Friday, May 31, 2013

Coffee: Addiction or Healthy Drink of Choice?

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

I was at Starbucks this morning reminiscing about my very first Starbucks experience.  I wandered into that first Starbucks in Denver, CO one crisp autumn morning because I was drawn to the line that snaked OUT THE DOOR.  I wondered to myself if this was the only coffee in town or was it simply THE BEST coffee in town?  Since I was on a business trip and the Starbucks was conveniently located across from my hotel, I decided to try my luck and wandered to the end of the line.  I reviewed the menu of choices: lattes and cappucinos with unpronounceable names and sizes.  It was like entering a whole new world.  Howard Schultz is the J.R.R. Tolkien of the coffee experience.


My precious.
Finally, the barista handed me the steaming cup of bitter, dark brew.  I inhaled deeply.  Mmmm...coffee.  I was unaccustomed to such an over-roasted bean at that time and I ended up putting in a LOT of cream and sugar. I found myself a wee bit sad at the end of that first cup. Apparently, it only takes one.  I was hooked.

Since that day many, many years ago, I have consumed enormous quantities of Starbucks coffee.  So much so that a guy at work who does an impression of me always lifts his hand to hold an imaginary cup as he sashays in imitation across the office.  And I've branched out over the years to include tastes of other coffee shops but, still, nothing compares to that wonderful dark cup of delicious bitterness. 

I don't think I can live without coffee.  At least, I can't live in HAPPINESS.

I set out to find out a few facts about the bean to see if I can justify (or at least understand) my unquenchable thirst for java.  The last one is a zinger (that's called a teaser so you'll keep reading...I'm getting used to this whole blogging thing). 

  1. According to the National Coffee Association (yes, there IS such a thing), there is a legend that coffee was first discovered many centuries ago by Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd who noticed that his flock had trouble sleeping after eating some berries from some native trees.  Kaldi told some monks in the local monastery about this (because, obviously, monks are the first people you go to when you figure something out) and they made a brew from the berries.  The brew kept them awake during long prayer sessions (apparently, they had some pretty lengthy talks with God).  And the love affair with the bean began.
  2. According the International Coffee Organization (yes, there IS such a thing), over 1.6 BILLION cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day.  I wonder if they're counting my six or more cups per day?  
  3. Many people say the French press is the best way to get a nice cup of joe.  But if you're hooked on an electric pot, there are multitudes of reviews out there for everything from a $15 Mr. Coffee to a $2,899 Impressa J9.3 One Touch TFT.  I calculated it out, and I can get 1,208 Venti cups of coffee for $2,899.  So, basically, that's over three years of once-per-day Starbucks minus the cost of coffee for the machine.  I am looking for a new coffee maker currently, but I probably won't spring for the Impressa.  
  4. The old warning that coffee will "stunt your growth" is untrue.  Coffee, however, DOES have some caffeine which stimulates the nervous system.  And, according to Kidshealth.org, more than one or two cups a day can cause anxiety, dizziness and sleeplessness.  WHAT?? 
  5. The world's most expensive coffee is Black Ivory Coffee.  It comes from beans taken right out of elephant poop.  Yep, this Canadian businessman feeds elephants coffee beans.  Then, after the beans are digested, they are harvested from the poop, sun-dried and then roasted.  And all this will cost you about $500 per pound.  Apparently, it's very smooth.  The tagline for their Web site reads: Naturally enhanced by elephants, ethically and with relentless passion. 
I will probably stay away from the Black Ivory Coffee but ONLY because I can't afford it.  If I had a private jet, I would fly up to that production facility post-haste and ask in my BEST redneck voice:  "Ya'll got some of that passionate poop coffee?"

Until then, I'll stick with my Venti dark roast.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Parenting Teen Boys

“Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.”
                                                          ― Erma Bombeck

I have been the parent of a teenager for less than 24 hours now.  I figured now is the PERFECT time to put in my two cents about parenting a teenager while I still know everything.
  
Top 10 Things You Must Do As the Parent of a Teen Boy

  1. You must always tuck them in at night.  Pull the headphones away from their ears and shield
    their iPhone from view and look them in the eyes and tell them how much you adore them.  Boy children will HATE this but some of it may sink in.  
  2. Tell them the truth about girls.  Let them know EARLY that girls are freakin' NUTS.  Tell them about how we hold grudges and get emotionally hysterical.  Tell them how we like to rescue losers and a-holes and leave the nice guys in the dust.  Give them the dirt NOW so they know to avoid them as long as possible.
  3. Tell them to suck it up.  Sometimes, life hurts.  Sometimes terrible things happen.  And you've got to keep going.  You've got to pretend it doesn't hurt sometimes so you can get through your day.  When all is said and done you can have your breakdown in private with your therapist when you're 35.  But you're a tiny man now...suck it up.  
  4. Keep them active.  Given their druthers, they would spend 24 hours a day in front of a screen.  ANY screen.  I have no idea why they love screens so much but their brains are connected to them wirelessly.  I think the boy mind CALLS out to technology.  I blame Bill Gates.  GET THEM AWAY from the screen.  Introduce them to nature.  Tell them about things like the SKY and WEATHER.  
  5. Force them to converse.  The teenage boy vernacular is littered with grunts, inaudible hisses and voice-deepened shouts (usually in anger or surprise and almost always directed at a sibling).  Speak slowly while attempting to maintain eye contact.  This will be difficult because their heads are usually aimed at the floor.  Ask for reciprocation.  Example:  "Son, how was your day?"  "Grunt, grunt.  Hisss."  "Let's try again.  Please speak in clear sentences."  "Fine, Mom."  Hey, ANY progress is good.
  6. Control shower time.  Some teenage boys prefer not to shower.  Some shower so excessively their skin is in danger of actually peeling off.  Install a shower timer.  15 minutes should be plenty of time to get clean, right?  And for those who don't WANT to shower, consider putting their beds in the tub.  In the morning, you have dual-purpose shower head:  alarm clock and cleanliness agent.
  7. Hide food.  Any and all junk food will be eaten prior to any fruits or vegetables.  All junk food will be consumed in MASSIVE quantities.  If you have a stash of Oreos, keep them where the teen boy will NEVER find them:  in the laundry basket or perhaps under the lawn mower.
  8. Ask them to repeat instructions.  Verbatim.  Offer instructions to them ONLY when all screens are off (see number 4) and limit instructions to only three line items (one is preferred because you're going to have to repeat 2 and 3 multiple times).  Have them repeat the instructions back to you three times.  They will STILL forget steps 2 and 3 but with this method, they usually manage to complete the first item.  (Note:  This method can also be used with husbands.)
  9. Hoard chargers.  They will come to you when their chargers are missing.  Do NOT give them your chargers.  They are guaranteed to disappear and then you will be without your own screen time.  If they need something charged, take the item with you and secretly charge it near another place the teenage boy will never look: the dishwasher.
  10. Love them unconditionally.  The teenage boy will drive you bananas with his eating, his bodily noises, his smells and his blank stares.  Love him anyway.  The teenage boy will use his body to destroy your home, your pets and you car.  Love him anyway.  The teenage boy will be unreasonably angry sometimes and he might slam a bedroom door.  Love him anyway.  He will test your limits, your sanity and your wallet.  Love him anyway.  
In reality, the teenager is still your little boy starting to stretch out into a man's body.  His heart is still tender and growing and his mind is still curious and strong.  You can still take care of him, albeit from a distance these days.  Stay strong, Teenage Boy Parents.  Remember that your role in life is to embarrass and to cause misery on the OUTSIDE while being secretly proud and wishy-wishy-lovey-dovey on the INSIDE.  

