Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Evangilizing Pizza

I've been in a state of unrest and uneasiness.  Something about my life is rubbing me the wrong way but I can't quite put my finger on it.  Somehow I am not satisfied.  I have a great husband who's only goal in life is to be able to take care of me in all ways -- what more could I ask for?  I have a challenging job that pays me very good money -- what more could I ask for?  I have many wonderful friends and family who would do anything in the world for me -- what more could I ask for?  I have fantastic hobbies that keep my craving for creativity at bay -- what more could I ask for?

But I'm struggling and dissatisfied...restless even.

But tonight we had pizza delivered and in addition to to my pepperoni pizza we order every Tuesday night, our delivery guy delivered the pizza and a message.  It's the same young man who delivers our pizza every Tuesday night.  Usually Andy gets the door but for the last few weeks, I have been answering the door.  The first time, our delivery guy introduced himself and asked me my name.  From that first night on, he remembered my name.  I can not remember his.

Tonight, he took the money and turned to get into his car.  Then he stopped and turned around.  He was sort of embarrassed and didn't know how to say what he needed to say.  He asked my permission if he could tell me something that might be a little weird.  He stumbled on his words and finally just said, "OK, I know it is weird but I felt like on the drive over here God wanted me to give you a message."  He said this kind of breathless and rushed through the words.

"God wants you to know that all this doubt and restlessness you are feeling...God wants you to know that He can give you everything that you want."

I am not a religious person -- but I am spiritual.  I believe in nature and the goodness of people and dogs...which is just God backwards.  Dog is my co-pilot or in my case Dogs.  But I digress.  Most of the time I'm very uncomfortable when someone says something like this to me but tonight I didn't fell weird.  I just felt like he was telling me the truth. 

Oh I could go on forever with reasons why I logically can't believe in a higher being and how organized religion is really a flawed institution.  But, that's not the point.  I smell change in the air.  I love the smell of  change!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What are we marketing to our kids????

So I came across this commercial for Barbie, the iconic fashion doll for all ages.  As a dog lover/addict I was pleased to see that Barbarie was a responsible dog owner.  The doll and dog comes with treats and a fancy pink and purple poopa scoopa vacuum thingy.  Then I watched the commercial.

Disturbing, unsanitary, inhumane are just three words that immediately come to mind.  As the owner of five dogs and one who suffers from coprohagia it is NOT a good idea to show a dog eating its own poop!  A child's imagination can only go so far and this is way more disturbing and up there with mom and dad having sex!  Poop is taboo!  I don't care if everyone poops...we don't have toys that advocate a being munching down on their waste!

Ok so this toy came to market in 2006 and in November 2006, Mattel had a voluntary recall of Barbie and Tanner.  It wasn't because people were outraged at Tanner eating his poop that Mattel recalled.  It was a magnet problem with the pooper scooper.

What other crazy toys have you seen?  or products?  One of my all-time favorites is still the Chia Pet bust where you get a nice bald guy and you end up with a 1970s guy with a bad perm!  Like the guy on the 70's Show...you know -- Donna's dad.  Ok so speaking of the 70's Show, did you know that the last chick who was on Charlie's Angel...Tanya someone or other...played Donna's Mom?  How do you make a hot redhead from a dorky guy with a bad perm and a sort of cougar-like lady?  Ahhh the wonderful career of D-list players in the afterlife!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Doing What You Love to Do...or maybe just liking it!

In case anyone has been locked in a magical castle away from the world we live in or perhaps you live in Washington DC, the economy still sucks!  Things don't seem to be getting better.  I know people who have been out of work after being laid off from a major corporation for a year.  My husband was one of them.  After almost a year to the day of being laid off he took a job.

Don't get me wrong, he's enjoying it.  He now goes into an office after working from home for 10 years.  The adjustment to getting up at 6am every morning has taken its toll but he thoroughly enjoys working with people.  Is it his dream job? No, but it gets him back out into the workplace. Suddenly my thoroughly depressed husband is now a more energetic and very busy guy.

So where was this energy when he should have been exploring new paths and deciding what he wanted to pursue rather than having to take the first job offered?  Well, readers, men are wired differently.  I know every self-help book out there talks about that but I was not a full believer that Men are from Mars.  Often in my relationship with Andy, he's taken on a more feminine point view on things.  He was raised with women.  I was raised with men.  He cries at movies.  I pass out the tissues.  My husband is all man for sure but I thought he was raised on Venus.

