Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Lottery

I lived in Pontiac, Michigan for a year, sixth grade, surrounded by relatives and neighbors who worked at the automobile plants. It was the year I realized that many babies are born out of wedlock, that snow does not guarantee a day off from school, and that people play the lottery; except they didn’t call it the lottery—it was the numbers.

“His number came up!” I’ve heard envious players of the game say, wishing that luck would come his or her way, too.

Who plays the lottery? Is it mostly people who hate their jobs? I’ve had a job that I hated; waking up each morning with the thought that I have to be somewhere I don’t want to be for eight or more hours, rushing my life away in a constant state of “waiting for 5 o’clock on Friday” and then revving back up on Sunday for the dreaded Monday morning. That was eons ago, but the thought of it makes me sad because lots of people know exactly how I felt—they feel that way now.  Fortunately for me, I was skilled in a high demand field at the time and was able to move on when I decided it wasn’t worth it. Most people can’t do that. Trapped—it’s a horrible feeling.
How many of them purchase a weekly lottery ticket… or two… or three? How many stand in a long line for the Mega Millions ticket wishing, praying, believing, dreaming, and waiting to possess that little rectangle of paper that, hopefully, is going to transform their lives to pure bliss; to mornings of waking up with smiles on their faces… or will they?

On the other hand, I hear of people who enjoy their jobs, however, they just…don’t…make…enough…money. I suspect they make up a good percentage of the lottery line, too.
And then there are the people who play just for fun; probably not expecting to win, but enjoy the hype that spreads like a virus and hope to be the “one in a few millions” chance winner.

I see that the Arizona Powerball winner has come forth, though as of today, he remains anonymous to the public and media.  While Google searching his story, I clicked on CNN.com and found an article and comments discussing him (dated 12/7/12). Curious, I scanned a few of the comments and people are talking about the risk of kidnapping, making racist comments, politics, privacy, wealthy people like Warren Buffet—you name it; even escalating to the Mexican Cartel—all due to this average man winning the big one. Perhaps they are a little jealous?
During the stressed out period of the hated job and a few other not-so-happy times, I bought a lottery ticket. (By the way, my lifetime lottery expenditure is about $20.) Never one to enjoy gambling, I didn’t think I’d win, but desperation will make you say, “Why not?” I believed if it was meant to be, I’d hit with my one ticket.

That was years ago, back in the eighties and early nineties. Since then, I haven’t been in the lottery line; missing the talk of what will be done with the winnings and seeing the adrenalin-filled looks on the faces of people as they pass their money to the cashier.
Will I purchase a ticket again?

Once in a blue moon, like now, I think about what I think I’d do with a lot of money. Would it change my life for the better? Would I be wise and generous? Would I be a “lottery curse” victim?

A few months ago, I wrote a post titled, “How Much Is Enough?”  where I declared my humble position of maintaining so-called security: heading towards a debt-free life, satisfying reasonable needs and wants, and being able to save and give.
BUT… let’s say I do participate in the next big jackpot and, uh, win a little sumptin sumptin? What would the ol’ girl do? Hmmm…

What are your feelings about the Lottery? Do you play? What would you do with the loot?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Commenting

I just happened to stumble upon a blog with an interesting current post, so I read it. The blog author presented a particular topic, however, I thought it left the door open for a reader to bring up another topic—homosexuality. The first few people who commented danced around it, or maybe “lesbian” never entered their minds at all. Well, it entered mine. I thought, “Do I comment on the intended subject or bravely mention the controversial subject or not comment at all?”

I commented—second option.
Mine was not the first comment. That person had the opportunity to begin and steer the conversation in a certain direction and interestingly, she and the second commenter sensed that the post would evoke emotional views which would provide them with some entertaining combat.

“Can’t wait for the comments on this one,” she wrote.
The second commenter followed with (her exact words, spelling, and punctuation),“I know right! The minute I saw the post I had to run an get some snacks…::munch munch munch::. Waiting for the shinanigans…”

(First time I’ve seen the periods and colons combined. Another emoticon?)

Somewhere down the line, someone used the word “tomboy.” She was being a little careful, I suspect.

But I was in a mood for more depth, so I left my comment which was purely “academic.”  Still, someone questioned my thoughts, implying that my comment was misguided.  Her words were respectful, though, prompting me to answer; and then I received a sort of, “Now I understand what you were saying,” back from her. I responded once more telling her that I enjoyed our interesting exchange and that we might meet again on this blog.

Then… someone else commented on our thread with something funny, but ugly… towards moi! I could not resist a final comment: “Grow up,” with an added smiley face, of course.

That was my time to exit. I did not and will not go back to the post because Anonymous may have retorted and I see no reason to allow myself to get upset by Anonymous.

Prior to this blogging episode, I’d been thinking about the three commenting formats that Blogger offers, wondering if I should switch to the Embedded format, the one that has “reply” written under each posted comment allowing threaded comments—readers replying to other readers’ comments. Most of the time, instead, I’ve seen this used mainly by the blog author to respond to individual comments/people; probably because my blogging circle are people like me who are not getting a thousand hits per day (or are you?!) with the accompanied five hundred comments per post from anonymous commenters or people with names like catwoman, free to say the first thing that comes to their minds. In my circle, we are passionate, too, but we leave out the “I’d like to beat up on you factor,” (most of the time) like my “Grow up,” comment; albeit, that was quite mild. It’s so easy to get sucked into that when you are a stranger to a blog.

In fairness to popular blogs, many are peaceful places to go; like The Pioneer Woman, I would imagine. But if you’re reading news blogs or blogs of those who have an “agenda,” your emotions might spike a bit more than it would over a recipe and you may be compelled to go through the tortuous method (becoming a member of the sight) to leave a comment. Personally, I like a good debate on a hot topic once in a while.

Back to my blog’s comment setting: I’ll leave it as is for now, which is the Full page option, because I respond to your comments via your email address instead of on the post (when your profile is set up to attach your email address to your comment). Someday, when a post of mine goes viral and the, uhhh, hundreds of you want to duke it out, I’ll change my setting to Embedded, which is set up for back and forth dialogue.