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Life as an Uncool Mom

“Any fool can do something cool and look cool, but it takes skill to make something uncool cool again.”
― Criss Jami


Thing 2 sat me down for a serious talk tonight.

"Mom," he opened.  "I would like to talk to you about M rated video games."

(Internal alarm bells begin to ring...DANGER, DANGER) 

Courtesy ESRB
He went on.  "I know how you feel about the M rated games but I think you should know that two of my good friends who I KNOW are good kids play M rated games.  You like them, too...[Kid 1] and [Kid 2].  Wouldn't you agree that they're good kids?  Polite and respectful? THEY are allowed to play M rated games."

This kid is well on his way to becoming an attorney the way he sets his traps and goes in for the kill.

We spent the better part of an hour going over WHY he wants to play these violent games and how he feels like he's matured significantly and on and on and on.

And I HEARD him.  I really did.  I understand that it STINKS to not be allowed to do something your friends are doing.  But I also firmly believe in this:  Garbage in=garbage out.  I don't think a 10-year-old needs to be armed with a machine gun blowing off the heads of other people...on-screen OR off.   We even went to the game section at Target during our conversation and I picked up a few M rated games and read the back (because maybe I'm just a little too Tipper Gore for my own good) and the reasons for the M rating.  I felt nauseous.  Intense Violence. Nudity.  Intense Language.  REALLY?  This is FUN for people? 

I am uncool.  I get it.  And he's afraid that will make HIM uncool.  And, there's a 100% chance that I'm not going to change my mind on this.

I gave him an assignment.  He is to go and research the effects of violent video games on kids and adults.  I told him to bring a list of pros ("Why I should be allowed to play violent video games") and cons ("Why violent video games might harm me") and we will discuss it.  I told him that if he finds THREE sources with PROOF that violent video games do not, under any circumstance, cause mental or emotional harm then I would go and buy the game.  PROOF.

I did ask Thing 2 how he thought these violent video games were going to be GOOD for him.  There was a telltale silence on the end of that question mark. 

The one thing that made my heart soar was that we were HAVING THE CONVERSATION.  He approached me in a very mature manner and stated his case.  There was no whining or arguing.  We simply discussed it like two reasonable people.  This means that something is really right with our relationship and, as uncool as I am, I think that's super hip.  :)

I think the assignment is going to open his eyes to the psychological effects video games can have...especially on eager young developing minds.  Who knows?  Maybe he'll become uncool like his mom and decide that E for Everyone really IS the way to go.

Parents?  Do you allow M rated games in your home?  Am I missing the boat here?  


Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day: Thank you for your sacrifice

“Honor is the presence of God in man.”
― Pat Conroy

(daisy-blue63: photobucket)
Over 1.3 million men and women have died in military service to our country since the beginning of its history.  Very close to half of those people died during the American Civil War.

1.3 million sons and daughters.

1.3 million brothers, husbands, fathers, sisters, wives, mothers, friends.

1.3 million flags draped over caskets. 

Before my family begins its Memorial Day activities, I want to pause and remember why we're here.  There is a reason I can sleep comfortably in my cozy bed every night surrounded by the people (and animals) I love. 

Because of more than 1.3 million people who have died and the untold numbers who have served, currently serve and will serve in the United States military services, I have the freedom to:
  • say what I want to, in public
  • own a gun if I want to or NOT own a gun if I don't want to
  • keep my own home for myself and my family without interference from the government
  • be secure knowing that, unless I'm suspected of doing something really wrong, no one can enter my home without my permission 
  • have due process if accused of a crime and I don't have to say anything that might make me look guilty
  • have a trial by jury (boy, I sure hope I don't do anything WRONG anytime soon!)
  • be protected in the event that my home is searched and a jury has convicted me...I shouldn't be tortured in prison
  • have my rights protected
  • live in a state that has the right to make its own laws fit for its people 
Now I realize our country has its share of differences.  We squabble about this freedom and we strive for that freedom.  We have a tendency to put ourselves on opposite sides of the fence because sometimes I think we forget that what we ALL are, at the end of the day, is people.

Over 1.3 million people have died to give us the opportunity to bicker and whine and throw barbs at one another?  My guess is that every single one of those people would tell us to lay down our arms (figuratively and literally) and HONOR the lives they died to protect.

They died for you.  They died for me.  They died for my kids.  We all need to remember that.

Thank you to all the military men and women who serve in the face of grave danger to themselves and at risk of hurting their own families.  Thank you for putting your country first.  Thank you for the time spent away from home and for the many, many nights you have been alone without your friends and family and wondering why on earth you ever signed up for this thankless job.  Thank you for your courage and your honor and your service.

Happy Memorial Day.

Pinterest Interest/Disinterest

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
― Dr. Seuss

OK, I realize I am FAR, FAR behind on the whole Pinterest craze.  I am somewhat the opposite of the early adopter.  I'm not even cool enough to be a LATE adopter.  I'm more of a middle-of-the-road adopter.  And the sad thing about Pinterest is that I really haven't even ADOPTED it yet.

I created a Pinterest account the other day.  I have NO IDEA what to do with it.  And it MOCKS me.

See?  It says "Hey, dork, if you even HAVE interests, you can put them here.  Obviously you have none because this space is empty.  Dork.  Uninterested Pinterester."

 I don't know why people visit Pinterest.  I have seen them post things like "I want my bathroom to look like this."  OK, so AFTER you post the picture for your new and improved bathroom, do you begin to make it so?  Or are there Pinterest Fairies who flock to your home and remove all your old, ratty towels and replace them with sumptuous spa towels?  Because I am ALL OVER IT if there are Pinterest Fairies.

Or people who post FABULOUS recipes.  Do they then go and buy the ingredients and toss that puppy together?  Better yet, does the recipe then LOOK like the delightful Pinterest picture?  Or does Rachel Ray show up at your house with a bottle of red and a paper bag crammed with random ingredients from the local Fresh Market and whip you up a gourmet meal in 20 minutes or less?   If so, does she clean up afterward?

To me, it looks like Pinterest is going to be yet another one of those places that makes me feel "less than."

And what IS the whole "pinning" thing anyway?  It's an online bulletin board...I GET that part.  But when you "pin" it, does it ALWAYS show up on your Pinterest wall or does it behave like a normal bulletin board and get lost under all the OTHER crap you pin on TOP of the first thing you pinned up?  My bulletin boards are always a study in chaos.

