November 27, 2007

Being My Whole Self

I watched a movie that I recorded from Lifetime tonight. It was called More of Me, starring Molly Shannon as a mother of twins who wishes there was more of her to go around to her career, twin children, and husband. In classic TV fairy tale fashion, her wish comes true, and out of a 3-panel mirror comes one of her to be the mother, one to be the career woman, and one to be a sex kitten to the hubby. Each of the alter egos end up spinning out of control, and going to extremes in their particular area. By the end of the movie, she realizes that she needs to be "my whole self" in order to be the best person she can be.

The movie was, I think, intended to be a comedy. It certainly was funny. But, it made me think. As a single mother, although all mothers do feel it, I often find myself wishing things were different. When I'm at work, I feel guilty and want to be home taking care of my children. When I'm home with my children b/c they're sick or something, I feel like I'm letting my employer down. And at least twice a day, once at work and once with the kids, I wish for some "me time". I feel as though nothing and no one gets as much of me as they deserve, or need. When I take time for myself, even something as simple as a bubble bath after the kids are in bed and sound asleep, I feel as though something somewhere is being neglected. I'll sit in bubbles up to my neck and think about how I should be in bed, resting for the early morning ahead of me.

But as I watched this movie, I realized that even though I feel as though I'm letting everyone down, I'm not. I need these different parts of myself in order to be what everyone needs. I wouldn't be a good mother if I never had any experiences outside my home and my children. How can they learn anything from me if I have nothing to teach them? And without work, and a little quiet time, I wouldn't appreciate my children as much as I do.

We often focus so much on what we aren't doing for others, what we don't have for them, what we can't do, can't find, can't say. We think more about our perceived failures than our true triumphs. I'm not one of those perky, dimpled smile people that drives everyone nuts with their upbeat attitudes. But I do think that the power of positive thinking has some merit to it. Maybe instead of focusing on what we don't/can't do for our kids, spouse, employer, friend, family member, neighbor, etc., we should focus on what we already do for them.

And there's something else that I had pointed out to me today:

When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.
When you thought I wasn't looking , I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make my favorite cake for me and I learned that the little things can be the special things in life.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I heard you say a prayer, and I knew there is a God I could always talk to and I learned to trust in God.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you give of your time and money to help people who had nothing and I learned that those who have something should give to those who don't. When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn't feel good and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw tears come from your eyes and I learned that sometimes things hurt, but it's all right to cry.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I saw that you cared and I wanted to be everything that I could be.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I learned most of life's lessons that I need to know to be a good and productive person when I grow up.
When you thought I wasn't looking, I looked at you and wanted to say, 'Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn't looking.'

That was sent to me in an e-mail at work. And although you can tell it's meant to be a reminder that children are watching, I think it's something to keep in mind for everyone. I think we all do things that we don't think other people notice, but they do. More than that though, I think we do things for others that we don't realize matter so much to them. A simple thank you for a job well done seems like nothing to us, but the person we're thanking might take that thank you as so much more b/c they're having a bad day, or week, or month.

With those thoughts in mind, and bedtime looming near, I think I'm off to do some guilt-free yoga. And tonight my mantra will be "I can't be what everyone needs unless I am my whole self".

November 13, 2007

Instant Gratification = Whining Adults

It's a really great thing to be able to go online, and read the news anytime you want, instead of waiting for 6pm or 11pm. It's awesome to shop online before you hit the store to get an idea of what you want, or to check flight times and book your flight and hotel for your vacation. But there is one problem with all this instant response stuff: It turns adults into whiny little brats.

I work for a company that wholesale distributes products to the retail store. This means that we deal with the retail store owners and their employees whenever they call in to place their orders, or have questions about a product. I have several problems with the behavior of these people.

First and foremost, is that they call in constantly with questions about how the product works, what it looks like, etc. Seems to me if you're going to sell it, you should be somewhat familiar with it. I, for one, am not impressed by the high-pressure salesperson who says, "I don't know how it works, let me call my distributor and ask."

