Friday, January 31, 2014

When No Big Deal is a Big Fucking Deal

I am not denying that I have been negative this past week.

Yes, I have bitched and moaned on Facebook about the fact that I had a flood in my apartment that was not my fault (I wasn't even home) and the ways that the maintenance staff at the property handled it incorrectly. It's annoying to me when people are incompetent, and even more annoying when their incompetence affects my daily life. I had to eat every meal at work or at Rachel'd for several days because my kitchen was so dirty I wouldn't even walk into it. I had to leave Juno at Rachel's, which is a pain in the ass for everyone, because it wasn't a safe breathing environment for my asthmatic cat. I was staying away from home as many hours as possible in case of mold growth. Not to mention the fact that having a carpet fan and a dehumidifier in an apartment is loud, obnoxious, and so. freaking. HOT.

So yea, I have been a pissy pants about it. And when I am a pissy pants about things, I vent. And this week I was venting on Facebook. And it is my Facebook page. If you're annoyed by me whining about a flood in my fucking house, don't read it. Hide me from your news feed, I don't even care. But don't tell me things like, man you're grouchy, or cheer up, or calm down, or it isn't that big of a deal. That just makes me more mad. And then I go from just being mad and annoyed at life and the world in general, to actually kinda pissed off at you specifically.

(For the record, on the apartment manager end of things, a flood - no matter how big or small - is a big fucking deal. Water intrusion is a big deal. Standing dirty-ass water with no known source, is a big deal. Extracting water from your apartment is a big deal. So just so it's clear, yes, a flood in my apartment was a big damn deal.)

Maybe it wouldn't bother you if your house was full of what came from someone else's washing machine or dishwasher, but I find it incredibly disgusting. And leaving my cat at someone else's house, upsets me. I like having my cat at home, I like having her asleep at the foot of my bed. I like snuggling with her by the fire. I don't like eating dinner and leaving my cat at my friends' houses every night. I get very frustrated when people tell me how to think or what to feel. I hate being told that I am overreacting or that something is not as bad as I am saying it is. It doesn't matter what someone else thinks; it matters what I think. Maybe I think you are under-reacting, but you're the one experiencing the feelings, so they're valid.

I have blogged in the past about how much I hate when people tell me how I "should" feel or think or act. I hate the word should. What should happen is, I should have my own feelings and thoughts, and my own emotional response to events happening around me. And people need to respect that my reactions won't always mirror theirs. And other people should have separate feelings and thoughts, and they should emotionally respond to things happening around them. And I need to respect when someone else reacts differently than I would. What should not be happening is, no one should be telling me how to feel, nor should I be telling anyone else what they should feel.

This was an emotional week. My friend's baby died, and I attended a funeral - for a FIVE WEEK OLD BABY. That is just not ok. That should not have happened. My friend should be holding her snuggly soft little boy, not trying to find motivation to pack away his clothes. That was one of the most beautiful, and most devastating memorial services I have attended - and I have unfortunately attended many. And then my cousin's sister's baby was born and had all these complications we were reading about on Facebook and all I did was worry about that baby. And then my friend told me his fucking bitch ex girlfriend won't let him see his kid all the sudden, and all I did was worry about him and worry about how this crap weighs on a child who is old enough to see what's happening. And then my fucking apartment flooded and I had just had enough bad shit for one week.

So yes, I may have overreacted or complained too much about the water in my apartment, or about not being able to bring Juno home with me. But when all you want to do is snuggle with your cat on the couch and cry your fucking eyes out about all the other, more serious, heavy-hearted shit you have running through your head, not being able to even keep said cat at home because of moldy water, is a big deal.

You never know what someone else is thinking or feeling, or what has happened in their day to make them react to something the way that they do, or to make them have the overly emotional response they have to something that you think is stupid. So stop telling people to cheer up or calm down. They may have just had the worst weekend they've ever had, watching their friend struggle to say goodbye to a brand new baby, only to come home to a flood in their apartment. Emotional responses are not black and white. Remember that the next time you tell someone that what they are experiencing is no big deal.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If Selfie is a real word...why can't horngry be, too?

Horngry: When you are so horny, you get angry. You know, like Hangry, but with sexual frustration instead of with food.

Apparently part of being friends with Rachel includes making up new words. Funny words. Awesome words. Words like horngry, which are just really great. I have had a few pretty crappy days, as my apartment flooded this weekend and my management is not addressing it adequately. I was in a particularly foul mood last night and asked Rachel what I should blog about...

Me: I need to write about something positive, something funny.
Rachel: Write about sex. Cause I'm horngry.

And a new word was immediately born into my vocabulary. I think it will be in the dictionary by 2015...where can I turn that shit into Webster anyway?

Now, for those of you who don't use, or who are not familiar with, the word HANGRY, let's start there. When you get so hungry that you actually express anger, that's hangry. Hungry + Angry = Hangry.

