Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Emotional Intelligence and Dumb Phones



It’s only day three in the week and already I’ve had a unique experience to fill up time in my weird widowhood world where sometimes it seems like that’s all I’ve got is time. Woo is me. I want something more meaningful in my life but until I make that happen for myself I go to things like an OLLI class that was billed as “a stimulating and thought-provoking session about the fascinating field of emotional intelligence.” Would you sign up for a workshop like that if that’s all you knew about it? Thankfully I wasn’t the only one who was intrigued and foot-loose enough to act on that impulse. Fifty people showed up and we had a great time laughing our gray-haired heads off as we learned that emotional intelligence is about “managing our own emotions and the ability to ‘read’ emotions in others.” We talked about the nine ways people learn and how IQ alone is not an indicator of success in a person’s life. We talked about the characteristics of emotional intelligence---the other indicator of success---which includes handling relationships and being a self-motivator. We touched on that fact that emotions are impulses to act (flight or fight) and feelings are more mind based, our reactions to emotions and we base those reactions on our past experiences. 

I’d been to one of the speaker’s workshops two years ago so I knew he’d be entertaining. That one was titled, “I’m Dying to Talk to You” which was about end-of-life conversations. He had worked for Hospice for 25 years and he’s one of those people with a thousand anecdotes on the tip of his tongue and he likes to interact with his audience, letting us share stories as well. If he could be cloned he’d make the perfect “gift” to give to lonely widows and children you’d like to grow up to be good citizens of the world. Up for auction! One male who actually listens, who can tell funny stories, who has a generous heart and throws out sentences that you want to write down like, “Human souls don’t want to be fixed, they just want to be heard” and “we’re all recovering children” and Emra Bombeck’s “Worrying is like being in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but does not get you anywhere.”

That last one about worrying is a hard habit to break. At least for me. If you don’t worry, you don’t troubleshoot your way out of potential problems. Or is that a cop-out, something I tell myself to justify things like getting naked in front of a dermatologist so he can look at my moles? What’s the difference between worrying and your mind subconsciously working on ways to avoid what you’re worried about? My biopsies came back, by the way, and two are cancerous so I’m scheduled for what they call “surgery” but is really just them digging out more skin around where the moles were removed for the biopsies. Sorry, Emra, but my ‘rocking chair’ did get me somewhere. 

Changing topics: I bought a new smart phone that was absolutely the stupidest phone I’ve ever had and between Don and me we’ve had a lot of cell phones going back to the ‘80s when Motorola bag phones first came on the market. (See photo above.) Can you believe it, the plan we had with that first cell phone was $9.99 a month for life for unlimited calls and we were able to keep that plan, transferring it to upgraded phones, until 2005. We finally voluntarily gave up the contract because the company got fussy and would only let us use it with a basic cell phone and I wanted one with more bells and whistles on it. But I still have that same cell phone number---31 years!

The phone I bought had some (new to me) features on it that I wanted like voice texting and voice maps but what it didn’t have the ability to get itself activated. After making four calls to the company spread out over 11 days and waiting on hold for over four hours finally a technical support guy declared the phone is defective and they’d send me a pre-activated phone to make a swap. The good news is they said they’d wave the $35.00 activation fee and drop five dollars off the monthly service fee. The bad news is when the phone arrived today in the mail it wasn’t the right model. It was a phone that cost nearly $100 less than I paid! Back on the phone I went but this time I had a direct line to technical support so I didn’t wait on hold. I got the apologizes one would expect and the promise that they’d use overnight delivery to get me the right phone. This whole saga has been frustrating but I’ve kept my cool through it all. However, if one more thing goes wrong with this fiasco my emotional intelligence will go down the drain and I’ll be back here writing Dumb Phones, Part Two. And I’ll be naming names. ©

27 comments:

  1. I remember those old phones...only from a distance. I'm not that interested in spending a lot of time with technology although I like using the web for information. I have been thinking about switching my flip phone for an iPhone mostly because I listen to a lot of podcasts and it would be more convenient if I was walking. There are so many trends that are intersting to observe now..for instance the trend from radio to podcasts like network tv to netflixs and other producers, I feel that I am observing a lot of this but not embracing it...that I think is a consequence of age.
    That is very impressive that you have had cell phones for 31 years. I hope I did not go too far off of the topic!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I never care about anyone being off or on topic. I'm just happy to get comments.

      We had cell phones because we worked so much in the middle of the night on parking lots and we needed to talk back and forth. But we were never ones who had to have the latest models.
      There are so many tech devices out there now it isn't funny. I want to make more of an effort with my new phone to the learn and use all features so my info is consolidated. I'm like you with podcasts and Netflixs. I don't know that I'll ever embrace it all.