Guaranteed my bathroom is not getting a remodel anytime soon.  And that magnificent antique bed?  It won't belong to me.  The recipes will be filed away (or at least stuffed in the general vicinity of my other recipes) but probably not created on any kitchen surface of mine.

If Pinterest is a place to DREAM, I'm all in.  If it's a place where we (as women, because HONESTLY, are there MEN who use Pinterest?) put things up to make us seem like we effortlessly put our lives together with little to no help, then I'm gonna have to pass.  I have enough insecurities, thankyouverymuch.

WHAT IS THIS PINTEREST?

Why do YOU use it?  Is it going to add value to my life or just be yet another technological time sucker?  I don't want to miss out on something amazing.  But I don't want to get all excited about something that is going to turn me into a useless, tongue-wagging zombie, either.  I have Facebook for that.


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Same Life, Different Day

“In life we don't always get what we want; hopes and dreams get washed away so easily, hearts are broken, chances are missed, and we always seem to end up right back where we started.”
                                                            ― Rebecah McManus

I might as well get a hamster wheel and install it in my living room.  I often feel like I'm living the real-life version of Groundhog Day.  You remember the movie?  Bill Murray lives the same day over and over and over and over.


I get up.  I walk.  I make coffee.  I fix lunch for the kids. I take a shower.  I go to work.  I come home.  I do whatever for the kids.  I go to bed. I get up.  I walk.  Over and over and over and over.

Am I the only person on earth who feels this way?

I never thought it would BE like this and I really feel adamant that it shouldn't STAY like this for any length of time.  I try to mix it up.  I take different routes to work.  I adopted a new dog.  I took a cooking class last week.  But why does it feel like everything is the same all the time?

Things That Are Needed


  • I need more travel in my life.  I need to have fabulous traveling adventures and I need the funds to support it.  I want to take my boys to see amazing things like Niagara Falls...no, we'll go bigger in this dream....ANGEL FALLS.  I need photos of them next to the World's Largest Ball of Twine.  I want to tuck them in in France one night and Southeast Asia the next.  I want Santa's sleigh so I can travel quick and light and with elves.  
  •  I need more laughter.  I want more belly-shaking, soul-scrubbing laughter.  I want to howl in fits until tears stream down my cheeks and my abs develop into a six-pack just from all of the giggle workouts.  I want to find the humor more and the pain less.  
  •  I need more music.  I need to see more live music...concerts, singer-songwriters, groups, solo artists, ensembles, trios, instruments, vocals.  I need to listen to the birds singing in the trees more and listen to the boys singing their parodies in the car.  I need music louder and in every room of my house.  Music feeds my longing for connectedness.  
  •  I need more life in my life.  I need to figure out where the "old me" goes to hide.  Where IS that girl who laughs all the time and finds the joy in the simple things?  She spent so much time being sad about something that she lost her way and deflated her life into something much smaller than it should be.  That girl had a BIG life.  She had a big laugh and a big smile and a big sparkle in her eye.
  • I need more close friends.  I need to invite people in who make me laugh and think.  I need to connect with those old friends and go out into the world and make new ones.  I need people who are positive and who wrap their arms around life because they LOVE BIG.  

 Life is short.  But the days do seem long sometimes. Time to get off the hamster wheel and understand that life was never meant to be put on hold.  My kids deserve a mom who knows how to be fully present in every moment.  The hamster wheel doesn't belong in my home.  We're not people who are going to continue to go nowhere.

Darn it.  The hamster wheel is closed not just for the season..but for this life.


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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Multiple Random Objects: Clutter in my mind reflects my bedside drawer

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.”
― Albert Einstein

I've been tossing and turning in my bed for the past hour.  As a part of healthier, happier me, I've pledged to sleep at least 8 hours every night.  BUT, because I spent an enormous amount of time resting today, I am not properly exhausted at bedtime and my mind turns to overdrive hashing out all crap in my life in the attempt to turn it into unicorns and rainbows.

I finally gave up about five minutes ago and turned on my bedside lamp.  I opened the nightstand drawer in hopes of finding a pen to start slashing out pro/con lists and found (among other things) these random objects:





In my nightstand, I have a weird black glove, a rubber bouncy ball, a ROCK, a CAR charger, a plastic spoon, a magnetic clip, a drawer knob (that doesn't match any of my furniture), a broken kids' clothing hanger and a weird joiner thing that looks like something I might need for something electric.  There were also post-it notes, user manuals, a battery charger, a few random books and a rice-filled flannel warmer but I didn't feel like pulling all those things out to clutter my bed for the picture.

My nightstand drawer is a reflection of my mind.  I have a bunch of useless, random crap cluttering it up and I can't seem to throw it out.  WHY do I have a BROKEN hanger in my nightstand drawer?  The better question might be:  WHY DID I JUST PUT IT BACK?

I keep things far after they've outlived their usefulness.  I DO eventually get rid of unused objects but sometimes they hang out in my life longer than they need to before I finally get the nerve to clear them out.  They make me feel bad while they're around but still I cling to them.

Albert Einstein said "Out of clutter, find simplicity."  OK, Einstein, here goes:


  • Get rid of it.  The simplest thing is to dump it.  The WHOLE THING.  I had no idea what was in my top nightstand drawer because I NEVER OPEN IT.  I probably never open it because there is nothing in there I need.  All I need in that drawer is a pad of paper, a pen and a flashlight.  That's it.  Simple.
  • What does it mean?  Clutter in my drawer really does reflect clutter in my mind.  I read recently (and I'm not EVEN going to tell you where I read it because it's terribly embarrassing...do NOT look it up!) "Messy bed, messy head."  It's so TRUE.  If my bed is unmade it usually means that I'm in a bad place emotionally.  If my bed is made, then usually I'm a pretty happy person.  That cluttered nightstand drawer?   It must go.  Maybe it will be the whole key to clearing out the things that are bugging me in my life.  And then I can sleep.
  • Does it make a me a bad person to have a cluttered nightstand drawer?  Here's the thing:  when you see a beautiful spread in Better Homes & Gardens, you see brightly lit homes filled with fresh flowers and beautiful throws artfully placed with books neatly stacked in bookcases.  Do those people REALLY LIVE THAT WAY?  Maybe.  But, if so, I probably don't want to know them.  People HAVE clutter. EVERYONE has clutter.  Some have a little.  Some have WAY too much.  But if you're living a big life, you don't have time to keep everything immaculate all the time.  My cluttered drawer doesn't make me bad.  It makes me normal.  
My closets need cleaning.  My bathrooms need scrubbing.  My dogs need bathing.  My ceiling fans need dusting.  And my life needs a little polishing.  I'm working on it.  I don't know that I'll ever NOT be working on it.  But, boy, I try ALL THE TIME.

Now, where's that pen???



Becoming a Baseball Mom

“Well, boys, it's a round ball and a round bat and you got to hit the ball square.”
― Joe Schultz 

I read that NC State faltered in a record-breaking SIX HOUR, 18 INNING baseball game against UNC-Chapel Hill last night.  Six HOURS?  Holy mackerel, those parents watching that game must've been EXHAUSTED...