Hanger is something that commonly takes place in my day. I forget to eat breakfast. Often. And then about an hour before I can take lunch, I find myself tense, hot, frustrated, and often yelling. This is not abnormal behavior for me, and my friends accept it because they do the same thing. Sometimes I can feel Rachel's hanger from 5 miles away, and I call her just to tell her to eat some almonds before she talks to another resident. Hanger is a serious issue. And now you have been enlightened. Watch out for a hangry boss, friend, roommate, parent, or boyfriend/girlfriend. People who are experiencing hanger often behave poorly and say things they don't mean. They are sorry, but they can't help it.

So obviously, in the same respect, when you get so "sexually frustrated" that you express anger, you could consider yourself to be HORNGRY. Horny + Angry = Horngry. Perfect.

Unfortunately, when you are single, or when your boyfriend lives out of town, or when you're at work and having sex in your office is frowned upon, hornger is not always as easily cured as hanger. If you're hangry, all you need is a quick snack, a bite to eat, something to increase your blood sugar, and you're good to go. Hornger is not quite as easily quenched. So think ahead. Be prepared. Don't let hornger happen to you.

Friday, January 24, 2014

What You Say Doesn't Matter...But What You Mean Sure Does

I think as humans, we are genetically programmed to always say the exact wrong thing, at the exact wrong moment. 

At what moment in history did someone decide that the right thing to say when someone was missing their partner/husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/mom/dead/whoever, was "You should get out and do something, it's what X would have wanted." I mean really, who came up with that? That is so not helpful. 

I went to Vegas this past weekend with my friend Kattie and her sisters. Her youngest sister, Sarah, recently lost her husband, and apparently that is the response she keeps getting from people when she doesn't feel like doing anything, or when she feels guilty about having fun instead of grieving, or just whenever. The point being, she does not appreciate the response. And understandably so, because it is truly an idiotic thing to say. 

But it is no one's fault that somewhere a million years ago, someone decided that it's what you should say in that moment. I explained to her - because she is 21 and I am 30 and therefore I know everything - that people just want to say something, anything, to provide her with comfort...and that truthfully none of us have a clue what to say, so usually we will say something that is, in fact, idiotic. 

Additionally, when did we decide that after a funeral, you're supposed to feel better, to move on, to be ready to let go? Um, no. That is not how it works. A funeral is not a magic place where we go to get over the earth shattering loss of a loved one. I think a loss stays with you forever. A funeral is just a place to be supported and feel the love while you attempt to feel a little peace. But I feel like people forget that, and they expect you to "be better" after you've held the service and said your final farewells. I don;'t know about any of you, but I have never felt instantly better after a funeral. In fact, I usually feel worse after a funeral - probably because I am programmed to think I should feel better, or that I should have been prepared to say a final goodbye, lay someone to rest in the back of my head and get over it. And that just isn't how the mind works, and that isn't how grief takes place. 

Again, I think people just want to say something, they want to provide comfort, they want to say the right thing...but in reality, when you are suffering the loss of someone you love, words mean nothing. At least not to me. A hug means so much more to me than an awkward sentence about how my being happy would make my deceased friend happy. Don't. Say. Dumb. Shit. 

I have lost a lot of people in my life in sudden and unexpected ways, and several of them are still with me, still make me sad, still bring me tears sometimes. These are people whose funerals I attended, and did not feel better after. These are people who surely would not "want me to go out and have fun." These are people who died too soon, too young, and who I will never stop grieving the loss of. And that's fine. Grief becomes a part of you, a piece of your soul that you live with, that changes who you are. Grief has made me a more compassionate soul, has made me better able to express love and emotion, and has allowed me to cherish time better. I have also learned, through my own experience, to never tell any grieving person that it'll be ok or that they can find peace or closure after a certain number of days/weeks/months. I know that isn't how it works. 

My mom told me recently that the reason bad shit happens to us is so that the next time something bad happens to someone we love, we'll know how to help them. I love that. It's true. After losing a dear friend in high school, another in college, a man I was in love with, grandparents I cherished, an aunt who always made me laugh...I know that nothing but time will make a difference. Time is the only thing that helps grief fade into your soul. And I know all I need to do is be a reminder of love and support, even if that means I have no words, just a hug with good intentions behind it. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

The third bright star in the sky

I have been struggling with the "right" words to say to one of my girlfriends, as earlier this week she lost her 5 week old baby to a condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I have seen countless posts on her Facebook wall about people thinking about her, praying for her, grieving for her...and every time I sit down to try and post something to let her know she has been on my mind nonstop for the past 72 hours, I have nothing. Not one word seems right, not one sentence seems good enough. How do you possibly express to someone the level of sympathy you have for them when their baby dies?

I have cried at least twice a day, every day, since I learned that Greyson had passed away. I can't think of anything worse in the world than a baby dying; how does that even happen? I have found myself thinking about him at random times throughout the day, and everything Shelly posts on Facebook brings tears to my eyes. It just isn't fair and is completely devastating.

Finally this morning it occured to me, I will never have the right words. I will never be able to say the right thing, nothing I type on a Facebook post will make her feel any better. All that I can really do is offer her my heartfelt message that I have not stopped thinking about her or her family. Because the reality is, nothing anyone says will make anything better. She lost her baby. Her son. The first child she has ever had, the first source of unconditional love she has ever experienced. Nothing I say, nothing I type, nothing I have running through my head will heal that.

