Be Happy, Don't Judge, Happiness, Passion for Living, Respect, Self respect, Uncategorized

Be Yourself!

Yesterday I was putting on my earrings to go on a lunch date with my husband, and decided on some larger silver hoops.  It reminded me of an article I had read recently about what women over 40 should or shouldn’t wear…..as dictated by women in their 20’s and 30’s.  The article was written by a woman who was frustrated by this direction, and I completely agreed! I have read the articles…..”What Women Over 40 Should Never Wear…..” No large hoop earrings, no tattoos, no skirts over the knee, no sleeveless tops, no blue eye shadow, no leggings, etc. etc. etc. I admit, I used to be guilty of these unfair statements too, but thankfully, I have grown, and realized that maybe I wasn’t comfortable with myself then.  I am definitely getting more and more comfortable now, and this has made me less judgmental of others.

My mother’s sister, my Aunt Joy, was a wonderful woman, who marched to the beat of her own drummer.  She was highly intelligent (an English teacher), loved to read, tell stories, and spend time with her family.  She wore clothes that made her feel comfortable……I’m picturing tie-dyed mumus……she drove a moped around Wichita when she was in her 50’s, and at times, her hair may be blue or purple (before it was trendy to do this).  She was always a lot of fun to be around.  I miss her a lot.  One of the reasons I loved and respected her so much was because she did what made her feel good, without hurting anyone else.  Why should anyone else care?

I had a friend who used to be very annoyed and critical of any woman 30 or over who referred to a man as a “boyfriend.”  Why was that her business?  Why should it bother her?  If a woman in her 80’s wants to have a boyfriend, why is it offensive to anyone else?  If a couple feels young and in love, and wants to use the term “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” that’s their choice, no matter how old they are.

It is no one else’s decision (or business) how we dress, or what we call our significant other.  When a woman in her 20’s or 30’s tells me I can’t wear hoop earrings because I’m over 40, it makes me want to wear bigger hoops.  It makes me want to dye my hair blue, wear mumus, and drive a moped.  If a woman is 80 years old and wants to wear a mini-skirt and go-go boots because it makes her feel good, then that is her choice, and I will applaud her for not being afraid to be herself.  It may look crazy.  It may even look a bit inappropriate.  It may not feel comfortable to everyone, but if it is comfortable to that woman, then why should it matter to anyone else?

Be yourself.  Do what makes you comfortable.  As long as you aren’t hurting someone, then it’s okay to be you.  Do you.  So, damnit, wear those hoop earrings!

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Be Kind, Happiness, Kindness, Loyalty, Relationships, Respect, Support, Uncategorized

What Kind of Friend Are You?

Sincere.  True.  Real.  Faithful.  Loyal.  Genuine.  Unpretentious.  Righteous…..

Fake.  Phony.  Insincere. Bogus.  Artificial.  Fraudulent.  Bitter.  Jealous…….

Which character traits sound the most appealing?  Those which show true concern, love, friendship, and compassion, or those that show cruelty, anger, resentment, and hatred? We have all known people on both sides of this.  I have dealt with many people who pretended to be my “friends,” or pretended to care, only to feel used or tossed aside when I could do nothing more for them, or if they saw me as some sort of threat.  I’ve also been blessed to have people in my life who have shown true compassion and care toward me. Whether it is the recent weather emergency here in Florida, an illness, the loss of a family member or friend, or a difficult job situation, I know exactly who I can or can’t count on for kind words, a helping hand, a hug, or just a shoulder to lean on.  I also know who just doesn’t give a damn.  Let’s avoid those schmucks!

