Thursday, January 31, 2013

Depending on the Weather

I am keeping it short and sweet today.  The weather in Michigan has been insane lately.  If weather were capable of being diagnosed with a mental illness, Michigan weather would be on some major mood stabilizers for rapid cycling bipolar disorder.  No joke.  It is crazy, even for Michigan.  Last week we were in the very natural, very expected deep freeze.  Single digit and some below zero tempretures, typical Michigan.  Then Monday schools were closed because of icy and frozen rain.  I shoveled the slush.  By the end of the day it was in the mid-40's.  Tuesday it rained like it was April.  A steady downpour anytime you needed to leave a building, then letting up as soon as you were safely indoors.  (You may say I am paranoid, but I know that the rain is out to get me!  I know it.). Wednesday went from mild temps in the morning to cold and gusty in the evening.  Some rain here and there (only when I left my car or buildings...of course).  Now we at Thursday, cold and windy with snow flurries.  Which out of all the days this week is the most acceptable with me because it is January appropriate weather.  The weather messes with my hair, moods, and sinuses.  The kids do not know when to wear boots and heavy coats or rain gear.  The dog goes from frozen, to muddy, back to frozen.  (And my poor dog is from Alabama and constantly looks surprised every time she sets foot outside).  The only thing I can depend on the weather for is constant confusion.  Thank goodness I did not marry a meteorologist.  That would have been a recipe for some serious trust issues.  Stay warm, or dry, or enjoy the unseasonably warmth or whatever may apply once this is posted.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In MY Opinion...on opinions

As you can see from my title this is going to be a rip roaring, very topical, super important, and possibly life changing post.  If you believe any of this, please direct yourself away from this page now, before the disappointment changes the core of your being.  I can not be held responsible for your declined mental state or that fact that you may, in fact, lose IQ points reading about MY opinion...on opinions.  We have all had those conversations that upon the completion you wished there was some actual way to get the time back, and perhaps a small portion of intelligence that was sacrificed .   You know the person that knows it all, and tells it all...and is exhausting to hear.  You walk away like you have been slugged in the stomach.  Doubled over mentally from having to hear all the "great wisdom" this person possesses.  It is painful.  You wanted to contradict the person, but it would just prolong the conversation you never wanted.  Knowing if you argued an opposing opinion you may appear just as head-strong and thought inflexible as the person that is basically, lecturing you on their topic.  It is a conundrum.  We are all entitled to our opinions, but let us be really honest, some people have really messed up opinions.  My opinions are messed up too.  My worldview is pretty jacked up. (I will provide some examples of my messed up worldview at the end...judge for yourself)  I own it.  It is mine.  I will take it to my grave. I am not often very good at verbalizing my opposing viewpoint to other people's jacked up opinions because I have a sarcastic little monster that lives in me that just likes to poke jabs under the radar.  This is very poor communication, but it makes me happy to just poke.  It could be classified as passive aggressive behavior, and that is a fair assessment.  However, my sarcastic nature keeps me in the quasi-good graces of the ultra-opinionated, "never wrong" people of the world.  The people that truly, honestly believe that their opinions are the gospel truth, and thus should be preached.  Opposing viewpoints are not welcomed by the "never wrongs".  Facts to the contrary are like acid being thrown in their face.  The recoil and counter attack is not worth it for me.  I am not a "never wrong".  I am wrong a lot.  I admit it, apologize if needed, and move on.

There is some notion out there that a personal opinions can not be wrong.  Opinions can be very wrong and misguided.  They can be right to the individual, but that does not make it universally true.  These personal opinions may guide that person, and that is fine as long as that person is aware that the rest of the planet is not held to standards that their opinion sets.  And we can all agree that some people are very misguided, non?  Here are examples of some of my opinions that guide me through my life, but certainly are not universally true...

  • There is a limit on how long you can blame your childhood for your adult problems.  The limit is 25 years, if you can not sort yourself out by 25 years of age, get professional help.  Yes, we all have baggage from childhood no matter how idyllic or traumatic.  Get over it.  Go to therapy if you can not put your past in your past.  Life is too short to keep reliving your first 18 years.  Make peace with it, and do better as an adult. (I may expand this one into a full blog is my best MY opinion)
  • Dark chocolate is better than any other type of chocolate.
  • Small dogs are just over needy cats that bark.  If you like small animals, stick with a cat.  Their aloof independence is heartwarming, and they do not pee the floor when guests walk in the front door.
  • Men should never color their hair.  Silver hair on a man is sexy.
  • You can handle anything for 8 weeks.
  • Ride the biggest roller-coaster at least once, and never admit that sucked to those have not tried it.  Seeing their scared faces and slightly pained necks is worth the lie.
  • Honesty is the best policy unless you are talking about roller-coasters, pulling a practical joke, or are trying to get out of a conversation with a "never wrong"  
  • It is okay to wear gold and silver jewelry at the same time.
  • Toe rings are wrong.
  • It is okay to be wrong.  Sometimes it can be fun. 
So those are some of my opinions.  I told you some are pretty jacked up, and I am fine with it.  If you do not agree with me...don't be me.  See how easy that was?  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five for Friday: Pet Peeve Edition

Hello!  We again stand on the precipice of the weekend.  So many possibilities, so much fun to be had, or perhaps you are ready for some hardcore couch time.  Whatever it is you have planned, or not planned...enjoy.  My good friend called me yesterday and started the conversation with, "You might need to blog about this...".  When some people say this to me, it bothers me, others I will take their idea and run with it.  Her particular beef was worthy of the "Pet Peeve" edition.  Her gripe rings true with me so, I thank her for the gift of an idea.  Please note, I like ideas and topics, but if I can not make my brain and fingers believe in an will not make it.  Some of my own ideas do not translate well into written word.  Perhaps I need to start doing some spoken word beat poetry for the leftover ideas. (See that?  I hideous idea that will not come to fruition)  Here are my five peeves for this Friday...

