We continued our WOMC tradition of manning Salvation Army kettles all over metro Detroit this past weekend. This has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. And it really makes me respect those bell-ringers I see on a regular basis where I shop. Even though it was a moderate day I was chilly and stiff after my two-hour shift.
Even if you don't have cash or have already donated for the year, please say Hi or smile at the bell-ringers. They get ignored a lot. And while we're out there ringing we realize that not everyone is going to donate so you don't need to avoid us, or slink away.
I did notice a few consistent things while out there ringing:
1. Kids LOVE to donate. They get such a kick out of stuffing money through that X in the barrel.
2. Birmingham police officers and fire fighters don't wear coats.
3. The Kroger employee who brings in the carts NEVER gets a break.
4. Winking is still a thing. I would have preferred a smile or a nod, but I guess any acknowledgement is a good thing.
I don't like to admit this, but I have battled depression on and off - for most of my life, I think. I don't like to admit it because it makes me feel weak, but I don't think of anyone else who is dealing with depression as weak. I think that's how it gets you.
For whatever reasons, it's been a rough couple months. And nothing I've been doing has seemed to help. I'm not myself. I'm not my best self with the people who love me (and probably not for the people who listen either).
And I'm tired of not being my best self. Or even being a better self than I'm being right now.
Yesterday, I was checking Facebook and one of my friends had shared an article about how people who live with gratitude live longer. I clicked on the little thing that said Save For Later and of course I can't find it now. Frustrating.
But, I remembered the article when I got up this morning and decided to switch out the word "have" with "get" for the day. And to write down these switches so I wouldn't forget them.
Because, while I know that depression has nothing to do with will power or how strong of a person I am, I also know that the human brain is an amazing thing. I am going to force my brain to work for me instead of against me.
So when my alarm went off in the middle of the night I changed "I have to go to work" to "I get to go to work and talk on the radio."
And when I was getting frustrated because the web site wasn't cooperating while I was trying to write a post I changed "I have to write a post" to "I get to help my friends get the word out about the important work they are doing."
When I realized I hadn't talked to my dad in a good couple weeks I thought "I get to call my dad and talk to him whenever I want to." (I didn't call him today, though. Sorry Dad! I was running around all day. I promise to call tomorrow!)
I get to go work out with a personal trainer.
I get to help with costumes for the school musical.
I get to live long enough to start looking old.
I'm keeping this up. I feeling like it's helping already. Though the session with the trainer, Jaclyn, probably didn't hurt : ) Exercise is great for your brain.
And, please, if you EVER hear me say "I have to do" anything correct me and say "You GET to do that."
And to anyone else dealing with depression or the blues or just feeling down in the dumps, my thoughts are with you. Hang in there.
And if anyone knows how to find articles you have Saved For Later on Facebook, please email me!
An electrical hiccup;
for less than half a second
the house loses its hum.
A sudden loud whoosh
as too much air is forced
through long snaky tubes
out tiny circular vents
then dispersed throughout the rooms.
We raise the volume of the TV
as rooms cool.
I don't know what magic lives
in the metal box sitting outside our window
that controls this process.
It could be pumping in chemicals
or controlling my thoughts
or making me fat;
I wouldn't turn it off.
I'm ashamed to admit that I take my dad for granted. I frequently talk more than I listen. My check-ins and visits and sporadic and sometimes too brief. I know I'm so fortunate to have him, and to still have him around - yet I treat that fact like it's a given and I often forget how amazing he is and why I should try to be more like him.
The biggest reason; his passion. He is always learning. I have lists of things I want to learn about but my dad is the guy who goes to meetings, talks to people to find out what they know, and pays attention. He doesn't flaunt his knowledge. In the midst of a very casual conversation I will discover that he attended a seminar on helping to replenish the diminishing deer population up north and can now tell how old a doe is just by looking at her.
I don't always have the same interests, but it doesn't matter. He is interested enough for the both of us. And his passion is contagious. He listens when anyone talks, and I'm always amazed at the things I tell him that he remembers. He has an incredible memory.
He's also the guy who can fix anything. Anything. When his pipes burst in the winter he fixed them himself. After he fixed his pipes he went over to his church and fixed the broken pipes there.
He looks on the bright side of everything: he discovered that his pipes had burst when the washing machine overflowed, pouring soapy water into the den. His response: "That carpet needed to be cleaned anyway."
At an age when many people are slowing down he is forging a new career making metal parts for machines. He says that so many machines are now being made with plastic parts that people can only get replacement parts for some of their old machinery made out of plastic. He can look at a part or a drawing and make it out of metal, so it will last longer.
