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.