And we call them weeds

Why are certain flowers, trees, and plants called weeds and others aren’t? I admire my mint and sedum spreading voraciously and without abandon in my newly-planted, otherwise cleanly-weeded flower bed…. and yet, I pull those little sunflower-looking things because I was told “Oh get rid of that! It’s a weed!”

My friend told me I needed to dig out these Elm trees that voluntarily seeded near my house. “Oh, goodness, get rid of those weeds!”

But I like the little sunflowers. And the weed trees are nearly taller than my house at this point and I don’t mind the shade. And I especially don’t mind avoiding the arduous labor that goes along with digging up a weed tree.

As I walk along the path around our neighborhood, I notice purple, and white, and yellow little buds everywhere. Some look like blueberries, some look like sunflowers, some look like foxgloves, beautiful, untamed. My 4-year-old Riley asks me to take a picture of the pretty yellow ones. He doesn’t think they’re weeds.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is famously credited with describing a weed as “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

What a metaphor for nearly everything in life! People are weeds, animals are weeds, books are weeds and yes, Netflix Originals are weeds.

If we don’t take the time to meet, and discover, and research, and experience, everything will always be weeds. If I look at the world like Riley looks at weeds, maybe I’ll be a little more open-minded.

Except when it comes to crabgrass. Crabgrass was, is and always will be a weed.

You’re the asshole

Someone cuts me off in traffic.
A-hole! (I don't know why I censor this word when I'm alone in my car.)

The coffee at work has a drop left and the last person didn't start a new pot.
What an a-hole!

People talking, meeting and joking behind my desk all hours of the work day.
Shut it, a-holes! I'm trying to work.

Good morning? Good morning! Stop telling me Good Morning!
A-hole.

I don't want to talk to you. I don't want a hug. I don't want a fist bump. I'm here to work!
Annoying a-holes.

"If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole."
-Raylan Givens

This is a great reminder on perspective. That morning a-hole can impact my entire day and leave me with a horribly bad attitude. It makes me into an a-hole. If I let it roll, and move on. Those people who WANT to talk to me are no longer annoying a-holes, they are caring friends. (Sometimes caring friends need to know when to shut up, but that def doesn't make them a-holes.)

Me to Jimmy Johns employee: I'd like mayo on that slim.
Anonymous Jimmy Johns employee: It's procedure to not put sauces on these sandwiches.
Me to JJ employee: But, can you just do it? I mean, you have mayo back there, right?
Anon JJ employee: Well, no that's against our policy. I can give you mayo packets
Me to JJ employee: Policies and procedures aside, I have two hungry, messy little boys in my nice clean car and mayo packets will wreak havoc back there. They can barely open them! So I'll be opening 4-5 mayo packets while driving.
Anon JJ employee: I'm sorry ma'am that's all I can do.
Me: *pulls up to window*
Anon JJ employee: Here you go ma'am, we made sure to give you lots of mayo… Packets.

What a bunch of a-holes.

If my kids were critics…

If my kids were critics, I don’t think I’d ever be upset after a critique.

Kids are incredibly honest without prejudice. They aren’t jealous. They don’t project shame. They are NATURAL critics. They do it when you don’t even ask. Most of the time they do it without you asking.

Case in Point:

Logan (8): “Mommy, you know I love you, right?”

Me: “Yes, of course!”

Logan: “Your story wasn’t really that funny… but I still love you.”

Then we hug it out.

Notice how his critique began with a positive and ended with positive, with a little something to work on in the middle.

The best part about a kid being my critic is that I can tell him he’s wrong and then send him to his room while I retell the unfunny story to another person.

If my kids were critics…

Why don’t toads stress eat?

Logan was frustrated that a toad peed on him and asked “Why don’t toads stress eat?” It was the perfect question. Or better yet, why don’t humans pee when we’re stressed. It would definitely prevent a lot of us from gaining stress-weight. Also, I think the diaper/pad industry would be booming.

And would it be acceptable?

“What’s with Frank?”

“He wet his pants again.”

“Aw. I really hope he gets that stress under control.”

The reality is, only humans stress-eat. It’s what separates us from the beasts. Well, that and opposable thumbs and a few other things. I’m typing this as I boredom-eat a granola bar I wasn’t even hungry for. I don’t think animals do that either. Pop open the fridge and look around until something seems interesting, then mindlessly eat that cherry pie. Most animals don’t even HAVE fridges.

The point is, and there is a point, animals don’t really seem to get stressed unless they have a good reason. Like say, when my careless 8-year-old is carrying Kebby around by his leg (Kebby is the toad with incontinence issues.) 

If Kebby only gets stressed at death’s door, then maybe I can chill the eff out about my new flowers dying in this ridiculous heat, or someone hurting my feelings, or stumbling over my words in a Toastmasters meeting, or stubbing my toe. 

When it comes to stress, I’m going to be like the toad. 

(Hopefully, I’ll never pee my pants, but you know, if I’m in a scary situation like Kebby was today, it could happen.)

Contribute more than you criticize

“How might we…” is a phrase that behemoths like Google, Apple, IDEO and others swear will facilitate more open and productive brainstorming. In a group setting, it’s intimidating to throw out new ideas. It’s much easier to say no to everyone else’s ideas than to step into the arena and prepare for tomato-pelting. That’s why everyone does it. 

Except me. 

I’m an idea-giver. Ideas well up inside me until I feel like I’m going to explode, then I have to let it out. I have to say it. Embarrassing or not. I just do it. And it sets me up for all kinds of failure and tomato-pelting. But I don’t care. I do it anyway.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t criticize an equal amount. I criticize. Some might say, I’m judgmental. It’s human nature to be a little judgmental. It’s how we know to not go home with the creepy guy from a bar. It’s why we won’t let the pedophile babysit our kids. A little bit of judgment and criticism is ok. That’s not exactly the type of criticism I’m talking about. I’m talking about when we look at others’ creativity and say “That’s not good” or something else negative. 

When I hear phrases like “contribute more than you criticize” it reminds me of why I started this blog in the first place. I need to check myself regularly. Am I passing judgment and not putting myself out there to be judged? (Hides Audible review screen)

Among the 5 books I’m reading and the 3 books I’m listening to, am I writing? Am I creating? 
Am I contributing?

35 on vacation

Today, I’m 35. 

Not too long ago, 35 seemed old. In the not too distant future, 35 will seem young. Today, it’s just where I’m at.

I used to celebrate my birthday all week. Now it’s not even a day. Is this a sign of things to come? Ignoring birthdays. Not wanting any sort of attention and denying they’re even happening?

As I sit here wondering what I should do with myself today, I’m watching my boys swim. I’m worn out from a week of vacationing. No sleep in the 2 double bed room we’ve been sharing with our boys.

“Can we go to the pool?” 

“As long as I can just sit there.”

“Can we go to the Waterpark?”

“Can I just sit there and relax?”

Hell, I don’t even want to relax. I’m bored. I have no energy, no motivation, all the time in the world and no desire to do anything. Is this 35? 

Over the week, we’ve done Gatorland. We’ve done beaches. All the seafood I can stand.

The 25 people I’m sharing a vacation with are gone at the volleyball tournament. And now it’s just me and the kids again. 

The humidity is fogging up my glasses. Is that I sign I should put my contacts in and just get into the pool??

Alright, I’ll get my suit on. Vacationing is hard.

Relax don’t do it

I have time on my hands. 

I’m a busybody. I can’t sit still. Our first day of vacation, after I ate my breakfast, I sat out by the pool… for like 5 min. Then I launched into a few sets of pushups, squats and lunges around the pool. What else am I gonna do? Relax? Pssshhh.

After I was bored with that, I snagged Riley out of the water and we headed to the resort Waterpark. Three hours there, then back to the house. Then… cleaning. Yeah. I’ll clean the kitchen. The kitchen that was destroyed by 20 people that morning, in a rush to down breakfast and head off to a volleyball tournament. 

Cleaning. Cleaning. Cleaning. Hmm… It’s pretty clean. Now what?

I’ll take a shower. Yeah. I need a shower. 

Shower=check!

As soon as everyone gets back I head off to the store for supplies. I get back and most are 3 deep in Bud Light. It’s 4 pm. Vacation drinking. I get it. But… I’m bored. 

Workout? Someone wants to check out the fitness center. Let’s go! I put 2 moms through a workout. 

Then back to the house for dinner. More sitting around. More drinking. More chilling. Do I relax? Ok. I’ll relax. 10 minutes later… Walk? Someone wants to walk around the resort. I’m in! Let’s walk. 

Back at the resort. More sitting. More chilling. Ok, I guess. I’ll sit here for a bit. 

10 minutes later… Time for a book and the soft leather couch. Now. Now, I’m relaxed. 

Good night.

The opposite of empathy

Solipsistic. It means self absorbed. I heard this word several times over the past week. It’s not hoe it sounds. People didn’t call me “solipsistic” (thank goodness). All of the mentions were from the same book. Being the ever-learning person that I am, I looked up the definition.

And now I get the humor the author was trying to communicate. The person in her story had to look up the word solipsistic when she herself should be pictured next to the word in Webster’s. 

Wait. That’s not me. I AM writing a blog about myself… Does that make me solipsistic? Perhaps a little.

As hippie as it sounds, I’ve reflected on this word for the past week. Where did it come from? What is the origin? How is it used today?

Solipsism originated as a theory that a person doesn’t acknowledge anything exists outside of his/her own experiences. 

Gee. Sounds like a lot of people. Sounds like me sometimes. It’s very hard to be able to understand situations that you yourself have not experienced. We make life choices based on our own experiences. Our experiences define us. 
But that doesn’t mean we are exempt from acknowledging or at least trying to understand others’ situations. 

It’s empathy. Some consider empathy as “being ok with everything” and having loose morals because you “accept” others decisions or lifestyles. I think there’s a difference. I can have very strong differing opinions but still acknowledge and understand that someone reached her position in life through a series of decisions based on experiences. And I can understand that I may not understand, but that doesn’t devalue her existence.

I think today, it’s easy to hate what we don’t understand. Solipsism is rampant and it’s disguised as high morals and strong convictions, but really, all it is, is ignorance.

Empathy is hard. That’s probably why so many people don’t bother even trying. But I will. I’ll continue to try to be empathetic, because I definitely don’t want to be solipsistic.

Are you a good storyteller?

I learned about storytelling at a very young age. Or rather, I learned that I was a BAD storyteller at a very young age.

 My sister and I were total goofballs and ornery AF. We were always involved in some sort of shenanigan. We would trick my other sisters into doing something hilariously embarrassing and then tell the story. We knew our stories were hilarious… we just didn’t exactly deliver them that way.

Growing up, one of my most prominent memories from our family gatherings includes this level of storytelling. My sister and I would run up to one of our uncles, snickering about our latest prank. We laughed through every word. Then, something strange would happen. My uncle would just turn and walk away. Mid. Sentence. Dawn and I would look at each other for a second, baffled. Then we’d continue telling the story until one or both of us realized how silly we looked, telling each other a story about an event that included the both of us. 

We were insulted. We were confused. We just laughed it off. 

Thinking back about this phenomenon, I realize that it probably wasn’t that our uncles were rude or didn’t want to hear our story. It’s like when you’re about to hit your punchline and someone asks you to pass the ketchup. But it was probably because we did such a poor job with delivery. 

Kids aren’t really known to be great at telling stories. We drone on and on and on, with no real point. Most times I’m stuck in a conversation with a 13 year old, all I want to do is be OUT of that conversation. I get it.

Unlike most kids, I internatlized this inaudible feedback. Why would they walk away? They don’t like me? No. That’s not it. This story is annoying? No, this story is the bomb. Did I take to long to get to the punchline? Bingo! They never even got to hear the punchline. 

I started focusing on getting the story out faster, to beat them to the walk away. Talking really fast didn’t work, because then no one really understood me. So, I started using way less words to get to the point. I’d like to think this practice helped me become a better writer and speaker. Instead of giving the entire meadow report, I list off the most important, most interesting events. I got better and better at it. And, suffered through way fewer walk-aways.

Today, when I was “listening” to a 13 year old telling me about the trick shots he posts on Instagram: speed, length, distance, frequency, I walked away. As I left him staring at me in total confusion, I’d like to think that one day he’ll be a better writer for it.

Abuse punctuation for the right reasons

“It is my destiny to know people who abuse punctuation.”

I nearly spit out my coffee when I heard this line from “Hidden Bodies.” Caroline Kepnes sure has a way of developing a psychopathic murderer whose sense of humor aligns nearly perfectly with mine.

Joe Goldberg (said murderer from Hidden Bodies and YOU) was talking about his coworker and later landlord, who were so overly enthusiastic you could see the exclamation points flying out their mouths.

omg-exclamation-pointsNaturally, he’s extremely annoyed. I, too, am annoyed. Joe and I, we have a lot in common, less the whole vengeful stalker, killer bit. Joe and I also agree that it’s pretty difficult to hate someone who is that enthusiastic about nothing, about life.

I’m not the cheerleader type (shocking reveal, I know), and cheerleaders annoy me (equally shocking). But… sometimes you need that extra positivity on an otherwise mostly negative day.

I used to have a neighbor, I nicknamed him “Gipper” because he was always eagerly waving and shouting his obscenely friendly “Hi-diddly-hos!” It was almost surreal. I suspected he was some sort of serial killer (we still don’t know for certain). However, when he bounced around his yard with his 4-year-old daughter, I couldn’t help but smile at his ridiculous, annoyingly good parenting.

Over the years, I learned a thing or two from Gipper. Friendliness goes a long way and positivity doesn’t have to be forced… and it’s possible to use exclamation points for emotions other than anger.

Today, I welcome those who abuse punctuation. Five exclamation points in an email used to annoy me (no one is that excited about cookies). But now, it’s a little infectious.

Have a good week!!!!!

 

 

The Villian becomes the Hero

I’ve recently branched out to reading more fiction. In particular, thrillers. Which, if you know me, you may not believe the previous sentence. I’m a weeny. I’ve been a weeny since I was 2 years old hiding under the bed of my neighbor’s dad because I was scared of him, for no apparent reason other than he was an adult male. 

Fast forward many years, and I’m finally getting the point where I can handle a bit of a thriller, under my conditions. No science fiction and no paranormal. That unknown shit really messes with me.

My first book: YOU by Caroline Kepnes. 

I’m Audible customer, so 99% of all the books I complete are audiobooks. Yes, I can read, but I can’t sit still long enough to make it through a whole chapter. Sad, but true. 

As I listened to YOU, I found myself identifying with the narrator/main character. He was real, he was honest, he was a cynic. I was annoyed when he was annoyed with certain other characters for being pretentious about books and beers and club soda. I was on his team.