Oh—to those of you who would like to comment on any of my posts by email, feel free. I’m at noteforanita@gmail.com. Write what you like, sign your name (be it Joe, Jane, catwoman, or anonymous), and I’ll cut and paste it onto the blog for you—without your email address. Be bold! J

When you read a post and want to write a comment but you don’t, why?  Are there certain topics that you won’t “touch” …regardless?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sororities and the Like

 
My parents didn’t go to college. It wasn’t even on the radar screen. And neither did my grandparents.

(Correction: my mother may be reading this, so I’d better mention the college course or two she took when she was in her mid-forties; an effort worthy of mentioning.)

Listening to my mom talk about her childhood and subsequent entry into adult life is why I know that she considered college a form of the Promised Land; unachievable by her during the approximate age of eighteen, but not for her children. Throughout my youth and until the day I received my degree, she kept my eyes on the prize by telling me how hard it is to make a “decent salary” without “a good education,” something she knew all too well. It was also important to be smart.

The plan went awry with my brother after his one year of college; however, his path was that of a loyal government employee and a successful landowner/landlord.  He’ll be retiring soon.
I fulfilled the trailblazer role, graduating from a historically black college (abbreviated HBCUs) which trained me well to become a computer programmer analyst.

More training I got while there was due to my first real exposure to sororities, fraternities, and social clubs. I stared at the pledging pledgees, neatly dressed, walking across campus, and listened as my freshman friends vowed their allegiance to become one of them.
“Are you pledging, Anita?” they’d ask. “Which one!”

With no family legacy to form and mold my course and guide my thinking, I had to jump in on my own; after all it was the college thing to do – right?
Welllll… it didn’t quite work out. My independent spirit and somewhat rebellious nature reared its ugly head during my interview, in addition to my lack of exhibiting admiration to upper class sorority girls as they paraded around campus in their Greek lettered attire in the specified colors of the group. It didn’t take long to know that I didn’t fit; yet, I still wanted to want to fit for a couple weeks as I watched the new pledgees on line.   Never could conjure up that feeling, though.

During the remainder of my college years, there were a few times I’d have to say, “No, I didn’t pledge,” to the curious who tried to guess my sorority or social club based on my personality, looks, clothes, and friends… I guess...  What else could it have been?
But, that’s my story. So many others, obviously, fit well in this world of camaraderie.  While each group appeared to be cliquish; i.e. the smart girls, the attractive girls, the misfits, and others, there was a certain appeal about them. They wore the confidence of belonging and of claiming their territory. They had “sorors” who committed to helping when transportation or a place to crash was needed.  They were cool, which meant they had first dibs on the cool fraternity guys. They were having the full college experience.

I suppose they did other things, too; things beyond what I could see, like having meetings to decide upon philanthropic activities and then carrying out these plans. Presumably, they also “looked out for each other” when job opportunities arose; the seasoned career “Greeks” giving a hand up to the ones starting out. This is what I would hear.

To this day, I still don’t know the ins and outs of sorority life. Some of my friends and acquaintances rarely mention their past involvement, while others still express pride and stay “active.” And to them I say, why not? …if it remains fulfilling.

Did I miss out? Nope.
How about you? What has been your experience with sororities, fraternities, and social clubs?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Lips Are Sealed

Hmmm… Do I dare say anything even remotely related to the election? I’m notorious for staying away from the discussion of politics, a place where the emotions run high; however, I’m going to brave it with a personal account of what I experience each time an election rolls around.

As a resident of Virginia - a great state to visit, by the way, with its ocean, mountains, museums, gardens, and historic homes – it is assumed by the masses that I always vote the democratic ticket in a state that has received the electoral votes for the Republican presidential candidate from 1968 through 2004. It is assumed by many, if not most people, because I am black; there is no other reason. I’m lumped in with the 47 percent. And not just by white people, but by black people and other people of color, too.
It may seem that I’m disturbed by this, but I’m not. The last of many statistics that I saw pop up on a TV screen alongside a news panel assessing the election results, showed 96 percent of black voters voted for Barack Obama. If I were not black, I’d think that all black voters voted for him, too.

Am “I” in the 96 percent, or am “I” in the 4 percent? My lips are sealed.
A cop out, maybe? …not letting you know. Will it change what you think of me if you do know?

Four plus years ago, a white friend became so upset because I did not take enough of a political stand (according to her) on the issues, and mainly because I did not hate Barack Obama. She’s one of the reasons why I limit my political discussions to a few chosen people, some who are Democratic and some who are Republican.
I get the passion. We’re talking about our futures, and that of our country and of our children. A lot of brain power and labor has gotten us to where we are and none of us want to stumble. Fortunately, in the great United States, we have the freedom to express our differences toward whom and what we think will keep us on top, and that is often done by our support of elected officials and candidates running for office.

In recent years, I’ve chosen not to label myself as a Democrat, a Republican, a Tea Party supporter, and not even as an Independent. As a black person, I’ve had labels attached to me my entire life, and thought I’d take a break from it for a little while, but don’t let that keep you from putting one on me. *smile*  (Also, this has helped my children to make their own decisions as we've discussed the issues.)
One label that I will wear proudly and thankfully is, “citizen of the United States of America,” and in a way that may be different from yours, I will continue to work towards the longevity, success, and freedom we desire.

We’ve been through a revolutionary war, slavery, a civil war, a major depression, 9/11… We can get through this parting of the ways that, I hope and pray, is temporary.  Nothing stays the same.
Hey… call me an optimist.

Comments? Go for it. J
Millicent Owuor and her newborn twins: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
story found here

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Silver Lining Stressbuster

 
Surfing through the talk shows while eating lunch, I heard The View women expressing the same pleasure I felt at not having another routine day during the storm confinement, and that is when I decided it is okay to talk about my Hurricane Sandy silver lining while many are suffering. Like the talk show women, I experienced no power outages and no inconveniences; just the skipping of a shower and a few other minor offenses.

