Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hard Day with a Touch of Brightness

It's been almost a week since I last posted.  I feel like I need to write just to stay in practice.  I may not have much to talk about, but sometimes it's good just to try and connect with people.

I'll start with the hard day stuff.  Yesterday was one.  The company I work for made some hard decisions in recent weeks due to our economy and, with regret, those hard decisions included some layoffs that were effective yesterday.  I am grateful to say that I was not one of those who lost their jobs.  That doesn't mean it wasn't hard to watch what was happening...to see friends's desks empty...to wonder who else...am I about to get called?  If not this time, next time?  I doubt that much real work got done yesterday at all.  It was hard to concentrate.  It was sad to think about.  It was sad to experience.  It was/is scary sad.  Those feelings aren't over just because it's now today instead of yesterday.  There are definitely people I will miss seeing - not just yesterday and not just today but for many tomorrows. 

It is also one of those feeling powerless times...like there is little I can do other than pray...maybe send a card...call...stay in touch...mainly pray for them.  I sincerely hope that each of those affected by these hard decisions are able to pursue new dreams...able to experience hope and even renewal out of the shock and the likely hard days ahead.  Perhaps that makes me sound too Polly Anna, but if I'm going to hope and pray for people, then it only seems right to hope and pray the best things possible for them rather than only the minimum. 

At the same time I am reminded of brightness...beauty...even among the shadows.  I am super excited for a friend who is pursuing a new dream...a new venture...that has nothing to do with the hard decisions facing our company's leadership.  I have made a new friend recently that I may talk about soon.  Those are good things...such is the very fabric of life....good and bad reside side by side everyday.  Hard times go hand in hand with easy times.  Shadows happen because of light.  Joy and sadness are often sharpest juxtaposed in close proximity of time and events. 

So I will close with two spots of beauty.  Simple beauty.  For about a week now I've had buds on some mum plants.  And yesterday they started to open.  These pics are from tonight, but I was struck by their beauty on an otherwise hard day.
This may not seem like much to you gardeners out there, but for me...for Black Thumb Deb...this is a BIG deal!  An exciting deal!  And there are still some of the summer flowers still hanging on since we've had so many warmer days of late.

Again...simple beauty...but something to bring a smile...a sense of growth....a sense of hope....and we all need that no matter what else is going on.

With love,
Jus' Deb

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Par-tay!

I'm still not done talking about my birthday or celebrating!  Please feel free to skip this post if you're tired of hearing about it!  (But this should be the last one....I promise...er...at least I think...)

Have I told you how much I love my sisterhood?  We have been getting together about once a month for the last 2 years (or has it been 3?) to cook up a storm and eat together.  We've cooked Julia Child - ok, so no, we haven't cooked Julia Child, but her recipes; we've done Alton; we've made Greek, Italian, French; we've had artichokes more than we can count; we always have bread (usually homemade) and salad.  And we're often too full to eat dessert, but we usually make it anyway!

Well...my sisterhood...my peeps...my main posse...threw me the BEST par-tay a 50 year old girl could ever have wanted!  I wasn't surprised by the party itself, but that doesn't mean there weren't wonderful surprises.  Like faces of friends I didn't know were coming - just about the best surprise ever!  And like cookies from a friend who has started selling beautiful yummy Italian cookies from her Nonna Vincenza!  Here's a pic of the cookie tray full of amarettis and biscottis and fig delicacies next to the lime sherbet punch...so pretty!
The food was outstanding!  The sisters went above and beyond and made me lots of my favorites.  I don't have pictures of everything, but enjoy what I do have...

Look at the cheeses...ah...cheese, glorious cheese!

Each one of those toasted raviolis were made with love as well as the stuffed shrooms...

And look at the gorgeous cakes my daughter, the new bride, baked for me!

I love this!  My oldest son paid me a lovely tribute and everyone sang me happy birthday - they eventually all got to the same key even...I'm almost sure of that.. Oh!  And I got to hold a brand-new little girl only 2 months old!  How cool is that??!!!  As I said the best party a 50-year YOUNG girl could have ever wanted!!!

Thank you, sisters!  You are simply da best!!!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bucket List Launched!

I have had an absolute BLAST turning 50!  I've been having so much fun that I haven't posted here about all of the fun I've been having.  But I will try to make it up now.

We jumped.  P and I jumped.  Out of a perfectly good airplane.  We really did.  It was so amazing! 

I was strapped to a former military handsome young buck of an instructor named Casper who set me at ease from the get go...to the point that I really wasn't scared at all as crazy as that sounds.  Maybe it helped that I'd already signed off on releasing him from any liability for inappropriate touching, and I'd already been inappropriately touched, that rolling out of that plane with him strapped to my back was no problem at all. 

Or maybe I'm just nuts.

