Monday, February 27, 2012

My husband doesn't have to go to work, EVER!!

I told you my husband quit his job.  And, in December I pondered what it was going to be like when my husband no longer worked outside the home, at this post.

Here I am.  Today is the first day of my husband's status as a retiree.  My husband doesn't have to go to work, EVER!  He is free to do whatever he wants to do, all day long.  If he wants to sleep until noon, he can.  If he wants to take college classes online, he can! If he wants to eat bon bons on the couch and watch tv all day, he can.  If he wants to be on facebook all day, he can.  My husband is retired from working hard for the last 30 years and he can do whatever he wants to do.

When I've told anyone my husband is retiring, the first thing the ask is, "what's he going to do?"  Seriously, this is a stupid question.  Ask yourself, what would you do if you didn't have to go to work anymore.  Can you answer this question?  I'll bet you can't.  I fully expect my husband to live for another 30 years or more.  I don't expect him to know what he's going to do with all that time.  I usually answer this question with, "I don't know, but I do know he's not getting another job."  I guess most people think you are defined by your job.  In my husband's case, this is not a complete picture.  He is MUCH more than a government contractor.  Much more.

It's lunch time on the first day of my husband's retirement and I'm at work.  Btw, I may not be at work all day.  I'm feeling pretty lousy with a crummy cold and I think I may be running a temperature, but that's not important.  I didn't think anyone at my job would believe me if I called in sick on my husband's first day of retirement.  Anyway, ... so far, on my husband's first day of retirement, I can tell you some of the things he has done.  First of all, he got up and dressed at the same time I did.  So, no sleeping in until noon.  Secondly, he has texted me WAY to much.  All the items sitting on my desk have been jostled around by the incessant vibrating of my iPhone.  One the plus side, this has knocked all the dust off anything on my desk that had dust on it.  I thought I would scare him away from texting me by asking him to do a household chore, vacuuming.  This didn't work.  On the plus side, he vacuumed.  LOVE this.  I'm not going to ask him to cook.  (for some reason, EVERYBODY asks if he's going to have dinner ready for me when I get home from work)  My husband has no interest in cooking.  I am completely good with this.  I don't mind cooking and when I do mind, he doesn't mind taking me out or ordering in.  Tonight I'm making soup for dinner.  I'm sick, I need soup.  I'm going to make Italian Wedding Soup.

So far today my husband has made money for our family by trading APPL options and made progress on his dissertation paper.  I call this a full day.  When you can make your old salary in the first few hours of the morning and still make progress on your PhD dissertation, I call this a very good first day of retirement.  I don't know what the rest of the day is going to bring, but I'm open to whatever he comes up with doing.

In fact, I'm open to whatever the future holds for our family.  Maybe we will move to La Jolla, CA.  Maybe we will move to Daytona Beach, FL.  Maybe we will move to Prescott, AZ.  Maybe we will buy an RV and travel around the country like the school bus family.  It's my first day in the new chapter of our life.  I'm excited to see what will happen next.

13.  Etrade account
14.  Cold medicine
15.  Tylenole
16.  Chicken soup in cans for lunch
17.  Kleenex
18.  Warm cardigans
19.  Paid sick leave
20.  Hot tea


Friday, February 24, 2012

Writing for Steny in 55

Write with the voice of authority,
Like a man used to getting his own way.
No second guessing.
No offers implied.
Double talk saying nothing.

Sitting before the blank screen.

Seeking to find commanding prose.
Relaying displeasure without saying so.
Conveying assistance with no promises.

Write like a politician?
I was taught not to lie.

I was instructed to compose a letter to be signed by our democratic whip, Steny Hoyer.  Yikes...
Telling a story in 55 words. Go see g-man.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Entitlement for you, entitlement for you and entitlement for you!

This kinda sounds like Oprah sounded when she gave away the cars.  Doesn't it?  Entitlements for EVERYBODY.  Well, not everybody, but almost.  Today in the United States of America 52% of households are receiving some form of entitlement.  This is more than at ANY other time in US history.  We are becoming a nation of people with our hands out.  More than 45% of US households will not pay federal income tax this year.  What is happening to our nation?  Why do people want a hand out?  Why do people think they DESERVE a handout?  I remember when a president of this nation gave an inaugural address which included these famous words, " And so, my fellow Americans:  ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."  I remember watching people whining about the government in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Where was their government entitlement?  How was the government going to help them?  When were they going to get their MONEY?  (btw, the money they were going to get wasn't theirs, it was yours.) 

I think the government has proven it is lousy at helping people out.  The government doesn't have the first idea how to improve people's lives.  The government doesn't have the first idea how to raise a child.  The government doesn't have the first idea how to support a family.  However, the government does know the first thing about getting between churches and the needy.  The ACLU doesn't sit well with spirit based institutions giving aid and the government is scared silly of the ACLU.

Last night I went to church for Ash Wednesday.  The sermon was titled, "What's in it for me?"  The minister spoke about this time of Lent being a time of preparation for Easter.  Not preparation Easter dinner or Easter visitors or a new Easter dress, but a time for preparation to focus on the benefits we receive because of the sacrifices made for us.  He spoke about entitlements and the changing face of our nation to those begging, "where's mine."  He said our nation is sounding more and more like a toddler.  See if any of these toddler rules of possession sound familiar.

1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must NEVER appear to be yours in anyway.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.

I think I've heard sound bites on the news by adults saying these words, almost verbatim.

