Acceptance, Be Happy, Be Kind, Fake People, Get Over Yourself, Photo Shop, Self respect, Uncategorized

Is It You, Or Is It Photoshop?

I recently got a friend request on social media by an old acquaintance.  I recognized the name, but I did not recognize the face.  Now, I do understand that most of us look different than we did twenty or thirty years ago, but it’s because we have a few more wrinkles or gray hair.  This person is older than me, but she looked so photo shopped and filtered, that she didn’t even look like an older version of herself!  Why?  Who was she trying to fool?  Is she that insecure with herself that she can’t admit that she is now thirty years older than the last time I saw her?  Doesn’t she like herself?

This morning on one of the morning shows, they discussed an app to fix your face.  I get it.  It makes sense to get rid of blemishes, or a few wrinkles sometimes.  But when you’ve lengthened your chin, widened your eyes, raised your cheekbones, narrowed your nose, slimmed your thighs, etc, you no longer look like yourself!  The image you are putting out there is fake.  Not only are you putting out a fake physical image of yourself, but it tells me that your personality is also fake, or dishonest because you’re trying to be something you’re not.

I’m not talking about super models and actors being photo shopped and have their cellulite smoothed.  Looking beautiful is their job.  But it does put pressure on “real” people to try to age the same way.  Too much focus is on this, and not on what really counts…..beautiful hearts!

Do I wish I looked younger?  Of course! But I am glad I know what I know about life at this age!  My wrinkles and the 10 extra pounds I’ve gained in twenty years are my scars that represent personal and spiritual growth.  I’ve always had a bit of a problem being a door mat, but as I’ve grown older (and wiser….and more wrinkled), I am better at standing up for myself.  I know I don’t have to take abuse from anyone, and I know I don’t have to kiss anyone’s butt to be liked.  Sure, it hurts when people don’t like me, but I know I can’t do anything about it.  I take pride in the fact that I always try to be nice and understanding.  For the most part, I like me!

I will not be fake.  My personality is not fake, and neither is my face. I’m not so insecure that I feel the need to alter my appearance to where I am unrecognizable. I am me.  I will always be me, even with my wrinkles!  I’m not a super model, nor do I try to look like one (my legs are too short anyway!).  I’d rather be recognized for the good things I do, my sense of humor, generosity, and kindness.  So if you see a picture of me on social media, it’s all the real me.  And….as for the lady who sent me a friend request?  Well, I didn’t accept it.  I don’t know that person.

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Anger, Attitude Adjustments, Bad Attitudes, Be Happy, Be Kind, Bullying, Communication Skills, Compassion, Don't Judge, Egos, Get Over Yourself, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Insensitivity, Kindness, Loyalty, Manners, Misconceptions, Negativity, Positive Attitudes, Respect, Self respect, Speak Up!, travel, Uncategorized, Understanding, Watch, Listen, and Learn

Sweet Land of Liberty

Well, today I am going to write about something that may make a few people mad.  It’s something that I have been feeling and wanting to write about for awhile now, but I’ve had to approach it in a constructive way.  I already have a few people in the world who can’t stand me for whatever reason, but I just need to vent a bit here.

I’m sick and tired of hearing people constantly criticizing the United States.  I don’t hear the same type of constant criticisms about other countries the way I hear about our country.  I know…..Americans are viewed as arrogant, and I know quite a few arrogant Americans, but I know a lot more Americans who are kind-hearted, and loving.  I know….our government has some major flaws right now, and I for one, cannot stand the man in the White House…..but he does not represent everyone, or what I see as the “American Dream.” I get it. We are a big, powerful country, which makes us a target.  But I’ve had enough.

I recently read a blog about what we do wrong, written by a European, now living in the USA.  First of all, if we are such a horrible country, then why is this person living here?  The criticisms I’ve heard are that we are too friendly, we dress too casually, our restaurant dishes are too big, we have free refills on drinks, we tip, we have “to go” boxes, we ask strangers, “how are you?” in our greetings, we drive too much, our children drive too early, but drink too late, guns, healthcare, and blah, blah, blah.  If I addressed everything he wrote about, I would be writing all night.