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  2. I'll comment first on your biopsies. We're native Texans. Our son has a light complexion and blond hair. He's worn sun screen for years. At age 50 he developed a tiny place at the corner of his eye. You got it, skin cancer. He was off to a surgeon that would hopefully not leave him scared. Five tries it took before they were satisfied that day. He had quite a scar when it was over but now it's barely noticeable. They told him he would likely have more because as a child he lived in Texas where it was hot and sunny. He's diligent in seeing his dermatologist these days.

    Now my personal opinion is phone companies are there to make you never want to use one. I don't ever hear anyone talking about a good experience with any phone companies. I personally hate phones, would love to be able to live without one, but I love everything else about my iPhone. I'm the queen of texting. I sometimes type my blog from my iPhone, I've typed business letters on my phone. I do many things with it but have never learned to make a phone call or answer it. Our daughter attempts to teach me from time to time but I think I have a mental block.

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    1. By your eye would be a hard place to have one removed! This is my second time of finding cancerous moles and I won't make the mistake of skipping a yearly check again. These two got too big (dime sized)and will scar when stitched up. I spent a lot of time in the sun growing up on a lake.

      That's funny that you don't use your phone for calls but I can see that happening to me. I do love texting and since I'll have voice texting I'll have to try talking my blog out instead of writing it. I miss a lot of calls on my cell because I couldn't get to what needed doing before it went to voice mail.

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  3. One less worry I have, since I don't have a cell phone. :-)

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    1. I have a love/hate relationship with mine.

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  4. I had a frustrating experience with a return yesterday. I'm glad you finally got a solution. Has the correct phone arrived yet?

    I know you're glad that you braved it through your naked session with the dermatologist. The last time my son was here we told him that he should be more careful about sunscreen and see a dermatologist. They did a biopsy on a place on his ear this week. Don't know the results yet.

    It's amazing that you kept the same phone number all those years. That must be a record of some sort. The photo of that old phone up there is a hoot. I'd love to be around in 50 years to see where all this technology goes, but I'd rather not be around for the rising seas and temperatures.

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    1. Not yet. I wrote the above blog right after I got off the phone with the company. I actually still had that bag phone until last year when I sent it to the auction house. They don't go for a lot but there is still a market for them with kids who've never used them.

      I've never used sun screen in my life. I guess it's time I buy some. I don't get out in the sun much though either.

      I've had my landline number almost as long. In my entire life I've only had one cell and two landline numbers and that includes my childhood. I remember when the phone company switched us from a party line to a private. I've always lived in the same area code.

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  5. Sorry to hear about the biopies but just keep digging them out and you'll be OK. Sorry about the word digging.
    About a phone, I don't even have a cell phone and probably will never have one. My wife has one and she still doen;t know how to use it but that's OK.
    I'm golfing tomorrow and I home it gets warmer. Pray for me.
    Have a wonderful Thursday Jean. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. You got it, Paul. We have rain today but it's ending by tomorrow mid morning so maybe you'll be likewise lucky with your rain.

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  6. I absolutely LOVE my I phone, but the whole tech world is a maze of confusion when things go wrong!

    Being a fair-skinned redhead, I've always had a love/hate relationship with the sun. I've had precancerous lesions removed and see my dermatologist every 6 months. Also I'm a champion worrier (learned at the knee of my mama), but my current personal growth work is to get that under control and stop making up worst case scenarios before all the facts are in!

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    1. For personal growth you would have liked this workshop I wrote about. Worst case scenarios rarely happen, especially when you can take steps to avoid them.

      I still can't figure out how landline phones and radios actually work, let alone I-phones. LOL

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  7. Thanks ... just reminded me to schedule appt with derm doc! When we finally gave up our landline (2008?) we transferred the home number to his cell. He had that number since the early 70's! My kid will never have a landline and soon area codes will mean nothing.

    As for phones! I love learning something at least once a week. Last night I finally got my purchased ringtones onto my new iPhone. I can print from my phone. My new WW app is up and running ... I can scan a barcode at the grocery to find out how many points in a serving of food BEFORE I buy it. My grocery list (actually my entire "to buy" list) is on my phone. My kids text me photos of the boys.

    I need to work on talking to the apps (and Siri). Actually I can do that on my computer as well!!

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    1. I didn't know that about area codes. You'd think they'd still need them because they are running out of numbers to give out. I still have a landline. I can't image being on hold with tech people using a cell.

      The bar code reader is one of the apps I really wanted to upgrade so I could get it. It has so many practical applications. what's a WW app? I want the weather and power alerts and of course ICE. I don't know if I'll be able to print or not, I'm looking forward to exploring the features. Ring tones are fun but I still like the old fashion phone ring (candlestick. If it's a song, I forget to answer it.