There is a family living in a house I own.  And by living, I mean existing.  I just paid the water bill for them because the water has been shut off for three months.  Seriously, no water.  The house stinks because they still use the toilets, but there is no water.  The biggest earner in the family, and by family I mean baby, baby daddy, uncle of baby and grandma of baby, is the baby.  The baby is getting all the entitlements to allow this group of people to pay the rent, fuel oil and electric.  Too bad the baby couldn't earn a little more and pay the water bill.  Bad baby.  This collection of sorry adults do not have a job between them.  What is this world coming to when two able bodied men won't work and choose to live off a baby.  It is unbelievable to me.

So, what's in it for me?  I'm continuing to focus on the sacrifice of my savior this Lenten season.  I pray our nation will get a clue.  All they have to do is turn on the tv and see what is happening in Greece.  I know my post sounds like a frustrated rant today, and it is.  I'm so tired of reading tweets of people complaining about having no money, then running out to get a tattoo with their income tax refund check.  They act as if they just received "found money."  Are they so dense they do not realize they just gave the government an interest free loan with THEIR money?  I guess they are.  Oh well, enjoy that purple butterfly tattoo.  You'll have it forever.

9.  my job
10.  my house, all fixed after Hurricane Irene
11.  a minister not afraid to speak the truth.  (even if there were democrats in the room)
12.  a beautiful sunny warm day in February

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent is here

The season of Lent has arrived.  In the christian faith, this is the time of preparation for the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins.  It is a time of giving up a luxury to feel the sting of sacrifice as a tiny nod to feeling the sacrifice that was made for me.  I suck at Lent.  I was raised dutch reformed and Lent was not a big deal in this particular church.  It was nothing like the way Lent was acknowledged in the Catholic church.  We ate meat at every meal.  We didn't fast on Ash Wednesday.  Business as usual.

Last year I made an attempt at participating in an experiment at doing yoga for 40 days.  Epic fail.  However, I did discover I'm not a big fan of yoga.  I'll do some sun salutations now and then, but every day for 40 days.  No way.  Uh uh.  You may remember I wrote about celebrating Advent this past Christmastime.  Another epic fail.  Yeah, I didn't even tell you.  I just kinda blew it off.  Sure, I was psyched about it for about two weeks, but then it fell off the radar.  Here we are, it's Lent again.  I remember my old friend, Joybird, did a Lenten project she called Late to Lent.  She chose to blog her Lenten experience for each day of the season.  I was impressed by her work and her diligence to stick to the project.  Then I heard of another person who chose to grow her hair for Lent.  Seriously?  I'm trying to imagine how this helped her relate to the sacrifice of Christ.  I guess it takes all kinds to make a world.

My plan for this Lenten season is to spend an hour with God each day of this season.  Yeah, I get I'm supposed to be doing this anyway, but I don't.  I'm hoping to spend this time with him while walking in his creation and reading his word.  I intend to attend church on every Sunday of Lent.  Yeah, I get I'm supposed to be doing this anyway, but I don't.  I'm going to sit in church and think positive thoughts and, hopefully, start praying for each person I see in the sanctuary.  I'm even going to pray for the guy I notice falls asleep EVERY time I see him in church.  No judging, just praying.  I guess I'm giving up my chilling time on the couch and, most likely, a glass of wine or two.  'Cause that's what I do while chilling on the couch.  I consider these luxuries.  I think I'm really going to look forward to Easter this year.

So now I've written my intentions on the world wide web.  I know some of you readers know where I live.  I know some of you have my phone number.  Please feel free to hold me accountable.  I'm seeking to grow.  Who knows, I may even start enjoying church again.  Fingers crossed.

I almost forgot.  I'm going to restart my gratitudes on my blog posts.  Evidently my Gratitude List page had a finite amount of lines and the earlier gratitudes dropped off the page.  Stuff happens, but I'm still grateful.

I'm grateful for
1.  my savior
2.  my faith that Jesus is risen from the dead and will come again to Earth
3.  a small group of believers encouraging me every Monday night
4.  the word of God, readily available in ANY form of media you can think of
5.  my healthy body
6.  my clear mind
7.  the opportunity to share my faith with anyone reading my words
8.  a God of second chances 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Conscience development

I have been involved in a study regarding ethics and the role ethics, or lack of ethics, had in the 2008 financial crisis.  The study is called Doing the Right Thing, by Chuck Colson and Robert George.  Last night one of the topics for discussion was our conscience.  One of the participants in my group asked the question, "What is a conscience?"  I gave a quick, maybe flip, answer that a conscience was like a barometer of right and wrong in our bodies.  A conscience is the part of us that allows us to feel whether a decision we are making is a morally right decision or a morally wrong decision.  Webster's first definition of conscience is the sense of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.  I was close.

One of the things discussed last night was the endless ability of the human mind to rationalize and in so doing, we weaken our conscience to the point of uselessness.  We all know this is true.  One of my favorite lines from a movie is from the movie, The Big Chill.  The character Michael, played by Jeff Goldblum says, "I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex."  Then the character Sam, played by Tom Berenger says, "Ah, come on. Nothing's more important than sex."  To which Michael replies, "Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?"  This movie was made in 1983.  I'll bet today, most of us can't go two days without a good rationalization.  Most of us can remember watching our president rationalize away his bad behavior by asking his prosecutor to define the word "is."  There is just something about the president of the United States rationalizing away bad behavior that gives permission to everyone else to rationalize away their own bad behavior.  It doesn't take too many repeated rationalizations to erode away the conscience developed at your mother's knee.  Before you know it all things right or wrong become a matter of relevance.

