back” while the camera cuts to a toddler punching a chubby finger on the “Buy” button of his parent’s smart phone over and over again. The camera then zooms out and pans the encyclopedia company workers boxing and shipping hundreds and thousands of books.

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“Through her Eyes” original sketch of live model

Most women are insecure in their own worth and beauty. Constantly on a diet, or trying out different kinds of makeup and skin care products is the norm. I myself fell into the hypnotizing web of Dr. Oz and ordered a “free sample” of one of his recommended products. In order to get the “free” sample, I had to give them my credit card information. Before I knew it, I was being shipped the product, without asking for it, at $100 a pop!

Although I was told when I complained: “There are many satisfied users;” their endorsement in no way made me smile. I had broken out in a red rash and pimples while using their product for only a few days. I’m still working to stop the shipments and block payments, even though I never ordered a single product. Again, I was told that “somewhere in the fine print” was a time limit for complaints. Sneaky!

Weight loss is another gimmick for selling products that don’t work or that may actually do more harm than good. Many products interfere with medications you may be taking. Herbal products often interfere with your metabolism and neutralize thyroid or heart medicines prescribed by your doctor. Be wary of all promises. You may end up like I did with an expensive bottle of weight loss meds that I couldn’t take.

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Art and Collectibles Display at show

I once was a salesperson myself, showing Avon products door to door in a time when it was much safer to pound the streets. Young and naïve, I thought that most people were pretty much the same. I learned that you never know “what’s behind closed doors.” What I saw, heard, and witnessed made me realize how different we all are in the way we choose to live our lives.

Selling is challenging, difficult, and disparaging work. Every time a sale’s “pitch” is made the seller’s reputation is on the line. This is the main reason I chose not to make this my full-time occupation. I simply could not sell what I did not believe in or trust myself.

“Buyer Beware” is not only sound cautionary advice, the reverse is also true: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Healthy ways to vent your Anger and Avoid Hurting Others

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A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

Have you ever been used as a scapegoat? Have you felt the brunt of anger lobbed at you for someone else’s mistake?

When I was in 6th grade, a nasty letter was written that caused someone else much grief. My name was signed as the sender. Although I denied it, the label stuck. My friends peeled off as quickly as an overripe banana. I stood alone defending my lost honor. I was the fall guy; the whipping boy (or girl) for the whole class. I was singled out as a bully.

By the time the actual writer of the letter was discovered, it was too late. I remained forever tainted by the incident like yesterday’s chewing gum on the bottom of a shoe.

When bad things happen, people look for someone to blame. Sometimes it’s the person nearest to the scene. At other times, as in this instance, someone forges your name and incriminates you damaging both your reputation and self-esteem. Once people have someone they can rant on or whip, they feel better, even though it may be the wrong person.

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I have been reading several books on slavery. The last two especially had an impact on me: “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd, and “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom. What did I learn from reading these books? Above all, that slavery is an abomination. Anytime weak human beings can own other human beings they’re going to abuse them. Even though some slave owners may have treated their slaves civilly, most did not.

Evil, cowardly owners took out their own frustrations and anger on the most helpless and defenseless. If you dared to speak up, a hammer might be used to slam out your front teeth, or a whip used to gouge bloody stripes on your back. You may have been starved, beaten, maimed, forced to work with little food all in the name of control and obedience.

I believe this practice will forever scar America or any country where it is practiced. Today, young alien girls are forced into sexual slavery. Their illegal entry into this country makes them vulnerable and alone. They become easy prey to the low-lives that creep out of the depths of hell to use and abuse them. While horrifying and ugly, these personal assaults are not the only way to cause pain.

Gossip and untruths can hurt the innocent and scar them for life. Because of my childhood experience, I still don’t make friends easily, even though I love people. I’ve been accused of being “aloof” as I test the waters about who I can trust. My heart goes out to young people who are betrayed by their so-called friends or manipulated by an adult or a leader with ulterior motives. The anger from this kind of trauma has to go somewhere.