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    2. Yes, still need area codes ... but all that will tell us is WHERE the person bought their phone and service. I signed up NOAA severe weather alerts (because I used to get multi messages about wind and surf every DAY). Now I get just the very important ones. Actually, I think I get those through our County website. My grocery store has an app. There is an app for just about ANYTHING you are interested in. I enjoy the NightSky (constellations, satellites, etc). Have fun! I have different ring tones for some people ... then I know how fast to get to my phone, if it is not in my pocket!

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    3. Oh, I get it on the ring tones now! That would be helpful. I had the grocery store app on my old phone and it saves you a lot of money. It's going to be fun adding them.

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  8. Emotional intelligence - I've been reading about it A LOT this year. I'm in freshman class. Make that grade school LOL
    I think babies are likely born with superior emotional intelligence - they simply cannot tell a lie when something feels 'off'. Granted that this sensing ability can get more refined with good tutoring. But, gosh darn it, it can also get pounded right out of kids. Think about the ribbing boys and girls get: "Don't cry! Baby!" So poor little dears - Only way to not to be humiliated is not to feel. That turns into "Feelings are for sissies" and "Rationality is superior". Hello?!? Can't have emotional maturity without emotional intelligence, can't have emotional intelligence without tuning into your own emotions and those of others...What a colorless world we would be in without emotions!

    Cell phone dinosaur you are! My hubby had that Motorola bag phone in 1988. Almost as old a dinosaur. Will your new smart phone enable you to what...never get lost and find your purpose in life?

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    1. I knew you'd know about emotional intelligence. To me, it's really not a new concept, just a repackaged to sell books. But what you're saying is SO true. We get our emotions programed out of us at an early age.

      The new phone coming isn't my first smart phone. I had a generation "two" and I'm getting a "five". I'm hoping the local road construction app will keep me from sitting in traffic jams. There is so much construction that it's hard to route yourself from point A to B!

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    2. P.S. I'll bet your husband loved that bag phone as much as mine did.

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  9. Jean

    Wow u and don were early adapters to new technology I first saw that bag phone while taking graduate level class about wireless access to information technology and was highly impressed when he called his secretary from his bag phone while teaching class make a point how this technology worked only ma bell had great customer service that they will allow to keep that cheapest rate for lifetime of your phone ur enrichment classss sound so great wish I could find something that enriching around our neighborhood

    Asha

    Asha

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    1. Don really loved showing off the bag phone's technology. It was something in its day. I think the only reason they allowed the cheap rate for lifetime back then was because they were still building cell towers and the ranges were more localized in the beginning. And people had to be sold on the idea of cell phone use. The customers were walking ads.

      OLLI classes (Osher Lifelong Learning Inst.)are in just about any area with a college. They are geared for people over 50 which I don't think you are, but file the info away for when you do turn 50. For others over 50 looking for them, google OLLI+ to find them. They are taught by retired professors and are very good quality. No tests or books to buy, just the enjoyment of learning is required.

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  10. I make a distinction between the kind of worrying where you feel more and more anxious about something but don't do anything about it and the kind where you diagnose the problem and then take action. I think the social psychologists call this latter form "instrumental coping," and it turns out to be a good way to reduce stress in your life. -Jean

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    1. That makes sense that there is an actually term for the kind of worrying I call "troubleshooting." I do my share of worrying but I also do what I can to take actions to reduce it. Thanks for sharing that.

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  11. ' Dying to talk to you' for end-of-life conversation - such a VERY appropriate title, very clever. Re the actual conversation, I'm the kind of person who looks at the end pages of a murder story to find the ending- to satisfy my curiosity. Yet in actual life, have many mysteries which will never be solved because I didn't have that vital talk.

    Re phones, I disdained a mobile for years till I got a 2 yrs old free handmedown from the kids. Now thinking of getting a/the latest iPhone, to keep up with the kids and ' because I'm worth it!' philosophy. Use it as a receiver, banking and camera, with the home landline for telephone purposes (like you, shudder to think costs of the call on a mobile if I'm on long hold). ~ Libby

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    1. That 'Dying to Talk to You' class was both fun and poignant at the same time and a good one for recent widows like I was at the time I went. I've never had that final talk with anyone either. My mom died suddenly, my dad could never remember he was sick with cancer and my husband couldn't talk the last 12 years of his life.

      Being on hold for tech people is the main reason I don't give up my landline. I never used my cell for anything involving money. I know it's unjustified but I worry about people being able to grab that information out of the air like they can do with remote unlocking your car.

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  12. Jean, you haven't written for awhile. I;ve been thinking about you. Are you OK?

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I've been writing Paul, twice a week but I think my feeds that people were getting by email or whatever quite working.

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