Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I resolve...

I was asked today if the blog was still here. After double-checking, I realized it is... just super quiet.

Hopefully I can change that a little in 2014.

For now, I'm just wishing everyone a happy, safe, and wonderful new year!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'll shop if I want

I expect I'll take some crap for this...which is fine, I've been taking crap from all kinds of places for months now (hence the long absence) so I'm used to it by now. 

I keep seeing post after post about the evil retailers who plan to be open for shopping on Thanksgiving Day. That's right - the Black Friday deals that used to start at 5 am, then started at midnight, are now going to be starting much earlier. Stores like Macy's, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us will be open for business before the last dish is washed from your holiday feast. Some will be open all day.

This is, apparently, bothersome to a lot of people. They feel it disrupts the "sanctity" of Thanksgiving, a holiday that is supposed to be about giving thanks for family and friends, and spending time with the people you cherish most.

Which, is fabulous. In theory. But, you know, life happens.

Each time I see someone post about how awful it is that stores will be open, and how retail is "messing with their holiday" I wonder - is that person even affected? I mean - unless you or a close family member work in retail, why would my shopping on that day have any impact on you or your holiday?

Then I wonder how they feel about how other families are affected by businesses and services being open on holidays. They say people shouldn't shop, so retail employees can be off. Does that mean we should also avoid using any service that forces employees to work a holiday?

What if they had a fire at their home on Thanksgiving Day? Or got sick because they didn't cook the turkey properly? Would they refuse to call 911 because they didn't want to support emergency services being open on Thanksgiving?

What about all the people who travel on Thanksgiving? Would they not stop to get gas? Or call roadside assistance? Are they perfectly happy sleeping in the airport so that the crew can go home for dinner? But wait - if the airport is open there has to be security. So they'd have to go to a hotel... Wait!! Then those people will have to work.

But those are "necessary" workers, right? That's fine....just don't support frivolous, unnecessary holiday work.

What about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade? An estimated 50 million people watch the parade. What a bunch of louses! They've been killing Thanksgiving for years, making all those extra police and fire fighters and EMTs along the parade route work a holiday. What about all the celebrities and performers and TV hosts and crew who work the parade? Don't forget the people in the parade, marching and dragging those balloons. Those Macy's employees have to volunteer for that gig. At least those working in the stores will get paid!!

We can't forget football...I assume everyone worried about the sanctity of Thanksgiving has been boycotting the NFL, as well? For years, its been killing the holiday for all of the players, coaches, stadium employees, and TV personnel who are stuck working instead of being home with their families.

Obviously, we can't forget the most important of all...soldiers who are stationed on bases around the country, and around the world, working to protect our freedom to eat turkey and bitch about retail hours. So when you think about it - the very fact that you're posting in the first place means you're killing someone's holiday.

Yes, yes, yes...I get it. Certain jobs are critical and require people to be at work, even on a holiday. My point is, those people and their families have adjusted. They've figured out that it doesn't matter what day you eat the turkey, or when you sit at the table together. They celebrate on the weekend, or the week before, or the next month - whenever they can.

The point is, to celebrate and appreciate what you have, how lucky you are, and remember to say thanks.

Truthfully, if you haven't figured that out, you're doing the holiday wrong anyway.

PS - Yes, I've read that some employees asked for the time off and were denied. I haven't taken a day off (other than scheduled holidays) in November or December in...well...never. When I was in high school and college, I worked retail. When I worked for a health insurance company I didn't have enough seniority to get the time. Since I went to work in property & casualty insurance 13 years ago, I haven't been able to take the time because this is our busiest renewal season. Do I get the holidays? Yes. I'm lucky. But I still miss out on certain parts of the season because I work a full day on Christmas or New Years Eve. I can't take extra time around Thanksgiving, so travel is always out. So, anyone who is looking for sympathy simply because they have to work a regularly scheduled day anyway - this isn't the place to look.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Five - Stella & Dot

You may have heard I became an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot. I really love this job - I've earned money for hanging out with friends, eating yummy food, and helping women find fabulous jewelry they adore. Not bad work if you can get it.

I know some people are not fans of home parties. Too much work, not enough reward, they hate asking friends to spend money, etc. But what if I could come up with five reasons why a Stella & Dot Trunk Show is not your average party?

1 - It's easy for guests to shop online. 

I'm all about the home party. A girls night in with some food, wine, and friends is often just what the doctor ordered. The Stella & Dot line is much more fun to see (and try on!) in person, but not everyone has the time - or wants the added expense and work of hosting a party. Stella & Dot gets that, and has made it easy and convenient to send a link to your friends so they can look and purchase at their leisure.

2 - Shipping is a flat rate, and is shipped right to the customer, not the hostess. 

Many hostesses don't mind actually putting on the party - some like it, even. But if the whole order is shipped to the hostess, that's when the real work begins. Now the hostess has to go through the process of sorting what she has, coordinating with guests to get them their stuff, and contacting the sales rep about problems. Stella & Dot skips all that, and ships right to the customer for the same price as shipping to the hostess. So just host the party, and your work is done!

3 - Orders are processed as soon as they're input, not at the close of the party.

In addition to the whole order being shipped to the hostess, many home parties don't ship until the party is closed and all orders are in. Stella & Dot doesn't believe in delaying the fabulous! Orders are processed right away. Customers will have their gorgeous new accessories, even while the hostess is still earning her rewards!

4 - Speaking of rewards...

Everyone likes free stuff, and Stella & Dot hostesses are no different. Your Style Rewards start as soon as your party's retail sales hit $300 with four unique orders (meaning different people placed the orders). Even better, as your sales climb, so do your rewards! Starting this Fall, hostesses will have access to exclusive merchandise not available in the regular catalog.

5 - You get to hang out with me. Duh.

That might not be enough for some people (shocking, I know), but the stellar customer service, Delight Guarantee, and Flat-Rate Shipping might help. Thinking you can't have a great party? No worries! I can help you make it spectacular, fun, and a huge success. At the very least, you and I will have fun trying on jewelry.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Paying it forward

I enjoy volunteering, and working on fundraising efforts. Planning can be a little stressful, but it is very rewarding to see something come together, whether it be an event, a campaign, or whatever.

Which is why I enjoy supporting my friends in their fundraising efforts...because I get the reward without all the stress.

My friends Paige (who finally managed to talk me into starting my own Stella & Dot business - giving up one of her own best customers) and Abby are hosting Fashion Night Out - Albany on Thursday, September 12, from 7-10 PM at Taste in Albany.

This exciting night filled with fashion and fun is all to benefit the Alzheimer's Association of Northeastern New York. Tickets for Fashion Night Out are $50, or $75 for a VIP ticket, which gets you a little extra swag. Advanced tickets can be purchased at Albany Style. Come join us on the purple carpet!

From fashion to a 5K....

On Sunday, September 15, my friend Baking Suit invites everyone to participate in Run for Kohl 5K. Hosted by Mohawk Battalion on behalf of 1LT Jon Kohl, who was wounded in a helicopter crash while deployed in Afghanistan earlier this year. The race is being held in his honor, with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit whose mission is to honor and empower wounded soldiers.

