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Transformation: Frustration to Jubilation April 9, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.

After a terrible, horrible, awful, very bad day, your wife is trying to get dinner on the table. 

She opens a jar of spaghetti sauce, before realizing she is out of pasta.  

She looks in the fridge for inspiration and ideas.  


In disgust, she slams the door, causing the open jar of sauce in her hands to dispel its contents . . . bathing the entire kitchen, including the inside of the refrigerator, with fragrant garlic and basil tomato sauce.  

Slamming the jar on the counter, she decides to fix grilled cheese sandwiches . . . until she realizes that she is out of bread. 

And cheese.  

In frustration, she reaches for a bag of potato chips  for instant stress relief.   

She rips the bag open and potato chips fly to the four corners of the room, adhering to the sticky red goo on the walls, floor, and refrigerator door. 

As she stares in horror at the wreckage, her world implodes. 

She falls to the floor, in defeat, sobbing uncontrollably.  

You walk into the kitchen at that moment, see the carnage, and realize (even without being a rocket scientist) that your wife’s mental state is . . .


What can you do to stop her world from spinning out of control? 

* If you start to clean up the mess, her attention will remain on the mess. 

* If you try to comfort her, she is apt to cry harder.

* If you rush out to buy her flowers and chocolate (thinking that maybe you forgot her birthday or your anniversary), she’ll feel abandoned.   

Instead of trying to fix the situation, give her a much needed shift in perspective:

1.  Start dancing, crushing chips and smearing sauce with your feet. 

2.  Flail your arms in a silly parody of an ape while making monkey noises.  

3.  Cradle a pretend microphone and sing, “Slip Sliding Away,” while gliding through the sticky tomato goo. 

At first, your wife will stare at you, blinking in confusion.  Then she’ll start to get angry ~ looking for someone, anyone, to blame for her current level of over-the-top-out-of-contol-frustration

TIP:  Make sure that sharp  knives, the half-empty jar of sauce, and the carefully seasoned cast iron skillet are not within easy reach.

And, then, with a bit of luck, your not-so-smooth moves will bring her back to this moment.   

She will get it.   She’ll catch the shift in perspective that you have tossed her way like a life-line and start to laugh . . . until tears of joy run down her face. 

Your idiotic dance moves will bring her back to the present from the precipice of the abyss. 

She’ll let go of the past ~ including all the frustrations and stress that have been building steadily all day.  She’ll stop worrying about what’s coming around the bend and she will . . . Be Here Now.

She’ll remember that, even after a terrible, horrible, awful, particularly bad day, her life is pretty great. 

She has a lot to be thankful for . . . including the fact that she married you.

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  

Have you ever helped someone transform a moment of frustration into one of jubilation?  Have you erased frowns of frustration or inspired tears of joy?

Any secrets to share?

Related posts:  When Ego Wins . . . We LoseIt’s Time To Wake UpYour Wheelbarrow Of Woe * Just Let Go * Ordinary Miracles * 10 Ways To Attract Positive Energy * 5 Easy Ways To Make Yourself Miserable


1. Tammy McLeod - April 9, 2011

The sobbing on the floor bit reminded me of Julie from Julie and Julia. I love the power to choose that you’ve illustrated here Nancy.

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Thanks, Tammy. It does! It’s easy to become overwhelmed by things that won’t matter a year from now.

When we choose to clean up the mess after the tears stop flowing, our sun comes out that much sooner. 😀

2. Piglet in Portugal - April 9, 2011

Were you having a bad day?

I think I would prefer Mr Piglet to give me a hug then sit me down with a glass of wine while he takes control and mops everything up 🙂

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Good point, PiP. People shift perspectives in different ways. Some wants hugs and wine . . .

I just want my sense of humor back.

3. SuziCate - April 9, 2011

That would be one tough moment to dig out of, not sure which of those suggestions would work best…a tranquilizer gun used on me, perhaps?!

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Once I’m laughing again, I can handle most anything. Without my sense of humor, I would be a basket case . . . popping tranquilizers like Gummy Bears. 😀

4. kateshrewsday - April 9, 2011

Oh, I do like SuziCate’s tranquiliser idea. It sounds eminenly promising: the chemicals from my rages swill around for a few hours before quitting the system. I could sleep it off nicely.