Recently, I have been very fortunate to see the good in a lot of people.  Stepping up to be my friend, offer support, and showing true concern to someone who is struggling speaks volumes about that person’s character.  To know that I have people in my life who truly care about me (and Al) is extremely comforting, and we would do the same for them. Family, friends, friends who become family…….I am loyal, and I don’t forget when someone is good to me.  I also don’t forget when someone treats me badly.  I’m not vindictive or petty, but I remember how people have made me feel, and it isn’t very easy to open that door again once it has been shut.  There’s a pretty good chance that I will keep someone at arm’s length if they hurt me or someone I love.  I will not be rude or unkind, but it’s hard to forget feeling hurt, especially if you have been there for them in times of need.

What kind of person do you want to be?  A true friend who is loving, kind, and supportive?  Or one who is insincere, artificial, and selfish? I know who I strive to be (not always successful!) and I’m glad I have some very real and loyal people in my life.

Be real.  Be kind.  Be sincere.  Be supportive.  Be a friend.

Be Happy, Dog Lovers, Dogs are People Too, Loyalty, Man's Best Friend, Uncategorized

He’s Not a Dog….He’s Family

I’m a dog person.  My whole family loves dogs.  In fact, I think my first best friend was our family dog, Pepper, an overweight, cookie loving, temperamental Boston Terrier who we got when I was two years old.  My parents had another Boston Terrier before that, named Buttons, but I don’t remember him.  During my adult life, I’ve had three dogs.  I learned the hard way not to get a pure bred because of health issues.  My first “baby” was a little Schnauzer named Tyrone.  He was good to me, but he had a mean side, and would sometimes bite for no reason. We aren’t sure exactly what was going on with that, but for the most part, he was a good dog.  He died of pancreatitis at the age of 8, and then I found out that Schnauzers are prone to that.  My next dog was a Boxer named Buster.  He was VERY protective, and had beautiful markings.  He loved me and my children, but wasn’t crazy about their father.  If he played with the kids too rough, Buster would put his mouth around the back of their dad’s leg to warn him to leave the kids alone.  Buster also ate the bumper off of his truck, so there weren’t a lot of warm fuzzy feelings between them.  Buster died of cardiomyopathy at 6 years.  Then I found out they were prone to that.

Now I have Andy.  Andy is a small mixed breed….his mother was a Shih Tzu, and his dad was “wearing a sweater.”  Andy was on his way to the pound, along with his brother, and was too small to be taken away from his mother.  I took him, and a friend of my son’s took his brother.  I saved him, but I know that he saved me too!  We rescued each other.  It was a very difficult time in my life, and we bonded immediately.  Andy has been with me through a lot of hard times, and through a lot of happy times.  Dogs always get most attached to one person in a family.  I’ve been that person because I’m the one who takes care of them, and they know they can count on me.  While they love the whole family, they tend to rely on one person the most.  Andy is 14, mostly blind (especially in the dark), and almost completely deaf, and has a pin in his back leg from a fall off of the back of the couch, but he acts like a very young dog.  Even his vet said that he would never know he’s an older dog by looking at him if it weren’t for the gray over his eyes.

Dogs know dog people, and dogs are a good judge of character.  I have seen dogs go to complete strangers and fall immediately in love with them.  I’ve also seen dogs growl at complete strangers.  I believe a dog knows what kind of person you are, and if I hear Andy growl at you, or not want anything to do with you, then I have a different feel for you too!  I trust my dog’s instincts!  If a dog doesn’t like you, then you are the problem, not the dog!

I cannot watch the ASPCA commercials without breaking down in tears.  I realize that is the intention of those commercials….feel bad, send money…….but it’s just too hard for me to watch.  I have donated things to animal shelters, and do what I can.  Animals aren’t in the situations they’re in because of choices they make.  They are there because of the choices humans make. I grew up with Bob Barker telling me to “Help control the pet population.  Have your pets spayed or neutered.” I have followed that advice!

