Garden Glee

Dr. Sue & Cherry Blossoms

Dr. Sue & Cherry Blossoms

“April’s come – my heart finds ease…
And blossoms with the cherry trees” – Dr. Sue

Weather is springtime perfection  – and no school! Time to get off my computer and into a garden.  What better escape for a New York city girl than the Bronx Botanical Gardens?  AMC, my hiking club, is sponsoring a garden walk.  I call Sam (the leader) and hustle my bustle (aka move my a**) toward the subway and the Bronx.

Happiness with no “if” (challenge) – right? Wrong!  I’m a little late (still working on my time management) – but if I make all my train and bus connections…oh no!  At the subway station, I spot a six firefighters.  Is the subway on fire? Are the trains running?  I hesitate for minute, dash down  the stairs… and miss my train! G-rrr!  Now you know why New Yorkers are in a rush.  Miss a train – wait 10 minutes!

There I am on the subway platform, worried, annoyed, and generally cranky.  Finally, a crowded express train shows up. I find a seat (small miracle) and look up to see a subway poster with a poem:

“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lie in its focus.” (“Experience” by Ralph Waldo Emerson)

It’s a message I need,  But how do I change my mood – harder than changing trains or stringing beads?

As long as I’m stuck on the subway for a long,  and maybe futile ride, I start correcting student exams.  I’m still worried about time, but getting work done makes the ride seem less futile – and less annoying.  Finally, I get to my stop in the Bronx.  There’s my bus – across a busy street – so near and yet so likely to pull away before I can cross the street!  The light changes -  I rush toward the bus…and there is leader Sam, waiting in line!  All my worry and annoyance for nothing!  We meet our walking group at the main entrance and go inside.

Ah….the garden is exquisite: frothy cherry trees, puffs of peonies, troops of tulips…well, enough petaled prose!

Bill, one of the guys I meet on the walk,  comments on how nice it is to walk with friends.  I agree. I fall into conversation with Belina, an avid gardener. Belina has what’s called a green thumb. I have, well what I have is a lazy thumb. My approach to gardening is Manhattan minimalist, so I’m raising my plants to be independent.  Someday, I’d like my plants to have their own careers – bring in some cash.  It’s a fair trade-off.  I’m doing all the watering – plus paying rent – and utilities. What do they think? Money grows on trees? (Hmm. Maybe plants do think that.  I mean, from a plant’s point of view, where else would it grow?)

We take a bathroom break at a building where they are giving out tickets to a free event next month.  There are no tickets left, but I notice that Bill has a bunch of tickets in his hand.  I say, “You have five.” Bill says that he needs them for his family, but I can Email for tickets.  I realize that the event is geared for children, so it’s probably not for me . I also realize that what Bill meant by “walk with friends” is “find temporary activity partners.”

Our garden stroll ends near a plant shop with a 75% off sale.  I want to buy an orchid for $7,  but Sam doesn’t want to wait  while I shop, and I don’t know how to find my way out of the garden alone.   I drop the subject and follow him out.  It strikes me that this is one of the trade-offs of being single – you don’t get to nag someone into hanging around while you do something they don’t want to do – and you don’t have to hang around for them.  Fair enough.

On the other hand, in a close friendship/partnership/marriage, enduring some inconvenience for the sake of intimacy is a trade-off worth making.  One of the criteria for close, ongoing companionship is willingness to prioritize relationship over convenience.

We find our way out of the garden, make our connections easily, and soon we’re on the subway home.  Sam shares his New York Times and we read comfortably together – something we both want to do.  He gets off at his stop, and I even have time to dash into my college to reserve the videos I need for next day’s class (something I felt guilty about not doing before I left to play hooky in the garden).

Research says that talking to flowers helps them grow, so I am posing this question to the flowers by my computer (and you):

How does all this help us be happy?

Happiness Habits:

  • Connect to nature, be in a beautiful environment – like a garden.
  • Let go of worry and guilt. Many things we worry about don’t happen (and if they do, worrying does not prevent them).  Guilt is also a waste – we can’t change the past (even if it’s only a few hours ago.)
  • Time management is great – but give up on being perfect at that – or anything.
  • Even if you think you’re too late and missed your connection or opportunity – keep on going – things may work out.
  • Single or Married/ Close or Casual Friend/Human or Plant – each state has its trade-offs – so enjoy the state you’re in.
  • Talk to plants – they might be listening. After all, flowers have two lips (tulips), but corn has thousands of ears!

