A Goodness Gracious Me Meeting

I wasn’t going to do it, but…

An unexpected event happened on my doorstep this morning which connected so perfectly with it, that it would be ungracious of me to ignore the promptings of the universe.

Angie of King Ben’s Grandma tagged me to participate in a blogging challenge created by Beckie of Beckie’s Mental Mess.

Here are the links to their respective posts:

P.O.P – Gracious Greetings by King Ben’s Grandma

“POP!” Pop of Positivity Share #3 – Topic: Gracious Greetings by Beckie’s Mental Mess

I did try playing blogging-tag before, about a year ago when saw the fun Melanie of Sparks From A Combustible Mind was having with a group of bloggers whom I did not know or follow. I joined the group – as in followed those bloggers, but… I mostly don’t play well with others and it shows.

But I do like to test and challenge myself to do what I view myself as not doing and such… sometimes thanks to self-tests and self-challenges I find my self-narrative is wrong, and sometimes it’s right even if to others it may be wrong.

So I wasn’t going to accept the tag, but I do appreciate being asked to play.

And I like Angie. Part of why I like Angie can be seen in her post on Gracious Greetings.

I wanted to find a way to decline participating which was respectful, appreciative and gracious… which honoured both sides, both people, both Angie and me.

I didn’t want to do that thing which annoys me when I do it and when other people do it too – where you accept a gift because you don’t want to be rude and be seen as rude, but you don’t want to accept it because you don’t want it.

So you accept the gift, then put the gift on a shelf and ignore it.

And maybe the person who gave you the gift, gives you another gift like that because they think you genuinely liked it due to you pretending that you did, and would appreciate more gifts like that because you accepted that one with fake smiles and thank you so muches.

While you can sometimes get away with that… there are times when you can’t.

Sometimes doing the rude thing is more polite than doing the polite thing which ends up being far ruder in the long term.

If and when the person who gave you the gift finds out that not only did you not want the gift but you didn’t want any of the other similar gifts they gave you with such pleasure – it made them feel so good to do that and now they feel so bad about it.

They’ll view what you did to be polite and not be seen as rude as something deeply hurtful.

You’ve been lying to them = treating them like a fool.

You’ll lose their trust – that’s a beautiful gift they gave you, and a terrible gift given to lose all because you wanted to be polite and not appear rude.

Whippet by Larissa Lobo

Being gracious isn’t about appearing to be gracious…

That photograph above is actually here to represent the star of the unexpected event which happened this morning and which changed my mind about not participating in this tag (I’m not tagging anyone though, so if you want to participate in this – tag yourself and you can say I tagged you if needs must for the sake of… appearances).

It’s a photo of a whippet but it’s not of the whippet I met this morning…

I didn’t have time to take any photographs or even think about taking a photograph, even if it had occurred to me to do so – whippets move very quickly and the entire event happened in the blink of an eye (several blinks but it was blinking quick).

It all started before I became aware of it, as things always do, we always join a story in the middle even if for us it feels like the beginning.

I was sitting at my desk, typing a reply to a comment on one of my posts when something which first appeared as agitated flickering seen from the corner of my eye drew my attention to it because it was different than usual.

I can see the road from where I sit.

It’s a busy road and its activity is always flickering away, flashes of traffic, mainly heavy goods vehicles pretending they’re on a grand prix circuit, on a straight stretch of it just after a chicane where they can put the peddle to the metal. Cars, trucks, and farm machines go zooming by.

I see them but don’t see them.

I hear them but don’t hear them.

Unless the trucks have squealing pigs in them – no, they’re not necessarily on the way to the slaughterhouse, they get moved from pig farm to pig farm sometimes, but they will eventually end up as bacon and sausages.

One of my neighbours is a pig farmer, they adore their pigs both while they’re alive and when they become organic sausages – you can taste the love.

Too brutal for you – but you’re a human, aren’t you?

Humans are brutal – we’re slightly less brutal now than we have been throughout history, in some ways humans were more honest then than they are now about being human.

Sometimes the open brutal is more gentle than the effects of the denial of our brutal which some humans consider to be a life mission – brutal hidden under the clothing of gentle lamb.

That gentle lamb will eat you alive and then pretend to be a gentle lamb again who would never ever do such a thing, must be someone else – points finger at someone who looks brutal but is really genuinely gentle, crowd believes the faux-gentle lamb, grabs pitchforks, turns the real gentle lamb into bacon and sausages and congratulates themselves on a job well done, they’re safe now! Faux-gentle lamb chuckles internally but looks faux-genuinely-upset by what the pitchforkers did just because they pointed finger. Tsk tsk! Other people…

We’re still brutal no matter how much positive spin we put on it, and how much we ignore it, bubble up, cover it up with happy smiley faces.