So….I love living in a friendly place.  I know people will help me, if I need it, especially if they have presented me with a warm smile.  I’ve received compliments from total strangers in public before…..sometimes a little creepy, but most of the time, I welcome a kind word and someone asking how I am.  I usually respond with, “I’m fine, thank you!  How are you?” Why is this wrong?

Dressing casually….well, why not?  And what is considered casual?  I don’t approve of the pajamas at Walmart, but I don’t like shopping at Walmart anyway!  But we can dress up when we want to, and most of us do.  My father wore a suit and tie to work every day, and seldom wore jeans or sneakers.  I live in a beach community.  It’s 90+ degrees every day with extreme humidity, making it feel like a 110 degree sauna.  I wear sun dresses or jeans with a nice shirt, cute shoes (always!), and jewelry to work every day…..is that too casual?  Why wear a suit in this weather?  You’ll MELT! And really, why does anyone else care? It’s not like I’m going to a wedding in a bikini!

Al and I went to lunch today, and we spent less than $50 (including dessert and tip).  Yes, the portions were large, but we didn’t eat them all (some Americans aren’t obese either).  I brought home enough leftovers for at least 2 more meals! This is extremely cost effective, common, and smart!  And our service was excellent, because our wait person was working for a tip!  The better the service, the better the tip, so she probably makes more than I do as a teacher! I’ve been to some countries where the customer service is crap, and I wish they were working for tips….maybe they would be more attentive! Oh yeah, and we also got free refills in “to go” cups for our tea because as our waitress said, “It’s about 130 degrees out there!  You’ll need something cold to take with you!” See how that works?  Reasonably priced meal, great service, leftovers, and a nice dining experience.  How is that wrong?

Driving….well, if you live in a city, you are more likely to have access to public transportation.  Let’s face it, this country is HUGE, and we are very spread out.  We like the space!  In order to get places, we do drive, but we also love road trips, and exploring our country, and you can’t get that in a taxi or a subway.  We don’t all drive gas guzzling vehicles, and enjoy learning about the diversity and history of our country.  Our children drive young (not something I necessarily agree with) because this country was built on family farms.  Farmers had a lot of children to help, and they needed to drive trucks and farm vehicles to help.  My father started driving at 12 years old (in 1936) from necessity.  So licenses at 16 or 17 (after a period of restriction) isn’t all that strange to us.

Alcohol….this one I have to agree with.  If our young men and women are able to fight for our country, and our boys are required to register for the draft, then yes….they should be able to have a beer!  I remember when the drinking age jumped to 21 nationwide.  Before that, the states had their own age limitations.  In Kansas and Oklahoma, you could buy low point beer at 18, but liquor at 21.  In Iowa, it was 19 for everything.  The Mothers Against Drunk Drivers were behind this, if I remember right.  They wanted to keep it out of the hands of high school students, which I understand, and can sympathize with too.  But if the kids want it, they will get it.  I thought 19 was a good compromise. And I have read that teenage drinking has dropped in recent years.

Guns and healthcare….well, we do have a problem.  I will not argue with this.  But some of us want solutions, or at least compromises, to these issues, and some of us don’t.  Please don’t lump all of us in to being part of the problem.  It’s a real concern for many.

