Wednesday, November 30, 2011

No Words Wednesday: Perspective

Monday, November 28, 2011


My Thanksgiving was great - hope yours was, too.

Normally, after I stuff my face with turkey and mashed potatoes, I spend the weekend decorating. Yes, it takes me that long.

But this year, I had other stuff to do. Important stuff - like hanging with a friend who is going through a rough time, and taking a day to visit my most favorite people, who I've been missing.

Plus, other, happy distractions.

Normally, I'd be a little upset that the house isn't done. I'd feel behind, and worried, and overwhelmed.

Instead, I keep thinking how change can be good. I keep thinking how easy it is to keep things the same, not take any risks, and how much we miss out on by staying safe.

Sometimes, we need a little change to get a little perspective, and find what we were missing.

So, this holiday, I'm most thankful for my distractions.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Joy of shopping

I love to shop - but I hate crowds. Especially tired, angry, stressed-out, rude, unruly crowds.

So I avoid shopping as much as possible, starting today. I never shop on Black Friday - unless I have some sort of decorating emergency that sends me out for lights or other accessories late at night, when all the crowds have gone. Thanks to early-bird specials, most of the crowds are done early anyway, freeing up early evening for the sane people rest of us.

Side Note: Ever notice the glazed over look in the eyes of all those poor retail employees? Having been one years ago, I know their pain. Be nice.

Any major shopping gets done prior to Thanksgiving. After that point, it's all internet or home-party shopping, and maybe a couple of late-night retail trips, when crowds are thinner.

I don't want anyone ruining the joy of shopping for me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday crazy

It's certainly not breaking news that holidays, especially Christmas, are overly commercial. As evidenced by the crowds I saw this weekend, the craziness to find the perfect gift starts earlier and earlier every year, with more and more pressure to buy the right thing. It's enough to make some people downright sick of the whole thing, and even boycott the holidays. 

Now, as far as I'm concerned - that's crazy-talk. 

I love presents. Love. Not just getting them (though I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to get presents), but giving them, too. Especially to kids. There is nothing better than knowing I'm the one bringing the present that will send my cousin's smile over the top. 

Of course, I also like getting presents. Hey - I'm the only child of divorced parents, who is also a daddy's girl and my Santa dad has a big gift budget. You'd like getting gifts, too, if you were me.

But I don't think it has to be a choice. I don't have to choose between really liking presents, and understanding the true meaning of the holiday. I think a person can do both - and I think I'm pretty good at the balance. There's no reason you can't bring joy to others, either by giving a gift or donating money or time - and look forward to a lot of few pretty packages under your tree.

But to have to choose between making others happy, enjoying yourself, and appreciating the real "reason for the season?" 

That's just crazy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Movie Monday: Higher Ground

When I go to the movies, I almost always go looking for an action-adventure, science-fiction or fantasy movie. Maybe a chick-flick. Occasionally, I'll be drawn to something with a little mystery (and maybe some suspense). But a straight-up drama? Rarely my thing.

So when someone suggested we go see Higher Ground, I wasn't sure what to expect. Thanks to Google, I knew what it was about, and that it was getting good reviews. As IMDB describes, it is the story of a woman's life-long struggle with her faith. I'll admit - I was nervous I might not like it, and said a silent "thank you" that I wasn't paying. 

I won't give the story away, but the movie does open when a young Corinne is first introduced to religion. We see she is unsure, but eager to let God into her life. We see the event that seals her faith in prayer, and God, and changes the way she lives her life, and shapes her family. Later on, we see what triggers Corinne's crisis of faith, and the shift in her beliefs as her trust in God is challenged. 

It's honestly a great story. The movie is well-written, and the story definitely holds your interest. The actors pull it off well, especially Vera Farmiga, who also directed the film. (Side Note: You recognize her from Up in the Air, The Departed and Source Code. It drove me nuts the whole movie.)

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not overly religious. I do believe in God, I just don't belong to a church, or practice any one religion. But I don't think that's necessary to appreciate this movie. We all have faith in something - and for most of us, that faith is challenged at some point. It might be your faith in a friend, or your parents or a political ideology. Eventually something will make you question what you'd come to believe. 

That's the story that Higher Ground tells; how we establish faith, come to question it, and ultimately, how we resolve those doubts. The main message I got was that, if you don't really have faith in yourself, you can't really have faith in anyone or anything else, either. 

Which is a part of faith that we all need to learn.

**** - I'll watch it again when I can do so for free.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Most wonderful time of the year

I really do love this time of year. I love all the holidays, the family and friends, the decorations, the music. I love the food - and I love the presents (the ones I get and the ones I give).

But there is one thing I absolutely hate about the months of November and December: My job.

My job isn't the most glamorous, or wonderful. It has a lot of downs; it's very bureaucratic and often bogged down in procedure. I deal with a lot of people, which means a lot of quirks. But there are also a lot of perks; down-time, flexible schedule, not a lot of stress.

Except for this time of year.