Usually, too many days of rain has me teetering on the border of gloom, though not this time. Who knew that Sandy, our fearless hurricane, would provide me with a bit of rest and rejuvenation. Even the kids did not disrupt my haven, because they, too, were in a state of reprieve. When notified that schools were closed, I had occasions to laugh as I watched them do the happy dance, accompanied by a dose of audible joy.
It was pajama and yoga pants day – for two days – Monday and Tuesday. Girl#3 and I preferred PJs, while Girl#1 and Girl#2 sported the yoga pants. When Darling Husband/Daddy came home from work, he walked into the kitchen where we were stuffing our mouths with hurricane junk food. His first words were, “No fair!”

I felt sorry for him (for a whole 30 seconds) as I thought of my time reading books and blogs in bed, watching a DVD on my laptop, writing notes for future blog posts, talking to the kids about non-obligatory things; etc. It was also good to see the kids reading, looking at things that interest them on the computer, Skyping their friends, making artsy and crafty things, baking, and watching reruns of Full House.
Our blissfulness extended beyond sedentariness. I completed cycles of laundry - washing, drying, sorting, and delivering to the bedrooms of the three girls, where they folded and hung up their clothes. They caught up on homework and studying. I mopped bathroom floors and washed dishes. It’s funny how domesticity doesn’t bother me when I’m stuck in the house.

It was good… for us.
For others, not so good.
 
The news reports featuring the devastation from the storm were so sad that I had to turn it off after seeing fires and floods and crumbled buildings and destroyed docks. I had to remind myself that bad things happen to good people; however, the people will bounce back.

As the sun made its intermittent appearance, giving us a warm and fuzzy back-in-the-grind feeling (oxymoron?), Hurricane Sandy will be remembered as “the storm that wasn’t” for us; the storm that gave us a little more family time in this phase of rush, rush, rush. And, even hard-working DH/Daddy managed to get in on some of it.

What do you do when you’re stuck inside due to weather conditions?
What are your stressbusters?

American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Take the Pill

 
I’m prehypertensive… without my pill. With my pill, my blood pressure is normal. It took me a while to be convinced to take the pill…
_ _ _  _ _

When the nurse takes my blood pressure and it is 140 something over 80 something, I’m surprised, but not concerned.

“It’s the white coat effect,” I tell her. “My blood pressure always rises when someone is taking it.”

My doctor comes in and looks at my chart. Five minutes later, she casually takes my blood pressure again as we’re talking; I’m hardly aware. It’s slightly lower – about 138 over 86. She’s concerned.

“I don’t like this,” she tells me. “I’d like to put you on a mild medication.”

“What?”

(Meee, who has taken nothing stronger than a seasonal allergy pill or liquid, an over the counter pain reliever, Tums, a vitamin, and a birth control pill?)

“Is this something that, once I start taking it, I’ll have to take for the rest of my life?”

“Yes. You're not overweight and there are no other health factors.”

The excuse:

“I am so stressed these days; I committed to letting two of my daughters play lacrosse and realized later that they practice at different times; I’m in two carpools, which is helpful, but there have been days where I’ve had to go back and forth and back and forth and I have some other things going on too; they’ll be finished soon and school will be over shortly after that; plus, I’m going on vacation; I’m sure the numbers will come down; I’m sure it’s stress.”

It wasn’t stress. The numbers didn’t come down.

After that first appointment, I stepped up the tennis and running a notch. I paid more attention to my salt intake. I told every friend I have about my blood pressure reading… over and over and over. I was still trying to convince myself that the numbers would go down; that when I took the reading at home, I’d be nervous and that that’s why the numbers wouldn’t go down. I’d also looked on the Internet for the numbers that are considered too high. When I found 140 over 90 as the limit, I said, “Oh, I’m still normal. I’m under that.”

I told the Internet info story to a friend who’d had a bypass. He pleaded with me to take the pill.  “Why not get your pressure down, so that you’ll have room to go up and down within the normal range.” Then he told me his fantastic blood pressure numbers and cholesterol numbers and how much he exercises and how well he eats and how good he feels.

He takes his pills.

Another friend suggested I take my blood pressure multiple times every day; assuming that it would become routine and that my nerves would settle down; therefore, eventually getting an accurate reading. She was hopeful, along with me, that this was a phase.

It didn’t work. Every time I took my blood pressure, the numbers got higher and higher. Finally, she said (which she probably thought from the beginning), “Anita, take the Pill.”

So I take the pill.

It took a while to accept being a person who needs a pill. Recently, I was advised to take another pill in addition to my “fluid pill” (as my mother calls it), so now I add vitamin D. Occasionally, I slip in an allergy pill.

All these pills… I needed a system. During the weekly Target visit, I found a 7 day pill box. It seemed so big. I didn’t buy it. Next weekly trip, I bought it. One of my kids said, “Oh Mommy, that’s for old people.”

I laughed with her, but was thinking, better old than dead. Live long enough, and you too, will need a pill box.

Seriously, I suppose it’s hard to experience the aging of the body, or the realization that you’ve inherited that “bad gene,” but, put your pride aside, make yet “another trip” to the doctor (as many as it takes), follow recommendations, and get your body fixed.

Take the pill.

How about you? Are you avoiding a necessary pill or something else that will improve your health?

11/1/12 - I may have given the impression that I’m reluctant to take my pill. I’m not. I’m thankful to have it.

Initially, I “was” reluctant and my doctor held off on prescribing them for a couple months because my numbers were “pre” hypertensive and not risky. On my subsequent visit, I knew it was the right thing to do; I took the prescription and got it filled.
I’m thankful to my friends who helped me realize that, relatively speaking, it is not as big a deal as I thought it was after that “first” doctor’s visit. And I thank you, my blog friends, for your care and concern.

Anita
 
This post has the honor of being selected as a Post of the Week by Hilary at The Smitten Image. Visit her blog to enjoy the best "feels like you're there" nature photography.

 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Mother-Child Bond: Too Strong?