When it occurred to me that this person is a sociopath and I probably shouldn’t be rooting for him, I wondered if there was something to that. 

I’m watching MadMen now too. Same sort of deal. Don Draper isn’t a villain but he’s not exactly the hero type. I find myself rooting for him. It doesn’t hurt that he’s charismatic and good looking. But when his secretary thinks that her one night stand with him was something more than that I think, “She knows him. She knew what she was getting into.”

This seems to be a relatively new story trend. We’re all familiar with hero’s journey: Hero is normal, hero finds flaw/problem, hero struggles with flaw, hero finds sidekick or mentor to help him deal with flaw, hero overcomes flaw. Hero becomes stronger than before. Maybe we’re bored with the hero’s journey, it’s predictable. It’s common. Even my 8 year old notices: “Mommy, the good guy always wins.”

This is the villain’s journey. I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel after watching/reading a villain’s journey. Mostly, I feel confused, maybe worried, mad. Definitely not the feelings I get after a hero’s journey, renewed, relieved, resolved.

In a villain’s journey, the villain starts out with all the power and he declines through the story and oftentimes, ends up a pile of mush at the end. We are showed the villain’s back story so we can emphasize, maybe identify, with him, why he’s such a lunatic. (Read: Don Draper’s awful childhood and Maleficent’s stollen wings). Sometimes we think, “he’s doing awful things but for good reasons” (Read: Ray Donovan).

While it sometimes feels wrong, it’s fun to watch the villain story unfold. We want to know what horrible thing made them who they are. It’s less predictable. We’ve seen the hero’s story and we know it by heart. The Villain’s Story is mysterious and new to us. 

That’s all it is. This entire post basically justifies my identification with the sociopath in YOU, with the narcissist in Don Draper, the vigilante in Ray Donovan, and with the vengeful Maleficent.

We’re not evil for empathizing with a seemingly human response to evil. We’re all human. (Except Maleficent is a fairy… but you get the idea.)

Is “busy” the only good excuse?

I didn’t work on this speech this weekend. 

That’s ok! You have 3 kids, you must’ve been really busy.

I didn’t go grocery shopping this weekend.

That’s ok! You were busy.

I forgot about that deadline.

You just have so many things going on.

I haven’t blogged in a week or so and I have no excuse. Have I been busy? Not really. Do my 3 kids require attention from me 24/7? Not really. In fact, I had several free hours over the weekend that I filled with light reading, heavy reading, working out and roaming around Target.
I wouldn’t say I’m too busy to do anything. I just dont’ want to.

I don’t want work on that speech, I’d rather indulge in a movie on Koty, or play board games with my kids, or do a mix of light and heavy reading. I slacked off and “busy” is not my excuse.

Lazy? Yes.

Different priorities? Yes.

I spend the weekend taking in everything I possibly could, from the beautiful weather to eye rolls from my daughter’s beautiful big browns; from a tutorial on comedy writing to George Orwell’s 1984; from Mighty Ducks to Sister Act; from the home section to the freezer section, I took it all!

It was relaxing… and I was consumed with guilt. 

I didn’t get milk (or EGGS!). I didn’t practice my speech. I didn’t write on my blog. I didn’t finish anything I started.

So today when I replied, “No, I didn’t really get anything done this weekend,” and my coworker offers up a classic “you were probably so busy” excuse, I took it. Shamefully. 

“Yes. That was it. I was just so busy.”

Busy enjoying my life.

I’m right! (and other things I’m wrong about)

Lighting strikes the same place twice: wrong!

A penny dropped from the Empire State Building can kill you: wrong!

The blood in our veins is blue: wrong! (For most of us anyway)Blue blood

The earth is flat: wrong!

Riley (4) won’t make a huge mess in my new car with just one tiny cracker: wrong!

There are so many things we’ve been wrong about. If we all know this, then why do we try sooo hard to be right all the time? I’m no exception. I’m shamefully on a never-ending quest to know everything about everything. But, thankfully, that’s impossible. We can’t know everything and we shouldn’t. In fact, much of what we do know (FOR A FACT!), could be prove false in 5, 10, 50, 100 years from now. 

So instead of always trying to prove myself right and make sure my rightness is known, maybe I should ask mysel how wrong I am, most of the time. It’s all over the place, the wrongness. Seeing only right, correct, done, stifles growth and, let’s be honest, makes me look like an ass.

Who cares if I’m right about how to pronounce a word, or the best substitute for oregano in a recipe, or what to do at a 4-way stop? Ok that last one’s important because I’m certain no one actually knows and “safety first,” am I right? 
The point is: I need to question the things I’ve filed away as “solved” and continue questioning what I think I know, what I value, what I learn. I think this is how I’ll  grow. 

Or… maybe I’m wrong about that. 

Tell me I’m not alone.

Anxiety is a mother.

Anyone who tells me they have no anxiety is lying.

One thing that makes me feel better when I have anxiety is to know that I’m not alone. I think that’s how support groups and forums originated (?). As much as I dislike the term “normal,” when I’m in my anxiety spiral, I just want to know that what I’m experiencing is normal. I’m not alone.

So many people suffer in silence, alone. Afraid they are overreacting (hypochondria), overprotective, or experiencing anxiety for some unwarranted, unrealistic reason.
When I’m really worried, I’m amazed at the power of two simple words: Me too.

I thought about this today when a friend told me her insecurities and struggles. I knew that the physical anxiety symptoms  were a typical response to what she’d been through recently. (Sorry for the generalities due to privacy). In our conversation, I realized she was looking for some sameness. Some empathy. Some people don’t have a Kendra to say “Me too” or a Donnie to say “You’re normal.”

So I did her the favor. I said “Hey. Me too. I’ve had that exact same symptom when I’ve been extremely stressed.” I told her a personal story of a time when I’d been extremely overcome with worry. My legs went numb. My fingertips tingled. I had heart palpitations. Just. Like. Hers. She was shocked. She’d googled every possible disease associated with her symptoms and she never believed it was simply anxiety.

I could almost see the weight lift off her shoulders when she said, “Really?”

I told her about my vulnerable moments that caused the anxiety with the same symptoms. And she unfolded. I like to think she left my house a little bit less stressed, knowing that she didn’t have an incurable disease,  that she likely wasn’t dying, and that she was not alone.

Blaming Donnie

I am good at many things but I would say the thing at which I’m the best (in the world) is blaming Donnie.

I can turn any difficult situation into something that is Donnie’s fault. It’s a gift, really. I can tell Donnie doesn’t really appreciate my abilities. Case in point:

Logan announced at the dinner table that he searched “naked girl butt” on YouTube.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I quickly told Logan that he shouldn’t be searching those things. After dinner, Donnie and I had a whisper conversation about what could provoke Logan to search that. Sexual curiosity? Hanging with older boys? It was decided that he needed his curiosity quashed. I volunteered to do the quashing as I’m weirdly not awkward when talking to the kids about bodies and sex.

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-1-48-28-pmI grabbed the “I’m special, you’re special” book with naked cartoons in it and mentally prepared for our talk. As we turned through the pages, there were giggles and questions, and when we got to the naked lady, Logan said, but where does the baby come out. I said, “there’ as I pointed at the extreme closeup cross-section. Logan didn’t get it. He hasn’t had biology yet, thank goodness.

Logan got more specific. “Well when Daddy told me we came out of your butt, I wanted to see how.”

Maybe most things really are Donnie’s fault.

Oklahoma is where the words are.

I want to go to Oklahoma.

We vacationed at Grand Lake last summer. It was wonderful, relaxing, adventurous, and, at times, irksome (we have kids).

But it’s not the black-blue waters of Grand Lake that I’m craving. It’s the middle of winter for crying out loud. I’m not crazy.

When I talk about distractions with my writer friend, she refers to Oklahoma as the place you go when you are deep into a subject. Your hands are like two humbingbirds with your fingers flying over the keys smoothly and rapidly. When I’m writing, really writing, I’m in Oklahoma. I cannot type fast enough to get the words on the screen.

I love being in Oklahoma, literally and figuratively.

Sometimes, when I’m sitting on my couch after the kids go to bed. Donnie’s playing Nintendo. I begin to find things to do. I do the dishes. I pick up toys. I play with Google photos on my phone (pretty awesome btw). Then, light bulb! I should be writing.

I should be basking in the sun on the boat deck with my iPad out, fingers poised.

But how do I get to Oklahoma?

News flash: It’s better to be impressed than to impress.

I was 9 years old the first time I remember trying to impress someone.

It was about 50 degrees outside.

I challenged my sister Dawn to a run around the block. More like, convinced her that if she didn’t go with me, she could just stay home and continue being bored and everyone would know that I was the fast one. Methods aside, I convinced her to go with me.

The block was probably about 1/2 a mile but at the time, it seemed more like 5. We took off. I loved running. I wanted to be fast. I was the fastest kid in the neighborhood. Note: I didn’t say the fastest GIRL in the neighborhood.

We circled the block and huffed and puffed up the driveway. Dawn’s relentless competitive nature helped her keep up with me, most of the way.

I remember grabbing a glass of orange juice. I knew that was the healthy option so that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be fast and healthy. Dawn casually grabbed a bag of Doritos despite my warnings that she was cancelling out her run with those Doritos. My dad (a known health nut) walked in as we were sitting down for our snack. I caught his attention “Hey Dad, Dawn and I just ran around the block. I’m drinking this healthy orange juice and she’s chowing down on Doritos.”

Dawn said, nonchalantly, “Yeah. Doritos are good.”

Dad nods. “That’s nice.”

Not quite the praise I was looking for. Wasn’t he impressed that we went all that way? Wasn’t he impressed that the healthiness continued with the orange juice?  I’m being who you want me to be, Dad! If I wasn’t doing this to impress someone, then why was I doing it? Why couldn’t I just eat the Doritos with Dawn?

Dawn didn’t care about impressing anyone. At the time, I just looked at her thinking, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you care what he thinks?” In all honesty, I don’t think she did.

So then why did I care so much? Why do I still care?

It’s funny. I’ve spent a lot of my teen and adulthood trying not to care what other people think (especially my dad). This is a 25-year nagging feeling I’ve been fighting against. Yet, it’s made me challenge myself most of my life. Yes, I’ve accomplished things for myself, of course. But a small part (probably bigger than I’d like to admit) of that was trying to impress other people as well. Did it all start with orange juice?

It’s good to care a little bit about what other people think. Everyone cares about what other people think (except for the competely apathetic). As always, it’s about moderation. Spending all my time concerned about what other people think and letting that dictate all of my decisions is very unhealthy. As a teen, that behavior led me to be extremely susceptible to influence. And believe me, the influence was not as positive as my parents would have wanted. I was trying to impress anyone who would be impressed.

My dad wouldn’t be. Other adult figures were barely impressed. Other successful, athletically inclined kids were too busy thinking about their own lives to be impressed by me. I had to find someone who I could impress. This method definitely took my far, far out of the way of the path I originally intended on travelling. In fact, I’m lucky I made it back safely.

Knowing what I know now, I would say that trying to impress people is not a good way live your life. It may be better to be impressed by people. Other people appreciate people who appreciate them. Thinking back to my dad, maybe if he’d been impressed by the things I was doing specifically to impress him, I wouldn’t have gone down that darker path. Maybe I would have. Is this really just about orange juice? Probably not. But, I can’t really blame my parents for everything bad that’s happened in my life, can I?

Showing appreciation and that you’re impressed by another person is a great way to make them feel good about themselves. I know for a fact that I like to surround myself with people who make me feel good about myself, don’t you?

Today I spend more time trying to appreciate other people, notice their accomplishments (no matter how small), compliment them, let them know just how much of a bad ass they are. People need that no matter how much they deny it.

And, maybe sometime, try to impress them. It will fuels your competitive side. And without competitiveness, Dawn never would have gone on that run.

I’m going to quit my job and draw

Donnie and I were watching a Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates the other night. I saw it on our list but avoided it because sounded like one of those college-age, binge drinking, sleeping with everyone in sight style movies. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen American Pie. I thought it was hilarious. At the time. 

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe I have higher standards for movies now. I can’t even look at those American Pie actors without mentally rolling my eyes.

However… we were tired of browsing and settled on this one. Have I sufficiently convinced you that I don’t typically watch this type of movie? Ok then, we watched it reluctantly. And I’m shocked to say that it was hilarious. I actually put my phone down and got into the movie. Then we got to the end. Zak Efron’s character decides he’s going to quit his job and draw full time.

I lol’d. Ok. A lot of this movie was somewhat belieavable, but seriously? You’re going to quit your steady job and live with your parents and survive somehow on… drawing?  “Become a graphic novelist” to be precise. I love drawing. I’d love to make money from drawing. It’s just not realistic. In real life, we have to pay bills. Then, in our free time (if there is any), work on our graphic novels. It was kind of a quick way to wrap it up. For a man who is irresponsible and sketches in his spare time to now have a dream and a future (promising, of course).

Now that I’ve worked through this entire post, I’ve realized that maybe it’s not as unrealistic as I thought. I’m such a cynic. If you’re good enough, you can excel if you take that chance. Maybe I’m just envious. Envious that I haven’t taken a leap, or hardly even a step toward a creative dream like that. Envious that I wouldn’t have the guts to believe in myself enough. Envious that I don’t have Zak Efron’s abs. 

Maybe my initial reaction was only surface deep. I guess not all of us have the guts, the means, the talent, the drive to quit our jobs and draw.

Did Teddy Roosevelt hate Monarch butterflies?

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech Citizenship in a Republic in 1910.

To me, this quote means that we need to keep trying things, fail or succeed, no matter what others say. Daring greatly means taking risks, even when (especially when) the odds are against you.

I’m horrible at following Teddy’s advice. I care too much about what the critics think and where the odds are stacked. I tell myself I don’t enjoy writing and choose a hobby that’s also enjoyable, but much easier, then I do that instead. I’m working on it, I’ve read the book, I’ve taken small steps toward the arena, I’ve written the blog posts. But eventually I’m going to have to actually take action (write something meaningful) despite my reservations.

When I think of the man in the arena, I think of my husband Donnie. He’s always been the man in the arena, (sometimes I have to push him into the arena) but hes always been different. At nearly 7 feet tall, one gets accustomed to standing out from the crowd. But he embraces it. He lives his life the same way, his way.

Last night, we were watching the life cycle of Monarch butterfly and there were literally hundreds of thousands of

butterflies in one tree (a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope – how cool is that?!). There were so many butterflies crammed on each limb that the branches drooped down. Meanwhile, the tree next to it, same type of tree, was completely empty. I remarked, “Donnie, if you were a monarch butterfly, you’d be on that other tree enjoying your space and mocking the butterflies that were uncomfortably cramped on the other tree, “Stupid butterflies.” He agreed.