And yet, when I lost my grandparents, I was able to find a little comfort in knowing that my friends were thinking about me and wishing me well, despite their inability to heal any of my heartache. So I know that while I can't make my friend feel any better, and while I can't remove any of her pain, that I need to say something so she knows I have thought of almost nothing else in the past 3 days.

The strength and the class that Shelly has shown over the past several days are truly inspiring. There is no way for me to understand or grasp the level of grief she is experiencing, and yet her posts online have remained positive, speaking of the love she has had - and will forever have - for her baby boy, expressing the gratitude she feels towards her family and friends who are supporting her, bringing her food, making her smile, and just in general speaking of love and happy moments with the baby who was taken from her after only a few short weeks. She has posted photos and videos and has continued to be thankful, grateful, and uplifting in a time where surely she is nothing more than broken. I am inspired and also heartbroken with everything she posts.

Greyson was a beautiful baby, with huge eyes and the most adorable little double chin. He was born with a knot in his umbilical cord and spent his first days in NICU, and continued to put up a fight for the next 5 weeks. And yet in so many photos, he looks happy, peaceful, healthy and strong. I have seen photos of his ten perfect baby fingers and adorable baby toes, and have seen pictures of happy family moments shared between him, his mom and dad, his uncles, his family who will love him forever. He was a lucky baby to have been born to a mother with such strength to continue to fight alongside him for his entire little life. He was lucky to have been born to a dad and two big sisters who will carry him with them for the rest of time. Greyson was a perfect, happy, beautiful baby boy, and he made an impact on countless people in only 5 weeks.

There is nothing in the world I could ever say to Shelly to take her pain away, to heal her broken heart, to fill the void in her world that will never truly fade. There is nothing I can post on Facebook, type in a blog, or send in an email to erase her genuine pain or give her any level of completeness. But what I can do, is send her my deepest sympathy, my love, and my message of shared grief, in hopes that knowing I am thinking of her may give her even the tiniest bit of comfort during a time so hard I could never comprehend it.

Thank you for sharing your baby boy with us, Shelly, and for continuing to share your grief, your pain, and your raw emotion with those of us who are reading, thinking, praying, and trying to take some of your heartache for ourselves. I know that nothing I have said has eliminated an ounce of your grief, but I do hope that knowing how many of us are holding you up does allow you to lean on us for anything you need. Your baby's story is one that has truly made a difference in my life, and I will never forget him. Sending you nothing but love and support.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back to basics

I needed a light easy blog for today after spending the last 2 nights getting restless sleep worrying about miss Juno kitty, who had a nice little asthma episode over the weekend...she is resting up though, and feeling better. Phew!

I stole this from Juliana and thought it was just super awesome...

A: Accept people at face value. We are who we are, take us as we are and don't try to change everyone around you.
B: Be yourself. Be honest and open, be vulnerable and be kind.
C: Calm the fuck down. It's just life, let things go and have a good time.
D: Don't let fear keep you from trying new things.
E: Eat well. Eat organic & support local farmers. But sometimes, just enjoy a big bowl of ice cream.
F: Fight for what you want. Fight hard for the things you need, the things you want, and certainly the things you deserve.
G: Give to charity. It feels good, do it. Give what you can, when you can.
H: Hug the people you love. You never know what tomorrow will bring, so hug big.
I: Ignore the things you can't control that make you mad. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.
J: Jump ship! When something isn't right, get out! Make the changes you need to be happy.
K: Kiss. Kiss a lot. Make out like a teenager. It's fun!
L: Laugh. Laugh til your sides hurt, til you have tears running down your face. Find friends who make you laugh all the time, and never let them get away.
M: Meander. Take long walks. Hike for fun. Go outside and just wander.
N: Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Yes, I stole that one. But it's true. Don't be afraid to do what you want, even if you may fail.
O: Organize your life. Your clutter, your house, your office. Being organized just makes life simpler.
P: Pick something new and give it a whirl!
Q: Quit worrying so much. You'll be fine.
R: Right your wrongs. Apologize. Move on. Let things go.
S: Sleep! Get enough of it. Slow down and realize when you just need a nap.
T: Talk it through. Go to therapy or call your mama, but just start communicating.
U: Understand what makes other people is not the same as what makes you tick.
V: Value the people in your life. They matter, or they wouldn't be in your life...don't let them forget how important they are.
W: Work hard.
X: Uhh...x?? Shoot! Know when to make an eXit on the freeway of your life.
Y: YOLO!! You only live once. Make once enough.
Z: Find your zen. Live peacefully and find the way to do it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

I'll just be sitting here, playing nice, waiting for you to be sorry

Sometimes, we do stupid shit. We're human, it happens. Maybe we say something rude or act on an emotion that we should have kept in check. Whatever it is, it is a quality we all share, doing dumb shit. From there, though, we can be cast into two separate groups. Those of us who apologize when we fuck up, and those of us who shut down and hope it goes away if we just be extra nice.

I am someone who apologizes when I fuck up. I am also someone who needs to be apologized to before I can get over the dumb shit someone else did. If I do something that hurts someone's feelings or causes someone else grief, I generally apologize. It wasn't my intention to be hurtful, and I owe you an apology. In the same manner, I expect an apology if someone hurts my feelings. Intentional or not, you did in fact do something that upset me, and for that I am owed an apology. I don't hold a grudge if you offer me an apology, but I am guilty of not letting things go without one.

