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On Being Negative

Growing up, we (myself and siblings) always poked fun at our dad for his thick accent. Dad (that’s “Joe”, to you guys) is an “off-the-boat” Italian who occasionally jumbles up words and phrases, and has been known to put letters where they don’t belong.

For example, we should “search the Hinternet” when we need a quick answer to something. When we talk too much, we sound like “that talk show lady, Hoprah”. In the midst of us teasing him one day, he laughed and said, “Sorry if I wasn’t born here, like you did.” Cue hysterics.

He plays the saxophone professionally (he is a fantastic and talented musician, so if you are in the Westchester, NY area be sure to keep your eye out for an Al Pacino look-alike jamming on the sax at any local establishment), and one day we asked him if he would be playing outdoors that evening. His iconic response: “Yes – weather promiscuous, of course.”

There’s “grammar police”, and then there’s “grammar police for immigrant parents”. While the former gets generic training, the latter is a rough-and-tumble street team where no rules apply. It’s like Ultimate Fighting for linguistics. They’ve SEEN things.

My dad knows it’s all in good fun, and really, we grew up poking fun at each other for all sorts of things. None of us took ourselves too seriously. While we joke about his dialectal mishaps, the truth is that there are always wise gems of wisdom to be found within them; little life lessons that stick with you as the years go on, until their logic permeates your rationale and becomes second nature. As far as mispronounced words go, you tend to forget what the actual word even sounds like, because you’ve gotten so used to pronouncing it his way. Because really, they sound so much better his way.

So it’s no surprise that one of his most recent charming “Joe-isms” is yet another phrase I try to live by, delivered to me when I was having a particularly bad day. He saw my face, looked right in my eyes and said, in a very serious tone: “Hey – no more negatigaty.”

I don’t care what sort of funk you’re in – how do you hear those words and stifle your laughter? It was so funny, that it lightened my mood just enough to pull me out of my funk, and yet so true that I find myself repeating it out loud whenever I’m feeling down. I shake my finger at myself, furrow my brow, and say, “Hey – no more negatigaty.” Simple as that.

And this applies to so much in life, because there’s too much negatigaty in this world already!  We don’t need anymore negatigaty, and if we are mindful enough, we can squash any that arises with this little mantra. Here, a random sampling of places where all sorts of negatigaty can creep in, and how we can apply our new catchphrase to squash it:

  • A-hole in line at the grocery store got you down? Shake it off and don’t let it ruin your day. NO MORE NEGATIGATY.
  • Noticed that your “inner voice” is more like a cruel, ruthless, drunken tyrant? Overthrow the belligerent queen and appoint a new, more gentle (and sober) one.  It’s time to start being nicer to yourself. NO MORE NEGATIGATY.
  • Toddler getting impatient while waiting for breakfast? Take a deep breath. Sing a song. Do a little dance. She’ll calm down, and even if she doesn’t, at least you’ll look like a total whacko. NO MORE NEGATIGATY.
  • Good friend acting like a total jerk? Chalk it up to a bad day on her part (boss got her down, toddler puked on her favorite shirt, hormones, whatever) and give her a free pass. We’ve all been there, and it’s probably nothing personal. NO MORE NEGATIGATY.
  • Stuck in a cycle of hating on yourself because of a mistake you made, the actions of someone else, or something you wish you could have done differently? You guessed it: NO MORE NEGATIGATY to the third power.

I can sometimes get stuck as the star in my own internal movie, replaying deleted scenes and bonus reels of things I wish I had said, or didn’t say, or did, or didn’t do. It is exhausting and unproductive when this happens, not to mention a total time-suck. And let me tell you, this activity brings LOTS of negatigaty. I think we all wish we could have done things differently at some point in our lives. But if we can learn from our experiences and then turn off the mental DVD, we can start focusing on the here and now, and leave any past bad feelings where they belong – in the past. NO MORE NEGATIGATY.

I love my new mantra and, who knows, maybe I’ll read about it in “Hoprah” magazine one day, as I’m sitting outside leisurely flipping through the pages on a warm summer’s day. Weather promiscuous, of course.