The free fall didn't really even feel like falling at all - it felt like flying.  It really did.  I can't describe it any other way except for a keen awareness of jowels and loose skin flapping rapidly all over.  It's a good thing I didn't pay that extra $80 to have a video jumper taping all of that jowel flapping.

When he released the chute, it got really pretty quiet.  We were able to talk quite easily.  He would turn me and show me the sites of Vandalia - their Walmart, their water tower, the lake...we had about 5 - 7 minutes to float.  He even explained to me that he had to turn us around because if we kept going in that same way at that same speed, we'd over shoot the airport.  All very fascinating.  I get why it could be addictive for some people, but I have trouble folding an umbrella, so I don't think I'd do so good to fold a chute...

Two friends, S & F, came along to shoot pics and video, some of which are shown here.  I could never thank them enough.  And my sister, J, stopped by on her way from Bloomington to witness the event.  I would do it again if someone wanted me to go with them, but I no longer feel a need to go.  I have other things on my bucket list that I want to do, but more on that later.  Hope you enjoy the pics.  I was strapped to the blue chute and P was with the pink one.  Enjoy!

Jump suits on
Minor potentially inappropriate touching

Almost ready...
Boarding the plane
Taking off...and no, I can't explain the polka dots...
Specks in the air...
Closer to the ground...

And landed!

Safely I might add!
The tandem buddies!

We even got certificates!  Go crazy, folks!  Go crazy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

# 1 - (cause I'm 50 today!!)

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
#   8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable
#   7 - I need quiet
#   6 - Life is unpredictable; change is constant
#   5 - Giving is good; receiving is hard
#   4 - Less is more
#   3 - I need to create
#   2 - I need people
And the # 1 thing I've learned in my 50 years on this planet...
#   1 - I need redemption
Cause I screw up.  Often.  Royally.  Often royally. 
Sometimes in ways that I can't redeem myself or make right.  And that's when I need others to redeem me - to forgive me - to cover me with kindness and grace and love despite myself or what I've done.
Ya know...if ya think about it, our judicial system is based on the concept of justice - someone has wronged another or society as a whole, so punishments or punitive damages are handed down from the bench in the interest of redeeming the wrong done - somehow making it right, somehow restoring the one wronged to as close to their original situation before they were wronged as possible.  But it's never perfectly restored.  And that's where forgiveness kicks in. 
I'm pretty much talking about that same idea.  When I've screwed up, I need to do all that I can to make it right between myself and the one I've hurt.  But ultimately I need their forgiveness; justice can only go so far to restore the relationship.
Same holds true in those rare times when I'm not the one that screwed up but got screwed.  (Am I allowed to word it this way?  I don't mean to offend...)  Sometimes nothing can make it right - sometimes the other person doesn't attempt to make it right or can't for whatever reason - but for the health of everyone involved I need to forgive.  Resentment and grudges and bitterness are poisons that forgiveness removes.
I'll say one more thing and then close since I know this is a bit of a heavy truth (and it is my birthday after all!)  I make a distinction between forgiveness / redemption and reconciliation.  Life experience has taught me that not everyone is a safe person.  Forgiveness doesn't always equal retaining that relationship.  But it will bring peace and release from the weight of waiting for the other person to redeem the situation - when oftentimes they won't or can't - and free me to live.
Yep, I need redemption.  Both sides of it.  Cause people screw up from time to time.  Often royally.
PS - next post should include story and pics of the jump and the par-tay!  Woo-hoo!!!  Happy!  Happy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

