Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sorry Kittens!

Sorry for my absence, Kittens! Things have been insane around these parts lately, with my being sick (again), trying to figure out life, and finally dating again. Oh, please don't ask about that last part... I still get all girly when I talk about it.

However, I'm going to try to pick back up on the whole blogging thing...both here and at Whogavethesekidsakeyboard. it's a collaboration site that approached me and asked if I wanted to write for them. Much shorter blogs, and much more often.

In the mean time, be on the lookout for a Yule blog coming up soon.

Love you all

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The POSITIVE side of Karma

I’m always hearing people say “Karma’s a bitch, don’t worry they’ll get what’s coming to them” or other various sayings on how if you’re bad to other people that Karma will get you. I very rarely hear people say how when they do something positive for someone else that they are rewarded. I think the reason for this is two-fold. One reason is that people have a tendency of focusing on the negative things in life and seem to enjoy watching others suffer – that makes me so very sad. However, I think the main reason that we don’t seem to see the ‘positive’ side of karma is simple – we over look the small blessings and surprises we are afforded on a regular basis. Like having really good weather for an important event, watching a child succeed magnificently at something for the first time, or even having a pet “suddenly” housetrained. These are all great blessings that we take for granted.

I had a good karma message today that I’m sure stemmed from my actions yesterday morning. I woke up on a semi-spoiled mood yesterday; simply from not having a good night’s rest the night before. I was a little crabby, and more than sleepy. When I got off the train at Tower City I made the conscious decision that a bad mood was NOT where I wanted to be. So I took a few deep breaths, concentrated on myself for a second and smiled. As I was getting on the escalator, there was an elder lady that was having a difficult time juggling all the paperwork she was holding and trying to step onto the escalator. I asked if she wanted me to hold her things for her, and we rode up together. I proceeded to walk with her to the courthouse (a couple blocks out of my way, but the morning was beautiful and I wasn’t in any great hurry). We chatted about the small things in life, and she told me how her and her high school sweetheart had reunited and were getting married – that’s why she was downtown; to get everything situated for the upcoming ceremony. Totally made me smile, she is 71 and her soon to be husband is 72 – they are getting married on the anniversary of their first date together waaaaaaaay back in high school.

So, once we got to the courthouse and she was safely inside, I proceeded to Starbucks for my morning jolt. Those who know me realize that this is NOT an option :D. The crew at the Starbucks I go to every morning is amazing, and I always walk out of there giggling about something. Yesterday morning was no different. The sun was shining in my face, as I walked my way down Euclid Avenue. Humming to myself (music always helps my mood) and smiling at random people. Sometimes they smile back with a “good morning” sometimes they glower at me like I’m some rapid dingo waiting to eat their baby when their back is turned. Either way works for me, because if you don’t smile at people, you’ll never lift someone else’s spirits.

I noticed two guys struggling to get some cubicle partitions on a dolly out of one of the building doors that I was passing. There were so many people walking down the street, and they would just look at these guys, shake their heads and keep walking. Sometimes I just don’t understand people at all. I stopped, grabbed the door, and held it open for them. As they were coming out the door, they started smiling and I heard one of them actually say “see there are still nice people downtown”. I smiled, wished them a happy morning, and said you’re welcome in a very cheery voice when they thanked me. Side note: when you say thank you or you’re welcome to someone - -say it with meaning. Don’t mumble it, don’t look away, and don’t say mmhm. Look them in the eye, smile, and say it like you mean it – or don’t say it at all. It really makes a huge difference to the person you’re speaking to.

Onward down Euclid Avenue I went. As I approached the corner of East 9th and Euclid (right across the street from the building I work in) I saw three people lugging a continental breakfast for a morning meeting. This isn’t a strange occurrence downtown – as it seems to be much easier for people to pick up their catering than have it delivered sometimes. A young lady was carrying a box of croissants, another lady a box full of paper products, and a gentleman was pulling a little red wagon filled with a couple cases of bottled water and two platters of fresh fruit. The red wagon made me smile from ear to ear – just not really sure why. As we crossed the intersection (it’s not a very long time window to get from one side of East 9th to the other on Euclid – the walk light stays on for literally 13 seconds so you really need to rush), I walked closely behind the wagon; I was just too afraid that on the other side of the street, as the man pulled that little wagon up the curb, that the fruit might slide off the water and go crashing to the ground. It didn’t but I would have stopped it if it had. The group was going into the same building I was, so I naturally held the door open for them. They thanked me; I said you’re welcome and proceeded up to my office.

Now, granted, I usually don’t have the opportunity to help three sets of people all the same morning, but I was so glad I did yesterday. I really improved my mood, watching how cooperative and gracious people can be when they get unexpected help.