 

While, being in the arena has major benefits, one thing Donnie never gets used to is the criticism. Who can? And, boy is he criticized. He’s failed. He’s succeeded. He’s dared greatly. But the other butterflies don’t understand that. They only understand sameness, routine, conformity. It’s instinctive. Donnie wouldn’t survive as a monarch butterfly.

Luckily! We are not butterflies. We are humans (duh). We need to stray from the kaleidoscope and try new things to grow and thrive. We have to go through a lot of pain, dust, sweat and blood to succeed and live whole lives. But it sucks in the arena! (Clearly I’m conflicted) Many of us (me) never enter the arena because we (I) anticipate the pain involved. Unfortunately, if we never enter the arena, we could be (gulp), “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

For the record, Teddy Roosevelt probably didn’t hate Monarch butterflies.

Is today grey or chai?

Today is grey. After about as much sleep as a mom hosting an 8 year old sleepover is allowed, my eyes were swollen from the start, and my patience went on hiatus sometime between the midnight wrestling and the 3 a.m. nightmare announcement.

I shortchanged myself with one too few scoops of coffee in the maker. It was vanilla (not french vanilla) flavored water. Disappointment.

I drank it anyway. In desperation.

Coffee time went way too quickly as the herd of elephants demanded pancakes and tornadoed through the kitchen.

Ready for the kids to make their exits, I loaded up the car to make the drop-offs and we headed toward a day’s worth of basketball games. 

The fog-filled air made morning seem darker, denser. Sparkly white specs swirled around and around in the coarse wind before sticking to the dry grass. The blustery breeze stung my exposed skin.

After the last drop off,  the in-car sword fighting ended. It was at this point I was incredibly cognizant of the caffeine-less blood coursing through my veins.

Luckily, in Wichita, there’s a QT about every mile. “Chai. Latte.” Is all I said when the kids asked why we stopped.

I told the computer at the little cafe that I wanted a hot chai latte (unfortunately no soy… which most chai lovers know makes the chai latte so special) 

After I paid the very reasonable price for an average chai latte, I took a sip.

The clouds parted and the sun shone through. It heated my face when I looked to the sky. 
Glorious. 

There’s hope for this day after all!

I’m refreshed. Renewed. Revived!

Then smack! I ran straight into the side mirror of a huge truck. “OUCH!” I screamed, along with many other expletives. The sun’s not even out. What the hell? It’s still grey. It’s still windy. It’s still 10 degrees! I’m still standing outside!

I get in the car, trying to re-ignite the warmth that chai brings. I wrap my hands around my hot cup and breathe in the spicy, cinnamon, ginger, and clove black tea.

Ahhhh… is that the sun shining? I thought as I backed out and headed to basketball.

Perspective.

Nice guys finish last because kindness always wins.

“Be nice” is what I tell my kids when they are “not nice.” It’s also what I say to my adult friends, family members, irritable people waiting in line at Firehouse subs, anyone who’s not “being nice.” It never occurred to me to look deeper into what “be nice” actually means.
“I know there’s a difference between being nice and being kind, and I’m going to figure out what it is.”

That’s what I said when a good friend of mine told me she wanted to work on being nicer. (NOTE: It was not in response to me telling her to “be nice.”)

After some research, I think I’ve figured it out. It’s about motive.

Being nice is externally motivated. A nice person craves acceptance and acts nice in order to belong.

Being kind is internally motivated. A kind person cares less about what people think and more about “doing the right thing.”

TRUE CHARACTER IS WHO YOU ARE IN THE DARK

A nice person avoids confrontation and saying no. He will not express anger for fear of upsetting someone, but in the same right, will have anger outbursts due to long-held resentment.

A kind person doesn’t seek confrontation, but will not avoid confrontation if it means being untrue to himself.

A nice person is not true to himself for fear that he won’t be accepted

A kind person is authentic and is not diminished by others’ disapproval.

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

Being a “kind” person is my ideal self. It’s why I read all those self development books. I would love to always be authentic, true to myself, care less about what others think, no need for approval, honest. Okay, I’ll be honest. The last year, I’ve done way better at the genuine part. 

 In the article I read, it said that most people look up to those who aren’t afraid to be genuine. But, sometimes, the real, fallible you isn’t socially acceptable. Sometimes, doing what’s right isn’t popular. These are the times, when I really look up to those kind people, the ones who are strong, confident and do what’s right, regardless of what other people think.

If you want to stop being “nice” and start being “kind,” stop looking to others for love and approval and look inward instead. 

I think I’m going to stop telling everyone to be nice. It’s the kind people who really have their shit together.

You’ve Got to Stand for Something

I was 9 when I first heard the song You’ve Got to Stand for Something by Aaron Tippin. There’s a Mellancamp version but it’s super weird.

🎶 You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything 🎶

It wasn’t until I got older that the lyrics actually meant something to me. Growing up, I was always very gullible. I’d listen to this song and think, “Yeah, I do need to stand for something.” That’s how gullible I was, letting songs tell me what to do.

Still, anytime I stood up for myself I thought about that twangy lyric. It’s true. It’s good to have firm, unwavering beliefs. 

But…

Is it possible to have an open mind and firm beliefs? 

My beliefs have changed over the years. Does that mean I’ll fall for anything? I could fall, but I’m grower and a changer. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. I like to think that I won’t let my pride stand in the way of believing/standing for what I think is right. Maybe this year I’ll stand for something and then next year (with new information, experiences), I’m standing for something else. 

I would not knowingly continue to stand ignorantly. 

I guess I’m still the same ol’ gullible 9 year old. 

We need each other

I like to be alone.

I’m one of my favorite people. I don’t mean to sound like a narcissist (it’s not like I spend all my time alone practicing my smile in the mirror). I firmly believe that time with myself makes me a better person. Loving myself makes me a better person.

Being alone is easy for me because I’m an introvert. I love my family and I love my friends but too much of a crowd can be overwhelming and exhausting. 

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for me to reflect on what I love about being alone…. but I won’t. Being sick and having most of my family out of town, I spent a lot of time alone over the last week. Contrary to what I always say, this week has actually reminded me that I need other people.

I have a weight room in basement, and yet I get my best workout at the YMCA. As I was working out, I realized that I had increased my weight, despite a solid 4 days of sickness. I people-watched for a minute and noticed that everyone seemed to be killin’ it on Black Friday. Is it the competition? The solidarity? Whatever it is, I felt rejuvenated. We need each other. 

As much as I love being alone, too much isolation can be lonely and overwhelming. It was nice to get out of the house and speak to another adult using my actual voice box. I rode a wave of extrovertism as I said bye to the YMCA people and danced my way out the door. 

I suggested the boys and I head to the store. 

Let’s shop! Let’s go to Lowes! Then we’ll go home, and we’ll do some painting! Then a nice long walk! Then I’ll make some homemade dinner and finish that book I started!

I started the car, pulled out of the lot and headed home. The boys took a nap and I brewed some tea and reconnected with House of Cards for the next few hours.

Sometimes I just really need my alone time.

3 bricklayers… and finding my true calling

This morning on my way to work, I heard the parable of the three bricklayers. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this parable before but I forget a lot of things if they don’t directly apply to my life at that present moment. (It’s good to have a blog).

Three bricklayers were working side by side.

When asked: “What are you doing?”
The first bricklayer: “I’m laying bricks.”
The second bricklayer: “I’m putting up a wall.”
The third bricklayer: “I’m building a cathedral.”
bricks

To me, this parable is about perspective. Based on the type of water cooler talk I hear (“Is it 5 yet?” and “I can’t wait until Friday” and “Are you trying to look busy?”), most people are laying bricks or putting up a wall. What I mean by that, is that people see a task and complete that task because they have to. They do the work, they get the money, appreciation, recognition, whatever. They don’t do the work because they love to do the work.

Most people don’t think of their jobs as a “calling” or a “vocation;” To most, a job is a job or a career. I’m definitely not completely exempt. I won’t lie, I’ve dreaded Mondays and watched the clock. I think we all have at some point.

You spend your whole life dreaming that you will someday stumble across your calling and then you will live the rest of your life fulfilling that calling. It’s not that easy.

I think it starts by following aspirations and it ends with perspective. I’m a writer. Am I writing famous acceptance speeches? No. Am I writing screenplays for comedies? Sadly no. But I am writing… a lot. That’s where my calling lies. I write because I love to write. When I’m writing, I’m not watching the clock. Most of the time, I don’t get any special bonuses or awards or recognition. Sometimes, when I’m writing, 5 p.m. on Friday evening can come and go and my mind is so engaged in thought and in practice that I’m practically floating over New Zealand.

To me, that… is building a cathedral.

“When we are happy, we are always good”… or are we?

quotefancy-380144-3840x2160“When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy.”
Oscar Wilde

What does that even mean?

What does “good” mean?
Like when someone asks me “How’s it going?” and I say “Good” (I don’t want to seem pretentious so I say “Good” instead of “Well” even though I know that “Well” is correct… is writing that in this post pretentious?). Is that what “Good” means? As in, “healthy”? Or, “in a good frame of mind”? Or, “nothing is currently wrong”? Or, “leave me alone I don’t want to tell you the truth so I’ll just say ‘good’ and keep walking”?

Some interpretations of this quote say that “good” refers to your actions. In which case, when I’m happy, I’ll behave… but just because I’m behaving, that doesn’t mean I’m happy. That makes sense. I think truly happy people generally make good moral decisions and vice versa.

HOWEVER, I’ve made plenty of good decisions when I’ve been blue, depressed even.

So. What does it really mean then??
I think what Oscar Wilde is trying to say is that it’s easier to be good, productive, compassionate, loving, supportive, empathetic people when we’re happy. But when we’re not happy, those things are much more difficult to achieve.

However, my description is not nearly as poetic.

The Road to Hell

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Sounds like something a really judgmental grandmother would say. But… it’s a proverb. Another way of saying it is “Hell is full of good meanings, but Heaven is full of good works.”

The idea (which is more obvious in the latter) is that those who meant to do good but never did, will end up in hell. Those who do good, however, will rise to heaven in all their glory.

Makes sense.

hellWhen I first heard this quote I thought of even another meaning. Those who do bad deeds with good intentions are going to hell. Say, I punch you in the face because you hurt my child. Now, I was trying to defend my child (good intention) but I committed a rueful act (punching you in the face)… and, even if you deserved it, I’m going to hell.

I’m not sure it’s quite as cut and dried as that. I do bad things for good reasons all the time! And… I do good things for bad reasons! Where’s the proverb on that one? Anyone? Yes, if you do charitable work for the credit or post on social media of your church event because you want people to know how devoted you are, (when in fact you’re too busy taking selfies and gossiping about the majority of the congregation’s fashion choices to actually be devoted), I’d say that the road to hell is paved with that as well.

In conclusion, I believe the road to hell is paved with a lot of different materials, a mosaic, so to speak. So we all need to stop acting like judgmental grandmas because it’s quite possible we carry some of those materials as well.

I’m so old… but not as old as Cameron Diaz.

Today I woke up to the lovely ambiance of the crackle-popping of my knees.

I got out of bed.
Crackle pop, Crackle pop, Crackle pop.

I walked down the stairs.
Crackle pop, Crackle pop, Crackle pop.

I made breakfast.
Crackle pop, Crackle pop, Crackle pop.

Usually, the crackle pop is more annoying than painful. But today, there was pain there. I hate these stairs that I’ve always loved. Who the hell buys a 2-story house when they’re going to get old soon!? I began to think, “I’m getting super old. My body is falling apart.”

cameron-diaz-1-600x450So, the next natural step is to Google. I googled to see which celebrities are older than me and still actively reinventing themselves, still “cool,” not dead yet (eg Cameron Diaz). Turns out there are a lot of famous people who are older than me and don’t seem old at all!

Feeling like a spring chicken, I crackle-popped out the door. Then I ran straight smack into my new garage screen door. Now my face hurts and my knees hurt.

I’m not that old. I’m just clumsy, I justify. I popped a couple of my husband’s glucosamine just in case (well, after I Googled all the ingredients and read at least 3 articles of potential side effects.)

Turns out, in 6-8 weeks, my knees will be good as new! That is, if I don’t run into any more doors (unlikely).

Write about something presently in your life that is “worth it”

Toastmasters.

Sweaty palms, sweaty pits, sweaty-ness.
Shaky hands, shaky voice, shaky confidence.
Toastmasters is a weekly reminder that I need more Toastmasters. As much as I dread the roller coaster of anxiety that happens for one hour once a week, I know each ride takes me to higher highs and… Weightless free falls.

I’ve seen a change over time. The confidence, the eloquence, the dry shirts. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, it’s annoying.

It’s worth it.

I feel most at peace when…

Journal prompt: “I feel most at peace when…”

The first thing that comes to my mind is “when I’m doing something creative.” I’m lying. Specifically, the first thing that came to my mind was drawing but I didn’t want to admit that because it sounds silly. Or at least, I think it does.

I should probably say something like “writing” or “exercise” or “playing with my kids.” When I asked Anya (11) when she feels most at peace, she said “When I’m sleeping, I’m the most at peace.” And that makes perfect sense to me.

When I’m writing, I feel like I’m in a sudden downpour and I’m running around frantically with my rain barrel trying to catch as much watery goodness as possible. In other words: No peace.

When I’m exercising, I have a goal. It’s solid determination. Does it make me happy? Yes. Does it make me feel more alive? Yes. Peaceful? No way. With all the adrenaline pumping through my veins, I can’t even imagine what peace is like.

When I’m playing with my kids, I should be at peace, right? Not always. I’m Momming. I’m making sure these kids grow up to become responsible adults. I’m the designated responsible adult. Plus, I’m too busy trying to conquer the task of not touching the floor of the playground fort while monkey-swinging it all the way to the other side. Playing with my kids is fun, not peaceful.

When I’m drawing in my private sketchbook that has a lock on it (the lock is invisible, as in it’s understood that this is not for random perusal), I feel the most at peace. I can oft be seen sighing peacefully while sketching flowers from our flower garden or drafting out compositions for some of my favorite quotes.

So without shame (ok, maybe a little shame), I say that drawing is a no pressure, creative outlet that brings me peace.

 

 

What is calling me right now?

My journal prompt for today. “What is calling me right now?”

Right now. As in right this second. My lunch is calling me. I’m so hungry! Be right back.

Ok, I’ve got my Mason Jar Salad and I’ve set my timer for 10 minutes. I’m ready to write about what is calling me now.