Recently, someone in my life was very disrespectful to me, and I made that person aware that they had upset me. This person did not apologize but has, instead, just been super sugary sweet and nice to me in the last few times we've seen each other. This does not work for me. I don't forgive you, and I am still angry with you, and based only on the fact that you have not yet apologized. I think the act of saying you're sorry is an important step, and I rarely let things go without it. I may continue to be nice to you, but trust me, I have not let it go. It's on my radar that you never apologized for your shitty behavior towards me.

I think a true, genuine apology is the way that you show someone that you understand what you did wrong, how you hurt someone, or how you damaged your relationship. I know that when I go to someone with an apology, it is because I recognize that I did something damaging and hurtful, and I understand that I need to awknowledge it to the person I was mean to. They deserve it. And what if, like me, they need it? What if they don't let things go until someone says their sorry? I don't want my friends holding grudges and remaining hurt or mad, or not being able to let go of a bad experience I caused. I want them to be able to accept my sincere apologies and move on.

Have you done something wrong to someone lately? When's the last time you said you were sorry?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The customer is always right...and by always, I mean almost never

If this blog post someday turns into a best selling novel, I will have to dedicate it to my cousin Sarah, for her Facebook status, which prompted today's topic: Customer service and complete & total morons.

My cousin's name is Sarah Stacey. You know, because my mom's family has a first name for a last name. And that can be very confusing to those people in the world who are the aforementioned breed of complete & total moron. It's hard when your last name is a first name, or even when your mom's maiden name is a first name for a last name...because sometimes you have to use your mother's maiden name for account security, and then the customer service rep on the phone gets mildly agitated and says, "maiden name meaning, maiden last name." Well no fucking shit, that's why I said Stacey instead of Annette.

Sarah's beef yesterday was that people keep referring to her as Stacey, even though her name is Sarah, and her work email, to which they are sending an email addressed to Stacey, is Sarah.Stacey. Now I suppose your work email address could very well be last name dot first name, but what kind of last name is Sarah? I mean, is she more likely to be Sarah Stacey, or is she more likely to be Stacey Sarah? Regardless, I understand exactly why she was irritated. It isn't because this one complete & total moron called her Stacey, because really, Stacey's a nice name and at least no one called her, hey you.

The problem is, for those of us who work our asses off in customer service and are constantly beat down by the ass holes of the world, a lack of respect and a lack of attention. If you ignore her Sarah.Stacey email address and call her Stacey, you are simply telling her that you don't care what the fuck her name is, as long as you get what you want and continue to have her, the customer service driven employee, at your beck and call. And it is the complete & total morons out there, the ones who truly believe that the customer is always right, that make it harder and harder to offer superior customer service, because in reality, you don't deserve it.

I have worked in customer service for 15 years. 15. That' half my life! And I have been on all sides of it - I have worked in retail, food & beverage, and now, property management. And it never changes. People suck. The customer is always right mentality has destroyed the world of customer service because a bunch of entitled ass hats come along and treat us poorly just because they can, and then we are expected to bend over even further for the next person.

When you work retail, people think that they can get mad because they had to stand in line, or because you are taking too long, or because they want something on sale with an expired coupon. Well guess what...sometimes, you have to stand in line for things because the store is busy. Deal with it. You don't have the right to be rude because you chose to shop at the same time as other people. When you wait tables, people think they can be rude because of any one of about 750 thousand reasons, including things taking too long, or my favorite, the fact that they chose to order something new and they don't like it. In a restaurant, you can choose to punish your server for the horrible, sub par service by withholding a tip. Seriously who does that? Do you feel proud of yourself for that? And in property management, people just like to be rude because everything is my fault, including the fact that you did not pay your rent. Wait a second...did you give me access to your bank account, blank checks, and the legal ability to pay your bills for you? No? Ok then you are wrong! See? The customer is not always right. If you are a customer and you think you are always right, trust me, you're not. And with that attitude, chances are you are almost always wrong.

What I find the most frustrating about the whole equation is, after I spend my 40 hour week kissing ass and being nice to people who don't deserve it, I stop at the store and someone behind a counter is rude when I ask where something in the store is located, or I grab a bite to eat and the server is annoyed that I am not immediately ready to order, or I call Comcast to pay my bill and they act like I am inconveniencing them by not paying online. Well, your rep set up my account wrong and you won't help me fix it, so I can't get online. Don't you think I'd rather pay online than wait on hold for 30 minutes just so you can be a bitch to me?

What's your mom's maiden name?
No her LAST name.
What's your date of birth?
You're right, I am lying. I made up that birth date and have falsified all of my documents with it because it's funny that it's 8383.