It was awkward; listening to Dad say, “Children usually love their mothers more than their fathers. I know you love your mama more. It’s okay.”

I was a child then, and he must have been having a pensive moment, or perhaps he’d recently witnessed a display of affection between Mom and me. I’ll never know why he said that because I didn’t ask. I guess I didn’t want to, because my childhood definition of love would have deemed him correct, and I couldn’t bear to let him know.
The mother-child bond that my dad noticed - is it innate? Does a child cling to his or her mother based on the familiarity of being in the womb, moving with her 24 – 7, listening to the sound of her voice?

Adoption dispels that theory, so maybe it’s partly the softness of Mom’s body and riding her hip as a toddler; a hip perfectly proportioned with her arm and elbow, allowing Baby to fit cozily and comfortably in the core of Mom’s side.

Or… maybe it’s the helicopter we fly over them; taking care of their every need! Who wouldn’t love such a person?

I’m thinking of this bond because it appears to be the lifeline of many women; motherhood – the thing that dictates entire lives; the thing that gives identity, seemingly, more than any other role a woman plays, including “self.” Who were we before we became mothers?
So that I don’t mislead you, this is not criticism or a suggestion that you love your child too much - if there is such a thing. After all, if we were not created to want to procreate, there’d be no people, no us.

These thoughts stem from an article by Tina Brown (for NPR) who recommended in her Must Reads series, an article by Katie Roiphe in Financial Times titled Disappearing Moms. In Brown’s article, she quotes Roiphe, who thinks that women who use pictures of their children as their facebook profile pic, is “effacement,” erasing themselves. Immediately, I began to sum up how many moms I know on facebook who do this; not that I share her opinion.
Is this an issue?

I thought about it, scribbled down a few notes, and then searched for more on the subject. I read Roiphe’s article and also Googled “facebook mom profile.” It led to a few links, one of which was a question by a single woman complaining that her girlfriend fills her facebook with her kids’ pictures and that her cell phone has a recorded voicemail message by the kids.
(Remember that Girls: having your 4 year old record your answering machine message? I plead “not guilty.”)

The comments were irate. Women accused her of being jealous and unaware of what it feels like to be a mother. The comments were similar on Roiphe’s article; albeit, a more sophisticated anger.
“Oops,” I said to myself. I had similar thoughts when I was single without kids.

During my late 20s to early 30s, I had a best friend who had a young daughter and it was hard to understand why she did everything for her child (exempting the husband from duty); why she had to take the child everywhere instead of leaving her home with the husband/daddy sometimes. I was fine with her being married, having responsibilities, and needing family time, but it was hard to see her unfulfilled; not that I was fulfilled either – but that’s another story. There were times when I wanted her undivided attention; when I was annoyed to have an abrupt interruption in our conversation because she and/or her daughter decided that they needed to start a conversation in the middle of hers and mine. I was single without kids… what did I know?
Now I get it. I know how hard it is to take care of young kids and to find time to do personal things. However, some women seem to be fine with the total mother role. Are they the ones who post pictures of the kids on their profile?

Again, is this an issue?

A few of the responses to Roiphe’s article were from women who listed all the other things they do (their many interests and job responsibilities), in addition to saying that their child/children is top priority. They are annoyed at the constant evaluation of the lives of women, especially when it pertains to motherhood and how it affects the other aspects of their lives.

I think this can be an issue for some. I  also think it’s okay for people to raise questions and to make observations about the lives of others; be it reasonable (hopefully), ridiculous, or anything in between. It prompts us to stretch as we assess our thoughts and situations, enabling us to change or not to change.

Tact is good, though.

Do you think the enormous amount of attention paid to women’s psychological issues is helpful or hurtful?  Do you have a specific thought about facebook profile images?

Thanks jt.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Too Good for Goodwill


It’s summer camp time for my daughter (Aug. 2012). While considering the activities she’ll be doing, we realize she doesn’t have enough worn out, dispensable shorts. And the old ones she does have, are too small. The annual growth spurt has happened.

I dread the thought of her small supply of good shorts coming back home stained with mud or unidentifiable substances. The start of school is near and clean shorts are preferable.

“Hmmm… the Goodwill Store.”

I remember a friend going there to get cowboy and western clothes for a scouting event; i.e., cheap clothes for a one-time event. Maybe we’ll find some “camping” shorts.

“Hmmm… good idea.”
So Daughter #2, Daughter #3, and I hop in the car for our Goodwill adventure after I dig up my discount card that has been stamped the required four times for making donations. (Something told me to keep it.)

When we get there, we go to an area that has denim hanging on the racks, but discover it’s the women’s section.
“Quite an organized place,” I marvel. “Let’s find the teen section, girls!”

On the other side of the store, the junior and children’s clothes are grouped by size, and even color in a few places.  This is easier than being in a big discount store, like T.J. Maxx, where I usually get overwhelmed and a headache if I’m not in and out in 20 minutes.
The girls and I push the clothes to the left, and then one by one, but super-fast, slide each item to the right as we pull from a good supply of shorts, jeans, and light weight jackets.

Daughter #3, the camper, is a bit skeptical; however, when we go to the fitting room (who knew? although it makes perfect sense to have one) and she tries on the clothes; “Eureka!” Not the fresh from the factory look, but everything is clean and normal, appearing to come directly from my dryer at home.
There is one little episode that I have to address. Daughter #3 might have a twinge of embarrassment because another shopper is close by. She begins to talk about camp and about Daddy being “out of the country.” This is probably her way of saying to the shopper, “Surely we can afford regular stores if Daddy can afford to be on business out of the country, right? We’re just in here getting things that we will throw away or give away later.”

Sooo… When I have the opportunity to whisper to her, I tell her that it is not necessary to say things that imply, “We have money.” Of course, she denies this as her intention.

*****

That little trip to Goodwill causes me to think about matters of pride and economic status.  Why can’t we (some people) shop side by side with poor people, low income people, and frugal people? Why do we feel embarrassed at Goodwill, but not at a yard sale? Why do we have to have a reason for being in a discount store or thrift store?  “Oh, I’m shopping for vintage clothing,” one might say.
Will I go back?

