Archive | November, 2012

Sleeping Better at Night

30 Nov
problems

Image via QuotableCards.com

 

When you seek out a challenging and fulfilling purpose in life, sometimes it bites you in ass. You chase your dreams, but then you end up living temporarily at your parents house and then feel the need to temporarily seek psychiatric assistance.

But it’s only for a little while.

I had forgotten this saying, because I was being pushed around by problems — major and minor ones.

Bills.

Finances.

Housing situation.

Relationships.

Kids waking up when they shouldn’t be.

Looking in the mirror and realizing that you probably now need to do facials.

Receiving the It’s-Not-You-It’s-Me polite rejection letters.

Trying to avoid the Children of the Corn Parents at my kids preschool, but sometimes not quite making it out in time.

Running out of chocolate.

But I’m glad that I got reminded of this little lesson. It helps me sleep better at night.

Saturday Night Live Bringing on the Christmas Spirit

29 Nov

People were getting into the Christmas spirit early this season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday kicked things off in November. They get into their Fa-La-La-La-Las pretty early every year. And while they were having their moments with televised tree-lighting ceremonies and festive concerts with Jingle Bell Rock, I took a different approach.  I laughed my way into the festive mood with some late night comedy courtesy of  Saturday Night Live

Giving it up to Homelessville Charity

Giving it up to Homelessville Charity

 

Season's Eatings Skit

Season’s Eatings Skit

 

Mary Catherine Gallagher and Whitney Houston.

Mary Catherine Gallagher and Whitney Houston.

 

The Christmas Song

The Christmas Song

 

This has become one of my favorite holiday specials. I often look forward to the SNL Christmas Special and hope they include my favorites. There was nothing better than cracking up to Justin Timberlake’s charity battle with the Salvation Army Kris Kringle, The Season’s Eatings skit with Pete Schweddy, the Catholic School Christmas Concert with Mary Catherine Gallagher and Whitney Houston, and the Christmas Song with Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan.

The Christmas spirit is definitely warming up to me. Comedy and Christmas … a great combination.

Thanks for the Mood Changer Barnes & Noble

28 Nov

Image via some card at Barnes & Noble

Sometimes you run into something that moves you. It strikes a chord and you feel something. And after having a really tough night I didn’t quite feel like myself today as I plopped out of bed.

Sometimes not even a good night sleep can erase the crappiness of the night before. I tried all sorts of methods to try to shake me out of it, yoga, deep breaths, profanity, the Today Show, and music, but I still had that underlying emotional grime sitting there. Festering.

Then I had breakfast with my kids and that just seemed to annoy me. It wasn’t anything they did or said, other than the normal endless series of questions regarding Frosted Mini Wheats and the blue bowl instead of a green bowl, it was my own crappy mood that was festering. The very situation that created this emotional hangover remained unresolved and I hadn’t said my piece, I hadn’t let it out. Everything was still stuck.

I had to get out, raining or not.

We headed to Barnes & Noble where I hoped reading funny biographies would help me forget. Humor usually does it for me. And then I ran into it.

I was checking out the Quotable Cards section and I saw it. It wasn’t humorous ha ha … it was funny and warm. Like a smile.

And just like that … the crappiness seemed to escape into the air and land on some chic who was on a date with a dude that didn’t get the right kind of mocha latte.

I don’t know who took the picture but I was glad they took it. It made me feel different. It changed my mood and the rest of the day went a lot better.

Sometimes you just need witness a moment to turn things around, even if the moment has nothing to do with you. It changes the direction in which your world spins.

Happiness Project Update 17: BFFs or Just BFs

27 Nov

When you were younger it happened during recess, nutrition, or lunch. Or most likely during class when you were passing notes … just to keep them updated as to what happened during third period. As you got older it happened over coffee, sporting events, concerts, boys, men, tailgating, or parties. Sometimes it happened because you realized you had the same Alanis Morissette break-up experience.

Friendships … they develop for many reasons.