  1. People who can not focus on a conversation.  This is my friend's peeve, which I agree is horribly peevish.  Her beef is particularly with people during phone conversations talking to/ reprimanding their children, while on the phone with her.  We all know the best way to get your child's attention is to  answer a phone call.  Like moths to a flame they hover around you.  They list their "needs".  They whine.  I have always been of the mindset that children need to learn manners.  Interrupting people is poor manners.  Obviously, one should not neglect a true need of a child.  Good manners would dictate that you end your phone conversation and attend to those needs.  However, engaging in a secondary conversation with your child whilst on the phone with a friend is rather annoying.  This also applies to texting with people while trying to maintain a conversation with someone who is live, in front of you.  Yes, the occasional urgent situation may arise, but honestly, not that often unless you are a doctor.  Focus on the person who you are talking with on the phone or in person.  It is the kind, friendly, and polite thing to do.  
  2. Writing the way you talk.  I have been told my writing is very similar to how I speak.  This is good for writers, because it means their writing has a personal voice.  My beef is not with the writers' personal voice.  No, my beef is with people that try to write out words that only exist in spoken word.  Writing out your lazy speech patterns bothers me.  Why?  I am not absolutely sure, here are some possibilities. Maybe it bothers me because it highlights that the offending person has poor grammar and diction? Maybe it is just because it reveals ignorance?  Or, and this is probably it, it gives the sloppy speech credibility when it is written.  This occurs mostly in social media posts.  Yes, I am a big fan of social media, and I am sure if I distanced myself from my FaceBook and Twitter feeds it I would have less annoyance and frustration.  Here are the words that bother me the most: prolly, gonna, coulda, woulda, and shoulda.  The correct words are: probably, going to, could have, would have, and should have.  And "ain't" is not a word, I do not care that it made it to the dictionary.  It is shit, so do not use it! Mumble and mush your words all you want when you talk, but if you are posting it on social media use STANDARD ENGLISH.
  3. Leggings as pants.  Leggings are not pants.  Leggings are footless tights made of ever so slightly bulkier material.  Leggings are adorable under a dress, or a long tunic top worn with boots.  If you are rocking the legging with a regular waist or hip length shirt, you are missing the trend.  There are all kinds of reasons that leggings require a longer top (aka a tunic) or a dress.  Primarily, something called  "camel toe".  If you are not familiar with this term, please Google it, or see the Urban Dictionary.  It is not really flattering on anyone.  Leggings are not a standard replacement for regular pants.  Please spread the word.
  4. People who are going to use all the words listed in #2 to annoy me. It is my peeve when people use peeves against other people.  It is cheap.  My beloved has told me many of his pet peeves over the years.  The knowledge of these things makes it easy to know what will bother him.  If I were an evil soul, I could just drive the man nuts by constantly pushing his peeve buttons.  I do not because it is  too easy.  I would far prefer to find new and interesting ways to get under his skin.  This being said, I know that I have friends who are also readers who will use #2 against me.  Do your worst.  I have steeled my nerves already.
  5. Breaking News  Television stations use the term "BREAKING NEWS" rather loosely.  Yes, it is news that just happened, but no, not all of it deserves to interrupt the broadcast.  Example, most courtroom verdicts, especially those for scandal plagued former mayors,  do not deserve to break into regular viewing.  The whole term has been rendered meaningless by overuse.  Who really believes that something actually news worthy will be occurring when programming gets interrupted?  Not me.  I am genuinely surprised when it is something that is significant.
That does it for my Pet Peeve edition.  Thanks to my friend, who shall remain nameless, for her input.  I feel your pain, and I am with you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Not Yet

Life moves pretty fast.  If you do not stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. -Ferris Bueller
Do you ever have that moment when you realize time has flown by?  Recently I have had two situations that have caused the startling realization that time just zips by...pow...that fast.  When I was young it seems like time crawled.  The school day stretched endlessly (not in a good way).  It seemed like I was always waiting for something to end, and something else to begin, and the wait was torturous.  Time seemed to creep backward, if that was possible.  In my youth I truly believed that time was my slow moving enemy keeping from my future.  I am on record stating that I WAS WRONG.  Time is still my enemy, but because it is moving so damn fast.  I want to hit pause I so many things now.  A hug with my kids or my beloved (pause...make it last).  The silly times with friends over lunch or cup of coffee (pause...savor the moment).  It is the little things that are so precious.

Yoda in November 2012
Recently I had to put down my cat, Yoda.  She was seventeen years old, she had kidney disease, she was deaf, her eyesight was poor, she had a heart murmur...she was very old for a cat.  In the human equivalent to her 17 cat years is 96 years old.  Logically, it was time.  She was in pain.  She needed to be carried to her litter box.  We had to coax her to eat, unless it was her treats...she begged for those until the very end.  No matter how many people tell me that 17 years is a long time to have the same cat, I still do not believe it in my heart.  Seventeen years flew by with Yoda.  She was our first pet.  She outlasted two dogs.  She helped raise two kids.  Yoda was at my side for every late night feeding with both kids.  My beloved would be fast asleep while Yoda and I tended to the baby.  Yoda would lay sleeping on my lap watching infomercials when insomnia was not going to let me sleep. (Cats seldom suffer from insomnia)  Seventeen years pretty much just flew by.  I have made a photo book of Yoda, and it has so many great memories.  I can see how time advanced through changing paint colors, furniture, fashion, hair cuts, hair colors, and of course the growth of my kids.  I am glad I have all the picture memories, but I still wish I had her actually here.  At any single moment, I am not sure that I would have said that time was moving too fast...but as I look back it clearly has been. 

