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The Power Of Gratitude


 

Have you ever felt like, no matter what you do, EVERYTHING in your life seems to go totally wrong all at once?  Today sucks.  There – I said it!  Don’t worry, I won’t bore anyone with the disgusting details of my pathetic life today.  Let’s just say I’m having a “poor me” kind of day and leave it at that.

I’ve been up most of the night, then woke up at 4am to start my day.  Isn’t that usually how it goes? You’re stressed to the hilt, which adds sleeplessness to the mix, which adds exhaustion to the overwhelming feelings you’re already feeling.  A nervous break-down sounds pretty good right now!

It’s times like these that, truly, the last thing I want to do is count my blessings.  Why is that?  Am I just spoiled?  High maintenance?  Thanksgiving is just a few days away.  My focus should be on family, friends, and all the rich blessings I’ve received in my life.  Why, at THIS of all times, am I feeling so totally bombarded with all of the JUNK in my life?  Everyone has junk to deal with.  It’s not like it’s even anything NEW, right?  It’s not like I’m the first person (nor will I be the last!) to deal with this stuff.

In an effort (feeble as it may be at the moment) to climb my way out of this pit I’ve thrown myself into, I’ll be writing down everything I’m grateful for today.  Maybe if I see it on paper (or a computer screen, as the case may be), it will help solidify it in my brain more.  I’m told that the ‘power of gratitude’ is pretty strong, and that it can pull someone out of their miseries.  I like to experiment! Let’s go for it.  Who’s with me?  Maybe I’ll even do it for the whole week until Thanksgiving and see what happens.  Can’t HURT, right? My life already stinks at this point, so what more harm can it possibly do?

Ok, I’ll stop whining now.  Sorry.  Next post will be ice cream cones with Uncle Kracker smiles, I promise!  Well, ok, maybe not the ice cream.  Maybe an electric blanket and a hot cup o’ something, though!

 

 

Positive Parenting


Have you ever been in a store and seen someone else’s kid running around crazy, knockin’ stuff off the shelves, or throwing themselves on the floor in a hysterical fit of tears and screeching?  Of course!  Hasn’t everyone?  This is one of my big pet peeves in life!  Seeing that makes me crazy enough that I start wondering if the ‘men in white coats’ are going to come haul me off to the loony bin!!  Why is that kind of behavior even allowed?  Can you imagine the noise in the store if EVERY kid was permitted to act like that? It would take sonic booms to a whole new level!

Yes, I’m in FULL agreement that children should be able to express themselves and have their own, individual opinions.  But, come on!  Should their individuality be at the expense of everyone around them?  If the whole world catered to the whims and wishes of every child, it would be the children ruling the nations, wouldn’t it??  (Well, ok, I think there are toddler’s running them now, but that’s beside the point! LOL…Or maybe that makes my point exactly? LOL)

I personally don’t think that telling a kid “no”, sometimes, is all that bad.  I believe that it prepares the little one for the REAL world, where teachers, leaders, and employers are going to have expectations that the little one will have no choice but to meet and follow.  It sets limits and boundaries to keep little ones safe, and the rest of the world from going nuts!

But, I also believe that you don’t need to beat a kid into submission.  I’m not talking about spanking here.  If the spank is less damaging than, say, a CAR bowling them over, then I think that’s okay.  But again, I don’t think that knocking the soup out of someone is the answer, either (even though there are some kids in grocery stores where I’ve been SO very tempted to do just that!)  Can you imagine how traumatizing it would be for ANYONE to run over and kill a child who wouldn’t keep their disobedient little butt out of the street?  Nobody with a brain LIKES hurting their kid, but if a spank is going to get her attention and save my daughter’s life, you bet I’ll do it.

I think there are some ‘happy mediums‘, though, that don’t require physical contact.  Yeah, it’s a pain to leave a full shopping cart and haul a kid outside until they can control themselves a little.  But, isn’t that better than paying for whatever damage they’re doing in the store?  I know it’s also VERY embarrassing when a child ‘loses it’ in public (Yes, I’ve been there, done that.)  Why not take along a toy or treat to keep their hands/mouths busy?  Why not give them something off the shopping list to find?  Make it a game!