People suck. Most customers are wrong. There is a lot of really shitty customer service out there, and for those of us doing our jobs well, being nice, kissing ass, and bending over backwards for our customers, there's not much patience left for bad service when we finally get to be the customer. Your job as the customer service rep, or the vendor, or the supplier, or the employee, is to know our name, especially when our full name is included in an email. Your job is to address us politely as a customer or as an employer. Your job is to maintain the mentality that the customer is always right...even though we are not always right.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Milestones with Zero the Hero

One of my fondest memories from Kindergarten was visits from Zero the Hero. Zero the Hero came to see us on days that had the number 0 in them - he helped us learned to count, obviously, but his visits were very exciting. He came on days 10, 20, 30, and so on. And he certainly made his presence known on the Big Day. Day 100. Day 100 was a big day. A class party kinda day. I bet there was cookies from Zero the Hero on Day 100. It was probably his birthday or something.

Why am I bringing this up? Simple. Today is my one hundredth blog post!

I started my initial blog challenge with several goals: to write every day, to increase the number of people who read what I write, to write things that matter. Seemed easy enough, right?

I have written almost every day. Not quite. There are some days where I am just not motivated and have nothing of relevance to say, so I don't write. There are some days where I can't stop thinking and end up posting two blogs in a day. So I'm sure it evens out, but the point is, I am now exercising my mind almost daily, which is what I set out to do. And I am loving it. Sometimes I use a challenge found online to provoke my thoughts and get my mind working, sometimes I just have a topic or a word or a quote that I feel like elaborating on, and sometimes I just write mind clutter that looks like word vomit on the screen. But hey, I'm writing. And that was the point.

My blog is being read by so many people, I can't believe it. And not just my family and a small circle of friends like when I started, but by strangers, by old coworkers, long-time friends, extended family. I have learned that by sharing each post on Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest, I am bringing in strangers - and I love that! I love logging in and viewing the stats on my page and seeing that what used to be one or two page views in a day, has now become 65-100 page views in a exciting for a writer! My most awesome posts ever, such as "How to get a thigh gap and take over the world" have been read over 200 times. Love that! I am excited about the response I got from people wanting to keep reading when I was considering making the whole thing an invitation only private blog, and I am so glad I left it public. Keep reading, friends (and strangers)!

Write what matters? Who decides that? Well, I think I do, being that I am the one writing. I have learned some pretty valuable lessons so far in my journey - most importantly, that even on the days where I post word vomit, I tend to have someone message me or comment that "this was one of my favorites." People are reading my writing because they like it, not because they are looking for some perfect post with a clear and concise message. Can every single one of my blog posts be turned into a book? No. But there are a few gems in here that I really think can. And the only way to get to the treasures is to practice, to post the word vomit, to continue to write about the things that matter to me - even if they only matter for a fleeting few moments while I am writing them.

What I learned from Zero the Hero is that 100 is a big deal. 100 is important. It is big and has an extra zero. It is a nice, round, even number and it makes noise when it comes into the room. And so, I know that 100 blog posts is a big deal. 100 blog posts is important. 100 makes me very proud.

There are 365 days in the year 2014. We are on day 8. This is my 9th post in 8 days. For 2014, my goal is to post at least 300 blogs. Remember that, you read it here: 300. That is much bigger than 100. But it is also a very exciting thought for a writer. 300. Ready. Set. Go.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sleep upside down to change your life

When I was little and couldn't sleep, my mom would tell me to try sleeping upside down. She would put my pillow at the foot of the bed, flip me the wrong direction so my feet were at the head of the bed and my head at the foot of the bed, and she would tell me that when you can't fall asleep, this helped.

Was my mom tricking me into turning off my brain to sleep, or is this an actual thing? 

In any case, I still do that when I can't sleep. Last night was the first time in a long while where I just could. not. fall. asleep. I had been in bed - mostly asleep - for 4 whole days, and I just kept adding things to my mental list of things I needed to get done at work after being gone so long. I also had a meeting at the corporate office this morning, so I had to get up 2 hours earlier than I usually do. So my brain was flying a mile a minute, and I just couldn't fall asleep. I was hot, then I was cold, then the street light was in my eye, then I was thirsty, then my Scentsy was making the room too light (even though it never bothers me), then I had to pee, or check my alarm, or get more water. It was just one of those restless nights.

So, like I did when I was a little kid, I took my pillow to the foot of the bed, climbed under the covers from the bottom (much to Juno's dismay, as the foot of the bed is her spot), and was literally asleep in no time at all. Slept all night. No tossing or turning, just sleeping.

I've asked several people today if their moms used to tell them this same story, about how turning the other way in bed helps you sleep, and none of them were familiar with it, so maybe it works on some placebo effect of some kind, but whatever. It works for me, so I go with it.

It got me thinking this morning though, about perspective.

I've had my panties in a twist the last couple of weeks and have been trying my damndest to just accept the things in life that I can't change. I can't change the way people act or behave, and I can't change the way people react to things I say (or write), or the way I feel. I can only own my own emotions, no one else's. So why am I letting my biscuits fry over something I cannot control?

I need to remember that the only thing I can control in the world, is myself. I have complete control over what I say, what I write, what I feel, and how I react to the world. I am in charge of me, no one else is. I am an independent thinker, I have my own opinions and I am entitled to them. And in that same regard, other people are in charge of themselves, and I am not. Other people have their own thoughts and opinions, and they are entitled to them as well.