Wait.  It isn't only parents watching the game?  Oh, that's right.  The game also beat an ACC record for highest attendance.  Over 11,000 people watched the game although I feel quite certain that not all of them lasted the 18 innings to see the run-scoring single which ended the game at 1:51 a.m.  I wonder if they had a 14th inning stretch?  I would've loved to hear the delirious crowd crooning Take Me Out to the Ballgame after midnight. 

Thing 2 plays ball
That game is a far cry from the season I've had (so far) watching Thing 2.  For one thing, it IS pretty much all parents (and definitely all relatives) watching.  It's been an interesting ride for both of us.  I've morphed into a Baseball Mom.  I take him to practices, both regular and batting.  I take turns with another mom keeping the stats for the game and I've even manned the scoreboard a time or two. (Believe me when I say that is, hands down, the MOST stressful thing I've ever done as a parent...try missing a ball or two on that scoreboard.  You'll hear about it. Trust me. Not to mention, I had ZERO training.  They handed me the remote and told me to keep score.  HELLO?  Good thing I never played football. [You'll get that reference in a minute...just keep reading.])  I've learned a lot about kid baseball this season and I am always, always grateful that the games last about an hour and a half or five innings.

The funny thing about baseball appears to be that the more you learn, the worse you perform.  Thing 2 could hit the ball to the fence almost every time at bat at the beginning of the season.  As he's learned more about his "stance," including foot position, hand position on the bat and follow-through on the swing, he's actually hitting the ball less and less.  Like his mama, he thinks too much.  It's heartbreaking to watch the kid who started as a fourth-position batter (fourth position is very good and also known as the "clean-up hitter" position) end the season as a seventh, eighth or ninth position batter.  As his batting has declined, so has his fielding.  So, after starting the season as a decent third baseman, he's ending in left field.  Sad.  And really hard to watch.

I have a few tips for parents eager to get their kids involved in the sport that boils everything down to the all-important box score.

  1. Don't do it.  Baseball is heartbreaking.  My kid really enjoyed baseball at the beginning of the season but I watch the stress in his face now at the beginning of every game.  He's developed this twitch in his shoulder every time he prepares to enter the batter's box (SEE how much I've learned this season?).  After every strike out (and there are many now that he's "learned" how to hit), his shoulders slump and his head falls forward as he slinks in shame toward the bench with all of the Baseball Moms yelling "It's OK.  You'll get it next time."
  2. If you must do it, don't let him "learn" anything.  Like I said, he smacked that ball consistently every time before he "learned" about how he was supposed to hit it.  Sure, maybe now he's developed the building blocks necessary to become a really terrific hitter, but his self-confidence is in the crapper now and I have no idea if he'll want to continue "learning" after this.
  3. Pick football.  His brain will hurt so much with all the pounding that he won't care if he drops the ball.  And he might get a college scholarship.  And then he won't care if he really learns anything in college after all those concussions.  And he can get a job as a sports announcer saying dumb things about other kids getting concussions.  The down side is there is no seventh inning stretch.  The up side is that he can date a cheerleader for your husband or significant other to ogle inappropriately.  Is that an up side?  I think I digress...
  4. Learn the game yourself.  Baseball is a lot more fun now that I (sort of) understand the rules.  I can tell you what an RBI is now.  I still haven't figured out errors or ERAs but I figure those things will come in time...IF he wants to continue (see number 2).  My next goal is to become an umpire.  I REALLY want to grunt "strike" or whatever it is they say with that finger motion to the right.  I also want to pump my fist when they miss that slide into home and yell "He's OUT!"  Who cares if I make a 10-year-old cry?  I get the cool uniform and the grunty voice.  Neither of my kids is excited about this new aspiration although Thing 2 thinks it might be slightly awesome to have a mom who's the only chick umpire in the league.  Until I make a few kids cry.     
  5. Care about his team mates.  This goes along with number 4.  I have a great time now at baseball games because I know all the players and I know to cheer REALLY loud when the kid who hasn't gotten a hit all season smacks one straight down the middle.  And I can yell "It's OK.  You'll get it next time." True Baseball Mom style.
It's almost over.  Thank goodness he opted out of trying out for the All Star league which would've cost me a kidney along with practically every single summer night (and no beer OR seventh inning stretch).  He does have a baseball camp this summer and still insists he wants to play "fall ball."  All right, kid.  If you jump, I jump, Jack.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.





Saturday, May 25, 2013

Meet Mr. McDougal

“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
― Jim Butcher

Our family story just grew one chapter.  Meet Mr. McDougal.  (OK, his name is ACTUALLY Mr. O'Dougal but I just keep saying Mr. McDougal so I think he's going to end up with a slight name change because he just LOOKS like McDougal more than an O'Dougal.)  The only thing that matters is he's Irish.  Or Scottish.  But definitely cute-ish.

Mr. McDougal wonders what he's stumbled into
I told the boys last weekend that we were expanding our family.  Thing 1, ever pragmatic, questioned me about the additional responsibilities and expense a new pet would bring to our household.  At almost 13, he's pretty aware of his mother's impulsive nature and tendency to leap first and look on the way down. Thing 2 simply smiled and shook his head and said, "Oh, Mom."

All week long, I have mentally prepared myself for another furry family member.  ALMOST every person I've told has not been a big fan of the idea.  But I did my research and I think I have a firm grasp on the power struggle that may ensue in my house over the next few days.  But we're a pack.  And I am Alpha.

So, we've installed a baby gate in the kitchen and, for the first week, will cordon off areas of the house while I'm away so Charlie, Sparky and Mr. McDougal can learn to slowly live with one another.  Mr. McDougal is much smaller than I remembered him (the boys laughed when I called him "portable" on our way home) and it will be an odd balancing act having such a BIG dog with such a LITTLE dog.

We picked him up from his former home last night and I remembered how much I fell in love with him the first time I saw him.  My heart grew three sizes that day, just like the Grinch.  We collected his things, said goodbye to my aunt (Mr. McDougal's most recent mom) and hit the highway.  About 15 minutes into the drive, Thing 2 spoke up from the back seat.  "I LOVE HIM SO MUCH!"  I smiled and laughed and exclaimed, "I KNEW IT!"  Thing 1 looked at both of us like we were off our rockers.

"It's not really possible to love him that much when you've basically just MET him.  Love doesn't quite work that way," he explained.

I reached over and ruffled his hair.  "Oh, Thing 1.  It works that way for ME!"

We had a plan of action upon coming home.  The boys took Mr. McDougal around to the back yard on a leash.  I went in and put on Sparky's harness and leash ("Oh boy! Oh boy!  A WALK!") and took him out to meet his new brother.  They sniffed each other through the fence.  McDougal barked and then we let him in.

The dogs sniffed each other once or twice...and then COMPLETELY IGNORED EACH OTHER.

It was the oddest thing.  I took them both on a long walk around the neighborhood with Mr. McDougal running on his tiny legs alongside Sparky's giant steps.  They walked side-by-side without complaint and without incident like they'd been walking together forever.