“No matter what the music, learn how to dance!”
Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue
Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue) is a Motivational Speaker, Media Host, Singer-Songwriter “CD: Dr. Sue “Keys of Love” , Author of “Queens of Comedy” (Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club), “I Am Loved” (Inspirational Poetry) “Blog: HOW TO BE HAPPY IF”
copyright 2010 Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue)

Sandra Bullock Trades Hubby for Oscar

Sandra, James & Oscar

Sandra, James & Oscar


“The Sandra Bullock Trade
by David Brooks (NYTimes.com)

Two things happened to Sandra Bullock this month. First, she won an Academy Award for best actress. Then came the news reports claiming that her husband is an adulterous jerk. So the philosophic question of the day is: Would you take that as a deal? Would you exchange a tremendous professional triumph for a severe personal blow?…Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being.”

……………..

How ironic is it that in the very year that a female director Kathryn Bigelow cracks the glass ceiling to win the Oscar for Best Director, the real headline-grabber is a female actress whose husband’s mistress is caught with her pants down – revealing “White Pride” tattoos – or sleeveless, sporting a swastika armband? Brooks suggests that Sandra Bullock’s success tipped her husband into the arms of his Nazi-tattooed tootsie – and by implication, that a woman who enjoys “tremendous personal triumph” is headed for a “severe personal blow.”

Really? Ms. Bigelow seems to be weathering the storm of success quite nicely, thank you.  And isn’t Ms. Bullock’s husband, Jesse James,  a bad-boy biker with a history of breaking the law?  Was he really the guy-most-likely to hold a lady’s umbrella on the red carpet and keep his private urges in check?  Is it Oscar’s fault? Don’t thousands of women who don’t win Academy Awards or enjoy a “tremendous professional triumph” have cheating husbands?

Re: “Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being.”  Actually, all social bonds – including friendship, community, family, non-marital love and commitments (plus marriage) are what’s important in determining happiness. Excluding non-married people (singles, widows, divorced people, gays, lesbians, celibates, etc.) from feelings of happiness and legitimacy creates unhappiness.  It’s not being married or unmarried that counts – it’s what you do with your life and how you feel about yourself and your relationships.

Ms. Bullock’s academy award is a very real achievement – and a sense of accomplishment can bring happiness.  As a teacher, I give my students gold stars when they successfully complete their assignments. We all like acknowledgment – on and off the red carpet. Unfortunately, Ms. Bullock’s husband’s behavior – the consequences of which are vastly magnified by the glare of public scrutiny is, to say the least, non-supportive – but should hardly come as a major shock. When a girl marries a bad boy, she gets excitement – but that may not add up to slippers-by-the-fireside security.

Other famous women have dealt with this issue.  Lucille Ball, whom I interviewed for my book Queens of Comedy, had a passionate, but troubled marriage with her first husband Desi Arnaz, a handsome, magnetic, touring bandleader whose babalu charm was catnip for the ladies. Did Lucy’s enormous public success bother him and contribute to his womanizing? Maybe. After their divorce, she picked a second husband who allowed her to be the star in public – but provided a safe haven in private.

If a woman is talented and ambitious, must she give up either her career or all hopes for a happy relationship?  I think either choice leads to frustration – and is not one that Mr. Brooks would consider for himself.  Feeling that she must make this trade-off (success vs. personal happiness)  is very undermining to a woman’s confidence and ability to achieve and enjoy her success.  I think it would be better to encourage women and men to live out their dreams – and look for partners and friends who support them.  Jesse James is not the only fish in Ms. Bullock’s pond.

It takes thought, negotiation, and a bit of luck to combine public success with a happy private life. Success and public acclaim can breed envy in our nearest and dearest.  This is true whether we win Oscars or flattering attention at a party. Sometimes, it’s possible to share the spotlight or not drag our partner/friend/relative into arenas where we shine and he/she is in the shadows. It’s not easy. Some relationships are keepers, and sometimes it’s better to throw that fish back in the water.  Sailing our fishing boats through the turbulent waters of relationships is a challenge – an “if.” That is what it’s all about  – how to be happy if…

Happiness Habits

  • Cultivate and value positive relationships and accomplishments.
  • If you like the spotlight, pick a partner/friend who is happy to let you shine
  • Share the glory and thank your supporter(s).
  • If you don’t like/don’t get public attention, remember – your behind-the-scenes support is crucial – a loyal partner lets you know that.
  • Undermining the “star” by bad behavior tends to backfire. Are there other ways to get what you need?
  • Question what you read/hear/see in the media – and test the opinions of experts (including mine) against your personal experience.