I'm not a runner, but I'll be helping somehow. First up - letting you all know how to get involved. Visit Run for Kohl for more information.

Do I have cool friends or what?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Morning commute

The shortest way for me to get to work is Consaul Road in Colonie. Locals know it's a curvy, 30MPH drive, but for me it's the most direct route.

For most of the year, it doesn't work because of school bus traffic. So I stick to Central Ave, a slightly less-direct route, but an easier drive.

But lately, someone (Verizon, Time Warner, or National Grid) has had the road down to one lane during rush hour. You know, that being the most logical time disrupt traffic.

So today, I thought I'd outsmart them, and go the other way. No school buses and no road work. I should be golden!


I was less than 1/4 mile into my trip when I had to apply my brakes. We were slowed...then we were stopped. I could see a car with its hazards flashing, leading the parade. What I couldn't figure out was - why?

Then I saw. The lead car was being paced - by a dog running down the middle of the road. The driver was keeping his distance, probably hoping the dog would move to the side.

Eventually, cars coming from the other direction had to slow down. Then people started pulling off to the side of the road. A couple people got out of their cars to try and help. At this point, I was stopped, but not close enough to see much.

Then the dog changed directions, and ran back the way he came. When he passed my car I could see his hind-quarters were shaved, probably from recent surgery.

The man chasing him on foot looked determined. I'm not sure if he was the owner, or a friend, or just an animal-lover.

The dog moved off to the side of the road, out of harms way. I had to get moving, since I was in the middle of traffic, but I like to think the man was able to catch up to the fugitive and comfort him back to safety.

In the grand scheme of things, being on time for work really isn't that important.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

BuzzFeed got it wrong

I love me a good Buzzfeed list. So when I saw that they listed the 51 Hottest Black Men in Hollywood, I was happy to review and see what they thought.

First, let me say, I agree with them - those are some hot men. Blair Underwood, Tyson Beckford, DB Woodside, Morris Chestnut...Taye Diggs... I'd never heard of Boris Kodjoe, but goodness, look at him. What would a list of hot men in Hollywood be without Denzel?

Tyrese Gibson
Prince...wait - what!? While we're asking questions, just who are numbers one, two, and three? And how in the name of all that is good and right with the world is Shemar Moore at number nine?!!

And where the Hell is Tyrese Gibson?!!

(I will admit, I thought they left off Ludacris, too - but I stand corrected. He's on the list - just not in the right spot.)

I'm OK with men like Morgan Freeman on the list - but honestly, if we're giving him props for being hot because of his voice, don't we need Dennis Haysbert (of Allstate commercial fame) listed too? And if we're handing out awards based on character and distinction (Craig Robinson) don't we need to add Forest Whitaker to the list?

I don't object to numbers one-four being listed, I just don't agree with their placement. I would propose a much different list. In the interest of space, time, and the fact that not as many people will read this anyway, I'm proposing a new Top Twenty:

20 - Will Smith
19 - Jamie Foxx
Number Nine?!! Not around here.
18 - Kevin Hart
17 - Lenny Kravitz
16 - Ludacris
15 - Duane Johnson (Missing from the first list???)
14 - Dule Hill
13 - Denzel Washington
12 - Chadwick Boseman
11 - Mahershala Ali (Who was also missing from the first list.)
10 - Morris Chestnut
9 - Taye Diggs
8 - Tyson Beckford
7 - Dolvett Quince
6 - Blair Underwood
5 - Isaiah Mustafa
4 - Tyrese Gibson
3 - DB Woodside
2 - Boris Kodjoe
1 - Shemar Moore (Because obviously!)

My honorable mentions for not-technically-Hollywood but I-don't-really-care are:

President Barack Obama
Derek Jeter

Jeter made a cameo in the 2010 movie The Other Guys. He has an IMDb page and I imagine a SAG card, but I suppose that doesn't make him "Hollywood." In any case, I can't create a list of hot men and not include him. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My friend Court is crafty

There are a handful of people who I really, truly like. Most people, I just tolerate. Some people just tolerate me. Some I don't even bother with niceties. But people with whom respect and friendship is mutual? Very few. 
Court is Crafty is one of those people. She's the perfect combination of cool, sweet, smart, generous, funny, and snarky. She also has great taste in shoes, and is always willing to feed me.  

Court did a bunch of stuff for me for my birthday, including attending, baking for, and making a purchase from the launch party for my Stella & Dot business.

But she also made me several headbands (one is pictured to the right). Isn't it cute? I just love the colors she picked out. The others were pink and brown and black and white. 

In addition to my presents, I also commissioned her to make a lovely hat for a little girl I know who has an upcoming birthday. I knew I wanted a pretty, girly color (because, hello), but Court was especially helpful in suggesting a good accent color. She even added an adorable little touch of her own!  

Court's love of crafting is genuine, and that comes through in her work. I would highly recommend visiting her online shop, and giving her a like on Facebook to stay connected and see what she's working on.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

To the guy who...

To the guy who sat behind me in church last week... Stop yelling. I came here to listen to the Pastor and the Worship Team, not you.

To the guy who sat next to me in church last week... Move over! We're not on a date. Get out of my personal space.

To the guy who sat next to me (on the other side) in church last week... Not everyone should sing.

To the usher who sees me at church every week... Yes, I'm here alone - again. Don't punish me by asking me to climb over 8 people to fill that single seat. Also, stop trying to seat me next to single men.

To my Pastor... You clearly believe God is all-powerful and all-knowing. Created the universe, performs miracles, etc. Are you absolutely certain He can't hear me when I'm sitting down?

To the couple who exited just ahead of me... The doorway is the least helpful place for you to stop and argue about which door you should use.

To God... I went inside while it was 90s and muggy. I came out to 70s and beautiful. Perfect baseball weather. Thanks for the rain!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Five - Reasons to donate

Happy Friday! It's been a great week. Monday was my birthday, and I enjoyed a lovely lunch, a short day at work, good news from the vet, a great sushi dinner, and the Home Run Derby. I followed that up with three days off from work - and now it's Friday and I am looking forward to a great weekend!

But, there is some business to handle, first.

My 25 x 25 Campaign for Big Brothers Big Sisters is in full swing. My goal is to raise $625 - by getting a $25 donation from 25 different people. That's where the name 25 x 25 comes from; but the truth is, I just want to reach beat obliterate that goal - I don't much care how we get there!

Some people might feel compelled to donate because BBBS benefits children, or the community. Maybe they themselves were impacted by a mentor as a child, and they want to help the organization that leads in one-to-one mentoring for kids.

But in case you're looking for a reason...I just happen to have a few.

