Friday, December 19, 2014


I have some weird holiday traditions.... or rather non-holiday traditions. One of my favorites is the anti-Christmas Movie. When wrapping presents, decorating the tree or doing anything Christmas related most people will put on White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, or Polar Express to name a few. In my house the appropriate movie choices are either THE MUMMY with Brendan Fraser or HATARI with John Wayne

How did I land on those choices? Well it started one year when my mom asked me to wrap the presents for her and The Mummy was on TV. For some reason it completely fit my mood at the moment. Ever since then I make a point of putting on one of these anti-Christmas movies. In the middle of non-stop carols and Rudolph overload a movie about Egyptian mummies or an African Big Game hunt helps to keep me from going insane.

What are your holiday traditions? Are any of them as weird as mine?


Friday, December 12, 2014

I'm Really Bad At Opening Christmas Gifts

I love Christmas shopping. I usually start making idea lists in July of things I can get for the people I love. My wish list is 4 to 5 pages long with items I have seen that I think JB, the kids, or any of my other family will love. I spend weeks plotting, buying and wrapping the perfect gifts. It is possibly the most fun I can have (legally). My family will tell you I am a GREAT gift giver. 

Remember the scene in Christmas Story where Ralphie is so excited to open his present and is convinced it is going to be the Red Ryder air rifle he has been asking for? He opens gift after gift expecting to find the rifle but keeps getting things like socks and bunny pajamas. Well over the years I have gotten socks, a winter coat, an alarm clock, a box to hold my books, a lapel pin (shaped like an angel) and a jar of spaghetti sauce. Needless to say, I have had plenty of practice at pretending I like my gifts. I should be a pro by now. But I’m not. I’m horrible at it. 

I can’t even make the right face when I like the gift. You know the one. The look that is surprised, excited and overjoyed all at once. I’ve seen other people pull it off but I have never been able to master it. I just end up looking constipated or like I’m about to cry. When I opened the lapel pin I actually said, “What am I supposed to do with this?” I’m a horrible, horrible person.

Just thinking about opening presents gives me anxiety. Christmas with its multiple gifts and social settings is my ultimate nightmare. I think I should be allowed to give everyone their presents, watch them open them and then fade stage left. But alas, no one will let me do this. So, I am asking everyone I know for advice on how to overcome the social awkwardness that is Christmas gift opening.

Any ideas/suggestions?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Choose Happiness

Being happy is a choice. 
This sounds like such a stupid thing to say. Nobody chooses to be unhappy but in every situation you have a choice – negative or positive. You can choose to see all the downsides to what is happening or you can choose to see the upsides. I’m not saying be oblivious to reality or refuse to acknowledge when things are not going well or are truly bad. And obviously there are times in life when you just need to be sad. What I’m saying is that when faced with difficulties there is a tendency to begin listing all the negatives. It is much too easy to then become stuck in that place and begin to find fault with everything and everyone around us. This vicious cycle leads to frustration, anger and depression and the list of negatives grows longer by the day.

I’m a basically happy person. I like to laugh and truly enjoy life. But there have been several times in my life where the negatives kept piling up and the positives were harder and harder to remember. Stuck in this overwhelming place, this Pit of Despair, I became even more controlled and picky than usual (not fun). Learning to see the warning signs of this process has become important to switching directions and choosing to be happy.

What are some signs you are becoming stuck in negativity?  Take a look at your interaction with the world around you. 

My conversations become a litany of negatives and too many of my sentences are Don’t haves, Never cans and I wish I hads. 

I become more irritated, critical and biting towards those around me. Kindness becomes less of a priority. I can literally feel myself becoming mean and ugly which makes me want to retreat from life and hide away. 

Hand in hand with this is losing my sense of humor. Being able to laugh at myself and the craziness that can be my daily life is my lifeline. I know when I begin to take myself too seriously and can no longer laugh at my natural clumsiness or the random situations that crop up that I am heading down a bad path. 

I then return to bad habits and coping mechanisms  such as eating my feelings, becoming more sedentary, burying myself in tv, a book or anything that will help me escape from life or any other behavior that masks what hurts.

How do you choose to be positive and stop the spiral? It’s all about perspective.
Step back from the situation and try to see more than what is happening right that moment. I lost my job, my car died and several of my closest friends moved out of state all within a month. All I could see was that I was alone, broke and sad. It took a while but once I could see the opportunities; new job, time to meet new people and try new things and test driving new cars it became easier to move forward.