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Sometimes the best way
To end a bad day
Is to hit the hay

Sweet dreams!

5. souldipper - April 9, 2011

Give me a big hug while I bemoan the situation, then help me clean it up. That would be love in a spaghetti spill!

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Fortunately Spaghetti Spills are easier to clean up and less deadly than BP Oil Spills. 😉

6. Cindy - April 9, 2011

Crikey! A glass of Merlot?

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

On days like that, once I start laughing again, I definitely pour myself a glass of liquid relief.

Bottoms Up!

7. run4joy59 - April 9, 2011

sweet…messy, but sweet!!

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Excellent sum up, run4joy!

8. Carol Ann Hoel - April 9, 2011

Great story, Nancy. Sometimes it can get so bad that we need to laugh. Alas, I had an episode like that. First I dropped something that broke and made an awful mess, which I cleaned up. Then I shook a jar of some condiment and the lid was loose. The lid flew across the room along with a splash of what was in the bottle. It just kept getting worse. My hubby sat watching in utter silence. My behavior was atrocious, but it could have been worse had not my hubby quietly waited for me to calm down before speaking. After it was over and cleaned up, we both laughed. Blessings to you…

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Thanks for sharing, Carol Ann. We all have those days when nothing wants to behave. 😀

If I can find some way to laugh about it (even if it’s not a laughing matter), my laughter eases my stress and frustration. But sometimes laughter only comes LATER.

9. Paula Tohline Calhoun - April 9, 2011

Generally, I start laughing as soon as things start to roll in the direction of chaos, although I have learned one valuable lesson – a caveat, if you will: “Never, no matter how bad things have become, shout or say, “Can it get any worse than this?” I’ve found that the answer is soon demonstrated, and that answer is “YES!” 😀

Of course, I am reminded of a story! This one from my wonderful, darling mother-in-love: She was caramelizing a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pan of simmering water. She had not vented the can by piercing a hole in it (something she would do from then on). The doorbell rang, and she went to answer it. The person at the door required Mom C’s time, and while speaking with her she forgot about the pan on the stove.

Some time had gone by in conversation with her visitor, when she head a rather loud “POP” which also had a sort of muffled tone to it. She ran in to the kitchen and discovered that the can of sweetened condensed milk had EXPLODED, scattering its contents all over the kitchen. Everywhere. The curtains she had just laundered, starched, ironed and put back up were covered in sticky goo, every inch of counter space, the stove and all the burners, the cabinets, the floor – the pressure that had built up in the can had even forced the caramel INSIDE the closed drawers and cabinets, apparently through the small cracks around them.

Her story usually ended there, and I don’t recall whether she laughed or cried. I do remember that her kitchen got its second Spring cleaning of the year. What fun! At least it was a fun story to listen to! That is a calamity that I really don’t know if it would eventually generate laughter from me or not – but I’m pretty sure there would be a few tears. . .

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

That is an amazing story, Paula. I would be hard pressed to laugh right away if that happened.

And you’re right . . . it can ALWAYS be worse. So look on the bright side by playing the “It Could Be Worse” Game. 😀

Good to have you back on the Comment Trail!

Paula Tohline Calhoun - April 9, 2011

My restarted journey on the trail is going to be slow to begine with, but hopefully I’ll be up to my full and overly wordy speed soon! Thanks for patiently waiting me out! 😀

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

Glad you had such FUN with Jean this week.

10. oldancestor - April 9, 2011

Great story, PTC.

Reminds me of the time I was at a drive through with my son. The clerk handed me the drinks on one of those papery trays. My drink was not secure, tumbled off, and splashed a large coke all over the front of my car… on the seats, the plastic, the fabric, the glass, etc.

I had to empty my hands quickly so they’d be free to panic, and handed my son’s drink to him. Which he dropped, getting Sprite all over the BACK of my car… on the seats, the plastic, the fabric, the glass, etc.

There’s pretty nothing you can do but laugh at that point.

Then again, that’s probably when my son learned some of the words he shouldn’t know.

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

I bet he did learn a few choice words! You and Paula trumped this story hands down.