“No matter what the music, learn how to dance!”
Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue) is a Motivational Speaker, Media Host, Singer-Songwriter “CD: Dr. Sue “Keys of Love” , Author of “Queens of Comedy” (Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club), “I Am Loved” (Inspirational Poetry) “Blog: HOW TO BE HAPPY IF” Twitter: @howtobehappyif
copyright 2010 Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue)

THE BIG TWEET: Twitter, Facebook, Oprah, “Women, Food and God”

Maxing out your joy and minimizing the impact of upsets are learned skills. My blog is based on the belief we can learn from the experts, each other, and our own experiences. Circumstances may differ, but they often reflect common basic truths. Happiness is a Habit…we can learn how, practice, and have fun! Post your questions and comments, and I’ll try to show you how to be happy if…

THE BIG TWEET: Twitter, Facebook, Oprah, “Women, Food and God”

I’ve been reading Oprah Winfrey’s’ web interview with Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food and God ( featured in O Magazine). Geneen and Oprah (who finished the book in one gulp) believe that food addiction is an attempt to fill an emotional emptiness.

“Oprah: I think this book could have been called “Women, Shopping and God, or Women, Meth and God, or Women, Gambling and God,” since food is just one of the things we use to deny our own worthiness—for love, for godliness, for peace.”

Whoa!  That’s a lot of addiction! From chocolate to Jimmy Choo shoes! From pizza to Prada – from Meth clinics to online gaming sites!

So I started to wonder – am I an addict?

I have all the symptoms – dark circles under my eyes, disconnect from reality, trembling hands, the obsessive hunt  for a hit.

It’s true. I am addicted to… Facebook!

At first, I was in denial. I told myself I was a social user.  But the truth hit me in at 2 am – the dark night of the soul.

There I was, clicking away in the wee small hours of a Manhattan morning,  adding Facebook friends with all the frenzy of the cyber-friendless. Then I hit a snag. I spotted a tiny photo of a middle-aged (okay, my age) woman and clicked “Add as Friend.”

Soon after that, I read her response on my Facebook wall: “Do I know you?”

Now, I was not ready for this heavy-duty conversation. I mean,  does anyone really know anyone?…not only in the philosophical sense, but more importantly, in the Facebook sense.

I don’t like to waste my Facebook time on unrequited friendship, but I thought I’d give her another shot.

Her Facebook page said she lived in Florida, so I shot back.  “Maybe you know my sister. She lives in Florida.”

I thought that was fair and specific. I mean, Florida is just a state and has what – a  measly 18  million people? Facebook has 350 million registered users!  That’s a country! A big one! With a stable government!  I mean, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is president for life – and look at the trouble Obama is having!

But that Florida woman would have none of it.  Politely, but persistently, she kept trying to find out if we knew each other.  I wanted to say, “Know each other? In the Biblical sense?”  But this was Facebook, where (like the Holy Book) every remark is recorded for eternity.  So I bit my tongue  (or rather, clenched my typing fingers) and politely suggested that she might feel more comfortable being friends with people she knows. “Knows” means she has actually met them.

Not that I cared about actually meeting anyone.  By now I was deep in addiction.

And Facebook was only the gateway drug.  After a brief spell of weak-willed resistance, I joined Twitter.

Soon I was tweeting away – and thrilled to discover I could accumulate followers!  Followers? On Facebook all I got was friends. On Twitter I had followers!  Like I was some kind of guru!  Like Gandhi! But, of course, better dressed – and fed.  I mean, later for the loincloth and protest fasts!  As Oprah and Geneen remind me, it’s “Women, Food (or Shopping) and God” – not Women, Self-Denial, and God.

Oprah says that what women are really hungry for is not food – but “love, godliness, and peace, divine connection.”

Now I totally get this.  Why else would 350 million plus people be up at all hours of the night – clicking and tweeting away unless they were hungry for unconditional love and peace – the kind you can only get with cyber-friends – who don’t know you, don’t want to – and don’t make demands?

What about the hunger for godliness?

Twitter allows only 140 characters. That’s less than a blog, less than what’s on most Facebook walls – and way less than the average sermon.  No wonder more people visit Twitter than attend church!

Twitter asks only one question – “What are you doing?”  Now that’s marketing genius!   Unlike “Do I know you?” everybody can answer that question, because, well,  you’re always doing something!

Plus, Twitter inclines toward a refreshing frankness and lack of pretense. Ashton Kutcher, Top Tweeter on Twitter (5000 followers)  – says in his bio, “Actually I make up stuff, stories mostly, collaborations of thoughts, dreams, and actions. That’s me.”

In today’s techno world, we want our gurus to make stuff up, get to the point, and be doing something.

And gurus are certainly godly – at least to their followers.

People are hungry to twitter – to be each other’s gurus.

If you tell me what people hunger for, I’ll tell you what they worship .

Right now it looks like what people worship is — the BIG TWEET!

Can we find godliness, a.k.a. compassion, connection and inspiration in each other?

That’s what this blog is all about – helping each other learn how to be happy – based on our own real experiences.

But enough of these 2am thoughts.

A few hours later, I gulped coffee and headed for my English class.  I have admit that while I was teaching my students English grammar and poetic techniques, I was mentally obsessing about my Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

As I made my students turn off their cell phones,  I was counting the seconds till I get back to social networking.

