Valentine’s Day

So what did you do for Valentine’s Day? Did you spend it with someone special? Did you have a “Galentine’s Day”? Did you sit in front of the TV, watch a sappy movie and cry into your carton of ice cream? Did you miss it or forget it even happened? Probably not likely on the latter because the media wouldn’t let you forget.

And that’s one reason why I’m just not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I am one of the biggest romantics you would ever meet and I love coming up with creative, cute, endearing, etc ways of showing that you care about someone. But I’m also a bit of a rebel. I hate, hate, HATE when someone tries to make me feel bad for not doing something that I really don’t have to do. The retail and media world would make you feel bad for not spending money, time, or energy to recognize this holiday in some way. It kinda pisses me off. lol

I don’t want someone telling me that I have to show someone I love them on a specific day. If the day means something special to them and myself, then that’s one thing. But honestly, what does a Catholic holiday that has pretty ugly origins have to do with showing my boyfriend how much I care about him? What gives “them” the right to tell me how much I should spend and how?

These are my thoughts and personal feelings. If you love Valentine’s Day, then awesome for you. Personally, I would rather be surprised by a cheaper bouquet of flowers on another day “just because” than to receive something because of a perceived obligation. My best gifts from my boyfriend are when I come home after a long, crappy day and he has done a load of laundry and gotten dinner ready for us. That’s how love works. He’s thinking about what would make me smile…what would make me happy…what would help my day be just a little bit brighter. That’s awesome! I try to do the same for him.

Have any thoughts to share about this post? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line anytime.

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New Year 2018! Resolutions?

Wow! I know I’m going to sound old here but it’s the year TWO-THOUSAND-EIGHTEEN! That just seems…so futuristic/sci-fi-ish! lol I always here around this time of year people ask where our flying cars are. Honestly, I’d much rather have the totally self-driving car than have to learn to fly a car. I could nap, watch TV, read, do whatever I like while I travel to wherever I need to go. Not to mention the cutbacks on car crashes.

But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about this post. Every year, around this time of year, we hear about New Year resolutions and people determined to get into better shape, lose weight, etc. Gym memberships soar in January and by March, are seldom used. I’m not knocking people who make these resolutions; getting into better shape is a good goal, as is losing weight if you need to. However, I personally think that New Year resolutions are a bunch of hogwash promoted by the media.

Don’t get me wrong, whenever there are milestones in our lives or change, it’s natural for us as human beings to reflect on where we are, where we’ve been and where we want to be in the future. Setting goals is a good thing. We need to grow and change, not just exist. Trying to better ourselves in any aspect is admirable. But this shouldn’t be a ‘oh-it’s-New-Year’s-so-I-have-to-make-resolutions-that-I-don’t-intend-to-keep’ kind of thing. If you see a need in your life to make changes, you should set goals to do it. Work on them a little at a time, celebrating each accomplishment and any progress. Pick yourself up, dust off and keep going when you fall down on the path to your goals. But make sure that you set goals that are reachable and do it for you…no one else. Because if you’re doing it for someone else or because you feel you have to but you really resent it or don’t want to, you are going to fail. You’re going to stop working towards that goal because it’s not what you really want.

So what do you do when you know you need to make changes but you really don’t want to? You have to make yourself want to. Yeah, that sounds easy right? lol Well, it starts with small changes in your thought pattern. Little changes in habits, realizations, research, meditation, self-searching. What am I rambling about, you may ask? Well, let’s look at an example.

Let’s say that a man smokes and he knows he needs to quit but he really doesn’t have the motivation or desire to. He enjoys smoking, it relaxes him and he resents people telling him what he should or shouldn’t do, even if it’s for his own good. So how does he start to want to make the changes, take the steps, to stop smoking? Maybe he loves his family and doesn’t want to endanger them so he starts smoking outside or away from home. That’s a start. Maybe mentally and consciously he knows that it can cause cancer but he doesn’t really know what all that involves and means or what other major health risks and dangers attributed to smoking. So he does research and talks to or reads about people’s lives who have had major issues because of their past smoking.