This morning, it paid off; and I was so very surprised when it happened. I don’t do good things for people to gain some reward. I do it because I love people and want to help them in every way I can. However, this morning, when I walked into Starbucks, Cagney looked at me and said. “Drink is on the house today.” At first I thought it was because my birthday is coming up on Sunday and they knew this was my last day of work for the week. But when I got up to the register (there’s always a line at Starbucks in the morning!), she told me that someone came in yesterday, described me and said they wanted to pay for my next drink. I’ll never know if it was someone that I work with, someone I helped yesterday, or someone else entirely. You’re probably asking yourself how anyone that I helped would know I’m a Starbucks freak and I’ll tell you a little secret. I have one of those re-usable, customizable cups that I get my drink in every day, and I was carrying it when I helped these wonderful people yesterday. So either someone was very observant, or it was someone else in my life that bought me a drink this morning. Like I said, I’ll never know; but it made me so very happy anyways.

So, I did something completely in character for me. I handed Cagney $5.00 and told her to pick someone at random today and pay for their drink for me. Maybe they will do the same, and a whole bunch of people will be smiling out of the generosity of strangers this weekend.

Be at peace with yourself and you’ll be at peace with the world.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rushing Waters Cause Drowning Souls

So, I was talking to one of my best friends today (Hi Mara) and she mentioned that someone should write a blog about rushing things and how quickly we tend to jump head first into stuff. I told her Id' be happy to write about it - and give her the credit for the idea.. so thanks Mara!!

I'm no expert by any means, but I know I've made my mistakes, and as much as I'd like to stop others from making the same mistake - I know all I can do is advise and hope that they get through it safely.

Let's start with a couple analogies. You're standing by a river and it's rushing so fast past, that all you can hear is the roar of the water. Jump in. Go ahead... jump in. What's the worst that can happen? Oh yea, you could drown.. or get beaten by the rocks. You could be knocked unconscious or sliced open by something in the water. Probably a good idea not to jump in. So, we'll take a walk to the nearby highway. Ooh rush hour fun. Cars are speeding by, weaving between lanes, and are occasionally slamming on their brakes. Go oooonn... run across. Dart through those cars and trucks, and semis and get to the other side? What are you waiting for ... DO IT. What? Oh, you don't want to get run over? Or hit by a truck and smashed into the guardrail? I guess I can understand that.

So why is it, then, that we aren't as protective with our emotions and our hearts? I'm on Facebook (a lot -- a whole lot) and I see a ton of people (and these are not just teenagers) that start to go out with someone and BAM a week later they are IN LOVE and this person is their WHOLE WORLD, etc. After one week. 7 days. Suddenly, they can't live, breathe, or eat without this other person. I try to be happy for them, but all I can really think is .. how well can you possibly know someone after 7 days... and please don't give me the soulmate line. You don't even know this person's middle name, where they grew up, or if they have some kind of bizarre personality glitch that you haven't discovered.

Then, after a month or so -- they break up for one of a myriad of reasons. Suddenly hearts are crushed, souls are clouded and eyes are red-rimmed for weeks. It happens more often than not -- falling in "love" that quickly goes bad fast. And it's not just because the couple is young (I've seen this happen to 30 year olds as well) or that both partners aren't 100% into it. It's because they have an unrealistic version of love trapped in their heads. Relationships are hard, they take work, commitment, and communication. You don't have that 7 days into any relationship - so when you think you're in love, and something goes wrong, the world falls apart.

I am not against relationships (even though I can't seem to find a decent one for myself!), I've seen people so deeply in love that it's amazing and gives me hope. If you ever get a chance to see Cook and Belle perform on stage, you'll see exactly what I mean. I am, however, against jumping in to a relationship too quickly. Slow down - take some time to get to know each other. Learn about your pasts, your future goals, what you like and don't like. Form a friendship for the basis of a solid, stable relationship. Then fall in love, it's soooooo much better that way.

Of course, there are other things that we tend to rush into at times, that can hurt just as badly. Job hopping is a big one. Say someone has a great job - good pay, good benefits, pretty decent boss, etc. Suddenly this person decides that a job as a caretaker at the zoo would be MUCH better -- so they quit their job and apply at the zoo. Six months later, they are still scraping goose droppings off park benches and emptying trash bins. Why? Simple; the person didn't stop and think about the fact that he might need a specialized degree to work as an animal caretaker, or that he didn't have the schedule flexibility needed at the zoo. Granted, he may love his new job -- but in this case, he misses his old paycheck, his old benefits, and the fact that he didn't go home smelling like old hamburgers and bird poop.

There are a hundred other examples I could give (rushing to buy a new house without the right down payment or solid credit, deciding to start a business without researching the market, how you're going to make a profit or find a client base, trading in a decent fuel-efficient vehicle for a grand sports car - to find gas prices on the rise, etc.) but I think you get the idea.