A few weeks ago, I met some people on the beach from a European country (I won’t say which one, because I don’t believe in doing that to anyone….just like us, they do not all think and act alike).  They had flown to Washington DC, drove south to Miami, and were now on their way to New Orleans, stopping in our little community for a day or two to rest. Now, how many European countries can you travel that distance and still be in the same country?  Like I said before, our country is vast, and I think they were surprised by that, but how cool!  But they had nothing nice to say about us or our country!  I was really annoyed.  Here they were, sitting next to a total stranger, on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (free admission and free parking), complaining about everything, and saying we had no freedom.  And by the way, this American was more than happy to take their picture with the water in the background, and watch the lady’s purse while they went for a stroll on the beach, but you couldn’t do that in every country. They complained about where they stayed, thinking it was ON the beach.  It was on the Sound, and just over the bridge to the beach.  They complained that they had to drive to the beach.  I told them they could have walked over the bridge…a lot of people do.  They were afraid of the traffic….there is a walking/bike path.  Americans eat too much and are fat….these folks weren’t particularly skinny!  Black people shouldn’t be on the beach….I really had to hold my tongue with this one…..but then they complained about the racism we have.  I told them that my husband and I are teachers, and what we teach.  When I said that my husband works with students in the behavior unit, they assumed they were just “brats.”  I had to inform them that the majority of them suffer from some level of autism, and can’t help it.  Believe me, by the time I was finished talking with these rude tourists, I wanted to ask them why they bothered coming here if everything is so horrible!

I love my country, even though we are really in the midst of some awful things right now.  It was a safe place to grow up and raise children, and my parents encouraged all five of their children to go to college. We aren’t tacky, stupid, rude, or lazy.  Obviously, I have manners for not criticizing these individuals, or their countries.  We have a lot of freedoms here that many of us take for granted, and we should always protect.  But one thing that I will not stand for is someone telling me how we are “wrong” because we have a different culture.  This is OUR culture….like it or don’t.  There are a lot of things we do right, and some things we need to work on.  We are not everything you see in the news and on television.  As much as I struggle at times to understand what is happening in our country, it’s still MY country, and if it isn’t something you like, or can appreciate, or say something nice about, then go away…..you need to learn some manners!

Anxiety, Be Kind, Being Strong, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Emotions, Fear, Happiness, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Kindness, Loneliness, Love, Loyalty, Make a Difference, Misconceptions, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Thankfulness, Uncategorized, Understanding

You Don’t Always Have to Be Strong

I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain lately.  It’s really heartbreaking for their families, and leaves so many unanswered questions, but it seems that only when something like this happens do we really understand how much pain (emotional or physical) someone may have.  Of course, it’s too late to help them at that point, but how do we help someone who is hiding their pain from those they love? How do we know?  Some people love playing “the victim,” and love getting the attention that goes along with that.  Others of us, however, don’t want to be a burden on those we love.

My daughter had a friend who committed suicide a few years ago.  They were very close in high school, and then this friend ended up pushing away my daughter, along with a lot of other people who had been her friends.  Of course, it makes sense why she pushed everyone away now, but at the time, how could anyone know that she was hurting so much?  She pushed people away with meanness and made them not want to be with her.  I guess in her way, she was trying to protect them from the pain she knew she may eventually put them through.  Even when it happened, my daughter was not mad at her.  She hurt for her.  She still loved her.  She understood then that her friend had needed help, and didn’t know how to ask for it.

We all need help from time to time.

Last summer, I found myself in a dark place.  I was not suicidal, but I was sad.  I was afraid.  I was hurting.  And I was feeling a lot of pressure from so many different places.  I had been diagnosed with a medical condition that will be with me for the rest of my life.  I was alone when I got this diagnosis because my husband was in New York with his family.  I had recently been terribly hurt by some people I really cared about. I had no idea how I was going to handle another year of teaching with this type of medical diagnosis.  I was bogged down with some very difficult, important paperwork that was pushing me to my limit.  I was overwhelmed, alone, confused, sad, and hurting a lot.  I didn’t want to die, but I wanted to disappear for awhile.  I laid down on the kitchen floor, and cried.  And cried.  And cried.  And cried.  And finally a calmness came over me, and I got up and finished my paperwork that had been frustrating me so much.  I was still upset and alone, mad and frustrated, but I knew I had to pull myself together to keep going.  It didn’t matter what anyone else thought of me, or how anyone was trying to hurt me.  I had to keep at the paperwork, no matter how confusing and difficult it was.  Al would be home in a few days and we could begin exploring our medical options, and he would be home to comfort me.  It would all be okay.  I was entitled to a meltdown for all I was dealing with.  But I had to get up and face these obstacles.  I had to be strong for my husband and my children.  I couldn’t disappear.