  • You can donate securely and easily online. Fundabilities has generously donated its platform to this campaign, so all proceeds from online donations will go to BBBS. Click here to donate securely.
  • Donations are tax deductible. 
  • The money will benefit BBBS programs which, as a Big, I can tell you are quite helpful. Not only the activities, but the professional support matches receive, particularly in the first year. 
  • If you don't want to donate online, you can write a check to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, and write 25x25 Rock on the memo line, and mail to: BBBS of the Capital Region, 1698 Central Ave, Albany, NY 12205. If that's not easy enough, you can even hand me cash and I'll make sure BBBS receives the donation, and you receive credit for your support. 
  • One more reason to donate? Because I asked nicely? 
Please and thank you - and Happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Big Brothers Big Sister 25 x 25 Campaign

Most of you know that I am a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region. I became a Big just about a year ago, following an incredibly difficult breakup. I was trying to move past the depression and the anxiety, and thought volunteering would be a great distraction. I asked a trusted friend where she thought I could focus my volunteering energy. She immediately responded that I would make a great mentor. "Well, maybe not right now," she laughed. "But get the process started."

So I did. I went into BBBS thinking I would distract myself, and possibly help a kid. I never imagined
all of the other benefits I would personally reap.

As a mentor, I have to be strong and lead, and put someone else's needs ahead of my own. This has made me more confident and out-going. Being a mentor puts my good fortune in a much clearer perspective, offers me opportunities I did not have before, and has helped me make more friends I may not have met otherwise. This has made me more grateful for all that I have. Most of all, mentoring helps me see myself though the eyes of a young girl, and it makes me want to be a woman worthy of her admiration and respect.

So when Big Brothers Big Sisters asked me to participate in its 25 x 25 Campaign, I was excited to say yes. The 25 is an "elite group of 25 current and alumni Bigs (and one alumni, adult Little) who are going above and beyond.' We've been challenged with raising $625 by asking at least 25 people to donate at least $25 each, between now and September 18.

If all 25 of us achieve that $625 goal, we will raise $15,000 - enough to put 15 more kids on the path to success.

I'm not sure why I was asked. Perhaps BBBS feels I have a large, untapped network. Or perhaps they have seen how determined I can be when it comes to fundraising. No matter the reason, I'm honored to participate, and determined to not let them down.

I am not going to jump out of a plane, or repel down a building. I will not be running a marathon, or a 5K. (Let's be real - I won't even be running to the end of my driveway). I am not biking, swimming, walking, bowling, collecting, baking, or doing anything else for you to "sponsor."

I'm simply asking you - my friends, family, and colleagues - to donate to a worthy cause. The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is "to provide children facing adversity with strong, enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever."

I have personally heard stories from adult Littles, who say their Bigs helped reshape their lives in a truly positive way. Some go to college, others find a trade, but all find opportunities they would not have had otherwise.

These kids are future leaders, decision-makers, parents, teachers, and mentors. I am asking you, as a personal favor to me, to help support this worthwhile organization and its vision to help all children achieve success.

To donate, please visit my campaign page.

Monday, July 8, 2013

This and that

A few things to mention, but nothing that really warrants a full post...

July is my birthday month! The best thing about birthday month is all the coupons and free stuff I get from all the places where I spend money throughout the year. Sephora, DSW, Famous Footwear, and Victoria's Secret are my favorite. 

I've decided to launch a new business, largely to pay off vet bills, but also to make some headway on
other stuff, as well as just have some extra money. Not to mention - the discount! As of a couple weeks ago, I am an Independent Stylist for Stella & Dot, a boutique-style jewelry and accessory company that sells exclusively through home parties. My official launch party is Wednesday. Feel free to shop here, and buy yourself a gift for my birthday.

I'm addicted to NCIS and all too happy when the USA Network has a weekend marathon. 

The addiction more disturbing than my NCIS addiction is my addiction to Bridezillas. 

My dad got a Samsung Galaxy S4. I'm excited to go upgrade my phone to the same. Birthday money for the win!

I am looking forward to the All-Star Break, mostly because Derek should be back after, and then the baseball season can really start.

I have a couple other things on my mind...but for right now, I'm choosing to focus on the good, fun stuff. 

Happy Sue's Birthday Month July!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lost fish

The thing about living in my house, is you never know what might happen. When it's just me, things are relatively calm (though there was that time Joe took a flying leap into the lamp shade chasing a moth), but when the housemate and/or kids are home - all bets are off.

So it wasn't shocking to me last night when I heard glass clanging downstairs, and then my housemate muttering, "How does this happen?" and "Seriously?!"

Then from the bottom of the stairs, I hear, "I lost a fish."

Now - of all the things I thought might have happened...that wasn't one of them.

Obviously, I wasn't going to let this moment pass me by, so I went downstairs to hear more.

Turns out, Chrissy had the fish bowl on the sink for cleaning, and the lone fishy in a small container filled with water. The container was shallow and uncovered - and the fish, which had been swimming happily just a few minutes before - was nowhere to be found.

"I shouldn't be allowed to be in charge of living things." Keep in mind, she's the parent in this scenario. She'd already searched the whole bathroom, but we looked again to be sure. She shook out the small rug, moved the trash can, and we moved all the items on the sink.
Maybe he'll make a friend once he gets to the ocean.

No fish.

The only explanation that made any sense is the fish jumped out of the bowl (Which has happened to me before - well, not me, technically. It happened to X, and I just happened to be the first one to notice.).

But even still, we should have found him. So, we've concluded that he must have jumped from the bowl to the sink, and washed down the drain (the water was running). Which works out, because that way he'll just end up washing out to the ocean, where he can play with other fish.

At least, as I understand it, that is what the kids will be told.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My thoughts on Paula Deen

Paula Deen uses the N-Word. Or, at least she did once, 30 years ago, in reference to a man who burst into a bank where she was a customer, and robbed it at gunpoint.

Here's the thing...if I was a customer at a bank (or anywhere) and some guy put a gun to my head and took my money, I imagine I'd call him a variety of colorful names. None would be friendly.

But none would be the N-Word, either.

Why? Because I believe it's wrong to use that word.

Using that word implies that the guy robbed the bank because of his race - and that any member of that race would do the same thing. Wrong. The guy robbed the bank because he was a jerk. OK - maybe he was someone in a desperate situation who made a poor decision...but most likely he was a jerk.

But Paula Deen admits she probably used the N-Word in that situation...and I would say if she could use it in that situation, she probably used it in other situations, too.

Yeah, sure...anyone could defend her behavior by saying she comes from a generation (1947) and a place
They have the video here.
(Albany, GA) where that's acceptable...blah, blah, blah.

At some point we all have to take ownership for our own mistakes. Ms. Deen is 66 years old; I think it might be time to stop blaming mom and dad for her actions and start apologizing.

But instead, she defended herself - by pointing out that nobody is perfect. Which tells me she doesn't think there's anything wrong in what she did, or her attitude, and she's not really sorry.

Lumping people together by race, and judging the whole group, is racist. Do I think Paula Deen is a racist? I sure do. Do I think she should have been fired for making racist comments? I actually don't. But...

I also don't think that's why she was fired. I think Paula Deen was fired for the same reason anyone else would be fired: She's no longer effective at her job.

I'm sure The Food Network doesn't care what Ms. Deen says in private conversations, and I bet they don't care what she said during a bank robbery 30 years ago. They do care whether or not she can make them money. If she's a bad public relations risk, and advertisers don't want to be associated with her, then she doesn't make them money. Period.

Not only that - if they renew her contract, the network has to invest time and money rehabilitating and defending her image - as well its association with her brand . So now, not only isn't she making them as much money - she's actually costing them money.