I felt guilty but what could I do?  My addiction was out of hand. What was worse, I was coming down with a cold from lack of sleep.

So now I’m in rehab.

I make myself turn off my computer an hour before I go to sleep.  I’m exercising my body – not just my typing fingers. And I’m reminding myself that a real friend offers face time not just cyber-space time.

How can this help us be happy?

Happiness Habits

  • Face your addictions – that’s any habit that 1. you can’t control  2. interferes with your ability to lead a healthy, productive, enjoyable life
  • Find positive alternatives to addiction – like exercise, friends, and family.
  • If you get caught up in fantasy connections – to gorgeous celebrities, to cyberfriends, followers, and romances – take it for what it is – an exciting illusion. Your feelings may be intense – but they may not have much to do with what the other person is really like.
  • Enjoy your life – in and out of cyberspace!

“No matter what the music, learn how to dance!”
Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue
Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue) is a Motivational Speaker, Media Host, Singer-Songwriter “CD: Dr. Sue “Keys of Love” , Author of “Queens of Comedy” (Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club), “I Am Loved” (Inspirational Poetry) “Blog: HOW TO BE HAPPY IF”
copyright 2010 Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue)

PROFESSOR AMY BISHOP / RateMyProfessors.com

Maxing out your joy and minimizing the impact of upsets are learned skills. My blog is based on the belief we can learn from the experts, each other, and our own experiences. Circumstances may differ, but they often reflect common basic truths. Happiness is a Habit…we can learn how, practice, and have fun! Post your questions and comments, and I’ll try to show you how to be happy if…

Professor Amy Bishop / RateMyProfessors.com:

How to Be Happy If People Are Rude

First off – rudeness is in the eye of the beholder – yours, mine, and Professor Amy Bishop’s.

Professor Bishop – who walked into her U. of Alabama department meeting and shot the senior professors who refused to give her tenure,  would be considered rude (to say the least)  by most standards  – but not by hers.

As an adjunct professor who didn’t get promoted (just like Prof. Bishop), I have also considered direct action. However, unlike Amy Bishop, I’m a poor shot. I’m also practical. After Amy’s revenge on the people who didn’t promote her, my first thought was, “Well, she won’t get tenure now!”

How true that is – you can’t get tenure (or a man*) with a gun!  You can get a moose (and a Republican nomination)  – two good reasons Sarah Palin owns one.   But since academic ambitions don’t usually call for firearms (except in Amy’s fevered imagination) and there are no moose in Manhattan,  I don’t own a gun.  (I do own a mini Swiss army knife, which I use for cutting apples. I did this in front of my 8 am English classes – which woke them up – “Whoa! Professor! You got a knife?”)

Anyway, when I didn’t get my own promotion, I went to talk to my Department Chair.  I have the usual defects (I’m well past my 20′s so I can’t be counted on for a long life in harness to the needs of the department) – plus some special ones (My Ph.D. is in Theatre, and I’m in the English Department – which means I crossed turfs – a no-no in academia).  However, my Department Chair did give me some advice: “Be collegial.”

Collegial?  Must have something to do with being non-rude. I think of myself as a friendly, polite person.  What could he mean? I asked a friend who had spent many years in the halls of academe.

My friend said: “Collegial means – kissing A**.”

But whose A**?  My students? I do spend 90% of my time with them. Does that count?

RatemyProfessors.com  is a student run internet site that ranks professors on a scale of 1 to 5 based on set criteria: easiness, clarity, and the reviewer’s interest in the subject matter.  Students also award professors chili pepper icons (for hot looks).

I haven’t actually checked my rating on RateMyProfessors.com. Being well acquainted with my own vanity, I would probably count chili peppers. But I think I’m okay because I regularly get Emails from students who are friends of former students and want to be in my classes. I hope this is also because they are learning the subject matter. (Actually, I know they are – and not by my grades alone, which, according to RateMyProfessors.com could be suspect. My 095 remedial classes are entirely made up of students who failed the college writing exam – which I do not grade.  By the end of our semester, they retake the exam. Many pass – several with scores that leapfrog the passing grade into higher numbers.)

But enough about me – what about Professor Amy Bishop? Was she rude to her students?

I checked out Amy Bishop on RateMyProfessors.com,  and came up with….Zero!  Nothing! However, on another search, she seemed to get reasonably favorable ratings.  Why the discrepancy? Could this be a cover up?

The news is full of articles about the carelessness – or cover up – that wiped out her history of violence (beginning with shooting her own brother, when she was 19, and continued with her alleged link (with her husband) to a pipe bomb aimed at a Harvard professor who ticked her off, and included a stop at IHOP, where she bitch-slapped a fellow patron for not giving up a booster seat to Amy’s child. (Amy is currently in custody. But police detonated a suspicious PVC pipe found inside the Huntsville home she occupied with husband Jim Anderson, who is still running around free!