And he's so supportive; he drives around the state to see his grandchildren perform in concerts, recitals, sporting events, and plays. He came to my Halloween party -- in costume! He drove 2 1/2 hours (each way!) last Friday to see my brother perform in Les Miz even though my brother told him he was busy after the show and wouldn't be able to chat with him. My dad waited around anyway, just in case, so he could tell my brother how great he was (and chatted up the Director while waiting, telling him how great the show was), then went in to see why my brother was so busy. They were taking official show photos and, instead of leaving, my dad sat and watched as they recreated every scene from the show for photos. Because it was interesting, not because he had nothing better to do. Then he got in his car and didn't get home until 2:30 am.
He's kind and generous. If you want something, he'll give it to you. "It's just stuff," he'll say. When one of my childhood friends was having lingering car issues, he showed up to help her fix her van. He's driving a truck with 400,000 miles on it because "it still works fine." When the odometer hit 400,000 he actually pulled over on the side of the highway to snap a photo. He's shooting for 500,000. He's witty on Facebook and will scan old photos for #tbt (throwback Thursday). He brags up everyone he knows. He would never tell me - or even suggest - that I'm too busy; he shows up whenever I ask him to whether or not I've been consistent in showing up for him.
He's so smart he probably knows how much he means to me, even though I don't tell him enough.I love you dad, and I'm grateful for you every single day.
This morning on Liar Liar I partially told the story of the time I called the Fire Department to rescue my cat off the top of an apartment building. First, I would like to state that I have nothing but respect for Firemen everywhere. Here's the rest of the story I didn't have time to tell.
We lived across the street from an apartment complex and all the kids there LOVED my cat. He roamed around the neighborhood freely but at least twice a week some cranky mom would pull into my driveway with a car full of kids; one of them holding my "lost" cat. They were so proud of themselves so I never bothered to tell them that he always made it home. (Until he didn't, but that's another story).
One day some kids ran over to tell me that my cat was stuck on top of one of the apartment buildings and he was crying. I still don't know how he got up there, though there was a very large tree next to the building and Barney WAS quite the daredevil. I called the Fire Department, who gave me the run around for a while but eventually agree to come rescue him.
It was right after school, so a group of kids gathered around as the firemen set up a ladder and climbed to the top of the building. My cat ran to the other side of the roof. The fireman came down and said "Even if I catch him I can't carry him down the ladder." Without a word an eight-year old girl opened her backpack, dumped the contents on the ground, then handed the empty bag to the fireman who reluctantly went back up the ladder, chased down my evasive cat and stuffed him into the backpack.
He climbed down the ladder and handed the backpack to me. I pulled Barney out and noticed that he had something stuck in his paw. I showed it to the fireman and said "I think he couldn't come down because of this." When I got home I realized he didn't have something stuck IN his paw, he had one of those sticky things from a cotton weed tree stuck TO his paw. Still, it helped me save face a little.
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I think it's less about what Cindy Crawford really looks like and more about how anyone can take an unflattering photo. Apparently the shot is from a December 2013 photo shoot so perhaps she hadn't quite recovered from an over-enthusiastic Thanksgiving. And judging by the sunbathing pic that her husband posted on Valentine's Day she doesn't really look like this. And she wants us to know it.
Still, I have to admit that it's nice to see an unretouched photo and one that shows that Supermodels, while being super, are still just women who age like the rest of us.
I actually wish that she would address what she's doing to her face. There have been several photos of her with that puffy-just-got-a-lot-of-filler look that is so disturbing and unnatural. Every time I start to get tired of my aging face in the mirror and begin to think about doing something to combat the lines and wrinkles I'll come across a picture of a celebrity with "filler face" and that calms me right down. I don't want to be wrinkly but I don't want that stretched-skin-Joker-from-Batman-mouth look either.
Yes, I'm talking to you, Leeza Gibbons.
She was SO amazing all season on Celebrity Apprentice! She was inspiring, effective, kind, and funny! She was so passionate about her charity and her final project and presentation were fabulous. Yet I couldn't get over her face - so tight and puffy and shiny that it looked painful.
It's hard to be an aging woman in today's world. It must be extra hard to be a woman aging on TV. I know the pressure; I feel the pressure. But I found it hard to concentrate on the great work that Leeza and her charity are doing when the words are coming out of a near-Joker-mouth.
It's too bad we can't all be like Frances McDormand. Granted we don't all have her genes, but I like her attitude. It's what I shoot for every time I look in the mirror.
Today I am distracted by my sore muscles and sore foot. I'll start with the muscles. I have been working out once a week at RPM in Birmingham, my daughter and I worked out there together while she was home for the summer (it was a great bonding experience, I highly recommend it) and I kept it up after she left. I swing kettle bells, do ball slams, and am working towards being able to dead lift 150 lbs. (Check out this article on the benefits of doing dead lifts). My trainer, Jaclyn, got hit by the flu last week and I didn't have time to get in so I - foolishly - asked if I could work out with her Monday AND Tuesday this week.