Last night was a little more challenging.  In order to keep the small dog safe overnight in his new environment (because I still wasn't sure what they would do alone together and I sleep like a dead person), I put his bed in a soft-sided crate I use for travel.  I slept on the side of my bed where he could see me all night.   So did Sparky. They both settled in quickly.
Charlie is not excited.

This morning has been an even greater challenge.  I think they're both becoming aware that this is a new thing.  They're currently sitting about 15 feet away from each other, each keeping one eye open.  Sparky is viewing Mr. McDougal as an exciting playmate.  Mr. McDougal is viewing Sparky as one big-ass dog.  Charlie is sitting high on the counter next to his food, watching the proceedings with elderly catlike disdain.

Welcome to the jungle, kids.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Forget Superman: Teachers are Real Heroes Every Single Day

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
― William Arthur Ward

I was watching the Today show this morning, weeping.  On the screen were the principal and several teachers from the school devastated by the recent tornado in Oklahoma.  As they told their tales of panic and survival from those terrible few minutes, I was moved by their overriding passion for keeping those kids safe.  They put their own lives at risk to save the children who, for all intents and purposes, did not belong to them.

Student rescued from Oklahoma tornado damage (AP photo)
We hear these stories again and again.  Sandy Hook teachers and the principal lost their lives attempting to protect their tiny charges.  In the face of tragedy, teachers become larger than life heroic figures stepping between kids and danger.

And it's not only in times of danger.  Teachers spend portions of their meager salaries purchasing classroom supplies and snacks for students, and spend hours and hours OUTSIDE of their classroom time preparing and grading and worrying over their students.  There are stories of teachers purchasing backpacks or other school supplies for students whose parents couldn't afford supplies.  There are even tales of teachers bringing students into their own families because of neglect or tragedy in their families of origin.

I wish I had the courage and the passion to teach.

They go into classrooms every day, embattled by budget woes, parent complaints and student apathy.  They stand before our children as encouraging beacons of hope in an ever hopeless world.  They do it day after day, month after month, year after year.  And they continue to smile, to encourage, and to patiently, carefully change the lives of their students in spite of decreased salaries and a world that simply takes them for granted with snide phrases like "Those who cannot do, teach."  And still they teach on.

I am as guilty as anyone of not showing my appreciation for these classroom warriors.  My kids are not the easiest students for them to teach and I know many shake their heads at the woeful lack of organization and concern that Things 1 and 2 show for their education.  But I am on their side.  I appreciate their daily heroic efforts to not only build knowledge but to tend to growing self-esteems and to nurture budding passions and talents.

I send out a blog "thank you" to ALL the teachers out there who are heroic every day in our classrooms.  And I send out a special prayer for all the teachers and their families who have lost their lives protecting the lives of our children.  You are all amazing and wonderful and gifted beyond measure.

Go out there and thank a teacher today.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.    




Friday, May 17, 2013

Operation Self-Esteem (Or How I Am Going to Rue the Day I Ever Embarked on a Self-Improvement Kick)

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

I fear I have made an error.  My New and Improved Life Plan begins on Monday and already I am beginning to dread it deep within my very bones.  I'm serious.  My bones are actually aching RIGHT NOW.


Sparky wants me healthy so he doesn't have to drag me up trails.
 I have asked a good friend of mine to assist me with my New and Improved Life Plan: Step 1 which is Getting Into Kick-Ass Shape.  This friend of mine is a veritable Jack Bauer when it comes to physical fitness. As in, he might ACTUALLY chop one of my fingers off if I don't work as hard as he wants me to.  I have given him a time frame of four months to help me shed pounds and become one Hot Mamacita.  Because, obviously, in four months I will be the amazingly stable, mentally healthy, emotionally buoyant, physically fit specimen that you can't wait to set your eyes on.  I intend to Rock It.  Whatever "it" is.

BUT, here's the thing.  I'm COMFORTABLE right now.  I had an evening out...I'm sitting here in my recliner watching The Gilmore Girls and drinking wine and considering eating those Oreos that are in the kitchen purchased for the hoodlums' lunches (because they REALLY don't understand WHY they ALWAYS have to have HOMEMADE cookies).  If I truly commit to the New and Improved Life Plan then I will HAVE to truly commit. Once I make up my mind about something, then it's all over but the crying...usually MY crying.

Sigh.

Can I DO THIS?  Am I READY to commit to the New and Improved Life Plan?  Once I'm committed to the New and Improved Life Plan it will mean I have to eat healthier AS A LIFESTYLE not a diet and I will have to kick my cardio into high gear.  I might even have to partake in Before and After photos.  And invest in more sports bras.  And probably some new workout shoes.  (Because, naturally, it's ALL about the accoutrements.)

AM I WORTH ALL THIS TROUBLE?

That's the question, isn't it?  I am working on so many facets of my life right now.  And I honestly think that sometimes you have to TEAR the building DOWN in order to build something stronger.

I'm ready.  I can commit to ridding myself of old patterns, destroying bad habits and launching into a new, healthier me.  Let's call her Kelly 3.0 (because SURELY I'm on at least the third version of myself by now).  

(Darn it.  I HATE it when I go public with a plan.)

Are you getting healthy?  Tips? Tricks?  I intend to use my modified 12-step-program that I use with EVERY bad habit I've rid myself of and I will take it one day at a time.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Perspective is a huge component of happiness

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.”
― Horace Walpole

Man, oh, man...happiness is something I've struggled with my whole life.  I blame it on the Disney princesses.  Everything in their world ALWAYS turned out rosy and that "happily ever after" BS is what lands me into hot water EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Me: "Isn't this supposed to be HAPPILY EVER AFTER?  Why am I so angry/sad/upset/ridiculously emotional?"

Life:  "Dude, did you REALLY buy into that whole GLASS SLIPPER thing?  Think about it for half a second.  A glass slipper would HURT.  It would CUT YOU.  There's absolutely NO GIVE in a glass slipper and it would shatter the instant it hit the ground.  Glass slippers simply aren't feasible."

Me: "But...what about the BIRDS WHO HELP ME DRESS?"

Life (slapping me hard in the face): "You're an IDIOT."

So, I've struggled with happiness all my life.  And it really isn't that I'm necessarily DEPRESSED.  It's just that I'm not overcome with JOY most of the time.  So, if I'm not skipping along singing show tunes I assume that I'm simply NOT HAPPY ENOUGH.  

Don't they look HAPPY? (Photo courtesy Fanpop.com)
I realize that this is crazy.  I really do.  And I know you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.  I truly believe that life should be THISCLOSE to a fantastic musical starring a beaming Julie Andrews (or, rather, ME).  But, with the help of some fine therapists and some more reality-based, grounded friends, I'm learning to accept that complete and utter Disney joy 24/7 really isn't exactly possible.  WHO KNEW?

I've gotten to a place in my life over the last six months where (most of the time with a few notable exceptions) I am fairly even-keeled.  I feel content and at peace most of the time.  I'm learning that THIS feeling is more akin to real happiness.  It's pretty wonderful.  And I've had EVERYTHING I needed to feel this way all along.  But, instead of being irritated with myself and my own slow learning curve, I'm learning to recognize and embrace the things that lend to my happiness on a daily basis.

