Wednesday, December 30, 2015

No, It's not

Yes it is. Denial is that silent killer of dreams. As we approach the beginning of another year, we, or someone we may know, may begin to make their infamous New Year's resolutions list. In this list we will list all the things we plan to do differently: be on time, work out more, be nicer, [insert typical resolution], etc. And for the first one or two months, we will really give it a nice concerted effort; but by April, we are probably back to our old ways, softly kicking ourselves for not being able to stick with it. And then in November we will all wonder how the year flew by so quickly and seriously stand confused about why we COMPLETED ZERO things from New Year's resolutions list.

So why, why is that? Why do we continue to go into a circle expecting something different? I think we have this delusional optimism that just by writing things down on a list, on a certain day of the year, with a happy attitude, and nice gel pen, that we have, by some effect, changed the course of our life. When in fact, all we have done, is put pen to paper. We are in denial at not having to do anything else. Let's say we wrote down that we wanted to work out more. Sure, we joined the gym when they offered the no joiner fee "special." If we are paying, certainly we will go. We haven't altered our work schedule to allow for more time after work to work out; haven't always kept sneakers in the car; haven't restocked our gym bag with clean clothes and a granola bar; but sure!! That six pack will naturally come by spring, because I wrote it down on my list, is what we tell ourselves.

Or deciding to read more. You haven't turned the tv off any more than when you weren't reading more and you keep selecting books that you have no interest in just because they are best sellers.

Thinking that he/she will come back to you if you get them a birthday gift or a valentine's gift. Or sitting by the phone waiting for someone to call. If they wanted to, they would have.

Change is not easy, by any means, but we do ourselves a disservice when we let the calendar dictate when it's time to change. You are in complete denial of the situation if you think that just by writing something down YOU have changed. Resolutions should come when you are ready; with some epiphany that you need to change. The first step to getting over denial is to accept the situation as is. As much as I may want to read a book a week, I have to look at my schedule and realize that that is not going to happen. I need to make my goals more realistic so that I don't get discouraged and give up half way. 

If he/she hasn't called you in a week, they are probably not going to. If you are continually getting overlooked for a raise than you need to either say something or leave. If you think that he/she would never lie to you and there's no way that they could be this bad person, leave emotions aside and look at the facts. It's time to move on. As Maya Angelou had said - "If someone shows you who they are, believe them."

Loyalty is a great life skill, but sometimes you have to look at your surroundings and wonder if the denial of your changing environment is worth adapting to.

So when the year changes to 2016, do nothing, or do something, but decide which one it is. Just don't pretend to do something, when in fact you've done nothing. Yup, I'm calling you out. Consider this your wake up call. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It's not about The Cup

So, originally, I was going to comment on this video here, which has become a media upcraze. In short, Josh Feurenstein, Christian Evangelist, has attacked Starbucks for removing snowflakes and reindeer and other symbols which are often linked to Christmas, and says that Starbucks has, as society has, continually watered down Christianity, and he's tired of it. The rebuttal came from Pete Dominick, political talk show host.

Immediately the debate is a wash because Pete calls Josh a bigot because he is anti-gay, and therefore all of his opinions are invalid. Again, we are not even discussing the topic at hand. So, while I don't support Josh or Pete, there are some interesting points on what commercial stores are doing that I think I'd like to take the time to voice.

****Again, I am no longer talking about Josh's rant; just the idea that this could possibly bother someone

The Starbucks cup is red because it's Christmastime. Let's face it. Let's stop kidding ourselves. If it were February, the cup would also be red. But I can guarantee the lid would not be green. If the cup were blue and white at this time of year, we'd presume that is for Chanukah. So, while Starbucks can say that everyone is able to celebrate in their own way, you made it red and green on purpose, because people like to celebrate Christmas. As a Christian, does it bother me that they've made the cup blank? Sure. If you are going to make it red and green then just go all the way. But, I'm not going to waste timing fighting that fight. I do think there are more important fights to fight. But someone standing up for what they believe and pointing out that fact is not necessarily a hateful person. (Generally speaking).

