RATS TO YOU

Recently I woke up to an e-mail alerting me that my computer had been infected with the “rats virus.” The sender warned me that I’d been spied on through my computer camera and that they had access to my search history. The e-mail urged me to contact the sender immediately in order to eradicate the virus, or dire things would happen to me.email-3461410_1280I felt spooked for only a moment until I realized someone was attempting to scam me. I gave myself a reality check. I hadn’t searched any websites I’d be ashamed of, and the camera couldn’t have captured anything sordid. I’d purchased my Apple computer a few months previously, and the chances of it getting a virus were slim to none. Regaining my equilibrium, I deleted the e-mail.

We all get caught off guard sometimes. When this happens to me, I try not to react instantly, and I breathe deeply for a moment to regain my composure. This is just as important to remember when I suddenly feel ill, which frequently happens, as when someone is trying to scam me. Pausing prior to reacting is always the best course of action for me.

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A GREAT MISTAKE

In 1983 I bought a ticket, over the phone, to a Broadway show. Although billed as a musical, the only music I heard during the first act were bits of songs occasionally belted out by a woman standing in a cage on the side of the stage. The show didn’t seem like a musical to me, and I wondered what was going on.

The second act was completely without music, and it slowly dawned on me that I’d purchased tickets to the wrong show.static.playbill.com

By the third act, I felt I’d made the best mistake of my life. The play was gripping, beautifully written and acted, and deeply affecting. It ran for four hours, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I’d bought a ticket to Torch Song Trilogy instead of Forbidden Broadway.

That year Torch Song Trilogy won Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, both statues going to Harvey Fierstein. I’ve made a couple of great mistakes in my life that resulted in unexpected and wonderful outcomes. Not all mistakes are bad if we stay centered in the moment and are open to unexpected, happy possibilities.

MISSING MY MEMORY

Something bad happened to my memory after I had my splenectomy in 2017. Prior to the surgery, I had a knack for remembering what happened in my life down to the month, year, and sometimes week. But the eight months since my surgery are like an Impressionist painting—recognizable but not clear.

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This change is unnerving. I had a simple surgery and recovered well. I’ve had a busy eight months, but that doesn’t explain my lack of recall. I’m not having problems at work, where I must remember complex patient information on a daily basis, so I’m not worried about an underlying medical cause for my memory loss.

I loved my perfect memory although it often drove others crazy. I want it back and hope it returns. But even if my memory stays as is, I’ll be fine. I guess from now on I’ll just have to settle for being normal.

FIFTEEN-CHARACTER PASSWORD

Sometimes life gets easier, and other times it gets harder without warning. The electronic patient record system at work recently started to require fifteen-character passwords. For the previous ten years, I’d used three-character passwords. This might not seem like a big adjustment, but when we use the same password several dozen times a day, the lengthy password is annoying. I overheard my colleagues complaining about it too.computer-1185569_1280

Like so many of life’s demands, with time I adjusted to this change. The long passwords are still cumbersome, but they are no longer bothersome. I’ve become accustomed to countless negative changes in my health, and this one is easy by comparison.

TWENTY-FIVE GOOD THINGS

I engaged in an exercise at the end of every day in 2018 during my emotional slump. Each night after I went to bed, I counted all of the good and remarkable things I’d experienced in my life. I could usually list at least twenty-five. Counting all these experiences helped me believe there were more good things in my future. Now with my slump resolved, I’m glad I sought out creative tools to get me through a tough time.

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WORST CALL OF THE DAY

I often have trouble hearing when I call help lines to obtain assistance with technical issues. I believe many call centers use cheap headsets and don’t adequately train their employees. Sometimes I must ask the help desk employee to speak slowly and clearly at least half a dozen times before we can communicate effectively. This is a frustrating process, and by the time I receive help, I’m often testy. I occasionally fear I’ve been the customer service representative’s worst call of the day. I often have to apologize for my behavior as the call ends.business-19148_1280

I try to balance this deficit by remembering to thank any customer service representative with whom this issue does not occur. I go out of my way to be generous with my praise in the hopes of creating some balance for my bad behavior during other calls. We aren’t capable of being our best selves all the time, but I like to compensate by

ONE KIND ACT A DAY

In the spring of 2018, I went through a slump. I wasn’t depressed, but I felt demoralized and defeated for about a month. I decided to complete at least one kind act a day to help boost my morale. I hoped that reflecting each night on my day would give me something to remind me of my best self.hands-699486_1280.jpg

I try to be kind in general, but this purposeful exercise highlighted that desire. I don’t think one thing pulled me out of my slump. Moving out of it was a multifactorial process. But I believe all my combined, small efforts had the desired effect, and about a month later, I was more myself again.

 

 

PEACE OUT

Recently I’ve been flashed a peace sign several times at stop signs after I’ve waved another car to go ahead of me. I’ve always appreciated a thank-you wave, but the peace signs feel especially sweet to me. They remind me of my early childhood in the 1960s and the anti-war movement that the sign represented then. I also associate the peace sign with the best of hippie culture, which was all around me in New York City where I spent the first half of my childhood.dwarf-1336356_1280

Occasionally someone waves at me to precede them at a stop sign. I’ve flashed the peace sign at them, letting them know of my appreciation and adding a little nostalgic sweetness to my day.