I like to think of myself as a competent person. Personally uninhibited, I feel comfortable reading and then discarding directions that were written for people like me. Certainly my ability to think things out in a logical and effective manner has been demonstrated in the way I live my life.

Here are life directions that never seem to get into print.


Premise: When a stapler gets jammed, it ceases to work - the little staple is not ejected onto the paper or folder you are trying to connect. Instead, the small piece of metal bends and meshes itself in the opening of the stapler. Thus, it jams.

Warning: When prying out the staple, never test to see if the jam has cleared by pressing down on the stapler when your finger is still at the opening.

Result: Stapled my index finger to the paper - took two minutes for my scream to become audible.

White Out

Premise: One coat of white out over a mistake on an original, one of a kind printed report may not be enough

Warning: Applying five coats of white out builds up so that it appears as if you have a marshmallow that has grown on your document.

Result: Make it look like a Pillsbury Dough Boy and pretend that it’s supposed to look like that.


Premise: Putting on a thick layer of mascara to eyelashes brings out the glorious luster of a person’s eye. In addition, lipstick, applied properly, enhances the feminine smile. Both are considered a “must have” in today’s cosmetic oriented world.

Warning: The end of the mascara wand is sharp and mascara is made from bat droppings. If you accidently use waterproofed mascara, warm water does not remove it. A tremendous build up can occur and you will have that “sleepy eye” look, simply because you can’t lift your lashes anymore due to the weight. As for lipstick, part of the ingredients includes fish scales. I spoke to a person at a health spa and they indicated that women can swallow up to 1 pound a year of lipstick as they chew it off their lips.

Result: Batting of the eyes may have evolved because women were struggling to lift their lids, but could only hold them up for a short period of time. As for the term “pucker up” isn’t that what fish do?

Pregnancy and Giving Birth

Premise: A child entering this world is a wondrous thing. Something that should be celebrated and rejoiced. It is life’s natural cycle. In fact, Indian women would often give birth and then rejoin the tribe in completing the work of the day.

Warning: Read books and talk to people about what to expect prior to giving birth. Speak to physicians and nurses and ask what are the most common questions new mothers have.

Result: I was too terrified of the entire pregnancy process to want to learn more... in my case I felt ignorance was bliss. When I was first married, my husband (a farmer at the time) took me out to the pig barn to watch baby piglets being born. At first I was mesmerized, then relieved when it appeared so easy for the sow. Horrified shrieks erupted from my mouth when the mother lunged forward to try and eat one of her new born babies. Reaching into the pen, I snatched it from the mother and clutched it to my chest. I wondered for weeks whether human mothers eat their young.


Premise: It is said there is no such thing as an ugly baby. They are all gifts of life and are a treasure beyond compare.

Warning: Read books and talk to people about what to expect when your child is born, especially with how the child will look when they finally enter our world.

Result: Ben, our son, took 15 hours to arrive. When he was placed in my arms, I began to weep. I wasn’t relieved the ordeal was over, nor was it tears of joy to finally be meeting our baby. I wept because my son was a cone head. The television show Saturday Night Live had a vignette about people from outer space who were Coneheads. When I saw Ben’s crown, malformed due to the birth process, all I could think of was he had to wear a tall stocking hat for the rest of his life. Two physicians assured me his head would round out and he would look wonderful. I knit a cap anyway.

Domestic Chores

Premise: When a person doesn’t have a dishwasher, then the utensils, pans and dishes need to be washed and dried by hand.

Warning: When drying off the dishes and pans, maintain a firm grip on the item and rub briskly without applying too much pressure.

Result: Wiping off a cookie sheet vigorously, I applied a bit too much pressure. My husband said something behind my back, and distracted, I didn’t watch where my hand was drying. My dishtowel and right hand flew off the top of the cookie sheet. A resounding “WHAP” filled the kitchen as the cookie sheet bounced back to hit me in the face. My husband’s only comment “good thing it wasn’t the frying pan”.

