"Build your own dreams,
or someone else will hire you to build theirs."
|Whining In My Sleep||
Have you ever read an article or watched an interview shaking your head in agreement? Saying, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” in your mind as if the person were speaking for you? Not in the When Harry Met Sally way but in a way where someone puts your thoughts into words. Well, Maria Shriver did just that for me in an AARP article.
You might be wondering why I’m reading a publication about retirement when I’m in my prime. No, I didn’t win the lottery. I’m just hopeful that thirty-six still counts as one of my best years. I’ll let you know when it’s over. But there I was, sitting alone in the dermatologist’s office waiting room and thumbing through the magazine rack looking for an alternative to playing Flappy Bird on my phone. Yes, my kids sucked me into that before the app was discontinued or whatever term might apply. I’m not current with the Millennial vernacular. Maybe that’s why I called the flashlight on my phone a “feature” and not an app. It's no secret that I have a love hate relationship with technology.
So back to standard journalism, Maria Shriver and words that inspire. Here’s the quote of the month.
“You have to be willing to let go of the life you planned in order to make the life you're meant to live.”
I'll have what she's having--wisdom. Enjoy your weekend!
I came across this philosophy for life that I wanted to pass along. This wisdom explains how we derive meaning from each day and how we quantify time, more specifically hours, to live our best lives.
Everyone works to juggle three variables: time, money, and energy. Often, one of these is usually lacking. And, in my case, more than one seems deficient most days. Life is all about optimizing each.
To do this, each 24-hour day is divided into three 8-hour blocks. (TIME) One block is for sleep. (ENERGY) The next is for your career. The part that usually locks us into that iron cage just to pay for our survival. (MONEY) The third block of time is allocated for our passions, hobbies, and other activities that define who we are beyond the mandatory parts of sleep and work. This is the creative part that gives meaning to our lives where our species being can flourish. The part that makes us distinctly human.
Now, I’ve been thinking about this philosophy ever since I read about it. At first, I thought it was the most brilliant advice I’d ever read. Then I began to see the flaws of an idealized plan that’s much too simplified compared to actual life. Who works only 8 hours? That doesn’t even take into account the commute. And does anyone with a family have even half of an 8-hour block that isn’t devoted to kids? Plus, haven’t some people merged their passions into careers? You see there are many faults that wreck the equation.
We all know that one size usually doesn’t fit all, whether it’s following a philosophy or wearing a T-shirt. So, perhaps you can adapt this concept based on your stage of life or just be conscious of how you spend your time. I think we’re all seeking more meaning in our lives. And time, money, energy…
There’s one job that I never want. Well, besides the obvious careers in technical or electrical services. I’m about as suited for that as I am for being a school teacher. No thanks. I never want to work in pharmaceutical sales. The concept of building relationships with doctors who will then prescribe drugs that reward me financially just doesn’t sit right with my conscience. We’ve become a nation reliant on prescription drugs and that should concern us all.
Early on in the road to Peter’s diagnosis, I took him to a psychiatrist. Peter was only three. At the end of the three week session and nearly $1,000 later, the doctor diagnosed him with ADHD. Desperate for relief, I filled the prescription for Ritalin. After a three day trial with no improvement, the doctor prescribed another stimulant. Nothing helped. I never took Peter back to that doctor and he never inquired again about Peter’s well-being.
Peter’s not alone. Statistics show “that more than half of children and teens with autism have been prescribed psychoactive medicine, and over a third have been prescribed two or more at a time.” (http://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/study-finds-most-children-autism-have-taken-psychoactive-medicine) Just like many other children, Peter was simply a guinea pig for a doctor who didn’t have a clue as to how to treat autism. And the rise of autism became just another opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to cash in.
Since becoming a mom, I’ve noticed another trend. Women are becoming reliant on anti-depressants. Coupled with that is the daily consumption of wine. Lots of it, too. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be five o’clock somewhere to fill up a glass. I’m by no means a teetotaler, but I’m not someone who drinks regularly. At least not in winter. Come summer, bring on the beer.