So, the next time you're 30,000 feet up in an airplane and you decide that you're going to jump out and have an epic sky-diving experience. Take some time and think about it. And make sure you're parachute isn't a backpack.

Be at peace with yourself, and you'll be at peace with the world

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Facts vs Stories - How to Not Be Pissed off (part 1 of a series)

Facts vs. stories is one of my favorite mechanisms to stop myself from getting pissed off too easily. Granted, sometimes it’s unavoidable – or my mood just won’t cooperate; but for the most part I use this technique almost daily. People around me (friends, family, even strangers at times) ask me “How are you NOT pissed off at ”? If I have time, I give them a little synopsis of this technique, if I don’t have time, I usually smile and say “it’s not worth the negative energy”… although sometimes that statement REALLY pisses people off.

Before I start: the “cover my ass” statements. This technique works for about 80% of events that can piss off a person – it doesn’t work for everything. And, as effective as the technique is, it doesn’t always work. Hopefully if you apply it correctly, you’ll find yourself less stressed out about ‘life in general’.

Let’s talk about the word “event” for a second. In this case, I’m talking about the small and medium events that happen over which we end up getting pissed off. Things like someone cutting us off in traffic, a server being down and us not being able to pay a bill, a boss in a really pissy mood. Even things like having your car stolen or your house broken into. This does not count towards the huge life changing events like a horrible health diagnosis, a sudden (or any) death, etc. And when I say things like “every” … it applies to about 80% of the situations – so don’t hold me literally word for word? OK? Cool…let’s get this thing started.

Every event has two main elements – the facts of the event and the corresponding story. The facts, when stated correctly and honestly are indisputable – that’s why they are called FACTS. The story is what you state about the event that is either your opinion (read: what you’ve made up about the event) or your view. In most events, we don’t know the full story behind the event – or even part of the actual story at all. It’s usually our “story” about the event that gets us all riled up and pissed off. Not always, sometimes it’s the event itself – but most of the time, it’s what we say caused the event that pisses us off.

So, let’s get into an example, shall we? You’re driving into work on a rather rainy morning. Traffic is quite a bit slower than usual, but you’ve got your music going, you’re enjoying a little bit of alone time and responding to a text from your sweetie (hey traffic is slow, so it’s ‘safe’ to text, eh?). Suddenly, from out of nowhere, someone is a huge SUV comes down the shoulder of the highway, slices in front of you and slows down to stop from hitting the car that is suddenly in front of them. This, in turn, forces you to slam on your breaks and your bag goes spilling out of your front seat and onto the floor. Nobody hits anyone and all is well. Do you get pissed off and call the driver of the SUV all sorts of names?

This is where facts vs. story comes into play. Facts: SUV driver cut you off on the highway while it was raining, you slammed on your brakes and your bag fell onto the floor. That’s it...those are the ONLY facts of the situation that apply directly to the event. Not the fact that SUV driver is an idiot, or that he doesn’t know how to drive, or that he’s an and should go back to his own country. Those are all part of the “story” that you made up … because honestly you have no idea who SUV driver is or why he cut you off.

There could be a multitude of reasons why he cut you off, and most likely you will never know exactly the reason. Maybe he’s trying to get to the hospital before his child, who was just in a serious accident, goes into surgery. Maybe there was a death in the family and he was on the phone with a loved one trying to console them, didn’t realize his lane merged and was now trying to get back into traffic (and maybe that cut off wasn’t nearly as close as you thought since you were texting at the time?). Maybe he’s a really bad driver with no respect for others? But seriously – you don’t really know what the right story is. So you’ve made up your mind that this guy is a jerk for cutting you off, and all your anger (and the adrenaline associated with the near miss) is directed towards him. The facts are he cut you off, you’re not hurt, and life is continuing as if nothing happened. Choose not to be pissed off at him. (Chose Your Battles is later in this series).

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I can just as easily come up with stories for this SUV Driver that make him into a horrible person. He hates my little eco-friendly green car, and decided to show me who’s boss, etc.” True, but it that really going to get you to a place where you’re NOT pissed off at him? If you want to be pissed off for no reason and be in a bad mood all day – that’s your choice.. but if you want to NOT be pissy – realize that you don’t know his reasoning, and I’m sure since you don’t know who he is he didn’t have some personal vendetta against you.

I could go into a hundred or so other examples from a boss who is suddenly in a bad mood, to a deranged person on the morning train. The process is the same – tell yourself that you do not know the complete story behind the event and that since there’s really nothing that can be done to change what happened; being pissed off about it doesn’t really help. Keep in mind that this doesn’t just work from a ‘pissed off’ perspective, but from a general stress perspective as well – and we could all use less stress!!