I once received a gift. It was a yellow calico doll with a label that read: “Damn it Doll.” A tag with instructions said: “When you feel angry, grab a hold of doll’s legs and whack it against a wall or a table. Repeat action until you feel better.”

I’ve used my “Damn it Doll” more than a few times. I must admit I felt better afterward. A few solid whacks and the pent up anger inside of me was released. The Doll became my whipping boy. Instead of unleashing my anger on the perpetrator, I vented my inner demons, with the help of the doll, on inanimate objects.

We all need a way to release our anger. If we don’t, anger may turn inward and become depression. Leave the rough stuff to the demons. Find your own “whipping boy” preferably a non-living object and whack your way to freedom. Save your own dignity and that of someone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acquired Taste is learned, Distinct and Personal

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Tansy's Pride

“Tansy’s Pride” 11 x 14 pastel on Bristol; ready to frame

I remember the first time I tasted pizza as a child. The heavy greasy cheese slid into my stomach like a bomb. The taste blew my mind, but my stomach churned. Thirty minutes later, I barfed up this delectable plate like a rock. Strangely, a few days later, I found myself hungering for another taste, another smell of this tantalizing taste treat.

Mushrooms were always used in my mother’s cuisine; however, I’d never eaten them raw. My first dry and papery bite was disappointing. The taste and smell reminded me of somebody’s musty basement. Once I got past that, their succulent, melt-in-your mouth texture and flavor made me a life-long fan. Japanese Shitake mushrooms are a favorite, along with Italian Portobello smothered in Marsala sauce, and American morels sautéed in butter for a light and delectable dish.

My first experience with pâté de foie gras came in Germany at the Ratskeller in Bremen. Goose liver pâté never tasted so fine, smooth and exquisite. The escargot brought back hints of musty basement, but I learned through continual tastings to linger and enjoy; that is until I saw a snail farm in Paris on Public Television. After watching these asexual creatures co-habit and reproduce in mounds of slime, I haven’t been able to enjoy them since!

Frog’s legs, rabbit, rattle snake, and locusts all require nibbling and experimentation to get the hang of it and to appreciate these newfound edible sensations. Of course, a little chocolate never hurts to hide what you fear.

Beer is a taste that many abhor, even after several mugs full. Once you get past the sour after taste, the rest is history. There’s nothing like a cold beer on a hot day to quench thirst. And what a great accompaniment with cheesy pizza or to soothe your stomach after eating Italian spices.

Wine is another love-it-or-leave it beverage that is literally time tested. Ancient as the “Ancient of Days,” wine is beloved the world over for its ability to enhance food, aid digestion, and quench the palate.

Our choices change as we age. Knowledge and experience mature our taste buds and our sense of smell. Our eyes no longer cringe at what we dislike, but embrace the exciting challenge of discovery. We not only become more discriminating with our food, but with our interests. Art becomes “eye candy” that we analyze and enjoy. The more knowledge we gain about the subject, the more we begin to understand ourselves and what appeals to us.

Books take us places we’ve never been before. The more we devour their pages, the more likely we are to expand our interests. For example, two of my friends, knowing that I was an avid reader, recommended books they thought I would like. The first turned out to be the longest book I’ve ever read, yet I was determined to finish it. There were too many details and too many tears. The lengthy descriptions and static pace prolonged the agony and bored me to tears. Even minor characters were examined under a magnifying glass until I felt tormented to “get on with it!”

I realized I read to get away from my own stress and to find escape in someone else’s adventure. I want something fast-paced, usually historical, and always exciting or meaningful.

The same goes for food. I hunger for delectable dishes that teach me about foreign lands and the people who live there. That’s why my paintings are usually filled with exotic people and places. I find other cultures and the faces they wear beautiful and telling. They remind me of our common humanity and give me hope in the concept of basic human goodness.

Taste and appreciation are both acquired traits. I’ve known people who are afraid to taste something new for fear it will gross them out. Fear keeps us from enlarging our sphere of influence and enjoyment. Fear of the unknown may keep us from lending a helping hand or experiencing the contributions of others. Don’t hold back! Give it a go. I dare you!