If all else fails, why NOT stick ‘em on a leash?  It’s not like they’re going to grow up barking or be scarred for life from it!  If they seriously can’t control themselves enough to stay by their parents in public, I think it’s a big disservice to everyone, INCLUDING the kiddo, not to contain them somehow.  In addition to saving money from broken merchandise, it keeps kids from slimy people like kidnappers and other child predators.

Again, I don’t think that we need to go overboard in our discipline.  I truly believe there ARE positive, healthy ways to deal with misbehavior.  But, it’s NOT the parents’ job to be a friend to their kids first.  A parent’s priority should be their child’s safety and overall well-being.  We’re not raising kids here – we’re raising future adults, and it’s OUR responsibility to make sure they’re responsible, respectable people that pass on the legacy of trying to make the world a better place for future generations.

Sunshine Kids Sure Steps Safety Strap, Blue

Depression In Women


 

“Why are women always bawlin’ about something?”  Sound familiar? I think it’s a pretty common question among men.  Most men think that women are just too emotional, too high-strung.  I mean, really! Who can keep up with their constantly changing emotions, right??  Women change their moods faster than guys change their socks, don’t they?  (Guys, please tell me you do that, often, though!)

While it’s true that most women are extremely emotional creatures, I think there are some occasions and circumstances that tend to throw some women overboard.   Circumstances like a death in the family or an accident can obviously, and understandably, be an instant mood-killer.  Maybe it’s even some sort of chemical imbalance brought on by life-changing events like having a baby or starting menopause.

But WHY are women so stinkin’ emotional about everything?  Do you know someone who cries at the drop of a hat?  We all do.  There is no real, logical, one-click answer to the question.  It just is what it is.  Sure, women can always find reasons to keep smiling .  There is obvious logic to it, in that it boosts morale and keeps partners and children from suffering an early, painful demise!  But sometimes, even the effort of simply being happy can be too much for some women to handle.

It isn’t that women don’t WANT to be happy.  That idea is absolutely ludicrous!  Of course women want to be happy.  It isn’t because we’re out to make the rest of the world suffer right along with us in our misery, either. (Well, ok – unless you’ved ticked us off!  Then WATCH OUT!)  It’s simply because our worlds revolve around emotions.

Think about it for a minute.  A woman gets a new hairstyle and asks her partner if he likes it.  He shrugs, nods, and walks away – thinking that he gave an adequate answer.  He answered her, right?  He really DID like the new hair!  But, because there was no verbal approval, no emotional connection from HIM about the new hairstyle, the woman is instantly upset and annoyed.  She may even go so far as to think it’s ugly and change it.  At first glance, her emotions may seem egotistical and illogical.  But, really, they’re not.  She just needs to feel approval in the way she feels approval, period.  Because she’s relying more on emotion than logic.

Because women are sooooo super sensitive to their emotions, it can LITERALLY be a killer when they feel overwhelmed with daily tasks.  It’s logical that they shouldn’t feel that way.  Many women do ‘that much and more’, right?  But, if a woman gets it in her head, and her heart, that she has to do all ten things on her list, and she falls short one or two – to her, that’s failure.  She may, logically, give it 110%, but the one or two things she didn’t do will be crushing, because she emotionally set herself up to do all ten.

I don’t know if it’s the Virgo in me, or what, but I’m HUGELY task-oriented.  I’m constantly needing to be ‘on the go’ doing something.  Have I known failure and resulting depression from it? You bet.  I’m probably a bit of a poster child for it.  I set goals for myself, and when I don’t reach them, I admittedly ‘lose it’.  It’s nobody’s fault.  It may not even be MY fault that I didn’t reach my goal.  But, I take it very, very personally and I get depressed about it down to my core.

I think I’m probably like most women in that regard.  We have so many expectations regarding family, work, civic duties, blah blah blah…and we want SO badly to be good at WHATEVER we do, that when we fall short, or don’t feel like we “measure up” or get the approval we think we deserve, we fall apart.  It may very well not be logical to expect that all ten things on the list be completed.  And, it’s certainly not logical to fall apart about it.  But again, most women don’t deal with life using rules of logic.  Our truths come from our emotions.  Right, wrong, or indifferent, it is what it is because that’s how we feel about it!