Okay – I know I just slid into paranoia-land – where my colleagues are likely to include Amy and hubby Jim-who, I am mindful, is on the loose.  But apart from the presence of  loose screwballs, there is something to be said for rating one’s professors.

Why is student opinion irrelevant to keeping academic jobs or getting promotions?

Aren’t the students the ones we serve?

Maybe RateMyProfessors.com has some silly standards. But that could be updated and include more educational criteria.  Contrary to cynical opinion, most students want to learn – not waste their time.

They also want to be treated with compassion, caring, respect and responsibility – not rudeness. As do we all.

Amy Bishop is at the far end of a spectrum of poor anger management (and probably mentally unbalanced).  But she is certainly human.

Her belief that her own needs (like getting tenure and booster seats) completely override the rights of others is at the core of rude behavior.

That driver who cuts you off on the highway – endangering your safety; that person who curses into a cell phone on the elevator -polluting your ears; that date or appointment who stands you up – wasting your time and chipping away at your self-esteem – all little bits of Amy.

And, since this blog is titled, “How To Be Happy If …, how can thinking about the meaning of rudeness help us be happy?

Happiness Habits

  • Don’t take it personally. When someone is rude, it’s usually not about you -and it doesn’t demand confrontation.
  • Don’t escalate the argument. It’s usually counter-productive – the most angry, rude person wins (if you can call it winning).
  • Do take signs of an explosive temper seriously. Major abuse begins with little tests – if you go along with it, you enable it.
  • Do protect yourself and others – speak to authorities, file a report
  • If you’re the one with anger issues – get help – before it gets out of hand.
  • Do what you love – tenure or not, I love teaching – and for that I am very grateful.

(* “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” is a song by Irving Berlin from the great musical Annie Get Your Gun. Popular songs have taught me a lot – besides, they make me happy.)

“No matter what the music, learn how to dance”

Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue

Dr. Sue Horowitz is a Motivational, Entertaining Speaker, Singer-Songwriter, Professor, Author of “Queens of Comedy” (interviews with Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller, Joy Behar, etc.),  “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club), “I Am Loved” (Poetry)

Web: http://www.drsue.com

Keys of Love” -  positive songs on CD Baby – http://www.cdbaby.com/drsueDr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue) is a Motivational Speaker, Media Host, Singer-Songwriter “CD: Dr. Sue “Keys of Love” , Author of “Queens of Comedy” (Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club), “I Am Loved” (Inspirational Poetry) Blog: HOW TO BE HAPPY IF (http://drsue3.wordpress.com)

copyright 2010 Susan “Dr. Sue” Horowitz

husband Jim Anderson.

HAPPINESS HABITS

Maxing out your joy and minimizing the impact of upsets are learned skills. My blog is based on the belief we can learn from the experts, our own experiences,  and each other. Circumstances may differ, but they often reflect common basic truths. Happiness is a Habit…we can learn how, practice, and have fun! Post your questions and comments, and I’ll try to show you how you be happy if…

Happiness Habits

For Details, Scroll up & Click on Link (White Letters on Black Background)