Al and I had a discussion earlier tonight about how when either of us is hurting or sick, we try not to let the other one see how much we’re suffering.  We try to protect each other, even through our own pain.  I didn’t tell Al about my major meltdown last summer until recently.  I didn’t want to worry him, or put any added stress on him.  He worries enough about me….why cause him to worry more?  Why cause him added pain?  When he is sick, he tries to conceal how bad he feels so I won’t worry.  It hurts to see your partner hurt.  We are strong for each other, but we also know that sometimes we can’t handle everything alone, whether it’s a physical illness or a giant weight on our shoulders.  We need help from each other.  We don’t have to do it alone, and it has taken me awhile to learn this.  It isn’t something I’ve been used to.

Those people who are in so much pain that they take their own lives, aren’t trying to hurt anyone else.  So many times they have been protecting their loved ones for so long it becomes too heavy of a burden to carry.  They’ve had to be strong for everyone while they hurt.  They’re really quite selfless, even though some will argue just the opposite.  They’re funny, compassionate, and caring, but they have hidden their own feelings in order to protect those they love.  We know to take care of those who ask for help.  But let’s take care of those who seem strong too.  Let’s be there for the ones who always seem to be there for everyone else.  Let’s be there for the ones who start isolating themselves, even if they don’t want us.  Let’s be there for the ones who make us laugh when we want to cry.  Let’s be there for the ones who say, “I’m fine.”  They may be the ones who are suffering the most, and don’t know how to ask for help.  We are all human, and every human needs help at some point in their lives.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Acceptance, Attention Whores, Be Kind, Bullying, Doing your best, Egos, Get Over Yourself, Kindness, Manipulation, Manners, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Uncategorized

Being the Bigger Person

Do you ever get tired of doing the right thing?  I know people who never do the right thing….ever….and they don’t care.  I don’t always do the right thing (no human does), but I try.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes!  I had parents who had a way of making me feel guilty if I were rude, mean, unkind, disrespectful, or ungrateful…..not being nice……not doing the right thing.  Still, from the grave, they have a way of “guilting” me into doing the right thing! You know, they were good parents, and gave me a conscience!

I know people who don’t give a damn if they don’t give someone the time of day.  In fact, they’re so selfish, spoiled, and narcissistic, that they don’t understand why everyone isn’t falling all over them.  They love being adored, and it doesn’t matter who they step on to get that adoration.  If I knew that I was hurting someone by being unfair or unkind, I would feel horrible!  I teach my little 1st graders to be nice, and I am notorious for saying, “Hey guys, we don’t treat each other that way.”  When I see adults being petty, selfish, jealous, judgmental, and hurtful, I’m taken back to my adolescent days with mean girls.  Even men can have those “mean girl” moments!  They become masters of manipulation to get others to fall into their games.  It’s a selfishness really, and a fear of not being the center of attention.  I guess I’m not like that because I’m secure enough that I don’t feel the need to be the center of attention!  So….is their meanness and selfishness really a sign of insecurity?  A fear of not being popular?  Or is it a fear of not having control over situations and other people?

I’ve worked with people who have passed me in the hallways as if I’m invisible.  It’s an odd feeling, and I always think to myself that they are so incredibly full of themselves that they are too good to even nod, smile, or say, “hello.”  This is America, and Americans pride themselves on being friendly and helpful, so why are they so rude?  Depending on my mood, I might smile and say loudly in their direction, “HI!  HOW ARE YOU?” This usually startles them, makes them feel a little embarrassed, and they’ll respond to me.  Other times, they’ll look at me like I’ve lost my mind, and ignore me anyway.  That’s actually kind of fun sometimes…….scaring them with friendliness!  But I guess that’s just my twisted sense of humor…….I just tell myself I did the right thing.  I made the effort to be friendly and nice.  Once, when I was at a new school, I had a teacher from a different grade level tell me she would have been nicer to me if she had realized I was a fellow teacher!  So….she didn’t have to be nice or respectful to me if I were a paraprofessional? A custodian?  Or a substitute?  Or a parent?  One thing I will not be accused of is being a snob!  I will treat everyone with the same respect.