Until the layoff.  Like a lion who's instinct is to hunt, my husbands instinct came through.  He was supposed to be the hunter of the family.  When I asked him what he wanted to do the only clear answer I got was to make enough money so that I didn't have to work.  What????

We have no children.  I have never expressed that I didn't want to work.  But in his head he had the measure of success as being that I don't have to work. During this last year of unemployment I joked that I was his "Sugar Mama" but didn't realize how deeply he felt a certain amount of failure for a) not earning more money than me and b) not being in a situation that I could sit all day eating bon bons. 

I looked at his layoff as being an opportunity for him. I would love to have six months to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up...if I ever grew up.  I would be looking  forward to what is to come.  He saw his layoff as his own personal failure.  He spent hours evaluating what happened and what he should have done differently. He couldn't get his arms around changing thought process and making this into a positive.  The words coming out of his mouth would say something like, "Oh I'm glad I'm the one laid off instead of the one staying and doing the work of five," but then he would agonize over what he did wrong.

Now that he's back at work, he's down on himself that it is not a high level job.  What does "finding yourself" mean to you?  Ideally, you want to do something you love and get paid a lot of money for it but if we are honest with ourselves, that seldom happens.  Do you want a job doing what you love and not make the big bucks or do you want a job with a great salary doing something "ok"?

As life is not that cut and dry the answer depends on your circumstances.  So today we have jobs that we like but we're still on the lookout for that one that you can be passionate about.

PS I miss my husband being home with me!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Everyone just needs to put on their Big Girl or Big Boy pants!

I just took the high dive off the deep end. I'm talking uncontrollable crying, psycho screaming, boo boo face, hitched breathe -- the works. This was the day after my Book Club's "self help" night and my proclamation (after reading Live Oprah for my book) that I'm going to be more positive and not let work, husband's unemployment, my illness get me down. I was going to be the optimistic, cup-is-half-full kind of gal.

I jinxed myself.

After a record breaking 12 days into 2010, I was ready to throw in the towel at work, get a divorce and go live in a cave. So i had my emotional hissy fits and tried to come to grips with what was going on (CAUTION: THE FOLLOWING CONTENT MAY SURPRISE AND/OR SUBJECT PEOPLE TO COLD SWEATS, DISILLUSIONMENT AND TEMPORARY LOSS OF HOPE).

1) I do not have super powers, a marvy utility belt or even an underwear-on-the-outside super hero outfit (ok I do have a cape and keep it ready just in case).
2) I ask for help but for some reason both at work and at home the words coming out of my mouth must not be spoken in a language understood by all.
3) Life circumstances are continuously changing so nothing is ever written in stone.

At work, there seems to be a secret language of words and actions. No one does what they say they will do and at the end of the day it is your job to get things done but don't be an enabler but give clear direction and guidance but let people figure out how to do their job but don't do it for them when you are dangerously close to not making a deadline but maybe you can do it just this one time but don't make that a practice but allow enough time to get the work done but be reactive to impossible deadlines but don't tell anyone you can't do because you may then become someone not considered a valuable resource but this one time work 13 hours but don't make that a practice. These are the million little voices pounding my brain -- ALL THE TIME. It's like Elvis and Costello's "Who's on First" routine. By the time I get up from my desk and move away from the computer at the end of the day, and go home (downstairs), I'm faced with nothing that I need done around the house completed. And suddenly, I'm in the pits of despair and feel like the world is ganging up on me and no one is paying attention to my daily pleas, my daily begging for help.
To understand this phenomenon, you must examine how one asks for help --
1) direct request from one person to the next, "Could you do the section of the presentation on blind mice" or "Could you empty the dishwasher?"
2) A communal plan of what needs to be done to accomplish the task like a project plan or a "Honey Do" list on the refrigerator
3) An overall assignment of tasks in a specific area to one owner like all areas of this project pertaining to blind mice will be done teammate X or "Honey you are responsible to get the garbage to the curb on Thursday Nights."
These seem like reasonable and viable paths to asking for help, partnering with your team or you spouse. Possibly they are as straight-forward as they seem and methods that are very successful for other people. Just not me.
I need people to put on their big girl and big boy panties and take ownership of areas without me having to spell out each and every specific task. Right now, my husband has two areas of responsibility: a) searching for a job and b) being an adult, homeowner who partners with me to do stuff around the house like put away our tools, put on a new toilet paper roll when he uses the last of it, take on some of the tasks on the Honey Do list that have already been assigned to him.
Am I doomed to the status of Enabler? Try them on for size and help a girl out!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Guilt of Paradise and finding Malu