Second is their attitude. These people will call up with the worst attitude I've ever heard in my life. Who do they think they are impressing here? They call up and they say to me, "I want to speak to so and so." I say so and so is on a call, but I can put them thru to voicemail, and in return, I hear, "Look, I have a customer here, so just get up off your butt and go tell so and so I'm holding, I need answers and I need them now." Excuse me?! If I ever heard a salesperson talking to someone that way, whether or my behalf or not, that would be the end of it right there. I would walk out of their store immediately.

What really gets to me though, is the whining. These people whine more than my children! When our computer system was down one day, it was supposed to come back up in 30 minutes which was when one of the salespeople went to lunch. When I told his customer that it would be up in 30, he says to me, "But he'll be at lunch then. How will I place my order? I need to do this now, before he goes to lunch. What will I do if I can't?" Uh, hello, the computer system is down. You can't place the order, even if I do put you through to your salesperson. When I try to explain to him that his salesperson will call him back when he gets back from lunch, he whines about the wait.

I realize we all have things to do, and I realize that the customer can just go on down the street to the next customer, but seriously: can we not wait 15-20 minutes for a return call? Why must they act like it's the end of the world instead of thinking of it as an opportunity to try to sell other stuff while they wait?

And they always want to hold, as if their salesperson doesn't have 20 other people to call back, and they are just the most important customer we have. I want to know how they can stand to sit there doing nothing but listening to cheesy hold music? That would drive me nuts. I never want to hold. I'd rather call back or leave a message and have them call me back.

Oh, and let's not forget the threats. I actualy had one customer call up (he does maybe $2000 worth of business a year) and when I said his salesrep was on a call, he said to me, "Put me on hold. And I better not have to hold long or I'll call Corporate. I don't want to call them, but I will if I have to." LOL. I guess that's supposed to make me leap from my chair and run at full speed to his salesperson and tell him that if he doesn't get off the phone with his $250,000 customer right now and take this other guy, he's going to call Corporate. Big friggin' deal. And frankly, when I'm threatened, I tend to respond by doing the exact thing they say they don't want me to do. I left him on hold for a half hour. Gee, he never did call Corporate. Hmmm...maybe he couldn't figure out how to dial all those numbers.

We claim our children are becoming selfish, and want everything now, now, NOW. I think, though, that if these people are any indication, it's our own fault. We've come to expect to get everything immediately, and have therefore taught our children that this is acceptable. I'm guilty of it too, although I do try very hard to teach my children patience and that there are times when you just can't have what you want right when you want it. I think I do a pretty good job.

Although it's great to have easy access to things, I think we should take a step back in time. Credit cards weren't always around; you had to save your money for things you wanted. You see it all the time in old movies, or even "Leave It To Beaver" and shows like it: the kid who stares longingly in the window and the bike he so desperately wants, but can't have until he gets enough money from mowing lawns. Most people would not have a lot of the debt they have if they quit using the credit cards to immediately buy what they want, and just saved for it. Don't misunderstand me: I have one credit card, and I'm broke. I'm a single mom with a sucky job that doesn't pay nearly well enough. But, I'm not broke because of my credit card. I use it one time per year: to pay for Christmas. That's it.

I'm just saying: While you can get most everything you want right away, sometimes you have to accept that it's just not going to happen, and be gracious. Be patient. Don't whine like a child. It's very unattractive.

November 10, 2007

Knowledge? Or just a big mouth with a direct line to a little brain?

When I was growing up, I couldn't wait to escape the tiny town I lived in. It was unbearably boring, with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. That was not offensive to my friends, because they felt the same as I did. Our parents were too controlling, shackling us with tons of rules and curfews, which as adults now, we realize were actually tender chains of love, not shackles.

Time passed, and eventually, I did grow up, and I did move away. I moved away, had my fun, and now, ten years later, I'm back, raising my two children here so that they can hate it as I did, only to later realize how nice it actually is.

I'm sure you're familiar with the name Wesley Snipes? Yes, honey, I am from the Ocala area. You know, that area where you just can't turn around without seein' a cross-burnin' or a lynchin'. I mean, goodness gracious, we're just so damn racist around here, we can't stand it. ***typed with a honey-thick Southern drawl***

Ok, I'm done with the sarcasm. Seriously, this whole situation is ridiculous. I mean, the fact that he's pulling the race card on charges of tax evasion...really. It's pretty simple owe taxes, if you don't pay them...hmmm, yeah you'll get charged with tax evasion.