The second event that has triggered the realization that time is flying is a high school open house.  My beautiful 13 year old daughter is currently living in the time-space continuum that I had in my youth.  Nothing can happen fast enough and the world is moving at a turtle's pace. (Ironically, the pet she wants to "replace" Yoda is a turtle)  Tonight we need to go to the high school she will be attending in the September for a tour and informational meeting.  We are approaching this from two very differing perspectives.  
Her perspective: This is awesome.  I can not wait!!!
My perspective: WTH? When did she get old enough to go to high school? How can I stop this crazy train?
Such is life, I suppose.  Perhaps my mother felt the same way, but because she is a reserved, classy lady she never let me see her sweat this kind of stuff.  I am more of a force of nature. ("Subtle, like a sledge hammer", my father has said about me, more than once)  I am not holding in my feelings. My daughter knows that I am full of angst over her growing up.  No one is trying to keep her a child.  We have conversations about the current issues that face teens and young adults (I am not a moron)  I just do not like how fast time has flown by.  Can't we pause and have just a wee bit more time?  I also realize I have been amazing blessed to be a stay at home mom for  my daughter for most of her life, and all of my son's life.  It seems rather Peter Pan-like for me to want to keep my kids at their present ages, but at this moment they are just right.  I suppose I would have said the same thing at every age (after they were potty trained...momma never loved the diapers)

The point is (as if I really care if I have a "point")...time flies, and sometimes that notion catches up with you and it sucks, and at the same time it is beautiful because you see some amazing growth.  Sometimes we really do not like that time keeps marching on, but it does.  We just have to remember to stop, look around, and enjoy the matter how fast they are moving.   

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Obsessed with Socks

My sister gave me a great pair of blue striped socks for my birthday.  You may be thinking, "Big deal. Socks."

Yes!  Big huge, super awesome deal.  These are the best socks ever.  I have waited outside the dryer for these socks because they are soft and warm, but not too warm.  They are wool, but not itchy.  These socks are perfect in boots, trainers, loafers...really every shoe I own except pumps.  Striped socks look exceptionally silly with pumps.  These socks make my feet smile.  After three weeks of waiting outside the dryer, and once double wearing the socks without washing (Yes, I did that. My daughter chastised me, and she was correct in doing so.  Message sent, message received, socks get washed after EVERY wearing), I finally went to the fancy outdoor store (REI) and found more pairs of these great socks.  Now I have four pair.  My favorite will always be the blue striped socks from my sister.  It is not easy finding socks when you have big feet.  So often the heel of the sock does not meet the heel of my actual foot causing an odd feeling, and causing the sock to slouch and bunch around the ankle.  Men's socks are larger, but larger all around and often bunch in shoes (very uncomfortable).  My sister knows the pain of finding good socks that do not cause annoyance.  We are both big footed ladies.  My daughter is following in our big footsteps and has learned to appreciate a fine fitting pair of socks.  There are tons of worse things than having big feet.  Stubby that it is a hideous thing.  I do not think I could wear open toed sandals if I had stubby toes.  When your feet are long, generally your toes are long, unless you had a run in with a lawn mower when you were wearing flip flops (In which case, I am sorry.  And I am sure your learned your lesson).

I am obsessed with socks.  It is okay.  Thus far I have been able to function as a semi-productive member of society.  Mostly, I am just grateful to have finally met a great pair of socks.  Thank you Betsy.  Very truly, my favorite birthday gift this year.  A gift that keeps giving warmth and joy.

Happy Wednesday.  Please stay warm and do not leave you kids or pets outside for extended periods of time.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Funday: Presidential Edition

Today my kids have the day off school.  Thus it is a Monday Funday, by default...even if the most fun thing we did was eat Taco Bell for lunch, and get our eyebrows threaded (for the record 2 of us threaded, my son waited and rolled his eyes...his future wife will thank me for the training.)  I am glad the kids had a free day because I could make them watch the Presidential Inauguration   I watch the Inauguration no matter who is elected, whether I voted for them or not, I will watch them sworn into office.  It makes it official.  My kids need to know that we are truly fortunate to live in a nation that leaders are elected and placed into office in a peaceful ceremony.  Obviously, this year the same president and vice president were sworn in that already held the job, so seamlessness is somewhat insured.  However, even when a new person takes office it is a changing of the guard that is not full of tumult and drama for the nation.  It makes the United States rather special.  Yes, I am hardly objective in my view of my country.  I am very proud.  I also hold the leadership of our nation in high regard.  The President of the United States deserves our respect because he is the President.  Regardless of party affiliation or any particular stance on any issue.  The office deserves respect, and the person sitting in that office deserves respect for all he (and someday, she) sacrifices to lead our nation.  I would never want to be POTUS.  I said exactly this to my daughter this morning as we were preparing for the Inauguration ceremony.
(She had a worksheet she needed to complete as she watched the ceremony.  So, I really could force her to watch with me and listen to my ramblings about how beautiful the Capitol building looked and how much I love the monuments in Washington DC.  Thank you Ms. Hubacher for the Social Studies assignment, it gave me a captive audience.)
My daughter asked me why I would not want to be POTUS .
(She lives under the assumption that I would love to boss the free world around as much as enjoy bossing her around.  The free world would probably follow my authority more willingly than my 13 year old daughter.)
I told her reason number one is I like my privacy.  I do not want my life scrutinized, my outfits criticized, my words & gestures analyzed, and most of all, my family put out for public consumption and ridicule.  I am tough, but I am not that tough.  I am also a major league Mama Bear, and if someone criticized one of my kids or my beloved it would get  Being POTUS is no walk in the park.  It is not for the weak, scared, or timid.  The decision to put yourself into public office comes at such a huge personal cost.  I would not be willing to pay that price.  So I instill respecting our leaders. Strong leaders are needed.  I do not discourage public leadership as a goal for anyone.  If someday one of my children wants to be a public official, I will campaign my ass off for them.  I will write stump speeches, hang signs, make phone calls, shake hands, and not swear in public, just for my kid.  I will do whatever it takes to get them elected.  I will also admire how brave they are for giving up so much personal freedom and privacy for the greater good.  I could never do it, but I am amazing grateful to, and respectful of, all of those that do.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five for Friday