We can all agree that life runs us ragged. Yet does that require prescription drugs to cope? Please don’t confuse me with Tom Cruise because I was team Brooke during that postpartum depression debate. I won’t argue against hormones. Generally, though, it seems that people turn to medication to either escape from life’s troubles or exist in a numb state for survival. The same is true for people using recreational drugs. Just look at the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and other Hollywood stars who seem to have it all and turn to drugs to try and satiate an insatiable emptiness. (BTW, I’ve never seen his movies. You might’ve remembered that since my movie tastes are a few decades behind.)
Let’s face it: life never goes as planned. I often sigh and say to myself out loud, “Ahhh. Life!” whenever something happens that I didn’t expect. Like last night at 4 a.m. when I was stripping the bed sheets because my dog threw up in between me and my husband. If there ever were a time to be thankful for a king size bed, this was it. And just like a man, he barely woke up. For me, just exhaling deeply and saying the word ‘life’ is like giving myself the explanation I need to carry on. There’s no changing it. It is what it is. That’s perhaps the greatest, most succinct statement, to just suck it up and move on. Big girl panties optional.
I came across an article by Dr. Mike Litrel entitled, “Cocaine or Prayer? How Best to Feel Better.” (http://woodstock.patch.com/groups/cherokee-womens-health-blog/p/cocaine-or-prayer-how-best-to-feel-better_609a3666) I could fool you and say that I pray. I don’t. What I do ascribe to is the ability of each person to connect deep within to find that mental strength to persevere. Prayer is an avenue of hope. We can all generate hope. It’s just how we get there that varies.
The next time you’re feeling down and think you need a prescription to cope with life, think about this from Dr. Litrel:
“We all experience sadness in our lives, a sense of confusion about what we are doing, and, at times, an overwhelming feeling of despair. These are normal human emotions that all too often have a spiritual purpose. Drugs supply relief; but, are they the solution? Health is not just about vital signs, laboratory findings, and medical diagnoses. Part of health is understanding our purpose in life and following that path in our daily actions. When we stray, we are designed to experience unhappiness...[D]epression is not a true diagnosis of the body like cancer or pregnancy. It’s a spiritual discomfort to remind us to look deeper at our lives—and to make a change.”
If I did pray, I’d follow up with—Amen.
If you're like me then you gloss over when you hear the trite spiel of, "Life is a journey not a destination." Daily life can be overwhelming, notwithstanding those angry neighbors, and it's easy to get in a rut, weighed down by expectations and things to come. If you're also like me, then you're waiting for the pieces of your life to come together as if those ideal conditions will lead to happiness once we arrive at that destination we've fantasized about in our minds. Only life really is made up of all of the "in the meantimes" on the way to that destination that's neither guaranteed if it even exists at all. Sometimes all we need is a little boost to progress from that state of limbo whereby we're holding out for that "one day" instead of being happy in the now. Maybe this poem will help tweak your outlook.
We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.
The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now.
Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D'Souza. He said, "For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."
This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have.
Stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.
And, if all else fails, help yourselves to a glass of mother's ruin to weather those harsh conditions this holiday season with relatives who might impede your happiness. Sometimes an artificial boost is all it takes to survive those trying meantimes.
I love a good turtleneck. The ones that aren't too tight to trigger that choking complex and aren't made of itchy fabrics causing a rash to flare up on my neck. The ones that have just the right blend of cottony wool to make me feel cozy and no angora hair, please. (SEE BELOW.) I wear full-on turtlenecks (no dickeys in my closet) plus mock turtlenecks and turtlenecks with short sleeves for that transitional weather. You name it, I've worn them all--proudly.
I always thought turtlenecks were classic, conservative wardrobe staples and I'm not even from Connecticut. Yes, here in Georgia, turtlenecks still prevail. (Or do they?) Now I've never been one to be "on trend" and haven't had a shopping spree in years. Basically, I wear what I have, turtlenecks included, and I can't say that I feel out-of-style when I wear them. Then my daughters begged me not to wear them like I was breaking a major fashion rule. For the record, I've never been convinced by the "nobody's doing it" argument. And, in good humor, I've purposely worn a turtleneck to embarrass my daughters. How much harm could my wearing a turtleneck do to their self-esteem anyways? Now that I think back, I was always mortified of my dad's older cars that we dubbed tanks and he was the one driving.