Maybe that’s not enough to motivate him, but it gets him thinking. When he has to choose between his cigarettes and something else that he’d like to buy and his ingrained habit starts to cause him to choose the cigarettes, maybe he stops for a moment and realizes that he never seems to have enough money for everything. So he starts saving receipts and keeping track of how much he’s spending on his smoking habit. Maybe the shock of that starts him thinking that he would like to change.

He knows that smoking is hard to quit. He’s tried it before but never was able to stop for long. But after thinking about it, he realizes that he never really wanted to quit. He was just going through the motions. But the motivation of the love of his family, the medical conditions and expenses, the cost of buying cigarettes…concentrating and thinking about these over and over makes him want to eventually change and so he tries harder. Will he relapse on occasion? Probably. But if he really wants it, he will eventually obtain his goal and be smoke-free.

Goals are like that. So make goals and resolutions because you have thought about it and really want to. Don’t do it because someone tells you it’s the right thing to do or the right time. The motivation to change and the drive to do it has to come from inside. Write the goals down. Write down all the details…what you want to change, why, how you plan to do it, how you plan to reward yourself when you reach the goal. Get a buddy or friend or family member to help you. Don’t resent them for reminding you of your goals. Take a deep breath and thank them. If you decide to give up for a while, think about why and when you plan to pick it back up, if ever. Try to live life and direct it, not just react to it and go through the motions.

If you are making resolutions this year, I’d like to know what you personally plan on working towards if you’d like to share.

The Kind of Person I Want to Be

So I’ve been going through a period of self-discovery the last year or so, and I’m exploring more about who I am and who I want to be. I think most people have those moments or time periods. If not, they definitely should. Life can keep you very busy…but is it busy doing things worthwhile? Are we busy taking action or simply reacting to what’s going on around us?

I got tired of simply reacting to life and wanted to really take control. So I’ve been doing several things. First, I’m writing more often: here, working on my own fiction, I wrote an article for a professional journal, and I write in a personal journal more regularly. It’s helped me tremendously to be able to clear my mind by putting thoughts on paper…or in a computer document or on a website. lol When I free-write for myself, I’m sometimes surprised at what comes out, both positive and negative. I am surprised sometimes at the strength of the feelings that surface when I didn’t realize I felt so strongly. But it is extremely therapeutic for me and I hope to keep it up for a long time, if not my remaining lifetime.

Second, I went to a career counselor who also used to be a personal counselor. This was a fantastic move for me. Not because I desperately needed help finding a job or something similar to that. I’m employed and I make a good living (not that I’m loving my job at the moment but that’s a topic for another day). No, I did it to explore my talents, abilities, personality, the kinds of situations I would thrive in, the types of things I would excel at, etc. I wanted to get to know better who I was and who I could be! It’s been an amazing journey and I’m so happy to have spent the time and money on it. I’ve learned things about myself and built confidence in myself. I’m at the point that I really understand myself better and have a couple of paths that I’m exploring to be happier in my everyday life. I’m even seriously considering opening a franchise of an established company that I think I would be really good at. It has helped me to know what kinds of careers are out there if you just have the right direction and inclination to learn and explore. I’ve also found some great resources to explore and also met some interesting people, either in person or on the phone, as I got the courage and inspiration to ask them about their careers and businesses. The counselor also had me take the Myers-Briggs personality test, which I highly recommend you do if you never have. It helped me to understand myself better and to recognize why I do certain things a particular way or get frustrated at other things. It also helped me identify traits and tendencies I need to watch out for so as to better get along with people around me. I have absolutely loved this time with the counselor and while I still have one session left, I will take the information I have learned and discovered and continue to go over it in the future.

Lastly, I’m reading a self-help book (one of a few that are on my list to check out), and I have found a section that I plan to definitely try to apply. I’m not entirely sure how much I’m allowed to mention about this book but it’s not a new one. The title is, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and it’s by Stephen R. Covey. I’m taking my time with it and trying to absorb the messages in it, either to use or to discard but it has brought up a couple of things that I want to keep in mind and I’d like to share them with you. I will keep it brief and limit it to only two. (I’m only half-way through the book right now.)