# 2 - I need people

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
#   8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable
#   7 - I need quiet
#   6 - Life is unpredictable; change is constant
#   5 - Giving is good; receiving is hard
#   4 - Less is more
#   3 - I need to create
#   2 - I need people
I didn't really learn this lesson until probably the last 10 or so years of my life.  The first almost 40 years I saw people through a different lens - nice to have around if they looked like me, sounded like me, lived like me, believed like me on most things, behaved like me, worked like me, thought like me. 
Are you catching a theme there?  The common word above is "me."  Pretty self-centered view of people, don't ya think?  I put myself up as the standard by which people are evaluated and "kept" in my life.  Talk about a setup for an "us" and "them" mentality. 
I can't necessarily point to any one epiphany moment where that mindset began to shift, but thankfully it started to happen.  I began to hear phrases like "people matter" on a regular basis.  Or things like "step outside of your comfort zone."  Or hear people talk about community as being bigger than only those that I naturally gravitate towards.  Or even have people suggest that I might need people who are different than me - who even believe different than me - to change and grow and stretch me.
And it started to sink in.  I'm not saying I'm 100% "there" yet, but I believe those things now more than ever and I'm leanring how to live them out.  
People really are the most important creatures on this planet.  People are the funniest creatures...
...the most maddening creatures...the most unpredictable creatures... 
 ...the most stubborn creatures...
...the smartest creatures...the most highly-motivated creatures... 
...the most reasoned creatures, and at times, the most loving...
...and the most hateful. 
Perhaps a good word to describe all of those things is complex....like our Creator, in Whose image I believe we are designed.  And I'm one of those people that now understands it is that very image bearing quality that is what instills within us our very worth...the very reason why people matter so much.  Even the most hateful and maddening ones.
Don't get me wrong.  I like animals, too.  "Especially with gravy" as the T-shirt goes!  (Lighten up, people.  It's a bit of humor...)  Seriously I am not anti-animals, because I need people.  I don't happen to have any animals living in my home, but that is a choice primarily motivated by 2 things: a) being in responsibility reduction mode for the past few years; and b) various financial goals.  Animals bring a great deal of joy and love and laughter and assistance to our lives.  But as of today, I don't particularly need any animals.
But I need people.  Today and always.  Whether I want people or not, I need them.  I need people who are different than me.  I need people who are similar to me.  I need people who make me crazy.  I need people who soothe me.  I need people who challenge me.  I need people who inspire me.  I need people who make me laugh.  I need people who bring a tear.  I need creative people.  I need beautiful people.  I need people who the world sees as not quite good enough. 
Because people matter.  And without all of these different people in my life, I can never become all that I am meant to be.  And yes, even at 50 years old (as of tomorrow!) I am still becoming.
And people are one important part of making that happen.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

# 3 - I need to create

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
#   8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable
#   7 - I need quiet
#   6 - Life is unpredictable; change is constant
#   5 - Giving is good; receiving is hard
#   4 - Less is more
#   3 - I need to create
We are down to our last 3 in this top 10 list.  And my birthday is 2 days away!  3 days from now is my sky dive and then the par-tay!!  I'm excited!!!  Happy 5-0 to me!!  Woo-hoo!
Ok, sorry, back to the post.  Momenty lapse into dancing now over...
These last 3 things I've learned are each a bit more personal - things that I've learned that are true for me.  Others may not see them as true for themselves, but that's ok.  I will read your top 10 things learned list when you turn 50 and respect what you've learned.
So # 3 - I need to create.  I don't just like to create or love to create, I need to create.  Cooking for me is about creating.  I have posted plenty of pics of things I've created in the world of food, so I think this point is probably self-evident.
Writing is creating.  Again - perchance this one is also self-evident...
So let me talk about a few other arenas where I need to create.  I need to create beauty - or at least be part of creating beauty.  I am part of the "village" at work that has been caring for this little African Violet.  For the longest time, it was alive but not blooming or truly thriving.  I'm not one of the parents - I'm only part of the village, but I do get to enjoy the efforts of its real parents, since they tend this beauty in the window that is right behind my desk.  Simple.  Beautiful.  Life.
As I was snapping this pic yesterday I couldn't help but think about the fact that my photo skills can't begin to do this little beauty full justice.  Not like my brother can.  He can create beauty with a camera that I will never be able to touch.  If I could find his flicker site, I'd post the link here, and you'd see what I mean...He needs to create, too, I'm thinking. 
Learning is creating for me.  I am a geek.  It's true, and I'm proud.  One of my more geeky tendencies is that I LOVE to learn.  I don't just have to learn.  I don't just tolerate learning.  I actually like to learn.  No, that is not completely true.  I don't just like to learn; I :LOVE to learn!  New ways of doing things - new ways of looking at things - new ways of thinking about things - and then applying those to create in new ways.  It can be learning something complex like new ways to design and utilize SAP functionality (my job); it can be learning something simple like how to plant a garden; it can be re-learning something simple like a new way to cook corn on the cob...
(Is he cute or what?!  Makes ya want to just give him a little hug.)
It can be learning something useful like how am I supposed to post comments as replies to other people's comments on this blog thing?!  I'm serious here.  I tried like 73.5 times yesterday to reply to Natalie's comment about # 4 - Less is more - and I got no where.  No where.  If anyone can tell me what magical setting I'm supposed to adjust or what profile I'm supposed to be using or whatever incantation I'm failing to recite to make this work, I'd LOVE to learn from you!  I used to be able to...and now I can't...and I have no idea why. 
So Natalie - if you are reading, here is what I wanted to comment back.  Ready? 
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement, Natalie.  You've always been a woman of soft-spoken, kind-hearted, wise words.
At the risk of sounding too theological, I actually think I'm not alone in this need to create.  I actually think it is evidence of being made in the image of our Creator.  We may not all need to create with quite the same intensity and definitely not in the same ways, but I think we all need to create on some level...even that bit of universal biological clock ticking need for procreation can point to what I'm talking about.
I'll close with one other example of my need to create.  I need to create memories.  When I bake a cake for someone, not only do I get to create the cake, and not only does that cake always create a smile on the other person's face (seriously...always...try to receive a cake sometime from someone and not smile....ain't gonna happen...), it usually creates a memory.  I brought some raspberry mascarpone chocolate croissants into work on Monday for a friend's birthday - created a memory.  The sisterhood made homeade toasted raviolis recently to serve at my birthday party this weekend - created a memory.  (Yes, I know, I'm slapping my hand now as I type for failing to take pics of the process and post here.  You're right.  I'm sorry.  Sigh... again, see how much I have yet to learn!)
But don't give up on me.  I will get better at this stuff.  (Hopefully even figuring out the blasted comments thing!)  Because I love to learn.  I love to create.
Nay, I need to create.

