Putting On a Happy Face

Recently, I posted something slightly negative on my Facebook page.

Feeling really grouchy & irritable today. You know, more so than usual. Thinkin’ it’s a good day to keep my head down and buried in work.

A friend responded.

Oh, dear – and you seemed so happy yesterday! Hoping it’s a temporary grouchiness and you’re already feeling better. <hugs>

Seeing that post really did help. Those virtual hugs aren’t just data. They’re emotion.

And that emotion that transmits via social media is why I’m generally careful about what I post. There’s research that indicates mood spreads via Facebook (check it out here), and I have no desire to add to the negativity in the world so I put on a happy face. I do the same thing at work, most of the time. I smile. Pretend I’m not hurting. Pretend everything is OK. And I bet others do the same thing. Does that give others a skewed view of our true selves? Probably. Does it serve a purpose to share those darker feelings? Maybe. Probably depends on why you share your darker feelings.

The reality is, my 18 year old daughter ripped my heart out about a year ago, days after she graduated from high school. Recently, I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of prom and posts about senior events and graduation. Those memories will forever be tainted for me, because they feel like a lie (yeah, yeah. I know they weren’t truly a lie. But they FEEL that way). On top of that, we had to have our 13 year old yellow lab put down last month. And now it looks like we’re going to have to have our 14 year old miniature schnauzer put down, likely on Saturday. If, that is, I can bring myself to make the phone call.

So, no, I’ve not been happy. I’m hurting and angry and disappointed and frustrated. But that’s OK. Those feelings are natural, legitimate feelings. We should not be afraid to share them with others, but neither should we let those feelings wrap their tendrils around every aspect of our lives. Do your 500 friends on F/B need to know that you’re feeling a little down today? No. But a quick post to let people know how you’re feeling is OK. Maybe you’ll even get a virtual hug that makes you feel better.

But remember that there is life outside of Facebook.

Acknowledge the feelings.

And then practice a little self-compassion.

 

 

5 Things I Learned In a Job I Hated

Over the winter I was told about a job in North Carolina. I have family there. The climate is pleasant. Beach. Mountains. It was, oh, so tempting.

Except for one small thing.

I love my job. Well, I don’t love my JOB. Much of what I do is monotonous and boring. But I love the people I work with. I love having a nice environment. I love having equipment that works. And occasionally I really do love the work I do. And so, I did not apply for the job in North Carolina. Because what it all boils down to is that finding a job that you love is a very rare and wonderful thing. And I would not know how to truly appreciate my position without having experienced one I hated.

Still, I am thankful for the Job I Hated, because it taught me these things:

  • People Matter. The other support staff in that job supported me and encouraged me. Without them, it would’ve been difficult to face each and every day. Now, I’m fortunate to work with people who sincerely care about one another. Now, I am told on a regular basis that I am appreciated.
  • Tools Matter. Doing your job is difficult enough without trying to “make do.” Computers have to be updated. The way I look at is this: a trucking company doesn’t buy a fleet of trucks and expect them to last forever. They need oil changes, new tires. Same goes for offices. It also helps if you have a chair that isn’t broken.
  • Respect Matters. I am an educated, intelligent person. Being treated as a human being and not a piece of office equipment is always appreciated. I don’t expect anyone to bend down and kiss my feet, but if I question something, it’s because I care, and think I may actually want to do a good job.
  • Environment Matters. I once worked on the 3rd floor of a building with no air conditioning. This was back in the day when women still wore pantyhose every day. I had to ask and convince my boss to let me not wear pantyhose the week it reached over 110° in our office. It’s not a matter of mere comfort. It’s a matter of being able to focus and do the job.
  • Flexibility Matters. My kiddo missed out on stuff because the hubs and I both worked in inflexible jobs. The number of school activities that end at 5 pm baffle me. Why not end at 5:30 so Mom or Dad can get off work & then pick the kid up? The Job I Hated was difficult to leave early. Heck, it was hard to even take vacation without a fight. One year I was told the week before vacation that I really couldn’t be spared. Uh, what? At the Job I Love, I still catch myself justifying why I want to take off. My co-worker told me shortly after I started that I didn’t need to do that. My time off is just that: MY time off. No explanation required.

And that is why I didn’t even explore the possibility of working in a wonderful climate, near family that I love and miss. Because I have a Job I Love, and thanks to the Job I Hated, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

5 Things I Learned on Our First Camping Trip

The Hubs in Our New Camper

The Hubs in Our New Camper

  • Make a List. No matter how much stuff you take with you, you’re going to need more stuff. The hubs and I have camped before. We felt pretty confident in what we would need. We just bought this new-to-us camper and have been gradually filling it. Put the stuff from our old pop up camper in the new camper. Bought new sheets and made the bed. Got plates. Got cups. Got towels. But we got there and realized we didn’t have a thing to drink. So, we ran to a convenience store and grabbed some sodas. Crisis averted.
  • Space Is Underrated. Don’t know if you caught it or not, but we used to camp in a pop-up camper. That’s little. Really little. Like, on top of each other little. And not in a good way. Our wish list for a new camper included floor space. This camper’s got it in spades and it made our little weekend excursion so much more enjoyable. I love my hubs dearly, but I gotta have my space.
  • Coffee. We stopped on the way to the campground to buy a coffee maker and coffee. We’re trying to save money. I told the hubs I could do without coffee. He disagreed.
  • Electricity is a Plus. We hooked up to shore power (yeah, I’m learning the lingo. At least I sound like I know what I’m doing, right?). Thought all was good. Until the hubs started the water pump to flush the toilet and the lights went dim. We had to run to Wal-Mart at 10:30 to buy a new battery. We gotta get that situation figured out before we go again.
  • Pets Matter. Seriously, our dogs are the reason I wanted a camper. I love to travel. It’s a basic need for me. Life is all about experiences. But when I go someplace and have to leave my puppies at home, it is not enjoyable. I miss my dogs. Sasha is 14 and Gracie is 9. I want to cherish every minute with them. Besides, I like them better than most people.