In reference to my Mason Jar Salad, I’d say health. I’ve always been a sort of a nut job (I mean health nut, or do I?). But this year, I’ve been forced into really working on my physical and mental health.

 

Forced, you say? Yes. After having my gall bladder removed, I’ve discovered that the common knowledge that you can “live without a gall bladder” is flawed. Can you live? Yes. But is it fun? Depends how you look at it. Life as you know it is over.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Ok, I am. But… being forced to eat healthy ALL THE TIME, while a nuisance, is good for me. I’m getting really good at saying no to dessert and avoiding donut days. Some days I wish I could inhale a cheeseburger and wash it down with a thick chocolate shake, but then reality hits. I know what I feel like when I splurge and I don’t want that. It causes pain, anxiety, sadness (I wouldn’t say depression, but just the blues).

My lifestyle changes have been strict, to put it lightly. I exercise more. I eat more salads. I purposefully de-stress. It’s boring some days. It’s very very hard some days. But… It makes me feel great! Feeling healthy is worth all the sacrifice. Who knew that I’d have to have a vital organ removed to discover that?

I’m not sure I’m doing this journal prompt right, but if someone asked me what’s calling me at lunch time and I had 10 minute to give them answer, it’d have to be something to do with food.

Something very important to me.

It’s that time again. The Your Turn Challenge Time.

I know these topics are merely suggestions but I’m going to use each of them, not matter how incredibly broad they are.

Day 2: Tell us about something that’s important to you.

Breakfast.

Breakfast is super important to me. It shapes the way my entire day pans out. In fact, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Yep, THAT important. So what better to be my “important” blog post than breakfast.

I know I’m not supposed to write about what I had to eat today so I won’t. It was just toast anyway.

What I will tell you is that I AM NOT a morning person, and yet breakfast is my most favorite meal.

Breakfast is important to me.

I am not a morning person.

What a sad coincidence.

If you’re going to San Francisco…

Ah. San Francisco. The city where buyer’s remorse originates. At one point, I pondered spending $25 for an egg breakfast (I’m guessing this was that golden egg Jack found after he climbed the beanstalk).

Our waitress at the first bar we went to probably makes more than I do and the people who work on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) definitely make more than I do. But I guess it’s warranted because they have to afford a $25 egg. One waiter told us “What most people do is live in Oakland and work in SF. It’s much cheaper to live there.” I said “Doesn’t Oakland have a crime problem?” Waiter, “Oh yes. It’s terrifying there. But it’s getting better, so… Want another beer?”

San Francisco isn’t only a money pit though, it’s actually a really cool city full of culture. In fact, I saw plenty of people showing their “culture” in the Haight-Ashbury hippie district. I like to call it a Potsmokers Retirement Community.

The piers, however touristy, were pretty cool. The homeless people eat better than I do. Plenty of SF and San Fran (I was told not to call it that) shirts available, each shop cheaper than the next but still more expensive than any of the stores I frequent at home.

The entire time I was there I didn’t see one unfit local walking the hills of San Fran (I’m a rebel, I couldn’t help it). And we did a LOT of walking. It’s a workout climbing those steep hills! Awesome! It would’ve been a little more awesome with comfortable shoes, though. I never learn.

People-watching was my favorite part of the trip (other than my awesome experience with public speaking). People-watching is the best in S.F. because no one looks at anyone so you can stare as long as you want without getting that awkward, “Oh crap, he saw me, do I look away? Shoot, I took too long.”

I had a fun week with the non-judgemental, culture-rich, liberal, pot-smoking, wealthy San Franciscans but was really glad to be home.

Dessert: You know you want to.

I’m not the type to engorge when it comes to dessert. I’ve overfed myself every now and then, but mostly I’m a moderation gal. I know when to stop. I know when enough is enough. I eat one cookie, and that’s it. One Oreo. One chocolate chip cookie. One Snickernoodle. Or one peanut butter cookie. (Cookies are my dessert of choice).

I can’t tell you when the last time was that I had candy (Halloween?) Or ice cream for that matter (and I love ice cream).

It’s like I’ve gotten used to saying “I’ll pass” enough that I really have no interest in the Friday donuts or post lunch dip cones. And I’m really being honest about that. It must be in my head because I associate sweets with the overly stuffed, low protein belly that I get when I eat only sweets and then I think, “Yeah, don’t need that today.”

Lately though, I’ve said yes to the occasional donut (even though I feel like somehow, I’ll have to justify it to myself later). I think I’m letting my guard down.

I just ate 4 homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Is this the gateway to engorgement?

P.S. I lied. It was 6 cookies. (Dang it!)

Carry on

I heard this line in a song the other day (by the other day I mean, nearly every day because I really, really like this song), “May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground.”


To me, this quote is really thought-provoking as I spend a lot of time dwelling on the past. Basically, it’s telling me to move on (or Carry on if you’re familiar with the song). Maybe that’s why I like the song, because it’s a constant reminder that I need to put things behind me and not dwell.

Some days, I feel I’m constantly bouncing from dwelling in the past to worrying about the future. I tell myself, “Only use the past to learn for the future. That’s it. Spend just enough time there to remember what you learned.” I’m not saying reminiscing is bad, I’m talking about those “learning experiences” we’ve all had. They’re over. I learned, and now, it’s time to carry on.

Even if I have to consciously try to live in the present.

“If you are depressed, you live in the past.
If you are anxious, you live in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

~ Lao Tzu

Is a tattoo part of the fantasy?

Remember when I said I ignore the news?

This weekend I (organically) learned about 3 current events: devastating floods in Colorado, super sad shit in Syria and this Fantasy Football League.

Now, I don’t want you think I’m trying make light of the sad things going on in the world. I’m actually doing the opposite. I’m making heavy of them (if that’s a thing). In other words, I won’t write a blog post about them. Yeah, that sad.

This Fantasy Football League story, however, is a perfect light-hearted topic for the recent blogger’s-blocked Elefant Poop.

You probably don’t know this about me, but, I’m in a Fantasy Football League. I may be winning (I really don’t know). Maybe I would care more if we played like this Fantasy Football League. THIS is no ordinary Fantasy Football League. You see, these guys play NOT to lose because the loser has to get tattoo of the winner’s choice. That’s right. If Eli Manning throws a Hail Mary pass that’s neither Mary nor Hailing, someone may get inked! The only control the loser has is the choice of location.

Three years strong (yes it’s lasted 3 years), the Tattoo League has resulted in some rather good losers, relatively speaking. Each player has to sign a contract before the “season.” As it should be, the first loser was the  idea-man. He now has a unicorn kicking a field goal adorning his upper thigh.

It’s funny to me that ESPN picked this up. Is it real? Or is this just fantasy? (Sorry, I had to). It’s totally real by the way.

While a tattoo is a pretty significant commitment to a bunch of football players in a fantasy game (yeah, it’s pretend), I say raise the stakes. Short of banana-hammocks, shorty robes or during “intimate” moments, no one is going to see that upper thigh. Put the injured Care Bear in a prime tattoo spot, the shoulder. Or better yet, slap it across your forehead. Now, that’s news.

My vacuum Ned.

My vacuum has a name.

It’s Ned.

And Ned is the best vacuum ever. (In fact, the only vacuum I’ve actually named.)

Why?

Because Ned vacuums the house by himself. He is a Neato vacuum and I had a great Groupon deal for him. As I slowly type this pointless blog post with nearly no thought, Ned is circling (or squaring) the living room.

When I’m exhausted after a day full of baking, cleaning and child-rearing, Ned cleans up after me.

That’s why he’s so great.

My vacuum Ned.

The Advice Whisperer

Today was a little rocky.

Started off with me spending 80 frickin’ dollars at Urgent Care so they can tell me that my kids DON’T have ear infections… yet. But “Come back in a week.” As if I’m some sort of millionaire hypochondriac.

Then, I go and get way too involved in other people’s issues. For some reason, I have this innate need to help people; solve their problems. I take EVERYTHING personally. This stress was heavy on my shoulders. AND IT WASN’T EVEN MY STRESS! I have plenty of things to worry about without this breaking my back. I was this close to making a few specific prank-calls or sending anonymous hate mail and also considered Googling “how to legally take someone down.” Not sure if any of those things would be work-appropriate.

My rock is always there to support me. Classic bff stuff like “Yeah, you’re right” and “Those guys are jerks.”

But The Advice Whisperer is who actually turned my day around this time, from the verge of tears back to my usual self. Cold, hard third party perspective is sometimes just what I need to step back, take a look and reanalyze (maybe without all the irrational emotion).

I don’t know if it’s the refreshing cool fall air, the iced coffee from earlier today, the beer I’m drinking now or the contact high I’m getting from some of my more unconventional neighbors, but I think I owe my good mood to the advice whisperer.

So… thanks.

26 year olds? Don’t take them seriously.

Five years ago, I couldn’t wait to be 30.

Someone told me, “No one takes you seriously in your career until you’re 30.” At the time, I took this as, “No one is taking you seriously.” As if, I was the young, naive intern. “Aw. That’s a cute press release, Danielle.”

I thought, “When I’m 30, I’ll get to do this and I’ll get to do that. I’ll be an expert in something by then. I’ll be serious and people will take me seriously. I’ll probably be running my own company by then.” (Ok, I didn’t really think I’d own my company. But I had my aspirations.)

When I turned 30, I didn’t experience any spontaneous display of respect. It wasn’t like I wore a badge on my shirt that said “Hello, people, I’m 30. Start taking me seriously!” People didn’t suddenly defer to me in moments of crisis. “Ask Danielle, she’s 30 now.”

Gradually, over the years, people began taking me more seriously as I began taking myself more seriously (when it came to my job; I can still make dirty jokes with the best of them). And it wasn’t because I was 30. In fact, I think it started before that. I just didn’t realize it until now.

I’m the same person I was when I was 26. Although, I think I’m much better at my job, a little wiser, a little smarmier and maybe even a little more immature… at times.

I used to say I wished I was still 26, but maybe 31 isn’t so bad.

25 hours

If there were 25 hours in a day, I would wake up early and workout before work. I’d be in a great mood and be in great shape. I’d have time to make breakfast instead of grabbing a granola bar.

If there were 25 hours in a day, I’d have that extra time to catch up on my pop culture obsession. I’d watch more documentaries. I’d find a sitcom and watch a whole season.

If there were 25 hours in a day, I’d maybe take a class or two. Learn some stuff. Practice my presentation again.

If there were 25 hours in a day, I’d cook more dinners. Do more laundry. Actually clean my house. Paint my nails. Curl my hair.

Who am I kidding? I can’t do all that stuff with just one extra hour. I think I’ll just go to bed early.

Paid programming

I had favorite programs as a kid, they would play back to back to back for hours on end on Saturdays. I watched my grandma’s TV in wonderment (my parents would never have let me watch TV all day).

The blue screen with white and yellow type is ever emblazoned in my memory. I’d memorize the numbers and sometimes write the really good deals down. The end “NO CODS”. That’s right, I LOVED watching infomercials. What’s a COD anyway?

I ooohed and awwwed at the cool building blocks. What?! Three payments of $35.99! That’s chump change! And it’s going on my Christmas list. Sometimes I would even yell, “Grandma! Come in here, come in here!” because if she didn’t write down the number for the dishes set, it would be gone forever. I never did get anything from infomercials. Maybe my grandma knew better.

Two weekends ago, Donnie was out of town. I couldn’t sleep so I flipped on the TV. WHA!? An infomercial! What happened to these things? They’re on in the middle of the night, that’s
what. Long story short, I got a helluva deal on some cool hair product “guaranteed” to make my hair smoother and I’m not allowed to watch infomercials anymore.

Here’s why:
1. I’m a little generous with my credit card in the middle of the night.
2. I’m a little too generous with my credit card after a few beers.
3. I’m a little generous with my credit card when Donnie’s not around.

To be fair though, I have waited a really long time to get something from an infomercial. I think my grandma would have been proud.

I actually like writing every day

The idea of writing every day seems daunting.

I don’t have enough time.

I don’t have anything to say.

I’m not motivated enough.

I used to dread writing a blog post every day. I’d wait until late at night when I really really didn’t want to write and then make up some lame excuse (see above). Or post some half-hearted, bs post.

Now (this week) I really enjoy writing every day. Once I log in to WordPress and start typing, it just flows out of me. It’s almost like sitting down and logging into WordPress is a trigger. The words come pouring out. It’s like a release. Venting, sort of. By the time I hit publish, my chest is lighter. My head is clearer.

“Donnie, can you do bath night? I need to write my post.” And get this, HE DOES IT. I love writing every day.

I’m an idiot, and that’s ok.

Gotcha! I would never admit to being an idiot. Well, not in general. But… there are some things I don’t make much of an effort to learn.

For example, there are states I couldn’t point out on a map. I know. It’s pathetic, but other than passing a memorization test in the 5th grade, it hasn’t really been a setback. It’s like a teacher telling you that you have to learn this math because you won’t always have a calculator handy. Jokes on you, Mr. Al Gebra! (names have been changed to protect certain wrong teachers) I just Googled Delaware. Found it as quickly as I could enter 8×7 (It’s 56). Why was that one always the hard one for me?

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So, there you have it, I’m a geographical idiot. (and maybe a times tables idiot, too). Some of that just never stuck with me. Maybe because I’m not too passionate about it?

But, some knowledge I intentionally avoid. Seems weird, right? I intentionally avoid THE NEWS.

Here’s why: Like my friends Zipop, Siri, Basically Chelsie and Blendra, I’ve had my bouts with anxiety and maybe even some depression (ok definitely depression… we all have our stuff). At one point, I was at the bottom of a very steep hill. Every time I thought my foot was secure and I could begin climbing back up, I’d slip on some loose dirt.

That loose dirt was bad news. A robbery, a rape, a kidnapping, a murder. I couldn’t handle it. No, those things weren’t happening to me. But they affected me just the same. As if those were my close friends and family. Then the worry began.

I flipped the channel.

I never flipped back. If the news is important enough, it’ll find me.

So I guess you could say I’m a current events idiot, too. But that’s ok with me. I think I will try a little harder to learn about geography though.

Showcam: instant projection, instant fun

I’m a BzzAgent. I say that like pretty much everyone knows what a BzzAgent is (but, really, don’t you?). If you don’t, a BzzAgent is a special, unique, talented person carefully selected by a committee of highly influential people to try out new products. (That’s a mostly true description).

As a BzzAgent since 2007, I’ve gotten to try out some pretty cool products, from 5 gum to a CarMD scan tool. Oh and I tried some pretty gross, ineffective teeth whitening goo (they can’t all be winners).

