"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

Primal Screaming

My September theme of new year, new beginnings also causes me to reflect.  One thing I have been thinking about is my lack of stress these days.  I don’t have any.  Seriously – my finances are fine, my living situation is lovely, my work is pleasant.  I have no worries.  When I say I have no worries, don’t get me wrong.  I think about the big picture stuff of mortality, retirement, how are my kids, pandemic, elections, politics and stuff of that nature, but it doesn’t give stress me out because I cannot control any of that.

Anywhoo, in the context of appreciating the simplicity of my life, I have been thinking back to my parenting, child-rearing days as a working mom.  Good lord.  How the heck did I do it?  I have no idea. What did pop in my mind were thoughts of the days I would frantically be driving to work and be screaming with primal frustration and anxiety. 

Yes, on my 45-minute to hour-long commute, I had more days than I care to admit when I would be screaming with all my might to release the pent-up anger, frustration, anxiety, etc. that was overwhelming me.  Once I finished my primal screams, I would then use my words to scream my emotions into the empty minivan.  I would fantasize of just driving away from it all. For context, I was good for a screaming about about 2-3 times a year, so it wasn’t a weekly occurrence.

What is somewhat funny is that when I thought of just driving away, I would think about driving to Orlando.  Why Orlando I have no idea.  It is 3 hours from Miami and I guess just far enough away from my insane life to feel liberated?  It definitely wasn’t for the attractions.

Perhaps this primal screaming in my morning commute was my therapy that kept me sane.  It was a release for me.  Was it a healthy one?  Who knows.  It seemed to have worked as a band-aid for me.  Somehow I kept it all together as I dealt with all of the activities of two busy, school-age kids, coordinated all the logistics of household maintenance, shopping (including gifts and clothes), social calendar, bill paying, pet care – you name it, I did it.  Where was the father of my children and my husband?  Working.  Going to Happy Hour with “clients”, working on Saturdays (I actually liked that).  He believed that working as the “primary” breadwinner meant that he didn’t have to carry any of the household load. 

Yes, he did drop off for a year or two off and on.  Yes, he handled the annual income tax because he had an S-corp and the accountant.  But he did little else. He wanted me to work 40+ hours and handle all the same responsibilities of a SAHM.  I did the groceries, cooked the meals, cleaned the kitchen, made the school lunches, did the laundry.  I had a weekly housekeeper to help control the chaos which was a necessity, not a luxury.  I bought clothes for everyone – him included, any gifts for family members.  I arranged medical care for the kids and me.  He expected me to do it for him, but I drew my long, overdue line there.

Plus I was responsible for our social calendar.  God forbid we had a simple weekend or two staying home.  That was unacceptable.  We had a full sports calendar for the kids including me being team mom oftentimes, we had family nearby so birthdays were frequent, we hosted many large (12-24 folks) holiday gatherings. Towards the end, we did a 30+ person Memorial Day barbeque.  It was just a very busy time of my life. I look back and wonder how I did it all.  No wonder I had some mornings spend primal screaming.

Now I look back and ask myself, “was it worth it?”  I have to say….yes.  My kids had a wonderful childhood.  We had an interesting, busy, fulfilling life filled with activities, family and more.  I spent too much money, drove myself to the brink of sanity, but I can accept that.  If I had to do it over again, I would strive for more boundaries, but I chose a partner who was never going to co-parent.  Shame on me, but man, we created some amazing kids.

My advice to you young un’s: be more like RBG when you seek a partner.  Go find your Marty.  I am blessed that Taz found her.

Starting Over – a Year Later

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

I have always found September to be the start of the new year for me.  After 20 years of kids in school, my life ebbs and flows in sync with the school year calendar rather than the traditional calendar. I have just celebrated my one-year anniversary in my new apartment by renewing the lease. Additional festivities include a thorough cleaning out of my shit stuff. 

I think I have found the golden egg to my motivation.  Sunday brunch.  I began Sunday with a long, beautiful walk in a new walking path I have been exploring in increments.  I returned and made a delicious brunch of a small goat cheese omelet and mini-waffles. Mini-waffles are going to be a problem.

On Saturday I bought a $7 mini waffle iron from Walmart.  Best $7 I have spent in some time.  That sucker churned out 4” pecan waffles every 5 minutes.  I devoured 3 of those.  The sugar rush coupled with the double espresso caffeine rush fueled a 6-hour marathon of paper sorting. 