  • Realistic Expectations/Flexible Behavior/Positive Focus
  • Set Goals, Acknowledge Success, Build in Rewards, Have Fun!
  • Do Your Deadlines, Do Your Daily, Do Your Dream!
  • Do what you love -include bits of what you love to do in what you have to do!
  • Prioritize and Focus. Do Needs then Treats: Do what you have to do so you can do what you get to do (The Great Debaters)
  • To Do, To Done, Ta-Dah! (Time Management)
  • Learn from everyone – wisdom and good tips show up in unexpected places
  • Be flexible and persistent
  • Focus on the positive – what opportunities does the situation offer?
  • Get accurate information – challenge your negative beliefs.
  • Vent by writing – on paper, Emails, blogs, etc. (Conflict Resolution)
  • Put things in perspective – how important is this in the large scheme of things?
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt – be slow  to accuse and quick to correct yourself (Conflict Resolution)
  • Communicate without accusation – ask questions, check facts – you won’t have to apologize later. (Conflict Resolution)
  • Set Clear  Goals – write them down, give yourself a deadline, measure your results
  • Live by and teach clear, fair rules, accountability, and ways of correcting mistakes
  • When you can’t get what you want, think about how to make yourself happy anyway
  • When someone is sad, listen and try to guide him/her to something positive. If they’ll go there, great! If not, get out of the swamp!
  • Make someone else happy – taking the focus off yourself and onto others can cheer you up!
  • Encourage other people to participate in positive activities – lead by example.
  • Find out what people already know and teach them something new -show respect for their knowledge and share yours
  • Avoid public confrontations (if possible) – you’ll get better cooperation and communication
  • Wear clothes and shoes that feel look, look good, and suit the occasion
  • Create and connect to a positive community of friends, family, and activity partners – and don’t expect people to be perfect
  • Be generous with your compliments – people crave appreciation
  • Pay attention to the person you’re with and don’t make or imply negative comparisons by comments or looks
  • Happiness is an inside job – you can’t change what’s outside you – you can change how you feel about it
  • Focus on the Positive – denial doesn’t work – but shifting focus does
  • Exercise regularly – it benefits your body, mind, and mood
  • Be friendly- you will brighten your day, make positive connections, and learn new things
  • Choose a supportive venue. It’s not just the activity – it’s the values of the crowd.
  • See things in context – it’s usually not about you – it’s about the other person’s needs.
  • Be friendly and courteous…copy good behavior – not bad.
  • Be a fun activity partner.  Improve your skills and be fun to be with.
  • Don’t take rudeness personally. When someone is rude, it’s usually not about you -and it doesn’t demand confrontation.
  • Don’t escalate the argument. It’s usually counter-productive – the most angry, rude person wins (if you can call it winning).
  • Do take signs of an explosive temper seriously. Major abuse begins with little tests – if you go along with it, you enable it.
  • Do protect yourself and others – speak to authorities, file a report
  • If you’re the one with anger issues – get help – before it gets out of hand.
  • Motivate yourself  and a friend. Be a “Happiness Buddy”
  • Face your addictions -  any habit that 1. you can’t control  2. interferes with leading a healthy, productive, enjoyable life
  • Find positive alternatives to addiction – like exercise, friends, and family.
  • Fantasy connections are exciting – but don’t have much to do with the other person
  • Enjoy your life – in and out of cyberspace!
  • Practice an attitude of gratitude
  • Do what you love

Please post your questions, stories, comments, and suggestions – we learn from each other!

“No matter what the music, learn how to dance”

Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue

Dr. Susan Horowitz is a Motivational, Entertaining Speaker, Professor, Singer-Songwriter (CD “Keys of Love”) and Author of “Queens of Comedy” (interviews with Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller, Joy Behar, etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club),  “I Am Loved” (Poetry).

Web: http://www.drsue.com 

Keys of Love” -  positive songs on CD Baby – http://www.cdbaby.com/drsue

copyright 2010 Susan “Dr. Sue” Horowitz

SINGLE LIVING: Challenge Dance

Maxing out your joy and minimizing the impact of upsets are learned skills. My blog is based on the belief we can learn from the experts, our own experience, and each other. Circumstances may differ, but they often reflect common basic truths. Happiness is a Habit…we can learn how, practice, and have fun! Post your questions and comments, and I’ll try to show you how you be happy if…

SINGLE LIVING: Challenge Dance

A dateless Saturday Night…but I decide to have a good time ballroom dancing.  First – the equipment – Dance shoes, panty hose, black  push up bra,  black jersey dress with gold trim that hugs my curves and dips into a plunging neckline – uh-oh! better throw in a modest scarf  – I am a professor (I can always take it  off  later).  Good to go!

I get to the dance studio at 7:45pm, pay $15, and check out the hustle class. The lesson started at 7:30, which puts me at the bottom of class hustling to catch up as we change partners.  I move down the line and get to the teacher- a  buff guy (who, according to my gaydar, swings for the other dance team).  As I scurry to master the pattern, he advises me to be “more feminine”  I know what he means. My feet, perfectly planted for shooting basketballs, need be more geisha-close.  He also tells us to practice our “diva walk – divas – not donkeys!”  I try.

OK. Lesson over. I remove my scarf.  Time for fun! Only…no one is asking me to dance.  However, I am resourceful- if they don’t ask, I will.  I scope out possibilities – that slim, handsome, guy, I’m sitting next to – who is ignoring me? Naaah.  That less cute, but friendlier looking guy across the room, who I may have danced with six months ago? (In the dance world, that constitutes a relationship of some depth.)  Much better bet!  I walk across the floor and ask.  He agrees. We jitterbug. Things are looking up.

Dance over, I look around for other possibilities.  Ah! a foxtrot plus a man standing alone on the dance floor! I ask, “Would you like to  try this dance?” He says, “No!”  Whoah! Rudeness rules! As I walk away he adds, “because I’m dancing with her.”  Her? Who?

I decide to console myself with food. Ah…a fruit plate! I pick up a sliced banana. It breaks in two, falls into my plunging neckline, and comes to rest on my push up bra. I pick it out and eat it. (I need the potassium. Besides, it’s not as if anyone is looking at me).

I find my seat, pull out my Blackberry. and start Emailing my girlfriend in Florida. Good! she answers.  As I settle in for a ballroom evening in cyberspace, a woman (Supatra) asks me to dance.  I admire her spunky solution to the man shortage and accept.  She turns out to be graceful, sweet, and informative.