Stores want to rename the tree. I will not call it a Holiday Tree. It's a Christmas Tree. All around the country they are banning it or renaming it. Why? How does my celebrating a holiday offend you? You could just not shop at that time if you hate hearing holiday music, but you do want to take advantage of those sales . . . . I don't get it. But it bothered someone and they put up a fight. And it offends me that you want to rename it. But apparently the minority's voice doesn't matter.

You can walk around half-naked on the beach, but whip out a boob at the mall and you can get arrested. Public breastfeeding. Taboo. How does this relate? If we take the religion out of it, since it's such a touchy subject, the true matter is society telling us what is and is not ok. People not being able to celebrate their holidays and traditions because people who don't celebrate them are offended.

We ARE becoming a society where anything goes. Look at how tv and radio has changed in the last 20 years. The words you can say that you couldn't even bleep before. Who cares for those who get offended? It's a hypocritical situation, if you've never seen one before: "I'm going to curse and swear and do whatever I want on tv or radio, but you can't have your Christmas Tree, because it offends me."

Interesting. Are you really listening to what's going on? At some point, you will become offended. There will be some topic - race, religion, freedom of speech, technology, taxes, tuition, childcare, social security, pension, 401(k), road repair, food ban, smoking, where you will not be a 'them' And no one will care. That is the true problem. The people crying "offended" don't care if they offend you.

That, is the true issue. We have freedom of speech so that everyone's voice and opinion counts. Let's remember not to dismiss someone because they base their opinion on religion or something that you don't necessarily agree with.

It's not about the cup.

Food for thought.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Road Trip of a Lifetime - Part I

Not exactly what I think of when I think of Colorado, but here I am leaning against a Latin-inspired building at City Park in Denver, Colorado. I travelled to Boulder, Colorado for a wedding of a close friend and my crazy friend (:P) convinced me to do a 2000+ mile road trip afterwards. I almost didn't go; nervous of being in the car for 27 hours for a week, but I put caution to the wind, and decided to live a little. Obviously, since I'm writing this post, things turned out well. I am so glad that I went!! I'll never capture the true essence of the whole vacation, but here are some of the highlights:

Oh where to begin . . .lol. Well, I was trying to save some money . . . (don't' all interesting stories start out like that)  . . . and decided to try an AirBnB for the first time. I was flying solo for the wedding, so spitting a hotel room with just myself was getting quite costly. Luckily the bride had some friends that were also traveling alone. So, I got the address and everything and arrived to the bed and breakfast pretty late after my flight into Denver. Now keep in mind that I'm from Philadelphia, so when I park my car and wheel my suitcase to my temporary home I am a little surprised to find a grown woman sleeping on a mattress outside on the porch. Look - I'm all about minimization and carefreeness, but yeah that was a little outside my comfort zone. I don't know if she belongs or is some kind of squatter, but it's late and I'm tired, so I semi avoid eye contact and proceed into the unlocked house.

Long story short I ended up sleeping on a futon in the living room, searching some random person's house for a towel so I could shower, and hiding my worldy possessions just IN CASE people were not as honest as they looked. I'm not knocking AirBnB at all, but it was a little out of my comfort zone to be sleeping on a futon in the middle of a living room of an unlocked house of a stranger in the land far far away from home. I never felt unsafe, and when the roommate who lived there got up and introduced himself, he was super friendly. But, I can say that sharing a space with a stranger is not for me. Sure, I'd try AirBnB again, but definitely with some more of my personal rules to make me feel comfortable. One day was enough for me and I found lodging elsewhere for the next night.

The next day was my first full day in Colorado. I drove up to Denver to meet with my friends (guy & girl) who were also attending the wedding. We met up with one his old high school buddies and drove to the top of Mount Evans. There we proceeded to climb to the 14,000 feet elevation. Shout out to my pal from Eastern Mountain Sports (you know who you are) for helping me get my climbing gear in order. 