Let me tell you about the embarrassment of riches that will become today's post.  All week I have writing down my random thoughts, beefs, and musings and now I have TEN things, but I must edit down to FIVE. Talk about First World Problems!  Yikes.  I hope I pick the right ones!
  1. This is my nemesis.  Yes, this scary LEGO scene, haunts me.  My son has a LEGO problem.  We enable his problem by buying him LEGO products for his birthday and Christmas.  We also let him use his allowance money to by LEGOs.  He is a brickmaster, and  his creations are really cool and creative.  He made me a LEGO mobile phone holder, which has cut down on my search time for my phone (Thanks kid).  However, the problem is we have a ton of little bricks and mini figures all over the house.  I can  not tell you how many times I have stepped on those tiny bricks with bare feet...OUCH.  I have bled from LEGO related trauma. This summer my son cut his hand with scissors when opening a box of LEGOs he received as a birthday gift.  The cut required 3 stitches, yes, the laceration was that deep.  Even after this injury, his passion for the bricks is still in full force.  I have a love /hate relationship with this toy.  It has given so much joy, and so much pain.  I have a feeling that I need to come to terms with LEGOs, find some peace with these hard little bricks. I will work on it.
  2. Off the diet soda.  Yes, I have given up my secondary source of caffeine.  Cold turkey.  Just decided I am not drinking soda anymore.  I am prone to capricious acts of foolishness.  It is in my DNA.  Pretty much everyday at 1 pm I have a diet soda.  Twelve days ago I decided to drink water instead, because it is healthy, hydrating, and contains no caffeine.  Here is how it is going...the first two days I thought my head was going split open.  The third day, I took a nap.  The fourth day, it became a vendetta.  I was refusing to return to my carbonated ways.  Once the vendetta stage starts I am usually pretty solid.  I have noticed that I also have less of an appetite in the afternoon.  That is a good thing. I will likely never give up coffee aka my primary source of caffeine (also the only reason I will get out bed).  Pretty sure the notion will never even cross my mind.
  3. Insomnia sucks.  I have long suffered from sleeplessness.  Also part of my DNA, I have family members that are also crappy sleepers. It pretty much blows.  I have noticed that I have been sleeping better since I gave up the afternoon diet soda.  Sadly, not a 100% solution.  The upside of insomnia is late night infomercials.  I am serious, there are some crazy products.  Even more, the people that are shilling these products are hilarious.  I do miss Billy Mays, he was the king of the infomercial   His loud and over the top style is often imitated, but can never be duplicated.  I know that watching screens is discouraged when you are an insomniac, but it is what we do.  Sometimes I read, but mostly I am trying to numb and slow down my brain so I can sleep, and the infomercial is perfect for slowing down the brain.  If you also suffer insomnia, I feel your pain.  I often wish there was some sort of insomniac "bat signal" people could put in the sky, so fellow sleep challenged could see it and then we could all meet up, chat, and pass the time until the rest of the world wakes up.  It makes no sense to call, or text a fellow sufferer, as they may actually having a great night's sleep.  It is a tricky situation.
  4. Running errands after working out. Practical? Or cruelty to those who must see, and perhaps smell you? Discuss.  I have been opting to run a few errands after my workouts this week.  Mostly because I was driving past places I needed to go on my drive home.  It has been difficult.  I not a huge fan of going out in public in yoga pants, but I really was exercising, so it is legit.  I do not feel great about it.  It is causing inner turmoil...maybe that is why I do not sleep so well???
  5. Downton Abbey.  If you are not watching Downton Abbey on PBS, you are missing a great drama.  The cast is beyond amazing, Dame Maggie Smith (aka Professor McGonagall, of Harry Potter fame), is the Dowager Countess.  It is worth watching just to hear Dame Maggie's one liners.  Downton Abbey is the story of an aristocratic family in the early 20th century.  It makes you realize how much times have changed in just a short 90-100 years.  The roles of women, how the classes interact, it is all a beautiful history lesson laid out for us on a lovely English country estate.  Give it a try.  The first season is on the streaming Netflix.  If you are already a fan, than you can understand why Sunday at 9 pm is pretty much my favorite television viewing time of the week.  
Have a great weekend.  I will keep adding to my list of crazy musings, and I will be back with you next week.   

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wicked Wednesday: Anger Management Edition

Anger is a secondary emotion.  Any therapist worth their weight is salt will tell you anger is a result of frustration, sadness, helplessness, or hopelessness.  They may add more primary emotions that cause people to act out in an angry way.  I have only been a student in a few psychology and sociology classes, not an expert by any stretch of the imagination.  Yes, I give solicited and unsolicited mental health evaluations of people...all the time.  It is what I do, and no one stops me.  I also offer the disclaimer that my opinions are not, and should never be taken as, actual medical advise.  I am all for people going to get some counseling, some people need lots of it.  I have a mental list of people I have encountered that should probably NEVER leave counseling.  They need to be in the care of a doctor or licensed therapist forever...and maybe a day after that too.  My first clue that someone needs to get some help is usually their inappropriate and misplaced anger.  The person that is always sniping at their significant other .  Yelling at their kids.  Getting rude with customer service people (This is the worst.  Imagine becoming so sick with your anger problems that you will take it out on strangers?)  Hideous. Generally, those people that are walking about with the misplaced belief that the world is against them and they are mega pissed off out it.  News Flash: The world is neither for, or against, anyone.  I can not solve anger issues.  I can give no suggestions that make an angry person less angry.  In fact, trying to convince an angry person that they need help, or they need to focus on what is good in life, really only refocuses the anger. (mostly on the person that just suggested they had anger problems)  I do not like being the target of refocused anger.

It is frustrating seeing so much anger in the general population, especially angry children (yes, there are angry children.  It is sad and separate issue).  Yes, we all need to blow off steam and vent frustration.  That is normal.  Finding a safe and healthy way to do that is important.  Sure going out with friends and having some drinks can help, but it could also set up using substances to cover problems.  I do like a good night out, but this is a "use sparingly" solution. I personally enjoy writing my rants down, sometimes I even publish the rants (if it is funny or universally helpful it is generally worth airing my dirty laundry).  Writing helps lay out exactly what bothers me, literally in black and white).  Sometimes it becomes clear that whatever is bothering me is just ridiculous, which is fine, because then I know and I get over it.  Often it helps me profile a situation that I need to either get out of or redefine how I am going to deal with the situation going forward.  Yes, this is my personal anger management style.  Anger happens, but you can not let it consume you, then you become wicked. (the bad kind, the green faced, flying monkey kind of wicked)  Some people use other hobbies to get their minds off angry thoughts and feelings.  Some people exercise to sweat out the negativity.  At times I find this helpful, and the sore muscles give me a sense that I really worked something out.