Her daughter is a dance teacher – a pretty twenty-something dancing with a man in his sixties – so she knows all about this particular ballroom scene.  This is a guest night party at a dance studio where many people take extended (and expensive) dance lessons.

Many of the dancers are “on the clock”- paid teachers dancing with their students or students paying for teachers to dance with them. Even the people who are not “on the clock” want to dance with others who know how to do set steps, poses, and routines. I don’t.

I digest this information, dance a few times with Supatra and return to my seat – and emailing my Florida friend – who is in her sweats and on her computer.

I decide to take a  snack break  and head for the peanuts. I take one and sit down.  Immediately, a man announces, “That’s my seat!” I look up – it’s the sixtyish dance student. I jump up and start walking away.  He adds, “That’s okay. I want to dance, you can sit.” By then I am pissed off, so I say, “No. That’s the kind of dance this is, and that’s the kind of men that are here!”  Then I pull on my coat, and start walking out. Before I leave, I stop at the receptionist.  I tell her that it’s not the fault of the studio, but the men are very rude…it might be a good idea to make an announcement about manners.  Then I leave.

I still need to do something – figure out How to Be Happy If… so here goes:

Happiness Habits

  • Be flexible and persistent – if people are crazy – try bananas! If people are nuts, try peanuts! If ballrooms are a bust – blog!
  • Vent by writing – posting to this blog made me feel a lot better! You can too!
  • Focus on the positive – the bond of friendship – in life and cyberspace
  • Get accurate information – I felt better when I realized what was going on with those “couples”
  • Put things in perspective – looked at from a distance, like “as high as an elephant’s eye”* – this dance is peanuts!

*  (from “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”, by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers)

SINGLE LIVING: Challenge Dance (Continued)

Had a few more thoughts about my “Challenge Dance”.  Yes – the men at that dance studio were rude.

I handled the situation by connecting with nice people – Happiness Buddies!  I emailed my friend and danced with the lady who asked me (instead of waiting for a guy).  She supplied useful information about dance teachers who were “on the clock.”  I also made up my mind to be happy – posting to this blog helps!

I’ll also stick to other dance venues, where I am part of a dance crowd and have partners and friends – and where there is less emphasis on formal styles and more emphasis on having fun.  There are also more available men – and that helps.

I’ll also explore different kinds of dancing – like contra dancing, where you dance in long lines, and change partners during the dance – giving you a chance to meet (and flirt with) a lot of people. Contra dancing comes out of a more communal, gender-equality culture.

A communal culture puts more emphasis on sharing and less on ownership. I suspect that the dance student who ejected me from my seat had paid for his dance teacher’s time and reserved the seat (though there was no sign) – so he felt he was defending his territory.

At a contra dance, anyone can ask anyone to dance; and we are encouraged to smile at each other, be generally friendly, and encourage the weaker dancers. Of course, this is an idealized view of  the contra crowd- but this dance style  does tend to attract more people with those values.

Ballroom dancing can be exciting and fun, but before I plunk down my money and commit my time for a dance weekend, week, or cruise, I (and you) might want to ask few questions, like…

What is the ratio of available men to women?  Available means that they will dance with available people  – not couples who will only dance with each other.

Are  there dance hosts? (Usually there is an over-abundance of women, and dance hosts  fill in the gap)

Are the dance hosts trained?  Ed (who responded to my previous column) is a gentleman. Not everyone is. A trained dance host knows he should return a lady to her seat, make sure she feels good about the dance and herself, and dance with everyone.

Are there lessons before the social dances?  That’s how you improve – and find dance partners.

If I’m  thinking about going away for a weekend, week or longer, I consider the likely outcome.  Far away means exotic adventure. Closer to home makes it easier to build friendships and sustain romance.

Happiness Habits

  • Choose a supportive venue. It’s not just the activity – it’s the values of the crowd.
  • Be realistic and see things in context.  To me, those men were rude. To them, they were doing what comes naturally. If you’re paying someone to dance – or being paid – why would you worry about someone who isn’t part of that equation? … unless…management makes it a point to be generally courteous.  That’s why I spoke to management.
  • Be friendly and courteous…copy good behavior – not bad.
  • Become a better activity partner.  If doing an activity (like dancing)  is the coin of the realm – polish your penny!

“No matter what the music, learn how to dance”

Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue
Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue) is a Motivational Speaker, Media Host, Singer-Songwriter “CD: Dr. Sue “Keys of Love” , Author of “Queens of Comedy” (Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club), “I Am Loved” (Inspirational Poetry) Blog: HOW TO BE HAPPY IF (http://drsue3.wordpress.com)

copyright 2010 Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue)

TIME MANAGEMENT: De-Stress Your Life!