It was such a deal; nineteen dollars for several items! With my discount card and their “colored tag of the day” items being 50% off, I felt like an Extreme Couponer!
When I asked my 20-something year old friend (unemployed at the time) how she managed to wear a different dress to seven weddings she recently attended, she said, “Goodwill!” We laughed and then I told her of my conquest.

(By the way, I hear that the store in the rich folks section of town has some really good stuff.)

Again… will I go back?

Honestly… yes.

Here comes the but…

I will probably go for a particular reason; not to shop for clothes. However, if I just happen to walk by the jeans, I might just slide through a few things on the rack to see if I get lucky.

Am I too good for Goodwill? Are you?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Athletic Uniforms

 
Another Summer Olympics has come and gone. It was a good one; containing all the elements worthy of the time many of us spent watching it. There were records broken, a few “firsts,” good-byes to great athletes who claim they are done, showmanship, bragging, an awesome showing for the U.S. women, and even disappointments that pulled at our heartstrings.

Did you notice anything else about the Olympics? Like, uhhh… the uniforms?
Is that what we call them… the “clothes” they wore as they performed amazing feats of strength, speed, agility, and endurance?

Would "costume" be a better term?
Is it just me, or does anyone else think there is hardly anything left to the imagination when looking at the “uniforms” of the athletes?

I know, I know. *sigh* If you’ve read my post on breasts, then after reading this, I will surely have a reputation of being overly modest; though I’m not.
But come on… I can probably identify Misty’s and Kerri’s butts in a line up. And the swimmers and divers?  The girls’ suits are cut as high in the front as they are in the back. The guys – I’m at a loss for words. All I can say is - hair removal must be big business.
 
So what’s the reason? Is it the same one they use during the swimsuit competition at beauty pageants; that the judges need to see the muscles and lines of the body in order to score accurately? Does this apply to male runners dressed in onesies who win based on, uhh… time? (Actually, I have Googled a little and read that there is supposedly a science to many of these “outfits” to increase performance.

Question: Do you look? Look, meaning: stare, evaluate, ogle, envy, criticize, admire, and/or fantasize.
You don’t have to answer; however, I’ll personally say that the exposed abs on the women runners are to die for! What do they call that look – washboard abs (if you’re a baby boomer) or a six pack (if you’re younger)? Makes me wanna drop and do 100 sit-ups.

Anyway...
I’m not sure how I feel about this; the enormous amount of skin we chose to show nowadays. I was sitting in my car in a parking lot during high school volley ball season, when I looked up and saw a blonde ponytail swinging from side to side. When my eyes dropped to get back to the book I was reading, they stopped when they landed on her perfect little curvaceous rear end, tightly outfitted in what I thought were black underwear. (Hers were extra short and small.)

“Oh my,” I mumbled, as she sashayed into the Subway for her after practice meal. My friends would later tell me, “Oh yeah, Anita; that’s what they wear.”

Would I let my daughter leave the school gym wearing Spandex that has a two inch crotch? Would I even let her play in such? Would she be the only kid wearing baggy Spandex instead?
I seem to vacillate between accepting the clothes that young people wear and shaking my head in near disbelief.

They are beautiful; young people in good shape, that is. Should they flaunt it if they have it? Did I wear comparable clothing when I had it?
On second thought, I didn’t quite have it.

Should they be allowed to express their sensuality and freedom while they are young? A friend told me that her husband thinks his 14 year old daughter should. (In fairness to them, they weren’t talking about the prosti-tot look or similar.)  My husband, on the other hand, is having a difficult time handling the sight of his daughters in tight jeans.
Can life be fun and exciting for them with a little more covered up?

When I see Muslim women (some, beautifully dressed), I wonder if they feel sexy or attractive with most of their bodies covered. Is it necessary to feel sexy and attractive as you’re squeezing tomatoes at the grocery store?
Oh, that’s right… I’m supposed to be talking about hot bodied young people; not moms at the grocery store. But still… I wonder what Muslim women, who cover, think of us; or the Amish; or the Duggars? Do we care? I can only imagine – on both ends. Smile

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

And the Two Shall Become One

During our premarital class, Ephesians 5:31 finds its way into the lesson. I don’t give it much thought; it’s standard stuff. Darling Husband and I are Christians and it’s a Christian class, so we’re familiar with the scripture. It’s actually kind of romantic, picturing DH and me holding hands, smiling at each other, connected; feeling the “oneness.”

Little did I know back then how much time and effort that oneness takes. I’m not talking about the “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do us part;” I get the commitment thing and I’m in for the long haul. I’m talking about the company parties, social gatherings, sporting events, and the way he likes to spend the weekends and vacations. (I touched on this in my post, Vacation: Let’s Relax or Let’s Go!)
I’ll be honest and say that it’s a chore to make sure the children get to where they need to be, rearrange my schedule, and dress for the occasion; however, 99% of the time, I have a good time when we’re out together.

Really. I do.

Okay, so sitting in the cold at a college football game isn’t high on my list; but… if I can socialize while there, I’m good.

During the first year of marriage, when Darling Husband and I were adjusting to being one, I went to various functions after agonizing over what I should wear. I shook hands, smiled, repeated the story of how DH and I met, listened to shop talk and politics, and smiled and shook more hands. I was the new wife in an unfamiliar city, following my husband’s lead to where I lived, went to church, and to meeting new people. He was proud of me and I was proud of him. We were a happy couple, yet, I lacked something.

It would be only a few months until I began the journey out of this gentle wilderness. I met Aqua, who became my first gal pal in my new city; someone who did not know DH and who did not base any of our conversations on him.

Fifteen months after saying I do (or was it I will), the first child was here, and there would be two more in the next four and a half years. I entered the world of play groups and birthday parties where I met more gal pals; while still nurturing my oneness with DH, of course. I hung in there with his social outings as my feet swelled during pregnancies and my breasts swelled during periods of lactation.
But then Child #1 went to kindergarten. Late evening outings and next morning early wake-ups equaled stress. Eventually, DH had to explain to his cronies and business associates that the little woman couldn’t make it because she had to get the kids to bed and ready for school the next day. It’s interesting how the husband seems to be in better standing when his wife is with him for everyone to see. Do people feel the same about a woman needing to bring her husband along?