There are many ways to reduce or eliminate anger.  The best advice ever given to me is from my mother, THIS TOO SHALL PASS.  No, she is not the first person to have ever said those words, but she said them often to me when I was young.  Guess what? 100% of the time this is true.  There is no sense in being an angry jerk.  It helps nothing, solves nothing, and likely cause more issues.  It will all pass.  Life has a funny way of resolving itself.  Give up the anger.  Live. Love. Laugh.

(This post is pretty much proof that  most all the time my writing surprises me.  I really did mean to write a scathingly wicked post about angry jerks, yet somewhere in the process I heard my mom's voice in my head reminding me more of kindness.  She is a gem.  I need to write about her...she is a smart, kind and sassy woman.  She also just totally squashed my Wicked Wednesday post.  Mothers!!!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First World Problems

Do you ever stop and think about the things you consider "problems" in your life?  Since I am an analytic type person, I do often classify my problems.  Or what I think are problems.  Not being able to find my mobile phone, is not really a problem.  The frothing machine being on the fritz at you local coffee haunt causing you not to get a latte, not really a problem.  Pants not fitting properly, frustrating, but not a real problem.  A crabby kid not wanting to go to school; annoying, yes, an actual problem???  Umm, NO.  Pretty much all of my problems are first world problems. Problems that exist living in a nation of abundance.  Yes, there are Americans that struggle with real issues of hunger, illness, lack of housing, and many more really serious issues.  However, most of us are sitting rather pretty, with plenty of everything and failing to fully regard, and be grateful for our abundance.  We as a population seem too focused on what we do not have instead of noticing how insanely blessed we all are.

This past summer my good friend and her family traveled to Tanzania.  While in Tanzania they did take a safari, as that is a major tourist draw in that nation.  However, prior to their safari, they spent time touring hospitals, schools, and learning about what life is like for Tanzanians.  The short version of what Tanzanian life is like, HARD.  My friend informed me that although daily life is hard, filled with real problems & struggles, the people are happy and generous.  My friend's children, both teens, learned that education is valued, and not provide by the government.  Families save, and sacrifice, and often have to send their children hours away to get a good education.  My daughter whines about how early the bus comes, but every night she gets to spend the night with her family.  Tanzanian students often have to take years off of school to work and help their families save money before they can continue.  Early bus rides, clearly a first world problem.  My friend said the most striking part of Tanzanian life is how much of it is centered around just getting water.  It is a daily concern, and large chore, and during the dry season an overwhelming problem if a well goes dry.  In comparison, we fill pools with water and splash in them.  We run through sprinklers.  We complain if our local governments put watering restrictions on our lawn and garden irrigation in the hot summer months.  Very first world problems.  I can not imagine having to carry water from a well through a village so I could cook or clean.  Face it, when the power goes out I turn very whiny and sissy.  I am such a first world problem diva.  

I am not advocating that we all give up our creature comforts.  This creature LOVES her comforts.  I am more reminding myself that in the very grand scheme of things, I have no problems.  If I get sick or if one of my loved ones gets sick we have access to medical care.  We have more than plenty food, in fact we need to be more mindful of what we waste.  I am writing this to remind myself to be grateful, and to look outside my pretty little first world life and see real need and real problems.  Please do not think I am going on a preach, well maybe I am a little bit, but the preach is focused at myself.  If it applies to you in any way, just know you are not alone.  We all have our first world problems, but when we put them in perspective, we just have some minor glitches in our rather awesome, over abundant lives.  No problems.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Not Feeling It

Do you recall as a child your parents would ask you to do something, and you did not want to, but you did it only because you respected and /or feared your parents?  Sometimes I feel like I need my parents to come and harp at me again.  Sometimes I am just not feeling it, and really do not want to do stuff.  Today, it was planning a meeting for Cub Scouts.  Just not feeling much like hanging out with a bunch or 8 and 9 year old boys.  Being completely  honest, I leave most den meetings rather exhausted and hugely grateful that my son does not act like a majority of his peers.  If he acted like his peers, I would have to consider adoption as his only way of making to adulthood.  I get the distinct feeling that some of these boys get a "not feeling it" pass from their parents, instead of the prodding and nagging until projects and chores are completed.  It is all the prodding and nagging from my childhood that have made me into the self-motivated person I am today.  Prodding and nagging gives a person internal discipline.  I push through the "not feeling it" feeling all the time.  No mom required. (I would love to see her more, but on a non-nagging basis).  Am I the only parent that still nags and prods their children to do things?  And if so, WHY???

Please do not get the idea that all I do is bark orders and directions at my kids.  I do not.  We are at a point that I can state a time, or an activity, and they know to complete getting ready for whatever is on the agenda.  We are a family of routine.  Expectations have been set, and generally these expectations are met.  Things happen in a very logical way, and this predictable pattern has given the whole family unit a disciplined routine.  No surprises at this house.  And, yes, we still have fun.  I am not Captain VonTrapp whistling patterns for my children to answer.  Rooms are still messy, and get cleaned.  We still scramble to find gloves, shoes, phones, and such.  There is no standard of perfection set for anyone.  However, we ALL know we have to do the crappy stuff...even if we are not feeling it.  Which is why I struggle when dealing with children who completely lack this drive, or even the spirit to be motivated by anything.  I just can not relate.  As a child I would never, ever, say "NO" to a request from an adult.  (Some may argue it is this same inability to say "no" that has me as a den leader...that is not the point, but admittedly I have "Yes" Syndrome).  No exaggeration, I get told "NO", by some of my scouts for simple requests like, "Please clean up your snack mess".  No kidding.  It does not sit well with me.  I give the "show respect for yourself, by showing respect for others" lecture at least two times per meeting, minimum.  It is a lovely speech, but hearing that message every other week may not be enough to build the good character necessary to become a good human being.  It is scary that many parents still dismiss there child's rude behavior as "boys being boys".  No, it is rude being rude.  "Not feeling it" is not acceptable for me and it is not acceptable for my kids.  As a scout leader, I take it as my responsibility to model and instill showing respect.  So, despite my NOT FEELING IT (at all), I have planned a fun meeting full of activities.  Maybe this meeting will be "respect lecture" free...a girl can dream.     