How many people do you know who could stop earning money for their boss, and cost their boss money at the same time, and keep their job? I bet not too many.

As far as the endorsement deals go...Smithfield and Wal-Mart and Caesers didn't enter into contracts with Paula Deen because of her bubbly personality or because they like her cooking. They did it because of her name recognition - which comes from her TV shows on The Food Network. But now she doesn't have TV shows anymore, and her name is tainted. So what can she do for them?

Not too much.

I used to work for Wal-Mart. Trust me when I say theirs is not a corporate culture of tolerance and inclusion. Privately, I bet they would applaud Ms. Deen's attitude. But publicly? It's about business. Wal-Mart has customers who will be offended by Ms. Deen, and her products will collect dust sitting on the shelves. Time to move them out of the way and make room for something that sells.

It's all about money. If she can't show them the money, any business is going to show her the door.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The truth about my life

One of the best things about Baking Suit is the roughly 8,452 blogs she follows. She finds the best of the internet, and sends it to my inbox. Which is how I came across this post over at A Life Less Bullshit.

The truth is a tricky little thing. It should be simple... but we spend so much time avoiding, denying, or straight-up changing the truth, it becomes kinda hard to recognize.
Eventually, the truth catches up to you, usually at the most unexpected (and least convenient) time. At some point, though, you have to face it - and though that can be a scary thing, it truly is liberating.

When Baking Suit sent me the link, she asked, "What truth would you tell?" I've thought about it...and thought about it...and then thought some more.

The truth is... I am not always happy in my life. Overall I'm happy, every single day. I can always find something to be happy about - and no matter what, I always, always look. But sometimes, it's hard to find a smile.

Lately, money has been my biggest worry. I can blame my financial woes on the economy, or divorce, or taxes - but the truth is, I like to shop. I use it as a distraction from reality and worries and responsibility.

But here's the rub... If money is the worry, shopping is maybe not the best way to manage.

That can lead to more more depression...which, for me, leads to poor eating habits. Sure, my gender, age, and a couple of health issues make weight-loss a challenge.

But the real truth is... I'm an emotional eater. When I'm depressed (as I have been recently), I eat to make myself feel better. Is that a healthy way to approach food? No. Do I know that needs to change. Yes. But it is an added challenge to the whole weight-loss thing. Add that to the fact that I find exercise boring and time-wasting, uncomfortable, and occasionally painful) and the truth is, losing weight is hard.

I know I need to change my truth. First I need to fix the whole money issue, and figure out a way to distract and entertain myself that doesn't involve spending irresponsibly. I need to figure out a way to fix the depression, and that will hopefully be the first step in fixing the eating habits.

I know that won't be easy - but I also know that admitting the truth is necessary, before I can ever hope to make a change. I'm hopeful this is a good start.

At the very least, maybe my truth will help someone else realize she's not the only one who drowns her sorrows in chocolate - or in the shoe department.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thanks Dad

I meant to hit publish on this the other day...technical difficulties. Not that it really matters - I'm thankful for Dad everyday.

"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." Clarence Budington Kelland

That quote always makes me think of my Dad.

My Dad wasn't much for sitting me down and telling me stuff. He didn't lecture, or scold, or huff. He still isn't, though I sometimes deserve a good talking-to. He's quiet, unassuming, and will move mountains to avoid conflict. My Dad is smart, funny, successful, responsible, hard-working, and lives his life with morals and ethics that most couldn't even hope to achieve.

If you're smart enough to pay attention, my dad sets a tremendous example for how to live a wonderful life. He teaches by example, which is why that quote is so fitting.

Dads are a great thing (mostly - I know a few who are not so great). They provide for and protect their family. Traditionally, it's the dad's role to make sure his kids have what they need. I didn't grow up in a traditional household; my Dad was my father and my mother. So he had to make sure I had what I needed - plus everything else.

I didn't truly appreciate all that my Dad had done for me until I became an adult. I'm not even really sure when it happened. I simply came to realize how much he had sacrificed, how much he had taught me, and how lucky I was to have him for a father.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you for reading to me at night, even before I can remember, and for making me read words back to you. Thank you for letting me sleep with a night-light, and making sure I had a bed-time. Thank you for making sure I did my homework, but never doing it for me. Thank you for never letting me win at a board-game - even if we were playing Stratego and Othello when I was five.

Thanks for trying to teach me to play Poker - sorry that didn't take. Some things skip a generation. Thank you for teaching me the value of a dollar by giving me a budget to spend on school clothes. Thank you for also being very generous with that budget. Thank you, too, for all the bailouts and help over the years, when the whole "value of a dollar" thing has gotten a little fuzzy.

Thank you for teaching me how to work hard - and also how to work smart, so that eventually, I wouldn't have to work so hard. Thanks for teaching me how to drive - and then making me buy my own car. Thanks for coming to all those awful school concerts - and for listening to me practice flute at home, even if you did ask that I do it in my bedroom with the door shut.

Thanks for never snooping, but instead trusting that I would either make good decisions, or find good advice. Thanks for not laughing at me when I made mistakes, anyway, and for helping me out when I did. Thanks for being one of the first people on the planet to own a personal computer, and for teaching me how to use one before many of my friends could write their own name.

Thank you for dragging me to the cemetery to visit family memorials every year. Thank you for keeping in touch with our extended family, even after divorce. Thank you for teaching me the value of family, in its many forms.

Thank you for teaching me to love and respect, rather than to judge and hate. Thank you for teaching me that I'm not better than anyone, and if I think I am, that automatically makes me worse.

Thank you for everything that you did for me growing up, and for all that you continue to do for me now that I'm an "adult." I'm lucky to call you Dad - and even more honored to call you friend.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Best years of your life

Found here
For Christmas, my dad gave me a 365 day Things Cats Teach Us calendar. It's on my desk at work, and each morning I flip the page to see what cute kitty picture and inspirational quote will cheer me on to 5 pm.
"The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny." ~ Albert Ellis
Some people think the best years of your life are when you're a little kid. No worries, no responsibility, and everything is new and exciting. You're not jaded. You don't yet know about heartbreak or loss, and everyday is a great day.

Some people think the best years of your life are your twenties. You [probably] don't have too much responsibility, and your whole life is still in front of you. You haven't yet felt time start to slip away, and it feels all you'll ever have is opportunity.

Some people think the best years of your life are your thirties. You have responsibility, but you've also started to figure out what you want, and need - and more importantly, how to get it. Life has taught you some things about loss, and hopefully you've learned how to collect the lessons and push forward.

I've been told that the best years of life happen in your forties. You're old enough to know what you want - and young enough to get it. (I'm counting on this being true!)

I like the idea that the best years can happen during any - or all - of these times. It's all about you and your attitude and what you're open to learning and understanding. Your quality of life has nothing to do with the date on the calendar or what problems you face, and everything to do with your attitude and how you manage.

The best years of my life started the day I realized I didn't know everything. I opened myself up to the possibility that people have as much (if not more) to teach me as I have to teach them. My best years started when I let go of blame and anger, accepted my faults, and set out to fix them.