Be at peace with yourself and you’ll be at peace with the world.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Adelle the Angel Haired Kitchen Fairy

Adelle slowly opened the door and peeked out into the vast space. The lights were down low, and there was no noise anywhere. Must be night time - her favorite time of the day (or is that night?). At night she could roam free, causing whatever mischief she desired.

The Humans didn't know she actually existed, even though she left her signature everywhere. A half eaten cookie on the counter? Blamed on the daughter. Cat food scattered on the floor? The work of an ambitious and hyper cat. Even the pot holder hanging out of the drawer was blamed on a lazy cook or one who was in too much of a hurry to put it away properly.

As Adelle roamed around the kitchen, she caught a glimpse of herself in the side of the stock pot. Her hair is getting much longer, and her bright green eyes were gleaming with the thought of causing some more small kitchen trouble.

She meandered around the kitchen and realized that today was the perfect day to celebrate her beautiful hair .. and to remind the Humans with whom she dwelled with that she's here, and she is the beautiful Angel-Haired Kitchen Fairy. The best way to do that? With the Angel Hair pasta in the cupboard, of course. She fiddled most of the night to make things just right, ensuring that her plan would be executed perfectly. As she finished up, the sun was just spilling over the horizon; all she could do was wait.

Later that day, the Adult Human began preparing the evening meal. Little did the Adult Human know that she was soon in for a kitchen fairy reminder. As the Adult Human continued the meal preparation, Adelle sat back and prepared for the show. The Human did exactly what was expected, and opened the kitchen cupboard. As she reached for the pasta .. the box tipped just perfectly, and every piece of Angel Hair Pasta poured down in a waterfall onto the Human's head. Adelle giggled and giggled, nearly falling off her perch atop the cabinets. The Human, and her two younglings laughed and giggled right along with her; celebrating the joy of the spontaneousness mess.

The picture above is the wonderful noodle art created by Adelle and her actions .. and the mess that I was tasked with cleaning up during dinner last week. Yeap, I was the Adult Human that Adelle graced with her friendly and exciting presence.


Be at peace with yourself and you'll be at peace with the world

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Proper Argument

Let’s face it, kittens. Everyone argues – and I’m sure we all argue more than we’d like to. Personally, with two ex-husbands, a teenage daughter, and a wonderful sister with whom I didn’t always see eye-to-eye; I’ve certainly had more than a fair share of arguments. In all honesty, many of my arguments have been over petty things, and should have never occurred. I’m sure you can relate to that.

In my years (and years, and years) of arguing, I’ve actually learned quite a few things. These things, coupled with a few effective communication seminars I’ve attended have helped me realize that arguments, although unavoidable, do not have to be as hurtful, long, and painful as we tend to make them. How? The concepts are easy to understand, but difficult to put into practice. I promise, if you try hard enough at them and share them with the people in your life, you’ll find yourself with less severe arguments.

Before I begin, I need to put the “footnote” in here. I know there will always be major arguments or fights that are unavoidable; they will hurt and will be long and difficult. I’ll also be the first to admit that sometimes my emotions get the better of me and I don’t put into practice these principles. However, by keeping some of these things in mind, you will find yourself in a better place with the relationships in your life; especially when you can’t avoid the arguments. I can go on and on about all the things that you should and shouldn’t do with an argument – or any communication for that matter – but I’ll try to keep to just the major impact points for now.

The Facts versus The Stories This is something that I’ll get into deeper in a different post, but the simple version is this. Stick to the facts of a situation, versus making up your version of “why” the person did something. “I’m pissed off that you were 20 minutes late to the restaurant and we missed our reservation”. That’s a fact, and a valid emotion. This is a story “I can’t believe that Stacy is more important than me and you couldn’t tear yourself away from her in enough time to get here. We’ve missed our reservation and might as well just go home and starve for the rest of the night”. I know, you’re probably giggling, but let’s admit, we all over react and say stuff like that. How do you know that Stacy was the reason the person was late to the restaurant? Maybe the person was in an accident on the way? Maybe the other person got caught by a train? Maybe Stacy is the reason, but it’s because her cat was hit by a car and she needed to be comforted until someone else got home. Sticking to the facts versus making up your own reasons why the other person did or didn’t do something will curb a lot of frustration and arguments on its own.

