Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 26, 2013

Cathie Shaffer: A new frame of mind: 02/26/13

Cathie Shaffer
The Independent

GREENUP — It seems like this time of year all anybody ever talks about is the weather. So I’m not going to.

I have decided not to worry about things I can’t control. So if it snows, I’ll wear my heavy coat. If it’s warm and sunny, I’ll put on a hoodie.

The traffic by my house is another one of those things I can’t control. Choosing a house near a stop light was a decision my late Hubby and I made. If I time my comings and goings right, I can get in and out pretty easily. So I try for that perfect timing rather than sit at the end of my driveway muttering under my breath at the thoughtless motorists who won’t let me out.

With two young cats in the house who are experiencing their first spring, I know their sleeping and eating patterns of the long winter months will be abandoned. So I’m extra careful to keep them in the house as I enter and exit and forgive them when I come home and everything in the living room/dining room/bedroom is spread hither and yon.

They’re babies. They’re excited. They like to run and play. And all that bending down, picking things up and putting them away is good exercise for my old bones.

It so happened that I was sitting at a restaurant when a couple near me began harassing their server about how long it was taking for their food to come out of the kitchen. In these days, when practically anyone can get a concealed weapon permit, I decided it was best to keep my counsel and not point out how rude they were being.

It’s not like the server has any control over how fast the cooks produce a meal. And threatening her with no tip isn’t going to make the non-tipped kitchen staff move any faster.

I drive a lot of miles in my work and personal lives and encounter a wide range of drivers on the road. When someone’s car is drifting in the lane or doing the slow down/speed up thing, I figure that person’s on the cell phone or texting and give a wide berth.

On my way to the office the other day, though, a pick-up truck came so far out of his lane into mine that I really thought I was going to get hit. I slowed down and swerved. And as he passed me, I realized he was using the heels of his hands on the steering wheel as he peeled a banana.

And no, he didn’t have an anxious monkey in the passenger seat.

I used to be world’s champion worrier. From simple things like fretting over whether the milk was still good as I started to cook to wondering how on earth I’d ever pay that higher-than-expected utility bill, I won a gold medal every time. But then a combination of age and circumstance made me realize just how many hours of the years I have left I was wasting that way.

A conversation with a friend who meditates sort of inspired me to try it as a calming force in my life. But I soon realized that when I empty my mind of all the negative things, I begin to fill it with grocery lists and half-remembered song lyrics that I simply can’t complete.

So I’ve gone with a different plan. I have adopted the motto of a hero of my childhood, the smiling character that graced a monthly magazine.

Yes, I am emulating Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine and going with “What? Me Worry?”

CATHIE SHAFFER can be reached at cathieshaffer@zoominternet.net