But it's not just his claim. It's the fact that everyone who wants to agree with him, and say that this area is a "hotbed of Klan activity"...has never been here! Or if they have, they were driving through on their way to somewhere else! So, how, exactly did they discover all this Klan activity?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there aren't any racist people around here. There are. Just like there are in every other city, in every county, in every state. Racist people are everywhere. And they're wrong. Period.

With that said, this area, while it definitely does have it's share of rednecks, is not any better or any worse than any other area of the country. The thing I find most offensive, though, is that all the people who are saying how bad this area is, are people who've never been here or who've only passed through very briefly. That would be like me saying that Miami is full of Cuban voodoo. I hear all the time that there's tons of Cuban people down there. True? I don't know. I've never been there. Do they all do voodoo? I don't know. I've never been there, never met them. I'm sure there may be some, but that doesn't make it full of it. And I can't say either way, because, again: I've never been there. I would never presume to make a declarative opinion about something like that without having actually been to the place, living there, and making an effort to find out.

So, I'm left to wonder why people feel the need to spout opinions based on nothing more than air and call them fact. You can't call it knowledge when there is no knowledge behind it. So, the only thing I'm left with is that their mouth is bigger than their brain, and and so whatever few things filter down from the tiny mind flow out of the big mouth like water in a thunderstorm from a dry rain spout: unstoppable.

November 6, 2007

Role Models? Maybe not.

Have you noticed how we seem to hold "celebrities" to a higher moral standard than we do most "average" people? Let me put a disclaimer here: I am not condoning the actions of any celebrity, nor am I excusing, or justifying them either.

Dog the Bounty Hunter was just yanked off the A&E schedule for his use of the N-word. Now, again, not condoning, excusing, or justifying. With that said, here's how I see it: He was just fired for something he did in what he thought was privacy. His use of that word was wrong, pure and simple, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. He should not have used it; no one said. I agree with most people, though, who say that if people really want that word to go away, the rappers need to stop using it, and so do every day black people. But, back to my point. He was saying something to his son in what he thought was going to be a private message. Since when do we get fired for things we do at home? How many of us would be fired tomorrow if our boss found out what we said about him/her at home? And really, we've all had that really bad day when we came home and told our spouse, child, friend, neighbor, whoever, what a jerk the boss was.

Now, I'm not saying that he didn't deserve some kind of repercussion. This got out, and as a public figure, yes he does have some responsibility to set an example. I think anyone in a position of that type has an obligation to set an example, and to try to do good with their status. But, at the same time, they're entitled to make mistakes, just like the rest of us. And yet, when they do, we act shocked and amazed, as if we thought that they just couldn't do that.

Let's be honest here: If this was your best friend, your spouse, your sister/brother/mom/dad, neighbor, co-worker, whoever, and they'd made this comment in their home, and it got out, you'd be up in arms, angry and outraged that they were being fired for something they did in their home. And yet, when it's a celebrity, we demand they be fired, lose everything they've ever had. Is it a case of wanting to punish the accused, or is it a case of being jealous and wanting to bring them down to our status?

Now, don't get me wrong: I've never been a fan of Dog. I only watched his show because I think his son, Leland, is hot. I've always felt that Dog seemed a bit...hypocritical, doing his little prayer circle before hunting, and then calling the bounties all kinds of names. And I realize that we're dealing with the criminal element here. He's not the mailman delivering the phone bill. He's a bounty hunter, hunting down lowlifes who've broken the law, and then chosen to run/hide when it comes time to face the judge. Yeah, calling them names is expected, and hell, I say appropriate. But it seems hypocritical to me to stand around and pray first. You're a Christian, fine. You believe, great. But something about that whole scenario just seems weird.