Leave the Past Alone This is probably one of the BIGGEST mistakes people make when they are arguing with someone. They constantly bring up things the other person has done wrong in the past. “Remember that time in 1805 when I asked you to be sure the bed warmer under the comforter and you forgot? My feet were cold all night long and I ended up with the Plague”. “I apologized for that, and still feel really horrible about it – even 206 years later” “I know, but you still forgot to do it, and my feet were blue when we wok…..” You get the idea. The past is just that, the past. Everyone makes mistakes, and we apologize for them; and hopefully are forgiven (forgiving some things may take longer than others, I realize that). Keep in mind that actions or words that occurred in the past cannot be changed; if the other person has apologized for it, there is no reason to continuously bring it up – unless your intent is to specifically hurt them and make them feel terrible about themselves. If that is your intent, you should really reconsider your approach to things; would you like it if others did that to you? They do? Does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? No .. it doesn’t.. so you shouldn’t do it to others, right? Right.

Actually and Actively Listen How often during an argument do you stop listening to the other person and start formulating what you’re going to say in response to them? If you don’t hear what they are saying, there is no way you’re able to actually understand their emotions, their line of thinking, or even their apology if that’s what they are saying. When you speak, you like to know others are listening and hearing what you are saying, it’s only proper to do that in return. Interrupting the other person to make your point (or to make your point AGAIN) diminishes their worth and in return, the argument will slide down the “you’re not even hearing the things I am saying” slope. We’ve all been there. Active listening is an entirely different blog (I’ll get to it eventually), but the basics are this: stop thinking about yourself and listen to what the other person is saying. Respond by validating their words (“You said that you were angry that I forgot to let the dog out, I understand, I would be angry too if it happened the other way around” versus “Last week YOU forgot to clean the litter box and your cat peed in my shoes, so I guess we’re even”. 2 rules broken right there – don’t bring up the past (assuming the dog thing is the actual argument) and not validating the other’s words) and their emotions. Everyone speaks from their own truth, and what might not seem like a very big deal to you may be to the other person, and to take that truth away from them is not fair.

Don’t Attack Character or Call Names and Button Pushing Calling names (especially hateful names like “a**h*le” or “b***h”) or attacking each other’s character is just another way of intentionally inflicting pain on the other person. What’s the purpose other than to make them feel horrible about themselves? I’m assuming by this time in the conversation, everyone’s emotions are high, most likely someone is crying, and all that is being accomplished with this is to tear down someone’s self esteem and invite them to do to the same to you. The same thing applies to what I consider Button Pushing. It’s knowing the things that make the other person feel bad, angry, or upset, and intentionally bringing them up. For example, the person the following statement is directed towards has self esteem issues about their weight. The argument is about whether or not the dog should be kenneled at night so it stops eating the couch (and nothing to do with diets, exercise, etc.) Button Pushing would go something like this (extreme example) “Maybe if you weren’t so fat and always ate your chips on the couch, Polly wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about chewing the couch”. I said it was extreme, but you get the point. A more subtle, but just as damaging, example: “Polly chews the couch because she doesn’t get enough exercise, you should know what that’s like”. Keep the argument to the facts at hand; don’t try to hurt each other.

NEVER use these words I’m guilty of using words during an argument that I would never ever say to someone in a regular conversation. I’ve also witnessed enough arguments to know I’m not the only one that uses these words. These are the worst of the worst during an argument and can cut deep, and wound for a long time. Shut-up and Hate. Telling someone to shut-up (shut your mouth, etc.) is demeaning and more hurtful than you realize. When you tell someone to shut-up, you’re basically letting them know that whatever they say is invaluable and you don’t want to hear it. Even if that is the case (but seriously – invaluable? If you believed that you would never speak to them) there are better ways of telling them. In my experience shut-up is usually used to stop someone from interrupting when you’re trying to say something. So try “Can you just let me say what I need to say, then I’ll listen to your side”. Hate is a word that I try to never ever use...especially during an argument. It’s just a horrible mean thing to say to someone “I hate you. I hate the way you talk to me. I hate the fact that .. “ etc. Use ‘don’t like’, use can’t stand’ … but please please please don’t use hate.

I’ll leave you, after all this rambling with this. End the argument. Simply say “Can we not argue about this anymore? I’m done trying to fight about something that we can easily fix if we both calm down (notice “if we both calm down.” Don’t use “if you calm down)”. End on a good note, and be sure to apologize to each other when you’re ready to. “I’m sorry I said things that might have hurt you, etc.” It’s just good for the relationship.

Be at peace with yourself and you’ll be at peace with the world.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Incredibly Entertaining Morning

One of the most important things I have learned in the past several years is to find a source of entertaining in just about everything. I've also learned that it's important not to let the "bad" stuff get to you; and to find the laughter in life. Without these skills, our world turns into a bleak, dry, boring, and often depressing place. It is in the spirit of entertainment that I share the story of my morning with you.