Monday, October 10, 2011

# 4 - Less is more

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
#   8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable
#   7 - I need quiet
#   6 - Life is unpredictable; change is constant
#   5 - Giving is good; receiving is hard
#   4 - Less is more
I'm not sure that my parents would have ever agreed with my # 4.  Maybe that's because they grew up in The Depression of the 1930's.  They were keepers.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing necessarily.  But I am saying that I do better with keeping less.
I have more time when I have less stuff to clean, dust, organize, store, pack away, or "save for someday."
I have more freedom when I have less stuff to admire, shine or have repaired - note I did not say "repair" since I don't ever repair things...no repair skills here.
I have more space when I have less stuff to take up space.  I know; brilliant statement, right?
I remember one time when I was giving away clothes to Goodwill.  They were nice clothes that simply did not fit me any more.  My parents saw the pile and couldn't believe I was giving them away.  My reply was something along the lines of "less is more."
We have a way of getting and collecting stuff.  I'm not a collector, and I don't usually shop for the "fun" of it.  Maybe I am too responsible...too much of a mother...think too often in terms of needs vs. wants...but I just rarely buy things that are wants rather than needs / things I will use regularly or use up.  Part of that is due to my # 4 - I really do believe less is more.  I grant you that today's retailers and marketers wouldn't ever want to use that phrase in their advertising, but it's what I have found to be true.
Ya know...that could be an interesting advertising campaign slogan sometime...a bit tricky...getting people to buy more of somethings while telling them less is more.  Intriguing...
Anyway, that's my # 4.  I'll keep it short and simple...because less is more. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

# 5 - Giving is good; receiving is hard

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
#   8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable
#   7 - I need quiet
#   6 - Life is unpredictable; change is constant
#   5- Giving is good; receiving is hard
That first part is a pretty simple truth, I know.  That second part maybe not so much.  Few people actually articulate that receiving is hard.  I want to talk about the second part first and then the first part.  Cause I want to end this post on an extravagantly positive note.  Just wait...
I have experience with receiving being hard.  I'm not talking about receiving Christmas gifts or birthday presents or wedding gifts.  That sort of receiving is easy and fun, celebrating life and joyous occasions. 
I'm talking about receiving when you need to receive - when you really don't have another choice but to receive as a result of asking for help or because someone sees the need in your life and gives. 
It could be tangible gifts like money or food or paying a bill. 
It could also be intangible gifts like a listening ear or a well-timed bit of humor.
Or giving you rides when your eyesight is failing.  Such is the case for my ex-mother-in-law.  She has wet macular degeneration in both eyes, and is no longer able to drive.  She has loving friends who are happy to pick her up to go to church or to have her hair done or go out to eat.  But it's still hard for her to be in a position of receiving. 
I get that.  As a single mother of 4 children with no child support from their father, I have had lots of experience swallowing my pride and receiving.  And it's hard. 
But it's also good.  For both the giver and the receiver.  For truth be told, we all need help from time to time.  Some more than others due to various life circumstances, but the bottom line is that none of us is beyond needing help.  We may not always recognize the need, but we all need help.  So learning how to receive, though hard, is a good thing.
Now for that first part.  Giving is good.  Giving is fun!  Giving can be easy.  Giving is one of the truest expressions of love.  You can give without love, but I dare you to love without giving.  If you try to do it, you'll inevitably kill the love.  And that's just sad.  And a waste of a good dare.  Just embrace it and give!
Like this lady.  I am about to show you a picture of one of the wedding gifts given to my daugher last month. I don't have a good camera, so it's not going to begin to do this gift justice, but I share it, because it is just about the ultimate in extravagant giving.  Are you ready?  Here is a pic of the whole.  As good as this is, just wait...keep reading...it gets better...
Pretty amazing, huh? If you have ever quilted or known anyone who has you have a sense of the time it took to do this. 

But that's not all.  Here's a shot of some of the details.