My years keep getting better because each day is a new chance to remind myself that I may not be perfect - but I'm not so bad, either.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Kissing is stupid

More adventures with the 5YO:
5YO (after seeing a man and woman kiss): How does that happen?
Me: Stupidity.
5YO (mouth wide): That's a bad word!
Me: Yes, but it's the most honest answer you'll ever hear to that question.
5YO: (Giggles)
Enjoy your Friday! Remember - kissing gives you cooties.

Found it here

Monday, May 20, 2013

Always something

Have you ever heard someone say, "It's always something."

In my experience, it's usually an older woman, and she's usually shaking her head when she says the words. She usually just got bad news for herself, or heard a family member telling a sad story of his own.

I'm never really sure if she is saying it because she empathizes with someone going through a difficult time - or because she doesn't really care, but has nothing else to say, and feels like she needs to say something.

I heard it the other day, and I found myself wondering - why don't I hear people saying "it's always something" when they get good news or hear a happy story? Or is it just that some people always see the bad?

Like, if I tell them how I had a really nice weekend, that was quiet and peaceful. Or how I was able to hang out with Joe, enjoy my deck, and even get a little sun. Or if I share how canceled Friday plans turned into a lovely Sunday night. Or about my geat Sunday afternoon nap. Or even how when a few people did bug me, it was comical and I was able to laugh.

I'm sure some people would hear all that and think, "Oh that poor girl - she spent a weekend alone, getting stood up and napping with her cat! And a few people bothered her...I guess there's always something."

When the truth is, there really is always something - to be thankful for.

Friday, May 17, 2013

More on God

More from my favorite five-year-old on God.
5YO (to me): Who did you vote for?
Me (totally confused): What were my choices?
5YO: Obama or Romney.
Me (totally shocked): How do you know those names?!
5YO (Undeterred): Who did you vote for?
Me: Well, you should understand that who a person votes for is a personal question, that not everyone likes to answer. But I'm happy to tell you that I voted for Obama - twice.
5YO: That's good. God votes for Barack too, so you're right.

I'm not sure what I like better - being told I'm right, learning that God voted for Obama, or that I'm living with a five-year-old who is on a first-name basis with our President.

I love this kid.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Back-up plan

When I was 13-15, the thing to do for me and my friends was go to the mall. We were the epitomy of "mall rats," walking around aimlessly for hours, with "no shopping agenda."

Most of the time, we bummed rides off our parents, but occasionally, we had to take the bus. Usually, I opted out of these trips because even back then, I was too much of a snob for public transportation (my friends were much better people than I).

One particular Saturday, I cancelled plans with my dad to go shopping for new school clothes (a high holy event for me), so that I could go to the mall with my friends. Then, they cancelled on me. Well - more like they went without me and called me from the mall to say they'd taken the bus.


I remember going to my dad and asking if his offer to shop was still good. He said no - I'd cancelled plans, and that was that. He didn't have anything else going on, and he wasn't upset - he was teaching me a lesson in how to treat people. I'd made him my back-up plan, and this was the consequence.

Ever since, I've conciously tried to avoid treating my friends (and especially my dad) like a back-up plan. I know I have slipped up, but I've never forgotten the lesson.

Kindness is not the same as weakness. My dad wasn't angry, and our relationship didn't change because of my one-time actions. But he kindly let me know that taking people for granted was not acceptable, and that a strong person will only put up with it so much.

We've all done it. Something new and exciting comes into our life, and we give it all of our energy and attention. Something else in our life has to go on the back-burner. Usually, it's a relationship that we feel is strong enough to survive a few tests, or will manage without any attention for a while.

But even the strongest relationship will eventually suffer if it's ignored long enough. It doesn't make anyone a bad friend or person; there's simply a limit to how long anyone can handle being treated like he just doesn't matter.

At some point, you have to say to yourself, I know my friend is kind enough to let this go on for a while. But is he weak enough to let it go on forever?

Monday, May 13, 2013

A wish for single friends

I'm just like anyone else (well, I mean, mostly). I believe relationships are a good thing, and a part of a happy life. The right relationship, anyway. I'm happily single, but I wouldn't mind finding a good, solid, healthy, happy relationship.

But until I do, I'm not going to just resign from being happy. There seems to be this popular opinion that everything in life is better when it's shared with a significant other.

Honestly, I resent the idea that I am somehow less of a person because I'm not one-half of a couple. I actually think that makes me more of a person...it takes a lot more strength to choose to stand on your own than it does to lean on the first person who comes along.

Besides, why does "someone to share things with" have to mean a significant other? If you have good friends and family, then you're never alone. Some of the best times of my life have been spent with friends - and not a date.

At a festival with no date -
and the flowers were still pretty.
But even when all my friends are busy, or when I just want to be alone - I'm not less happy. I still enjoy nice weather, good food, live music, movies, ballgames, parties - whatever I want. I can have the same fun that couples can (and often for half the cost). I don't even have to argue with anyone about what time we should get there, what time we should leave - or if we should even go at all.

I understand wanting a relationship - I'd like one myself. But people should want a relationship so that it can add to their happiness - not bring them happiness. Everyone sometimes feels lonely, and like something is missing. But you shouldn't always feel that way.

If you do, I wish I could wish it away. I would wish, instead, that you find peace and hope and happiness. I wish you find beauty in life and a million reasons to smile. If that means you need to find someone, then fine - that's my wish for you.

But how wonderful would it be if you could find all of that by yourself? There's truly nothing more empowering than realizing you can stand on your own - and also finding that, thanks to wonderful friends, you won't always have to.

As long as you enjoy your own company, you're never really alone.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Random Friday thoughts

I have a bunch of thoughts in my head, but I can't seem to complete a post. Friday Fill-ins had nothing new for me today, so you're getting a stream of consciousness. 

» Still avoiding the publish button on those drafts I wrote earlier this week. They may go up next week, simply because I can't stand having unfinished business. If people get upset - eh. Haters gonna hate, I s'pose.

» Joe is on an anti-biotic. Have you ever tried giving a cat a liquid medication using an oral syringe? Good times.

» My hair has officially gotten too long, and I'm four weeks away from next appointment.

» Large vet bills mean I have less money, which makes me hyper-aware of every dollar I spend. I'm currently in a no-spending mode, which is why I'm particularly happy that the Alive at Five concert series starts soon. Free is right within my budget.

» Pasta dishes are a great way to lower the grocery bill, but if I'm going to be eating more pasta, I should probably make at least some of it whole grain. Not all - that's just crazy talk.

» I'm volunteering on Sunday for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, running their public info table at Tulip Fest in the afternoon. The public info section is behind the kids zone, between the amphitheatre seating and the playground. Stop by and say hello. We give out free stuff.

Here's a picture of Shemar Moore from his Facebook page. You're welcome.

If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A couple things

I wrote two posts for this week, but don't have the courage to hit publish. One is about friendship, the other about being single. Both could potentially make people angry, and I'm not in a confrontational mood right now.

Joe had to see a neurologist last week (For those who don't know, Joe is my kitty. He's an only child since his older sister passed away in March.) I'm waiting for the results of some tests, to find out if more tests are needed or if there is a recommended treatment. I'm scared that he won't be OK, that I won't be able to afford proper treatment, or that he'll be in pain. Mostly, I'm just scared to lose another friend.