While people are making decisions on whether to evacuate their homes or not because of hurricanes or fires, some choose to stay because of their pets.  Either there are no shelters taking pets, or they may have to be separated from their pets.  I saw where some shelters were setting up cages outside of the shelters for pets.  That would not work for me or Andy.  He’s old, he would be scared and anxious.  That would be very stressful for him (and me).  No.  If I couldn’t stay with my dog, I wouldn’t evacuate.  I feel horrible for these people who are forced to leave without their pets. How can you leave behind a family member?  They are NOT “just dogs,” or “just cats.”  They’re FAMILY.

He’s more to me than just a dog.  He’s like a 4th child to me.  He knows when I’m happy, sad, afraid, or sick.  He’s my friend.  He’s my family.  He understands me.  He’s spoiled, a bit lazy, and has anxiety (definitely my dog!).  He demands to be given treats when I open a can of Coke……therefore, I nicknamed him “Demandy” a few years ago.  He is a worthless protector because he’s afraid of everything.  He’s not a good critter catcher because he doesn’t see them. But he’s mine, and he loves me, and he never lets me be sad or worry all alone.  He used to stare at the door until I came home.  Now that he’s losing his vision and hearing, he lays in front of the front door, waiting for me to come back.  He looks at me with one ear up, and the other one flopped down in his eye.  His under bite makes him look like he’s smiling.  I watch Al, my giant of a husband, snuggle with him on the couch, and let Andy kiss/lick his nose.  I see him save pieces of his pizza crust to sneak to Andy, thinking I don’t see him (I don’t give him “people food”).

Yes, Andy is not only the king of his castle, and a cherished member of our family.  He is also the best dog ever……

Attitude Adjustments, Bad Attitudes, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Don't Judge, Happiness, Kindness, Manners, Negativity, Uncategorized

Stop Being Negative!

“The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude-”  Unknown

Sometimes maintaining a positive attitude all of the time is difficult.  Life is difficult, and our country/world is a mess.  People aren’t nice to each other.  People are mean.  People are rude.  People don’t care about each other.  Negativity is in the air.  Bad attitudes are rampant.  I have been accused by my husband of having a Pollyanna attitude, but that hasn’t always been the case.  Depending on where I was in my personal or professional life, I have had moments of feeling negative.  Is it easier to be negative?  Is it easier to blame others for your discontent instead of doing something to change your situation? Sometimes life can wear us down, and negative feelings control us.  I get that all of that, but quite frankly, I’m tired of negative people!  I’m tired of crappy attitudes!

The latest weather patterns and disasters hitting our country have made me realize how tragedies can bring out the best and the worst in people.  I feel thankful for my home and job, my family, my health (as up and down as it is!).  I feel thankful for the friends and family who reached out to us when we were still in the path of the storm, offering shelter, food, water, gas money, prayers, etc.  Even while we were nervous and anxiously waiting to see the path of the hurricane, I was thankful that we have access to forecasts, and science to support the forecasts.  Rushing to the store, making plans to evacuate, and feeling anxious and afraid were not fun, but that’s a consequence of living in “Paradise” (the rest of the year is beautiful!).

I’ve had my share of hardships with the loss of my parents, illness, broken relationships, disappointments, loss of jobs, financial problems.  It’s hard, but I’m not the only one.  Everyone experiences these things.  I have a friend who has blogged about egos, and this is what bad attitudes and negativity make me think of.  Why do we think we are the only ones who have it hard?  Someone somewhere is struggling more than we are. A negative person’s ego feeds off of being negative, and having a crappy attitude.  Their feelings of hurt, anger, distrust, and resentment towards others fuels their negativity. They feel that their feelings and situations are more important than anyone else’s.

It’s okay to vent to our friends and family because we need to do that to maintain our sanity!  But some people are constantly unhappy, always looking for the worst possible details in any situation, or even creating the worst possible scenarios in their minds, or about other people.   These people are exhausting to be around!  They may be overall good people, with good intentions, and generous hearts, but the constant negativity isn’t healthy.  It isn’t healthy for them (especially when you want to pop them in the head), and it isn’t healthy for me because they give me headaches and make me start feeling negative!  Negativity breeds negativity, and it seems that spreading negativity is more contagious than catching something positive!