Two days ago, to my astonishment, I received a Playskool Showcam 2-in-1 Digital Camera and Projector in the mail. I’ll be honest. When I joined to campaign, I thought that 1). I’d receive a coupon for 10% off which I may or may not have redeemed. 2). it was just a kid’s camera. Well, I was wrong on BOTH counts.
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This camera/projector is SWEET! Of course, I did a quick crash course for the kids and they were OFF! They’d take a photo in a well lit room and then run into the bathroom and project it on the shower wall. (I’ll be honest, I was running right along with them. Ok, I was leading them.)

All-in-all, I’m pretty pleased with this Playskool camera. Albeit average quality photos, it’s hours of fun for the kids. They even have little animations in the viewfinder where you can put your head on the body of rockstar and then project your little “music video” on the wall. Pretty sweet.

So, when it comes time to review this product for Playskool, I will say “Well done, good sir, well done.”49b8f6d4110f11e38b6c22000a9e17e9_7

Audiobooks are my jam!

Two years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to read one self development book per month. That lasted one month. New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken, right? It bothered me though. I just could not find the time in the day to read.

Audiobooks? I tried that too. I’d put an audio book on my iPod and run with my book. That lasted half a mile. Boooring. I need music when I work out. So… that didn’t work out.

Then I started listening in my car. Game changer. It just makes sense.

I was driving a total 1 hour and 30 minutes every day of the week and most of that time was spent idly listening to the radio or Pandora.  So, I found the time! No excuses now.

I didn’t bother with a resolution because we know those are meant to be broken and I didn’t want to ruin the productivity train I just boarded. In a few short months, I’ve read 5 books! All self development. (Do you call it reading when it’s an audiobook? Or is it listened to? Doesn’t sound as smart.)

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I would like to recommend one in particular that I enjoyed, written by a blogger I admire.
This book was hilarious. Jenny Lawson tells great stories. I especially like her style of writing. I laughed with her, was outraged with her, and was sad with her.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) (Unabridged) – Jenny Lawson
Warning: If you are offended by foul language or grossed out by taxidermy, don’t bother buying this book.

Kids are worth it.

I know I sometimes seem overwhelmed, irritated and stressed by my kids. I know I post about it a lot on here. In case you aren’t a parent, parenting is hard. It’s irritating. It’s stressful. You will constantly feel overwhelmed and helpless.

Today one of my friend’s 14-year-old daughter died in a car accident. I was at the park when Blendra text me. I was actually mid-sentence yelling at Anya that she needed to do a better job playing with Logan.

I gasped.

I put my hand over my mouth and I put myself in my friend’s shoes. It was a scary place to be. Sad. (RIP Aubrey Mcneill)

I scoured Facebook for details but there were none yet just nearly a hundred people flooding her Facebook page with prayer and well wishes (the official announcement had not been made yet). I posted a “sorry” message and put my phone back in my purse.

I went back to play with my kids. After all, that’s what I think I should take away from this. I can’t focus on the what-ifs and worry about my kids. If anything, this unfortunate, extremely sad circumstance reminded me that I should be enjoying my kids more.

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And as I slowly drove (with my flashers on) behind my scooter-riding kids to another playground at the park, I didn’t care one bit that other drivers were annoyed, shaking their heads and flipping me the bird (one lady even honked).

As I watched my kids scoot (is that the right verb?), I thought of how much fun they were having and that me dealing with the “distractions” was worth every second.

Are you scared yet?

My boss is always saying “that’s an opportunity for growth” when he makes me do something I really don’t want to do. Not simple things like paperwork but things that scare me like public speaking and public speaking. I dread every minute of preparation and sweat through most of the presentation but when it’s all said and done I feel awesome, accomplished, fearless.

Why not make that feeling reoccur on a daily basis? (Maybe on a bit of a smaller scale.) So, starting Tuesday, I’ve been facing small fears and enjoying it.

Tuesday: The scissor-lift. I’m terrified of heights. I get queasy on the mezzanine at work. I cling to the door on balconies. I can barely stand on a 6 foot ladder. So when I was asked if I wanted to board the scissor-lift at work, I had the “no” right on the tip of my tongue. But I said “YES!” I don’t know what came over me. But I did it. We went 20 feet straight up and I white-knuckled the safety rail as it swayed back and forth the entire way, gently telling myself that I was going to live through this. And I DID! And I’m pretty proud of myself. BONUS: We got some great shots too. That picture below is looking straight down.

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Wednesday: Automotive work. I changed my cabin filter.

Thursday: Multitasking with kids. I took all three kids with me to the gym, where I’d be multitasking volleyball and mommying. Some may say this is more of an inconvenience than a fear and to those people I say, “Hey, this is my fear list so shut the hell up or I will be on your fear list.”

Friday: Public speaking. Today I was supposed to walk through my presentation with my boss. This in and of itself is scary to me. Almost as scary as the presentation sometimes. There’s something about people I know watching me speak that really gets me. I don’t know if you noticed but… I didn’t do anything that scared my today. Bummer. But, I’ll work on it for this weekend.

My goal is to continue this for 20 days because then it may become a habit and what a great habit to have!

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Allergy medicine or child sedation?

Stupid allergies. Stuffy nose, ear ache. I’ve had a sore throat for a month… and a HALF. Doc told me to take Benedryl at night before bed. She made the comment, “Usually I don’t recommend sedation but you’re an adult and this will help during all this rainy weather.”

So I grabbed the packet and read the warnings, looking for something like “instant sedation.” (I don’t take medicine too often.) I came across this:
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Do people really do that?? Not to be all judgmental but, yeah I’m judging you, people who sedate their children! There’s got to be another way (like, I don’t know, parenting).

Well, I guess at least one person has sedated their child with Benedryl. That’s scary and it made me a little sad. But not sad enough to not take any. I mean, I’d had a sore throat for a month… and a half, I was desperate.

The Cabin Filter Challenge

First I’d like to say I’m sorry I didn’t post last night. I was not feeling well (that’s an understatement). I actually considered writing a short witty blurb from my bathroom floor but that idea was quickly squashed by, well let’s just say I was busy.

Anyway… after a horrible night followed by a pretty bad morning, I was feeling almost back to myself after lunch so I decided to do something productive. I did take the day off after all.

Feeling especially ambitious, I decided to change the cabin filter in my car. It can’t be that hard right? I pulled out my trusty manual. Flip to the page on pollen filters. WTF? It says Dust and Pollen filter right there at the top but skips straight from seat belts and floor mats to wipers. Not one word on the filters. photo 4

I started to wing it. Which is always a bad idea with me and automotive work. I knew it was behind the glove box but it looked a little complicated, I didn’t want to blow up my car so I did some research. After a little youtubing, I discovered that I needed a video instruction for Honda Pilot. It’s very similar to an Acura (which is what I have).

Then I got to work. Here’s proof that I did it. You can see my chipped nail polish.
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I had to remove the entire glove box to get to the filter. I actually had to get in my car underneath my glove box to get the last bolt off. I felt all mechanic-y.
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I got it out!! Ew! That was a dirty filter! Could it be the source of all my nasty allergies??
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I made sure everything was back in its place before I jumped up and yelled “F*** yeah!”

Then I thought I’d start the car to see if it smelled fresher.

My car wouldn’t start. Sh*t! I broke it!

I text Donnie. “Guess what? I changed the filter by myself” After he send his shocking praise and approval, I told him that now my car wouldn’t start. He reassured me that it wasn’t my fault and simply changing the filter wouldn’t kill the car. I’m all “Simple, huh? That shit was complex!”

Turns out, my battery is bad and couldn’t handle me having the door open for 45 minutes. You’d think they would’ve caught that at the dealership I went to last week… FOR A BATTERY SERVICE!

The point is, I am totally proud of myself for doing something I was incredible intimidated by. It goes along with my recent, “Do something everyday that scares you.” Best part is, I didn’t break my car.

I’m funny because of you

I’m a firm believer of “you are who you hang with.” Also “you are what you eat” but that’s a different topic for another day.

All of my life I’ve been a wanderer. I never really had a group. I hung with the jocks at jock practice. I hung with the artists at art practice. I hung with the French nerds in French class. And I hung out with potheads on the weekends. (That’s actually true but don’t worry I wasn’t a drug dealer and I didn’t do drugs). My point is, I didn’t have a group I stuck with all the time. I was an eclectic mix of all these groups (except the pothead part… That was a rebellion phase and I hated every minute of it.) So, in a sense, I was who I hung with.

As I grew, I began to find groups I felt more comfortable in. I hung out with people who made me laugh (also, I only watch movies that make me laugh, prefer books that make me laugh, work with people who make me laugh and I married someone who makes me laugh). The funnier they got, the funnier I got.

So when people tell me that I’m funny, I think about the people I hang with and how funny they’ve made me. After all, I am who I hang with.

So dramatic

People (mostly Donnie) have told me “you’re so dramatic.”

It could be that I involve myself in matters and get really worked up about when it’s really none of my business (hey, I’m just trying to help).

It could also be that I over-celebrate life events; sometimes I do it for fun, sometimes I do it for a good story and sometimes I do it just for my own selfish pleasure. But most of the time, it’s really not that big of a deal.

Let’s take Cookie Day at work for example. Cookie Day is no big deal. I can go buy a cookie right now. In fact, I just may. But, my (some may call “unhealthy”) excitement for Cookie Day is that I get overly ecstatic about something that means nothing. To me, it’s fun. And believe it or not, it changes the course of my day. Maybe I’m faking it ’till I make it? But that chocolate chip doesn’t taste fake to me, no sir!

It’s the same reason I tell all my friends about the AMAZING sushi I ate.

Why I scream in my car when I have a bad day at work.

Why I sing in the car when I have a good day at work.

Why I pick Logan up and throw him in the air because he finally wrote his name.

Why I am nearly moved to tears when I see Anya do something nice for someone (I was pregnant at the time, but still).

I guess what I’m trying to say is I discovered that I don’t have to have the most exciting life ever to become a better writer and storyteller. In fact, it’s more challenging to write about life when it’s a little mundane. Not only am I over-exaggerating the small, boring stuff, but I also try to experience typical, daily events more completely.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt add a little drama here and there.

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What I didn’t know I wanted to be

Last night Anya helped me write a super awesome version of a Shel Silverstein poem. You can read it here.

As I was explaining iambic pentameter to Anya (we just tried to match syllables and rhyming words), I could see a teeny, tiny little spark in her otherwise dirt-brown eyes. She smiled. “I’ll make my own poems! I’ll put them on my blog!”

Suddenly, I remembered my first writing experiences. I’d written poems day in and day out. I forgot about that! I wanted to be a poet! I actually had a poem published in a book when I was 8 or 9, I think. I also wrote short stories and illustrated them in my private journal.

I specifically remember thinking I wasn’t good enough at writing poems and short stories. It was probably due a bad grade (bad being not an A). So I forgot that dream and wandered around clueless about what I wanted to be when I grew up. All that wandering lasted years, decades even. I kept switching and settling on more “general paths.” Surely I’d be good at something eventually.

And eventually I discovered my passion (and knack) for writing. Or rediscovered I guess. Here I always thought I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but really, I knew all along. I was just afraid to go after it.

My friend’s dad

I have a friend. My friend has never had a good relationship with her dad. Growing up, he was really strict. She felt she couldn’t talk to him at all, about anything. He gave away very little in the way of affection. She still tried her best to impress him; trying to go above and beyond anything he’d ever expected from her. But how was she to know? He never told her what he expected from her. Other than quiet in the backseat.

As she got older, she still tried to please her dad. Telling him about her goals met and achievements earned. He’d shrug, “So you graduated Cum Laude? You know your cousin graduated Magna Cum Laude, right?”

Now that she’s an adult, she doesn’t even bother sharing anything with him. Well, sometimes. Other times (when she’s feeling extra proud of something), she’ll say “Check out this height ruler I made for the kids!” Then he’ll respond with something like, “You know people sell those at our craft shows.” Then she’ll wink and say something like, “Mine’s better though, right dad?” Confused, he’ll say, “Why is yours better?” Still undeterred, she’ll respond with, “You know? Because I made it.” He says matter-of-factly, “Those people make theirs too and theirs are good enough to sell.”

Then, she’ll say she’s never sharing anything with him again, ever. Then, she may drink her dinner and angrily vent to her husband, who’s come to expect it.

After all the drinking, and all the venting, and all the anger, she’ll get over it. And she’ll probably try again, relentlessly chasing the “I’m proud of you” she’s been looking for, for 31 years.

Are optimists anxious?

Anxiety. We all have it. Some more than others.

I just read a blog post from Seth Godin that describes anxiety as “experiencing failure in advance.”

Basically…
If I’m anxious about failing a project, I’m experiencing my own failure when it may not even occur.

It’s really, really hard to be an optimist when I have anxiety. In fact, I would say those two things are opposites. Optimists may experience success in advance.

Optimists may plan for a celebration party halfway through a project.

Sometimes it’s difficult to think like that. Visualizing success and project completion can actually snap me back to the reality that I’m not where I should be or that I have a long way to go. Then I’m overwhelmed by what isn’t completed yet.

But if I am anxious about failure, it’s easy to stop trying, give up even; and then, when failure happens, that anxiety is justified. I think, “I knew all along I was going to fail.”

Seth Godin suggests writing fake testimonials and fan mail for myself. Imagine my work actually changing someone’s life. It seems like it’d be a good way to help me stay on track and to stay focused on making something great. Hell, it might even turn me into an optimist.

I think I’m going to go write some fan mail now.

No Guilt Sweet Treat: Banana Ice Cream

I’ve built up a pretty good discipline when it comes to saying no to sweets. But, I’m also a big fan of the “When in Rome” philosophy. For example, we’ve had two video shoots this week at work. That’s two donuts I wouldn’t have eaten otherwise.

So tonight when I was wanting something sweet, I reached for my frozen bananas instead.

I can hear you sighing. Don’t knock it. Try it.

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The peanut butter, honey one is my favorite!

The best part: no guilt.

The Defense Mechanisms of the Yada-Yada Sisterhood

Ever notice in a crowd of all men, if an debate ensues, the only few women will team up against the men?

To me, it’s almost instinctive. I never had many girlfriends growing up. I was always “one of the guys.” But if we were ever in a situation where one of the guys brought his girlfriend, and said girlfriend spoke up and said something pretty much every guy in the room disagreed with, I’d feel obligated to get her back.

Even if I disagreed with her.
Even if I judged her outfit from top to bottom as soon as she walked in the door.
Even if I didn’t like her.

I would stick up for her. I think it’s a woman’s natural instinct to show compassion for the poor, struggling, helpless, outnumbered (however silly, however dumb) female.

It’s a sisterhood.