What can be done to develop a conscience?  I googled this question.  Not surprisingly, the first four pages of my google search had to do with child rearing.  This tells me two things.  First, a conscience is developed after birth.  We are not born with a conscience.  We learn what is right and wrong at our mother's knee.  We begin the development of a conscience by learning to please our mothers.  Secondly, there doesn't seem to be much interest in developing a conscience later in life.  If you've erased your conscience with all the rationalizing of your poor choices and bad behavior, you seem to be stuck with a crippled conscience.  This may be the reason our nation finds itself in the financial mess it is in today.  There were a lot of people doing whatever they wanted to do with other people's money with no regard of what was the right or wrong thing to do.

Last night we discussed ways to develop a crippled conscience.  We talked about how to reinforce right thinking back into our lives.  We looked at institutions that are based on developing moral codes.  Institutions like the U. S. Marine Corps.  Like the Boy Scouts of America.  Like any 12 step program following the principles of Bill W.  First we need to be broken down.  We need to come to the end of ourselves.  The Marine drill sergeants are great at doing this.  Then we need to remind ourselves of what the right things are.  Kind of like memorizing the boy scout oath and law.  We then need to accept the reality we cannot accomplish this conversion on our own.  We need a higher power.  Lastly, we must have accountability from others, in our similar circumstances, to keep us on the straight and narrow.  The reality of our condition is that we KNOW what the right thing to do is.  Yet, we find ourselves having a difficult time DOING what we know to be right.  There is nothing like peer pressure.  We just have to use peer pressure in a positive way.

Here's one more thing.  You know the saying, "Let your conscience be your guide," well, maybe not.  Not just yet. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Being happy is super important

Is it important to be happy?

I've heard some people say they don't think it is important to be happy.  I've heard people say it isn't worth the effort to try to be happy.  I beg to differ. 

Yahoo answers most popular answer says:

Happiness is the greatest sensation we can feel. Man has always striven to feel happy and almost everything we do now as a society is so that we can feel happy as individuals. Being in a sate of happiness puts less stress on our bodies and can even bring us better health. Generally, happy people live healthier and even live longer. The need to feel happy is what keeps our world in check and out of a state of total chaos and mass destruction.

I think it is pretty important to be happy.  I certainly think it's worth striving to be happy.  I absolutely believe happiness is within our grasp.  And being happy is certainly better than being unhappy.

Some misconceptions about the pursuit of happiness are that other people can make you happy.  Or, money can make you happy.  Or, things can make you happy.  I don't believe anything or any person can make you happy.  As far as distinguishing happiness from joy?  Well, I think this is an exercise in semantics.  I don't think a person who considers themselves unhappy would say they are joyful.  I think happiness is a decision I make every day.  I find happiness in my life every day, because, every day, I find purpose in my life.  I think a life devoid of purpose can be a very unhappy existence.  Maybe this is why some cannot find happiness and therefore, minimize its value.

In Viktor Frankl's book, Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl speaks of focusing on what is possible.  He says to focus on the great things you can do and don't think about the things that are making you unhappy.  Don't focus on the haunting dark thoughts, but focus on the dozen great things that are possible for you.  These great things will be your creations.  These creations will only be possible if you create them.  You create the great things in your life.  This is one of the ways man can produce meaning in his life.  Frankl says, when the emotions work in terms of values, the individual can feel pure joy.  Man needs to have meaning in his life to feel the happiness we all desire.  Frankl's experience while imprisoned during the Holocaust taught him it was the striving and struggling towards a goal worthy of him that gave him the sense of well being that a tensionless life could not.

Being happy is good for us, physically.  We feel better when we are happy.  Laughing is good for the body, as well as the soul.  Studies have shown that happy people are less likely to catch a cold when exposed to a cold virus.  Happy people are also less likely to catch the influenza virus.  Amazing.

Happy people make the world a better place.  Happy people are less likely to be criminals.  Even happy people with weak characters or poor values are less likely to harm other individuals or engage in anti-social behavior.  If more people chose to pursuit happiness, the world would be a better place.  I think our founding fathers understood this concept.  They put it in the Declaration of Independence as an unalienable right endowed on us by our creator.

I think the Yahoo answer guy got it right.  Being happy is super important.  It's worth the effort.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My office space in 55 words

Killing time in a cubicle
Listening to my neighbor’s sighs and yawns
Phones ring, facebook dings, email pops up
Urgency, then done


Killing time in a cubicle
Overhear my neighbor’s call
Movie dates, which one to see, laughing way too loud for me
She tells me all about it

Where's my scarlet swingline stapler

Telling a story in 55 words. Go see g-man.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Hunger Games

I've written before, I believe blogging to be a very self-indulging activity.  I've written before, I think blogging to be a great way to learn about yourself.  Today I'm writing with the goal of learning about something new to me from my readers and, hopefully, sharing some information with my readers that may be new to them.

I'm interested in an opportunity to make some money and I think the opportunity may be in the franchise of The Hunger Games by Lionsgate Entertainment Corporate (LGF).  I know this isn't my typical blog post, but this IS stuff that interests me.  I just haven't shared much of this with you.  Here's my problem.  I never heard of The Hunger Games trilogy.  This is something that makes me skeptical.  However, I realize I am a woman in my 50's and I may not be the target audience for this franchise.  So, I'm bringing this to you wonderful (and much younger) readers.  I'd like you to comment on this post regarding your opinion on The Hunger Games book trilogy and your interest in seeing the upcoming movie (release date March 23, 2012).