So here we are in October. Andy is still unemployed and depressed. I'm employed but going crazy with stress from my job and a little bit too from knowing that I am the only one bringing in a salary. That in itself is enough motivation to not say no to every project coming your way even though you are overbooked. But we are on vacation in Hawaii and I'm looking for some "malu" or peace. At least for the two weeks here in paradise! Expensive paradise. In the middle of my biggest project at work.

The guilt, of course, is a bit overwhelming. But why shouldn't we take a vacation? Yes it eats into our nest egg that we've utilized quite well since Andy's lay-off. We've done the due diligence our finances. We've cut out unnecessary expenses -- no cleaning service, no landscaping projects, more cooking at home/less eating out. We have consolidated our mortgage into one 15-year low interest loan. I make a very decent salary. So why should we feel guilty about a vacation?

Well, for one thing, everything is so expensive here! I had a mani/pedi yesterday and didn't ask how much it cost before I got it. I thought how much could it be? Well, you can imagine my surprise when I got a ticket for $150!!! The little flower on my big toe cost $25...for each toe! But it was a wonderful mani/pedi...they rubbed a delicious pineapple and sea salt exfoliation treatment on my legs and then a nice massage with pineapple scented oil. The same for my hands and arms. Plus I got acrylic pink and white on my nails. I'm used to paying about $80 for these services at home. I guess I got the premium Hawaiian service for the extra $70!

My husband tells me to not worry about it. I deserve the pampering. Honestly, I agree with him! I have been so extremely stressed out and this vacation has done wonders. I don't really care how much we spend. The guilt comes because I think I should!

Everyday the news shows more and more issues about the economy. More job losses, more people evicted, more people going hungry. I have many friends who were victims of the same lay off as Andy at that big blue company. They are out there looking for jobs and wondering what they are going to do after the severance pay is gone. Andy has applied for so many jobs online and the only responses he's had have been for selling insurance or personal financial services.

I feel guilt that I am not happy in my job right now. I am overstressed, got too much going on to do the kind of job I want to do and I want to do something different! I want a promotion! I want to move up in my company. I keep telling myself, "At least I have a job." But you know what? That is so unfair that I'm not allowed to have goals and expectations. I think some companies use this as an unfair advantage. Let's get rid of the people that make this company what it is and then the people we have left will be so fearful of keeping their job they'll take on everything we throw at them. I'm not sure all companies think this way but it sure feels like it. From a company financial perspective, looking at figures on paper, I'm sure it is easy to cut spending by cutting employees. Publically traded companies have an obligation to their stockholders to be profitable and an easy way to drive profits if sales are not there is to cut expenses. Employees being one of the highest expenses. As a stokeholder in several large companies, that doesn't really give me Malu. I'm not sure what the Hawaiian word for agita is but...I feel it.

So, I'm taking almost three weeks off in the middle of my biggest project's most busy time. And I'm spending money on luxuries and gourmet dining. And I'm having a great time and de-stressing. And hopefully, I can keep a little of Hawaii's "malu" (peace) with me when I'm completely underwater in everyday life.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Learning Passion from Your Parents

My husband and I are coming up on our 15th wedding anniversary. It hasn't been an easy road to maneuver. I was lucky enough (or cursed...not sure which) to have parents who were passionately in love with each other as my road model to marriage. In this case, the word passion can describe the good times and the bad times. There were more good times than bad times, but let me tell you, when the bad times came there was a lot of passion about who was right and who was wrong!

My early years were spent in a small town outside of Boston, Massachusetts. This was the town that both my parents' family had settled in when they came from Ireland. My grandfather was the superintendent for schools. His wife, Catherine, however died when my father was only two years old. She had tuberculosis. Dad was raised by different members of the Collins family and a housekeeper who took most of the cash given to her for the weekly groceries and fed my father a concoction of white rice and raisins which left him with a permanent grudge against and rice products. Because of my grandfather's standing in the community, they were considered to be a well-off family. Members of the local yacht club, housekeeper, and only two kids in the household. As an Irish Catholic family this was not the norm, even in the Great Depression. My dad was born in 1930 and my mom in 1933.