First I tackled my bookshelf and got rid of about 10-15 books.  Next I went through my old files, my mom’s papers, tax returns. If it was paper, I looked at it so it could be sorted into piles of dump, shred or organize.  The result is a box to be shredded, a garbage bag for recycling,a bag of books and a half dozen empty binders to be donated. 

I felt lighter at the end.  I looked at my bookcase when I was done and I was very pleased with the result.

I also had an idea for my photo project.  You know, the photos I am always bemoaning but making small baby steps of progress. I have been coming to terms that the photos are only one aspect of the project.  What I really want to do is create a series of scrapbooks that include photos, letters, cards paired with my journaling about these items or the event it captures.  It is a much, much larger project than just organizing photos into boxes or albums. 

To contain the photos during the process and break them into smaller, bite-sized chunks, I want to convert a small 3-drawer container into my “hobby cart”.  I have one that I can hopefully re-purpose for this if I can add the wheels.  It can store a couple of shoe boxes of photos in the bottom, largest drawer; several photo albums in the middle drawer; and supplies in the top drawer.  Then I can move it around and it will have a neater, more contained appearance.  The clutter of all these boxes is what is bothering me the most.

I have mapped out a multi-step process on clearing out, organizing and then decorating my apartment. I was inspired by the Netflix series by the Home Edit ladies.  Although they are a bit too OCD for me, they do have some excellent suggestions on the process:  determine the zones you want, edit (huge step) and then organize.  Only in Step 3 can you have a field day buying containers. Right now I am re-purposing what I have. When I get to the end of my editing, then I can determine what containers I need. 

One of the categories I shed is my self-help and business books.  Is it because I have attained my highest level of nirvana?  No.  It is simply that those books are no longer pertinent to me.  I have moved past them.  I am at a different stage and they are no longer applicable. 

I thought back to this time last year when I packed up and moved up here.  It was a huge step of leaving Miami behind, leaving my 20+ year career and identity, leaving my old,bad habits around debt and money.  It was about wrestling to regain control of my journey.  It was about no longer compromising.

Make mine a double

Covid

I wrote about a colleague who has COVID. He has been sick for three weeks. He is in his early 60’s, had a mild heart attack at the beginning of the year, lost a lot of weight and now COVID. I had a deep chill when I heard he was sick.

News about him is sparse. My employer is very strict about HIPAA, but I began gleaning some updates. At first it seemed he was getting a mild case. Fatigue, a little fever, but he thought he had it whipped. Not so fast. He got that second wave and ended up hospitalized with pneumonia. He has been in the hospital for several days.

Somehow his wife and teenage son have escaped it. I think his wife had a mild case. She had been sick right at the time he got sick. Regardless, he is not well, however, his denial is huge. He is telling a colleague he will be back to the office next week. He is still in the hospital. Plus none of us are in a hurry for him to return in case he spreads it around.

During all this, my company did flu shots this week. Thank goodness. I not only did the flu, but got my first shingles. That shingles vaccine is nasty. It hurts during the injection, my arm was sore after, I got a mild headache, and I am flat out exhausted today. Plus I have to keep my paranoia in check because the shingles vaccine side effects are similar to COVID. What was I thinking?!

I am sending positive thoughts for my colleague. I hope he recovers soon and doesn’t get sicker. Fingers crossed….

Next Goal

I have been working diligently all year on my next big goal. The ever elusive weight loss. I have floundered around all year with limited success, then backtrack, then try again with limited results, pause. You get the picture – basically limited consistent effort doing the right things. In August I paused and thought about what had been working and where I was screwing up, I came up with several key guidelines:

First, exercise. Yes I was exercising, but it needs to be the right exercise for my body to lose weight. Beachbody on Demand 21 Day Fix Real Time is my solution. As much as I love Barre Blend, I need the HITS of 21 Day. So I am working back through it and will move on to 80 Day Obsession next (another HITS program). Or I might just do 21 Day again for a third time. Who knows?

Don’t get the idea I am some beast at this. I am nowhere close. I huff and puff, curse and pause. I can’t do some of the moves, my legs can’t straighten out completely and I only have 5 pound weights. Hot mess, right? But it doesn’t matter, I do this in complete privacy and refuse to do anything other than be proud that I am getting this done. The last part has taken some time because I have to forget about perfection.