Quick notes about hiking: 
  1. Wear synthetic fibers - they are much easier to breathe with and won't get heavy from sweat. Avoid cotton. Wear polyester
  2. Wear layers!!! It is cold in the morning, warm or hot in the afternoons, and then cold again at night. I was so glad to be able to take things off and put them back on.
  3. Always carry water. And drink it. The changes in elevation can give you major headaches so drink drink drink to stay hydrated.
  4. EAT! Even if you normally skip breakfast you want to make sure that you eat breakfast when you are going to be doing a lot of walking or hiking. Again, changes in elevation may catch you before you know it and you don't want to feel light headed. I am SOOO tired of peanuts right now, but they helped us out a lot, but having a quick protein to munch on before and after strenuous activity
  5. Always be ready!!! You never know when you will spot a bear. Be ready to stop, drop, and roll out that car, finger on the trigger. Because if you miss that once in a lifetime shot, chances are . . .No one will believe you ;)
Alright, back to the story, so we are climbing up this mountain, and the view from the top is just spectacular. There's big-horned sheep in the road, the air feels lighter, and there are people from all over the world, hiking to have the same view as you. This was just the beginning and I was having a great feeling of how the rest of the trip would go. I had very low expectations (no offense, my Western friends), but really I hadn't thought of what was over "here." I just figured Colorado was the land of skiers; to be perfectly honest, I didn't know a whole lot about Colorado before traveling here.


The next day was the wedding. We explored Denver a little more before the wedding and got to go to the tea house and see the farmer's market downtown. I enjoyed people watching there and seeing all walks of life. I was really proud of Denver for their recycling efforts and they really do seem like a hippy/carefree but responsible kinda town. People were pretty friendly, but they are super duper relaxed, so if you are on a tight schedule that could possibly annoy you. There's some lacking in the diversity area, but surprisingly there was a high Hispanic/Latino population.

The wedding was beautiful, and for their privacy that's all I'll say. If you know who they are check out my/their Facebook or Picasa album for pictures.

The day after the wedding was when our mad dash of driving and escapades would start. First, we would need a bigger car.

I'm only on Day 2, so we are going to have to break this up into sections. Look forward to hearing about our drive to Wyoming, visits with Bears, mastering the tuck and roll, making new international friends, and "check" and how it can improve you life.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fool's Gold

Sometimes we accept polished dirt as though it were a diamond. And it may look exactly like a diamond, but it is hollow and empty, with a shine finish. Recognizing this fool's gold is the first step, and then not accepting it is the next.

I had a "friend" from college move to New York City. I haven't seen her in 8-10 years so I was excited to have her nearby. We saw eachother at a mutual friend's birthday party and caught up and exchanged contact information. I texted her when I got home that it was nice to see her and we should catch up again. She texted:

"If you are ever in the area, hit me up, and I'll try to meet up with you"

Great!! Sounded like a plan. I would see her and it would be just like old times. Great that she is up for seeing me as well. A couple of days passed, and I realized she had given me polished dirt. Wait a second. That was about the most conditional statement a person could give. Let's dissect the text she sent that I was so happy about earlier.

"If you are ever in the area, hit me up . . . " - she flipped the script on me. Now the responsibility is on me to text her if I am in NYC, which is 2 hours away. I'm not going to drive up there to see her without definite plans, so if I am in the area I would have already had plans with someone else. Ok, so maybe between my plans with them and leaving, there would be a 1-2 hour gap.

". . . I'll try to meet up with you." So if I text her, there's a 50/50 chance that she is free during the 1-2 hour gap that I have and she will only 'try' to meet up with me. What? Really? There's like no chance I would actually see her.

So I gave her the benefit of the doubt and texted:

"It's probably easier if we have set plans. Let me know when you want to get together."

To which she replied:

"Ugh, so much planning. I'm sure we will figure it out."

This, my friends, is an empty promise. She doesn't mind seeing me if it is totally convenient to her and her schedule but she obviously will make no plans to definitively see me. If I accept this, then I will constantly be texting and trying to meet when I happen to be 2 hours north of where I live. So I reject this!!! I reject people making me a non-priority. If you want to see me, make plans. If you don't want to see me, then don't pretend you do. The same goes true with guys and romantic relationships. How many times do we get fooled by the shininess, and totally overlook that we have been handing a pile of dirt?

