The Big 4-0

They say you should never marry someone unless you’ve lived a year with them.  You need to experience every season, every month and every day with them to see how they handle life.   

When I began this blog, it was the tail end of Spring and I was in such a different place.  I was gainfully employed, my children were thriving (one in Kindergarten, one in Day Care) and I had a European Disney Cruise booked to celebrate my upcoming 40th.  Life was good.

Before the end of summer though, things changed.  Without warning I’ve heard the words that so many in this economy fear…”your position has been eliminated.”  With that, the world as I knew it changed.  Admittedly, there was some fun in the beginning.  After all, four days later we were on our way to Disney World for a previously planned vacation, but limiting the amount of activities we did was a constant reminder that reality waited for me at home.  Life was not so good.

Fall, or as I like to call it “frustrating fall,” was tough.  My son couldn’t comprehend why he wasn’t with his friends 50 hours a week anymore.  His behavior changed.  He started acting out.  I started yelling more and even worse…spanking more.  He would wait all day for his sister (now in first grade) to get out of school to play with him.  She wanted no part of it. Her 6th birthday party was lame at best.  I said, “no” to so many things I wasn’t accustomed to saying “no” to.   Meanwhile, I spent countless hours on applications that led to nothing but clogging up cyber space while my  son begged me to let him play on the computer.  I had to cook more.  I hate cooking.  Life was really not good.

Winter.  Oh God winter…the worst winter possible for a five-year old stuck at home with his mom who started rigorous online courses.  Sure, we went outside some, but it was way too cold and I am not a snowman builder.  We might have made a snow mountain but honestly, all that snow is something I blocked out.  Christmas was tough…one of the hardest so far.  I couldn’t splurge on people like once before, but it was okay.  The season is not about gifts.  It’s about the people around you who love you through thick and thin.  Toward the end of winter, something great was happening…my son and I started understanding each other and the fighting died down.  Life was sometimes good.

Well, I’m back to Spring and on top of my Master’s Degree I now have two Advanced Certificates and I’m folding children’s menus in a restaurant.  Let me repeat that…my job involves folding children’s menus…in a restaurant.  They value me though and that’s what keeps me going.  The managers are grateful that I’m part of the team.  I’m respected and my ideas are appreciated.  They’ve added marketing to my responsibilities and it’s going well.  My son still gets antsy and cranky but I know what his triggers are so it’s easier to control.  My daughter is excited for school to end and has promised she is going to help me clean.

Yes, I’ve come full circle and I’ve had a tremendous amount of ups and downs.  I’ve learned many things in this past year that I’d like to share with you:

  • 40 is coming.  It’s not just 40, it’s any birthday you may be dreading.  But thousands of people walking in the “Relay for Life” would give anything for the one they love to have one more birthday.  It’s coming…appreciate it.

  • I had friends who read my blog in the beginning who stopped along the way but every week, I had new friends, strangers I’ve never met, follow it.  If someone doesn’t want to be in your life…let them go.  There’s always someone willing to step up and fill the void.

  • I never thought I’d be folding children’s menus at 40.  All the degrees I have, all the experience I built up didn’t matter.  You have to play the game to succeed.  No matter how much you hate to play the political game of life, it’s happening…now more than ever… just play the game.

  • It doesn’t matter how bad it gets, if you took a vow to love someone through thick and thin remember it before you throw in the towel because when the storm passes (and it will), you’ll want to share the sunlight with them.

  • No matter how hard you try or how positive you are, there are people in this world who still suck.  Plain and simple.  Don’t engage them, don’t hang out with them and most importantly, don’t let them change who you are.  Your inner core is worth so much more.  Don’t let them bring you down.

  • Just because someone tells you to write a book, doesn’t mean they’ll read it.  Consider the source.  Do they make good on promises…are they sincere in their words and actions?  Listen to the ones you respect.  Graciously thank all the others for their suggestion.

  • Those you think will read your blog don’t and those who you least expect will.  I promise you, there are times in your life you are going to want to give up on something.  Don’t.  On at least three occasions, I was about to stop writing when someone so removed from me commented that they liked a particular post.  Keep writing (or whatever it is you’re doing), you really never know who’s paying attention.