My friend Aqua told me that she and her husband made a deal; he doesn’t accompany her to her things, and she doesn’t accompany him to his. Both have occupations that require traveling and networking, and when they have down time, they relish it – doing what they want to do, individually or together. By the way, they have no kids.

Can you guess where I’m going with this?

I’ve been studying my girlfriends and their marriages over the years and thinking about my own relationship with DH regarding the oneness that most of us committed to during the marriage vows. Is the oneness composed of two equal parts, or did one part get diluted and the other part get stronger? Do the expectations of one spouse burden the other?
I have a friend who rarely leaves her husband and kids at home for a short girls outing; like, to have coffee. So a trip out of town with the girls is a definite no-no; says it doesn’t interest her.  Her husband doesn’t seem to be interested in hanging out with friends either, soooo… I guess they’re okay.

On the other hand, another gal pal takes a vacation with the girls every year. She prepares the frozen meals to leave behind (with instructions), gets the laundry done, schedules the car pools, etc. and is gone!

Quite a contrast between the two of them. Friend #1 gets an A on the oneness report card.

I’m not as adventurous as Friend #2, but I don’t get an A either.

While my husband and I share certain “likes” and act upon them when we can, we also differ. As my children have grown, and as I have gotten older, realizing that life is short, I’ve chosen to spend my free time being free. (For those of you who are gasping, my freedom does not include any wayward, unwifely activity. Smile No worries: Darling Husband and I will forever be one.)

Many years ago, I heard TV journalist Charlie Gibson answer a question about his wife; “She’s off doing whatever she does.” It was his way of saying that she has a life, too.

I like that.

How much do you do with (or for) your spouse when you really don’t want to? How much does he/she do for you when not especially interested?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

How Much is Enough?


What makes us want more, more, more? What do I want more of? What do you want more of?
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Why?
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“More” can encompass many areas of life; more love, better health, more friends, more knowledge, more quality time with family, and so on.
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But let’s think about tangible things. Taking a guess, based on five decades of life, I’d say that money is number one on the list of wants because it can buy the things on the rest of the list – the list that contains things that, supposedly, make us more comfortable and happier.
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Oh yes… the never ending search for the elusive happiness; the emotion that gets written about in books, magazines, blogs, and all the other social media; discussed on TV and radio talk shows, sold via motivational speakers, prayed for in churches and places of faith, meditated on in Yoga classes, and ultimately, pursued with money.
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We buy larger houses; or smaller, chic houses in the “right” neighborhood. We buy club memberships, collectibles, vehicles, time shares. We get cosmetic surgery. We dine at restaurants that are the best we can afford. Jewelry, clothes, golf clubs, computers, furniture, cookware:  all continual “step-ups.”
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There is an article in the 7/7/12 New York Times Sunday Review titled, “Don’t Indulge. Be Happy.”  In it, the benefit of having money is acknowledged, generally speaking, saying that people with money tend to be happier than those with less. (No surprise there.) More specific, it said that once you reach $75,000, you’re sort of “there,” happiness-wise, and that any more than that doesn’t increase it.
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I’m sure a lot of people beg to differ. Do I? Hmmm…
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I was raised on the equivalent of much less than $75,000. Sure, I wanted an occasional new toy and more clothes as a teen, but I wasn’t miserable when I was denied; oh, except when I was denied the 1969 motorized mini-bike when I was 11. I begged mercilessly for it until Mom said, “Don’t bother me about it ANY MORE.”
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Before my career ended in 1994, I made “good money;” more than my parents, more than a seasoned teacher. Thankfully, I had been taught to save which resulted in my good money not "burning my hands,” as they say; and was able to buy the house, the car, blah, blah, blah.  Like most people, though, I wanted a higher salary (or a winning lottery ticket). Wasn’t that what I was supposed to want; to compete for promotions and more money?
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Nowadays, when the enormous salary of a celebrity (especially an athlete) is reported, my husband is sure to express his opinion. “That’s nice,” I say. What am I supposed to say? Guess I’ve grown to believe that a person’s life isn’t better than mine because he or she has more money.
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For me, more money means security. It means not having to borrow beyond the house and car, having enough for needs and a few wants, charity, and some to save. I know that money can be here today and gone tomorrow, but I seldom worry about it. While my husband is concerned about the cost of college and weddings for our three daughters, I’m not (yet). Perhaps I’m na├»ve. If we can’t afford it; we just can’t afford it.  Worrying isn’t going to make money fall from the sky. Planning isn’t either, however, that works better for me.
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And stuff… Things…
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When I think about my day, the comforts granted by material things, I realize that I have enough. If you are young, you probably don’t think that yet. And if you are older and still want more – well… good luck.
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I have a friend who reminds me of the burden of stuff.  “We could have more: bigger house, fancier cars, nicer clothes,” she says, “but have always felt that there are diminishing returns on each new thing and that having less means greater financial (and even physical) freedom.  A bigger house means more to heat, cool, maintain, furnish.  More stuff means more places to put/store it, dust it, maintain it.  More consumption means more direct and indirect pollution... and so it goes.”
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I agree with her. However, I’m probably not the best example. While I am content in my already-spacious home and with my new Mommy Van, I can’t say what the future will be. I don’t want a bigger house, but decorating a few rooms “in” the house is on my list of things to do that will cost more money. Getting rid of the so-called stain resistant Berber carpet in my den/office for hardwood ain’t cheap. And, it will be time consuming and possibly, stressful. Where do you draw the line? How much is enough?
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Did you see the news reports of the tiny New York apartments that are the size of two parking spaces? Obviously, some people are turning to simplification and the minimalist lifestyle; or are they just desperate to live in New York City by any means necessary?
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I had another thought on this topic while in the car on the way to Myrtle Beach. One of my daughters (Girl #3) complained about not being able to get comfortable. She had the whole back seat of the van (3 seats), but because she had to find a comfortable position for her head, she whined. (Not for long, though. She was told to “be quiet.”)
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Four hours into the trip, Girl #2 asked one of those standard traveling questions, “How far do we have to go?” She was told and then she let out a whining complaint. “My butt hurts,” to which I responded, “We bought this van so that you all can have more space when we travel. Girl #3, you especially wanted it, and were excited about having the back seat to yourself, and you all are still complaining!”  Then I pulled from the NY Times article by saying, “Goes to show that we give you more and you’re still not satisfied.” Girl #1 then said with a smirk, “IIIIII’m not complaining.” I think the other two got it and ceased the whining.
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What are your thoughts?
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Image is from Microsoft Office clip art.
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Thanks Judy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blog Friends