Snow Blowers

Premise: Turn on the snow blower. Engage the steering, direct the spout away from you and begin to clear the sidewalk and driveway.

Warning: Some snow blowers start with a key, some with a pull cord, and others require both. Keep the directions in an easily obtainable spot in case you forget what order you are to engage the key and/or pull cord. Once the machine is engaged, remember to direct the spout away from you going with the wind. In addition, know if your snow blower has a self propelling option.

Result: Last year, I needed to blow 12 inches of snow out of our driveway. Rick was out of town and I have no family close by to assist with the challenge. There was too much snow to try and use a shovel, but would use it as a last resort. I pushed the heavy duty snow blower out into the drive. Buffeted by high winds, I would stagger into the machine as I turned the key, pushed any button I could find and yanked the power cord. Nothing happened. I dragged the snow blower back into the garage and finally noticed the “choke” button. Looking frantically around the display panel, I couldn’t find anything to squeeze. Finally, I believe by accident, the blower actually started. Straining, I shoved the large machine back out to the driveway and experienced a face full of snow as the wind blew it back into me. For the next two hours, I used every muscle I had to shove and pull the blower up and down the driveway and sidewalk.

When Rick learned about my adventure, and had recovered from the shock that I had actually cleared the driveway on my own, he proceeded to show me how to engage the self propelling function on the snow blower. It was a miracle - how easy it moved! He has written the directions down and they are in an easy place for the time I may need to locate them again.


Premise: This is a meal which is celebrated in the United States. Hamburger molded into a rounded “hump”, cooked to perfection and smothered in a sweet barbeque sauce. Mashed potatoes and a crisp vegetable make the perfect dinner for many families. My mother made sure that I knew how to create the perfect meatloaf by watching her and doing what she does. Life is learned through observation was her motto.

Warning: Don’t believe everything people tell you. Sometimes, while demonstrating a skill, others can become distracted. If you don’t know any better and don’t ask the right questions, then what was demonstrated can become “fact” and leave you coming up short.

Result: My mother would mold the hamburger filling it out with onions, celery, and breadcrumbs. It was large enough to feed seven hungry people. She advised me that the meat loaf should be placed in a 425 degree oven for a few minutes (to make a crispy crust) and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for 1.5 hours, then removed. In reality, my mother would often light a cigarette and play single handed bridge games in the dining room. She became so immersed in her game, that she rarely turned the temperature back from 425 to the 350 degree mark. Meatloaf could come out hard as a rock. We would have to chisel through the hard black outer layer in order to enjoy the tender inside. With plenty of ketchup (a staple in our family), it actually grew on us.

This was the first meal I cooked for my husband in 1976. 425 degrees for three hours and lots of ketchup and a sharp steak knife. His look of utter disbelief remains with me to this day. He had the audacity to tell me I burned the meat loaf. I beg to differ…it was PERFECT! All we had to do was saw through it and there you go! The next night, Rick made a meat loaf for me. It looked wrong somehow. It wasn’t black on the outside or hard enough to bounce a spoon off it. In fact, I could actually cut the meat loaf with my FORK! I suggested he was trying to kill me with salmonella poisoning.

That was the day that Rick took over cooking all of our meals. I have the job of cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. Give and take. Accepting other’s short comings and making the best of things as you can. That is the Murray way.

Balance – it’s all about balance. And sometimes survival.

Author's Bio: 

Karel Murray, a national motivational humorist and business trainer is the author of Straight Talk: Getting Off the Curb (a book co-authored with KC Lundberg), Extreme Excellence, a collaboration with Insight Publishing, Think Forward!® (a monthly e-newsletter with over 4,700+ subscribers), The Profitability Blueprint Series: Career Building Concepts for the Real Estate Licensee and numerous articles in local, regional, and national publications. You can contact her at mailto:karel@karel.com or call 866-817-2986 or access her web site at karel.com.