Empty Nest: First Easter

Peeps - Star Trek Style

Peeps – Star Trek Style

This was our first Easter as empty nesters. It seems like I’ve gone through the entire year marking the holidays, marking the firsts, feeling melancholy about the change in our status. Instead of looking backwards, I prefer to look forward. It is a conscious thing. Being happy is a choice. I chose to:

  • Remember the Easter baskets I gave the girls.
  • Remember the time I got the Easter Bunny to visit Jodi at school.
  • Enjoy spending time with my husband.
  • Enjoy the new freedom of being an Empty Nester.

 

5 Things I Learned From The Following

While playing around on Netflix one day, I noticed The Following. I’d heard a little about it. Main reason I turned it on was because the image was compelling. And I have a thing for Kevin Bacon, being the child of the 80’s that I am. So, I watched an episode. And was HOOKED. Well acted, well written, interesting premise. So I watched another episode. And another. Pretty soon I was in full-blown marathon mode, much to my hubby’s chagrin.

I’ve always thought of myself as a lifelong learner. No matter what I’m doing, I want a takeaway. What can you possibly learn from a fictional show about a serial killer and the man who hunts him? As it turns out, a few things:

Mandy - surrounded

Mandy – surrounded

Trust No One. I have one word for you: Mandy.

Ryan and Max - family

Ryan and Max – family

Blood is Thicker Than Water. Ryan and Max. They’ve got each other’s backs. Lily’s International House of Psychos, though . . . those loonies could turn on each other in a heartbeat. It’s gonna happen. Trust me.

Joe's Teacher

Joe’s Teacher

Never Stop Learning. Even serial killers need to keep learning.

Tilda

Tilda

Be Nice. I recently saw a post about a “fatty” running. I despise that term, largely because I look in the mirror and am disgusted. And I must admit to pumping my fist when Lucas took offense at the frat boy referring to his girlfriend Tilda as a “fatty.” And if you don’t know HOW Lucas took offense, watch The Following, Betrayal.

Hanging out on the couch

Hanging out on the couch

Doing the Right Thing Can Be Hard. In Season 1, the Followers would’ve been happy to hang out in the fancy mansion. I’m sure Ryan and Mike and Max would like to just curl up on the couch and watch reruns of Footloose and Warehouse 13, but they don’t. They go after the bad guys. And there are real life heroes (cops, firefighters, FBI, etc.) who go out there and fight the good fight every day when they’d rather just go home to their families. Take that lesson and make it part of your life. It’d be easy to be a couch potato every night. Instead, I am sitting here writing at 10:16 pm when I’d rather be in bed. For me, this is right.

 

5 Things I Learned From My Old Dog

Shelby, our yellow Lab, is nearing the end of her life. Late yesterday afternoon, she fell three times during our walk and just wasn’t right. She’s losing weight and showing her age. We know that last trip to the vet is drawing very near, which breaks my heart. As I held her and stroked her yesterday, I reflected on all she has taught me.

Shelby

Shelby

Exercise Daily. Shelby is 13 years old. Quickly coming up on 14. In spite of her advanced age & arthritis, her tail still wags and she perks up when she sees me carrying her purple leash.

Greet Those You Love With Enthusiasm. She sees me every day, yet every time she sees me she wags like crazy. It never ceases to make me feel special in her eyes.

Don’t Judge by Appearances. A cat was dumped on our road during a snow storm a couple of years ago. We got him neutered & got his shots, and he now sorta answers to the name Patches. When Shelby and I go for a walk through the fields, Patches goes, too. Shelby is so gentle with him, and he winds through her legs, rubbing and loving on her. Whodathunk a battleworn tom cat and an elderly Lab would be such good friends?

Be curious. As you can see from the pic above, Shelby is a curious girl. Our walks include frequent side trips to check out a quivering rabbit, a covey of quail or something dead (I’m not sure why stinky dead things are so interesting, but apparently, they are).

Enjoy. Whatever you are doing, enjoy it. Whatever you are eating, enjoy it. Shelby’s face has an expression of total bliss when I rub her ears. She loses herself in the moment and simply enjoys. How often do we rush through life without stopping to simply enjoy the moment?

 

 

 

Planet Comicon 2014: The Cars

We went to Planet Comicon in Kansas City earlier this month, the first comicon we’ve attended. The attendees were just as much fun as the celebs. I was also surprised to find vehicles there. Since the hubs is a car guy, it was nice for him to have something to look at. Check out the vehicles.

How can you look at this without thinking about Burt Reynolds, that hat, that moustache, and that laugh. I have the urge to get a CB now . . .

Bandit's Car

Bandit’s Car

 

And then there’s the General Lee. This immediately makes me think of hood slidin’ and those Duke boys. Yummy. ;o)

General Lee

General Lee

And we couldn’t have the General Lee without Daisy’s Jeep. My Jeep is named Daisy, because watching Daisy Duke ride around in her Jeep was liberating. The Duke boys could drive all over and do anything, but so could Daisy. She was just as tough and smart and good-hearted as they were. And she could go anywhere in that Jeep.

Dixie

Dixie

And last, but not least, the Back to the Future Lamborghini. You could get your picture taken in it for $10. I was too cheap to spring for it. But now I kinda wish I’d done it.

Back to the Future Car

Back to the Future Car