Blog Friends
My first blog post received one comment. It was from Judy, my friend who told me how easy it is to set up a blog. She was my go-to person for those first questions.

 A few months later, I met Hilary at a party and discovered that she is also a blogger. She explained to me how to put Sitemeter on my blog (a counter of visitors) and a few other things.

I read their blogs (and I still do), studied what they did, then bravely branched out in search of other interesting blogs using Google blog search, entering key words and phrases like “stay-at-home mom” and “midlife.” I’d also click on an interest that I’d listed in my profile, which connected me to others who’d listed the same interest in their blog profile. I found Menopausal New Mom, who was also new at it. She was my first blog bestie; exchanging comments with me as we wrote about our lives. A few months later, Abby Normal and I discovered we had things in common. Both of us are stay-at-home moms after having been an engineer (her) and a computer programmer (me), and we each have three kids; hence, another blog friend.

The relationships grew as I clicked on avatars, the followers of other people’s blogs.

Relationships?  you may ask; especially if you’re not a blogger. How does one have a real relationship with someone they’ve never seen or whose voice they’ve never personally heard?
Remember pen pals?

As a self-affirmed blogaholic since 2009, I’ve “met” people from all over the world, and find that everyone’s life has an element of interest.  I’ve learned that the degree to which bloggers discuss their personal lives is quite varied, and that I am susceptible to laughter, joy, fascination, gratitude, knowledge, concern, worry, and grief when reading their blogs. Of the hundreds I’ve visited, there are standouts that keep me going back; like watching a particular TV show, reading a certain newspaper column, or the books of a favorite author.

In doing so, I’ve followed pregnancies to birth, listened to struggles caused by debt, been inspired to cook by recipes and pictures of food, been awed by great writing, admired the best photography and art, learned more than I’ll ever retain about plant species and gardening, gotten personal accounts of snow storms, earthquakes, and raging fires, read book/movie reviews and recommendations, listened to the opinions of intellects, appreciated the wit of the clever ones, etc.

I’ve also prayed for blog friends who have cancer and other health issues, and cried when two blog friends passed away.

Relationships? – yes.
Sometimes I bravely mention you – my “blog” friends – to my “real life” friends.

“Whooo?” they say. “Oh.”
 or

“You what? Blog? Ohhh… Uhuh.”
Hard to explain to people who work at computer screens all day and can’t stand the sight of one when they come home.

Hard to explain to people who don’t write or like to read.
Hard to explain to people who are not “people persons.”

Hard to explain to people who don’t like to talk.
Hard to explain to people who are not overly curious.

And that’s all okay.

In 2009, I received a blog award from another blogger, and turned it into a post titled, “Why I Blog.” Then, the impetus was having a forum to write and publish, which resulted in immediate gratification.  My precious three year old manuscript was shelved; put on the back burner in favor of this new-to-me medium that required no approval; no wait for the expertise of an editor or agent.
I also mentioned my appreciation of “other bloggers” in the post, describing them as “interesting people.”

Today, writing is still my purpose for maintaining a blog; however, the purpose is twofold, as I have grown to see my “blog” friends as “real life” friends.
Words and images are powerful and convey much; even when expressed personally in a blog.

How have your feelings about blogging changed since you started? Have you met any of your blog friends?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Breastfeeding

At the risk of disturbing some of you, I am going to talk about my breastfeeding experiences.

Three friends and I are having a girls lunch; talking about topics that range from house floor plans to in-laws to our children’s education. Interspersed throughout are “female issues.” We touch on breast cancer, bladder control, vaginal exams, tearing during child delivery, epidurals, Percocet, and ultimately, breastfeeding, as we move toward the door to say good-bye. This last subject delays our exit another ten minutes as I mention the three year old boy drinking his mommy’s breast milk on the cover of Time magazine.

We all cringe in varying degrees. Perhaps my reaction is least because I am the only one who breastfed for a substantial amount of time. And NO, my children were not three years old when I weaned them; they were four.

Gotcha.

“I remember watching a woman pull down her bra flap, her breast totally exposed, as she waited for her husband to pass the baby to her. I don’t get that,” says Pam.
“I didn’t breastfeed my children,” says Marissa, who jokes about the “frozen peas” remedy for pain.

“Me either,” Iris relates.

“I breastfed for a few months,” adds Pam. “I liked having my husband being able to bond with the babies, too, by bottle feeding them.”

Marissa says, “I’m fine with breastfeeding, but my friend did it while having cracked nipples. Why go through all that pain?”

At this point, I chime in because I am one of those women who had problems and pain with one of my children.

“That was me,” I admit. “Yep - I breastfed all three of them. Very hard to wean them. When you’re holding them, they throw their heads down, looking for it. They grab and pull on your shirt. I weaned my youngest by going to a funeral in Michigan without her. Still, when I came back, she remembered. It was hard.”

“Did your milk dry up?” asks Pam.

“No, it filled up day after day. I remember leaning over the bathtub squirting out milk; just like a cow being milked,” I said and demonstrated. “I had two big pieces of fruit on my chest and they hurt. I leaked, too.”

Pam, Iris, and Marissa laugh as they watch my theatrics in surprise.