  • Praying works and God is good.  If others don’t choose to believe this, that’s their loss.  Keep praying and God will prove his power. 
  • Put the Doritos down.  Trust me…it’s much easier to drop the chip than pick up a dumbbell.
  • Wear sunscreen.  In the end, choosing life over vanity isn’t really a choice.

  • Good things do happen to good people.  It may not happen right away, but patience pays off.

Friends…40 is here and even though I’m scared, I’m ready.  I’ve prepared myself to know that life isn’t going to be perfect, but on the whole, LIFE IS GOOD!

Thank you for sharing this journey with me!

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Day 365 (Dad’s Birthday)

Today is my dad’s birthday.  I always joke around with him that I was his best present .  For 40 years I have been his “one day late” gift.  I love saying that to him.  It makes me feel special.

As you might tell by the tone of my posts, life has been rougher than usual lately.  The toll of not working full-time along with some repairs going on in the house that took way longer than it should have, is getting to me.

I’m not used to so much free time.  Quite frankly, it doesn’t suit me.  I like to be busy and feel productive.  And no!  I don’t pass the time by cleaning my house.  I hate housework.  I avoid it at all costs.  This of course adds to my funk!

And so today…when the weather stinks (again!), my funk is acting up.  But then I remember…I’m someone’s “one day late,” best present ever and realize that I have a lot to be thankful for.  There are many people my age who have buried both of their parents already.  I don’t want to imagine when that happens.  Losing my step-dad was enough.

So on the last day of my thirties, I wish my dad a very happy birthday and many more!  I hope for all of you that when times get tough you remember that you are someone’s “best gift ever” and keep on truckin’!

Happy Birthday Pops!

Day 364 (Rude)

After dinner on Saturday night, we met some friends at a local bar for a couple of drinks and laughs.  We had been there about an hour and a half when I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room.

When I got back (and it was a quick visit), my husband said that two people left and they said “goodbye.”  Ummm….wha?  I honestly thought my husband was joking.  I swear, I was gone no more than three minutes and they had left.  They weren’t mad, angry, upset.  As a matter of fact, we were having fun dancing by our table.

A chance encounter yesterday put me with one of them.  I made a joke about having to stalk him so I could say goodbye.  Part of his response was, “yeah, we didn’t mean to be rude or anything” and I could tell he was sincere in what he was saying.

Whether you mean it or not, if you’re rude, you’re rude.  That’s it.  Plain and simple.  It doesn’t matter that you didn’t mean to be.  You were.  If you start your sentence with, “I don’t mean to gossip but…” you’re a gossip.  I love people who think by saying “I don’t mean to,” it negates that they are in fact doing exactly what they don’t mean to be doing.

Own it people.  If you’re going to gossip just do it.  If you are going to be catty, do it.  And for heaven’s sake, if you are going to be rude, don’t make an excuse for it.  Just apologize and agree that leaving when the birthday girl takes a quick time out is well…rude!

Day 363 (Split Party)

On Saturday night, my husband arranged for a great dinner with family and a couple of local friends.  It happened to be the same day my girlfriend’s son graduated from high school so one half of the group had him and his family and the other half of the group was me and my family.

At one point, I got up to say a few words and started by acknowledging his graduation.  Within a second, I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.  You see, sitting a mere five seats away was me…almost twenty years ago…with the world at my fingertips.  There was so much I wanted to say to him; so much I needed to warn him about and help him with so he didn’t waste his life away because in a blink of an eye, you are thanking people for sharing “40” with you.

Time flies by and there is no one powerful enough to stop it.  Twenty years from now, when I am hopefully toasting his “40th,” I pray to God I do not regret the things I should have done for the past twenty years.

Don’t waste your time friends.

Day 362 (Dance Recital)

Yesterday at my daughter’s dance recital there was a woman who was calling out odd things through the performance.  The more she called out the more I was able to hear her voice and surmised she was an older woman.