This lady's got skills.  Mad skills.  My sister quilts, but even she looked at the giver and asked if her mother could give her lessons.  Did you catch that?  The giver was not the maker.  The giver was my daughter's roommate in college, so they had spent lots of time together.  But the maker was her mother.  She may have spent a total of a mere few hours with my daughter, but she invested 10 times that amount at least, making every detail right.  Even down to small touches of orange, since S used to be into orange when she was in college.

Talk about extravagant!  Talk about giving!  This is the kind of giving that inspires me.  I want to give like this when I grow up! 
Because giving is good.  Especially giving like this - from a heart of love and joy and sheer excellence.  Giving the best that you are and have to another.  Wow.  That's just about as cool as it gets.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Launching the bucket list

My 50th birthday is 6 days away.  6.  6 days.  6 days.  6. 

And I've said for years that I would launch my bucket list on my 50th birthday.  I will post my bucket list on here someday, but for now I will simply tell you about how I'm launching the bucket list.

I'm jumping out of a plane. 

Yes, I will have a parachute.  And I'll even be strapped to some handsome young buck in addition to that parachute.  Although when I made the appointment yesterday and told the guy on the phone that, he said something about if I keep flirting with him he might be my instructor - and he isn't so young, but he said that he was handsome!  And obviously humble.

But back to my story.  I made appointments for me and my friend, P, for 10:30am next Saturday to jump out of a plane leaving the Vandalia Municipal Airport in Vandalia, IL.  Anyone want to come watch?  I need someone(s) with a camera to come with, cause I didn't pop for the extra $79 each to have a pic made...any takers?  Anyone?

The Big 5-0 is my launch since my kids are now raised - if I die or become incapacitated from pursuing any activity on my bucket list, it won't matter.  Ok, so it will matter, but not like when they were little.  Cool?

I'm excited!  I was in the bank yesterday and the teller noticed that my birthday was close, so she asked what I was doing.  I told her jumping out of a plane, and she loved it so much, she pretty much told the rest of the bank! 

Oh, and the sisterhood is throwing me a party that night!  Woo-hoo!!  One sister even keeps insisting that it's my party...I should have whatever I want!  How cool crazy is that?!  Happy 50 to me!!!!

# 6 - Life is unpredictable; change is constant

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
#   8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable
#   7 - I need quiet
#   6 - Life is unpredictable; change is constant
I have a very good friend who doesn't like change.  She will openly admit that she has to plan her spotenaity.
I love this lady to death, but I honestly have trouble relating to her feelings.  I actually like change.  I'm one of those people that they call "change agents" at work.  Now mind you, I'm not up for change just for the sake of change.  I am more of a purposeful change sort of agent. 
Cause see, as much as I like change, I hate stuck in stupid.  Our current CEO at work says that we have stupid buckets at work, and I tend to agree.  Which motivates me all the more in my "change agent-ness".
Am I getting off track here?  Maybe but not really.  Cause my point in this post - in this # 6 thing I've learned in my 50 years on this planet - is this: life is unpredictable; change is constant.  It just is.  As much as some people want things to stay the same, they don't.  Period.  They change.  In unpredictable ways.
And that's not all bad.  One of my all-time most hated phrases of all is "We've always done it that way."  Really?  That's the best you've got?  You don't know why you're doing it that way, but your default position is "we've always done it that way."  I'll shut up - if I keep going I could be violating my # 8.
But hopefully you get my point.  We all do stupid things.  Every last one of us.  But the smart ones around recognize it as stupid and stop to ask "what do I need to CHANGE so that I don't get/stay stuck in stupid?"
Or we all encounter toxic people or relationships from time to time.  But the healthy among us recognize it as toxic and ask "what do I need to CHANGE to get/stay healthy?"
Or things at work change.  Mergers happen.  Leadership changes.  Often unpredictable events to the "rank and file" employees.  But the trick is learning how to respond.  Am I going to fight the change?  Or will I do the healthy thing and ask "what do I need to CHANGE in me to help make this a success for all?"
I haven't gotten into the bigger ways life is unpredictable - accidents with catastrophic consequences, planes flying into buildings, choices made by loved ones intent on killing pain or hurting themselves - but it's all there in life.  Many of us want to control everything in our lives - and it's just not possible.  For anyone.  Maybe # 6 is a hard truth for some.  But it's a truth nonetheless. 
Life is a gift - and a fragile gift at that.  The more I can do to learn and relearn # 6 and not fight against it, the closer I can come to embracing living and the unpredictable changes that come with it instead of hoping they will go away so I can crawl back into my illusion of control.
Ok, climbing off of my soapbox now.  Perhaps I should have done the Top 10 things I've learned first and then posted the Top 10 funniest/best moments....I'm starting to think that I'm getting preachy....hmmmm....I will try to cut that out... 