Maybe a turtleneck has to be mesh and cleavage baring to be considered fashionable, like the one Kim Kardashian wore last week. I'm not even sure Joan Rivers and the E! crew would approve of that fashion choice. Perhaps if I had the on-trend hair, with its distinct part and long strands cascading over my collar bones, then my daughters wouldn't criticize my clothing choice. Bonus: The hair might conceal the collar.
Doesn't it seem that every woman is following the same manufactured and commercial definitions of beauty? At least these are the images rampant across the media. I have seen a few women in suburbia trying to emulate their style; Either that or they're desperately trying to recapture their per-menopausal youth. As beauty trends continue to evolve, you'll probably still find me with my hair tied up rocking a turtleneck. Well, maybe "rocking it" goes a little too far. (And, P.S. daughter, I made you wear them, too. Ha, ha, ha, ha!)
On a serious note, I have to share this link to an article that I found when I was looking up angora rabbits: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2510641/Cruel-truths-angora-fur-trade-revealed-shocking-video.html. The internet has brought the world together, exposing humans from different cultures and ways of life, in ways that touch us and alarm us to our core. This is one of those stories that stays in your mind well after the images fade. I am not a PETA extremist. I am probably a lot like you in showing compassion towards any kind of life. I challenge you and your conscience to click on that link and still buy something containing angora hair or fur after learning where it likely originated.
A few years back, the public was disgusted and outraged after an undercover investigation exposed the use of dog fur on coat trimmings falsely labeled as synthetic materials. What about the labels that clearly state the use of fur, even just a little? The small percentages in our clothing equates to immeasurable suffering for animals. I confess that I thought the rabbits were shaved like sheep. Today, as in hours ago, I know better. I share this information with you so that when you're out shopping in the coming weeks you can either contribute to this practice or make a statement with your wallet.
I debated whether or not to post this last part and then I thought to myself, how could I not? Thanks for reading.
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress
can be judged by the ways its animals are treated."
~ Mahatma Gandhi
For those of you unfamiliar with my blog, I hope you haven't landed here after reading the title of today’s post and, thus, assumed that you’ll find something related to female breasteses [sic]. For starters, I’d never refer to the female anatomy using a crude synonym favored by men in the same way I’d never refer to a penis with the equally offensive ‘c’ or ‘d’ slang words. Rather, 'tit for tat' is a strategy often implored by children and abstained from by parents of multiples, as in multiple kids, not just twins and the like.
I know that I heard the expression, “Everything can’t be tit for tat,” growing up and, as parents often do, I’m recycling the phrase for my own children. The ‘tit for tat’ reasoning has effectively replaced the overused “because I said so” reply in silencing my children’s endless pleas for the latest and greatest, or to thwart their efforts to keep up with their siblings for the sake of comparisons. With four children it's simply unpractical and financially unwise to run a family on a level playing field.
We’ve heard that life isn’t fair and nor is it equal. Sometimes one child needs a new pair of shoes while another child’s winter boots from last season still have plenty of room in the toes. I might buy a new iPod Touch case to replace a ripped one, while saying no to the child who wanted a different design. And the lessons don’t just apply to material wants. I might allow one child to have a friend over while saying no to another. Truthfully, I may like one of the friends or the parents better. One child may have more artwork posted on the family display board, while another child may be featured in more framed pictures throughout the house. I might’ve chosen to display duplicate school pictures from years past or have a fondness for select pictures from the toddler years that may be over representative of one child by chance. So be it. Life ain’t fair. (Side note: Ain’t ain’t a word until sometimes it is.)
Teaching my children through a ‘tit for tat’ mentality is a good primer for life. And it ties into my favorite quote of all time, of which I’ve posted before, in that, “Comparison…is the cardinal sin of modern life. It traps us in a game we can’t win. Once we define ourselves in terms of others, we lose the freedom to shape our own lives.” The best life lessons are the ones learned at home; A place where children learn the harsh reality that, much like home, the universe isn’t ‘tit for tat’ either. Nope. Rhyme and reason stop making sense when we graduate from fairy tales. And that, my friends, is a full-circle moment. Life is not a fairy tale.