My mom on the other hand, grew up, technically on the wrong side of the tracks. She was the youngest girl of 13 brothers and sisters. There were two younger brothers after her. My grandfather Cahill worked multiple jobs to make ends meet for his large family. He was also the main cook, disciplinarian and bread winner of the family. He was totally devoted to my grandmother and my mother was his baby girl. He did things for her that the other sisters (and brothers) did not get. For instance, he bought her a car when she was old enough to drive. She didn't have to "help" with the chores around the house. In other words, she was a spoiled young lady!

I give you this brief history of my parents and the way they were raised so you may have a little insight to my parents "passionate" marriage. My mother came into their marriage with little knowledge about being a wife. She didn't know how to cook. She didn't know how to keep house. She definitely didn't know about sex and devoured all my pamphlets on the monthly miracle we woman have been bestowed when the school had "THE TALK" session in 5th grade. The pamphlets seemed to answer a lot of questions she had but still wouldn't talk to me about it. She went from a home that took care of her into another home where she was to be taken care of.

My dad, on the other hand, was brought up with a distant father who lamented the loss of the love of his life and never really got over it. He was not close to his children because he left it up to everyone else to raise them. My father hungered for a home of his own where he felt loved and wanted. Where someone would take care of him and he would take care of his special someone.

And then he found my mother. She was the best friend of the girl his best friend, Donald, was marrying. The only problem was that my mom was engaged to another guy. That didn't stop my father. He wooed her until she broke off her engagement and went out with him. On their first date, my dad leaned over as if he was going to kiss my mom but instead whispered in her ear, "You are going to be my wife."

And in a year, on June 4th, 1959, they were married. It's the stuff movies are made of...or at least a mini series. There was passion and drama and humor in their marriage. My mom even learned how to cook a few dishes when they lived in the attic apartment of a nice old Italian couple. I was born into that apartment and my older brother and I called them Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma taught my mom how to make spaghetti sauce from scratch and lasagna and pizziola.

When I was in third grade, some drama came to the marriage. Wedding vows, Commandments, etc. were broken. A new music teacher came to down and she was a "gay divorcee" which in 1970 was still not that common in a 98% Catholic town. I do not know when and how they met but a relationship was formed with Miss Beaver (yes that was really her name) and my father. All of a sudden, I was getting asked to sing solos at the assembly the chorus groups had for parents. Miss Beaver would miraculously show up to the places we were. She was a bit of a stalker I'm afraid.

Soon after the shady coincidental meetings started to happen, a dark blue Cadillac started appearing in our driveway when my dad was at work and we were at school. As I rounded the corner to walk down our street to our house, I could see it leaving our driveway. A dark-haired man driving. When I came home early one day because of some kind of malfunction at the school, the man was still at my house. They were both a little shocked when I walked into the house but I did not catch them in a compromising situation. They were sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. I found out this was the man my mother dumped to marry my father. It turns out that my father had the affair first...really a mistake, one-night stand (was his version 20-years later). My mother wanted to retaliate by sleeping with Adrian Z (I can't remember his last name but it was Italian). Once they were "even," their marriage went on like nothing happened. But, within the year, we packed up everything, left family and friends and moved to Florida where Mom and Dad didn't know a soul and really had to depend on each other for love, companionship and friendship. Their marriage grew stronger. This is the time that they learned how to be each other's best friends, confidantes and partners. Life was good for the Collins' house in Florida.

Growing up in Florida was wonderful. Our land was covered in orange, grapefruit and tangerine trees. We had a pool and our house became the central entertainment house on the block. All the kids and all the parents used to hang out there. My parents brought to Florida their ability to socialize regularly. Any one of the half-dozen families on the block would stop by for cocktails at 5:00 pm sharp. A beer or a highball at the ready. I get my passion for entertaining from my parents. Not only did they party at home but almost every Saturday night, they would take off for the Moose Club with their new best friends the Wilsons to go dancing.