# 7 - I need quiet

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
#   8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable
#   7 - I need quiet
Oh, good, I'm glad that this one came up today.  This is one of those days when I really need quiet.  AND I am even getting it!  Yes!!! 
This shouldn't be a long post.  It's really pretty self-explanatory.  Maybe not everyone feels the need for quiet, but I am one who knows I need it - naps, prayer, meditation, reading, etc. - and if I don't get it, trust me, you don't want to be around me. 
But hopefully after today, folks who have to be around me tomorrow will be able to living happily with me.  Unless, of course, something happens to interrupt my quiet today.  In which case, all bets are off. 
And just for the record, if you think I'm too grumpy, you can always feel free to tell me to go take a nap.  I probably won't tell you no.  Since it's for our mutual good and all.  
I just give til it hurts. 
Jus' Deb Martyr

# 8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
#   8 - You can't reason with the unreasonable
I've missed posting the last couple of days, so I'll try to make up for lost time today.  And # 8 is true in so many different situations.  I have lived it at home.  I have lived it at work.  I have lived it at church.  I have observed it in politics.  And I have lived it in just general community settings.   
See I tend to be one of those people that believes strongly in being able to reason with others.  And most of the time I have encountered reasonable people - and we are able to reach consensus and mutually agreeable solutions even if we start out from very different positions.
But sometimes - not often so much for me any more - but sometimes - I find myself trying to reason with an unreasonable person. It isn't obvious at first.  At first it just appears as though they are angry or prideful or caught up in the emotion of their position.  But after a while it becomes evident that this isn't just those things in a temporary way....but those things in a more permanent way...as in a personality or character trait that is deeply entrenched....leading to unreasonable.  They may appear to be reasonable - or even couch their lack of willingness to reason in nice sounding words - but the fact of the matter is, they are unwilling to budge or have a closed mind about new ideas or changing.
Two ancient proverbs come to mind along these lines - and I try to remind myself of them each time I come up against this situation.  They both helped me when I was living through the last few years of my marriage.  I haven't talked much about when I was married, but let me put it this way.  A friend I used to work with calls her first/ex-husband "The Village Idiot."  And I think we were both married to the same man.  Pay no attention to the fact that we lived in different parts of the country at that time.  It was the same man. I'm sure of it.
Anyway, back to those two proverbs.  The first one goes like this: "a fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control."  When people are being unreasonable, 9.76 times out of 10, they are also being a fool.  
And the other one goes a bit further to caution about how easily we can get sucked into another's foolish behavior and unreasonable approach:  "do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared."  Oh yea...been there, done that. 
If I had a picture of my ex-husband, I could post that as a thumbnail for this one.  But I could also post a few other pics - and that just wouldn't be good for anyone, so I won't.  Instead I'll simply remind myself to take a deep breath, smile and recognize those times when I'm trying to reason with the unreasonable.
And when that happens, then it's a matter of deciding whether it's a fight or flight situation.  But that's for another post someday...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#9 - Being mean blows chunks

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
#   9 - Being mean blows chunks
Am I too old and sophisticated to say that?  I hope not, cause I really mean it.  Jeff Dunham's character Walter notwithstanding, being mean blows chunks.  Walter is endearing in his grumpiness, but on the whole mean people suck as the saying goes.
I remember one year for Halloween a group of folks from work dressed up as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and they needed their Grumpy.  I dressed up as Grumpy and since I'm me, and I love a good stage, and since all the world's a stage, I acted the part, too.  By 10am, I couldn't stand myself.  How do grumpy people do it?
Yea...I know, there's technically a difference between mean and grumpy, but it's not a wide difference in my book.  Both can be falsely charming and both can even wear a smile, but when it comes right down to it, both are real downers for everyone around them - even for themselves, in my opinion.
I remember a lady I used to work with.  She was just about the epitome of mean and bitter.  It was such a pleasure working with her.  Really.  I promise.  I decided to respond to her with smiles as often as I could but I mainly decided that she was in my life to show me where I didn't want to go - where I didn't want to end up someday.  We worked together while I was going thru my divorce, so I could have easily let the bitterness and resentment and meanness settle in, but thankfully A was there to remind me who I could become in 20 years if I did so.  Yuck.  Thanks, but no thanks.
That's all.  I'll make this one a short DD, since most people already know # 9 is true.  But a little reminder every now and again can't hurt.  Cause when it comes right down to it - mean is easy; grumpy doesn't take any work.  We all slip into them from time to time.  But they both blow chunks. 
And I'm just old enough these days that I think about how I'll be remembered.  And I really hope it's not as Grumpy the Dwarf. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

#10 - Don't sweat the small stuff

The Top 10 Things I've Learned in My 50 years on this planet...

# 10 - Don't sweat the small stuff
I never promised you that the top 10 things I've learned would be profound or deep or brilliant.  All I ever said was that they would be the things I've learned.  And this happens to be # 10.  And I'm still definitely learning it.