If you're like me then you feel inundated by the sheer number of articles, advice, news stories, blurbs, etc. that fight for our attention every time we sit down in front of our computer. The stories that are vast in quantity and often skimpy on quality. And like me you may also be guilty of quickly scanning a news article about the latest world news or national tragedy, the stories that should almost be classified as must-read material for all, just to ward off the looming guilt that comes when you've spent more time engrossed in articles about mindless fluff and irrelevant studies. Here are a few headlines from around the web that I thought I'd share.
Want to find out if you're living in a state that matches your mood? Here's a link to the article and quiz: http://science.time.com/2013/10/22/the-united-states-of-attitude-an-interactive-guide-to-americas-moods/. According to this, I should pack my bags and move to North Carolina, while my husband would move to the Louisiana bayou. I think you'll agree that the results of this test are especially subjective towards women based on our fluctuating moods at any given hour of the day. I wonder what the margin of error was when factoring our answers when suffering from P.M.S. I heard that people are already experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder since the time change. I know my body still hasn't adjusted and apparently neither has my dog's bladder, which awakens both of us an hour earlier, sometime around 5 a.m.
On the subject of dogs, here's another site I came across about a rescued Chihuahua: http://www.everythingrosie.com/. The video has that penetratingly sympathetic Sarah McLachlan-ASPCA vibe and it's hard to turn a blind eye to that. Just last weekend I passed a sign-spinner for Petland and only gave up my plan to yell out the car window about the inhumane business of puppy mills, of which Petland is a notorious client, when my husband explained that the sign-spinner had no influence on company policy. I'm still baffled as to how these stores still operate. I thought everyone knew never to buy a puppy from a pet store.
Lastly, this might be my favorite link of all, courtesy of my husband who accuses me of caring more about my dog than him: http://now.msn.com/1-in-10-women-are-more-in-love-with-their-pet-than-their-partner. I wouldn't say that I'm more in love with my....wait; Maybe I am the lone 1 in 10 when it comes to my dog, Kirby, who's my favorite of my three dogs. I often say that I wish my husband could sleep somewhere else (i.e. not in our bed) because Kirby gets settled on his side of the bed, comfortably resting his head on the raised pillow after scratching and pawing to get the covers positioned just right, only to be disturbed from a deep sleep when my husband finally retires for the night, hours after we, the dog and I, are fast asleep. And notice how I use the word "my" before dog, which signifies how I've propelled my dog to an almost human-equivalent status, which is nowhere near how my husband regards the dog.
Now I know I'm guilty of extending the same consideration towards my dogs as I do the humans around me. If one of my dogs is sleeping on a chair in the living room then I tell my children to pick another chair as they gasp in disbelief that I'm putting the dogs' needs above their own. I remind them that two of the dogs are 14 years-old and the equivalent of senior citizens. It's only good manners to respect your elders, right? Besides that, the dogs were there to welcome each child home from the hospital, even sampling the contents of their diapers a time or two. (Or more, but who's counting?) So I have to ask: Am I being too partial to our dogs? I need some honest, unbiased feedback.
Does the name Keisha conjure up any stereotypes in your mind? The only Keisha I’ve ever known (well, not known-known personally) was Keisha Knight Pulliam who played Rudy on The Cosby Show. Well, apparently the name Keisha isn’t always well-received. I read an article about a biracial girl who changed her name from Keisha to Kylie to eliminate the racial-profiling she felt went along with having a “black name.” You can read the article in full here: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/19-year-old-changes-name-to-put-end-to-stereotypes/nbjsT/
Kylie’s (a.k.a. Keisha’s) story reminded me of an article I read entitled, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” In short, the answer is yes. The article is based on a study about the call back rates from job applicants and cites how many people can’t get a job interview because the name topping their resumes immediately disqualifies them. Even in a time when the U.S. population is shifting and becoming increasingly diversified, discrimination still rears its ugly head.
Parents choose names with racial and cultural significance, while never deliberately intending to handicap their children. I gave all of my children Persian first names with traditional American middle names that had a familial connection. I won’t share their names to protect their privacy, but each name was spelled simply and passed the Americanized pronunciation test. Or so I thought until people automatically converted the “s” in my son’s name to “z.” I’ve noticed how many American-born people choke up when trying to pronounce an unfamiliar name. Accompany me to a waiting room at the doctor’s office and you’ll see the nurse hesitating as she prepares to read out the name on the file. Doesn’t anyone recall learning elementary phonics?