I have several projects that have to be done at my house, which are currently on hold until I sort out the money issue. It appears I'll be staining my own deck (Baking Suit has offered to help. She's organizing a twitter party.) I had planned to hire someone to take care of the deck, but I'm thinking it's more responsible to handle that myself, since it's a fairly easy do-it-yourself sort of project.

Lastly, The Cornerstone Group is planning Diamonds in the Rough. The event is being held June 13 - details to follow, but I expect to be a bit preoccupied with that for the next few weeks.

But the weather is nice, I was able to lay in the sun this weekend, and I made my Little smile. Life is full of wonderful - sometimes you just have to look a little more closely.

Friday, May 3, 2013

God according to a five year old

Kids say the darndest things. I'm lucky enough to live with two who blurt out blog-worthy material on a pretty regular basis.

The other day at breakfast, the five-year-old told me she worries that God is cold at night, because He obviously doesn't have a bed in heaven. He just stays awake all the time watching over everyone.

This prompted a conversation about God, my cat who recently went to live with Him in heaven, how heaven works, how cemetaries work (ew, gross was one observation), souls and spirits, and finally church.

At which point, her mom told me that in church that weekend, the five-year-old leaned over and told her older brother:
Be quiet! God is on the stage talking.
She has it all figured out.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The one where volunteering helped me

I can think of no place better to tackle complex, philosophical questions than the TV show Friends.

For example, "The One Where Pheobe Hates PBS." In this classic episode, Joey and Pheobe argue whether any act is truly selfless - meaning the receiver benefits, while the giver gets absolutely nothing.

Joey says no way; Pheobe believes selflessness must exist, and sets out to prove him wrong. As a last-ditch attempt, she donates money to PBS during a pledge drive, making sure Joey takes the call, landing him on TV. Giving money to an organization she hates, to help her friend. What could she possibly stand to gain?

Turns out - helping Joey made Phoebe feel good. That good feeling meant even this act wasn't truly selfless.

I average about 3 volunteer hours a week. That includes time spent managing facebook pages, photo editing, blogging to promote causes and events, committee meetings, training, time spent with my Little, etc. It's not 3 hours each week - it's an average. Some weeks are more; some are less.

I've been told that's a lot of giving, and I should be proud that I donate my time and resources selflessly. I thank people who say so, knowing it's meant as a compliment. But while I'm saying, "Thank you," I'm thinking, "If you only knew."

When I say volunteering has changed my life, it is not an exaggeration. During a particularly difficult time, I asked a friend for advice on how to pull myself out of the funk, and keep myself busy at the same time. I wasn't interested in getting lost in my work, and while my friends are wonderful, I knew they couldn't provide distractions forever.

My friend suggested volunteering. I researched Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Capital Region, Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region, and Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood. All had online forms I could complete and submit. All required an interview and some training. BBBS required a background check that fell just short of an FBI investigation into my life, past and present (understandable).

Friends asked how I would keep up that pace. In the beginning, it was a little tough. Just remembering to schedule and stay on top of all the emails took some getting used to.

But immediately, I welcomed the distraction, and the feeling that I was helpful. I loved the idea that I could immerse myself in something that was important. Even things that may have seemed insignificant to me were a big deal to someone.

Over time, I have needed that distraction less and less. I'm no longer in a funk, and plenty busy with other stuff in my life. But I still love volunteering. Sometimes the demand is tough - but I have found it's worth the effort.

Giving my time, my resources, my ideas, my creativity, and my help has made me feel accomplished and valuable in a way that my work never could. I have met new friends and made new contacts. I have learned more and gained experience that will stay with me forever. I have a new perspective on just how lucky I am, and I value what I have and the people in my life more than ever.

I will continue to give, and hopefully I'll continue to contribute. I will always cherish the thank-yous and appreciation.

But volunteering will never, ever be selfless.

Monday, April 29, 2013


From IMDb
The movie 42 is based on the true story of how Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to break the baseball color barrier. In 1945, Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey searched for a player who had the skills, talent, and courage to help him end segregation on the baseball diamond.

The discrimination and treatment that Jackie Robinson suffered at the hands of white umpires, players, other owners and managers, fans, and even hotels when traveling is well-known. I felt like the movie approached the racism with a light touch, not really getting into the true cruelty and evil.
I got the feeling, though, that may have been because Writer/Director Brian Helgeland wanted the movie to focus elsewhere. Instead, he told a story of courage and sportsmanship and love that is far more powerful than ignorance or hate could ever be.

I have long thought that all African-American athletes owe a little bit of their career to Jackie Robinson. If it wasn't for the road he paved, many careers would have been much shorter, or even non-existent.

After seeing the movie, and reading a bit about Mr. Robinson, I have changed my mind. He did more than just break baseball's color-barrier. He represented hope and encouragement to people who, until that point, were told they couldn't. He stood up and said he wouldn't be told no, and that he wasn't there to fight - he just wanted a chance to play. He didn't ask for anything to be handed to him, he just asked that he be treated with the respect he earned.

Jackie Robinson is a hero to anyone who has ever doubted, lost hope, or wondered if he could achieve his dreams. He is a hero to anyone who has ever been told he wasn't good enough, or that his goals were out of reach. He is a hero to anyone who has ever had to make a choice between turning the other cheek, or defending himself in a fight. He is a hero to anyone who has ever tried to make a change for the better, to right a wrong, or to simply make a difference.

Jackie Robinson is a hero to everyone.
I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me. All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday fill in - Time warp edition

Today is Friday, April 26. Yesterday (Thursday, April 25) was the Girl's Inc. Auction, for which I spent the last week preparing, and from which I will spend today recovering. Knowing that would be the case, I scheduled this post ahead of time. 

So I'm borrowing the Friday Fill-In from Thursday, April 11, because I liked it and can work on it today (which is actually Wednesday, April 24). Confused yet? Fabulous.

  1. Right now I'm not hungry.
  2. Sarcasm is my well-known quirk.
  3. Are you ready yet?
  4. Dessert first, then dinner!
  5. That's why I exercise.
  6. Friends is one of my favorite TV shows ever!
  7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the gym, tomorrow my plans include church, and Sunday I want to do absolutely nothing.
This would be the best thing ever!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Friends and siblings

I missed National Siblings Day (April 10, 2013). Probably because I don't have any siblings, so no one was tagging me in Facebook posts.

When I was little, I always wanted a sibling. I envied my friends who had cool older sisters to learn from, or older brothers to look out for them. Then there were the lucky ones with younger siblings who they could boss around looked up to them.

Then I met a family with six girls. Now - I love them dearly (we're cousins by marriage - er, sort of). But hanging out with that many siblings, who were all sharing rooms and closets and clothes, made me realize something:

I like freakin' love being an only child.

I didn't have to share a closet, or a budget when it came time to buy school clothes. There was no shortage of peace and quiet, because I didn't have to share a bedroom. I could watch what I wanted on TV, and no one was around to tie up the telephone (back then there was only one per household - the horror!). Everything I had was just mine. I didn't have to pick up after anyone else, and there wasn't anyone around to get me into trouble.