Let me first set the background a bit for you. As you may or may not know, I'm a single mother raising a teenager daughter (who is graduating from high school this year -- yikes!). With that being said, my mornings are usually pretty dull, with the regular routine of getting up, taking Sami to to school and getting myself to the rapid station (the public transportation "train" we use here in the Cleveland, Ohio area). This morning, however, was different. Sami was not going to school and I thought I could get a jump on my work day by getting to the office early. In addition to my early start, I was driving into the office, versus taking the train; as a friend of mine was going to give me a bunch of free cat food - and as much of a crazy cat lady as I am, I didn't want to go home on the train with bags and bags of cat food.

So, the day starts off like just about every other day. The piano version of Fireflies starts playing from my cell phone, as as soon as the notes fill the morning air, one of my cats (Carley) decides that it's time to wake up and start walking all over me. This morning he didn't see the need to avoid walking on my face, so as I was yawning and stretching, I got a mouth full of kitty paw. Startled human (fumbling with the phone alarm), startled cat (screaming so that everyone knows I tried to eat his foot) ... Good Morning, Sunshine!

I stumble to the bathroom and start the shower, and gather my towels and robe. Step into the shower and close my eyes to get my hair wet. Shampoo, lather, rinse, repeat. As I'm rinsing out my hair, I open my eyes and realize there is a man-eating spider descending from the ceiling with every intent of landing directly on my face. OK, so it was probably not a man-eating spider; but it was an eight legged creature of death and it was out to get me (I don't like spiders, can you tell?). I do what nearly every brave, macho American would do -- I squeal like a school girl and attempt to run away. In my shower. With shampoo every where. So, naturally, I land oh-so-ungracefully on my rear in the shower. And what do you know? Killer the Ninja Spider is still after me. So, I brave the elements, shampoo burning the one eye I can actually see out of (we'll cover the other eye in another posting), stand up, and .... SMACK! I squish the spider between my hands with the two handed non-shoe death punch! This thing is actually large enough for me to feel dying between my hands, legs and body all squished between my palms.

I spend the next 3 minutes scrubbing my hands of Ninja Spider Goo ... and finally finish my shower. Dry the body, put on the robe, find the coffee. Perfect plan.

I have one of those life-saving automatic start coffee pots that allows me to wake up in the morning to a nice, hot, fresh pot of coffee (flavor today: coconut). Except when I get to the kitchen, there is no coffee. Instead of going into coffee panic, I think "I can do this. I can press the ON button and all will be well with the world." Press. Nothing. Press. Nothing. **panic** PRESS ... zip. Thinking I'm too young to have to bury a coffee pot, I try in a last ditch effort to unplug the machine and plug it back in (maybe an electric shock would work -- it worked on me more than once!). I know, I didn't think it was going to work, but I was desperate. BINGO -- for some bizarre reason this works, and I have coffee brewing.

While the coffee gets it's hot and steamy on, I decide to get dressed. I trip over the cat in the hallway (sorry, Buttons.. but why are you just laying there like that?) and make my way into the bedroom. After a couple moments of staring at the closet and quietly cursing the laundry fairy for once again neglecting her duties, I grab a pair of pants. Put them on... zip them u.... wow broken zipper. Pants off, new pair of pants on. Grab a shirt and toss that on, along with a pair of socks and my tennis shoes (I always wear tennies into and from work -- dress shoes are for the office only!).

So, back to the kitchen for some wonderful coconut sweet cream coffee. Make the coffee and promptly spill it all down the front of me -- shirt, pants, shoes, socks... all wonderfully covered in coffee. Aaaaaaand back to the bedroom we go for another pair of pants (that desperately need to be ironed - but shall stay wrinkled) and a short sleeved sweater. Into the bathroom to do something with the Medusa curls on my head. I look into the mirror and realize -- gotta change my bra because the neck line of the sweater I have on shows the bra straps. Bedroom - change.

Back to the bathroom for the hair thing. I grab my non-frizz, Bozo control hair stuff and press the pump. Empty, of course. Back up plan ... back up plan.... ah ha! Curl control, non-frizz mousse from 29,847 years ago ... shake shake -- dispense. At this point in the game instead of mousse it's more like yogurt but it'll do the trick.

One of my girlfriends at work wanted a copy of one of Sami's senior pictures, which I forgot about until this morning; so I go to the bookcase (where I last saw them) and poke around to find one. They seem to be in full invisible mode, cause they aren't anywhere to be found. Hold on a second.. is that them? I grab what I think it is the photo envelope I keep them in and ... pull just about every book and notebook off the shelf somehow. I stare at the now almost bare shelf and realize a Senior picture for a friend at work isn't all that important. Spend a few minutes fixing my books-on-the-floor issue and get my stuff together for work. Back to the kitchen to grab a coffee-to-go in my handy-dandy "you can put this thing full of coffee in your purse and it'll never spill a drop" travel mug and head out the door. In an effort to keep my bag on my shoulder, the coffee in my hand, and trying to lock the door I somehow manage to pour coffee UP the sleeve of my jacket, thus soaking my sweater sleeve. No, I'm not changing, people can just put up with the fact that I smell like mocha-coconut. I'll tell them it's a new body spray from the Island or something.