Moving forward this month, I intend to focus on not letting the opinions of others upset me when there isn't anything I can do about it. I am going to focus on having a more positive outlook on things, even when my panties get twisted by someone being an idiot having their own independent thought.

I can't change other people. I can only change myself, and the way I choose to react to things.

And when life gets complicated, just put your pillow at the foot of the bed and take a nice nap with the cat. After all, it is her spot.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Have you experienced a miracle recently?

For a single woman without kids of my own, there are a ton of adorable & awesome kids in my life, all of whom make my world a better place, each in their own way. Whether I get to see them all the time and take them to play whenever I want like Blake, or whether we are sometimes pen pals from far away like Mady, I am so lucky to be Auntie Veronica to all these little ones.

One of the best things about my role in their lives is that I don't have to make any of the rules. It is my job to love them, to play and have fun with them, and and to of course keep them safe-ish when they're in my care. But what I don't have to do - and gladly so - is make the rules that keep them safe. I don't have to form opinions on what is "right" or "wrong" as far as parenting goes; I don't have to think about when to take away binkies, how long to let them cry it out, how often to check on them, bedtimes, schedules, bottles, teething, vaccinating, spanking versus time I have opinions on these things? Yes. But they don't matter because I am the fun auntie. I don't spout my opinions off to parents unless I am asked (on a side note, it is really nice to be asked my opinion or for my advice sometimes, because while I don't have kids, I was raised in a daycare by The Baby Whisperer, and I do have some knowledge on the subject - and hell, even if I didn't have a clue, it is nice to be asked what I think). 

In addition to opinions on parenting, I also have some fairly strong thoughts on pregnancy. Not because I am by any means an expert, but because I feel like people take being pregnant for granted. Getting pregnant isn't something everyone can do. Getting pregnant, despite what they tell you in health class in high school, is not something that happens every single time you have sex. Getting pregnant is hard. Staying pregnant is also hard. I can't even count the number of my friends who have suffered early miscarriages or who have had a really, really hard time getting pregnant in the first place when it was all they wanted to do. Getting pregnant is hard. Staying pregnant is hard. And I feel like a lot of women treat the whole thing in such a nonchalant manner, like they don't know how lucky they are to be carrying their miracle to full term and delivering it according to their original plan with no complications whatsoever to speak of.

There have been some easy pregnancies in my family, and there have been some difficult ones. Some of my cousins have had trouble getting pregnant, some have had to use other means of fertility to get pregnant, some have even been advised not to get pregnant again. But no matter what the path, each of the babies born into my family has been a miracle, and no matter how often I get to see them, I love seeing them grow into their own little personalities. 

This post may seem to be coming a bit out of left field, but really it isn't. In the last three days, I have read several posts from friends going through incredible challenges. One of my coworkers from Old Chicago has a 4 week old baby who has been in and out of the hospital his whole little life so far, due to a condition I have never even heard of called Spinal Muscular Apathy. The more I read their story, the more my heart hurts for all of them - for the baby and all he has already had to endure, for his mom & dad, who have to somehow continue to function through this fear and stress, for his two older sisters, who are too young to know what is happening but old enough to know something is wrong. The whole story is heartbreaking, and all I can do is share their story to show my support, to send positive, healing vibes their way, and to ask for prayers from anyone who believes in the power of prayer.

And then there are my dear friends Matt and Shelly, who just "celebrated" the first year from the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Addison, who was born very premature and was a stillborn baby. I cannot even imagine such a loss. I have talked to both of them individually about the loss of their daughter and am both amazed by their strength as a couple to have survived this past 12 months, and punched in the heart with overwhelming sadness and sympathy even thinking about their story. The more articles I read that Shelly has shared, the more fundraising I see my friends do even as they continue to grieve, the more I am just floored by their story.

This post isn't meant to be heavy-hearted or sad, but rather to remind all of my readers that, being a parent is truly a miracle, because everything about becoming a parent - from conceiving a child to delivering one - is a miracle. Getting pregnant is hard. Staying pregnant is hard. Delivering a baby is hard. Becoming a parent isn't something to be taken lightly. It's a big deal. Babies are amazing little people, and I am so grateful to be an auntie to so many perfect little people, each of whom has their own incredible story.

To every kid, toddler, baby, and baby-to-come in my family, I love you. I love your story. I love where you came from and I will love you no matter where you go. I will be your Auntie V forever, no matter what. You can count on me for love, support, snuggles, and a place to go when your mom and dad are driving you bananas. I will never judge you or your choices and promise to always help you through your mistakes. Chances are, I made the same ones.

Having a baby is a miracle. If you are lucky enough to have a miracle in your life, remember how precious it is that you have one.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I love him because we slow danced to Boys 2 Men...what else is there?

Question: Tell about a lesson you learned in middle school.

Middle School? Isn't the only thing you learn in middle school that you can't wait to get to high school and forget about those awkward two years of life?

In middle school, I learned that you could endure sex ed without having to separate the boys from the girls. I learned that at Rowe Junior High, Mr. Kitchen referred to sex as "salmon fishing," and that at the end of the year, all the super mature boys in class would wish you lots of sunshine and salmon fishing in your yearbook. I leaned that while in 6th grade the boys learned about deodorant and the girls learned about tampons, in junior high, everyone learned about the real deal.