Friday, January 11, 2013

Five for Friday

It is Friday.  Which is not just an awesome movie (Ice Cube at his finest).  Thus I am hitting five random musings.  Granted yesterday's post was pretty random.  I was in pain.  Actually, in pain or not that is pretty much how my brain special.  Letting my five fly in 3...2...

  1. Boy Bands.  Love them or hate them, they are a part of our musical culture.  This morning I was diving and a local station was playing bands from "back in the day".  (Yes, I said, "back in the day".  I will flog myself later)  New Edition, Mr. Telephone Man, turned up to 11 (mega props if you can tell me the film I am referencing when I say "turned up to 11"), is a great way to start the day.  Then between songs the radio personalities were talking about some of the "great" boy bands; Bel Biv Devoe, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and of course N'Sync.  I was on a ride in the way back machine of questionable music.  I have soft spot for the Boy Band.  Yes, the music is over engineered, as is the back-story of band.  Nothing is organic about Boy Band music..but it is catchy.  Note to self: quit making fun of my daughter for her love of One Direction, they are not the next Beatles, but they will be fondly recalled in 20 to 25 years.
  2. Bronzer in winter.  What can turn this girl's day from blah to banging?  Bronzer.  Yes, a slight bit of color and slight sparkle on the cheeks and nose is an attitude adjustment for me.  It is literally a cosmetic change that can make all the difference.  I can not change the temperature, or turn on the sun, but I can brush some healthy glow across my pasty white skin and make myself feel warm and glowing.  Long live the cosmetic counter!
  3. Rain in January.  Unacceptable.  Snow is white, fluffy, clean, and bright.  When it rains in January in my part of the world it just reveals that the trees have no leaves, and the dormant sickly green of the grass.  Not to mention the muddy foot prints that get tracked in be Ninja.  It turns out dogs do not know the purpose of doormats.  Kid's can not play in the rain.  They do not want to build rain-men.  No, kids want snow.  I want snow.  If anyone has any connections that can get a respectable amount of snow to my part of the world, I would be grateful and maybe even write a post entirely about how awesome you are.  Hop to it.  Make it SNOW, baby.
  4. U-turns.  Still happening.  Still making me nuts.  This might be at the top of my driving pet peeve list.  Yes, I have categorized my pet peeves because the one master list was getting a bit unwieldy.  Please...yes, I said PLEASE...stop making u-turns.  Find a business parking lot, a side street, or even someone's driveway to turn around in, and then go along your happy way.  OR, just quit being so darn confused or distracted when you drive and do it properly the in the first place.  (Stepping off the soap box...hopefully not falling)   
  5. Book Recommendation.  The Day the World Came to Town : 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland, by Jim DeFede. I know you are thinking, "That sounds like a heavy topic, and winter is already depressing".  Well, yes, clearly 9/11 is not, and never will be a topic of great joy.  However, this is the story (or stories) of people who were on airplanes to the United States when the attacks occurred, and the airspace above the United States was closed.  This is what some of those travelers did when the worst happened.  It is a beautiful story of community and making the best of the worst.  Enough said.  Give it a try.  I have it on my kindle app. if I knew how to share or loan it, I would. (Still tech challenged, and not afraid to admit it)
Happy Weekend!
Please know you are always welcome to comment, and feel free to share this blog on your social media.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prone to Write

I am attempting something never done before.  I writing while laying on my couch.  I am also planning on publishing the post.  So this could be interesting.  Normally if I am laying down to write it is in my journal or a notebook.  It is typically on my stomach and my left arm gets all cramped up from the odd angle I lean on it.  Anyway, today I took a rather glorious, and embarrassing digger down the steps and my lower back feels like it may recover, but it is uninterested in sitting in an office chair at the computer...which is upstairs.  Yes, the same stairs that I took the express trip on an hour ago.  My hands were full, my feet are large, the stairs are narrow.  It was a perfect storm.  Now I am itching to write so I am grateful to my iPad that allows me to get on my blogger account.  The functions are not as easy as on the computer, not to mention laying on your back is not the most natural position to type.  I have pillows stacked upon me to get the screen at the right angle.  It is comical.  When one is prone to write, sometimes one must write while prone.

Today when I was walking with my dog, Ninja, I noticed that the squirrels were incredibly active.  Ninja fancies squirrels so it is easy to notice those furry little scamps.  Ninja believes in her sincere little doggy heart that it is her life's goal and purpose to catch, and kill or maim all squirrels that cross her path.  Unfortunately for Ninja, I am a bit squeamish when it comes to blood and guts, so my life's goal and purpose (at least when I am walking her) to hold her back from all small woodland creatures.  Thus most of walks, on very squirrelly days, end up with both of us frustrated with each other.  I am annoyed that I have had to tug the leash and say, "Ninja, leave it alone" a thousand times.  She is frustrated to have been on the receiving end of the tugging and crabbing...which I am sure all she hears is, "Ninja! blah ba wah blah".  We came back from the walk today and retreated to our separate corners.  Well, she went to take a nap, and she is a champion at sleeping.  This dog could sleep anywhere, anytime, and fall asleep in seconds.  It is amazing.  That was unnessisary information, but you will forgive me, as I am more prone to ramble when I am writing prone.  So I went to sort out some rubbish upstairs and then took my great fall, that landed me on the sofa.  Now a rambling post about squirrels...yikes.  I have not even looked to see if we have any pain meds in the house.  However, as I look at my rather stream of conscience type of writing I am doing, it seems like I am medicated.  I think it is just because laying down the thoughts come are more random.  It is as if my body posture is welcoming more trivial things.  Or maybe I just wanted to write something, and they can not all be well crafted, perfectly thought out musings.  Today, just musings. Very randomly laid out for you.