It’s a fact. No one (and by that I mean, no man) gets away (completely unscathed) with poking fun, belittling or even arguing against a single girl in a group of men, if she has a “sister” in the room.

Of course, if it’s a group of women, all bets are off and she’s on her own. I don’t make the rules of the sisterhood, I’m just a member.

Over-sharer

The other day I told my doctor, my pharmacist and someone in line behind me at the pharmacy intricate details about certain embarrassing health issues.

Tonight, my neighbor came over and I repeated the same story to her along with what seemed like my health history. As I’m talking I’m thinking, “Shut up Danielle, you’re creeping her out.” But for some reason those thoughts just fueled my word vomit. Eventually she yelled to her kids in what sounded like a panicked voice but I couldn’t really tell what with all the talking I was doing.

She scooted her kids along as I finally ended my story. I’m watching her walk away thinking, was that TMI?

I told Donnie what I’d said and he goes, “YOU TOLD HER THAT?” He always thinks I over-share but he probably wouldnt even admit to anyone what he’d had for lunch.

As a matter of fact, most guys I know aren’t sharers. As another matter of fact, most women I know ARE sharers.

It’s totally how women build relationships. We share all our secrets. I think guys build relationships by sharing all their power tools. At least that’s what Donnie does. *shrug*

I just texted my neighbor apologizing for the over-share. She laughed. “Lol, never!”

She didn’t even care!

Good bacteria vs. bad bacteria

I’m a health nut. I’m always reading up the latest health trends.

Probiotics aren’t necessarily anything new but it is interesting: good bacteria, that is.

My doctor says, “Basically probiotics are good bacteria that kill bad bacteria that can make you sick.”

I imagine little transparent fried eggs with devil horns all trying to destroy my body and then enters the transparent warm fuzzy with a halo and angel wings and armed with a bazooka to destroy all those bad eggs.

“Taking a pill with good bacteria that will kill bad bacteria? It doesn’t seem right to me,” said Donnie. (But he’s always a skeptic).

probiotics

To be honest, it actually makes me a little squeamish knowing these little organisms are waging microscopic wars on each other in my stomach. The sales phrase for a good probiotic is “packed with 1 billion live cells.” What? Ew! I just don’t like knowing there are a bunch of warm fuzzies floating around in my vitamin or the food I’m eating. I mean, everyone’s ok with this?

What if one of the good bacteria goes rogue? He sees the lifestyle of the bad bacteria and thinks, “That looks like a lot of fun, destroying crap. I think I’ll do that instead.” And then, say he was in a gang of good bacteria and convinces several others to go to the dark side? I mean, maybe bacteria is really impressionable. Then you have yourself a serious problem. I mean, you let them in! You welcomed 1 billion live cells of two-faced bacteria into your stomach.

All I’m saying is, “I’m cautious about what I eat.” In all seriousness, I know probiotics are good for me (however gross). Well… in moderation, right?

Pinterest is the new honey-do

Donnie finished his volleyball season at the end of June. When I say season you’re probably thinking, a couple months, right? Nope. This club season started in November. Yes. November. That’s 9 months. You’d think he’d have a baby to show for that 9 months of labor. (get it?)

Anyway, I was so excited when he finished because 1) I like having him around. People were starting to talk. 2) I have a Pinterest board called “Donnie” that’s about 200 pins large.

I broke the news to Donnie gently asking him if he was bored and maybe wanted to do some projects for me (I’m not too smooth with power tools. Baby steps). He agreed, “as long as we didn’t have to spend a bunch of money.”

Here are some of the awesome things he’s made:

A pull out pantry!
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This thing is awesome. No longer do I have to get out a stool to reach all my spices. We did this project together. But, he did the heavy lifting, literally.

A bathroom upgrade!

Before
Before

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He did this in one day! He used gel stain to cover that nasty, honey-colored cabinet with a beautiful espresso, framed the mirror and repainted the walls.

It was a good Friday surprise.

I’m glad I saved all my awesome ideas on the “Donnie” Pinterest board. He only has one month off a year so I have to make it good.

P.S. He’s a good one. He’s in the other room changing a diaper while I blog. What a guy!

Delayed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

This morning I stepped over the same pair of jeans three times as I got dressed.

Then, I went to the kitchen and saw all the dirty dishes sitting there. I made my breakfast and walked right past.

As I ate my eggs and sausage at the table, I glanced at all of my sewing stuff, just sitting there on our bay window (which is supposed to be for seating but usually ends up as a place to throw remnants from my current projects).

I started feeling really irritated. The back my neck itches.

I looked around the house. Crumbs on the floor. Oatmeal cemented to the table. Random dirty clothes from the week strewn around the house (Logan prefers the mobile-changing method). My heart starts racing a little bit. Is my eye twitching?

I can’t do anything until I clean this.

I start cleaning. I can’t clean one thing at a time. I start with the dishes and run around picking up things only to find I left the sink on. It’s A.D.D. cleaning. I’m running around like a maniac spraying, wiping and in some cases, soaking (oatmeal).

I don’t know what hit me, I just couldn’t stand it anymore. This is classic Danielle. Donnie has no idea what happened. All of sudden, I’m mad and cleaning.

I like to call it Delayed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (Do you like how, half-way through this post, I’ve already diagnosed myself with two behavioral disorders?) Here’s what Delayed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is: I have to have certain things certain ways, but I’m not going to go out of my way to clean. I’m just going to get all pissy for no reason. Then, when I feel like my head is going to explode all over the clutter, I’ll start doing something about it.

I do have some regular OCD tendencies too. Like how I check my purse about 20 times a day for my keys and phone. Sometimes, I even keep my hand in my purse, holding my keys.

And at the grocery store. I put items in the cart in a specific order. By location. For example, canned, refrigerated, frozen, pantry. One time, Donnie went grocery shopping with me. He just threw things in, willy nilly. I’m all, “The fuuuu—, Donnie?” He doesn’t go with me anymore.

I put my groceries on the conveyor belt in the same order. If they aren’t bagged together perfectly, it’ll be fine (I tell myself over and over as I watch biting my lip). But, if the sacker were to just throw random items all over the bags: bread with cans, raw, drippy chicken with my baby food, I may scratch his eyes out.

I’m totally OCD-ing the crap out of the this blog post right now but I’m not going to edit it anymore because Donnie’s waiting for me to watch a movie and my house is clean, my groceries are put away and my keys are hanging on the hook. At least, I’m pretty sure they are. I’ll go check on my way.

Who’s really missing out?

I just turned down another offer to go out this weekend. This one was to play pickup volleyball at a local watering hole. I said, “No thanks. I’ll be sitting at home, sad that I’m not playing and feeling like I’m missing out.” Not really true, but it made her feel good. The truth is, I’ll be at home with my family.

If Donnie and I were to play tonight, I’d have to get a babysitter and those are pretty hard to come by. We’ve worn out Grandmas and we’re already asking my sister to watch the kids on Sunday.

It’s difficult to do anything that’s not “family friendly.” It feels like we are constantly asking for help, here and there and three days next week. And if we’re not, we’re just “missing out.” Eventually, our old friends have stopped asking us to go out. We’re not really a big part of the group anymore.

Sometimes, it bothers me. I do miss the days when we could come and go as we pleased. And, I know those days will come again. I’m in no hurry for them. Even though we sometimes feel tied down, I still love it. I love spending time with my kids.

And when I see all the Facebook posts capturing “Heaven on Earth” and “I got my two loves: volleyball and beer” with a bunch of friends, I sorta laugh to myself and think, “They don’t even know what love is.”

 

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Liar Liar

This morning Anya said, “It’s ok. My friend’s mom told me to just lie about it.”

At first glance this looks pretty bad, but that’s not the entire story.

Anya was irritated that the kids at her friend’s house hovered around her Kindle, asking “When is it my turn?” over and over in a way that sorta made me smile when Anya told me because I felt like she was getting a taste of her own medicine. Regardless, she was annoyed.

The next time she went to her friend’s house, she told her friend’s mom about the situation and the mom said, “Just lie to them and say you don’t have your Kindle today. Then go in the other room and play it.”

I guess it’s not thaaaat bad. It’s not like they watched rated PG-13 movies and fake-smoked candy cigarettes while chugging root beers and using pirate language. But still, it’s a GATEWAY lie.

I feel like telling Anya to lie about something small just tells her that lying is ok. Or even teaching her how to justify a lie. “Well, I didn’t want you to be sad mommy, so I told you I was going to the mall when really I went to a rave.”

I’m not really that upset about the whole situation. I mean. We all lie at some point in our lives. Even if it’s so you can surprise your spouse with an awesome birthday party. But at this time in her life, I don’t want Anya lying for no reason, or negative reasons.

I told Anya, “A lie is a lie. Next time, just tell them no. Or don’t bring your Kindle.”

Subway’s New Junk Sandwich

I saw this story about Subway’s new junk sandwich today. If you hadn’t heard, basically a guy put his junk on a subway loaf and took a self portrait and posted it on Instagram and Twitter.

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This gives a whole new meaning to “Meatball Sandwich”.
Are those really sprouts?
Is this how they measure the 6-inch?

But seriously, what is the deal with people tampering with fast food and documenting proof on the Internet? Remember the Dominos story?

The guy obviously wanted to get fired. What kind of “Sandwich Artist” is he?? I mean. I bet he didn’t even have a food handler’s license. Funny thing, I waited tables in several restaurants over the years and only had to have a food handler’s license at Dairy Queen. (Which was later involved in a class action suit for breaking child labor laws. But hey, that food was clean and untouched by body parts.)

I honestly want to know why they are doing this? Is it funny? 15 seconds of fame? (I imagine this guy saying to his grand kids “Yep, that there is my junk on that Italian Herbs and Cheese bread.”) A meme gone horribly, horribly wrong? Maybe it’s a sexual attraction to food? Remember Jim and the Apple Pie from American Pie?

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The future of Danielle + Subway does not look promising. I mean, before this incident, Subway already had one strike against it what with the dirty dishwater smell.

If I do return though, next time they ask if I want to “double the meat” on my club, I’m gonna pass.

An Ode to Garlic

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I love garlic.

I love it on bread.

I love it on pasta.

I love it in hummus.

It would improve Matza. (ick)

Cheesy rhymes aside, I think garlic is so underrated so I thought it deserved a little more credit. Did you know that garlic is one of the world’s healthiest foods?! And it’s often called “the stinking rose” (affectionately of course).

Raw garlic has many little known health benefits. It can improve metabolism. Research even suggests that garlic consumption can actually help regulate the number of fat cells that get formed in our bodies. Garlic can also keep your blood pressure in check (cardio-protective).

That’s not all. It’s an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral, cancer preventer and will totally protect you from vampires.

So maybe next time, you’re cooking in the kitchen (Or if you EVER do), toss some garlic in that Meatloaf (Minced not in a powder, butter or salt). It will not only improve the taste, it could also improve your health.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll begin to love garlic too.

A little rain and a fun sponge.

It has become a yearly tradition to attend the Demolition Derby in Cheney. So we were pretty excited the weekend had finally arrived. We showed up an hour early to save our seats in the grandstand (they promised a packed house).
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Donnie sat in the rain for 45 minutes, but it was worth the front row seats. I’m pretty sure Donnie would say the same.

Sitting right up front, we get to watch everybody walk by. From a chick wearing a “Chicks dig me” shirt to cowboys in skinny jeans with plaid button-downs to a guy we often see at volleyball outings.

“Bob!” I yell, wanting to be polite. Bob waves back and asks if we have space near us.
Me: Yep. Come on up.” The more the merrier I always say. When I’m drunk, which I wasn’t. It was weird that I said that.

Bob introduces us to his wife. I say “Nice to meet you.”
She says, “We’ve met before. I was AT your wedding.”

I’m thinking, “Yikes how rude of me to not remember seeing her at my wedding.” She continues, “You looked WAY different back then.” I no longer feel bad for not remembering and now refer to her (in my mind) as “fun sponge.” She keeps talking, “How long ago WAS that?”
Me: “Se-seven years.”
Donnie: “6 years.”

She says again, “Well, you look VERY different.”
I straighten my nest of hair poking out the back of my hat. I mouth to Donnie “Very different?” He shrugs: “Glasses?”

I ask her why her son (who we also play volleyball with) didn’t come. Bob said jokingly, I think he either didn’t want to come or had something better to do.

I replied, “What could be better than this?!”
Fun sponge: “I could think of a lot of things.”

Silence.

I mention that we come every year and that we always had fun.
She said: “Well it’s way too dangerous. I don’t know why people do stupid things like this.”

Silence.

She continued: “And the bull-riding too. I don’t get it and I can’t watch it.”

Silence.

“Of course, it rains and we have to sit out here.” Really lady? I just told Anya that it’s more fun in the rain.

Silence.

She kept talking. “Oh great. Someone said we’d get hit with mud sitting this close.”
I finally responded, unwavering enthusiasm, “It’s all part of the fun!”

She changed the subject, “His name is Donnie?” Donnie: “Yes.” She mentioned that her brother’s name is Don, but it’s really Donald and he hates it.

Silence.

I’m frantically trying to find someone, anyone, talk to. “Riley, what is that in your mouth? A used lime from someone’s Sonic drink? Silly baby.”

She continues to talk but I pretend I don’t hear her. Eventually her daughter shows up so she can sponge her fun.

Due to the packed grandstand, I was sitting uncomfortably close to her. But I angled my body away and tried to constantly appear preoccupied by the kids, which wasn’t difficult.

We still had so much fun. I guess it rained too much for the fun sponge.

To write or not to write

I’m writing this post as a shield to the ridicule I would endure had I not written today. An X is an X people.

I took half a day off for Anya’s program and various errands and did not have time to write one of the awesome random rants to which you’ve become accustomed.

I’m currently on my way to Cheney for the good ol bull riding show. I’ve never seen a rodeo so I’m pretty stoked.

Bet you can’t wait to hear what I have to say about it tomorrow. But. For now, I must hit publish because it took me 20 minutes to queue this up on my phone (stupid sprint) and my battery is almost dead.

Hope this publishes.

Do finer people shop at finer grocery stores?

I went to Green Acres whole foods store yesterday. As I pulled up, I said to myself, “We’re not at Walmart anymore, Toto,” when I saw a mother lovingly buckle her J. Crew toddler into his Burberry carseat in the backseat of her Jag. Feeling a little out of my league, I decided I’d go in anyway. At the least, I was in my bis-cas instead of my usual baseball hat with tank and running shorts.