I will tell you that Lionsgate Entertainment Corporate (LGF) is currently trading on the Nasdaq at $12.12.  Analysts believe that this fairly small independent film studio could make significant profits off this franchise.  This studio is responsible for 2005's oscar best picture winning film, Crash, oscar nominated, Juno, and the tv show Mad Men, among others.  Feel free to google them.

I would appreciate your participation in my research and I encourage you to get involved in learning how to make your money work for you.  Enjoy the trailer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What the ...?

Can you call yourself a Christian if you cuss?

I have been known to use some pretty colorful language to communicate my feelings.  I cuss.  Btw, I married a sailor, doncha know.  It's funny, I didn't cuss nearly as much while my husband was active duty navy as I do now.  I think this may be because our son was young and I didn't enjoy hearing my four year old using the "f" word.  Now he is 24 and he uses the WHOLE alphabet.  Thankfully, he has enough respect for his dad and me to keep from using it in front of us, ...mostly.  I, on the other hand, am not so good at keeping from using the foul language in front of him.

I just read a status update on the page of a favorite blogger of mine, Jamie the Very Worst Missionary.  She is a christian missionary and she cusses.  I think JTVWM is the real deal.  I see the love of Jesus shining through her blog posts.  But, yeah, she cusses.  The status on her fb page went something like this.
JTVWM is very clever.  She has a clever mind and a quick wit.  I like this about her.  I have a tendency to have a quick retort, as well.  And, I cuss.

Of course cussing isn't the worst of the sins one can commit.  (as if God rated the sins on a graduated scale)  But how we speak does give an indication of what kind of person we are.  I know my mom and dad hate to hear cussing.  So, when I visit my mom and dad, I don't cuss.  See, I can clean up the language when I want to do it.  I have wondered if people exclaiming "Oh My Goodness" as opposed to "Oh My God" were doing a better job of being a Christian than I am.  Believe me, these phrases are just the tip of the iceberg of my inappropriate language.  And, come to think of it, is cussing really a sin?  The bible tells us not to use God's name in vain, but it doesn't say anything about the "f" word or any of the other lettered words.

For the most part, I think the use of the bad language is me just being lazy.  I know if I put a bit of effort into my day to day convos I could avoid the cussing.  I know, because I can do it when I want to do it.  Another thing I've found to be true, for me, is I cuss more when I'm around people who are cussing.  It's contagious.  Another thing about cussing, I think, is it makes me look kind of dumb.  I'm sure I can think of better words to use to emphasize my feelings than the cuss words.  I mean, I'm trying to think of myself as a writer and writers are users of words.  They use lots of words.  On the positive side, does my cussing allow me to "fit in" situations that I may not fit into if I didn't cuss?  I wonder.

One part of the bible always comes to my mind when I ponder my language and the use of appropriate words.  The verses are Isaiah 6:6 & 7; Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

I know this doesn't say anything specifically about bad language, but if sin begins with what we think, then grows with what we say, and then blooms in our actions, it seems like cleaning up the language would be a good place to "nip this in the bud."  (to continue the metaphor)  I think the imagery of angels picking up hot coals with tongs and touching these coals to the lips of the prophet represent purification of the prophet's words as well as his sin.  The prophet MUST speak the truth to the people.  His words must be pure.

Back to my cussing issue.  I think, in my case, I'm going to need to begin with just saying nothing at all, instead of cussing.  People may begin to think I've developed a stutter while working on this "stop cussing" project.  Maybe the look on their faces as they watch me try to speak will help me with my smiling project, too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The greatest of these is love

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love

These were the words the minister spoke at my wedding almost 30 years ago.  I was 25 years old.  I didn't know anything about love.  I thought love was about how I felt.  I thought I showed love by what I did for those I loved.  I thought kisses showed love.  I thought hugs showed love.  I didn't really know anything about love.  I still find I fall into the trap of doing love instead of being love.    Love is the greatest, but love is the trickiest.  

Advertising messes up our ideas about love.  Hollywood distorts what love is supposed to look like.  Everything out there makes it look like love is a destination.  The world makes it look like love is something we can get to or attain.  We forget, love is something we already have within ourselves.  And we really forget that the more love we give away, the more love we have to give.

I remember being in college and thinking about love.  I took many philosophy classes in college.  Philosophy classes can have the side-effect of causing one to think too much.  I always struggled with the idea of love.  I was afraid I was a person incapable of loving someone.  I would imagine my life without my parents or my brothers or my boyfriend and I would feel, ...nothing.  I didn't feel fear or dread or loss or anything.  Of course, this was an academic exercise, as all these people were alive and well and in my life.  But, I thought I should be able to feel something.  something.  This fear, of not being capable of love, had haunted me for much of my life.

I know I am capable of loving and being loved.  I know, clearly, I'm not the type of person that dwells heavily in feelings.  I'm the kind of person who dwells in the concrete and the "here and now."  You can be pretty sure the person writing the sentiments inside the hallmark cards is not an ISTJ, like me.  I believe my duty and commitment to the people I love are evidence of my love.

When I read the 1 Corinthians 13 verses I find more comfort in them than I did on my wedding day.  Today I am more accepting of the personality God gave me.  When I read these words about love I see myself in them.  I see the way I demonstrate love in them.  When I give my word, I mean it.  I am not the clanging gong.  When I take on an obligation, I do what it takes to fulfill my duty.  I will be constant in my commitment.  When I was young, the words in these verses seemed impossible, out of reach.  Now I know these words describe the only motivation that gives worth to anything we do on this Earth.  If we act out of any motivation but love, there is no value.