In middle school, I learned that you can, in fact, be in love with a new boy every day. As long as you go home and write in your journal about him so you remember who he is, you can definitely love him. I learned that what a boy is wearing, eating, reading, listening to, who he is eating lunch with or talking to, or what he says, can determine that you do or do not still love him the next day.

In middle school, I learned that you could enjoy a class just because you liked the teacher. I learned that my 8th grade science teacher was a part time taxedermist and that I could get extra credit for hauling a giant frozen dead raccoon into school. I learned that I loved learning genetics and that you could still get an A in class thanks to that dead raccoon without dissecting the worm or the frog in class.

In middle school, I learned that girls are bitches, that it matters what you wear and who you sit by in class, that where your locker is apparently is really important, and that having PE in the middle of the day is the worst thing that could ever happen.

Most of all, I learned that once you get out of middle school, everything you thought was the most important thing in the entire world, really doesn't mean shit. It doesn't really matter where your locker is, who you sit by in homeroom, who you pass notes with in class. You know what matters? That you are a good person, that you're nice to people. That's really it. When you grow up, no one cares what you wore or who your friends were or what electives you took. It doesn't mean shit if you're not a nice person.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dear Flu Shot...Epic Fail!

Question: Write about the first thing that happened yesterday morning.

Well, I almost died, that's what happened.

Okay fine, not really. But for someone who doesn't get sick very often, this flu bug that hit me hard in the face late Thursday night, definitely felt like a death sentence.

The first thing that happened yesterday morning was, I woke up at about 3:00AM, freezing cold despite my apartment being at least 85 degrees, with the worst sinus headache ever, paired with a God awful cough - you know, the one that sounds like you smoke a carton a day - body aches, nausea, the works.

It. Was. Awful.

I emailed my boss at 3:30 in the morning to let her know I was sick with the flu and to please call me when she woke up so we could figure out coverage for my office for definitely that day and most likely the next day (today) as well.

I never call in sick. Ever. But this was no ordinary cold/flu. It came on like a ton of bricks and has had me on my ass ever since. I have been in bed for so many hours, my hips are actually sore. It took all of my strength this morning to brush my teeth, seriously.

Thankfully I have awesome friends who live nearby, so I didn't starve to death...Rachel brought me chicken noodle soup and NyQuil and popsicles, and Kattie brought me Jamba Juice, so I am still alive despite the feverish chills and smoker's cough.

I am better today than I was 24 hours ago, but I am certainly too sick to be in my office, and am very glad that I was leading into my weekend so I still have 2 more days off to recover.

Flu shot, you failed me.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Well, I guess if I HAVE to put pants on...

Today's Question: 
What is the oldest piece of clothing in your closet that you still wear?

I think my weight has fluctuated so much over the past 5 years that I have nothing in my closet that is really very I'd have to say a scarf or maybe my snowboarding jacket...I am a purger...when something doesn't fit, I don't hold onto it long. Especially if it gets too big. If something is too big, I write it off and promise myself it will never fit again, and off to the donation bin it goes.

I have a million things in my closet, most of which I never wear, because I am seriously so lazy about getting dressed. On my days off, if I don't have anything major going on, you'd be hard pressed to get me out of my jammies. I love jammies. I would probably live in yoga pants and a hoodie if it were socially acceptable to do so.

Even more than hating to get dressed on my days off, where I can at least pull on a pair of leggings if I have to, or that old trusty pair of jeans and some flip flops, I truly hate getting dressed for work. I hate suits, I hate shoulder pads, I hate putting on heels just because they expect me to.

If I ran the world, I suppose...

I have, however, found myself caring about clothes much more, and very suddenly, in the last month or so. Like all the sudden I feel like I need to dress cuter outside of work. And accessorize. Which I never do. I don't know what brought it on...maybe I am subliminally trying to meet a guy, or maybe I am just feeling better in my skin, or possibly I am just anticipating spring time already and am hopped up on the vitamin D supplements I take through the winter. But in any case, I seem to be paying more attention to not dressing like a homeless 12 year old.

So there's that.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ice cream is like happiness in a spoon

I will be doing the following 25 day blog challenge, starting today:

There are a couple of topics on this list that I have already covered in previous blog challenges, so I'll skip those ones obviously, and since I only have 18 days before my trip to Vegas, I will try to double up a couple of days so that the 25 day challenge takes 18 days to complete.

Ready, set, GO...oh, and happy reading, stalkers. :)

Today's Question: If you had to eat the same meal over and over again for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?

I swear, I always get prompted to talk about food on the eve of a new cleanse!

If I could eat only one meal for the rest of my life, I would choose...vanilla ice cream, with fresh raspberries on top. Is that a meal? It can be!

My favorite food is ice cream. My favorite fruit is raspberries. Put the two together and I am one happy little clam.