“So may the outward shows be least themselves:
The world is still deceived with ornament.
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being seasoned with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
There is no vice so simple but assumes
Some mark of virtue on his outward parts.”

― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

This time the traffic was at a standstill which never happens unless there’s roadworks, but there aren’t any at the moment, or a really slow tractor, but they are always considerate of other drivers and regularly pull over to let people pass.

There was a woman running around in the road.

Funnily enough, she looked a bit like Beckie from Beckie’s Mental Mess.

She was waving her arms around and shouting something.

I stood up and went to the window for closer inspection and… wtf, why are a bunch of women wandering around in our driveway!?!

I’m Introvert level: Hermit.

That’s one of the first things I told my neighbours about myself when we met and exchanged greetings. I wanted to make sure they realised that if I appeared to be avoiding them it was because of me avoiding all people and not just them.

I’m the weirdo being and doing weird, okay. It’s me and not you and I’m not saying that while meaning the opposite.

Luckily they’re all really lovely people – genuinely lovely not pretend lovely. When they smile at you, the smile is in their eyes too, and their gestures. Small gestures of whispering kindness from one human to another, no strings attached.

Luckily being eccentric around here is the norm rather than the exception.

My partner and I, when we were exploring the country to decide where to settle down, picked this county in the UK because when we stayed at a local pub during our travels, a man walked in with a bird of prey on his arm, an eagle or a falcon, and no one batted an eyelid.

This is us – this is normal and natural here.

He had a pint and chit-chatted, then eventually he mentioned the bird on his arm, who was totally calm as though she lived there and always had, and why she was there. He’d found her, she was lost, not supposed to be in the UK, and had taken her in, caring for her as though she was where she belonged – he was hoping to return her to her real home when she was ready.

This is one of those places where everyone is kind to each other, understanding, helpful, a real type of nice.

I was thinking about that while at the local supermarket yesterday – everyone here bucks that trending narrative going on out there of everyone being ruder to each other these days.

And yes, even the teens (who get such a bad rap especially from adults – like those adults were never teens and have forgotten what that’s like) are kind to each other… there’s a post on my blog wherein I mentioned a conversation I overheard between teens in the supermarket. One teen felt weird and unlikable, the other two reassured the one that they liked them, everyone is weird here, so don’t worry. It was very sweet!

Whenever I hear people online tut-tutting about “people these days” being meaner, ruder, less friendly, less gracious, less empathic, less understanding than people in the days of those…

My personal experience of the days of those was that people were rude and obnoxious then… I think people are less rude and obnoxious now.

Maybe I’m living in a bubble of a place where we’re all eccentric here because we’re doing our own thing which includes being gracious to each other when we meet because we enjoy being that way. It’s done for ourselves rather than for others.

Yes, people here can be rude here (the area is notorious for a fatal shooting – this is the UK people shooting people is rare – of a trespasser by the owner of the property and the trespasser’s family wanting justice for their trespasser’s life being taken while they were breaking and entering and possibly going to vandalise and steal while trespassing. It was an unusual and unique case) but usually it’s easily understandable why they’re rude in that moment and no one needs to make a big deal out of it, we’re all human here…

Except for the star of the unexpected event, who was a dog.

Being an Introvert level: Hermit who tends to avoid people doesn’t mean I don’t confront people if they trespass on my property. I’m a guard dog when it comes to keeping my piece of hermetic peace.

I rushed downstairs, barking alarm to my partner – Did you notice there are people in our driveway? – who got to the door and was outside before me.

The instant we appeared outside and were seen, without us saying a word (hmmm… I think my partner may have asked – Hello?) the female collective of trespassers apologised for trespassing, they didn’t want to but… and they quickly explained the situation and scenario.

A dog had been running around on the busy road.

All traffic had stopped to avoid hitting it.

Many of the drivers, the group of whom these women were a part (one was super chic, with what was probably an expensive shawl which she was using to try and thrown over the dog to catch and calm it), had gotten out of their cars to attempt to catch the dog, or at least corral it off the road – which is why it had taken refuge in our driveway, and they had followed it.

One van driver (who in the UK tend to have a terrible reputation) had taken it upon himself to locate its owner, which he figured would be in one of the houses around here… although there is a car park for a nature reserve here and many non-residents of the immediate area come to this spot to take their dogs for walks off the leash even though you’re sort of supposed to keep them on the leash due to the wildlife.

Only one of my neighbours has dogs, but it wasn’t either of his dogs. The younger one has run up his long driveway to the road a few times but it usually runs back, especially when I spot it and give it chase.