I stop at the bottom of the steps and do what I usually do when things are raining down on me. I close my eyes, take a deep breath and say 'OK, I'm starting this over". I smile and head to my car, confident that my 'bad morning' is trapped in my past behind a locked apartment door.

I get into the car, start her up, and listen to the music coming out of the radio. Oh irony, how you get the wrinkles out of my clothes. "It's a great daaaaaaaaaaay to be alive, you know the sun still shining when I close my eyes". I start singing along, blissfully ignorant to what the Fates have yet to show me today. I look down at my dashboard and BAM ... gas tank is near empty. There's no way I'm going to get downtown and back near home without going to the gas station. Sigh.. no big deal. I'm still running a little ahead of my normal schedule, so I figure I can stop at the ATM, then the gas station and still make it to work by 7.30. I take in the nice little sunrise that is starting up, and pull into the bank. Up to the ATM and guess what? Yeap, out of order. I giggle to myself, because at this point, really -- it's just amusing. So, I head off to another bank location, because I'd really rather not pay fees for using some other bank's ATM. Find myself at the second bank, pull up, and nearly loose my sanity. Don't worry, the ATM isn't out of order -- this one is missing entirely. Just a hole in the wall where an ATM should be! I give up on trying to find another branch of my bank and just hit the nearest ATM -- I'll suck up the charges, because who KNOWS what might happen if I try to push my luck any further.
I get my money (whew!) and my gas without incident. Good thing, because at this rate, it wouldn't have surprised me if I found myself on fire at the gas station, or being dragged behind a horse drawn carriage somehow. I snake my way through the neighborhood and find a parking spot at the rapid station. Trying to dodge cars pulling in and out of the parking spaces, I realize I'm suddenly ankle deep in water. That's a pretty large hole, good thing I fit right into it! I shake my leg off the best I can .. doing my worst impersonation of Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty (you know, the scene outside the office building where he steps in the super deep puddle?). Good thing I was a source of quality entertainment for the gentleman walking up to the rapid station. He smiled at me, and I just laughed and said "It's not even Monday!"

I got up to the ticket machines at the rapid station, and realized one very important thing. Not that I needed to buy a ticket. And not that I didn't have any cash to do so. But the fact that I was DRIVING to work today -- remember the cat food thing?

Everything after that was pretty much a blur. I managed to get to the office a whole 14 minutes before I usually do (my plan was an hour and a half earlier). My shirt smells like coffee, my foot is STILL cold and all I can do is laugh about the whole thing. Why? Because I'm alive and well enough to laugh. I know that no matter how bad my morning was, I'm blessed beyond measure for the things in my life. I have a loving family, a wonderful daughter, great cats (who are so not happy with me right now), and friends who will be there for me no matter what. But most importantly, I laugh about it because it's funny.

A series of events unfolded that I was sure only happened in the movies. Nobody was hurt, no animals were harmed in the making of this film. The fact that I got to share it with you, is even better. I hope that, no matter what you've been through today, that this little slice of my life got you smiling and thinking to yourself "Hey I don't have it so bad .. I could be Trinity!"

Much Love
Be at peace with yourself and you'll be at peace with the world

Self-Sacrifice and the Pursuit of Happiness

This is a re-post -- I originally put it on my Facebook since I wasn't quite "there" yet with the whole blogging thing. But now that I am, here it is again.

I’ll be completely honest, it’s been a very long time since I’ve “blogged’ about anything, and although FB is by no stretch of the imagination a blogging website; I’m posting this here regardless. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons; but mainly because everyone that has access to read this little “note” of mine is someone I consider a friend. When we are going through difficult times, we reach out to our friends for love and support. During good times, our friends are there to celebrate with us. We share, and over share, with our friends, and hope that they feel as comfortable with us as to share their lives in the same way.

I really don’t know where this is going to take me, or if I’ll even post it… or save it. It might be one of those things that, once written and read, is deleted and never again thought of. However, something tells me that it will be shared, and read by others; sometimes it’s important to share our stories so others can learn from them.

I have recently had a revelation … and it’s something that many people in my life have been telling me for years; I was just too stubborn and focused on other things to accept it. It may sound silly to some of you – or obvious. For those of you who truly know me; you know it isn’t either of those things. So here it is in the simplest form there is: I deserve my own personal happiness. See … simple, right? Not always – and not for as many people as some would think. I know what you’re thinking “You’re one of the happiest, motivating, inspirational people I know” (wow, that sounded conceited, but eh – it’s what it is). I’m not unhappy; it’s simply that for as long as I can recall (at least since high school) my happiness has come from helping others succeed, be happy, and achieve their dreams. Watching someone I care for succeed in something, or helping them overcome a problem, or seeing them achieve a goal makes me happy; mostly because they are happy. Let’s face it… when those we love are truly happy, it in turn, elates us as well.