As I entered, I thought, this place is so nice, it would embarrass Dillon’s. (In my mind, Dillon’s is the “luxury” version of Walmart with much fewer options and cheaper plastic sacks.) The produce looked so perfectly aligned and fresh (all organic, of course). I browsed for a minute, forgetting why I came there. Everything was about three times as much as I would expect. I’ve never even heard of this stuff. Xylitol is good for you?

As I browsed up and down the aisles I noticed, the fancy-pantsed shoppers carefully selecting their organic, no-GMO, ridiculously overpriced goods. I’m reminded of when Donnie worked at Collegiate (I always felt out of place in my Target clothes and cheap shoes). About 4 times in 10 minutes, I was approached by courtesy clerks looking to lend a helping hand. I must’ve looked like a lost puppy, but that store layout made no sense at all.

To the last clerk, I said, “Kefir?” Bemused, she said “Kefir.” I’m thinking, isn’t that what I said?” but feeling a little organic-food-vocabulary-inadequate, I nodded and followed her.

I grabbed the bottle that sounded the best tasting (relatively speaking). On my way out, I passed an old man sampling raw white cheddar. I took a sample. Which, for me, are not free because I instantly feel guilty for taking a free sample with absolutely no intention of purchasing whatever it was they were peddling.

“Mmm” I said.
“It’s on sale, only $4!” he replied eagerly.

I’m beginning to wonder if he gets a commission. I grab the small block thinking I’ll just put it down somewhere else in the store. Of course, there was no where to put it. “Shit! I guess I’ll buy this $4 block of cheese.” After all, I don’t want him to think I’m cheap, or can’t afford to spend $4 on what looks like 3 slices of cheese (not sliced). Do you think he noticed that my shoes cost $4?

It’s at this point in the post where I begin to wonder “What the hell is the blog post even about?” And then I remember that I wanted to point out that I felt awkward and uncomfortable around all those rich people. And that I was willing to spend more money to prove that I fit in, when it was painfully obvious that I did not. Maybe I’ll stick to buying my organic products from the nicer part of Dillon’s, where people still shop with a budget.

P.S. For now, I think I’ll go enjoy my meatloaf salad made with organic “freshwater” sprouts and baby kale (whatever that means).

When did “relax” become a swear word?

The other day I was cruising through the Walmart parking lot (I know what you’re thinking. “She sure goes to Walmart a lot for someone who hates it so much.” Shut up.).

So I’m cruising at a leisurely, appropriate pace, when “Good GOD! That car came out of nowhere!” A guy flies through the parking aisle (is that what they’re called?) and slams on his brakes just short of my fender. I shoot him a look that says “What the F dude? This is a parking lot!” He mouths the word, “Relax.” I could feel the steam spewing out my ears.

Relax? Relax?! I would have rather had him flip me the bird.

  • Relax is the word my masseuse says when she’s trying to work out a stubborn knot in back probably due to all the the douche-nuggets who tell me to “relax” when they almost hit me in Walmart parking lots.
  • Relax is the word my mom would say when I’d get all worked up about say, a boy who punched me in the back of the head and called me a freak.
  • Relax is the second R in “R&R” used on some beach travel destination websites.

It’s supposed to be soothing. It’s supposed to be a positive word. Used to console me. Ahh, yes. Relax. Breathe. And Relax some more.

Outside the aforementioned scenarios, when someone says to “relax,” it just fuels my fire. It feels condescending and rude. It’s used not necessarily to calm people down anymore but as another way of saying “You’re acting bat-shit crazy for no apparent reason.”

Hell, I use it myself in that specific, negative connotative way. I didn’t even realize it until one day I made dinner and Logan said it smelled “disgusting.” When I reacted, “What? It does not. It’s delicious!” Logan responded (before he could say his l’s): “Re-wax, Mommy. I will eat it.”

Logan’s words took me back to the Walmart parking lot where the carefree, reckless driver had (angrily) told me to “relax” but really meant something entirely different.

To Logan: “Don’t say that. Instead say, ‘I’m sorry Mommy, I will eat it’.” I’m pretty sure that worked in the short term but before long we’ll all be telling each other to “relax” escalating our fights (loud discussions) to whole new level psychological unrest.

Determination

I did not want to work out tonight.
I was intentionally shooting hoops and riding Anya’s scooter so I could justify it later.

These are all the excuses I made:

“I feel dehydrated.”
“It’s too sticky outside.”
“Look! The neighbors are here. They want to hang out.”
“It’s too late. I’m tired. I just yawned.”

I did the workout anyway. Donnie made me.
25 minutes of pure hell. That is, if hell were 25 minutes of fast paced cardio and calisthenics. If you think about it, hell would be doing this workout with no results. (I’ll keep you posted.)

Here we go. Right off the bat, Shaun T is yelling at me to kick higher. I can barely keep up. I’m so thirsty.

Fast jog.
High knees.
Plank.
Burpee.
Ew. Cotton mouth. Need water.
Downward dog.
Jumping jacks.
I’m gonna puke. I think I’m gonna puke.
High kicks.
Jabs.
My head is spinning and sweat is dripping from my hair.
Upper cuts.
Cross jacks.
Heisman.
And… Stretch. Whew! I made it through. That was tough.

I’m never drinking a beer before my workout again.

God needs better advertising.

I’ve gone back and forth a hundred times about whether or to write this post. I was afraid to offend, or even to start the conversation. But, I saw this post on Facebook last night and it lit my fire.

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Really? So, if I see this and don’t share with my friends, “all will go wrong”? What is this? Karma? A puppet-master? Remind me again where in the Bible it mentions chain-letters as a recommended form of spreading the Word? And further, being “condemned” if you don’t share the poorly designed image?

Of course, there’s Mark 16:15-16

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

But that’s more about believing, not about spreading the Word. I believe in spreading the Word, wholly. But I firmly believe that, in religion and politics (and any strong belief), “No one ever converted because they lost an argument.”

I watched a documentary recently: “Lord, save us from your followers.” I was a little leery at first because of the controversy of the whole thing. I consider myself a “woman of faith” and I prefer not to partake in rhetoric of the opposite persuasion (if that makes sense). It’s not because I don’t want to learn about other’s beliefs, it’s that it sorta makes me sad and, as a rule, I try to avoid being sad.

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Anyway, here’s the synopsis:

Whether someone is an Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or yes, even Christian – all can identify at times with the cry, “Lord, save us from your followers!”

Fed up with the divisive bumper sticker mentality overtaking America, director (and follower) Dan Merchant donned his “Bumper Sticker Man” suit and set out on the daring search for meaningful dialogue and the true face of faith.

Appearing in the film: Senator Al Franken, Dr. Tony Compolo, Former Senator Rick Santorum, Sister Mary Timothy, Paul Young, Bono, George W. Bush, and many, many more.

He covers topics like the “War on Christmas,” the “War on Christians,” confession and “Since when did Faith become more about being right and less about love?”

This documentary was really eye-opening (as are all documentaries I’ve watched to date – I think I need to watch more documentaries). It showed what real compassion looks like and what it doesn’t. Made me think about the things I say and think about others’ actions and lifestyles.

I’m not sure how exactly to tie that Facebook image into this documentary. All I know is it irritated me. Not the whole thing, just the last two sentences. Why must we go there? Why not just spread the Word? And the love? I guess that’s what I learned from this documentary.

Not-so-great Expectations

On the last day of eighth grade, my teacher handed out small sheets of paper with all my classmates’ names on it. The assignment was to put an occupation underneath the name. One that you thought suited that person. Looking back, I’m pretty sure he just couldn’t think of anything else to fill that hour. (Heads-up Seven-up, Pictionary, Open up and dictionary and start writing down words and definitions until the bell rang. All of those things would’ve been better options.)

At the time I thought it sounded fun. I took my time and thought of something perfect for each person, something complimentary and inspiring. (Other than the stinky kid, I’m pretty sure Trash Man was spot on. He could stink it up as much as wanted. It wasn’t mean, he knew it was his calling. It’s all he talked about. How proud his parents must be, I thought.)

When I got my envelope with all the torn sheets, I ripped it open, eager to see what my classmates thought of me: Doctor? Lawyer? Author? Fashion designer? Advertising?

The first sheet I pulled out: Secretary. Oh. Ok. Well, maybe they’d think I might be a good typist? (I barely typed 30 WPM in our typing class). Disregard.

I pulled out another sheet: Secretary. Oh. Ok. Well, maybe they think I’d be really organized?

Third sheet: Administrative Assistant. WHAT THE F! (I didn’t think that at the time because I never said bad words. It was probably something like “Aw, man.”)

Fourth sheet: Secretary.

This was really disheartening because, although I didn’t say much, I was a really good student and had absolutely no aspirations of becoming a secretary (I’m not even that nice). Maybe it was that I didn’t say much. I don’t know why? But that hour is a really strong memory to me. Maybe because I was hurt. I thought, “These people don’t know me at all.”

And so began my chipped-shouldered journey away from becoming a secretary.

Do you recycle?

I had some neighbors over the other night for dinner. When it was time to clean up, my neighbor said, “Where’s your recycle bin?”

I didn’t hesitate, I pointed to the trash can. “Right there.”
She looked confused, “No, the recycle bin.”

I told her we didn’t recycle. She flashed a look of judgment that seemed involuntary. Donnie, sensing the judgment from the other room (ok he was drinking a beer in the driveway), yelled, “Yeah we don’t care about the environment.”

Neighbor laughs uncomfortably.

I add to Donnie’s comment, “He’s kidding. We like the IDEA of recycling.”
Donnie: “We’d do it if they didn’t charge us extra.”

So now, we’re not only tree-haters, we’re cheap too.

I try smooth things over a little with a, “Well, we don’t dispose of much.” (Not true) “We use a lot of reusable containers.” (Also not true) And then I follow with a bleak interest in purchasing a recycle bin and paying a monthly fee. I joke that I will use the money I usually deposit in my kids’ college fund. It didn’t go over well.

Now when I get home every day, I run inside for fear my neighbor will ask, “Did you get a recycle bin?”

Shower thinking

The other night I couldn’t think of anything to write. I sat at my keyboard for 10 minutes (usually if nothing comes to mind in 10 minutes, it’s not meant to be).

So I continued with my evening routine. I put the kids in bed and walked passed a sink full of dishes three times before deciding to hop in the shower.

After wash, rinse and halfway through repeat, I’d come up with 5 fresh ideas. Typical. My best ideas come to me at the most inconvenient times. I just had to write them down before I forgot.

A trail of soapy water on the bathroom tile and a soaked notepad were the only real downside. After all, if I didn’t write those ideas down, I’d be writing posts about topics as meaningless as shower thinking.

Coffee please. Not too hot.

Remember the story about the lady who sued McDonald’s because she spilled coffee in her lap? It happened in the early 90s when I was about 10 so all I really remember is what my parents told me, which was basically that this crazy, money grubber is suing McDonald’s alleging the coffee was “too hot” and it “burned” her. “She sued McDonald’s for $30 million!” they’d say. I even remember making jokes about suing for no real reason. I mean. The coffee lady did it.Hot-Coffee-DVD-F

It wasn’t until this afternoon that I learned the real story behind the coffee lady and I will say, it opened my eyes. Shame on me for judging her. Poor 79-year-old Stella Leibeck did not deserve that.

Today I watched Hot Coffee, a documentary that happened to be more about Tort Reform than Ms. Leibeck. But… with that coffee lawsuit, she did start something pretty big. I thought it was going to be more about Stella’s story but it was sooo much more than that. Some called her case the “Poster child for Tort Reform.” The documentary answered more questions about Tort Reform than I could even fathom. At one point, I cried.

Here’s the story (as told by her family, various lawyers and other people involved directly with her case)

Stella was riding in a car with her nephew (who was driving). They stopped for coffee at McDonald’s and then parked so they could get situated and she could mix her creamer in her coffee before they hit the road. Stella started screaming and her nephew discovered she’d spilled the coffee in her lap and went to help her. The coffee was so hot (at least 10 degrees hotter than it is today), her skin was completely burnt and she had to have skin grafts. They showed the picture. It was awful (WARNING: Photos are graphic… if you decide to Google). I’ve spilled coffee on myself a number of times and have never been burned that bad. Not even close.

As part of the documentary, they asked random people on the street what they’d heard and their opinions on the case. Like me, most thought Stella’s story was a joke and this was frivolous lawsuit. Then they showed the picture of Stella’s scalded legs. Every person gasped. You could see the look of shame on their faces. About how I looked when I saw it on my TV screen.

First Stella asked McDonald’s to pay for her hospital bills and to make a coffee cup that had a more secure lid. They offered $800, which barely covers a hospital check-in process. McDonald’s had had about 700 cases (in the span over a year just before Stella’s suit) due to the coffee being too hot. Stella’s damage was too extensive. Her family convinced her to sue. The jury decided that the fault was 20% Stella’s for spilling the coffee and 80% McDonald’s for having such a high recommended “holding temperature”. The jury damages included $160,000 to cover medical expenses and compensatory damages and $2.7 million in punitive damages. Stella never fully recovered from the burns and passed away 11 years later.

It was extremely sad circumstance, but today, coffee is served that hot at other places. Without holding the cup myself, I can’t say that it’s McDonald’s fault (if the cup was defective, QT ought-a take a look at their cups). Not that I feel sorry for McDonald’s, but had they simply paid (out of compassion) for Stella’s injuries, they wouldn’t have had to foot such a healthy sum of money.

Stella’s case spawned the beginning of a long battle about “frivolous lawsuits” and Tort Reform. If you don’t know what it is, read this. (I’m sure there are other sources on the internet, but this one most coincides with Hot Coffee.)

There. That girl is an athlete.

I like to consider myself an athlete.

Although, sometimes I may not appear to be so athletic. Like when I fell down the stairs to the garage and skinned my elbow on the hood of Donnie’s car or, when I fell down the stairs at work, or when I caught my heel on the edge of my aunt’s driveway and did a tuck and roll down the concrete. (All of these instances happened in the past year, btw.)

One thing all of these instances had in common was that I was wearing heels. I admit, I’m no Kate Moss when it comes to wearing 5-inch stilettos, but that doesn’t stop me from wearing them… too often. “Don’t I look glamorous!” I think, with skinned knees and a bruise on my big toe.

It doesn’t stop there either. Skinny jeans, tight tops, clothes that effectively curtail my mobility. Sometimes, I swear I look like Bambi, just learning how to walk. How do all those other women do it? They galavant around as if those straps are not digging into their feet and their innards aren’t being smothered by that too-tight belted skirt. For a while, I was convinced it took “getting used to” and that I needed to “break in” my shoes. I squashed that idea with a Chinese Laundry stiletto I wore one time but refuse to get rid of “just in case.”

I have a theory. And, I think I’m right.