WHAT WAS I THINKING?
My arms and back are SO sore today I can barely open the door to the studio (it IS a really heavy door). I don't know how I'm going to live through another hour today. This could be my farewell blog post. If so, thanks for everything.
Now for the foot. I've had plantar fasciitis since June. I've tried stretching, cold/heat, injections, etc. I finally decided to get smart and am now visiting Blast Pain in Troy. It no longer feels like I'm walking on needles, but some days feel better than others. I'm not resting it like I should either (obviously). I have finally stopped running. So that means any day now I'm going to have to stop eating. It's going to be Fat Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for me.
I don't remember when I jumped on the Real Housewives train. And I guess it doesn't matter. I'm not proud but I'm riding it. I can give or take those crazy women from Atlanta and New Jersey but can't help but Hate Watch those dames from Beverly Hills. Even though NONE of them are technically housewives.
I have no trouble watching them fake fight, pretend parent, or have faux "intimate" moments (though I REALLY don't need to see those, Bravo) but when you start using those women to sell me stuff - like I take them seriously - well, that's when I start to get offended.
Those ridiculous car ads with Kyle and her husband? I drove a Jeep Cherokee for 10 years - and LOVED it - but will never buy one again. Sorry, Jeep. And I had no plans to see 50 Shades of Grey but if I did, seeing Kyle and Lisa (and I like Lisa!) sitting on the couch talking about seeing it as a girl's night made me want to gag. And not the kind of gag like from the movie.
Listen, Bravo, I will watch your trash, but I'm not going to pretend that it's anything but trash. I'm not going to pretend that these women have anything to tell me about parenting, or shopping, or party-throwing, or flower arranging. And I'm certainly not going to let them influence what I buy. I watch them because they are ridiculous. Let them sell their overpriced crap to each other, but leave me out of it.
This has been bugging me for years. Especially when I find myself running to a restroom in a ... ahem ... hurry. Why are all my pants built like Fort Knox? The pair I'm wearing today have a double hook and eye
and a button.
Add a belt and my pants are like the multiple locking system on the door of a New York apartment. NO ONE is breaking in!
Is this really necessary? Are men's pants made like this? Why all the security? Really, my hips can keep a pair of pants from falling off me without much help. If I need to make a quick change I am out of luck in this outfit.
One of the great things about the Internet is that a story like James Robertson's - the guy who walked 21 miles each day as part of his commute to work and kept a perfect attendance record - can get to people around the world and give anyone who wants to help a way to do so. The bad thing about the Internet is that judgy people also have a forum for their opinions. I am shocked by the people I have seen that are calling James "stupid" for not "finding a better paying job closer to his house." Really? When you are working and commuting for 20 hours each day there is no TIME to look for a job. When you are making just over $10 an hour and barely getting by all you can do is do whatever you can to get by.
How about instead of criticizing James' supposed lack of ambition we choose to appreciate his work ethic and commitment to his employer? How about we acknowledge the employer and coworkers who obviously make him feel valued?
My favorite part of the story - and the part that shows me how moving James' story really is - is the quote from the banker, Blake Pollock, who noticed James walking and started giving him occasional rides. He said "I always say to my friends, I"m not a nice guy. But I found myself helping James." Wouldn't we all like to meet someone who moves us to be a better person? I know I would. And I think Mr. Pollock is too hard on himself. There were plenty of people who kept on driving when he stopped, who did nothing when he asked questions. I think both of these men are role models. And I'm so happy to see this story embraced and shared.
I read a disturbing statistic over the weekend: children in low-income families (whose parents are working two or more jobs just to get by) enter pre-school or Kindergarten at a disadvantage because children from wealthier families hear 30 million more words throughout their early life and have bigger vocabularies. It must be so daunting to be doing everything you can for your child only to hear that your children are still at a disadvantage.
One of the worst feelings I know is feeling like you are stuck and can't change your situation. It's nice to see that people are willing to help.
I know it's not original to complain about behavior in movie theaters. Between people talking like they're in their living rooms and constantly checking their phones I spend most of my time in the theater biting my tongue so I don't yell at people. And it's a bummer because I LOVE seeing movies and going to the theater. I love eating popcorn and M&Ms for dinner.
But last night, well last night I observed something I had never seen (or heard) before. I knew the couple behind us were going to be trouble during the previews. Their volume level was set at "talking from different rooms of the house." And they continued to chat with each other throughout the movie. At full volume. Then I heard a strange "whoosh whoosh" sound. I heard it again. And again. I finally turned around and the woman was squirting something from a plastic spray bottle into her mouth. The bottle looked like one you get at the hardware store for your 2/1 ratio of white vinegar to water. Though I doubt that's what was in her bottle. My guess: vodka. That way when the usher tries to confiscate it she can say "I wasn't DRINKING vodka!" and technically she would be right.