And according to Rubin living a life of happiness requires maintaining strong bonds of friendship. Not the casual acquaintance kind, but the true kind — the kind of friend you can call if you’re stranded somewhere and you don’t have Triple A, the kind of friend that you can call to be your wing-man at a party, the kind of friend that you can call to hold your hair back while you’re throwing up either because of a Tequila hangover or bad Thai food, the kind of friend that takes your call at midnight because you’re freaking out over a fight you just had with your current flame, the kind of friend that will give you an alibi if CSI came knocking on your door, and the kind of friend that splits their last stick of gum with you. A true friend. A BFF, or just a BF.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Through all her research, Rubin found that people with strong relationships are more likely to be happier in life. Friendships … they play a big part of your Happiness Project. Family … yes we know there’s a bond. Whether you want it to be there or not you’re linked by blood forever. For better or for worse. But friendships are different. They’re a necessary link outside the nuclear family that support you and let you fly your freak flag whenever.

Making time for friends. A basic premise? Yeah.

But a very necessary reminder, especially for those of us that are so busy and consumed with jobs, school, family, or parenthood. It’s good to be reminded that you’re not just a professional blue-collar or white-collar worker, you’re not just someone’s mother or father. You’re not just someone’s son, daughter, or cousin. You’re someone’s friend and if you’re a good friend, or if you want good ones, you’ll strengthen or deepen your existing friendships.

Rubin suggests a couple of concepts, but the one that seemed to grab me was the simplest one: Be generous.

Generosity can come in many forms. Gifts, kind acts, compliments, showing up to birthday parties, or making the time to buy someone coffee … all types of generosity. Since most of my “circle of trust” friends are busy women with BIG Cheese jobs or mothers on the break of defeat because they’re raising kids alone I thought I’d sent out a compliment.

I mentioned a while back how I found an old picture of myself and I thought … hey I knew her … she was awesome where did she go? No where really,  just buried deep under the hustle and bustle of life. But seeing that picture brought me back … way back. It was a nice reminder of my bad-ass self.

So I thought I would pass on the goodness. I posted a picture for a weekly challenge not too long ago. Renewal. And it was group picture with some of the members of my “circle of trust.”  I thought it would be a good idea to send it out to them with the hopes that they might be reminded of their own bad-ass self. Maybe they were lost and the email helped center them again, maybe they were in an awesome state of mind and this email just heightened the experience. Either way I wanted them to feel badass … feel needed … feel appreciated … feel like their friendship made an impact. They matter.

“Friendship thrives on interconnection, and it’s both energizing and comforting to see that you’re building not just friendships but a social network.”

Gretchen Rubin

I sent that email out to my circle of trust — my social network — and whether they responded or not, it felt good to let them know that their friendship was important, that they were important,  and that they were contributors to a time where I felt like myself.

It was a good chapter — a good reminder that friendships expand your happiness, and I needed to put effort in maintaining them if my own Happiness Project was going to work. Otherwise I could end up like Stockard Channing in the First Wives Club. And you really don’t want to end up there.

My Marley And Me Moment

26 Nov

I couldn’t take her to the movies, but she enjoyed watching LOST, 24, and the National Geographic Channel. However she wasn’t a fan of Law & Order … any of them. I think it was the DOINK-DOINK sound. I couldn’t take her out for dinner, but we often had picnics in the park and she was a great lounger. She didn’t really say much during conversation, but she was an awesome listener. Her arms weren’t long enough to hug me during troubled times, but she’d sit next to me on the couch, sniff my pants, wag her tail, and nuzzle her head under my hand. She was a good therapist.

 

Pinta hanging out ... smiling after playing fetch.

Pinta hanging out … smiling after playing fetch.

 

Being a Dalmatian, she got a bad rap for belonging to a breed that is considered to be hyper, and extremely needy with temperament flaws.

Dude.

So not true. She was an exception to the rule. She was my exception. “She was a unique constellation of attributes,” who loved chasing squirrels, back massages, playing fetch with her FAT CAT Inc. dog toys, going for walks, pretending she was a horse for my son, being a pillow for my daughter, and hanging out in the kitchen as I cooked dinner. Wishing, and hoping, and praying that something savory and tasty would hit the linoleum floor.

Seventy-three years old. She passed away at seventy-three. That’s a lot of lint brushes. To think I don’t have to buy another one makes me kind of  sad. I used to get irritated that every time I hugged her or pet her, I’d be covered in black and white dog hair. I must have spent thousands of dollars on lint brushes. But now … no more lint brushes needed. No more Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dog Food. No more Greenies. No more Snausages. No more chasing Penn Tennis Balls. And No more plastic trash bags filled with stinky poop.

 

 

A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water-logged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he’ll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?