I must have faith in God and in my salvation, I must have hope all is in God's hands and he will bring me home to him, and I must have love for God and my fellow humans walking this dull sod.  This is the greatest of the three.  I must love.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

More about Tamoxifen

I just put a request for a refill of my Tamoxifen prescription into the pharmacy.  Doing this reminded me I haven't posted about my Tamoxifen journey in a while.  I guess I haven't posted because not much has changed.  I'm into my second year of the five-year Tamoxifen adventure.  I've become bored with the scenery.  I still have the regular hot flashes.  I'm sort of getting used to them.  I don't like them, but they are expected and they do not disappoint.  I wish hot flashes burned calories, but I don't think they do.  I feel like I've put a bit of weight on, of late.  Bummer.  I need to turn this around immediately or my "big girl" pants won't keep looking so good on me.  :)

So, hot flashes and night sweats continue.  My annual breast exam and mammogram were uneventful, and that's just the way I like them.  Normal.  Normal.  Normal.

I'm sleeping a  lot better.  This is good news.  I think I'm sleeping well because this winter hasn't been too cold.  It doesn't feel like ice is forming on my sheets if the air happens to hit them.  I've learned I have to use a LOT of body lotion, since I'm becoming a raisin, now.  If any younger women happen to be reading this post, this is scary stuff.  I'm gonna tell you.  It is horrific to find the wrinkles on your face.  When I brush my teeth in the morning and see my mom in the mirror, it scares me EVERY time.  I have to admit, I've kinda been expecting the lines on my face.  If I have to sell a few shares of AAPL to get something done about them, I will.  I'm not too proud and I am a bit vain.  The wrinkles that really scare me are the ones I find on my forearms and calves.  WHAT THE HECK?  I didn't expect to see those.  Scary, crepe-paper skinned forearms and calves make me cringe.  I look down at my arms and I see my grandma's arms.  It freaks me out.

This aging thing is not for sissies.

I'm not feeling depressed.  This is good.  I remember this was something my doctor worried about for me.  I went to a therapist for about six months and felt this wasn't something that was a benefit to me.  Sure, I have my moments of being anxious about my husband's retirement and our future.  And, yes, I have my moments of being anxious about my son's future and ability to support himself.  I think these are normal fears.  They do not keep me living my life to the fullest.  I have the occasional nightmare about them, but that's the worst of it.  I no longer take benadryl  to help me sleep.  I was told it was contraindicated for people on Tamoxifen.  I do still have a couple cocktails every night.  I've found if I only have one or two I sleep much better than if I've had three or four.  Another good reason to be moderate in my drinking.  Also, the less I eat in the evening, the better I sleep.  Another good reason not to overeat.  Everything is good in moderation.

I'm sure exercise would be very helpful.  I plan to start going to the gym at work beginning on Ash Wednesday.  No 40 days of yoga for me this year, but I'll get back on the treadmill.  (I just took a peek back to my post a year ago.  I'm still wearing the pants I bought then.  I don't need a new size, but I think an updated pair is in order.)

I'm wondering how I will react to having my husband home when I get home from work?  I'm wondering how I'll react to less money?  I'm wondering how I'll react when I'm getting ready for work and my husband is still in bed?  I'm wondering so many things about this new phase of my life.  I am entering this new phase with my old frenemy, Tamoxifen.

Let the adventure continue.  :)

Cell with estrogen receptors blocked by tamoxifen and helper proteins.
A - estrogen receptor
B - tamoxifen
C - estrogen helper proteins
D - tamoxifen helper proteins
E - cell nucleus
F - DNA (genetic material) inside cell nucleus

Saturday, February 11, 2012

These pants make my butt look good

Let me tell you why I blog.  I have learned so much about myself this week.  I know, 20 years ago, Oprah told everyone to journal.  I know she said it changed her life.  I'm sure it did.  But, I'll bet it doesn't hold a candle to how blogging her journal would have changed her life.  This week I opened up my coat to the blogosphere and, metaphorically, checked out my butt in the mirror to decided if my "big girl" pants made my butt look bad.

This week I examined myself and some of my motivations in life.  The most challenging thing I revealed was my negative self-talk.  I have to tell you, I appreciated the commiseration from my readers.  Sometimes it's good to know you aren't the only one doing something a little nutty, in private.  It also made me want to start a support group for us.  We can get together once or twice a week and remind each other how GREAT we are.  We can tell each other our successes for the week and compliment each other.  There are plenty of naysayers out there in the world and they are more than happy to knock us down a peg or two.  I think a support group would be so much FUN.  We could tell each other how great our butts look in our pants.  :)

This week I examined my competitive attitude.  I'm going to tell you, I thought everyone likes to win.  It was a little surprising to me that this may not be accurate.  This was eye opening.  I don't believe in winning at any cost.  I would never advocate cheating to win.  I was just commenting on my attitude of having the desire to win when I am in any competitive situation.  For example, I ran for a position on the board of directors of the HOA in my neighborhood this month.  I'd held a position on this board for the last four years.  During the last year of my term I had had a couple issues come up and I had to make some decisions that were going to please one neighbor and not please the other.  Sure, I had covenants and by-laws on my side, but there you have it.  I made a few neighbors unhappy.  Unhappy people don't keep their opinions to themselves.  I had a feeling I wasn't going to be re-elected, but I ran anyway.  I still had a few things I wanted to accomplish on the board.  In the end, I lost re-election by one vote.  Of course I was disappointed.  I wanted to win.  I'm not disappointed I don't have to serve on the board.  It's a lot of work and there is no way to make everyone happy.  My friend ran for a position on the board, too.  She didn't win either.  She said she didn't even think about the election.  She had put her name in the hat just because she was asked.  She didn't care whether or not she won.  I certainly won't be a sore loser in this situation, but I'm not going to say it didn't sting to lose.