I manage insurance programs for mid-to-large size businesses. The bulk of the work for each program happens prior to the renewal date. The bulk (nearly 50%!) of my business renews on January 1.

That means nearly 50% of the work I do all year is done during the months of November and December.

Talk about stress.

It ramps up now (right before Thanksgiving) and gets progressively worse until Christmas. By then I'm usually too defeated to cry, and have started quietly whispering, "It's coming....January is coming...," to myself.

So, if I seem quiet, or short, or not around as much, or just generally look tired over the next 45 days or so, don't worry.

January is coming.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mean is ugly

"Ladies, if your guy is hinting to you to step on a scale, give it back by handing him a ruler."

I got the quote from my friend; I'm not sure where she found it. I retweeted it, and a couple guys thought the logic was....flawed. In a nutshell, they felt that a guy should be entitled to concern over his girlfriend's physical attraction - regardless of his "size."

Like I said on twitter, if a man is small-minded enough to judge a woman by her weight, I'd be willing to bet his mind isn't the only thing that's small. Naturally, that's a generalization to make a point. The point about physical attraction is also fair. People come in all shapes and sizes, and not everything appeals to everyone.

My issue isn't that men don't find curvy girls attractive; I personally don't care. I'm curvy, and if you don't find me attractive, it saves me the trouble of having to deal with your nonsense. My issue isn't what one person finds attractive because opinions are subjective, and not really open to debate.

My issue is that no person (man or woman) should ever feel entitled to pass judgment on his significant other that way. That's the point of the quote - that everyone has something "wrong" with them; something they don't like, that makes them feel self-conscious. If you really care about someone, why would you exploit that?

The same topic came up over on Kristi's blog, and like I said there, if someone who I trusted felt the need to make me feel bad about myself - I can think of a sure-fire way to lose about 200 pounds of dead weight pretty quickly.

Because really - there's nothing uglier than a mean person. And even curvy girls don't want to be with someone who is ugly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Something new

I want to write a review of a movie I saw a while back called Higher Ground. It's not my usual type of movie, but I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable and moving I found the story. I really want to share that with you - and I will.

Next week.

It's about 10 o'clock Sunday night and I'm tired, and anything I attempt to write needs to be a little lighter, in order for me to pull it off. But I did want to share a little bit about my day, which consisted of two things: Church and football.

I can honestly say that has never happened before.

I haven't gotten up to go a church service on a Sunday in over 20 years. In fact, unless someone died, got married or was baptized, I haven't set foot in a church since I was confirmed in 1990. I only got confirmed in the first place because it wasn't really presented as an option in my family.

As for football... You might recall, I started to try and learn the sport last year - and failed (though I did come up with a great list of football's finest.) While learning about cute boys comes pretty naturally to me, the rules of football do not.

I've basically shut these things out of my life because I wasn't interested, or didn't understand. I figured if it didn't come easily, why bother to give it a chance? I was pretty happy not trying anything new, and was perfectly happy devoting my Sundays to writing and shoe shopping and maybe housework.

Of course, every now life throws you a curve-ball, and you find a reason to let something new in your life. That happened to me recently, and suddenly, trying something new not only seemed like an OK idea - it actually seemed exciting.

So I did. Know what? It wasn't too bad. I'm not saying I'm ready to give up Sunday shopping altogether (let's not get crazy) - but I am saying that some things are worth a little extra effort.

Besides, if you never let anything (or anyone) new into your life, you never know what you might miss.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins: Veteran's Day

Here we go!

Beware of falling rocks.

It's only November, and we've already had snow.

And since we are on the subject, it's been unseasonably warm since.

What will it take to lift your spirits?

Where do we go from here?

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite meals when it's cold out.

And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a movie, tomorrow my plans include dinner with some old friends and Sunday I want to try something new.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quiet strength

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it to you when you've forgotten the words." Unknown

I firmly believe that, as a woman, there is no relationship more important than that of your closest girlfriends. Yes, significant others, husbands, boyfriends, etc. are important. But your girlfriends? They'll get you through anything. They're the ones who know when you're hurting, and understand why. They know what to say, and what to do They know how to make you feel better.

Your girlfriends are there to see you through all the bad times that SO causes. They give you their strength when you don't have any of your own left to use.

The best is when you have a friend to whom you don't even have to talk. She just knows that, at that moment, you need her to sit and listen; not to judge or advise or even nod her head. Just listen, and then hug you when the time is right.

It's so much easier to see the answer when you're on the outside looking in. That's why it takes real strength to sit and listen, and not offer your two cents. But a real friend will do that; if she's really good, she'll even be able to get you to see the answer for yourself.

Whether it's a long drive with the perfect mixed CD, or a chick-flick with ice cream and cookies, or just a quick email in the middle of the workday - a real friend will always know just what you need, and will remind you that you're never alone.