The trick to this one is knowing what is small.  For example, when working on a software project at work with lots of "small" pieces of master data that add up to TONS of master data, each of those data pieces are not actually small, especially when combined with the whole.  So ya gotta sweat that stuff.  It matters.

Or when tipping a waitress and you realize later that you didn't calculate it right - you tipped her too little - so you call back later to have it rectified.  My friend did that one time on a business trip and shocked the manager the next day.  But that isn't small stuff.  It matters.

Or when making a gift for someone and you take the time to get the details right.  That isn't small stuff.  It matters.

Or when picking up just a hint that you've hurt someone's feelings so you take a moment to check with them and make it right.  That isn't small stuff.  It matters.

But life is definitely full of small stuff.  Like when I get cut off on the road.  If I am still alive and healthy enough to be ticked off by it, then it's small stuff.  Don't sweat it.  It doesn't matter.

Or when someone has "offended" me by what they've said or how they said it.  If I'm really hurt, I'll know it, and I'll take it to that person to reconcile.  Otherwise, it's small stuff.  It doesn't matter.  (This is one I'm still learning....)

Or when your kid wants to die her hair pink.  Or when your kid only wants to eat white foods.  Or when your kid wants to sleep on blankets but not sheets.  Or when the dishwasher isn't loaded exactly right.  Or when the laundry isn't folded yet and dinner isn't ready but the baby is nursing and wants your full attention. 

The list goes on and on.  It's the stuff of life.  But much of it is small stuff.  The trick is just knowing what is small and what isn't.  And learning not to sweat the small stuff.

Monday, October 3, 2011

# 1 - Am I dressed yet?

The Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years...
# 1 - Am I dressed yet?

So here it is...the # 1 printable funniest/best memory of my 50 years.  After this one, I will start on the Top 10 things I've learned in my 50 years on this planet.  I am only 11 days away from turning 50.  Crazy.

And if the only posts someone had ever read were my last one and this one, they could come to the conclusion that I have problems dressing myself.  They wouldn't be too far from the truth...hmm.....

This story happened about 9 or 10 years ago.  I don't remember exactly when, but S had her license, so I know it wasn't any more than 10 years ago, and it was before her pink hair, so it wasn't any less than 8 years ago.  The dr. wanted me to have a colonoscopy to check for some stuff.  No, that isn't so much the funny part of the story - or even a best memory.  Anyone who has had one can understand what I mean.  The prep ain't fun, and the whole idea of the thing is even worse.

No, this is more the story of me waking up from the anesthesia after the colonoscopy.  It goes something like this.  Anything you can do to add a drunken slur to my voice as you read below will add to your overall enjoyment of the reading and its authenticity.

I am aware of being awake, and I remember seeing the lovely pics that they show you after the procedure when they tell you it all looks good.  I know S is next to me, waiting for me to be released, and I remember that B also came with us that day to the hospital.  I'm laying on a gurney with a sheet over me.

"Am I dressed yet?" I ask as I lift the sheet up and look down.  "Oh, no, I guess not."

"No, they haven't said that you could get dressed yet, Mom," S replies.

"Where's B?" I ask.

"She went to the bathroom," S patiently replies.

"Where is the bathroom?"

"Right down the hall," S answers.

"And she knows her way back?" 

"Yes, Mom, she knows her way back."

"Am I dressed yet?" I ask as I lift the sheet up and look down.  "Oh, no, I guess not."

"No, you're not dressed yet," S replies, this time with more of a smile on her face.

"Where's B?  Is B ok?" I ask as I frantically look around the room.

"Yes, Mom, B, is ok.  She went to the bathroom."

"Where is the bathroom?"

"Right down the hall," S again answers.

"And she knows her way back?"

"Yes, she knows her way back."  For some reason, S is getting a bit exasperated with me.  I can't imagine why.

I lift the sheet up and look down.  "Am I dressed yet?  Oh, no, I guess not."

This time S laughs out loud for some reason and says something about me not being dressed yet.

"Where is B?  Is B ok?"

Again S laughs out loud as she tells me that B is in the bathroom down the hall.

"Does she know how to get back?"

"Yes, she knows how to get back."

Finally B shows up, and so I rest easier.  "Am I dressed yet?" as I lift the sheet again.  "Oh, no, I'm not yet."

By now, S is laughing a lot and letting B in on the joke.  I am only barely aware of what is so funny. 

The next thing I recall we are in the car.  To this day I couldn't tell you whether I dressed myself, S dressed me or a nurse.  And I think I'd just plain rather not know and keep it that way.  But back to the car.  We had left the hospital and S was driving us home.  I was snoozing against the passenger window when all of a sudden I pop up and say in my best drunken wisdom, "It's a good thing they said I shouldn't drive home."