So, now you know. It's so funny how many times this happens - work lunches, social events, friendships, relationships - that we are so immune to it. But it is happening all the time. The careful wordsmithing that makes you feel as though they really care. But they don't. They are open to "it" (whatever the it may be) only if other plans aren't better.

The sociology of the millinium . . . . what a trip . . .!

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Good Disappointment

We always think of disappointment as a bad thing, but sometimes it is a blessing in disguise. It makes me sad when someone disappoints me; when they let you down; or when a situation did not turn out exactly as you had expected. But we later find out the reason for the disappointment and oftentimes it is the person showing you their true colors. Or something better for you waiting at the end of the rainbow.

We expect things to go our way and we are very quickly humbled by disappointment. A reminder that God has other plans for us and we need to be patient and see what happens.

The last couple of "disappointments" turned out more perfect than I could even make up. If I were in a different place than I was I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do something really wonderful.

It's just funny how life works out . . .

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Social Etiquette - Yes, I'm talking to you

There are a lot of "heavy" topics in the news as of late, so before I address those I thought I would discuss a lighter topic. This might be a little bit of a rant.

Oh where, oh where do I begin? I'm sure someone will get offended, but you know what? This is some tough love. People are 'getting away' with these behaviors because we, as a society, let them slide by. It's not right, it is not ok. Am I the only one who thinks this? (Rhetorical). lol.

Starting off with the super duper basics of MANNERS and progress from there:

  • If there is someone behind you closely, push/hold the door for them. The whole sliding through when I am one step behind is the epitome of RUDE
  • Get off your phone!!! In the checkout, with the cashier; on a shuttle bus to the airport for all of 5 minutes; in the elevator. You are not that important. Unless it is a dire emergency - and judging by the conversations I have heard, it is not; do everyone a courtesy and just WAIT. Wait the 5 minutes it will take you to not be in a public space.
  • Stop Replying ALL on every email. Do all 50 people really need to know that you will not make it? It's just cluttering up EVERYONE's inbox.
  • If you don't CARE how I'm doing then don't ask me. Saying "Hi, how are you?" has just become a phrase. Just say hi. I will not be offended. Because when I answer the 'how are you?' and you are down the hallway, that is pretty OFFENSIVE.
  • Look people in the eye. Acknowledge their existence. Stop looking at your watch like you have better places to be. If you did, you'd be there. The constant reminder that the world revolves around you and everyone in your path is less important doesn't seem a LITTLE selfish to you? When did we become these little self-absorbed beings? (#Selfie did not help)
  • If you don't want to go somewhere or do something then just say "No." This idea that if you just ignore it, it will go away, is sooo mean. Someone took the time to invite you somewhere. They need a headcount for the food and logistics. You can't even reply to let them know you aren't interested? Even a maybe is better than nothing. Or that guy you broke up with 3 weeks ago but didn't tell him, hoping he would just 'figure it out' - that's mean. Yes, it gets you out of an awkward conversation, but you are just running from ever having to deliver bad news. And you are being more mean by having people guess than telling them.
  • Stop friend requesting people you don't even like. If you never talked to me in high school, nor tried to contact me the 10 years afterwards, don't friend me when I become famous or you bump into me in the street. Who cares about the numbers? If you don't actually want to catch up every now and then and the thought of having to talk to them on the phone makes you cringe, why, oh why, would you want to be their 'friend'?
  • Smokers - you have ALL of outside. Why must you be near the door? There are people who are actually bothered by smoke. Wouldn't it just be easier to move 5 feet to the left?
  • The whole point of earphones is so that the listener can listen without disturbing their surroundings. I don't want to hear your music on the bus/plane/train/sidewalk. Turn it down!
  • Stop tailgating cars in the rain/snow/ice/sleet/everyday. It doesn't make sense. Go around. If you are that close and something happens you will collide. And riding me will not make me want to go any faster, especially when you have the option to go around.
  • Text language is for texting, not for outside the phone. Write out the word 'you' and please use the correct form of their, there, or they're when talking to me. It is not "dorky" to speak grammatically correct.
  • When a new person enters the conversation, open up the circle. Don't put your back to people. Don't use that opportunity to discuss all of your inside jokes.
I'm sure there are plenty of other things that we have backwards, but those were the main ones. And while it may seem silly to care if sum1 writes lik dis all the time bc dats how they txt, it speaks volumes about what they are going to consider acceptable. That person later becomes the head of a school or school district and doesn't enforce some of the English curriculum because it's just not that big a deal. Kids graduate from schools with a limited understanding of their first language. It affects how their resume looks. It affects the jobs and schools they will be able to attend. The details do matter. 