That's real strength - and there's nothing more powerful.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Randoms: A variety of unrelated ideas that are too short for separate posts, pulled together to get it all out in the open. Like throwing something at the wall, to see what sticks. Amanda does this sometimes and so does Cute~Ella. So, this isn't my idea, but I am stealing borrowing from awfully good places. Why reinvent the wheel?

- I've been avoiding the gym. Not on purpose; I was legitimately sick for most of October. I could barely breathe, let alone work out. Last week I was finally better - and legitimately busy, to the point I was unable to even get to the gym. Now, I'm feeling better - and I need to get it into gear.

- While I love Rosie (my phone) it's very frustrating that she uses so much battery, and that I'm having trouble with storage capacity. I think the problem with technology is that once we get a little taste, we keep wanting more and more. It's like crack - or chocolate.

- Speaking of chocolate, and reasons I need to go to the gym - Chrissy recently brought Freihofer's Chocolate Chip Cookies into the house. I try never to do that, because I truly can't resist the little treats. One bite and suddenly I'm 8 years old, hanging out with my dad on a Saturday afternoon. 

- I've recently discovered some new-to-me TV shows. My latest obsessions are Castle and Big Bang Theory. Something about a chronically quotable comedy just makes me smile.

- Ever have really high hopes for your plans - and everything exceeded your expectations? I rarely do - which makes me appreciate it even more when it happens. I'm truly a lucky, lucky woman. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Follow Friday: Genwar's random thoughts

Life is funny. Sometimes, you meet someone, and you think, "There is no possible way this person is going to like me. He's going to think I'm not intelligent/pretty/funny/snarky enough." You might also worry that, because you're different in many ways, you won't agree on anything.

Then, you listen to the guy and you realize that just because you are different doesn't mean you can't agree on some things - or intelligently debate the rest.

It also doesn't mean he won't be super-cool, and share homemade biscuits from his breakfast table, introduce you to his super-freaking-cute-daughter, or sit next to you for your first visit to the track.

GenWar and I don't always agree - but he is always worth a listen. Personally, I think his views on Kim K and politics are brilliant - but that's me. You should read for yourself and see what you think. Check his blog here

Oh - and you will be warned that it's adult content and asked if you want to continue. This is mostly for language and topics, I think. I scrolled through, and didn't see any pictures of boobs - but it's GenWar, so I wouldn't rule that out. If you're worried, treat it as Not Safe For Work, and save it for after-hours reading.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bail out

I am not any sort of financial expert. I get a headache when I balance my checkbook, I never took economics, and I failed the financial CPCU exam the first time. My point is, what follows shouldn't be viewed as a suggestion, or advice. I had a tough decision to make, but it was worth it to me, so I thought I'd share in case it might help someone else. 

Those Occupiers seem to be making an argument that we all need a bail out. I don't agree with them, and it's been suggested that is because I am "privileged" and don't understand where they're coming from. I'm a spoiled little rich kid who never wanted for anything, and now I'm selfish and I don't want to share.

Judgy, much?

Let me be clear - I am spoiled. That's not exactly breaking news. I am 37 in my mid-thirties, and I get better Birthday and Christmas presents from my father than most children. I wanted for very little as a kid, rarely heard the word no, and had an awful lot handed to me.

However, I was also taught that this was a privilege for people who worked hard, and who earned what they had. I was never taught to expect a handout. The minute my dad thought I was expecting too much - he put on the brakes, and told me to go get a job. I was 16, and I've not been unemployed for even a day since.

But that doesn't mean I don't have financial worries. No matter what anyone tells you, divorce is expensive. I didn't spend a lot to get divorced (because I didn't marry an asshat who went looking to make my life difficult), but it was hard adjusting the household budget (which didn't change all that much) to a single income.

Plus - I made some bad decisions. By that I mean I spent my way out of a depression. Retail therapy is actually a thing.

But while I was stimulating the economy, I was also racking up debt that I wasn't prepared to handle. When I finally snapped back to reality earlier this year, I was already in over my head.

But I didn't go looking for a bail out. I didn't beg for debt forgiveness, or occupy any grass near the capital, waiting for my government to pay for all those shoes. I bailed myself out, by cashing in a portion of my retirement.

It wasn't an easy decision. I've spent all this time building that fund, and cashing it in not only means the money won't be there for me in retirement, but I will have to pay a huge penalty for taking it out while I'm still working.

On the flip side, it's my money, and I worked hard to set it aside. Yes, it will be helpful in retirement - but I need the money now. Tax shelters and retirement savings are valuable - but putting an end to the stress I was under is priceless.

That sealed my decision, so I cashed in the fund, and paid off the debt that was crushing me. At the same time, I calculated my new monthly budget, to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Some might say that I'm "lucky" I was able to do that, and not everyone has the option to bail themselves out. To that, I say - bite me not true. I haven't been employed steadily for over 20 years because of "luck." In fact, for over two years now, I've been getting up every day and going to a job I hate, just to continue to earn a living.

I'm privileged and spoiled in a lot of ways. But a strong work ethic and a willingness to make a steady contribution to society? That's a privilege available to anyone.