The dog was not one I recognised, but it turned out to be owned by a family member of my dog-owning neighbour.

That neighbour is usually the epitome of bonhomie, he’s a hail fellow well met who always makes you feel excellent after being with him, but when he turned up… he was fuming – you could see the smoke coming out of his eyes, ears and top of his head.

Once he arrived, all the very kind and caring, very gracious strangers who took time out of their busy lives to look after someone else’s dog, vanished as though they had never been there.

Traffic returned to normal.

Had any of it really happened or did I just imagine it!?

Well, the dog was still loose in our garden and didn’t want to be caught any time soon.

My partner and my neighbour chased him (dog was a him, but I didn’t catch his name) around our back garden.

I stayed by the road to stop it from rushing out onto it again.

I know we’re supposed to be all gender neutral, but… once men are in action mode and that action is heroically trying to fix a problem… us women would do well to just enjoy being female and let the males be males. Both are of equal power because of their differences… they hunted and I did something along the lines of gathering.

I know I’ve expressed that badly… you can express how badly you think/feel I’ve expressed that in the comments on this post – please be aware that I reply to all comments and my replies tend to reflect my guard dog side if I feel/think you’re trespassing on my property… although I do try to be fair and understanding, I may fail like a typical human being human regardless of gender.

I succeeded in stopping the dog from returning to the road several times, but eventually I failed when I tried a female approach to calming the dog (later, after it was all over, I thought: “Damn… if only I’d tried the Barbara Woodhouse… stoPPP! siTTT!… approach” but then I thought: “It’s probably just as well that it didn’t occur to me to do that – maybe that would’ve made things worse rather than fixed things” – forgetting something in the moment is often a blessing rather than a curse, remember that when you’re cursing yourself for not having remembered something which you’re telling yourself would have been so much better than what was in the moment. 20/20 hindsight is… a know-it-all asshole) and it slipped passed me.

Luckily the road was experiencing one of those no-traffic moments and it zoomed across like lightning un-hit and unharmed, running towards the driveway of my neighbour’s house, going home with its tail between its legs after a jolly old jaunt.

My neighbour stormed after it, mumbling and grumbling about that bloody dog… don’t worry, my neighbour may have been in fuming grizzly bear mode but he’s a sweetie especially with animals. He was shocked and scared that the dog who was in his care had run off into danger during his watch. He’s one of those people who takes things to heart, does his best to be the best he can be, be responsible and such.

That’s it…

Thank you, Angie, for the gift!

Before I shut tf up and let you get a word in edgewise, one last thing – a couple of links to two articles I read today which are sort of connected to this while sort of not connected to this:

Why Positive Thinking is Bad For You – Many people swear by positive thinking, few are helped by it by Srikumar Rao Ph.D

Being Positive: Another Form of Avoidance? When staying positive as a way to deal with difficulties turns into avoidance by Ilene Strauss Cohen Ph.D

I’m a fan of seeing the blessing in the curse and of doing a double-check double-take on what you’ve labeled as “bad” and asking yourself – is it really bad or am I just narrating it that way and making it so because that’s my narrative?

But I’m not a fan of the whole “Power of Positive Thinking” movement… or at least the way certain humans use it and interpret it.

That is a personal bug which goes deep for me. I’m the child of narcissists and as the child of narcissists, from an early age you become constantly hypervigilant for signs that your narcissist parents are about to crash and burn… you to the ground. When narcissists are in manic-positive mode they’re climbing crash mountain and you’re going with them whether you want to or not.

That’s all I’m saying about that here and now, this is long enough.

Here’s something which I consider to be a positive quote which when practiced in a certain way can lead to gracious greetings:

Feel free to ask questions and share yourself… I may bark but I rarely bite, but I may bite so you’ve been warned, and I know you can bark and bite too.

Hail fellow human! Let’s try to well meet as best as we can in our own particular and possibly eccentric way.

Now it really is a – that’s it!


  1. BRAVO!! And I’m truly sorry (and yeah, it’s not about ME, but sort of is) if a former gift was not quite the thing you were wishing for. A reason I developed a semi-phobia of tagging (nominating or gifting) people to do challenges. I’m pretty firmly entrenched in the ‘if they want to, they will’ camp. But I know I’ve been guilty of tagging you for challenges and what-not in the past. I shan’t repeat the mistake, not because I’m wounded and now being prickly, no, it’s because it’s the truly polite gift to give. Oddly enough (or not so much) most of the folks I blog with are the same way. Amazing that all these introverts (some of us, like yourself, at hermit/recluse level) get together. Maybe it’s because we have recognized our true tribe and are finally at home in a sense. I’m glad the doggie wasn’t harmed and after his spree, had the good sense to take him and his tail home and out of your zone. And Beckie is a sweetie and so is Angie. I’m glad you felt up to returning their gifts…


    • Thank you, Melanie 🙂

      No need to say sorry, no mistakes happened, you’re not guilty of anything, I’ve enjoyed the few times you’ve tagged me in the past, and the fun of it. My thanks yous at the time were genuine! Still are. I’d have said “No thank you” at the time if I didn’t want to accept the tag.