Sometimes it just gets old.  Sometimes I don’t want to be the bigger person.  Sometimes no matter how kind or generous you are to someone, they will never like you or give you the time of day, or reciprocate your kindness.  Ever.  But don’t let their insecurities and selfishness overcome your kindness and spirit of generosity.  If you are rejected repeatedly, you don’t have to keep being the bigger person.  It’s exhausting, and can be detrimental to your self esteem and your heart (if it’s someone you care about).  There’s a saying that goes, “When people treat you like they don’t care, believe them.”  There are people who don’t deserve an ounce of kindness from you if they are cruel or mean to you.  You don’t have to always be the bigger person.  This is something I am getting better at.  I can be polite, but I don’t always have to be the one to risk the rejection of cold hearted people who don’t care about me anyway!  Although, it’s still sometimes fun to startle them, with friendliness when they aren’t expecting it!  Hehe.

Be Happy, Be Kind, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Married to My Best Friend, Relationships, Togetherness, Uncategorized, Weddings

My Royal Wedding

Watching the wedding of Harry and Meghan this weekend really made me think about weddings and relationships.  I’ve never been a fan of big weddings because I feel like it takes away from what the true meaning should be. It shouldn’t be a production or a show, but sweet and personal.  Big weddings are usually beautiful and all, but it just isn’t my thing.

My own wedding to Al two and a half years ago was perfect…..for us.  We had both been through some pretty dark times with our health and other relationships.  The combination of the two of us going through so much separately, and then facing some rough times together, showed us that we are much stronger together, and that it really is a great thing to go through life with your best friend.  There we were in a park in New Orleans, with a minister, his wife, a few squirrels, and the beauty of nature all around us.  No, not in a church, but it felt pretty heavenly in that setting!  My emotions were in full swing!  Yes, I cried through the whole thing!  Happy tears!  Tears of joy!  I was so happy, and feeling every vow we spoke, coming straight from our hearts.  No choir, no family, no bridesmaids, groomsmen, no flower girls, no ring bearers, no friends, and no added stress.  It was all about us, and making our promises to each other…..no other fuss.  We even got a little laugh in when the minister asked if anyone had any objections….”speak now, or forever hold your peace,”……….no, not even the squirrels could deny us this happiness!  Neither of us were a bit nervous.  We knew we were doing the right thing, and the timing was finally right for us.

Big weddings, small weddings,  weddings in a church, on a cruise ship, a wheat field, a judge’s office, a forest, a castle……it doesn’t matter.  Whatever works for you, and how you want to handle it, is all that matters.  What happens afterwards is really where it counts!  My children have accepted Al, and love him for how happy he makes me.  He loves my children, and I love his too.  As long as we are happy, and are there for each other “in sickness and in health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer,” protecting and defending each other through anything and everything, then it can work, no matter what obstacles.  There are days when I actually think back about those vows, and how I meant every word of them.  My marriage and my loyalty and love for Al mean more every day.  I try to spoil him as much as I can because I always want him to know that he deserves the best I have to give.  And he’s pretty good about returning that, by spoiling me too.

We may not have a castle, or a lot of money, but we have each other, and we are blessed to have that. Love, laughter, selflessness, sincerity, and true friendship……that is what really matters…..til death do us part.

Acceptance, Be Kind, Egos, Insensitivity, Karma, Kindness, Lies, Manipulation, Rejection, Relationships, Respect, Self respect, Support, That's life, Uncategorized

Here Comes the Karma Bus!

I’ve always been a believer in karma.  Some people don’t believe in it, and that’s okay for them, but I’ve seen it too many times to dispute it in my life.  If you do good things, good things will come back to you.  Just as, if you lie, cheat, and steal, it will come back to you. Sometimes we have to go through some very rough times before we feel the effects of karma, but it’s usually quite satisfying when we finally see it pan out!