Most athletic women look awkward in fashionable clothing, sometimes a little like drag queens (with the exception of stylish workout gear). Maybe we’re used the breezy, loose fitting, sweat wicking clothing we wear when we workout. I don’t know what it is but, with a 90% confidence level, I can pick out an athlete when she’s disguised in her Clark Kent daywear.

Take Jillian Michaels for example. In the red dress, she’s wincing. “This dress is constraining and these shoes are killing my arches.”

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“Ahh. Much better”

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It’s not that they look more butch or anything (well sometimes). I bet people could pick me out too. It could be the constant falling or the fawn-like walk. Or it could be that constant look on my face that says “I’m uncomfortable and my hair is tickling my face.”

Athlete or not, ten seconds after my feet cross my home’s threshold, I’m in my running shorts, tank top and have my hair pulled back (under a baseball hat). And, yeah, that’s my get-up for all recreational events.

Cheeseburger Hoagies!

Now I know what you’re thinking, “I thought she was a health nut.” And “Did she lie about that whole salad thing?” To that I say: everything in moderation. Plus, I looooooove cheeseburgers. They happen to be one of my top 5 favorite meals.

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I love this recipe so much that I had to share it. It’s super quick and easy. You can make enough sandwiches for an army! Or a bunch of hungry kids. Honestly, I’ve made this so much, I don’t measure anymore, I just throw everything together and adjust until it tastes right.

Here’s what you need: (serves 4)
1 pound Ground beef (I prefer grass fed… Yep, there’s that health nut)
2 slices of cheese (shredded would work)
Hoagie buns (any bread will do though)
1/4 c Ketchup
2 tsp. Mustard
1 Garlic clove
Tomatoes (optional garnish)
Dill relish (optional garnish)

Here’s what you do:
1. Brown the beef and strain.
2. Add ketchup, mustard, cheese, and garlic. All at once.

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Think that’s too much garlic? Nope. It’s never too much garlic.

3. Mix and let it simmer.

Don’t forget to taste as you go. If there’s any pro chef cooking tip that I’ve ALWAYS followed, it’s that you must taste as you go. If you don’t, how do you know when it’s not enough garlic??

4. Put a 1/2 slice of cheese on each hoagie and then load them up with that meaty goodness. Then put them in a cake pan.
5. Bake for 15 min at 350.
You don’t have to bake them, but it makes the bread nice and toasty and melts the cheese on the sandwiches. In other words, it adds more awesome yummy goodness.

Sometimes I’ll put tomatoes or relish on my sandwich, but they’re good right out of the oven too.

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This meal is VERY popular with my kids. Logan ate 2 oversized open-faced sandwiches!

This meal is so quick, you can still make it for dinner tonight!

Friend or family?

When do parents start treating their kids like fellow adults (or friends)?

I’m not talking about those teen years, where your parents expect you to act like an adult but you still have to ask to watch TV, you can’t eat snacks before dinner and you must be home by 11 pm.

I’m talking about when you are 31 years old and you are at your daughter’s softball game and your parents sit by the nearest old couple and engage in a conversation that you “can’t possibly understand.” And “Besides, you’re not welcome in this conversation, maybe you should go outside and play.” At least that’s what I imagined they were thinking.

I’m not over-reaching here with my assumptions. Here’s a recent conversation with my mom.

For example, we are throwing our annual family Independence Day party. I call my mom to confirm times. She says, “Yyyyyeah, we’re having our own party with our own friends this year.”

*Silence*

So, not only are they “having their own party with their own friends” but we were most certainly not invited.

Me: “Ok.”

I didn’t really know what to think about this. Are my parents “too cool” to come to our party? Are they going to dance around with sparklers with their friends? I mean, that’s what they did with my kids on the fourth.

It’s like the tables have turned. I am now the parent and they are the teenagers that want to do anything but come to my lame-o Fourth of July party with “legal”, “kiddy” fireworks.

Mom: Have a good 4th!
Me: Have fun with your “friends” (the quotes here were audible air quotes, although I don’t think she got the hint).

And so, the salad eater becomes the salad maker

For as long as I can remember, I have loved salad. I was that weird kid eating a salad when all the other kids were eating pizza rolls and pop-tarts.

I love all kinds of salads. Caesar, Wedge, Cobb (one of personal favorites), Greek, Fruit, bean… I love them all!

I think it’s the strategic combination of flavors that mostly appeals to my taste buds (I don’t like eating lettuce by itself. What am I? A rabbit?)

My experience eating salad has served me well, too. Yes, yes, it’s good for me. But mainly, it’s taught me what goes well together so now I make my own awesome salads (cheaper than $8/bowl).

For a while (after maternity leave when I was feeling especially productive), I made jar salads. My jar salads were the envy of the department. The colorful layers of produce drew attention from artists, even! I take pride in the aesthetic appeal of my salads. I take extra time to make my food pretty before I eat it. I think it tastes better that way.

This is my lunch today.
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Yes! That’s a brat! A turkey cheddar brat (no fillers). It’s the little surprises that make a salad great. This is a bowl full of yummy goodness topped with my homemade honey mustard vinaigrette.

Bon appetit!

I’m a writer. Go ahead, criticize.

Growing up, I always LOVED volleyball… but I wasn’t very good (at first). All my friends would have posters of volleyball players, motivational stickers with volleyballs on them, volleyball merchandise, etc… I never bought one thing with a volleyball on it. I guess I thought that, to love something that much, you would have to be pretty good at it, right? I didn’t want to put posters on my walls and then feel like a poser If I wasn’t any good.

If people asked me if I played volleyball, I’d say “I try” or some other weak, noncommittal response. I actually didn’t really want anyone to know that I play volleyball. Because the first thing they ask is are you any good. And then what would I say?

I loved to draw, paint and sculpt in high school, but I would never have considered myself an “artist.”
I loved to brainstorm, tell stories and write in college, but I would never have considered myself a “writer.”
I even loved learning about other languages and took 4 years of french in high school and tested in to a 300-level french class in my junior year of college, but I would never speak french in front of anyone, let alone admit that I knew french.
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What’s my problem? Shyness? Fear? That’s it. It’s fear. I was afraid to put myself out there. To be vulnerable and open myself up to possible criticism.

I even switched majors several times, because if I wasn’t excellent at something, then maybe it wasn’t for me. (Looking back, I wonder what it is that college counselors REALLY do.).

I chose Marketing after spending two years on a Graphic Design path. I figured that I’d have more career options when I graduated. I considered myself to be pretty creative, but I thought I sucked at writing. Sure, I could put big words in big sentences, but the biggest criticism of my writing was “NO VOICE.” I had no voice. At the time, I’m not really sure I knew what “voice” meant in (for example) a research paper about Women’s Suffrage.

When I graduated, I found a place in Integrated Marketing Communications. Small parts of my job consisted of writing and it was so DIFFICULT! I’d spend hours on a press release only to have it handed back in a bloody mess. It was discouraging. At the time, I didn’t want to admit to being a writer. If I admitted to being a writer, then people expect me to be good at it. And I sure wasn’t.

Of course you know what comes next. I worked super duper hard and now I’m awesome! Well, sorta. Through writing about what might be some of my least favorite topics (however, not worse than say, poop). I did become a stronger writer. And with that, came the confidence.

In fact, I can now probably say that “I’m a writer.” Ok, I do say “I’m a writer.” And others would say it too.

I. Am. A. Writer.

There, that feels good. Maybe I’ll should go put some posters of copywriters on my walls.

PS. I’m a pretty damn good volleyball player, too (Look at me! I’m growing).

The magic behind the Magic School Bus

I’m not a big fan of letting the TV babysit my kids, but I think sometimes, it’s ok. If the TV is the only thing standing between me and unleashing the fury, then so be it. Not that my kids were doing anything wrong. I just needed a little break. Wait, why am I justifying my actions? I’m not ashamed. Ok, maybe I am. DANG IT!

Anyway, I put Logan in front of the TV. It was Magic School Bus, so I told myself, “It’s ok self, at least he’s learning.” It worked! I’d convinced myself that TV sitters are ok (sometimes).

So I decided I’d use my “free” time to bake. I LOVE cooking, baking, sauteeing, souffle-ing (if that’s even a thing), I love it. To me, it’s therapeutic. And, I always like to make new things; it’s like an adventure. Now I sound pathetic.

Annnnyway, I made Banana Bread Brownies. These things are pretty good! But, definitely not on the low carb menu. Who knows? I may bring the leftovers to work tomorrow. 🙂

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And, I did end up getting a little “help.” Logan mentioned that these will go in his “large intestines.” Haha. Score one for moms letting their kids watch TV (sometimes).

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I’m a DOer; but maybe not a very good cyclist.

I’m a doer. If I’m not DOing anything, I get stir crazy. Some call it ADD. I call it “being a doer.” Growing up, I was the one trying to get all the kids to play the new game I invented. Or any game for that matter. Or anything, anything at all. Come on… play with ME!

So now that I have I kids, it’s much easier to get the kids to play with me. I have more leverage at this phase in my life. And, it’s even worse when Donnie’s not here (You should see all the handmade things in my house). It’s worse when Donnie’s not here because he’s usually the voice of reason, doubting Thomas, negative Nelly. Ok, maybe not negative, but he’s sorta like the dad in Finding Nemo. I’m Nemo.

Today, when I got the marvelous idea of going on a bike ride, Donnie would have suggested a 1-mile ride to the park. Nope, not me, I think big. “Ok kids, let’s go to the farmers’ market.” It’s only 3 miles one way and 92 degrees with 41% humidity. It’ll be fun.

So I pulled the baby carrier behind me with a 22-pound butterball, sucking on his two fingers and buckled in nice and tight. My back tire was only slightly flat so I didn’t think it’d be that big of a deal. I really love the curvy sidewalks, they add a little fun flair to an otherwise pretty drab ride.

About 2 miles into the trip – with 5 water breaks and one tired 4 year old – my back tire was smashed against the pavement. It was like trying to ride a bike with a wheel made of slightly melted tar.
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At this point you may be wondering, “Why didn’t she just turn around and go home?” Well, that’s another thing you should know about me. Not only am I a doer, but if I choose to do something, I will MAKE IT WORK. (even if it seems moronic to do so). We rode on.

Nearing our destination, we played frogger at the crosswalk to the farmers’ market. You wouldn’t think I’d have to play frogger at a crosswalk (where they have red lights). Where people are required by law to stop. Anya nearly got hit by someone who decided that red means “go” and not “yield before turning right.”

We made it! My mom has a booth at the farmers’ market so we hung out for a few minutes. Then I kindly asked her to take Logan’s bike home, because that kid was spent. Then I threw him in the baby carrier with Riley (if you’re keeping track, that’s about another 35 pounds to my load.)

We made it back in half the time, drenched in sweat. Red-faced and breathless, I’m pretty proud of myself for dragging that tar-tire, butterball and mini-Donnie uphill on the pointless, inconvenient, mocking curvy sidewalks back to our house.

Of course, then I get on Facebook and see people clocking their 5K runs in the same amount of time as my bike ride OF THE SAME DISTANCE!

This is me:
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A how-to for the fellas: How to make a ponytail

Do guys know how to make a ponytail?

My recent encounters with the bearded-kind tell me that “No, they do not.” You see, many men who have Duck Dynasty beards also have long hair that they pull into a low ponytail at the nap of their necks. Other groups of people who opt for the long beard/low pony combo include (but are not limited to) bikers, trailer homeowners and Walmart frequenters.

ponytail

I’ve never been present during the ponytail-making process but this is what I imagine.

  1. Wash hair.
  2. Apply some sort of grease that  smells like sweat.
  3. Wrap hair in ponytail.

Step 1 is completely optional and often ignored.

The result is an oily, rat tail of a pony as low as it can possibly go. It keeps these guys at their “cool” status among their peers. Well, I’m here to say that’s just not right. I’ll say what I say to my 9 year old daughter, “If you guys want to have long hair, you have to take care of it.”

Here, I’ll help. Below I’ve is a link to some steps to making a nice ponytail. TIP: You will need a brush so you better head to Walmart.

I hope I make a difference.

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Ponytail

No one stands between me and my drugs.

Last Friday I went to the doctor with a terrible sore throat. He said it was probably strep and called in a z-pak right away (he didn’t want me to have to labor through the weekend with this pain).

I went to pick up the script (that’s medical speak for “prescription”).

First fail. After 30 minutes of waiting. The pharmacy “didn’t have” a prescription for me. I had to call and have it re-sent at about 4:50. Luckily they were still open. Got that taken care of.

Second fail. After 20 more minutes, and me with an empty pregnant belly (well almost empty), they told me that they couldn’t sell me the z-pak.

At this point I’m hot, hungry and little nauseous from the nasal spray Doc gave me. “What?!” I said in the nicest, most sane sounding way possible. The pharmacist repeated her exact statement. I replied, “I heard you. I was just shocked.”

I think she was expecting some sort of outburst because she sort of winced as she delivered the following statement, “Your insurance company won’t let us sell it to you since you’ve had this medication too recently.”

Shaking a little from anger and hunger (mostly hunger), as calm as I could possibly speak, I nearly whispered, “So the insurance company decides what’s good for me and not my doctor? Besides, it’s been over a year since I’ve had this type of medicine. How long do I have to wait?”

My throat hurts, my head hurts, I’m starving and nauseous. I’m desperate enough to leap over the counter and grab the meds myself. Can’t be too hard, I’ve seen it on the news a hundred times. You get the little stick and you count the pills on a plastic tray; then you collect your ridiculous paycheck.


I quickly squashed that idea since 1) my vertical leap isn’t what it was 6 months ago (I’d pull a hammy for sure) and 2) I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.

The pharmacist had no clue. To her, a computer software told her, “Don’t sell this medicine to this drug abuser”, or something like that.

I continued, trying not to sound like a drug abuser, “Can you just sell it to me and not tell them?”

She lightened up, “Oh, so you want to pay cash?” As if she’d offered me that option before and I simply opted for the cash route.

Shaking my head, rolling my eyes, and accompanied by a long sigh, I said, “Yes.”

That decision sent the process in motion. She replied, “Ok then, just give me about 20 minutes to fill that order.” Once again, I imagined myself leaping over the counter. (You do crazy things when you are pregnant and hungry). Instead I opted for a bag of corn chips and stood, as impatiently as possible, next to the counter eating handfuls of chips at a time – trying to ignore the looks of pity and disgust from other shoppers.

I spent the rest of the weekend miserable with strep and congestion, but happy because I had my z-pak. If there’s anything to take away from this post, it would be 1) Don’t ask Danielle how her weekend was unless you want a real, 15-minute, dramatic answer or 2) the insurance company never has the last word when it comes to your health.