Just yesterday, these wonderful happiness-lending experiences happened to me:

  • I laughed one of those really super hard laughs while talking to a friend.  I mean the kind of laugh where your sides ache and tears spring from your eyes.  For a long time.  And that phone call came at exactly the right moment. 
  • My youngest son told me that I was a blend of 1/2 crappy and 1/2 perfect as a mother.  I thought this was absolutely wonderful because it's pretty much spot-on.
  • I watched my eldest son laughing ('cause I'm a creeper that way).
  • I woke up snuggled next to Sparky.
  • I got to play with bubbles, watch ants crawl, listen to bells ringing and dogs barking, and watch the wind blow through tall grass with a two-year-old.  THAT was pure magic.
  • As I drove home late last night, the air was warm and my windows were rolled down and my music was turned up.  I smiled and sang the whole way home.
I still have a ways to go to become a truly even-tempered person.  But I work on it continually.  And eventually, I'll find true consistency over time.  Like most of us, I'm always learning, always growing and always receptive to change.

“Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
                                    ― Margaret Mitchell
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Am SO TIRED of Homework

“Homework, I have discovered, involves a sharp pencil and thick books and long sighs.”
― Katherine Applegate

I put in my time at school.  I attended the mandatory elementary, middle and high schools and then managed to make it through a bachelor's degree.  I did what I had to do.  I was a good student (because I find it very easy to memorize things quickly...not because I'm all that super-genius smart) and did what I was supposed to do without any prodding from my mother.

I just DID it.


Things 1 and 2 on the roller coaster of life.
Things 1 and 2 are on some sort of different program.  Perhaps it's because they're boys.  Perhaps it's because I'm too "involved."  Perhaps it's because they just don't GIVE a rat's ass.  But they are content with muddling by with A's, B's and C's.  Every now and again a D or an F (God forbid) creeps in.  This is NOT because they're not super-genius smart...they are (and I know I'm their mother...but they really ARE smart kids)...but it's because they put forth about...oh....ZERO EFFORT.

I'm talking an AMAZING lack of effort.  They DO homework but they don't actually turn it in.  They forget to write down homework assignments or they write down partial assignments or they write down assignments on random scraps of paper and lose them.  WHEN did the homework process get so HARD? I take the stress that they SHOULD have and I burden myself with it.  And, about this time of year, I am so sick and tired of the whole process that I simply give up and let them steer the ship.  Fourth quarter grades are almost ALWAYS worse because I just am too exhausted to stay on top of THEIR responsibilities AND my responsibilities.   

Our evenings go something like this:

Me:  Have you done your homework?

Them: Yes, mother.

Me:  What did you have?

Them: Just a little bit.

Me: Do I need to check the Web site?

Them: No.

Me: Am I going to get another note from your teachers?

Them: No.  Can we play on the computer?

Me: Have you done your homework?

Them: Yes.

Me:  Have you REALLY done your homework?

Them: Yes.

Me: Where is it?

Them:  (vague hand motions toward the living room accompanied by mumbling)

Me: Is it in your bag?

Them: (more mumbling)

These conversations happen EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  And, in spite of the daily Homework Interrogation,  I inevitably get e-mails from teachers stating that Thing 1 didn't turn THIS project in and Thing 2 didn't turn THAT homework assignment in.  Usually they stack up before I get an e-mail so, by the time I hear, both children are earning 3 letter grades lower than their test grades because of missed work.

And it's not like they're staying home sick.  These kids go to school EVERY DAY.  They are, unless Thing 2 is spending time in In-School Suspension, tucked into their desks in their classrooms.   I am assuming they spend the majority of their time daydreaming or, in the case of Thing 1, reading.  For goodness sake, that child has had books taken away by his LANGUAGE ARTS teachers.  This is the level of inattention they are giving their education.

I am at my wits' end.  How do I get these kids to care about their grades?  How do I make them understand that their very FUTURES are at stake?  We've played the "How do you live on minimum wage?" game.  We've discussed the requirements for colleges.  I've talked and talked and talked.

And I'm tired of talking.  How, as a parent, do I just let them SLIDE BY?  Isn't it my job to help them understand that putting forth their best effort is in THEIR best interests?  And I'm tired of following up.  This is THEIR job.  They should be responsible for their homework.  BUT. THEY. DON'T. CARE.

I give up.

They're going to live with me forever.  I'll start looking for a house with a basement.

Sigh.

I NEED HELP!  Parenting advice is always appreciated.  Or disregarded.  Whichever.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.   





Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Plan for AWESOMENESS into Old Age

“Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.”
                                                ― Gloria Steinem



Thing 1, Thing 2 and I on a Great Adventure
One of my favorite things EVER is the Red Hat Society.  If you've ever seen a group of women tromping around wearing bright red hats and flowing purple dresses and pantsuits, then you've seen the Red Hat Society.  There is nothing I love more than women getting together and living out loud without regard to what other people might think.   Years ago, my former mother-in-law (a study in awesomeness herself) gave me a poem entitled "Warning" by Jenny Joseph, which hangs in my bedroom today. The Red Hat Society was started based on the lines of the poem.



Warning
by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple. 

I completely buy in to everything in the above poem.  I am all about it and, truth be told, often live my life that way even now.  I doubt that anyone I know would be shocked if they found in me in my slippers in the rain picking flowers from other people's gardens while spitting.

This morning, I was doing something I love: singing in the church choir.  We arrive early in the morning and do a long rehearsal and then go down to the choir room to have coffee and snacks before the first service.  I don't know how we got into it, but the altos in the group started talking about aging.  I informed them of the plan I devised a long time ago.  When I'm 75, I intend to start smoking, drinking and tanning to excess.  At that point, I figure I've got so little time left, I might as well pack everything that's bad for me into the last few years.  I think I talked a few of the other altos into adopting the idea as their own.

Unlike other things (like spitting and wearing red hats and hoarding pens and pencils), I WILL have to wait on the drinking, smoking and tanning because all of those things could actually kill me and it would be totally irresponsible to abandon my children prior to their adulthood.   For now, I'll concentrate on the things I love and enjoy that make me nothing more than an adult kid:  riding on carousels, singing out loud on my walks with Sparky, dancing alone in my living room and jumping on the beds with my kids.

But, if you run into me in about 30+ years, do not be surprised by my raspy voice, leathery skin and slightly unsteady stance.  I'll be livin' large by then.

Do you have a plan for aging?  You can tell me...

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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Feelin' The Love

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
― Ruth Reichl

I have to say, I wrote a blog post yesterday that started an outpouring of love and support that I simply did not expect.

I use this blog as my own personal public flogging/therapy/honesty session.  I didn't set out to seek support or empathy or praise but I have received all of the above through calls, texts and emails for quite a few posts I've written.

 

Thank you.


Illustration from StockFreeImages.com
I cannot begin to tell you how much your support (in whatever way you've given it) has meant to me over the past couple of months and, especially, in the last day.  I'm a little verklempt just thinking about it.