I’d much rather clean spaghetti sauce off the fridge and floor than sticky soda off the seats of my car.

oldancestor - April 10, 2011

That was my punishment for letting my kid drink sugar.

nrhatch - April 10, 2011


11. barb19 - April 9, 2011

Laughter find the way – it’s great medicine!

nrhatch - April 9, 2011

So true, Barb. Life is much easier with laughter to smooth out the potholes. 😀

12. adeeyoyo - April 10, 2011

Bwahahaha – what a GREAT feel-good post, Nancy!!! And your two photo’s couldn’t be more apt. Superb writing…

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

Thanks, Denise. Glad you enjoyed. I had FUN with this ~ including selecting the right pics to set the mood. 😀

13. adeeyoyo - April 10, 2011

Btw, Nancy, what is ‘CG’? You used it in your comment on my blog yesterday. Then this morning I received an email and on it was a photo with ‘cg’ in the title. Funny how, when you see something new, it crops up over and over again.

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

Computer Graphics. Or Computer Generated Graphics.

They’re special effects used in movies.

adeeyoyo - April 10, 2011

Thank you – whole new vocabulary now…!

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

We often watch the behind the scenes stuff on movies like Shrek or Scrooge (animated with Jim Carrey) to see how they mixed the real with the fantasy.

14. jannatwrites - April 10, 2011

Change in perspective is good. I think after time together, people figure out how to handle their loved ones.

My husband usually watches my temper tantrums in silence and when the tirade ends, he will say something that makes me laugh and realize how ridiculous I acted. Somehow it doesn’t keep me from going off the deep end in the future, though 🙂

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

So right, Janna. For me, that initial burst of laughter starts to make the world right again.

15. Tilly Bud - April 10, 2011

Is this written from experience? 🙂

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

Of course not! I would NEVER use potato chips as a means of stress relief! 😛

Actually, I think I saw a cartoon or read a vignette like this somewhere a long time ago. But I can’t remember where, or the details, or how it ended.

16. Sandra Bell Kirchman - April 10, 2011

I think I would have lost it long before this lady did. I would then have hoped my hubby would say, “Let’s clean up the mess and then go out to dinner.” Help in both areas…and maybe a quick shopping trip afterwards. Instant smile among the tears. Good post.

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

Thanks, Sandra. When we are already frustrated, it’s easy for life to overwhelm us. That’s why I try never to get to the “tipping point.” 🙂

17. Maggie - April 10, 2011

It doesn’t take long to make a mess, but cleaning it up can take quite a while… but sometimes the circumstances are so funny you can’t help but laugh. Reminds me of that one time a can of Cheerwine exploded in the freezer and coated everything in red. Fun times!

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

Oh, that is messy. Especially when it’s frozen on to stuff that you don’t want to let thaw. 😦

18. flyinggma - April 10, 2011

Sounds like the day I came home from work and found barbeque sauce tracked all over my house.

My husband was home for lunch and invited our Not Inside Dog to join him and forgot to let him out when he went back to work. The dog knocked over the crockpot with barbequed ribs in it and spilled and tracked sauce all over the house for two hours before I got home from work.

When we replaced our old stove with a new one last year I found some more barbeque sauce that I missed cleaning up years ago.

All I could do was laugh…after I finished crying 🙂

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

Most of the time if I spill something, I just go, Oops!

But if I dropped an entire pot of chili, spaghetti sauce, or a tray of lasagne, my language would be a tad more colorful than that.

19. estherlou - April 10, 2011

Stunning! Love the way your mind works, the way you can put a sentence together, and the great mind pictures you produced! Just loved this and got a great laugh! Thanks.

nrhatch - April 10, 2011

Thanks, Estherlou. I’ve never written much “humor” so I’m trying my hand at it. It’s quite FUN! 😀

20. William D'Andrea - April 11, 2011

This sounds like a good plot for a comedy skit.
If it isn’t a skit, then what should be done is obvious. Give her a hand with cleaning up the mess.

nrhatch - April 11, 2011

Well, everyone is different. But I’d rather laugh first and clean up later. 😀

21. eof737 - April 12, 2011

Well, if that was your day, hurray! You conquered it… I couldn’t get the red sauce off my mind. Always a nuisance to clean up!

nrhatch - April 12, 2011

The emotions have been mine a time or two, but I’ve never spilled an entire jar of spaghetti sauce or chili. Knock on wood.

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