I have battled with my impatience and perfectionism. I want results sooner rather than later. I want to do all the exercises correctly even if I am modifying. I am learning that my body will do this on its on schedule and my brain needs to back the f*#k off.

The other area I changed has been my portions. I eat healthy – little to no processed foods, mostly plant-based, but the scale wasn’t budging. WTF? I realized it has been the quantity. I bought 4 smaller dinner plates and use only those. If I need a bowl, I have smaller bowls and even use ramekins to limit my portions. I try to eat more slowly and give myself time before considering seconds (which I rarely have).

In conjunction with the portions, I think about the hunger scale and strive to keep me right in the middle at 2+/2/2- all the time. Tonight I had dinner, very healthy and was still hungry. Really hungry. I drank water, waited and thought about why. I thought about what I ate today and it was unusually light for me. I realized I hadn’t had enough fats or protein to feel satisfied. I noshed on something that fit the bill, drank more water and feel much better.

Today, I reviewed my tracking sheet for August. Exercise, sleep, weight, measurements. I had consistent, strong results. I averaged over half a pound a week of weight loss. Even with bobbles. Even with me working through my trial and error.

It was all encouraging. When I look back at my weight at the beginning of the year, I am down over 10 pounds. This is where patience needs to come into play. I have to be in this for the long haul. This has to be a lifestyle, not a quick fix. This has to be sustainable.

My body is getting older and I need to recognize that the days of quick results are long gone. Both exercise and nutrition need time to yield results. I can’t think about deadlines. If I can just keep trucking along with my half pound a week, I will be great. That will be weight that stays off – it’s not water, not drastic. It will take over a year to get to my goal, but that is fine. I just need to stay the course. I just need to focus on a healthy lifestyle with good, clean food in the right portions and moving my body to make it strong.

As the writer Michael Pollan says, “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. That sums up my plan in a nutshell once I add the exercise.

Bon appetite.

Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

What Would You Do?

Today was a crazy day. I am officially on vacation for the Labor Day weekend and it is off to a full moon wacky start. However, one event has created an ethical dilemma. What would you do? Sit back and let me set the scene.

I was home participating in my Zoom Toastmasters meeting. I was minutes away from giving a speech when I hear a woman screaming and a dog fight. Since I was set up right by my window, I peered out to see a young 20-something woman fending a dog away from her pit bull mix. The aggressing dog has no leash. The dogs are the same size. The girl is trying to keep the dogs separated but the unleashed dog won’t back off.

The unleashed dog’s owner has another dog, a husky mix, on a harness leash. He is the same age as the girl. He does not run over to help. He calls the dog, eventually goes over. Meanwhile the girl is screaming for help, picking up her dog, using her body to block the unleashed dog. She is in a panic. The guy gets his dog and walks off. Her dog drags her to the ground. She is frantically fighting for control. It was awful. The husky mix is not helping and egging the situation on – off course, his pack member is having all the fun.

The guy has no leash or collar for the loose dog. She carries her dog upstairs to her apartment. As she does, I run to my door. I call to her and tell her I saw it all. She pops her dog into her apartment and comes over. She is shaking all over. I tell her I am in the middle of a Zoom, but I will come over when I am done.

Between that, the power knocking off my internet less than 10 minutes from the meeting start and a census taker earlier, I was not operating at my peak – LOL – but my speech turned out pretty good. I won a speech contest! Right before I started, I heard her yelling at the guy – they live on the same floor….it lasted less than a minute.

Anyway, back to the ethical dilemma. I pop downstairs (with my mask on) to check on my neighbor. Poor thing. What a morning for her. Her sweat pants are covered in dirt, she broke 4 nails and one was still bleeding. She had just woken up and this was the shit show that started her day.

She had already called property management who told her to call animal control (AC) and the police. The police were kind. She was reluctant to call AC because she didn’t want them to seize the dog. Poor thing. I asked her what the guy said. She said he blew her off, didn’t apologize.

I told her that property management should be enforcing their pet rules. Seizing animals is not the only remedy for AC and that it would not be her fault if the guy got in trouble. He would be getting in trouble because of his actions, not hers. Then I told her I heard their other confrontation several months ago and described it to her dumbfounded face. She tells me after that incident she got a better collar and leash for her dog and she tries to time her walks to avoid the guy. I told her that I am there for her as a third-party witness. I will vouch for her and to please let me know how I can help.