I'm still managing (for the most part, except for last night when I had to respond to some private messages) to avoid my Facebook addiction.  And I'm working on my Life Reinvention Plan today.

Life is good.  Hope is high.  Love is felt.

Thanks for reading my blog.  And thanks for helping me through the rough spots and laughing with me at the crazy stuff.  I hope we can continue together.


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Stars Hollow or Bust: I Want to Be Lorelai Gilmore

Luke: Back when I was on the track team, we went to State three times in four years, and won it...twice. Think they made buttons and put up banners? They couldn't care less.
Lorelai: Luke, that's because track is for dorks.
         Rory: Yeah, it's true. I'm sorry.
         Luke: Okay, the conversing part of this morning is now over.
                                                --snippet of conversation from The Gilmore Girls


Lorelai Gilmore (fanpop.com photo)
OK, if you've never seen The Gilmore Girls then this post is not going to make any sense to you.  But you should know that I'm an addict.  (One of my many flaws is the vast quantity of addictions I have.  Fortunately, I've never tried meth.)  I am here to convert you into a "fan."  Or you can stop reading now.  But KNOW that if you stop reading you may never understand the beautiful mysterious wonderfulness of the Gilmore Girls.

The synopsis of the series goes something like this:

Wacky single mom Lorelai Gilmore was born to a wealthy family but ended up eschewing it all in favor of becoming a teenage mom (BIG time accident) and then a hotel maid and finally owning her own inn (OK, that's kind of a spoiler alert because she doesn't get her own inn until season 4).  Her daughter, Rory, is brilliant and beautiful and destined for the Ivy League.  The series begins when Lorelai has to go ask her wealthy parents for money (for the first time ever because she's AWESOME) in order to pay for a fabulous private school for Rory.  Her mother exacts a price for the tuition fee:  weekly Friday night dinners with Lorelai and Rory.  Madcap adventures ensue for the NEXT SEVEN SEASONS (because, duh, Rory has to get through high school AND college in the course of the series).

Are you still with me?

Lorelai and Rory live in this quirky, quaint, insane town called Stars Hollows, CT.  Stars Hollow is
Rory Gilmore (courtesy WB)
LOADED with amazing characters like Luke Danes (OMG, I LOVE him...I would seriously marry Luke Danes today if he were actually a real person), Kirk (who does everything from termite inspection to managing the local movie house, literally a MOVIE HOUSE), Miss Patty, and on and on and on.

I have watched the complete series approximately four times over the course of the last 13 years.  I started watching when it first aired on TV and have watched reruns ever since.  I have recently purchased the first four seasons on DVD with more seasons arriving next week.

YES, I DO REALIZE THIS IS INSANE.

Luke (courtesy WB)
But, here's the rub:  I LOVE these people.  I want them to be real.  I'm sure there's some sort of wacky fan club of the series who actually recreate Stars Hollow events and who are obviously demented.  But I would love to just wake up one day and BE Lorelai Gilmore.  (Cue Twilight Zone music here, please.)  And, you know Melissa McCarthy of Bridesmaids fame?  SHE plays Lorelai's best friend, Sookie.  I learned to love Melissa McCarthy watching the Gilmore Girls.

Why do I want to be Lorelai?  Because she's smart and pre-loaded with snappy dialogue filled with amazing pop culture references that spill off her tongue in rapid-fire succession.  Because she's addicted to coffee. Because she's charming and struggles with "getting the guy." Because she's totally hot and incredibly comfortable with who she is and she never, ever settles.  Because she's connected to all these quirky characters in this bizarre little town.  Because Luke LOVES her. 

Go watch it.  And get back to me.  If you want to take part in my marathon, you'll have to bring your jammies and popcorn.  I view late at night.  Come on over.


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Let's All Practice Kindness With Our Words

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
― Mother Teresa

A friend of mine recently told me a story about a text message her teenaged daughter had received from her biological father with some fairly cutting words. This is not my story to tell, so I won't go into any more details, but I was absolutely enraged.

Photo courtesy of StockFreeImages.com
"How DARE he?"  I stormed.  "Doesn't he know the long-term effect those words are going to have on her?"  Words can echo through our hearts long after they've been spoken.  As a child, I was told by MY stepfather that I did not belong to him.  Those words continue to clang around in my head even today because they were the first time I had ever truly felt NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  I remember being confused and afraid because, if the person who is supposed to be your parent doesn't WANT you or CLAIM you, then how is anyone ELSE supposed to ever want you?

Fortunately, this teenager has a wonderful, loving mother and a caring stepfather and they will nurture her through this.  But I'm here to offer her something else.  They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Sometimes it's hard for kids to hear something from their parents, so I have a few words of wisdom for EVERY kid out there...especially those of us who are adult children who long to have those old childhood wounds erased.

So, M, this is for you if you're reading...and for anyone else whose heart has ever been broken by a few words.

  1. You are loveable and much loved.  It doesn't matter what anyone else tells you.  You are a unique and amazing creature.  No one else is like you and you bring your own perfect blend of you-ness to every situation.  You are perfectly designed and worthy of love exactly the way you are.
  2. Words can break your heart.  I understand the pain of words.  I get that someone can cut into you so deeply that you feel it in your very bones.  But know this:  words are still only words.  When someone else aims them at you, know that the words originate IN THAT PERSON.  Anything laced with anger or hurt is coming strictly from inside them and (here's the tricky part) they have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.  They have everything to do with how THAT person is feeling.  They are using you as a human target for their own pain.  They may not even be aware of it at the time.
  3. Love can heal your pain.  I'm going to get all "religious" on you here because that's the place where I'm originating.  God's love is the only love that is ALWAYS there and always free.  Since He is your heavenly Father, you KNOW that you are loved.  That love is forever there for you...even when all human love seems scarce and even when your own earthly father has disappointed you and hurt you.
  4. People are going to let you down.  No one is perfect.  And no one will ever respond to you exactly the way you want them to.  Sometimes people suck.  Accept this as a part of life and love them anyway.
  5. People are also going to exceed your expectations.  You will be surprised.  You will be loved.  You will be delighted by people even as others disappoint you.  Accept THIS as a part of life, too. 
Parents, pay attention to what you say to your kids.  People, pay attention to what you say to each other.  I struggle with this constantly because I have a tendency to cut with my words without ever meaning to.  I react out of pain and the words are flying out of my mouth before I can reign them in.  I am continually working on being silent and THINKING first before speaking.  I fail regularly.

So, after I conquer my Facebook addiction, the next thing I will add to my list is speaking deliberately with kindness as a rule as opposed to the exception.  Who says it has to be the start of a new year to make a resolution?

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or subscribe to the e-mail list.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.      

Friday, May 10, 2013

Off...Again

And I'm done hoping that we can work it out,
I'm done with how it feels, spinning my wheels
Letting you drag my heart around.
--Sara Evans

Is there anything better than a good break up blog?  The status of the On Again Boyfriend is...Off Again.  And, this time (sadly), I think it's Off For Good.  We've had a good/bad go of it.  We've struggled and fought to make it work because, deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, we honestly love each other.