— – John Grogan, Marley & Me

To answer Grogan’s question … not many. Other than my children and my Dad … not many. But Pinta made the list. She thought I was amazing, even in Costco sweatpants. And she loved me unconditionally. It didn’t matter if I was a short, struggling writer who was prone to bouts of crankiness when woken up from a profound sleep at six in the morning. She loved me anyway. She was a great dog. She was loyal. She was a member of my family. She was Guat. She will be extremely missed.

Cause of death? Complications due to a herniated disc that put pressure on the spinal cord which resulted in pain in her hips, lameness, and loss of function in her hind legs. Apparently the degeneration happened because of age. We could have put her through more tests, examinations and surgery, but considering her age … the most humane course of action was saying good-bye.

I held it together as long as possible, but watching her go was very emotional.  Next to losing my dad and uncle it was one of the toughest things I’ve ever experienced.

After leaving the vet, my son said he wanted to visit my dad in the cemetery. He said he had something very important to tell him. Considering what had just happened, I thought it would be the best place to let everything out.

He sat next to my dad’s tree and said:

“Papa … I have something very important to tell you. Very important. P doesn’t feel good. [He calls her P] She went to the doctor to get more medicine. Her legs don’t work. She’s a little old. She needs medicine. But she’s going to go to heaven with her medicine. You need to take care of her. She likes Snausages.”

Dude. I so needed another minute after that little speech.

After a while we drove back home and as I entered the house the first thing I noticed was her empty dog bed.

It was a tough day.

“Animal lovers are a special breed of humans, generous of spirit, full of empathy, perhaps a little prone to sentimentality, and with hearts as big as a cloudless sky.”

— John Grogan, Marley & Me

Christmas Starts A Little Too Early

25 Nov

I don’t know why it irritated me. It shouldn’t have, I mean it really wasn’t any of my business.  I mean people should get into the spirit, right? But … dude … when your Thanksgiving leftover turkey isn’t even in the fridge? C’mon now. I’d expect this from places like the mall, but not a neighbor’s house. Although I could expect anything from the redhead in 2B.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the Christmas spirit, but what’s up with this holiday interrupting the Thanksgiving spirit. I mean not that I want to savor the dysfunctional family moments of the gobble-gobble feast, but let me enjoy the “what-I’m-thankful-for” moments without hearing jingle bells. I mean sometimes the holiday even infringes on the Halloween spirit. Decorations going up everywhere while Jack-O-Lanterns are still out.

But the redhead in 2B waited until Thanksgiving night to put up her decorations. By Friday morning she had her Merry Christmas sign posted on the door, her Christmas tree in the window, her garlands wrapped around the staircase, stockings hanging, and her “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” tune blaring.

Image via christmaswow.com

I blame this on Black Friday. The insanity of the Christmas season is upon us where shoppers go wild and neighbors go to crazy lengths to try to outdo each other on the best decorated house. The redhead in 2B has set the stage. I can’t wait until the mom in 3A sets up her Merry Christmas. It’s an awesome battle of Fa-la-la-la-la spirit where Mariah Carey’s Christmas CD battles Josh Groban’s Christmas collections, and where the Michael’s store makes out the best because both ladies shop there all the time. What happened to simple decorations and ornaments made out of Popsicle sticks that made their appearance on December 1st?

I like to begin my decorating process in December. I feel like October belongs to Halloween, November belongs to Thanksgiving, and Christmas should really stay in December. But that’s just me. Some people … they can’t wait. The spirit comes early and the competition for the best house begins. Redhead in 2B has got a jump on the neighborhood. But I keep myself out of it. I’m not much for Christmas competitions, but I always enjoy the Martha Stewart and Clark Griswold efforts of everyone in the neighborhood. Well … everyone that starts after November.

 

Sometimes People Need a Little Strength

24 Nov

 

Image via quotablecards.com

 

Sometimes when you’re at a crossroads you look for some sort of sign … something to give you confidence that you’re making the right decision, confidence to walk in the right direction, either with your career, friendships, or relationships.

You look for some deep, soul-searching wisdom through O Magazine or the self-help section at Barnes & Noble, but then you find it … on a magnet.

A friend of mine was having some technical difficulties in life that chocolate could not fix. Well, in truth she does not like chocolate and she’s one of those calorie counters. This should have been grounds for me to dump her on the spot and sever all my friendship ties. But I gave her a chance anyway, just because I thought she was funny.