One, I have learned the difference between leadership and management. There is definitely a difference and while you can try to be/do both, it’s important to be able to differentiate the two. If you have to choose one to be, know what the role involves and what it does not involve. In my own life, I want to be a leader first and a manager second.

Two, I’m planning on taking some time in the next couple of weeks to develop my own personal “mission statement” or creed or rules for living or however you want to phrase that. The idea is to explore what’s important to you, what your core values are, and to try to stick to them when you are devising plans or making decisions. It’s a way to explore yourself and the kind of person you want to be and I think it’s a brilliant idea. It will take a little soul-searching and probably some tweaking or adding bits over time, but overall it will be something I can refer to when I feel like I’m losing myself or going through a difficult situation. Maybe you feel as though you already know what’s important to you in life or you have your religious faith or some other guiding factor. I’m telling you this is for you personally and a way to word things so that they really mean something to and for you. These are not for a specific situation but can cover multiple situations. Principles not rules or laws. For example, I’ll share one of mine that I first thought of… “I will not do or bring any harm to others, trying hard to apply this even to those who might have wronged me.” This is important to me as it is a reminder to not only mind my actions but to think through consequences and not to seek revenge. It’s something I want to strive to make a part of myself. I’m looking forward to putting my mission statement down in writing.

While life can be an ongoing journey of self-discovery, it can also lose you in the everyday rat race, or in the chasing after material things that you really don’t need. Sometimes life can keep you so busy that you forget the kind of person you really would like to be. That’s why I plan on trying to take some time out on a regular basis to reflect or meditate on things like this. Maybe I won’t have time every day but certainly some time every week to check that I’m on the right path and headed in the right direction for me. I invite you to do the same and I would truly love to hear about your journey if you care to share.

Updates on Relationships and Weight Loss

So I thought I would take today to simply catch you up on a couple of things. First, I will update you on my relationship(s) with my two boyfriends. If this doesn’t interest you, just drop down to the next section. So West-Coaster took another job where he is as he couldn’t find anything here near me that would pay what he wanted. That means that our “relationship” will stay long-distance and I’m not really ok with that. I can’t move there and honestly, I don’t want to. He says that his long-term goal is still to move somewhere on this side of the country but who knows when or if that will ever work out. While we will still chat, text and visit with each other, the future of our relationship has shifted significantly to the more friends zone instead of anything more.

It took me a bit to get over that and to be open with you, I admit to feeling like I was just not enough to him for him to keep looking or accept a lower salary. Now he works a job that has him working 60+ hours a week and with the time difference, we barely text during the week anymore. We want different things out of life and have different priorities and that’s fine. He wants to make a good amount so that he can save to possibly be able to retire significantly early. I want to enjoy life while being content with having what I need and saving at a reasonable rate for the future. If that means retiring at 65, then I’m ok with that. He wants kids and I’ve decided that children aren’t for me. I love kids but I really don’t want any of my own. Many times, it’s not about one person being right or wrong in a relationship. Sometimes it’s just that you are both too different or want too different a life for things to work out.

However, things with “Native” are so awesome that I can’t tell you in words. I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with him and we can talk about anything and everything. We’re in the same line of work and while that has never been something I looked for in a relationship, it’s awesome to be able to ‘talk shop’ at the end of the day. (Don’t worry! HIPPA/privacy stays completely in tact! lol) He’s got a great heart and he treats me like a queen. I don’t think I could possibly be happier. Our future looks bright and we’re talking about serious commitment in the future being a possibility.

As for my weight loss program/routine, I admit that I seem to have stalled. It was supposed to be temporary but I haven’t been able to get motivated to try as hard again. I have not gained anything back so that is a relief. But I also haven’t lost any more.