It's really not about following a bunch of rules. It's about consideration. If someone teaches their kid to respect their elders, there is no way that kid would knock over grandpa to steal his wallet or phone. Something as simple as offering your chair to a pregnant lady or an elderly person shows consideration. It shows that you have a soft heart and you care about others. I see these high school kids out and about not doing that. And that worries me. I see the makings of self-absorbed nation, where nothing matters outside of their circle. That group will not make laws and will not fight for change that has nothing to do with them. Already we see the Democrats and Republicans fighting just because they are different parties, and not even caring to push differences aside and pass the laws that will benefit the nation. It only gets worse if we don't start reteaching these manners that most of us grew up with. 

And while this started out as a rant, it's really an action plan. This is something tangible you and I can do. Because the activities that we see going on today - explicit racism, corruption, terrorism, violence, lying, political deadlock - they did not happen overnight. At the very least, we can try to leave this place better off than when we were here.

Teach Consideration. Be a role model. Make a Difference (in the long run).

Leave comments about social etiquette concerns or how to impact the generations to come. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Make a Dent!

What is the catalyst of change?

It's the silliest thought to think, because it's so obvious: if you want to change, you must something different. And change refers to changing an outcome, as well as a behavior. But doing something different is a lot harder than you think.

We often say that we want to get back in shape. So we buy a gym membership, because CLEARLY, spending money on something will increase the value in doing it and you'll become super duper fit. FALSE. In fact, they make memberships so cheap because they are banking on the fact that you will not come, nor will you cancel because you constantly tell yourself you will go, and you end up paying for state-of-the-art equipment for a bunch of people you don't even know. So while you may think that you had done something different, it wasn't a big enough dent. All you did was sign up for yet another automatic billing session. You haven't made a change that affects you or the way you deal with your day. You hadn't changed your BEHAVIOR.

Another example is meeting people. How many times have you heard (or said) that you keep meeting the same type of people? I love to dance. But just because I switch from Salsa to Swing, didn't really change my behavior. It just changed the music and venue, but generally dancers have a hidden connection, no matter the genre.

The point being is that we need to mix it up. I have moved several times in the last 10 years, and at least 5 of the moves I was in a new city and I didn't know anyone. This move I'm really trying to try a whole bunch of DIFFERENT things to find exactly what I am looking for. And it's challenging because things you thought were different, end up not being. We are habits of creature and sometimes our attempts at being weird and sticking out are so predictable, we get the same result in various locations.

I don't want to be average. I want to make a dent in the world! And so my method of making a dent is by trying a whole bunch of things and then picking a few to figure out where my skills and passion intersect.

And I hope this blog is your catalyst for dent-making. If you feel like you are in a rut and don't know how to stir things up, make a DENT. Do something  completely opposite from what you are doing now (positive, of course). Here are some interesting things to try, that can be your drastic (or not so drastic) change:
  1. Learn to play an instrument
  2. Read a book
  3. Listen to an audiobook
  4. Attend a concert
  5. Cut your hair
  6. Grow your hair long
  7. Pray/attend organized religious event
  8. Turn off the tv
  9. Turn up the radio
  10. Sing
  11. Learn a language
  12. Dance (hip hop AND country, ballet AND tap, Salsa AND Swing)
  13. Unplug for a week
  14. Read a comic
  15. Play a sport
  16. Watch a sport
  17. Adopt an animal
  18. Write a journal entry
  19. Netflix documentaries
  20. Read the news
  21. Befriend someone older than your parents
  22. Mentor a middle or high school student
  23. Live in a different country for an extended amount of time
  24. Find a pen pal who lives in jail or is serving in the military abroad
  25. Give money to a charity anonymously