There are two ways of changing this.  For the exhausting, negative soul suckers who constantly complain, they can start by only looking for positive things, and things to be thankful for.  The longer they have been this way, the harder this will be.  It’s a habit that needs to be broken! They can write down things each day that they are thankful for, and this will help them to look for the positive in each day.  For the rest of us……we can either keep our mouths shut, smile and nod, try not to argue, and go home for a stiff drink after dealing with them, or…..we can try to insert positive vibes and statements in conversations with these people (they aren’t always receptive to this), or……we can just steer clear of them!  These are usually the same people who have conflict wherever they go, so  I’m sure they’ve had a lot of people come and go in their lives because of their bad attitudes!

So if you want to have a good day, it’s up to you.  If you have an occasional bad day, that’s okay.  You’re entitled.  But you are NOT entitled to ruin someone else’s day because you’re in a constant crappy mood, always hating on someone or something.  It’s up to you!

Be Kind, Kindness, Manners, Respect, Social Media Manners, Uncategorized

Using Social Media Wisely

A few times, I’ve come across the quote, “Worry about loving yourself, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you.”  This makes me think about social media, and how some people crave their “likes,” and base that on how well they are liked.  So many think that if they are social media popular, then they are popular.  As an adult in my 50’s, I don’t really care if I’m popular or not!

Yesterday, my daughter and I were talking about a hot political topic, the removal of confederate statues, and how some are blaming social media for making it worse.  She mentioned that social media is a good thing for this because it can help us discuss these issues, and we are able to see other points of view.  Social media can be such a positive thing, but too many use it to hurt, lie, attack, or spread false information.

I have mentioned that I’ve lived in a lot of places, and that means that I have a lot of friends and family spread out across the nation, and even in other countries.  When Al moved here, since he is not on social media, his friends reached out a few at a time, in order to stay in touch with him. This REALLY helped me when I was preparing a graduation book for him with messages from people who care about him.  I could reach out easily through Facebook to ask for their cards or messages! They then became my friends.  Al has been able to keep in touch with them in this way too.  When my son’s ship is out to sea, he has no phone service, and social media is the only way I have of communicating with him.

Because of all of the negativity in our world, and how some use social media to spread hate and hurt, I have chosen to use it as a platform for communicating with family and friends, sending positive and inspirational quotes, funny memes, funny stories about my students, promoting my daughter’s floral design business, promoting or supporting friends’ businesses or endeavors, or even laughing at my own expense when it comes to my clumsiness or my escapades with creepy crawly things.  I try not to post political things (although I will “like” or maybe comment on them), religious things, etc.  It isn’t because I don’t have strong beliefs, but I just don’t want to invite an argument that I started with one of my posts.  I have stated a few things, so I know people know where I stand on those issues, but for the most part, I try to keep away from these topics on my wall.  I have friends and family who are all over the board on these issues.  I choose to keep it more light, and use social media as a tool to make people happy, inspire them, keep them feeling good about themselves, and make them laugh.  If others want to post political or religious topics on their wall, that’s entirely their choice.  That’s okay!  If it is negative, or I don’t agree with it, I don’t have to read it, comment on it, or even continue to follow that person.

A few years ago, I had a former childhood acquaintance attack me on social media over political differences.  I did not invite this conversation.  I did not encourage this conversation.  The things he was saying were just outrageous, hateful, and mean. In the middle of it, I deleted him as a “friend” (someone I hadn’t seen or even really thought about in over 30 years), and fortunately, his comments disappeared.  I will only do this if someone is completely out of line with me.  Usually, I just “unfollow” them if they annoy me.  I’ve had to block a couple who were stalking or making me uncomfortable.  I know people have unfollowed or unfriended me for whatever reason.  That’s their choice.  I try not to be offensive to anyone, but if that’s the way someone else sees it, then they probably don’t know me well enough to know that I would never use social media to hurt or attack anyone.  Actually, I would never use ANY platform to hurt, attack, or offend anyone!