I saw this magnet and immediately thought about her. I thought it was small enough for her to put it on her little file cabinet at work and act as a reminder.

Sometimes people need a little strength to make the decisions that require courage they think they don’t possess. But it’s there. Deep down. It’s there.

 

I Bought an Extra Bag of Greenies and Some Snausages

23 Nov

You got osteoporosis, hearing problems, cognitive impairment, hypertension, and aches and pains in about every joint in your body.

Dude.

Being a senior citizen is tough. My dog. She’s a member of the club.

I’ve known her since she was two, she’s currently 14 going on 15 and apparently the life expectancy for Dalmatians happens to be around 16.

 

My dog Pinta … hanging out at the fire house

 

She’s walking The Green Mile.

It saddens me to see that her clock is slowly winding down. Earlier in the week she was having problems walking. Her hind legs weren’t really doing their job — they weren’t being very supportive so I found myself picking her up and helping her get outside. But she only needed a little lift and then she’d get the hang of it again. One foot, and then another and another. However yesterday … yesterday was quite different.

The Thanksgiving feast was well under way and the aroma filled the house. This aroma would usually get her up and trotting towards the table, hoping that someone would drop a piece of turkey. However she didn’t get up and in fact when she tried, her hind legs wobbled and she fell.

My dude gave me the look. The Dr. Kevorkian look and I strongly suggested going to the doctor and getting a professional opinion before he made plans to pull the plug on her. He initiated the “I-know-what-I’m-doing” conversation. The one that included his speech about having owned dogs before and how he just knew what would come next.

This began the heated conversation about veterinarians. I felt we should go to the office and have her assessed by one … you know to see if there was anything I could do to help improve my dog’s situation. He felt differently. He felt there was no need for doctors, you know seeing how he knew everything there was to know about dogs. He felt the need to tell me this repeatedly. However I still insisted we visit the doctor.

Unfortunately everyone was closed on Thanksgiving. They were closed the entire weekend, so we had to take her to urgent dog care. This is where our heated conversation continued. For a minute I thought she wasn’t going to come back with us, and I got extremely depressed about the whole situation. I started imagining the worst-case scenario and started thinking about the past and all the things we’ve been through. She was part of my family. I had plenty of time to think. We were there for three hours. Three, and they weren’t even that busy.  We’re going to see our regular vet on Monday and run some tests.

I guess it’s probably old age, but it could be something else. The hopeful possibility occurred to me, but it failed to enter the imagination of my dude. And that just burned me out. I was stressed out and so worried about the dog and there he was with his Dr. Kevorkian mentality and sassy attitude, which of course didn’t help. Now I know that we don’t want our dog to suffer, and we don’t want her in pain, but I would like all the facts before making that tough decision that all pet owners have to make.  I mean people say “putting them to sleep,” because I imagine it sounds less drastic. But it still sucks. It’s still death.

I’m hoping for some good news on Monday, but I’m preparing for the worst. I bought an extra bag of Greenies and a large bag of Snausages.

She’s living it up this weekend.

Thankful for …

22 Nov

Charlie Brown and Lucy

Sometimes you can only take so much … so much family in such a confined space.

So you become thankful for the little “goods” that keep you centered in the midst of the crazy dysfunctional chaos that is Thanksgiving with your family.

… Thankful that the grocery store wasn’t crowded when I went back for corn.

… Thankful that when you went to the cemetery to visit your dad your flowers from the week before had not been eaten by the resident deer.

… Thankful for the green bean casserole.

… Thankful for the second helping of homemade pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

… Thankful for Charlie Brown … he makes me laugh.

… Thankful for the good night hug and the I love you that my son gave me.

… Thankful for the quiet of the night … the nice quiet that’s different from the daytime quite, the peaceful quiet, the quiet slowly interrupted by the snoring of your dog but you don’t care because it’s still quiet, the quiet that calms me and lets me hangout with my third piece of pie.

Thankful …

Happy Thanksgiving.

Humor … It Comes in Handy

21 Nov

Image via Despair.com

 

Just when you think nobody gets you …

When you can’t handle anymore “there’s always a silver lining” comments …

You find something like this …

And it totally cracks you up.

Humor … it comes in handy when you feel like you’re constantly going up a hill.