      The part you’re homing in on about gifts wasn’t about blog-tagging, although I can see how it could be interpreted that way.

      I tend to shift quickly from one thing to another when I write. My mind zips from association to association, switches timelines and places. and I don’t always explain the shifts. In the case of the gifts bit in this post I went from blog-tagging in the present which I saw as a form of gift offered – – -> to something else which was more generalised which was not about blog-tagging. And thinking about a very past me who used to politely accept what she didn’t want, so she got more of it.

      So to clarify – I was not saying that I never want to be tagged and that I hated being tagged in the past. Especially not by you since I know you worry and think about it a lot before doing it. I would have declined to participate and said so up front at the time if that was the case. It really was not about you tagging me. I truly enjoyed being tagged by you, you gave me the chance to experience that aspect of blogging.


  2. Hey Ursula 🐕

    I’m glad the universe conspired with me or through me or whatever to encourage you to write this post. The whole thing, beginning to end (including links) has put a big smile on my face and kept it there.

    I love the way you describe the area you live in. It makes me think of the fictional TV town I wish was real… Cicely, Alaska from Northern Exposure. My all time favorite TV show. My daughters got me a complete series set of DVDs for Christmas one year. An awesome gift that I treasure.

    I found myself nodding along to so much I’d this… letting the men do the man thing, letting the dog get past was obviously meant to be… it went home. If you had stopped it, it might have darted away from the misunderstood self-anger of the neighbor (like the helpful trespassing club did) and gotten hurt…

    The first linky link makes sense as a concept, but I dont know if any of us mere mortals are quite there yet. I can know there’s a reason, a lesson in whatever is spinning me and still not be happy or even neutral about it. I can talk about Murphy’s Law and maybe it is self-fulfilling, or maybe its acceptance of a life full of lessons. I don’t play the martyr about, I laugh.

    Which brings me to the 2nd linky link. Fake happy is irritating. Fake anything is irritating. Like I wrote it the other comment on the other post, I like awkward because it’s real. I so so SO prefer people to be who they ARE, not who they think they should be.

    Which brings me to you trying to find a gracious way so say thanks but no thanks. Just say it. Not wanting to do a blogging tag does not mean you hate me forever in my mind. It means you dont want to do the post.

    One of the other people I tagged, Paula, her response post was a great take on the idea of graciousness too… dont push at people, let them be however they are kinda thing.

    That’s all I got for now🤔…


    • That’s a lot of great for a that’s all you got, Angie 😀

      There’s this thing I do with my blogging – posts, replies and comments – which I also do more now in RL because of doing it in blog, which is to share my thoughts openly. The thoughts behind, what’s going on inside.

      Recently I watched the TV series Fleabag.

      I keep mentioning it to people. When I first heard about the series – it won some Emmy stuff and was on BBC news because of it. I thought – It’s too popular, I’m not watching it. My partner saw the same news and said – Let’s watch it! He put it on and I thought – I’m going to hate it. Watched a bit – it’s a British Sex and the City, ugh! Watched a bit more – OMG it’s effing brilliant!!!

      The genius who created and stars in it has her main character do this to camera reveal of her real thoughts/feelings and then you watch and hear how she acts which is not always true to her thoughts/feelings because – socialising with people, must pretend, be careful, etc!

      When I write posts, and sometimes replies and comments, I tend to do the to camera thought/feeling process reveal. Eg. This is what I’m thinking/feeling about this social scenario, it’s me working things out with myself before I say or do something.

      Maybe others can relate, maybe they can’t… but most of us think/feel a lot of things before we publicly say and do stuff. We often think we’re alone in those thoughts/feelings, having those kind of thoughts/feelings, but we’re often not – so I share mine in case someone else is having them too and feels alone, confused, afraid, worried, etc, about having them.

      I am doing my natal Chiron in the 7th – heal yourself by revealing yourself, and maybe someone else finds healing for themselves in your healing of self by sharing your “wounds” and general messed up self 😉

      The faux facade thing hurts all of us.