I have a plan, however, to start with adding more exercise into my routine. This weekend is the time change where we fall back an hour and I plan on using this to get my butt out of bed earlier (as it will feel like the same time) and walk either outside or on the treadmill for half an hour Monday thru Thursday. I’m not sure about Friday as I have to get up earlier for a different work shift anyways. I hope this will get me pumped about working on my eating habits again and going back to being a bit more strict. If not, at least I will get in better physical shape.

So there you have it! An update on what’s happening with my relationships with the men in my life and also with food! lol On a side note, my birthday is next Wednesday. I plan on trying to do at least a short post on how it went. Don’t have anything exciting planned but who knows! 😀

Rethinking/Revamping the Blog

I started writing this blog in an attempt to organize my life into writing. I got discouraged because I didn’t hear from many people, and I haven’t really had a huge direction of where to go with this blog. I admit that I thought about giving it up. However, a…mentor or coach, for lack of better labels, encouraged me to rethink this blog. Even if no one else reads it, I do want some to know that it’s out there. I want people to see that I’m a flawed human being like everyone else. And maybe, someday, others won’t be scared to come out and share with me.

That said, I do plan on having more purpose to this blog. I want to share my struggles with everyday life, my own insecurities and dealing with the (in the words of the band “Stealers Wheel”) “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right” in this world around me. Because I want to inspire more connection with people. Maybe the entries I write won’t appeal to you. That’s okay. Maybe we can find some common ground, even if it’s a funny joke or story. Maybe it’s just that we both like ice cream! Either way, I want to connect with you people out there and I figure (yes, that’s a Southernism as far as I can tell) that I have to start with being vulnerable and out there myself. Give a little to earn a little right?

So I will be around. I will be writing at least, hopefully, once a week. I would love to hear that you are out there reading it too. Tell me what you want to read about or maybe you have a question or just want a sounding board about a topic. Maybe you need a Southern interpretation or opinion or just a different perspective. I’m here. Dang. Now I feel like Frasier Crane. “I’m listening.” lol

Have a great night everyone!

Elevator Etiquette (for laughs)

So this particular entry is really just for laughs and doesn’t really fit my usual categories but maybe you agree with me. Does it seem to you that lately nobody knows what good manners are anymore? And then there are those who don’t seem to know how basic things like elevators work. This is something I must take for granted. It seems simple enough: elevators are boxes on cables inside buildings that you get into to go up or down instead of taking the stairs. Well, I have a few gripes about how people don’t seem to get more basic manners or maybe just exactly how elevators work, but instead of being angry and ranting, I decided to simply list a few things to keep in mind. Maybe you know someone who should read this and forward it to them. 🙂

  1. Pushing the button to call the elevator once is enough. If I’m standing there waiting for the elevator and the button is lit up, there is no need for you to step in front of me and stab at the button ten more times. The elevator moves at one pace and it’s coming. Just relax! lol
  2. Hold the door for people! If you are on the elevator or the first one on and there is a group of people filing on or maybe they’re just a little slow, don’t let the damn doors close on the people. Find the “Door Open” button and hold it or trigger the sensor to keep the door from closing if at all possible. There’s no reason to watch an older person with a walker struggling to get onto the elevator and then get thrown off balance by the closing doors.
  3. If you’re by the only set of buttons, you are the designated operator. What does this mean? Well as people get on and you are crowding the buttons, ask them what floor they need and then push the button for them. Conversely, you can always get outta the way! lol The other side of that is, if you get on and I ask what floor and I’m pushing buttons, there’s no need to shove me out of the way to push the one you want. I promise I’ll push it if I asked. That said…
  4. Know where you want to go! I work in the medical field so people are always getting on the elevator for various floors that hold multiple suites and doctors’ offices and other businesses. No, I’m sorry that I don’t have the huge building’s directory memorized or have never even heard your doctor’s name. You need to know what floor you’re going to before getting on the elevator and don’t get mad at me when I don’t know where you need to go. lol I know my area and a couple of others. That’s it.
  5. No need to be rude or ignore people. I get it that maybe you’re tired or cross or just don’t feel like a long conversation. It’s a short trip in an elevator and I’ve felt that way on many days. But it makes my day when someone just smiles and says something like “hello” or “have a good day”. It takes so little effort and can make someone feel a little lighter. However, I also know that sometimes we can have things on our mind and not be paying attention. So I try to let little snubs go as I realize they might not be intentional. Or hell, maybe they don’t speak English and, as that’s the only language I know, they just didn’t understand me. But also…it is a short trip so don’t start a conversation that won’t finish when you or I need to go. lol
  6. Don’t crowd the door so people can’t get on or off. If I’m waiting for the elevator to open onto my floor and there’s a huge group around the door, it’s very hard for me to get off. Typically it’s better to let those on to get off before trying to stampede onto the elevator and run them over.