When a teenage boy walked out on the stage, she called out that the “star performer” was on stage.  I couldn’t help but think it was her grandson and I wondered if he heard her and was embarrassed.

She called out at least five more times and the more she called out, the more upset people were getting.  It had the opposite affect on me though.  In fact, the more she called out, the more sympathetic I  became.  She was probably not well and who knew how many more times that teenage boy would have his grandmother in the audience.

I hope he wasn’t embarrassed.  I hope he realized that he only had a few precious years left with his grandmother before she’d never declare him the star of the show again.

Have patience with the elderly my friends.  Yes, their behavior may be odd, embarrassing and/or rude, but they were once witty, sharp and polite.  They were once you and me and are probably struggling to keep hold of whatever power they have left.  Don’t take it away from them.  Smile in remembrance of someone you wish would yell out to you just one more time.

Day 361 (Stuffed Unicorn)

My kids were dilly-dallying while eating breakfast this morning and I needed them to speed it up a bit.  I asked them three times and it didn’t work.  Finally, I said, “If you aren’t done by the time the clock reads ‘8:17am,’ I’m taking away a stuffed animal.”

They started eating but began talking again.  I asked which animal they would want me to take and my daughter hurriedly said, “the unicorn.”  Now, we all know kids aren’t going to say their favorite one, so if I needed to, do you think I would have chosen the unicorn?  Of course not.

Why is this important you ask?  Well…the truth is, if you give too much information to people, they can (and sometimes will) use it against you.  This is especially true of those who are too caring, too loving, too trusting.  It doesn’t make you a bad person to hold back some info…it makes you a smart person.

So…as much as you are tempted to spill all your deepest, darkest secrets to people, DON’T.  You never know when they may use it against you.

 

Day 360 (Hot Rolls)

The manager at the restaurant I work at realized I can give more to the company than just seating people.  As such, he asked if I’d be interested in doing marketing for them.  Happy for the extra responsibility, I accepted.

The marketing campaign is a push to get more deliveries during lunch.  Therefore, my “role” (you’ll understand the quotes in a second), is to go out to the businesses in our area and let them know we now offer deliveries.  I present them with a folder full of coupons and information as well as a bag of our hot rolls (hence the quotes) and dipping oil.

I try to hit them between 9:30am and 11:30am to get them thinking about us for lunch.  Yesterday morning was dark, dreary and rainy.  I was not too excited about jumping in and out of my car, but I put on my bright red rain jacket and decided to be a bit of sunshine in someone else’s dreary day.

It’s amazing how an unexpected, small bag of hot rolls can bring a smile to someone’s face.  Imagine if you clipped some flowers from your garden and gave them to someone just because?  What if you had your kids color pictures and deliver them to your local senior home?  Why not pay for someone’s coffee for no reason at all?

Please think of a way you can brighten someone’s day.  If enough of you do it, someday I may just wind up with a bag of hot rolls!  Thank you in advance!

Day 359 (Consistency)

In the beginning of this blog, inspiration was a lot easier to come by.  I had so many thoughts built up that I was easily able to write first thing in the morning and be done for the day.

As you can imagine, it gets tougher to think of something new every day, so I wouldn’t post as early as I once did.  This meant if I was with a particular person (who will remain nameless), I often had to say, “sorry…give me a minute I have to write my blog.”  She responded with a roll of the eyes and an “ugh.”

Recently though, something happened.  Since I never faltered…not one day in 359, when I just mentioned to her that I had to write my blog before I could meet her, I got an “okay.”  There was no malice behind it…not hint of trying to sway me away.  I got a completely agreeable, “okay.”

People will begin taking you seriously when you begin being serious.  If you want to lose weight but you eat cookies at parties, you will never be supported.  If you want to stop smoking but smoke “on special occasions,” no one will buy your BS.  If you want help breaking up with a not so great partner but you run back every time they send you a text, no one will stay in your corner.

If you want to accomplish something, hold fast and don’t be swayed.  People will see right through it and manipulate you in the opposite direction.  Be strong, stand your ground and you will be “okay.”