When we were little, Grandma Whitmore fueled a love of ice cream for all of her grandkids, or at least for me and Tony...and after conversation yesterday, Joe and Keri as well. Joe and Keri are years older than me; while they are almost the oldest grandkids, I am almost the youngest. I can only assume, then, that Grandma's ice cream epidemic hit most of us as the years went by. There was always ice cream. Vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream. Out of the box where you cut a rectangle serving, not the quarts where you scoop it out. We would get to pick the thickness of our rectangle (and our eyes were forever bigger than our tummies), and she would cut it, then cut it in half to fit it in the bowl, and we could use chocolate syrup - Hershey's, never anything else - out of the can where you pop both sides of the top so the air forces out the deliciousness. I loved going to Grandma Whitmore's house for dinner, sitting at that giant table in the dining room, with her shelves of knick knack salt and pepper shakers, which now adorn a bookcase in my own living room, because ice cream was a guarantee. As much as we wanted, as much syrup as we wanted. And she was the only one to ever let me have one half vanilla and one half chocolate, because that was my favorite.

Ice cream was also an ever-present dessert at Grandma Stacey's house. Always vanilla, in the summertime, after an afternoon of picking raspberries. We got to top our vanilla squares of ice cream with the raspberries we spent all day picking, where Grandma would let us eat as we picked, as long as some berries made it into the flats of green baskets. Even now, after selling their house to move to the beach, and after losing them both, my family still picks raspberries in the summer sunshine in Uncle Mike's backyard, the yard that occupies almost all of my childhood memories, to top our ice cream with. Vanilla ice cream with raspberries not only tastes amazing, but fills my head, my heart, and my soul with the amazing memories of a childhood on Kelvin Street, in the backyard of the best house in the world.

If I could live on ice cream, I would.

Because then every meal would be a party.

Be the Best Version of Yourself

There is something quite cathartic to me about a written reflection over the past year, before the new one starts - I can't believe it is already the end of 2013! Is time going faster than normal, or is my life just happening in fast forward? Every year I do the same thing; I spend New Year's Eve and the days leading up to it, jotting down the things I accomplished, learned, failed in, the places I went, the boys I dated, kissed, or broke up with, the friends I made, the ones I lost...just all the things that happened.

2013, though it had a rocky start with a relatively intensive surgery and a break up, ended up being a year in which I made some of the best friends I have ever made. I took some great vacations, turned 30 with some of my closest friends in Las Vegas, found an amazing apartment, and focused on growing more as a person. I'd call this year a total win.

I spent New Year's Eve in my pajamas, drinking champagne and watching TV with Rachel, who is sick as a dog, and her son PJ, along with her cat Bailey, and Miss Juno...yes, I take Juno to her place to hang out. It was so mellow, and I seriously was surprised I made it awake to midnight. But it was still fun; I find fun in much more mundane activity than I used to - I can be sitting on the couch, or out to sushi, or just watching TV, and be content, where I used to really have to be go-go-go all the time. I think being happy in my own skin has really made that difference.

The year went out with, well, a bang, when my boss called me to tell me that a certain cousin of mine tried to get me fired by calling the company I work for, whining about this blog. But I win. Nice try. Did it infuriate me? Yes, of course. But again, I win. I'll write a blog about anything I want. And what I learned yesterday is that WAY more people read it than I thought! So, suck it, ex family member.

Moving into 2014, I am ready to continue to focus on myself - on my health and fitness, on my career, on my personal growth. Kattie and I are starting another Advocare cleanse tomorrow morning, and will be eating strictly raw for the first 14 days of the new year. I have committed to a new work out schedule and despite how everyone always makes that resolution, will absolutely stick to it. I have promised to read more, to continue writing daily, and to find new ways to exercise not just my body, but also my brain. I want to hike more, travel more, discover new places - whether they be near or far from home - as often as I can. I will continue to be honest and open, vulnerable, up front and continue to speak my truth. I am a happier person when I say how I feel and what I think, and isn't being happy the point of it all?

I am not one to set specific resolutions for the new year; those are never met, never kept past January 31st. Instead, I just try to go into the next year with more attentiveness and more focus on what improvements I want to see in myself and my relationships. So with that, I move forward into 2014...and I'm ready!

Fuck. You.

After much thought today, I have decided that I will not let some fucking psycho freak dictate my ability to post a fucking blog. I like posting publicly. I like seeing the number of readers increase as I learn to share these posts on other social media sites. I don't want to have to send out email reminders to the apparently quite large following I have here (thank you, by the way, to the 35+ readers who have already emailed me asking for the access to continue reading. 

My blog will stay public. I have nothing to hide. I have done nothing wrong. I write what I write because it is the truth and is how I feel, because I see the world a certain way and am perfectly within my right to write about it.

Will I block these lunatics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc? Yes. Because apparently the level of crazy is beyond what I even knew possible. I have edited out the content here pertaining to where I live, work, etc...because apparently people have deemed me important enough to actually stalk. 

But I will write whatever the fuck I want on my own blog. You don't win. You fucking lose. You are pathetic. If you don't like reading what I write, stop fucking stalking me. You don't like what I have to say? Don't. Fucking. Read. It. 

And now, dear friends and readers...please stay tuned for my first post of 2014, coming tomorrow! 

Happy Fucking New Year! I truly appreciate you all motivating me to keep growing as a writer! Keep reading, commenting and reading...I love it!