That probably sounds lonely to some - and I suppose it was, sometimes. When I was a teenager, especially. That's an awkward time anyway, and not easy to go through on your own. My situation was unique in other ways, too. I was home alone a lot, and most of my friends didn't live close by.

As an adult, I have observed siblings argue over a host of issues (money, property, parenting, etc.). I don't envy those arguments, and have repeatedly thanked my dad that I am still an only child.

I do envy the close relationship siblings enjoy. They have a bond that is (literally) unbreakable. No one in the world understands you like someone who grew up in the same home, with the same parents, and shares the same history and memories.

When I say friends are the family I choose, I'm absolutely serious. For an only child, that bond is formed in a different way. We don't share memories or history, so it isn't a pre-requisite for someone to be our family. Our view is more open; family can be anyone. A person doesn't need to penetrate an unbreakable bond in order to be our "sibling."

When a friend says I'm "like a sister" I know she means she loves me. But if she has siblings (especially sisters), I take the statement with a grain of salt. The truth is, the bond she feels with her sister(s) is something I could never hope to share. We don't share a history, and we don't share memories. I may be a good friend, but friendship can still change, and fail, and even end. That bond isn't as solid as the bond siblings share - even if they don't always get along.

Siblings can yell and scream and fight. They can call each other names. They can talk behind each other's backs. They can even lie to, and betray, one another. At the end of the day - a sibling bond will still be intact. They might be angry - but they'll always be siblings.

Friends are not the same. If we betray trust, or fight, or call someone the wrong name - they'll walk away, without even thinking twice. We may have a bond - but it's far from unbreakable.

A sibling bond is constant and forever - even if one or both people don't want it. It's something that can't be broken, and something that an only child will never really share.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

Over the weekend, I took my Little to see The Place Beyond the Pines. It was her idea (with parents' permission, of course). The movie is set in Schenectady (where I live) and was filmed in the area in 2011. We thought it would be fun to see all the familiar sights and places.

I've talked about the movie a lot elsewhere, from a local interest point of view. I thought I'd share my feelings about the movie over here.

  • At 2 hours 20 minutes, the movie was way - waaaayyy - too long. It's a long story and it does
    From IMDb
    That intersection is not far from my first apartment!
    need extra time to be told correctly - but I think it could easily have been told in under 2 hours.
  • If you saw the movie at Bow-Tie Cinema at the 11:30 am show on Saturday, April 20, and you were sitting in the center of the aisle about 10 rows back with your wife/girlfriend, and talked all the way through the movie - you, sir, are a jackass.
  • There was a woman sitting in front of us breast-feeding her baby. I could not care less that she was breast-feeding. I was a little annoyed when the baby started crying. An infant in a carrier isn't something you think you'll have to deal with at a movie rated R.
  • Speaking of...I don't think I ever want to take a teenager to a rated R movie again. There wasn't anything explicit in the movie (other than language, which I'm sure she's heard). But the theme and subject matter was over her teenage head. Frankly - it was almost over my 30-something head. I did my best to explain what I could on the drive home.
  • I was not crazy about the way Schenectady was portrayed. We are not all hicks, red-necks, or criminals. We don't all live in run-down homes, or drive beat-up cars. 
  • I was even less impressed with how Troy was represented (through its sole character in the film). Honestly - if I lived there, I'd be pretty mad.
  • Mahershala Ali is adorable. I would have put him on the movie poster.
****Small Spoiler Alert**** 
  • It was ironic to see fictional newscasts talking about corruption and ethics investigations within the Schenectady Police Department. Considering how many real stories there are about that very thing, I chuckled thinking how they had to create one for the movie.
  • If the acting thing doesn't work out, Ray Liotta would probably be perfect as a detective on the SPD.
  • Without giving too much away, the story is a great telling of how good and bad are rarely as simple as black and white. Things are almost never what they seem, and you should never judge a book by its cover. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Marriage according to a five year old

I live with two kids (well, part time). I love them dearly. They bring a tremendous amount of happiness to my life. They also say the most hilariously blog-worthy stuff.

The other day, my housemate's five-year-old daughter asked her mom about marriage.
5YO: Can you marry your family?
Mom: No, that's not allowed.
5YO: I think you should be allowed to marry family. That way you know what you're getting - and if you don't like it, you can just throw it back.

I love this kid.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Welfare drug tests

I see pictures like this passed all over Facebook:

I didn't create this image, but I won't link to the page where it was found.
I searched Google Images.

I get it. People have to pass drug tests to qualify for certain jobs. Then they pay into a system that supports people who get money without having to jump through a similar hoop. Annoying, yes.

But I'm not sure mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients is the answer.

First of all, there's a big difference between a test required by the government to collect money to which a person is entitled, and one required by a private company to get a job to which that person is not entitled. Allowing the government that much control over our private lives is a little scary, I think.

Maybe this seems like the sort of intrusion that should be allowed - after all, you only have to take the test if you want the money. What scares me is the doors it opens to more intrusions, and how much of our privacy we surrender before it finally stops.

Welfare is a huge term that refers to a lot of programs. There are programs that are easily manipulated and taken advantage by a lot people. There are also people who have truly earned and need the entitlements. I'm not aware of a solution that can successfully distinguish between the two groups, and make sure the benefits are distributed fairly.

I don't condone taking advantage of the system. I believe that people should work, and take care of themselves, as long as they are able. However - I also believe that those who are able have some obligation to help those who are not. Some choose to give time and/or money to certain organizations, which is great. But at the very least, we all need to pay into some sort of system that helps everyone in need.

Speaking of those in need...when a mom or dad fails one of these mandatory welfare drug tests, what will happen to their children? That money was supposed to help feed and clothe and shelter them, too - and now it's gone.

Is the answer to take the children away from their home and parents? Won't making a child a ward of the state ultimately cost more than the welfare benefit would have in the first place? Won't threatening the breakup of the family discourage moms and dads from applying for much-needed assistance?

The system is most certainly broken. But we need a system to help those who need help - without discrimination - until they can help themselves. We may need to fix the system - but I'm not sure this is the fix we need.

Monday, April 15, 2013

My religion needs a name

I have yet to find a church with which I completely agree. The Catholic church is most definitely out. Other Christian faiths are nice, but steeped in formality and tradition - and when it comes to faith, I'm not really a formal kinda gal.

Non-denominational churches (like the one I attend) are less rigid. There's a more modern, "come as you are" feel to the message and service. Plus there's not a lot of that stand-up, sit-down nonsense, which is hard on the knees.

I don't like a message of a vengeful, angry, judgmental God. Yes, I get that in the end we're all going to be judged for how we lived. But I like the idea of a loving, faithful God who offers forgiveness and grace and guidance in life, if we just ask. I like to think God is there to help us get it right, not set us up to fail.

Most anyone who knows me knows I support same-sex marriage, and that equal rights is something I believe in pretty strongly. Many, many Christian churches don't support that idea, believing that the Bible defines marriage as something between a man and a woman, largely for the purpose of creating a family.