Be careful on the stairs or do not let the urge to clean overtake you in the first place.  I wish I would have gotten that memo from the future earlier...but isn't that just the way it goes?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Damn Near Survivalists...yeah whatever

This past weekend a bold move was made in my household.  Something that borders on sacrilegious in some circles.  Something so heinous we waited for our teenage daughter to be out of town for the weekend before we made our move.

We disconnected the cable.  Yup, if you come to our house you will be watching TV through the antennae.  High Def air signal.  Let me tell you, it is not as horrible as it sounds.  We get a lot of stations, the major networks, PBS, and some other riff raff stations.  Its going to be fine.  I think of it as being a survivalist right now, living off the entertainment that floats in the air around us.  Our daughter was appalled when she arrived home to a place void of any cable boxes.  She asked several times if we were joking.  She asked if we just hid the cable boxes as a joke. (As if we would move furniture and go to such trouble for a joke.  C'mon lazy apple, you came from these lazy trees).   She was genuinely shocked, which surprised me because we have talked of disconnecting cable for close to a year now.  That is how we roll, lots of discussion, so much chatter you become certain nothing will ever really happen, then BAM a decision is made and swift action is taken.  It is actually rather exciting when my beloved and I decide to take action.  Cue the A-Team theme music...a plan is coming together!

The decision to cancel cable was based on several factors, here are what I would say are the top five.  If you corner my beloved he will give you five absolutely different reasons.  This probably explains why swift action must be preceded by several months of debate.

  1. Eldest child's poor TV choices.  My daughter, I love her, she is smart, lovely, and talented, but she has horrible taste in TV shows.  She loves really bad reality TV.  Dance Moms is a favorite.  She has been known to watch Toddlers in Tiaras marathons (yuck).  In fact almost anything shown on TLC can become her "favorite".  Worse than just watching these shows, she also would DVR the shows.  The amount of hours of stupidity recorded on the DVR was ridiculous.  To save her beautiful mind the cable had to go away.
  2. My own poor TV choices.  I fully understand where my daughter gets her penchant for crappy TV.  I am a recovering Bravo TV junkie.  I will watch any season and any location of The Real Housewives franchise.  I love those rich bitches.  The arguments. The augmentations.  The botox.  The drama.  It is like crack.  Like a true addict, I would hide my passion and watching of these shows.  NEVER would I DVR an episode.  Nope, I found out that all the episodes were carefully saved for me in the OnDemand feature of our former cable carrier.  I loved that stuff.  I am going to miss it.  I am getting the shakes just thinking about it.  However, I am on the wagon.  I will miss you Andy Cohen and all the Bravolebrities.  I will miss you, deeply miss you.  (Note to local friends, DO NOT let me in your homes to covet your Bravo.  Give me some red wine and listen to to whine, but do not let me go back to that is too much)
  3. The 200 channels of background noise.  We found that we really did not actively watch too many shows.  Often the TV is on and each of us has some other device going.  My husband is on his computer or smartphone.  I am on my iPad.  The kids both have iPod touch devices.  So the TV was just background noise.  We have a few shows that we really watch and they are all on network TV.  Spending money for background noise seems silly.  (Note: My beloved and I would probably agree this is top shared reason)
  4. Netflix and other streaming services.  Cable seems silly when you can get streaming feeds of programs you actually want to watch through gaming systems.  We just realized we can watch YouTube clips on the big screen of the TV through the PlayStation 3.  Which is awesome since one of our favorite things is to refer each other to crazy stuff we have seen on YouTube.  It becomes a shared activity with all of us contributing to the entertainment.  It is a modern day variety show where we are the producers and directors and captive audience.
  5. Money.  I love it when people say, "It is not about the money", that is my clear indicator that is indeed, without a doubt, about the money.  Who does not like having extra money every month?  Fools, that is who.  Cable was a money drain, like a dripping faucet, or a drafty window.  It is not a life changing amount of money being saved, but it is a family night out per month amount.
So now we live a cable-less life.  We are damn near survivalists.  Okay we are nothing close to survivalists.  I know, any day now,  my daughter will forgive us.  Soon the glamorous lives of vapid, self-absorbed people will not be horribly missed.  My son was pretty nonchalant about the whole removal of cable.  He even helped move some furniture to unhook the boxes.  And of course, my beloved, is 100% behind the decision, so he will admit to missing nothing.  We shall see when baseball season rolls around.   I am not going to be so bold as to say we will never go back to cable.  We are not known for quick decisions, or for not changing our minds.   

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Resolutions are for Chumps

The title says it all, resolutions are for chumps.  It has taken me many years to realize this particular fact.  I can be a little slow to catch on sometimes, but never with witty comeback.  I do plan on making some changes in 2013, tweaking my lifestyle, cleaning up, throwing out, eating less, moving more...all the good stuff.  However, I refuse to call any of it a "resolution" because as soon as I do it will become a point of rebellion.  Yes, I am even a petulant child with myself (I am sure this fact is of great comfort and humor to my parents).  No one likes to hear "no" or "you can not" or "you should not" or "you must" and the worst "it is good for you".  All of these things cause a rebellion in my soul.  I do not need my soul to rebel.  Along with the rebellion in the soul, is the fact that falling off the resolution wagon makes people stop making progress.  I say so what if you mess up, start over again.  In the past I have set dates for areas to be cleaned, pounds to be lost, and other goals, and when the goal was not achieved said, "Suck it. I am done", and then was completely annoyed and mad at myself.  Thus leaving a half cleaned out closet, and frustration.  No more big plan.  No more dates.  I am just doing.  I fully accept that I am going to make poor choices, slack off, and be human.  I am cool with that, and I will keep plugging away and making progress.