Make a list all the good things in your life, if necessary on paper and post them somewhere you will see them often.  I have a running list in my head that I try to revisit when I get frustrated – friends, family, Snoopy, my job, JB (in no particular order) but sometimes I need to write them down and see them in bold print. 

Embrace the people in your life and take a minute to learn from them. You know the people in your life that you can turn to for honesty and support, listen to them. They can help you find that perspective you need.

Every day is a choice to be happy, content and thankful for what you have and not focus on what you don’t have.

Another post on this subject….Our Lives Can Change with Every Breathe We Take.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Kind vs. Right

Yesterday, I was reading an article about the two things that foster a healthy relationship – kindness and generosity. It was a very interesting article and I started thinking that these two things are important in all our relationships, not just our romantic ones. Which led me to me today’s blog. It’s more important to be kind than right. 

I enjoy being right. It’s part biology and part sociology. There was a standing joke in our family about our dad always being right. Someone even bought him a plaque once that said “I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken”. Many discussions (and game nights) morphed into an argument over who was right. My default position was “I’m right and will prove it… at any cost”. You can imagine how fun that made me. 

It has only been the past few years that I have come to understand the cost of being right. So often to be right, we have to be cruel. You know what I mean. You and a friend/significant other/family member/co-worker are having a discussion and it quickly devolves into who is right and who is wrong. Obviously you are convinced that you are right or you wouldn’t be defending your view point. And when you hit the tipping point of the argument, you must make a choice. Do you want to leave the field of battle a winner, or put the other person’s feelings and beliefs first? For someone who only learned how to fight to win it has been a daily decision. 

I remember a few years ago I was in the car with my sister, An and her kids. The kids were having one of these lovely sibling “I’m right and you’re wrong” fights which had spiraled into you’re wrong cause you’re dumb. Being a paragon of virtue, I took this opportunity to explain to them that it isn’t as important to be right if it means hurting the other person. It was a pretty good discussion and I was rather proud of myself. Until 5 minutes later when I was on the phone yelling at a vendor for being an idiot and messing up a lighting delivery. I hung up the phone and An bust out laughing. “So it’s better to be kind than right huh?” Sheepish face…… 

Obviously, my journey to being a kind person is still in progress and this is something I constantly have to work on.  I’m getting better at in my personal relationships but find it more challenging at work. So every morning I hope to get a little better at it than the day before. There might even be a day or two where I manage to live on the kind side.

*Dedicating this post to my older sister, who is the most genuinely kind human being I have ever had the privilege of knowing*

Here is the article if you are interested in reading it. Business Insider Article

Friday, November 14, 2014

Confessions of a Control Freak

I admit it. I am a Control Freak. I like order. I hate surprises and being blindsided and I believe that if I am prepared for anything life can throw at me I can survive all of it.  I carry a Mary Poppins’ purse with anything you could possible need in an emergency. There is a mini first aid kit, dental floss, gum, mints, pocket sewing kit, girl’s hygiene supplies, pens, hair bands, multiple types of lip balm and countless other emergency supplies. (Although it was recently pointed out to me that I don’t have batteries and I need to rectify that oversight.) I was at my niece’s graduation party a few years ago and one of my cousins had forgotten her wet wipes. Not fun when you have to deal with a dirty diaper. AT told her to ask me as I always carry them in my purse. My cousin was confused. I don’t have kids. Why would I carry wet wipes? Well, just in case.

There is also my nearly urgent need for a schedule or itinerary, some kind of play by play guideline for my day, week, trip, free time. This makes me really good at my job running someone else's calendar. It can however be a bit of a problem in normal life. It took me years to learn to be flexible. When I was a kid I would melt down if our scheduled changed last minute. For so long, it was nearly impossible for me to bounce back from disappointment.  I have begun to understand the connection between my nervousness/fear and my need for control. It is exponential. The more worried or afraid I am, the more I need to schedule and organize. 

So how does a Control Freak learn to give up control? DRINKING! Just kidding… well only a little bit. My therapist introduced me to a life altering truth (as she so often does). We don’t actually have any control, only influence. I can’t control traffic, people’s reactions, or the fact that mosquito bites give me hives. But I can stock up on bug spray, use the WAZE app and remember to smile even when things aren’t going the way I envisioned. It all ends up being a funny story for the blog eventually.