This week I confessed I can be confrontational.  I never said I sought out confrontation.  I said, when I find myself in a situation that develops into one that requires a decision, I do not back away from making the tough decision.  I am willing to put in the work to investigate what is needed.  I'm willing to listen to both sides of an argument.  I'm willing to be the decider and have some people be unhappy with my decision.  One thing I learned from blogging about this was that this is a gift.  I may not make every decision correctly.  Some of the decisions I make may be overturned, at a later time.  But, when a decision needs to be made, I can make it.  Even if I am going to make some people unhappy.  I know you can't make all the people happy all the time, and I'm willing to do the hard work.  This is one character trait that absolutely makes my butt look good in these pants.

While digging through my feelings and thoughts about these character traits I discovered a couple things that had made me question myself.  One thing was the tendency women have to back bite and criticize in order to make themselves feel better about themselves.  It is very unfortunate this is a relatively common trait in women.  It doesn't seem to be so common for men.  A second thing I discovered was the complete acceptance of crying in the 30 something generation.  When things don't go the way they want, crying is an accepted response.  It doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman, it's ok to cry when things are not going your way.  Crying is a very powerful tool.  When someone cries as a response to not getting their way, emotion can sway a decision.  When I saw the SNL sketch parodying this response, I was assured this was a trend in this generation.

I thank my readers for sharing this tedious examination of my character this week.  I get it was pretty darn self-indulgent, but, seriously, blogging is a pretty self-indulgent activity.  I don't use my blog to try to teach anyone anything.  I'm just working through the struggles in my life and seeking to be happy, living my life authentically, and being the blessing I believe God created me to be.

by jalfaro2

I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Blogs for Women.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Can you play Monopoly without tears?

Not at my childhood home.  No way could a game of Monopoly go to completion without tears.  Sometimes the tears were mine.  Sometimes the tears were my brothers'.  Sometimes the gaming board was tossed and the money scattered.  Competition.  I grew up in a competitive family. 

I'm a competitive person.  I like to win.  Of course, I'm not a sore loser anymore.  I'm a grown-up now.  But, I know the feeling of Wanting To Win.  What's the point of playing the game if you don't want to win?  I know it's "just a game," but everyone wants to win.  Don't they?

I think they do.  I know some people say they don't care if they win or not.  (btw, we aren't just talking about Monopoly now)  I don't believe them.  I think it's an excuse for losing.  Or an excuse for not trying their best.  I think these same people often quit trying.  They may not scatter the money to the floor, but they walk away.  They won't play anymore.  They stop trying.  They quit.  And you know how the old saying goes, "quitters never win."

I'm reading a book recommended to me by a reader (hi Lynn).  The book is Born To Win by Muriel James.  It is full of exercises to guide you in focusing on the roles we unconsciously play out in our day to day lives.  It is teaching me about the way I relate to people without thinking and then helps me focus on my thoughts and behaviors when dealing with other people.  It is teaching me to think like a winner.  I haven't finished reading the book yet.  I will keep you posted.

My husband thinks like a winner.  Here is an example of his winning thinking.  If you've read my blog, you know we like to go to Atlantic City every now and then.  There are some very bright lights in AC that are paid for with money from losers.  Yep, LOSER'S $$.  People go to places like AC every day of the year with the attitude of losing.  They say to themselves, "I'll bring $100 (or any amount) to gamble with, and when it's gone, I'm done."  This is the attitude of a loser.  They are planning to lose.  They don't even consider winning.  They are setting themselves up to fulfill the prophesy they predict for themselves as they put the money they plan to lose in their wallets. 

Winners don't think like this.  They plan to win.  Of course, it's still gambling, so there is no guarantee of winning, but they plan to win anyway.  Winners plan to gamble with a certain amount of money, as well.  Here is where the similarity stops.  Instead of gambling mindlessly, a winner will watch the fluctuation of the "luck of the draw."  They will bet more when the luck is on their side of the table and bet less when the luck has moved away.  They are playing to win.  They have an attitude of a winner.

Losers always think the winners are beating them.  Losers don't get the fact that they are defeating themselves.  No one is a born loser any more than anybody is born to win.  Losers blame and winners take responsibility.  There will always be competition in the world, but the most important place we need to play to win is in the way we live our lives.  Think like a winner.  After all, every loves a winner.

Btw, if you think this post is about you, it is.  Stop being such a loser.  :) 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sorting my thoughts

I was going to call this post scattered thoughts, but I think I'm really sorting through my thoughts and attempting to find some kind of order.

I realize my train of thought has been all over the place this month.  First I blog about confrontation and my inability to people please.  Then I blog about Groundhog Day and the transformation from self-absorption to generosity of spirit.  Then I swing over to prayer and wonder if saying "I'll pray for you" has any meaning behind it or not.  Finally, I find myself back to admitting I am opinionated and have a tendency to "call people on their sh*t." 

I'm evidently doing a bit of soul searching.  This is something I love about blogging.  It allows me to see exactly what is going through in my head, typed on the computer screen.  It's the age-old push and pull between being assertive and being a doormat.  Between being liked and asserting my will.  Between being who I am and being who I should be.  Between being a strong woman or being a good girl.  Between acting like a Christian or not.