Even when they were fighting, it took on a sense of humor. I remember one spat about friends of my father who wanted to come to Orlando and stay at our home. It would require a lot of bedroom re-organization to accommodate a married couple and their hyper-active kid. My parents were sitting outside by the pool and every time my father said they were coming, my mother said, "No!" and bopped him on the head with an empty paper towel roll. They were giggling and laughing. All of a sudden my father picked my mother up, lawn chair and all, and threw her into the pool.

In 1977, however, their marriage took on another twist. My mother had a massive heart attack and needed to have a triple by-pass surgery. One important item to note here is that both my mom and dad were intensely uncomfortable with the medical world. As children, we did not go to the doctor unless our arms were hanging limply by our side, our head was cracked open or we were hacking so bad from bronchitis that they thought our insides were going to come out our mouths! My parents never even thought of going in for an annual check up. The only time you went to the dentist was if you had a toothache. There was no such thing as preventative care.

In the 70's a heart by-pass wasn't as routine a surgery as it is today. There was a lot more risk associated with it. My mother didn't want the surgery. She kept saying that she was alive today and she couldn't take the risk. So she didn't have the surgery. As the years went by she steadily lost the use of her legs. The doctors kept attributing it to the lack of oxygen going to her limbs. My dad expanded his care taking to include her.

What the doctors missed was that my mother actually had multiple sclerosis. Until her death in 1992 my father was by her side. He retired from work at 55 so he could be her caretaker full time. Their devotion to each other was incredible. After my mother's death, my father passed away within a year. I think he died of a broken heart.

My husband and I have had our ups and downs in our marriage but at the end of the day, he's my best friend, my lover and my partner. His strengths match my weaknesses and my strengths match his weaknesses. I know we can overcome the downs and share the joy of our up times!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rash of "Feel Good" TV Messages

There's no doubt about, America needs something to celebrate life and living to our fullest potential. That's why I turn to TV to get my dose of "living life to the fullest." I need a TV show that takes up an hour of my precious life to tell me to get up off that couch or out of that lounge chair and go sky-dive, or write a novel or marry the one you love. Thank goodness for the network shows or else I wouldn't understand that in these trying times of job losses, economic ruin, war casualties and overall insecurity, I need to stop and smell the roses or do a random acts of kindness or drink from the cup half full.

If I record the shows, then instead of giving up an hour or a half-hour, I only have to give up about 45 minutes or 22 minutes. I can speed through the commercials which will ultimately give me back some time but waste someone's advertising dollar requiring the ad company to lay off people because the client is not happy and possibly requiring the client to lay off people because their product isn't selling. Is Ford the only American car company because it placed its vehicles in Knight Rider, the TV Show? Can't skip through the placement during the whole TV show. But, alas, you can skip the whole TV show when it is brain numbingly stupid.

So, I'm trying to learn to not be an "armchair life liver." At times I have my moments like the really cool vacation when we are white water rafting Snake River...the same river that Evil Knievel jumped in the 70s. Or I feel like I'm living life when I'm at the homeless shelter serving food I cooked for them. Or when I'm playing with my dogs just for the pure joy of play.

Is optimism a genetic thing? I watched the Michael J. Fox documentary on optimism. Now, there's a guy who is definitely a glass half full guy! There are all sorts of studies going on now about optimism. In one study, there actually seems to be a genetic indicator in your DNA that indicates if you are an optimist or not. I'm not sure I believe that. I think you have to open your brain, your logical side, and your heart to see the good things in a bad situation. Perhaps it is a genetic disposition that allows you to change the way you think. On the flip side of that coin, it is so much easier to buy into the cup half empty scenario, especially if you are surrounded by negative people. Someone drives that giant bandwagon of doom and gloom and you can see the people running along side to jump on board.

I'm trying to optimistically look at the obstacles I need to overcome. I think I can make it over these hurdles. I have to accept that it is a work in progress. Somewhere along the journey of life, I've become a bit OCD. I think that in order to be successful I have to have everything available and ever obstacle resolved FIRST. And then I should be able to skip along the path and achieve the goals that I've set for myself.

Life doesn't work that way. Some obstacles are actually brick walls that you have to find a way around. You can't get over them but you need to take different routes. And sometimes the road around the brick walls allows you to see and smell flowers you've never seen before. Not from an armchair but from your "Feel Good" journey.