So, what to do about it?  Step into the World Of Emotions, occasionally.  Contrary to popular belief, a lot of women think it’s kind of sexy when a guy cries.  Not ALL the time.  Let’s not get carried away, here!  But, no woman expects a man to be stone-faced all the time.  Just like it’s alright for a woman to find logic in some things, it’s just as okay for a man to show emotions on occasion.  Again, for a woman, laughter and feeling good about a situation, are truly the best ways to keep her from getting overwhelmed and down on herself, her life, her world – and getting depressed about it.

Disability Etiquette


If you were born “normal” (with no earth-shattering illnesses/afflictions), and you were raised in a “normal” family (again, without any visible physical or mental drama), seeing things that are NOT what you’re accustomed to can be a little scary.  For that reason, I’ve decided to put together a few little tips to help people interact with others who are “different”, so the experience can be a pleasant one for everyone involved.  I truly hope the following is helpful to people who are not accustomed to being around disabled individuals.

1.  Just because someone is “different”, it doesn’t mean they’re broken.  Apologizing about that difference is offensive to the recipient.  It drives home the fact that they are considered “less”.  Instead of commiserating with someone on their difference, look for something in common, or even better, something flattering.  Do you like their shirt or hairstyle?  Maybe a cool tattoo or piece of jewelry?  Take the focus away from the differences that you see.  Not everyone has to be an Olympic athlete, and most people who have disabilities are fine with that.  Yes, there ARE hard days, but they’re going to commiserate with friends or family members – not total strangers.  Just like a “normal” person would.

2. Make sure the compliment fits.  Do people compliment you on how you walk so NORMAL or how normal your hearing or sight is?  No.  The same applies to someone with a physical disability.  For all you know, that person on crutches has been on them since they learned to stand.  It’s no different for them than it is for a ‘normal’ person to walk without them.  Don’t make it an issue.  Now, if you KNOW that the person has been injured, and you’ve followed their recovery, and you know they’ve worked hard to overcome a challenge, by ALL MEANS compliment them for their efforts.  They’ve earned the praise!

3.  Don’t throw out guesses as to why they have whatever ailment.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked if I had Polio!  Ummm…1. I’ve had that shot! 2. I’m not that old, thank you very much! LOL  For MOST people a polite “Would you mind if I asked what happened?” goes a LOT farther than “What the heck happened to YOU? Get hit by a train, or something?!”  Personally, I think it’s weird to ask a total stranger in the first place, but if you REALLY HAVE TO KNOW, be polite.

4.  Repeat after me:  “Even people in wheelchairs can be jerks”.  It’s true! Not everyone with a disability is an angel!  Ask my ex.  He’s got all KINDS of stories about what a witch I can be!  Automatically assuming that someone with a physical or mental problem is a perfect angel is lunacy on YOUR part.  With that being said, though, there’s no need to FEAR people with these differences, either.  Just because they may look a little different doesn’t mean they’re bad.  Bottom line, use the same caution you would use in approaching ANY new relationship/friendship.

5.  Don’t stare – and don’t let your kids stare! It’s just flat-out RUDE!  There’s NOTHING to gain from openly gawking at someone who is different.  Again, if there are questions you have that you literally can’t live without the answers to, then go ask.  But staring like that makes someone feel like they’re at police headquarters in the dark room with the spotlight shining on them – and they’ve done nothing wrong.  It’s TERRIBLY uncomfortable.  There’s NO need to make someone else feel like that.

6. Don’t make assumptions on ability levels.  It’s simply not your place to decide for someone what they are, or are not, capable of doing.  Remember the quote: ‘The person who says “it can’t be done” is liable to be interrupted by someone doing it.’  

7. Don’t assume ANYTHING.  Every disability can affect every person who has one in a different way.  Do NOT assume that someone with a mental impairment doesn’t have the capacity to understand.  They may not be able to SHOW it, but that doesn’t mean they don’t GET it.  Don’t assume that someone with a physical issue can’t do something just because YOU don’t feel like you could do it in the same scenario.

8.  People with disabilities have babies, too.  I’ll be the proof of that – I’ve had three!  Just because the factory looks a little different, doesn’t mean that the conveyor belt’s not working – if ya catch my drift!  And, if you really want to know, it happens in the same way OTHER babies get delivered to their mommy’s bellies!  If you DON’T know that…I’m afraid I can’t help you there! LOL.  Google, maybe?? LOL  If you really want to be WOW’ed by that, be inspired that their kids (hopefully!) grow up “normally” and don’t become serial killers or other such TRULY scary people!