I see a few people on social media who I think are insecure, lonely, or hurting.  This may be the only outlet they have.  If it helps them to find a support circle, or if they have found solace in writing about their struggles, then social media has been positive for them in this way.  Maybe having a lot of social media friends gives them hope and security.

I sometimes see a post that declares not all posts “are about you.”  I’ve seen people get really upset thinking someone is passive aggressively attacking them through their posts.  Maybe they are?  I don’t know.  I find this a bit outrageous, and I don’t even know how to defend it.  Directing aggressive posts at people, or thinking every post is about you…….I don’t have an explanation for either side on that one……

I do believe that social media is a tool, but how we choose to use that tool is the key.  In a world where there is so much negativity, anger, spitefulness, and hate, we should all try to use it in a positive way.  Please be careful with how you use social media.  Remember, it isn’t a popularity contest.  Love yourself.  Love others.  Don’t use it as a tool to seek revenge, approval, spread lies, hate, or anger.  Use it to BE KIND.

Be Kind, Being Strong, Coping, Fear isn't weakness, Invisible Illness, Just Breathe, Loyalty, Support, Uncategorized

It’s Okay To Be Weak

Have you ever known someone who is very good about keeping composed, and holding everything together?  Some people always seem to be the strong presence in difficult situations.  You wonder how they manage at times.  I have been this person most of my adult life.  I don’t let on that I am struggling.  I make a joke to try to lighten their mood (or mine).  When my mother died, I showed very little emotion outside of the funeral. At the time, my ex husband was living in New Mexico, and I was alone with 3 children in Kansas.  Our family dog had died the previous day, and it was also the week of Thanksgiving.  It was a really crappy week!  After the funeral, I had to be the strong one for my kids, and hold it together.  I didn’t want them to be afraid if their mama was upset.  I didn’t feel that I could let my children or my co-workers know how much I was hurting. In fact, the day after my mother died, I went to work, and only told two people what had happened!  I just didn’t want to let on to anyone that I was hurting or afraid, and I taught my class that day without ever letting on that anything was wrong.  I couldn’t fall apart.

I’ve been there to support friends, co-workers, and a few family members if they’ve needed me.  Or, I’ve been supportive of them in their goals, dreams, educations, careers, relationships, raising kids, etc……just being there……being a friend.  One thing I’m not good at though, is asking for help or support when I need it.  It’s very hard. It makes me feel selfish.  It embarrasses me.

This week, I had a moment that I’ve always considered “weak” for me.  I was in my classroom with a colleague after school, talking about school things.  The conversation turned to something personal, and I fell apart!  I burst into tears.  I sobbed.  I think my friend/colleague was surprised because she hadn’t seen me that upset before.  Everything I’ve been dealing with caught up with me, and no matter how many positive posts I put on social media to try to keep my spirits up, I just couldn’t hold it together at that moment.  I was tired.  I was hurting.  I was tired of being strong.  During the conversation, another friend came in, and they sat there with me, letting me vent and cry, while they hugged me, and told me it was okay to lean on them, and that everyone needs to feel safe enough to do that sometimes.  Things have been very hard for me lately, and I guess my emotions were like a pressure cooker.  While I have the best husband/friend in the world, I guess I needed to know that I can also lean on someone else for support sometimes.  Al is still, and always will be my ROCK.

Of course, at the end of the conversation, my friends and I hugged again, and being me, I had to make a silly joke to make everyone laugh!  One of the friends said that it never fails….Lauri will always try to cheer someone up, even through her own tears.  She said it was a “gift.”  I have never thought of it like that.  I do believe that the cure to a lot of painful situations is laughter, but I never realized that my sarcasm or self deprecating humor was a gift.  That was nice to hear.