Anyway, my point was to say, why do we hold celebrities to such a higher standard? Is it because they really should be? Should we really expect them to be so much better than us morally? And if we should, why? Why shouldn't we expect ourselves to be better? As I said, I believe that they are in a position to set an example, yes. But, with that said, I prefer my children's role models to be someone a bit more...down to earth. Celebrities have plenty of money at their disposal to do anything they want, buy what they want, and change whatever they want about their lives. Us regular people don't have that luxury. We go to work everyday at jobs we despise, working for and with people we don't like, who annoy or anger us, and come home to clean the house, cook dinner, help with homework, and repeat ourselves five times before we're heard when we say it's bedtime. I'd rather my children learn from that than from the celebrity who can crack up a car in a high speed car chase, blame it on the drugs and go to rehab, or spend ninety minutes in jail.

That's not to say we can't admire celebrities. In a previous post, I've named some of the ones I look up to: Queen Latifah, Melissa Etheridge, Reba, and I've recently found Jenny McCarthy to be another. But the people I've looked up to the most, my entire life, have been my parents, my grandparents, and other people like them.

I think we need to change the way we look at things. I think we need to expect good from celebrities, but not demand a public beheading when they screw up. I think we need to encourage our children to look to us for their role models and their ideas of how real men and women should act. We need to take control of our lives and the future of society instead of letting it rest in the hands of celebrities who are just as human as we are and make the same mistakes that we do.

Second disclaimer: Britney Spears, Nicole Ritchey, Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, and company are not included in this blog. They are just plain out of control and should be locked away somewhere until they get it together.

November 3, 2007

The Reality of Stephen King

So, here's a Halloween story for you, a couple of days late:

Two women, a mother and daughter, take the daughters two kids to a haunted house on the Saturday following Halloween. Being that it's within walking distance, they decide to walk. They make their way through the home of torture and fear, and then begin their trek back home. Turning onto their dark street, they walk a few steps before a truck turns onto the street behind them. The women take the children and step off the road onto either side of it, waiting for the truck to pass. The driver turns his headlights off and on, to indicate they should continue. Warily, they do so. The truck does not move. A few steps later, music begins to emanate from the truck. The daughter recognizes it as AC/DC, but not the precise song title. A lyric or two into it, she realizes it's "Highway to Hell". Appropriate.

They continue walking, trying to quell their unease. The truck finally begins to slowly move. They all crowd to one side of the street, as far off as possible to allow the truck to pass. Finally, he does so. A few yards down the road, he speeds up. Both women breathe a sigh of relief. They make their way, and about the time they get to the daughter's house, the truck turns into a driveway, backs up and turns around. "Highway to Hell" is still blaring from the speakers. The four step into the yard, to wait for it to pass, not wanting the driver to know that it is their destination. He stops in the road directly in front of the house. Trying to convince themselves that perhaps this is just some lost person needing directions, they step toward the truck, and he speeds off down the road again. Turning the corner, he is gone. The four make a mad dash for the house, thrilled that the mother's husband is on his way.

Spooky story, right? That really happened to me tonight! I told my mother the second he flashed his headlights at us, I said "This is a Stephen King novel waiting to happen." I sit here, an hour and a half later, still not knowing why this guy did all this, but still very uncomfortable. I actually went to my car and brought in a stick with a piece of lead on the end of it that I carry for protection. Fortunately, my car is parked in my attached garage, therefore I didn't have to go outside. This was just so weird. The thing is, this is usually a pretty safe neighborhood. I don't know if that made it more scary or not, but it got to me.

So now, I had stuff I was going to watch on TV tonight, but I'm so spooked, I can't bring myself to watch it because it's all scary stuff. This is so annoying.

On a lighter boys got kind of scared at the haunted house. My oldest really freaked out at one point, because they had this tableau with a boy being held captive to be turned into dinner, and the boy is reaching through the fence begging you to please help him, and he's only a couple of years older than my son. I understood why that upset him, and I sat down with him on the ground, and explained to him that it was fake, that the little boy was not scared. I told him that the boy was actually having a lot of fun pretending to be scared. I think he understood. He's sleeping now, so that's a good sign. I guess if he wakes me up in the middle of the night, we'll know it didn't work.

Well, I think I'll go watch "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion" on TV. A nice, funny movie to lighten me up and get rid of the spooks.

November 1, 2007

What's Important?