Perhaps mostly I am learning about being forgiving of myself.  Actually allowing myself to be human.  It is amazing how cruel we can be to ourselves.  How harshly we judge ourselves.  It sets us back when we beat ourselves up constantly over little things.  If  I was as cruel to others as I have been to myself I would not have a friend in the whole world, or a husband, or custody of my children.  I admit I have been a beast to myself.   My inner voice (and we all have one, do not call me crazy) has at times been a soul crusher.  Yes, I have crushed my own soul far more than any other person ever has, or ever could.  That is a rather sickening  realization.  However, I do not think I am unique in this self inflicted agony.  We are brutal to ourselves, too brutal.  Self-kindness is a relatively new concept for me, perhaps something that has evolved over the past five or six years.  And I am still rather imperfect at the whole self-kindness thing too, but I am not giving up on being nice to me.  My inner voice is far more kind than it ever was in my 20's, and let us not even talk about what a bitch my teen inner voice was (UGH!).  Resolutions just give my inner voice food for negativity.  Accomplishing things in real time, whether it is a blog post, or laundry, or a good book, or a long walk, or playing a game with my kids, is far more important, fulfilling, meaningful, and soul building than tasks checked off a time tabled chart.  Sure, goals are necessary at times, but not when they become internal weapons of soul destruction when the standards are not met.  Never give up on being nice to yourself...and if resolutions make you feel like a failure, remember, resolutions are for chumps, and you are no chump.

And, sincere apologies for not bringing the lighthearted funny today, sometimes a girl needs to be serious. It is okay to have feelings and feel those matter what your therapist says.  And bonus, you learned I am human and not just a snark machine.        

Friday, January 4, 2013

Watch This!

On December 21st, 2012 the most amazing thing was discovered at my house.  Let me give you some back story before I get to my point. It is the build up that is where the story is...or so I tell myself.  December 21 was a Friday, it was suppose to be the end of the world, but it turns out the Mayans just ran out of circular tablets to chisel (my interpretation based on no fact what-so-ever) Anyway, this day was a busy one.  My son's Cub Scout Pack was having a holiday potluck dinner and I am not just a den leader, but some sort of party planner for the Pack.  My exceptional organization skills, coupled with owning a clipboard have made me seem like a reliable person for such events.  Most of my day was spent making sure my vehicle was loaded with the need table coverings, beverages, the awards for my den...a lot of shit, okay, lots and lots of shit in my vehicle, and a dish to pass.  You may imagine my temperament was less than lovely on this day ( the day the world did not end).  This event coupled with the fact that I had a family party at my house the following Sunday, and of course Christmas the following Tuesday.  It was hot mess time.  I had lists, my lists had lists, my clipboard was full, my wits were at their very end.  The Pack potluck ended up going fine, well it was over and that was all that mattered to me at the time.  A giant check could be made on this event and this day.  I did what most well adjusted people do after making it through a hectic event, I put my kids to bed and opened a beer.  This is where the best thing happened.  My December 21st miracle.  The life changer.  I turned on the television, flipped through the guide of 200 channels that generally disappoint me.  On this day my highlight on the guide stopped at A&E on a show called Duck Dynasty.  Bonus, it was on a marathon. (insert a "YES" with a fist pump)

I had seen posts on my social media about Duck Dynasty.  Some from people I actually respect.  I had never happened across it prior to this night.  The blessing of the Duck Dynasty marathon was exactly what I needed at this moment. (And beer was the correct call on beverage) Here is a brief synopsis of the is a reality show based on the Robertson family of  Louisiana.  The family was poor, but made its fortune through duck calls made by Phil, the patriarch of the family.  Phil's middle son, Willie, went to business school and took the mom & pop business to a multi-million dollar business called Duck Commander and they also make Deer Commander calls.  The back story is great, but the best it just the way the family interacts.  It is a reality show with real feeling.  The Robertson family embraces their humble roots.  They seem to take the term red-neck as badge of honor, which is awesome.  It is just a show you just have to see.  It is funny, heartwarming, and you really just want to go hang out with these people.  My favorites are Jase and Uncle Si (he is a Vietnam veteran who has great stories he claims are 95% true).  I feel sad that I am so late to the DD party.  So if any of you were under the same rock I was...crawl out, now go check out the most fabulous reality show EVER.    

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Forty is the New_____. WTF?

Happy New Year.  As the ball dropped in Times Square, and the insipid King of all Media, Ryan Seacrest counted down to 2013, he was also counting me out of my thirties.  What an ass.  Actually, I really do not care that I am now a 40 year old person.  I feel good.  I look rather okay-ish.
Ryan Seacrest is still an ass for a variety of reasons, the Kardashian reality franchise is his biggest jerk move.  Thanks for making us all dumber for hearing that famewhoring family's name.  I digress...that will not get better with age (bank on that).  A large majority of my friends have recently made the transition to 40...they are doing fine.  My beloved is 41, and as dashing as ever.  So forty is fine and dandy thus far.  However , it would not be me unless I could find something to b**** about.  Sure, I gave Ryan Seacrest as bit of blast, but he can go cry in his money if this little blogger hurt his feelings.  
Here is my gripe...
_____________is the new ________________.  It drives me nuts when people pull that crap.  40 is not the new 20.  Red is not the new Black.  Lindsay Lohan is not the new Elizabeth Taylor.  All of those statements are false and unadulterated rubbish.  I am not saying I have not used the foolish statements, but I am rather sarcastic, and use them as fodder.  However, there are people tossing these platitudes around like a football at tailgate party.  People that do not realize this is making them look like a condescending ass, or even worse, just a plain ass.  I appreciate the spirit in which people use these statements, but it is much like saying, "Giving 110%" can not be done and it creates a ridiculously untrue statement.

40 is 40. Red is red. Black is black.  Lindsay Lohan is a train wreck.  Elizabeth Taylor was a train wreck with talent.  It is what it is. Hate that one too, but at least it is true.

Happy 2013.  Wishing you love, peace, good health, and a dose of snarkiness.