9. If you really can’t have a NORMAL conversation or interaction with someone who is physically or mentally different, just keep your mouth shut.  It really IS ok – and, actually, preferred.  Trust me, if you get all antsy and awkward, YOU’RE going to be the one looking silly – not them.

10.  Golden Rule.  Need I say more?  Treat people how YOU would expect to be treated in their shoes.  You DON’T have to cater to their every whim.  That only creates spoiled/dependent brats – just like it would any other capable person.  But, you DO have to play nice, too.  It’s all about common courtesy for EVERYONE.

P.S.  If you’d like to read some of the crazy things people have said to me (and people think I’M weird?!) check this out!  It’s funny, I promise!  (Well, unless you’re the one that said it to me.  THEN, congratulations! You’ve made it onto my “weird people of the world” page!  It’s kind of right up there with the ‘people of Walmart’ for me!)

Dancing In The Rain



I’ve never been a big fan of rain.  Thunder, yes.  Lightening is pretty cool, too.  But RAIN?  No.  Not just a plain no, either.  A big, fat, hairy one!  Why?  Mainly because, for me, rain in painful.  Not the water, itself, that falls from the sky, but the air pressure changes that come with the rain.

So, the idea of dancing in the rain has always been somewhat repulsive to me, even though at the same time, I’m kind of intrigued with the idea, too.  I guess I could compare it to passing a car accident.  You know there’s going to be blood and mayhem, but for some crazy reason, you just can’t take your eyes off it.

That’s it! For some weird reason, I’m grossly fascinated with the idea of dancing in the rain.  Why do people do this?  What is so intriguing in a puddle that a child is immediately drawn to jumping in it?  What draws a couple into an impromptu waltz in the parking lot during a rain storm?

I’ve thought a lot about it, actually.  (Maybe I just think too much? I do that sometimes!)  I’ve watched the faces of people that do that sort of thing.  Every single person I’ve seen that does this has the SAME look on their face… The look of pure JOY!  

So what is so joyful about making a fool of yourself in a busy parking lot while getting soaked to the bone?  It’s wet – it’s cold! Not MY idea of fun!  But, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I recognize the looks in their eyes as a look that I DO understand.  It’s the same look I have when I learn something new.

Could it be that dancing in the rain is an expression of growth?  Not caring what others think.  Not even caring about getting wet.  But, wanting to share with someone those precious moments of rebirth when the earth is cleansed of the junk in the air and the flowers and trees are nourished.

While it’s true that some rains are dangerous, most of the time, it really IS a benefit, isn’t it.  (That’s a hard one for me to admit!)  At the very least, without rain, there would be no food.  There would be no hot showers, no swimming pools, no fun fishing trips with the guys, no rainbows.

Recognizing the benefits really doesn’t take away the physical pain that comes with the storms, but I guess it DOES give me a little more strength to endure the pain when I can see the good that comes from it.  It’s true that I may never fully appreciate the JOY that comes from dancing in the rain, but I CAN appreciate the joy I’ve received from the lesson.

Patriotism And Religion


It’s been a while since I posted an entry on here. Time for me to get back in the swing of things!  I’ve had this little experiment that I’ve been doing the past week or so on FaceBook.

I have two accounts on there.  One for my personal friends/family (and others who are interested in following a gluten free diet).  The other is for truckers.  Yep – Those guys and gals that drive the ‘big rigs’.  Each group of people is VERY, very different from the other.  My local friends group comes from a very religious community.  Church is a regular and consistent expectation made up of relatively the same religion.  The truckers are more diverse.  Several different religions and beliefs from all over the world.

My experiment has been to do the following:  Every day, before I post anything else, I send a post reciting the US “Pledge Of Allegiance” followed by a short prayer.  I have to admit, my findings on this experiment were kind of shocking to me.

The posts to my local friends and family have gone almost completely ignored.  Only one or two ‘likes’ here and there and no comments whatsoever.  I haven’t even had any comments about them from people I’ve talked to in person.  Yet, the comments, likes, emails, and support I’ve received about those posts from my trucking friends has been overwhelming! DOZENS of people have prayed with me – have supported my personal show of patriotism!  If not responding directly to the post, then by a quick note to my inbox.  I’ve even had some copy/paste what I’ve written and reposted it for their own status message!  I should also note that, although I have atheist friends and friends from other countries on  BOTH profiles, there hasn’t been ANY criticism for posting what I have on either group.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not quite sure what to make of it.  I’ve posted these at different times of the day, so people who are on at various times will see it.  But, the results have been consistent on a DAILY basis!  It makes me wonder how much my local community TRULY believes what is being preached from the pulpit.  Scary thought, huh?