“TMI, huh?” I say with a laugh.


When I think about Marissa’s question, about the pain that some have experienced, I take myself back to 1995 to ponder my reasons for breastfeeding.  I was pregnant with my first precious child; someone I wanted the best for. I read the books and went to the classes; and according to it all, breast milk was nature’s perfect food and it was going to limit ear infections and allergies, and add to his or her intelligence.

First daughter was born in 1995, and after a few frustrating days of learning how to get her to “latch on,” it was full speed ahead, with her thriving solely on mommy's milk for five months. I repeated “breast milk only” with Second Daughter and Third Daughter.

However, feeding Third Daughter was a problem for a couple months. I’ll just sum it up with three words: cracking, mastisis, and yeast.

“Ewwww…” I hear you out there!

So you ask, Marissa, “Why do it?”

(Her question is specifically for those who experience pain, but I will speak generally.)

When I think about it now, hindsight tells me that it wasn’t just the perfect food or health benefits, or what the books said – it was the feeling of doing something that just the two of us could do. The process of milk flowing from my body into the body of my children’s and making them grow was fascinating and an experience I wanted to have.
I know that baby formula is nutritious and that most bottle fed babies don’t have health issues based on drinking it. I knew it from 1995 thru 2001, too. I just wanted to do something that my body was capable of doing.

Women deliver their babies at home without any medication… regardless of the pain. People run marathons - 26.2 miles!... regardless of the pain. Farmers plow the land in the hot sun without certainty of producing an adequate crop… regardless of the pain. And women breastfeed their babies – at inconvenient times, enduring sleep deprived nights, and cracked nipples… regardless of the pain.

Can any of us explain our passions and desires to others who do not feel the same?

I enjoyed breastfeeding. The feeling I had during let-down as the rush of milk came to the surface, making my body sink into a warm state, urged me to sit and relax. I enjoyed the feel of the equally warm babies against my body, the satisfied looks on their faces,  inches away from mine, that led them to fall over, literally drunk from the milk. It is all God’s design - not mine.

So do I think all mothers - who are capable - should breast feed? No. Nor do I think that all women should have babies, or become mothers by adoption or any other means.

It just happened to work for me.

By the way, if you’re wondering – I breastfed First Daughter, 16 months; Second Daughter, 12 months; and Third Daughter, 17 months. Yes, that’s a total of 45 months (3 years and 9 months). If Time Magazine Lady keeps it up ‘til her son is four, she’ll have me beaten.

Oh, that’s right – she’s feeding "one" kid for that long! She broke my record a long time ago. :)

What are your breastfeeding thoughts, opinions, and/or experiences?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Adoption

Bev is telling me the plans she has for her children this summer, which includes a visit to the grandparents.  As she describes the relationship her children have with them, I think of the fact that her children were adopted.

I am uncomfortable with my thoughts; wondering why I have differentiated them from children born of their mother’s womb.
When I leave Bev, I ponder the question and it takes me back to my childhood. I think of my first cousin, Andrea; how I was told that she “was adopted,” way back when I was in early elementary school.

It didn’t matter. There were no horns growing from her head or green spots on her face. She was the same cousin I’d always known.

In later years, maybe during my late teens, I noticed that Grandma did not speak of her when referring to her grandchildren; and neither did my father’s sister - our only paternal aunt - refer to her as her niece. I tried to figure out if it was due to her “not looking like us” or if Grandma and Aunt T. had issues with Andrea’s mother - the in-law.

Was that the root of my attention to who’s adopted?

My thoughts continue to hop from one adoption story to another as I drive the interstate toward home.
Doug is 48. He claims he wants to find his birth mother. A while ago, he gave me the name and number of a woman who works for an agency that deals with past adoptions; a woman he has spoken to. The agency needs a small administrative fee to get started. When I spoke to her, she asked why “he” did not call back, and suggested that he is not “really” ready to begin a search; that he’s stalling, using the fee as an excuse; that something is holding him back. She explained to me a series of steps to “prepare” him and the birth parents; that all sorts of scenarios could possibly exist. It was an eye-opener for me and I decided to let it go because I believed what she said; that something is holding Doug back.

I was introduced to Sandra during a walk with the girls and our dogs. She joined us a few more times and I learned that her children were adopted while we were talking about our pregnancies.
“Oh, you didn’t have to endure morning sickness or carry yours,” I said, making a small joke. And then, seriously, I said, “Oh, but your arms must have had a workout when the baby came home since you didn’t have the 35 pounds of extra weight to carry around to prepare you.”

“That’s right,” Sandra responded, as she added her stories of physical challenges due to her new 7 pound wonder.
It was a normal and natural conversation. No one took away points because she didn’t give birth to her children.

On the other hand, when another new friend told me her children were adopted and the reasons why, I was caught off guard because of the tone of her voice, and awkwardly said something like, “Adoption is a wonderful thing,” …and it is.

My friend Brenda is 55 and wants to contact her birth parents. She has requested, via an agency, three times. Each time, the birth mother said no. Because she knows a few details about her biological father, I’m curious to know why she doesn’t do some digging on her own. But it’s her decision; isn’t it?

One of my male relatives has a child who is in her 50s. She was raised by her mother’s husband, only knowing “him” as her father. The male relative does not want to contact her; does not want to “interrupt” her life. I wonder if she is out there looking for him.

Still driving along on I-95, I conclude that adoption continues to be an awkward conversation at times; that some still say, “Ohhhh,” when someone tells their adoption story. Does this happen more with same race parents and children? Are we more surprised because we did not know of the adoption in these families, as opposed to the white families who have adopted Chinese girls, South American children, or black boys and girls, with many people thinking they are so brave for doing so?

I do think adoption is wonderful and necessary. Like most things in life, it has its kinks and controversies, however, those elements are majorly outweighed.

What do you think? Do you have an adoption story to share?

The image above is the adoption symbol. The three sides of the triangle represent the birth mother, the child, and the adoptive parents. The heart represents the love that ties them together. This is the first time I've seen or heard of this symbol. I do not know its origin.