So now you are wondering where is the ethical dilemma in all this? Here it is: I work with this guy. He is in a different department and I don’t see him in my day-to-day routines. I didn’t tell her this. She said he left right after the incident. I knew it was because he had to get back to work.

I am really disappointed with this guy, First of all, why no leash? We live in an apartment complex. That dog needs a leash for its own safety. The dog is skittish. When I have come across them, the dog barks at me and runs away.

Second disappointment: no apology. WTF. His dog caused this girl pain and anguish and an apology is simple common courtesy. It is his neighbor for crying out loud.

What do I do? Do I MYOB? Do I go talk to him next week and basically said WTF? If I do talk to him, I will tell him that I talked to her. Should I call property management and tell them I saw the whole thing and they need to get their heads out of the ass?

Of course, this is huge juicy work gossip and it is absolutely killing me not to say anything, but I won’t. Not right now. I need to give this some time and I need your feedback and dialogue so I can get this off my chest. Ugh, my tongue is bleeding from biting it. Thank goodness I won’t be back in the office until next Tuesday.

So what say you? What would you do?

Her dog looked similar. Photo by Alexandru Rotariu on Unsplash

I Still Got It

I had one of those work moments where a blinding lightening strike of my prowess pops up. One of my skill sets is negotiating. In previous roles I did a lot of it. I can negotiate just about anything for anyone (but do a lousy job for myself — typical woman).

I recently kicked ass and took names. I beat four men at their own game and they didn’t even know it. I saved the company over $80K. I took a negotiation that had been log-jammed for two weeks and wrapped it up in 24 hours. I was a complete bad ass.

However, nobody really knows what a bad ass I am because it is not something I can go running through the halls high-fiving everyone. Sigh. I am one of those people who loves a bit of public acknowledgement. Don’t worry, I took note of it and added it to my list of 2020 accomplishments.

For now, I know that I still got it and those men had absolutely no idea who they were dealing with. Silly men — I googled each and every one of you. They didn’t do their homework. That was a good day…..

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

New Etiquette

I had a fun day planned last minute with some Miami girlfriends. Long story, but they were moving, cleaning and the like. I was invited to go along for the ride and hang out by the pool. Delightful.

I planned to wear a mask in an hour long car ride with one GF and maintain my social distancing at all times otherwise. A change of scenery would be nice.

But….we had 2 more Covid cases at work. One is a person I see every day albeit only in passing. I disclosed to my GF. After sleeping on it, she cancelled with me. She was quite apologetic. I reassured her that I was 100% understanding and fully on board with her decision. I didn’t push or question her decision because I don’t want her doing something outside her comfort zone.

Am I disappointed? Of course! It would have been a fun day. Am I upset with her? Not one bit. I get it.

This pandemic has caused a shift in social norms. I have written about my own reluctance to hang out with friends. In my case, my reluctance avoided a day spent with 2 dear friends who had COVID and just didn’t know it at the time. So when my GF un-invites me, I get it. I have been in her shoes. Trust your gut.

I don’t understand people who want to push their agenda on others. I hear/read stories of people being pressured to gather at social events. It’s one thing if it’s your choice, but hopefully societal norms are shifting to allow people to speak up and step back. No more being too nice and accommodating!

Regret?

I don’t regret anything I’ve done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to.” 

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Wow, I read this quote this morning in one of my newsfeeds. I looked at it all day. Regret. I think regret is a powerful, strong word. It represents things undone, unsaid, unaccomplished and so much more.

Which word is stronger – regret or fear? I think that is a conundrum for many people. As Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” I think Thoreau was talking about how fear was outweighing regret. Perhaps the confirmed desperation was partially regret.

I use to have my fair share of regrets. Actions I did not take, things I did not say. However, I have also let go of those regrets. I cannot change the past and those regrets cannot be solved today — the time has passed. It has taken me some time to let go of those regrets. I carried them around in a big, heavy sack on my shoulders. I am still tossing out some leftover regrets on occasion, and fortunately my burden is much lighter these days.

I think Trevor also speaks from a place of youth. He sees regret as coming from a place of inaction, words unspoken. I think regret can also come from impetuousness.

I have tamed my regret and my fear for now. I like to think regret has been stored away forever. Fear, well that fiend will perhaps always be with mankind. For now I have it tucked away as well.