But I also believe in religious tolerance. I'm of the opinion that religions have to be allowed to believe and teach what they hold true. After all, I don't have to agree with your opinion, in order to agree that you have the right to have one. Still, I struggle with the idea that by supporting the church's right, I'm also inadvertantly supporting this belief, which goes against everything I hold true.

I think the church has an image of being a judgmental, closed-minded, and rigid institution where this sort of free-thinking and questioning is not tolerated. I think that image is what makes many turn away from the church, and sometimes the whole idea of religion. I know that's why I turned away for so long. I thought that if I showed any sort of belief, I was at best a hypocrite. At worst, I might be a harsh, judgmental, close-minded person.

It took a while, but I have been able to separate the ideas in my head. I have figured out that I can support the message, and have a relationship with God (which my church encourages) while at the same time maintaining my own politics and beliefs. My church delivers the message that you need to have faith, and believe in God and Jesus. It teaches us to bring them our problems, worries, and obstacles. It encourages us to ask God for help, so that we can be the person He intended. We are each a masterpiece, uniquely created by God in His image with our own talents and gifts.

If I believe that, then it follows that that my feelings about equality and tolerance are a part of God's image for me - and keeping true to those beliefs is a part of who I am meant to be. The only way to stay true to God is to be proud of my beliefs and my faith at the same time.

But I suppose, then, that means I'm not quite a Christian. Or at least, I'm not the "stereotypical" Christian. Which makes sense - most people are shocked to learn that I go to church each week. Let's face it - I don't live my life the way most Christians would choose, or find acceptable.

I've also learned that I don't need to be acceptable to other people, whether I meet them inside or outside of the church. I need to be acceptable to God. He is the only person who judges how I live my life. If I am true to Him, and the image I believe He has for me, than I guess I am doing something right.

That's my religion.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A good day for hot chocolate

It's April...but you'd never know it by standing outside. Yes, April in New York is often rainy and sometimes a little gloomy - but it should be warmer than 33 degrees.

I was checking out Rags to Stitches this morning. I'm always a little bummed that I can't view the video at work. As I write this, I don't know what Alissa tells us during her coffee date - but I figured I'd share the link, and what I'd say if we were having coffee (hot chocoate for me) today.

- I spent a little more than I meant to at Sephora yesterday. They were having a VIB Event (for reward card holders), so I had a coupon. Spending a certain amount got you a free tote with samples. I usually spend "a certain amount" in Sephora anyway...and yesterday was no exception.

- Last weekend was rough for me. Too much going on, and I had people coming at me from all kinds of directions. I'm hoping this weekend will be a little more boring.

- The Cornerstone Group is in the home-stretch of putting together this year's auction. It looks like it will be a really fun time, and for a really good cause! We'd love to see you there. (Follow this link if you'd like to purchase a ticket or donate to Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region.)

- Speaking of, I need an outfit. Choosing a wardrobe this time of year is such a challenge. The calendar says we should be able to wear lighter clothes (both in color and fabric). The aforementioned temps, however, suggest I should be bundled up in wool.

- Whatever I do, my shoes won't be white. No worries.

- I was going to tell you about my current pet peeves - but then I realized one of them was people who whine and complain, and that's exactly what I'd be doing.

- So I'll just tell you that sometimes people bug me, just a little. Another reason why this weekend needs to be boring.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I never lol

I communicate with a lot of people every day. Most of that communication is done in written form, whether it be text messages, emails, facebook messages or comments, tweets, whatever.

I spend most of my day reading - either these messages, or blog posts, profiles, or (if I'm actually working while I'm at work) contracts, letters, etc.

I consider myself a tech-enthusiast. I like technology, maybe more than some people in my age-bracket. Certainly more than some of the people with whom I'm communicating, since many of them are more old-school (read: older).

Many of them would still prefer a phone call or sit-down meeting. They have only entered the world of text out of fear they might be left behind. I, on the other hand, text, tweet, post, link, blog, and pin with the best of 'em.

What I don't do is talk in shorthand. I don't lol, idk, brb, or spell the word "right" as "rite." If I use you're instead of your, it's an honest mistake, and not because I don't know better.

Nothing chips away at a person's credibility with me faster than when he speaks in shorthand, uses lol to punctuate sentences, or doesn't know that an apostrophe makes a word possessive (except when it doesn't).

Sure, I get that technology makes a lot of this more acceptable. Save a character, or a keystroke! It shows you're on-trend. It suggests you can keep up with the conversation, no matter how quickly it's evolving or how "old-school" you might be.

But to me, that's a double-edged sword. In this techie culture, most first impressions are made through words read on a screen. Isn't it better for that impression to be that you care about your image, and how you present yourself? Don't you want people to know you're smart enough to know better, and care enough to take the time?

The way we present our message has become the new perfect outfit. It shows our style, our form, our image, and how we would represent our friends, family, and coworkers.

Lol is the text equivalent to wearing pajama bottoms when you go to the store. Just because other people do it doesn't make it OK.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What I learned watching 'The Bible'

Though I was exposed to religion fairly consistenly from the ages five to twenty-two, in all that time - I never once read The Bible.

I'm sure passages were read to me. I even remember a lesson early on about how the numbering of verses works (though I couldn't repeat it now without a trip to Wikipedia).

Each week, I attend a church service where scripture is read, and then explained. I find it interesting to hear how it translates to real life. But again, that's having it read to me, and in short spurts.

A few months ago, a friend gave me a Bible (the first I've ever owned). I'd like to read it, but The Bible is a big book. Let's face it - my attention span isn't that long. I can't even finish a Stephen King novel.

So when I found out that The History Channel was showing a ten-hour series telling the story of The Bible, I thought this was my chance. The series aired in five, two-hour episodes, each Sunday in March. Sundays at 8 - I could totally do that!

So I did. I know a little bit more about the Book now, though I still find it confusing. Through church, and praying, and the series, and reading blogs, and just listening, I feel like I get the message a little bit better.

A few observations I made while watching (and sometimes tweeting) the History Channel mini-series:
  • The Bible is disturbingly violent. I find it hard to believe that God condones that much bloodshed in His name. I think these people were, at times, way off the mark in the message.
  • Along those same lines, if God had chosen more women as prophets, they may have gotten the message more clearly. Everyone knows most men only hear what they want, anyway.
  • Samson had particular trouble making good choices, especially when it came to women. Had he joined Christian Mingle, and let them find "God's match" for him, a lot of problems could have been avoided.
  • Abraham was the first dead-beat dad. That comment ruffled some feathers (maybe cause I made it at church) , but c'mon! He cheats on his wife because she can't get pregnant, and knocks-up some poor, young "servant" girl. Then his wife has a child - and he makes his first son (and his mom) go live in the woods? That's like an episode of SVU.
  • I always knew snakes were evil, filthy creatures up to no good. Now I have confirmation.
  • Say what you want about that Pharaoh, those slaves had one heck of a dental plan. Pearly whites everywhere!
  • I still don't understand why everyone's arguing over that one patch of land in the desert. To this day, even! I think something, somewhere, went terribly wrong. I hope they fix it in the sequel.
I know, I know...I kid. Now you know why nuns hate me.