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Beginnings

It's that time again: time that I moved on to the next role and the next location. Only, this time, I moved back home, and I don't have any plans of moving again. It's permanent. Wow, definitely a different perspective than I've had in the last decade. And I am excited. Excited to try all the different things that I may not have wanted to 'commit' to before. So, for the next couple of 'episodes' of my life, I think I'll take you guys on a journey of what it's like moving somewhere and how I start that ball rolling of who I am in this small dot on the globe. Sure, this is home, but home has changed and the people that might have been available now are married, with kids, or have also moved. So it will be a balancing act and trapeze act, and all the good stuff in between.

One of the first things I like to do when I get somewhere new - and yes, I am treating this like a new place - is to first Get Acclimated. So, as much as I love going out and checking out what there is to do, I first need to unpack, get settled, and get my bearings. Even though I'm 'back' let's just say the neighborhood has changed, so, from freeing myself of the dependence of a gps, to finding out which grocery store has the best options for me, those are the little things that really make you comfortable.

Once I'm comfortable driving around, I definitely Look for a Place of Faith; for me a Church. Faith is one of the most important things to me, so to find a place where I belong that is along my beliefs, is invaluable. It is also a great way to meet like-minded individuals. Church shopping, as I like to call it, is a rather tedious and hard process, because you have to be critical of genuinely good places. And it's slow, because you can really only check out a service on a Sunday, but once you find one, it's a really good feeling. And then you can become active and all that jazz.

I love to Reconnect with family and friends in the area I might know; whether it be to catch up over lunch or to meet up and watch a movie. And of course new possible connections through the new job or a new person bringing you out somewhere. I do like to leave the calendar a little open to allow for spontaneity.

There's the whole process to Find a Gym or some other form of active expression; utilizing those free passes to really find one that you like and that you will go to!!! Love my Zumba!

Then there's the Social Scene. Now, this will be different for everyone, depending on your age, what you like to do, and what's available. I love, love, LOVEEEE the website I should be a paid sponsor the way I talk about them, but it's really a safe and cheap way to meet people that like what you like. I've found out about music concerts, dancing events, festivals, book clubs, and so much more either from joining a group or from meeting someone in a group and getting connected. I am also pretty big into the dancing scene (Salsa) so I find people that like to go salsa dancing or google "Salsa" for my area. And sometimes, this does mean going out alone but if the options are go and find something new, or don't go and stay home and not do the thing you love, I usually opt to try the going out option. If I don't like it, I can always leave.

Which leads me to a point that I have been told many times before: you have a lot of guts to go places by yourself. Hmm, ok, thanks! I guess I don't see it as guts - I'm not fighting war people, but yes, it does take some self-confidence to go into a place where you don't know if you will know anyone, or one where you probably know no one. Take this weekend for example. I saw this event on MeetUp that I wanted to go to. I didn't know anyone, just the 1cm photo of the other members (who never look like their photo when you are looking for them in a dark club). So I'm walking around trying to see someone familiar and it just wasn't happening. Finally, someone that I had met 2 weeks ago at another Salsa event spotted me and kindly invited me to their table (pays to be nice to people!). Now,  if that hadn't happened I would have sat down somewhere (these people don't own the whole table, an empty seat is an available seat), taken off my coat, put on my dance shoes, and made my way to the floor. If I picked the 'wrong' table to sit at and they were mean or made me feel comfortable, I would pick up my stuff and move it, realizing that I don't owe strangers anything. The environment was a very open table style with dance floor in the middle.

By the end of the night, I had danced with several other dancers, made some new connections, and even bumped into some old friends. It was a success!!! But all because I went out and put myself out there. I've had some duds, but you just gotta shake it off (yup, total Taylor Swift reference - don't hate, it's catchy).

So, that's it for now. I still have to continue my Church voyage and find another activity like volunteering or something to feel helpful to my new community. And there are personal goals of cooking, reading, exercising - and basically challenging myself - that I want to achieve. Of course keeping in touch with family and friends. And basically rebuilding.

As daunting as it sounds, it's kinda fun to start over.

Peace Out :)