But, as the song says, sometimes love just ain't enough.

Some things are my fault, some things are his and some things are just US.  We don't work.  It sucks to be starting over at 42, especially when your heart and soul belong to someone else.  But I know the pain will pass and life will begin again.  He'll find someone amazing and I'll live my life alone with a hundred cats.  Drinking.  And crying.  And listening to country music while mascara runs down my face in black rivers.

I'm not afraid of the future.  I'm a little on the sad side still because I was really hoping for that white picket fence or, in the case of The Ex Boyfriend, miles of barbed wire surrounding a 10-acre steel reinforced compound.  I do know that there is a Divine Plan and that life will work out one way or another.

Opie Taylor feels sorry for me.  Photo courtesy Andy Griffith fans.
I don't intend to date (so please don't send me the number of your cousin's uncle's barber, please) for a long while because I need to pull myself back together (again) and figure out that I am worthy, valuable, and all that jazz that I seem to lose during the drama of On-Again-Off-Again.  I probably will drink a few bottles of wine between here and there.


I've devised a plan, though, to get me through the next few months.
  

The A#1 Getting Over a Break Up in 30 Days or Less Plan


  1. Listen to female angst music.  I'm going to rock out to the REALLY good ones like I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor), Survivor (Destiny's Child), Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O'Connor), Rolling in the Deep (Adele), So What (Pink), Fighter (Christina Aguilera), Irreplaceable (Beyonce), and Believe (Cher).  I will probably alternate between crying and rage for a few days.
  2. Drink wine.  (I don't need to expound here.)
  3. Get into kick-ass shape.  Part of that is vengeance (because I'm a girl and I NEED to look awesome if I ever see him again) and part of it is just investing energy into something other than crying.
  4. Forget English.  If I forget how to communicate in English, I will not be able to text him, call him OR write him ever again.  I shall henceforth communicate in Mandarin.  Or perhaps Swahili.
  5. Learn karate.  Because karate looks fun.
  6. Get another dog.  Or have another kid. Because everyone knows that additional responsibilities are SUCH a wise idea when you're wallowing in misery.
  7. Rent stupid girl movies that make you cry.  Because crying over someone ELSE'S pretend misery is so much better than sobbing uncontrollably over your own.
  8. Blog about your own worthless miserable existence.  Because THAT will make everyone else a) incredibly glad not to be you and b) happy that their own lives don't suck as much as yours does.
  9. Stop whining about everything.  Sheesh, grow a backbone.  There is no need to be sorry for everything.  Whiny behavior will not ease you through this rough patch.
  10. Reinvent your life.  This is the most important one of all because, in the midst of a terrible break up, you don't think that life will ever be good again.  This was IT, right?  This was The One?  Apparently not.  The One would still be working, right?  Life goes on.  You, too, will go on.  
The best part about all of this is that the future is STILL wide open.  I wish Off Again nothing but the best.  He's got a great life ahead of him, I can FEEL it.  And I?  Well, I'll keep plugging away.  For now, I'm just going to focus on this:

"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning."  --Ivy Baker Priest



Thursday, May 9, 2013

Social Media Has Changed My Life

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Life in 2013 is different.  Growing up as a kid in the 70's and 80's, we watched television shows about people having madcap adventures together and they were often a reflection of "real life."  Families REALLY DID eat dinner together.  Neighbors REALLY DID stop by for coffee. Our parents gathered with other parents or family on the weekends and they worked on cars together, played board games and stayed late, often putting us kids in pajamas before the ride home.  Depending on where we lived, I was able to walk to school, waving to school buses as they passed me by and saying hello to the crossing guard stationed at one end of the elementary school.  The librarian at the local library in one of the towns where we lived knew me by name.  Life was lived at a snail's pace and, even though we were dressed funny, we were a part of real community.

Now, I'm a part of the Facebook World.  Even though I don't know my neighbors, I communicate regularly with friends from way back in high school via computer.

It's kinda funny because even though MOST of the people I'm "friends" with on FB were once a very real part of my orbit, every now and again I've accepted a friend request from someone who knows someone I know or who was a member of a group (for example, someone who attended my high school) and was never a real friend of mine but only a vague acquaintance.  I see their posts regularly and sometimes feel like I'm getting to know them.  I have to pull back and remind myself that I have NO IDEA who this person is!

I get attached to people this way.  I am moved when they update their status with the information about a sick child or an injured spouse.  "Oh NO!" I think to myself.  "Little Johnny has a BROKEN ARM?  I wonder which hand he writes with?" I start to think maybe I should send a note and realize that I knew this person VAGUELY about 20 years ago and that they would wonder why in the hell I am stalking them on FB.

I start to worry about people when they begin to post dramatic status updates like "Loving you was so wrong...but I never want to be right."  Hmm, is Alfredo not happy with his current girlfriend?  Did she leave him?  Did he leave her?  I wonder if he's OK.  Maybe I should send him a note...

I check my feeds every morning and then leave FB open during the day at work.  I'm always so PLEASED when I see a little number next to the FB icon.  I see (2) Facebook on the tab and get giddy!  Ooh!  A starred friend has posted a status update or someone has commented or, even better, "liked" a post!  FB is connected to my iPhone, so I also get notifications filling up my screen with comments and status updates galore.

When my kids are with their dad for the weekend, I sometimes spend entire weekends alone in my jammies watching old episodes of The Gilmore Girls (I have started writing a post about THAT part of my life, never fear), drinking wine with my computer opened up to FB and one ear open for the pinging sounds that say something new is out there for me to pay attention to.  I avoid invitations to dinner and don't answer my phone, but I pay attention to the World According to Facebook. 

Obviously, I have an illness.  I have a Facebook addiction.  And because I'm an ass-kicker, I'm going to kick the addiction to the curb.  I so enjoy the witty comments of my friends (both real and imagined) and I really do laugh and smile when I read updates and post comments...but this has simply gone too far.  I depend on social media far too much.

So, I think it's time for a personal intervention.  I'm going to conduct a non-social social experiment.  For the remainder of May, I'm going to access FB only once per week.

Holy crap.

Can I do that?  Once per week?  I'm panicking a little bit thinking about it. What will I do without the funny, sarcastic updates?  What on EARTH will I DO?  HOW WILL I FEEL CONNECTED?

That's the point, though, isn't it?  I'm falsely connected.  Instead of being out there in the world, I'm on the couch in my jammies.  It's time for a radical shift in my thinking and in my behavior.  Social media has changed my life and, while I FEEL closer to people, I'm not ACTUALLY closer.

I'm going out into the world.  Maybe make a new friend or two.  Or connect (in REALITY) with friends I already know.  Time to begin a new class or spend time doing some of the many REAL fun things I enjoy.

The Great Non-Social Social Experiment begins today.

Goodbye, Facebook.  Hello, World!

Cue panic.

If you'd like to contact me during my hiatus, you can give me a call.  Seriously.  Call me.  I'm rejoining the world.  The rest of my life starts today.

Or does it?

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