Do you have regrets?

Let’s Talk Money

I have been saving like a mad fiend during the pandemic. There wasn’t really anything else to do. I have loosened my purse strings a little the past two weekends, but I want that to be exception. I need to remember that spending money is not a solution when I am lonely or sad. That had been my crutch when I was married. Man, did I spend some money on a whole lot of stupid stuff.

I am preparing to pay off my car which will reduce my savings but increase my monthly cash flow. I can replace the money in my savings in about the same time I would have paid off the car loan. My savings can take the hit. I prefer to have the cash flow and zero debt.

It will be the first time in my adult life that I don’t owe anyone a single penny. No car payment, all bills paid on time. Savings for retirement, my HSA and emergency fund all accumulating nicely. I have been saving over 25% of my income. Yes, it’s a tad aggressive, but I needed that catch-up. Once my son is done with school and his stipend ends, I will increase my disposable income. I got a modest 2% raise this month which I applied towards my 401K. I am thrilled to have any type of increase during these crazy times and I say a word of thanks for this job each and every day.

When that car is paid off, I will have paid off over $50,000 of debt in the past year. Yes, $50,000 between the IRS, credit cards and the car loan. Wow. Yes, half of that was my dad’s most generous Christmas gift. In my mind, it doesn’t matter so much where it came from. What matters is that I took responsibility for my situation and did what I needed to do to make it right.

My credit score is now over 800 for the first time in my life. I never dreamed getting it up there so quickly. Yes, it will take a hit when the car is paid off, but I don’t give a rat’s ass. I pay off my credit card in full each month and use it only as a convenience and to keep it active. Sometimes I make two payments in a month so it doesn’t get away from me.

I will have a little more disposable income with the car loan paid off because I won’t send the entire payment amount off to savings. I am in the midst of renewing my apartment lease. They foolishly asked for a 6% increase. Yeah, ask all you want, but that’s not reasonable in today’s economy. I have already countered. They have no idea of my negotiating skills, but they are about to find out.

Life is good. I am feeling peaceful. The next big audacious undertaking is to get the weight loss program back underway. I can do this. I just need to make better choices. At the end of the day perhaps that has been my biggest lesson over the past several years — make better choices….

Hypocrites

The Reverend Jerry Falwell, Jr. has dirty laundry that all the public is seeing right now.  Normally I would say that this is nobody’s business, however, since he makes a living as an educator of the Southern Baptist faith, it opens the door for some commentary.

I am a very sex-positive person with the belief that if the participants are consenting adults, have at it.  If you like to watch your spouse with someone else, good for you so long as all participants are on board and willing.  However, when you are being hypocritical and publicly espousing one belief and not living by those values, shame on you.  

I have no doubt that Falwell and his wife have a healthy, robust sex life that involves others at times. Kudos because keeping things sexy in a long-term relationship requires creativity and openness. But I find Falwell to be cowardly for throwing his wife under the double-decker bus by his characterization of the events. Also they went a bit too young for their partner. Hooking up with a 20-year-old is legal, but the power dynamics are definitely skewed. But who knows what the truth is? Just the three people at the heart of the allegations.

However, where there is smoke, there is fire and I guarantee you that there are some other third-parties out there who either will not or cannot speak up due to certain non-closure agreements.

I chuckled at his Instagram photo with the other woman where they were both “in costume” because to me, this is a guy having a good time.  Not a leader of the Southern Baptist community, but a regular guy being silly.  However, once again, his defense was hypocritical and not truthful.  That was alcohol in that glass and his familiarity with the woman was palpable.  He wants to live a life of “Do as I say, not as I do.”  I really don’t like folks like that.  

Perhaps this is the opportunity for Falwell to leave his father’s legacy and live his life on his own terms. He has a law degree and enough white privilege to segue way to perhaps more of a non-secular conservative profession. The question is whether he can stop the hypocrisy and acknowledge who he really is – an alcohol-drinking swinger. LOL.

But seriously, it takes a lot of courage to live life honestly and let people see you for who you really are. I question his courage.

As for his wife, I wish for her the gift of courage. The courage to stand up and tell her truth. The courage to not let her husband hide behind her or blame her. The courage to look people in the eye and be true to herself. And peace, I hope that at the end of all this she finds peace.

Update: 8/30/2020 – yep, more smoke.

Let’s pray for them.

Tag Cloud