I’m not saying that EVERYONE needs to like what I say, or agree with it, or even go so far as to participate with me.  But, it’s interesting to me that people who claim to be so religious are seemingly AFRAID to say/show it, and yet people who have the reputation of being “rough” and “hard core” are NOT.  Why is that?  I don’t know.  But the idea intrigues me!  One thing I’ve learned for certain – one can NEVER judge outward appearances or stereotypes!

Personally, I believe that if people are more interested in pronouncing their breakfast menu to the world over their faith in God or their love for their country, then priorities are GROSSLY out of whack.  If proclaiming our love for God and country is less important than complaining about our crappy lives or how so-and-so wronged us, then we DESERVE to fail – not only as individuals, but as a country!

We, as a society, DESPERATELY need to remind ourselves and reclaim the thinking of our forefathers and TRULY become “one nation under God”.  We are so, so blessed here.  It’s time to start remembering that before we truly forget, or before those rights are taken away.  Are you with me?

Bento Boxes


If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m kind of obsessed with food.  Not because I necessarily like cooking, or even eating, for that matter.  But, because of my need to be on a gluten free diet.  I’m ALWAYS on the hunt for new, decent-tasting food that isn’t going to kill me!

Over the last four years of doing this diet, I’ve had to learn how to cook.   About a year or so ago, I discovered bento boxes.  Have you seen these?  To be honest, at first glance, my thought was, “Who the heck has that kind of TIME?”  But, the more I’ve learned abut them, the more I’ve come to appreciate them for several reasons.

First and foremost – everything I put into one can be made specifically for my needs.  I can put all of my gluten free foods into one and keep it away from the rest of my family’s foods that may contain wheat.  Keeping it separated gives them the opportunity to have “normal” food, and lets me stay alive.  Win-win situation for everybody!

Ok, I’ll also admit it – I just think they’re cute!  Yeah, they’re a little time-consuming to prepare, but not all the foods have to be fun critter shapes –  And to be honest, I personally think a grown man would look kind of dorky showing up at the office break room with a bunny-shaped sandwich in his box!  Just sayin…

Single portions of foods like baby carrot sticks/applesauce cups would be great in a box, too.  Even square foods like small cheese crackers, etc would work very well.  Little plastic or baking cups can also be used as dividers to keep saucy foods from soaking the other food that needs to stay dry.

I also love them for holidays.  This last Easter, I made dessert bento boxes for the kids.  They ABSOLUTELY loved it!!  We celebrated it a couple of days early, because my oldest had to spend Easter with her father, and we wanted to celebrate with her, too.  So, each box was filled with chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies, Skittles, M&M’s, and candy sushi.  Can I just tell ya – Swedish Fish and Rice Krispie treats are an AWESOME combination!  Trust me – you have to try it if you haven’t already.

The only issue I had was when my youngest came to me Easter night and said, “Mom, I think the Easter Bunny has “mental problems.”  Imagine my confusion with THAT statement!  When I asked her what she meant, she said, “He showed up two days early and gave us all Japanese stuff! I think he’s CONFUSED!”  Ok, so maybe bento boxes aren’t such a great gift from the Easter Bunny to an American kid!  But, as a gift from Mom and Dad, or even Grandma and Grandpa, I think it’s great!

I also TRULY believe that any meal tastes a ton better when it’s cooked with love.  Let’s face it – going to all the trouble of presenting a meal in a fun, creative way takes time.  Giving someone our time and attention, I think, is one of the greatest expressions of love one can give.

With that being said, to be honest, although I truly do love my family, I’m not going to serve every meal in a bento box.  I don’t think it’s all that necessary to make EVERY meal look like a million bucks!  But, maybe once a week, or even 2-3 times a month, I don’t think it would kill me to put a little extra zip in the lunch or dinner menu.  Especially with summer coming up, I think it would be a lot of fun to make bento boxes for a picnic.  I’m excited that it’s something the kids can help with, too.  If it means less work for this particularly lazy cook, I’m all for that!

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