Dr. Sue's CD "Keys of Love"Maxing out your joy and minimizing the impact of upsets are learned skills. My blog is based on the belief we can learn from the experts, our experience, and each other. Circumstances may differ, but they often reflect common basic truths. Happiness is a Habit…we can learn how, practice, and have fun! Post your questions and comments, and I’ll try to show you how you be happy if…

“Time is a Vast Ocean of Opportunity – Learn to Sail!” – Dr. Sue

TIME MANAGEMENT: De-Stress Your Life!

Have you ever thought about how much stress comes from lack of time?  Feeling time pressured makes us impatient, accident-prone, irritable, a pain to others – and ourselves.  We make hasty, poor decisions, misplace and lose things, miss opportunities, and don’t enjoy the luxury of the time we do – or can have.  Here are a few tips to manage our time – and have a happier life.

“Last grain in an hourglass – more precious than gold!” – Dr. Sue Happiness Habit: Time Management

Prioritize what needs to be done – your deadlines – and do that first. “Do what you have to do so you can do what you get to do.” – a wise father’s advice from the film The Great Debaters

Make a Goals/Task List: Write down your Goals. Under each goal, write the tasks you need to do in order to accomplish it – your To-Do list.  If you don’t do it immediately, write it someplace that you will check or where there is a pop up reminder.  That way it won’t prey on your mind while it’s waiting to get done. When you do each task, check it off, and turn your To-Do into a To-Done. When you get your goal give yourself a treat and celebrate!  To-Do – To-Done – Ta-Dah! – “Mile by mile, it’s hard to smile; yard by yard – still feels feels hard; inch by inch – it’s a cinch! “

Start Early: Allow extra time for you and everyone else to make mistakes. Things can go wrong – and will! Technical glitches, traffic jams, stalling trains, not being able to find your keys or glasses, accidents – expect the unexpected – and allow extra time so you won’t get stressed. If you finish early, you can always do something else while you’re waiting, or just relax and enjoy a treat.  Booking early allows you to take advantage of early bird deadlines and save money. Making your deadlines on time or early endears you to teachers, bosses, clients, and publishers.

Get Your Stuff  Together: What ingredients, clothes,accessories, work materials do you need – to get out the door, keep that appointment, take that trip, and get that job done?  Put the stuff together that goes together – not scattered in unrelated bits – it will be easier to find. Get it all together and lay it out in advance. You’ll find out what you need and what you need to fix – with a whole lot less stress. As the scouts say, “Be prepared!”

The Magic of While.… Set one thing in motion while you accomplish something else. For example, start your laundry before you do something else, when you’re done, it’s done. Mail letters and packages – even Emails, then do something else. Many people love crock pots and slow cookers for this reason – it’s doing its thing – and ready when you are!

Multi-Task: You know that Indian goddess with multiple arms? These days she would be on her cell phone closing a deal, doing a power walk around the coffee table,  zipping up, writing on a Facebook wall, Tweeting, and microwaving a dinner (to be eaten in front of  the computer). If you see yourself in any one of these multi-mirrors, than you’ve already figured out that multi-tasking gets you more bang for your buck, time wise.  The trick is when to turn it off.  That means – no cell phones while driving. (Think about it – do months in the hospital as a result of a traffic accident really save time? Is the guilt and remorse over injuring or killing a driver because you were too distracted to concentrate really worth it?) Also no cell phone in public spaces where other people want to focus on other things – like the performance on stage or screen, the classwork, the view – or the romantic date who wants to look deep in your eyes…and is distracted by the blue tooth in your ear!

Take stuff off your plate – If you don’t need to do it and don’t want to do it – don’t!  This means sometimes saying no to friends, family members, co-workers, social acquaintances, etc.  Set limits without guilt, arguing, blaming, or sighing like a martyr.  Yes, I know it’s a challenge. So ask yourself a few questions – Is this necessary? Is this helpful? Is this really my job? Is this fun?  If not – clean your plate!

None of us manage time perfectly, including me. When you slip – don’t forget to laugh at yourself and at rigid rules about time  (or anything else)  and customize my tips for yourself!

“Punctuality – a Point of View” by Dr. Sue

The early bird get the worm – this I have often heard

The early worm gets eaten  first -  isn’t that absurd?

Is being punctual so wise? It’s all in point of view -

If you’re a bird – yes indeed! If you’re a worm – not true!

Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue
Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue) is a Motivational Speaker, Media Host, Singer-Songwriter “CD: Dr. Sue “Keys of Love” , Author of “Queens of Comedy” (Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club), “I Am Loved” (Inspirational Poetry) Blog: HOW TO BE HAPPY IF (http://drsue3.wordpress.com)

copyright 2010 Dr. Susan Horowitz (aka Dr. Sue)

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