The drive to see others happy led me to be a very self-sacrificing person. I’m certainly not complaining about that – being selfless is something I strive for on a daily basis; as I think most people should. I give up things I want, things I know will make me happy, to ensure the happiness of the people in my life. I know, you’re thinking to yourself “everyone does (or should do) that sometimes”; because the basis of a happy, healthy relationship is the ability to compromise. There is a fine line, however, between compromise and continuous self sacrifice; and if you’re not careful, you can find yourself in a situation where you realize that everything you spend your time on is for someone else; and that the happiness you feel is theirs, and not yours. When you encounter that situation, things can go bad relatively quickly. You start to lose sleep. You stop eating as well as you should. You find ways to let out aggression on people you love, because you don’t know where else to place it. Worst of all, you start to resent the people you set out to help; not because they have done anything wrong; but because you realize you’re not truly happy.

So, you’re thinking, where am I going with this, right? I have finally admitted to myself that I deserve the personal happiness that comes with focusing my efforts and energy on things that make me truly happy. I will certainly not stop helping other people. Offering advice, guidance and leadership is something I really truly enjoy. When I help someone through a difficult situation or give them advice on something and it helps them, it makes me incredibly happy; I’ll never stop doing that. I will, however, be more selective on what I do with my ‘free’ time – and what I spend the limited energy I have on.

Being sick for the last 11 years has taught me that life is way too short not to do things you enjoy (cliché’ much?). Granted, I have to work, and grocery shop, and do my taxes, and clean the litter box; some things are inevitable. For those of you who have read the “Spoon Theory”, you know that there are days when I have very little energy to get to work, home and dinner made, let alone do something “fun” for myself. It’s the limited “fun time” I have that I need to make the most of – isn’t that a goal for all of us? For those of you who have not read the “Spoon Theory” I highly suggest doing so, almost everyone knows someone with an illness – whether it’s chronic or terminal. http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory-written-by-christine-miserandino/

So, this personal happiness thing…what is it, exactly? It’s different for everyone. I’ve realized that I don’t like spending all my time alone, but I don’t necessarily NEED a significant other in my life to be happy. (Previous significant others in my life have shown me that having one does not, in itself, bring happiness). Not that I don’t want one...but it’s not a “must have” for me – I can, and have been, happy without one. Animals are NOT negotiable for me – feline energy is a must have – cats in any shape and size seem to balance me out and make me more level. Dogs I can do without (hahah sorry Sami!); but cats are a must have for me. Remember, sometimes it’s the little things that make us happy. There’s a lot more, but it gets much more personal than you probably want to read, and much more than I want to share at this point.

Why am I posting all of this? I’m doing it for two reasons, actually. First, I want to inspire others to take a look at and evaluate their situation. It’s a task we should all do from time to time, as it helps us grow as people and allows us to be who and what we are meant to be. Count your blessings and be thankful for the good things and the challenges in your life. If you’re not happy with a situation, it’s up to you to take control of it and change it; your friends can support you through it, but only YOU can make it happen. I know I am not the only self-sacrificing person on the planet – and I want others to know that your own personal happiness is important as well; as difficult as it might be understand and obtain.

Secondly, I’m doing this because the changes I have to make in order for me to be personally happy may, and most likely will, impact people in my life. I’m not doing any of this to intentionally hurt anyone; and I know as my friends, you will all understand that. I have lost an amazing amount of sleep coming to these decisions and wondering if I deserved my happiness enough to change the parts of my life that I want to now change. Everyone assures me that I do; so I’m trusting them, and myself, to not send me in the wrong direction. I do know, however, that some people may be disappointed in my decisions, and it’s a very real possibility that I will lose friends by the end of it. I’m not making massive changes to every aspect of my life and to some the changes won’t even be noticeable. The change in my mood, my outlook, and my attitude will be noticeable to everyone – and I hope they consider it a change for the better.

Alright, I’m done… I think. If you’ve gotten this far without thinking “wow… she’s really self centered, and full of herself, and thinks she’s all that”… congratulations – because I’ve thought that a lot about myself recently – but have decided that as self centered as it sounds, it doesn't make the fact that I want to be happy in my own right less true.

Be at peace with yourself and you’re at peace with the world.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yes, This is All New To Me

Hey there, Kittens!

Yes, this whole blog thing is new to me, but it's something I've been wanting to do for a while. This will give me a way to share my thoughts (whether you like it or not) and hopefully inspire others to make positive change in themselves.

So, here it is... and here we go.