I feel like I've been sorting through a lot of stuff in my head.  I think most of what I'm thinking about stems from my recent visit with my parents.  I struggle with how much of my father I see in myself.  I struggle with the fear of my needing to be RIGHT to go so far as to disregard actual facts.  I sometimes have thoughts go through my head that make me think to myself, "dang, that's just what my father would think or say."  Since I think my dad is acting more curmudgeonly and more curmudgeonly, this scares me, A LOT.

I had a chat with a co-worker the other day.  She was saying how she wished she could be more like me and tell people exactly what she thought of them.  This comment was in the vein of letting people know when they were acting stupid or being inconsistent in their thought processes.  I didn't take it as a compliment.  I worry about this personality trait.  Don't get me wrong, this co-worker wasn't incorrect in her assessment of the situations in which she wanted to respond and let people know what she was thinking.  She was spot-on.  She chose to say nothing.  Now, maybe this was better for the individuals with the inconsistent thought process and inconsistency in their actions, but she's building an unhealthy load of resentment.  It makes me wonder.  Is my dilemma regarding my ability to speak out as unhealthy for me as the resentment that would build in me if I refrained from speaking out?   I mean, I often make these comments with a touch of humor or sarcasm, and people laugh, but they know I mean it.  Anyway, the workplace is not the area of my life I worry about.  Seriously, these are just the people I work with.  When I leave this position my leaving will have the exact same impact as the one left from pulling your finger out of a bucket of water.  There will be no trace.

I am most concerned with my ability to make and keep friendships.  I see my father and his dearth of friendships.  Granted, my dad is old and a lot of his friends have died, but not everyone.  I watch him push people as far away as possible.  I see him isolate himself at home, with my mom and resenting my mom's desire to socialize.  I don't want this to be my future.  I see my father push family away, including my brother.  I already have difficulty engaging with my son.  I don't want this to be my future.  I want a good relationship with my son.

I think I need to reinforce some of the things I know I have difficulty doing and, as the Nike ad says, Just Do It.  I need to smile more.  I need to practice kindness.  I remember at Christmastime I was really enjoying the things I was doing for the shoebox project and the families our small group supported with gifts and food.  Doing things like this really brought out my soft side.

I certainly hope I'm not fighting my DNA.  I certainly hope I can scrape away enough the curmudgeon growing inside of me to allow the gifts of the Holy Spirit shine through.  I know they are in there.

I will leave you with a link to my favorite crabby old man blog, The Problem With Young People Today.  If I knew I would age to be a curmudgeon with a wit like his, I'd be glad for it to happen.  Don is hilarious. 

Don Mills

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I call people on their stuff

I call people on their sh*t.  Yep, I don't pussyfoot around.  You know exactly where you stand with me.  When I see stupid, I hand them their sign.  I've been told by some people, I'm not nice.  I don't really know what "nice" is, I guess.  If nice is always agreeing with every un-thought-through idea someone utters.  I'm not nice.

Last night, I was reminded, by a member of my small group bible study, that I tell people what I think.  (our study is on ethics.  it's Chuck Colson's study called Doing the Right Thing)  Let me tell you, this is ground littered with landmines for a person like me.  We were discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the decision by Dr. King to participate in civil disobedience although he had great respect for the law.  We talked about the difference between Dr. King's response to, what he believed were, unjust laws of segregation and the current Occupy protest regarding the economic situation our county and the EU find themselves.  In order for civil disobedience to work Dr. King adhered to three main principles.  Dr. King was open and transparent about his reasons for disobeying the law of the land, he encouraged the demonstrators to remain non-violent and reminded them they would have to be willing to accept the consequences of their actions.  This non-violence and the horror of the repercussions to the demonstrations were the very things that broke through the walls of segregation in the 1960's.  I think the Occupy protesters do not have the focus we saw in the civil rights movement.  I don't think the occupiers are willing to suffer the consequences of their actions.  I think many of the protesters are unsure of their purpose.  I think the decision to remain non-violent is more difficult than most of the protesters have the capacity to achieve.  This is the condensed version of our discussion last night.
I love this kind of discussion.  I love to look at a difficult issue from all sides and figure out what I think about it.  I love listening to what other people think about issues, and why they think the way they do.  It's fascinating to me.  So, what's my problem?   After the discussion I was reminded, by a fellow group member, that nobody need ever wonder where I stand on an issue.  Ouch.  He said this in a laughing manner, but it stung a bit.  It's true, I'm very opinionated.  However, I don't share my opinions with everyone I meet.  We are in a group discussion.  Right?  Isn't this the place to share opinions and argue them?  Isn't this the place to set personalities aside and find out what we believe and why?  This is what I thought it was supposed to be.  Maybe I'm taking an off-hand comment a bit more to heart than I ought. 

I'm dissecting my actions and statements from last night's dialogue.  I know part of what I would like to accomplish in this group is to make friends with the other members.  I want to be nice.  One thing I've noticed about myself is my ability (or disability) to listen to what people say.  I'm much better at hearing and understanding the words being spoken than I am at reading the unspoken body language and tone in what is being said.  Because of this, I notice when people begin to backtrack and contradict themselves when they are trying to make a point.  I know it is not always necessary to bring this to the speaker's attention, yet, if I feel I must, I try to do it with kindness.  Also, I make every effort to present difficult points with self deprecating humor.  Seriously, it is one thing to say you know the right thing to do and another thing, completely, to say you always DO the right thing.

I think I'm making progress in relating to other people and cultivating friendships.  I certainly don't want a replay of the church lady group.  And, I'm smart enough to know, if it happens again, shame on me.