That’s it. Six short rules to try to keep in mind when you’re getting on or off an elevator. Not too difficult when you think about it. It’s just things that maybe people have forgotten. Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear from you.

Learning to Take Financial Control

Growing up, my family didn’t have much money. Vacations consisted mostly of the five of us (my two sisters, myself and my parents) loaded into the station wagon, luggage in the back and driving to Florida or North Georgia or somewhere else within the limit of time that we could put up with each other. I don’t remember my parents ever talking about saving money, I didn’t get an allowance and I was never taught anything about planning for retirement or investing or any of that stuff. It’s funny because I started working as soon as it was legal for me to do so, right at 15 or 16, and I started spending my money as I made it, saving a little here and there but mostly just buying what I wanted or contributing to groceries or, once I had my car, saving for the insurance premiums.

So when I got married at 20, as he was older than me, I thought he knew how to handle money because of his age and expected experience. Boy was I wrong! Didn’t realize I had married a big spender with big dreams and a very modest income. In the end, before I walked out, I was working two jobs just to keep our heads above water and he was spending as fast as I could make it. When I would bring up concerns or beg him to stop spending or demand to know what this or that charge on our credit cards were, or when I tried to set a budget or adamantly refuse to apply for another loan or credit card, the ex was very good at making me feel like I really didn’t understand finances. He would try talking me into things, bullying me, and guilt-tripping me. And I admit, y’all, that there were lots of times when I questioned whether I knew what I was talking about or not.

But here I am, left his carcass over 2 years ago, all my bills paid on time every month, some money in the bank and I’ve even taken the money I got from our house sell and invested some of it. I’m not rich by any means, but I have an awesome credit score and I don’t have this gnawing ache in the pit of my stomach when I get the mail every day or the phone rings or I go grocery shopping. I don’t have a running total in my head to make sure I have enough to buy food. So obviously my instincts were good, and I’m learning more about how to plan ahead for the future and balance what I need or want now for what I need and want later.

The cool part about this is that I am learning to dream for things I want again. Vacations that I never thought I’d be able to afford (and I’m talking like a week at Disney not a two month long European cruise) are not only possible, they might actually happen more than once in my life. Things that I never allowed myself to think about buying or doing, are within my reach if I’m careful and plan. That’s such an awesome feeling! I don’t want so much money that I don’t need anyone or anything. But I am happy to have self-confidence in my abilities to deal with my finances and occasionally spring for something a little more self-indulgent.

I love feeling like I can help people who need it without depriving myself of my own needs. Not that I minded in the past but it’s nice to not constantly worry about it anymore. It’s nice to know that I’m not crazy or a little (and this might not be PC so forgive me if it offends because I’m not trying to) slow and can’t understand basic finance stuff. It’s nice to have the validation that I can take care of myself, mostly, and that just because I’m younger than some people, maybe not as experienced, or I’ve never had enough money to think about whether to invest in the stock market or put it in a CD that I can learn and take control and be in the driver’s seat and come out okay in the end. I will admit that I’m grateful to know how to do without and count every penny, but I’m also grateful that I don’t have to be quite that careful anymore…at least for now. Life is always subject to change. lol