I was proud to name my children in honor my husband’s heritage. I never assumed that they’d be unfairly profiled because of their names and so far they haven’t; at least not that I know about. I love that there are no duplicate names in their classes or entire school for that matter. Who knows maybe they’ll be known by a single name one day, like Shakira or Regis. I will admit that when I was choosing their names, I did pause and wonder if giving them a Persian name would be a hindrance in their lifetimes. Not that they were named something bizarre like Apple or North, but I didn’t want to set them up for failure later on. And given that they’d be American raised without an accent and part of a society built by immigrants, I figured they’d not only be unaffected by having a “different” name, but they’d flourish apart from the monotonous pack of Sophias and Ethans.
There have been times where my children have wished for different names. Children have made fun of Peter’s name and that’s hard because he has enough challenges trying to succeed with autism. (Side note: Remember that Peter isn’t his real name.) At times, my carbon copy daughter has threatened to change her name when she’s older and my oldest son often goes by a nickname using the “z” that others have infused into his name. And not until my other daughter was in preschool Spanish did I discover that her name is also the Spanish word for a croaking amphibian. I never did like Spanish.
People become their names in the sense that once we know someone with a certain name then we often carry those perceptions onto others. My son had an assignment to write a journal entry to an African woman circa the late 1700s. He chose to name the fictitious woman “Yolanda.” To him that represented an African woman. To me, Yolanda is blonde, originally from Holland, but now resides in La-La Land as a cast member on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And when I received a fraudulent solicitation call from a "Mike Johnson" in India, I knew that wasn't the man's birth name.
So back to my original question about whether names invoke preconceived stereotypes, I think it’s only natural that they do. What we do with those thoughts only becomes problematic if we judge someone based solely on a name. Ever noticed how people used President Obama’s middle name Hussein strategically when questioning his background? Maybe you’ve judged someone based on a name and never thought twice about it. Being conscious of our actions is the only way to change our thought pattern. So the next time you encounter someone who may have a name you don’t recognize or be from another country, remember what my Iranian-born husband always says: “I may speak with an accent, but I don’t think with one.” Carry on.
How many of us have heard a quote, the succinct words of wisdom whittled down to a brilliant memorable phrase, which can alter our lives if we adhered to the advice? We may remember the quote for a day or two or even write it down, hoping that the words will imprint permanently in our minds. The other day I pulled out the book, The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People that was stuffed in my bedside table. I’ve had the Hallmark gift book for more than a dozen years and have probably opened it half that many times. The book was an impulse buy. I think that’s how those stores stay in business. Well, rash purchases and charging $5 for ornate birthday cards. I remember reading through the table of contents and every line was simple and yet so spot on. I couldn’t put the book down. Here’s a link to the book http://www.amazon.com/100-Simple-Secrets-Happy-People/dp/0060000910/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1381683816&sr=8-2&keywords=100+simple+secrets+of+happy+people and a sampling of the advice.
#5 Choose your comparisons wisely
#16 Believe in yourself
#17 Don't believe in yourself too much
#22 Pay attention. You may have what you want
#29 Don't think "what if"
#34 It's not what happened, it's how you think about what happened
#37 Don't let your entire life hinge on one element
#39 Busy is better than bored
#52 Never trade your morals for your goals
#58 Events are temporary
#64 Keep a pen and paper handy
#71 Don't accept television's picture of the world
#82 Don't dwell on unwinnable conflicts
#89 Realize that complete satisfaction doesn't exist
#91 Don't let others set your goals
Even if one phrase sticks, it might just change your outlook today. Sometimes one minor tweak is all it takes. Well, most of the time anyways.
Enjoying my fragrant, rosebush finally in full bloom is one way that I find my happiness. That follows the advice of #90: Surround yourself with pleasant aromas. And then when I wake up to find that a deer has feasted on every magnificent bloom, I try and remember #50: Cherish animals. I think I still have some more work to do.