"Yes, Mom, it's a good thing you're not driving home," S replies as she pats me back down into the seat.

And then there's laughter in the car from both girls.  I can't imagine why. 

S does quite the good imitation of of me in this scene.  You should try to catch one of her shows sometime.  The price of tickets is quite reasonable.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

# 2 - Dressing up

The Top 10 Funniest/Best Memories of My 50 years...
# 2 Dressing up.

This story comes with a Deb Disclaimer.  All of the events described here are true, and the initials have not been changed to protect the innocent.  While some may find the subject matter too personal or perhaps crossing the line into TMI, my hope is that you see the overarching humor in the telling rather than get hung up on the inclusion of certain words.  If you are easily offended by talk of a woman's intimate apparel, then I suggest that you stop reading now.

I had been invited to a Chrismas party with a friend who happened to be a boy - as in that DTR (define the relationship) distinction between a boy friend and a boyfriend.  I accepted and as only chicks can get, I
got all excited and nervous about what to wear.  I had "nothing," so I enlisted the help of W (back before we were ever sisters in the sisterhood) to take me shopping.  We went over a lunch break at work and settled on a somewhat sexy black number (back before brown was the new black and all that).  She had to talk me into the dress, but I have to admit, it made me feel pretty. 

And if my sons are reading, I apologize for making you cringe while I talk about a "somewhat sexy black number."  You're right.  Mothers shouldn't ever talk like that.  Don't worry.  This story only gets worse...

Because of the cut of the dress, I had to get a different sort of bra to wear with it.  So yes, this is where the story takes a "bad" turn.  But let me let you in on a few secrets.  Are you ready?
  1. I am a woman.  See other blog profile information for background on this secret.
  2. As such, I belong to the approximately 50% of the population who need bras.  While not all of that 50% actually wear said undergarments, I have watched enough "What Not to Wear" shows to know that Stacy and Clinton agree that women should do so most of the time.
  3. Despite the fact that mothers no longer officially need the body parts that bras are designed to cover once they are done nursing their babies, we do still keep them.  And therefore need bras.  Again with apologies to my sons and their delicate, sensitive ears...er...I mean eyes...
  4. Reread the above Deb Disclaimer for any further questions.
I found something called a Nubra Ultralite.  If I took a picture of the box it would explain it better than I can, but then I really could be stepping over the line into TMI or soft porn.  Instead I will quote one line from the box that should help describe it sufficiently - at least for the women reading this post. 
  • Foam bra cups with adhesive inside cups plus front closure for cleavage and lift
The is a direct quote from the box, bullet point included.  I hope you get the idea.  This thing has no straps of any kind to worry about showing.  Which makes it new and different for me - something a woman will seek out the help of another woman to understand.  So I head to C's apartment to discuss.

Not the best choice of women to assist with this particular question.  Not because she was offended by it, but because she, like me, didn't really have any first-hand experience with such a bra. 

But have no fear.  This bra comes with instructions!  And being the resourceful, intelligent women that we are, we start to read.  Instruction 1 was all about cleaning. Yea...yea...whatever.

Instruction 2 is where it gets interesting.  Again quoting from the box, and assuming that these things are still on the market, anyone could read this on the outside of the box in any good department store, so it's not like I bought this at one of them seedy lingerie shops with darkened windows. 
  • PLACE ONE SIDE ON AT A TIME:  Stand in front of the mirror.  Flip the cup outward while holding the bra cup by the edges with both hands (see photo [not included on post]).  Position the cup to your desired breast angle and gently smooth the cup edges firmly to the breast with your fingertips.  Repeat the same application on your other breast, being sure both sides are equal in height (see suggestions).
I won't go into the suggestions, but did you catch that one phrase?  The "desired breast angle" phrase?  C & I caught it.  We most certainly did.  We went 20 minutes of standup on that very phrase.  Part humor but lots part curiosity.  What is Deb's desired breast angle?  What should it be?  If I have a particular breast angle in mind - which I did not yet at the time - how do I know if it's right or not? 

Can you see our dilemma?  Are we the only 2 woman in America who are still to this day stumped by what the desired breast angle should be?

But we haven't even gotten to the best part yet.  See, my daughter, B, was with me at C's apartment.  B was at just the perfect age to be listening in on this whole discussion.  You know, about 10 years old - just the right age to be absolutely and totalling embarassed by her mother and her mother's friend going on and on about desired breast angles.  I'm sure she wondered where she got off of the world and into this alternate universe and was she ever going to get back.

Somehow I wore the dress and whether the angle I created was the desired one or something else entirely it is hard to say.  But I am still not sure how to answer the box's implied question: do you know your desired breast angle?  Maybe someday I'll learn.