I’ve known people who have had their hearts broken, and they claim they did all the right things.  They treated their former partner with respect, spoiled them, doted on them, etc.  Now usually, a breakup is a two way street, but occasionally, it is true that one person gives more, and gets taken advantage of.  They can’t understand why things didn’t work out when they were doing all the right things.  Well, of course, it’s a life lesson, but the “karma bus” will most definitely catch up to the one who did the hurting!  It may take time, but I believe it will happen.  And, the one who got hurt usually ends up with someone a lot more suited for their personality and needs….someone who treats them with respect and reciprocates the good care they have given.  Soooooo….karma has come back to them in a positive way.  It works both ways.

If someone has been a liar and cheat for most of their lives, it’s not usually an easily broken habit.  They get away with it for as long as they can, and when it catches up to them, they still don’t take responsibility for their dishonesty.  In their minds, it will always be someone else’s fault.  There are people in this world who make a living cheating others….their spouses, neighbors, family, customers, the government….  They’re greedy, arrogant, lying cheaters.  Instead of compromise, they tend to bully their way through life, using money to get their way.  And when called out and proven that they’re in the wrong, they still refuse to admit it…..didn’t happen….fake news……  They’re somehow above the rest of us who have tried to do the right things, and they continue their shady ways.  Don’t worry…..karma will catch up to them.

I try to always be nice and understanding to people.  I make mistakes, just like everyone else, but I try to remedy it in my actions every day.  I’ve always believed that if you are kind and nice, warm and friendly, generous and compassionate, you will get that in return.  Not everyone treats me the way I’ve treated them, and it really does hurt.  That’s when I tell myself that I have to step back and try not to care about their poor treatment.  Their karma will get them just as mine will reward me.  I’ve made a point to “be the bigger person” so many times.  It sometimes sucks (a lot!), and I admit, I get tired of it.  I have done things for people who I know will never treat me with the same kindness and respect.  Sometimes I have to protect myself and just walk away…..no hate or anger….just self preservation.  Karma can take care of that too!

Be good to people.  Be good to those who are good to you.  To the liars, cheaters, arrogant people and meanies….sit back, rev up the engine on the karma bus, and watch what happens.  Let karma take care of it.

Be Happy, Be Kind, Comfort, Family, Kindness, Mother, Mother's Day, Relationships, Uncategorized

Celebrating Our Mothers

Mother’s Day….that bittersweet day for those of us who no longer have a mother here on Earth.  It’s a beautiful thing to celebrate our mothers….even if they are no longer with us.  There are also mother figures we can celebrate.  No one can ever take the place of our mothers, but we should consider ourselves blessed to have female friends who are there to love, guide, and protect us.

I have several female friends who I know I can reach out to for advice, a good laugh, a cry, or just to vent, and I love them for that.  They’ve come into my life at different times, when I had different needs, but they’ve remained….as part of my circle of support. They live all over the country, but I know I can pick up the phone right now, and they would be there for me.  We may have sisters, aunts, or cousins who can also be mother figures to us.

What about the single fathers out there who have no partner to help?  They deserve to be recognized as well, for being both mother and father!

While I’ve never met my ex husband’s current wife, and I doubt we would be friends, I am grateful that she seems to love and care about my children.  I know that I am their mother, and no one will ever replace me.  But why would I deny my children the opportunity of receiving more love and friendship?  Just as my husband is a very loving, supportive friend to my children, we are secure enough to know we can’t be replaced.  The more love for them, the better! You can never have enough, and my children deserve that!  But I will always be the only mother they have.

So yes, this holiday is a little rough for me.  I do the best I can, even though there are always a few tears, while I miss my mama.  I will get through it, and I will enjoy hearing from my three “babies” that day.  It’s a day worth celebrating, and showing the women in our lives how much we appreciate them.  Let’s celebrate the women we love (and who love us) this Mother’s Day….our mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, step-mothers, friends…..whether they are still with us or not……whether they have children of their own or not.  The nurturing we do for one another is priceless.

To all of my female friends and family…..happy Mother’s Day!