      Ah Cicely… I liked that place too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a similar view of the positive thinking thing. I was raised a pessimist and realized that wasn’t working so well for me as an adult. So, now I try to have a balance between optimism and realism.

    I love dogs and sometimes get overly confident with my training skills. I might’ve gone out there thinking I’d be able to fix it.

    I won’t be joining the tag, but I had an incident very similar to yours that humbled me in that arena real quick. Someone else was much, much better with dogs than I.


    • P.S. The story in the link I shared happened when I lived in Florida. Things like that don’t happen much where I live now (suburban Chicago). Sounds like you live in the country.


    • Thank you for sharing, Lori 🙂

      In my post I mentioned Barbara Woodhouse – years ago in the UK she was the TV dog whisperer. She died in the late 80’s. She was like Cesar Milan. And like your Brazilian lady in your post.

      Dogs are awesome. I grew up with a couple of English Mastiffs, a Bloodhound and a Bull Terrier, as well as Siamese cats… dogs tend to act out if their owners are absent in some manner.

      I think the Whippet was missing his owner who left him in the care of my neighbour, and perhaps my neighbour’s dogs were a bit too much for the Whippet even though they’re Labs and Labs are sweet if a bit overly enthusiastic. The Whippet was super stressed out – I’d have probably been able to calm it down, almost did, but then my neighbour came along with his momentary big scared-grumpy and that’s when it bolted passed me.

      Things happen as they happen, whether we’re skilled or not. Luckily everything worked out and that’s that. Good inspiration for a post though 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. ❤️ I liked reading about your neighbours and about the characteristics of your area. Sounds really lovely; a place where introverts can relax. 🙂

    I love dogs and was unconsciously holding my breath while reading. My sense was that the dog would be fine but still, I was happy to learn that he was.

    The Psych Today articles are interesting. They reminded me very much of a course I took in uni on sociological/psychological history, and specifically on the differences between the Jews (and others) who survived the concentration camps and those who did not. The research shows that the ones who had no intention of trying to make lemonade out of lemons were the ones who successfully escaped. In other words, they saw their situation as dire and as needing serious action right now, while those who put a positive spin on all that was happening had a much lower survival rate. In fact, those who survived at a high rate didn’t go to the camps at all; they did whatever they could, pulled every string they could find, to get out before the deportations started.

    This shows two very different approaches to dealing with adversity: mollification or assertiveness; aggressiveness if necessary. In my interactions with narcissists, I’ve used both, but with my ex-narc I started leaning toward the assertive/aggressive model fairly soon in the relationship.

    Very interesting read, Ursula. 🙂


    • Thank you very much, Lynette 🙂

      The assertive approach tends to be an effective one with a narcissist, but it has to be done with detachment or it can backfire. They’ll test you to see if your assertiveness is genuine or facade – since theirs is facade they assume that of others is too and they know just where the weaknesses are to that facade. They also rely on your attachment to results/consequences – they use facades to control others/results/consequences so they assume others do too, and so they’re often reacting to you as though reacting to themselves if they were doing to you what you’re doing to them and trying to best you/themselves as you. If you’re attached to getting a certain reaction/result/control over them with your assertiveness, they can use that attachment to pull on you, pull you into whatever you were trying to avoid being pulled into, etc.

      Being aggressive with a narcissist – the aggression is best when it is a doberman off the leash just standing there staring, ready to attack but not attacking. As the aggressive approach is familiar territory for a narcissist, and they may be goading you to attack them because that’s where and how they get fuel for their own aggression.

      The utter disinterest approach is also effective mainly due to a narcissist being horrified of the possibility that something they’re doing or saying is boring.

      Did they include the work of Erich Fromm in your uni course? What you said about it reminded me of his books, particularly Fear of Freedom/Escape From Freedom. Or maybe I’m reminded of someone else’s work… and since I can’t recall who that is my mind suggested Erich Fromm? Sounds like it was an interesting course, especially for an ACoN.


  5. I quickly learned to be detached (I think it’s called “the stone wall” or “the grey wall” or something like that). He used to comment on how “stoic” I was. Not really. Just remaining unreactive.

    I had to re-read your description of “them … trying to best you/themselves as you” and think about that. He definitely did that – so convoluted! Yikes. I only did the off-leash Doberman once when he came into my house illegally and stole some notes off my desk. I phoned him and told him to return them, and the unspoken hanging threat was that my next step would be to call the police and have him arrested. He had an arrest and conviction record and I knew he didn’t want to go there again. He came back with them.

    There were Erich Fromm readings as I recall
    and also E.M. Forster among others. Those two stand out though. It was a very interesting course – I was fully engaged.

    Liked by 1 person

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