Author’s note: This post has been previewed and approved by Joe. He understands that it’s all in good fun and that the life lessons learned from his wisdom are what’s really important here.  I would never publish anything that could bring him any negatigaty.


Alessandra Macaluso is the author of What a Good Eater! , Lucy the Bee and the Healing Honey, and The Real-Deal Bridal Bible. She’s also a Qigong and Tai Chi instructor, and overall wellness advocate. Her work has been featured in several anthologies which can all be found on her Amazon author page, and she has contributed to The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, and many other online publications.

Alessandra is a northerner-turned-southerner, enjoying the south with her children, Penelope and Ciro, and her husband, Greg.

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I just finished Echart Tolle’s A New Earth. That negativity we all fight? It’s EGO. His solution? One conscious breath. It works! As soon as I have any negative thought I don’t judge or question it. instead I take a deep breath, feel it- hear it, it’s impossible to think if you are truly focusing on your breath. Then we are creating space between those habitual thoughts and feelings and retraining our brain. It works!:)))

Denise – yes, that is one of my favorite books! Read it a few years ago and often go back to it for refreshers. Seems so simple, yet so powerful!

Hey Ali, I just wanted to say that I absolutely loved this post (not that I don’t love your other posts but this seems special somehow). It’s a beautifully written, heartfelt, endearing, and funny approach to an issue which, let’s face it, ultimately defines the “human condition”.

Laughing at one’s self can be such a release, and it can be hard to do that. It’s wonderful when you have someone in your life who both loves you genuinely and can make you laugh, even if that wasn’t his intention hahaha 😉

I see this also as a lovely tribute to your father. Thanks for sharing this, I feel like I somehow got a sneak peek into the wonderfully quirky and loving relationship between a father and his little girl. 🙂

Thank you Rula!!! I was hoping it would read that way so it makes me so happy to hear you say that. It was a happy accident because if he had said it the “right” way (and I put that in quotes for a reason because F that, I don’t think there is any “right” way,) I probably would have dismissed it or not thought about it in this way. But the way he said it actually made me stop and take a step back, and break my thought process, which was just what I needed in that moment. Don’t we all need those little reminders? XOXO to you 🙂

Yes, how can there be a ‘right way’ when there are so many ways? Hahahaha Love it!

This is a great read! Reminds me of my aunt who was famous (in our family) for making up words. She once said she had a ‘crucious’ moment. Pronounced kru-shius. She was driving on ice and the car started to slide. I think that was a combination of crucial and anxious but it became a word in the family! She is gone now but her words live on!

Cherish those lovely moments, words, and phrases from your father. And thanks for the lovely walk down memory lane.

Cathy, you will never believe this – I need to get my sister to chime in here, so there is extra verification haha – my dad ALSO said “crucious”!!! He was trying to describe to us how hot it was on his wedding day. He said: “Oh, man, it was CRUCIOUS.” Then he looked at us because he knew something was off, and said, “crucial?” and we shook our heads no. Then he said, “brutal?” and we all just busted out laughing…

I love that your aunt’s words live on!! Anytime, thank you for reading and sharing your “crucious” story with me! I’m cracking up over here! Just read your comment to my husband and he’s laughing too!

Oh my! Maybe crucious is a real word and we didn’t know. 🙂

The funny thing about my aunt was that she did not appear to know she made up words. She said ‘It was just crucious’ and went on like nothing was amiss. She did not understand when we were all laughing! Made her even more precious to me. And it was not because she was un- or under-educated. It was just the way she talked.

What a cool memory. Sounds like your aunt was a great woman. About her being educated, same for my dad – I almost hesitated posting this because I didn’t want that to be misunderstood by anyone. He is very educated, speaks 3 languages, ran successful businesses his whole life, and as I mentioned in the post, is a very talented musician. The funny language mishaps is just his way. And those words sound funny to our ears.

OMG!!! Crucious- how HYSTERICAL!!!! Maybe they were soul mates in another life…..what are the odds of that????? Holy cow….

(I’m her sis ) 🙂

Lisa – Hysterical is right! They had to know each other sometime. The odds are just too high that 2 people would make up the same word.

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