Please enjoy Bill Engvall.  He cracks me up.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I will pray for you

I've been saying this a lot lately.  I've been typing it to blog friends.  I've been saying it to real life friends.  I've been writing it in cards.  I've been saying it a lot.  Then I saw this blog, and I felt I needed to think about it some more.  Do I mean what I say, when I say I will pray?

I believe prayer is a powerful thing.  I believe intercessory prayer is a super duper powerful thing.  When  I tell someone I will pray for them, I try to do it immediately.  I wish I had the nerve to pray with a person, out loud, when I tell them I will pray for them, in person.  I think I've only done that once or twice.  I'm just not comfortable doing that.  However, I don't think this makes my prayers any less powerful.   And, what if the only time I pray for the person I've agreed to pray for is this one time?  Is this not good enough?  When I said I would pray, did I mean I would pray every day?  Does my prayer need to be in a certain form to be a legitimate prayer?  I don't think so.  Lastly, what if I don't pray for the person I said I would pray for?  What if I forget?  Does this make me a liar?  Or, does the agreement to pray count for something?

I used to pray more often and on a regular schedule.  I don't do that now.  Sorry, but true.  I think this is why I'm eager to pray for people, when they ask for prayer.  It gives me a reason to pray.  I used to pray for one thing, for myself, over and over and over.  God didn't answer this prayer.  So, I more or less stopped praying, for myself.  It wasn't that I thought God didn't hear my prayer.  It was more like, I thought, God didn't want to answer my prayer, for whatever reason.  The biggest reason, I thought, was because I had been too sinful and I had not confessed all my sins.  I know this most likely is not the reason, but this is what I thought.

Now, intercessory prayer, I think, is a different animal.  I'm not praying for myself.  There is no hint of selfishness in these prayers.  Even though I may have never met those I'm praying for in person, I have faith that the God I serve knows them intimately.  I have faith that the God I believe in and trust is the same God those I pray for believe in and trust.  It connects us.  It links us together.  Even if we never meet on this Earth, we are connected through God.  Praying for other people strengthens my faith in God.  I am grateful for the opportunity to pray for others.  It makes me glad when I'm asked.  It feels authentic when I offer.

I hear others say they will keep people in their thoughts.  I don't know if this means they don't want to say they don't pray or it means they don't want anyone to think they believe in God or a higher power.  I don't think it is more authentic than saying they will pray.  I do understand the fear of being thought of as a Christian.  If you admit to being a Christian, in certain company, you may be looked at with a raised eyebrow.  I'm not sure what keeping a person in one's thoughts can do for anyone, but there you have it.

I have been praying for others a lot, lately.  I'm praying for you, Brandee.  I'm praying for you, Lynn.  I am praying for you Em.  I'm praying for you, Elizabeth.  I am praying for you, Jan.  I'm praying for you Lynne and Ellye.  I'm praying for you Linda.  I am praying for you, Kati.  I'm praying for you, Dan.  Thank you all for allowing me to pray for you.  Thank you for reminding me the God we love cares about us and answers the prayers of our fellow believers.

If you find yourself with a desire to pray, feel free to pray for me or any of the names listed above.  I'd love to have other believers holding me up to God in prayer.  I've got some real fears about the new turn my life is taking.  I'd love to be able to give these fears away.  I'd love to let them go.  :) 

Friday, February 3, 2012


Today was a super busy day at work.  I had to focus my energies on the job that pays the bills.  (haha, I don't get paid very much, but since I don't get paid to blog At All, this is truth.)  Today was one of those days.  I have to admit, some of the things I had to do today were far from my favorites.  I had to let someone go from their job today.  This is tough.  There was a two month severance package, but that doesn't make the blow that much easier.  I did it, but it wasn't fun. 

When I was with the church ladies in the bible study, one of them said I was a confrontational person.  I disagree.  I don't think I would consider myself confrontational.  I'm not a person who seeks out confrontation, but I'm not a person who backs away from it, either.  I guess, if you're a person who avoids confrontation completely, you may consider me a confrontational person.  I say, you are wrong.

I work for a very non-confrontational person.  My boss avoids confrontation as much as he possibly can.  I think it makes him look weak and it makes it difficult to do the job.  He will never tell anyone "no," except, however, for those reporting directly to him.  This makes our job so much more difficult.  We have to be all things to all people.  This is very hard to do. 
Some people go to great lengths to avoid confrontation.  This saddens and amuses me.  The ones that amuse me are those who crawl into their beds and hide under the covers.  I wonder how they manage?  Do they think if they hide, all the things they don't like will go away?  Maybe.  Or maybe they think they are so powerful they will annihilate the person they have to confront.  If this is true, they have more serious issues.  Anger management classes may be something they should look into. 

When a situation develops that involves confrontation or a direct conversation about something that may be considered negative or unpleasant by the recipient, I try to be as kind about it as possible.  I can say the difficult thing, like "you're fired" and sandwich it between any positives I can think of saying.  I can say "no" or "this product is not acceptable" or "I won't be able to do what you are asking of me" without being unpleasant.  People who, I guess for a better word, are People Pleasers, can't do this.  I guess instead of telling me I'm confrontational, I should be labeled NOT a people pleaser. 

I'll tell you the truth, to the best of my ability.  I wish there were more truth tellers out there in the world.  I think we'd all be a lot better off.  If I ever discover a lot more truth telling going on out in the world, I'm going to buy stock in Kimberly Clark (I think they make Kleenex).  There's going to be a lot of crybabies out there.  I just want to be ready.