Last night was Halloween, of course. I took my children trick-or-treating at a walking-distance business that was having a haunted house/party for the kids in town. They were dressed up as Frankenstein, and absolutely adorable. I went as a vampire victim. LOL

They had a great time, as did I. My parents went with us, and we saw a lot of friends. One of whom was the business partner/best friend of the friend who died over the weekend. It was good to see him there. It was the first time I'd seen him since the death, and so I went to give him a hug and let him know I was there for him. He hugged me tight and I could hear the tears in his voice as he spoke in my ear. This is not a man who cries easily. I brought my boys home, and by the time we got washed up and into bed, it was ten o'clock. They weren't asleep until eleven.

I was frustrated, because I wanted to shower and get to bed myself. I was verging on angry, because I was just so damn tired, and I'd had a long day that I wanted to be over. Just when I was ready to lose my temper, I heard the echo of my friends tear-choked voice in my ear. And I realized that life is too short to be upset over a little lost sleep. I reminded myself that I should just be grateful that my children are here to keep me awake. That extra hour of sleep really isn't that important when you think that you could lose your child, your parent, significant other, friend, in just the span of time it takes to have the thought that you want to get mad at them. And would you really want them to die with you being angry at them? I know I wouldn't.

With that said, there is someone that I am mad at, and pretty much always am. And it ties in with the theme of what's important, because I cannot fathom this. My former husband owes me several thousand dollars in child support, because he hasn't paid in a couple of years. I've taken him to court twice to have him held in contempt for this, and he's been to jail once for it. He's a convicted felon on probation, which means this could, feasibly, send him to prison, under the right circumstances. I've filed papers to take him in again. This will be contempt #3. Now, there's more than one reason I can't understand him. The most obvious is: self-preservation. Most people would pay the support to keep themselves out of trouble, if for no other reason. Yet he seems to not care about that, or he's too stupid to realize how much trouble this could be. Which is entirely possible, because he's one of those people who couldn't dump water out of a boot with instructions on the heel. But, let's set aside self-preservation. How could you help concieve two children, profess to love them, to want them, and then just completely and totally turn your back on them in every possible way? How could you walk away from your own flesh and blood without a single glance back, without a twinge of guilt, and not feel the slightest remorse, guilt, regret, doubt, concern, SOMETHING?! The thought of walking away from my children is something I would do about as soon as I would grab a butcher knife and cut my own heart out of my chest. I do not understand how someone can do that.

My oldest asks me sometimes why his father doesn't come see him. I don't want to lie to him, but I also don't want to build his father up to him. So, I say the only thing I can, walking that fine line between truth and deceit: I say his father has problems he has to work out. Which isn't really a lie, I suppose, because not loving your child is a problem in my book. But I feel bad telling my son that, because I feel as though I'm holding something back from him. And I don't like to be anything less than honest with him, not only because honesty is a value I hold as important, but also because considering how much his father lies, I feel as though I'm doing my son a disservice.

This is where the title of my post tonight comes into play. What is important to you? After the recent death, and seeing my friend last night, I've really been thinking about this today. What's really important to me? I've always known my kids were important to me, that they come first, but today I've realized just how important they are to me. I've realized that making sure they are healthy, cared for, and have the values, morals, education, and abilities required to take care of themselves as they grow are important. So, tonight, instead of making dinner while I help with homework, like I usually do, I sat down with my son and focused on helping him.

I've also realized that I need to stop worrying so much about my weight. I've been overweight since having my children, and I constantly diet to try to lose the weight, and worry about what people think, and wish I had the figure I had before I had kids. I've decided I can't do that anymore. I have to accept that I am who I am, and that I am beautiful just like I am. Instead of worrying about what I can eat that won't make me gain ten pounds, or when I will find time today to work out, I'm going to enjoy my time with my kids, or reading, or whatever I'm doing. I'm going to focus on the moment, like yoga teaches.

I do yoga and meditate daily. I'm going to start using my meditation to focus on what's really important in life.

Oh, and just to lighten the post up a kids aren't scared of anything. LOL They didn't get scared of anything in the haunted house, although Mommy and Granny got scared a couple of times. There's another haunted house in the neighbor hood that will be open on Saturday, cause she only does it on weekends. We'll see if they get scared there or not. :)