I have learned that it’s okay to lean on others.  I will still struggle with it, because it’s just not like me to show that type of emotion very often, but I know it’s okay, and no one will think I’m weak for doing so.  I’ve also learned through this health issue who really cares about me (for those who know the specifics….for others, I am not really ready to talk about it much yet, but I will at some point). Phone calls, texts, emails, prayers, good vibes………it’s meant the world to me.  It’s been a huge struggle for me, and it’s nice to know that I don’t always have to be the strong one all the time.  I have people in my life who love me, and really do care.  They’ve shown me.

So even though sadness is a part of life, it can be a positive experience in that you learn who you can trust, and who truly cares and will be there for you. They make you realize you aren’t alone. They make it okay to not always be the strong one for everyone else’s sake.  They make it okay to be “weak” sometimes.

Back to School, Educator Discounts, Respecting our Educators, Teacher Salaries, Uncategorized

Where Are the Educator Discounts?

My husband and I just finished our first week back to school for the 2017/18 school year, and we are exhausted!  I slept for twelve hours last night.  I am back in 1st grade for the third year in a row, and Al is now working in an ESE classroom, which is a huge challenge, and takes a lot of patience.  Each year seems to take more energy and more money.

When I started teaching, I was in love with the profession.  I always wanted to be a teacher when I was growing up.  I remember being 5 or 6, and playing school with my friends.  My mother taught me to read before going to kindergarten.  By the time I got to college, I was having second thoughts, and delayed making my decision, but I finally made the decision to go that direction.  Through all of the positions I’ve had, I have loved my students and the challenges presented to me each day.  But it’s harder now. Financially, it’s killing us.

What can be done to help those of us who are struggling financially?  We have all heard the testimonies of teachers who spend their own money to resource their classrooms. Some of us know about how high the health insurance premiums for educators are, and the health risks of being an educator.  My own district right now is at an impasse over our contracts from last year, denying us a raise of any value.  What happens with this is that when our insurance premiums go up (they do every year), our take home pay goes down because the minimal raises we receive don’t cover the cost (we worked all of last year with no raise so far).  I made less money last year than the year before, and will most likely make less this year than last. Currently, I make what I made twenty years ago, and was able to support a family of five.  Now that it’s just the two of us (and an aging dog), it isn’t enough because everything is more expensive.  It isn’t a unique situation.  It happens all over the United States.  A lot of teachers have extra jobs just to pay the bills.  Professionals having to tend bar, wait tables, or work at a big box store to make ends meet should not be happening.

One solution that would help this is for teachers to receive educator discounts, much like the military or senior citizens.  And before anyone comes at me for being anti-military, stop right there.  I’m not saying that the military doesn’t deserve it.  They do….but so do we.  Some places, such as book stores, have an educator discount, but sometimes there are stipulations that it has to be spent on educational items.  Sometimes during Teacher Appreciation Week, restaurants might offer a discount to teachers.  Why should there be any restrictions on how we receive the discounts?  There are no restrictions on military or senior citizens.  Many times, I’ve been asked by a cashier if I’m “military” for a discount.  I tell them I’m not, but I ask about an educator discount.  They look at me with a blank stare, and tell me there isn’t one, but then agree with me that there should be.

Without teachers, there is nothing.  There is no military, no law enforcement, no medical or legal profession.  Why don’t we deserve discounts on retail, restaurants, insurance, utilities, auto financing, and home mortgages?  We deserve it!  Teachers are the hardest working people I know.  We should not have to have second jobs to just stay afloat. There should be educator discounts across the board, for anything we spend, much like the military. I promise it will not break any company to do this, and will most likely help their business if they show respect to our profession.  We earn it.  We deserve it.  We NEED it.

I am going to be asking businesses and companies to start offering educator discounts. I am inviting other educators and individuals to join me in this.  Let’s start showing respect for this profession, and those who dedicate their lives to it.