Studying People on Study Sunday

I know myself well enough by now to know that studying at home is never going to be productive.  For starters, I am constantly thinking of one of three things:

1.  Man, there is a lot of stuff that I really should get done around here.  Maybe I’ll just clean for a little bit and then go back to studying.  I never go back to studying.

2.  I’m kind of, sort of, not really hungry but maybe I’ll make a snack. Oh, actually, maybe I’ll just make a drink.  Two in the afternoon on a Sunday isn’t too early for a drink, is it?  Nah!!! I never go back to studying.

3.  Huh, I wonder what my bed is doing right now?  It is probably up there, all alone, looking super comfortable and cozy.  I should just go up there for a minute to say hello.  After all, I haven’t visited with my bed since this morning and I don’t want it to feel neglected.  I never go back to studying.

So I know that I have to force myself to leave my house if I ever plan on getting any real studying done.  I also know that I can’t take my computer with me because I will constantly be wondering what is going on in the world of Facebook.  I will, all of a sudden, feel a need to look at all 897 pictures of the girl who my “friend” stated talking to just to make sure that she doesn’t look cuter, funnier, or smarter than me.  I know that those last two things would be difficult to determine based on looking at a picture, but now you should be able to understand why I have to look so closely at each one.

Once I leave my house and go to a public spot, sans computer, the distractions don’t simply disappear.  I have this horrible habit of listening to everything around me.  I do it all the time!

At a restaurant with friends: I’m listening, telling stories, sharing the mozzarella sticks, but the whole time I am listening to at least three conversations around us.

In a quite library:  things will be going well enough until someone sits six tables away from me and is wearing a wrist watch.  I can hear the damn ticking!  I’m not joking!  And as soon as I hear it, there is no hope of ever tuning it out.

The thing that really drives me crazy though is when women feel the need to speak with really hard “s” and “t” sounds.  These same women usually carry on, ad  nauseam, about something that they, alone, think is of high importance.  Usually it has something to do with their amazing four-year-old and how much smarter they are than every other four-year-old in the world.  Sometimes it is about the unfair service they received at their country club.  Or how they ordered a Shriaz but were served a Syrah, and yes, there is a difference.  I will often find myself unknowingly clenching my fists as I fight the urge to turn around and yell, “Shut the hell up!!  Seriously, just shut up!  Oh, and next time why don’t you order a bottle of Malbec?  I’m sure they won’t be able to screw that up!!!”

I’ve discovered that the best way for me to get any studying done is to sit at a table in a bookstore right next to the children’s section.  Oddly enough, the constant squeals, crys, and various noises that tiny humans insist on making are far less distracting to me, thus they are more easily tuned out.  So, I was quite pleased today when my studying was only distracted twice in three hours.

The first time involved a family of four.  There was a mother, father, three-year-old boy and a twelve month old boy.  The mother asked the father to watch the kids so she could go to the bathroom.  Daddy sat down at the Lego table and became totally focused on playing Legos with the three-year-old.  Meanwhile, the baby was left to entertain himself, which he did quite effectively.  He had a toy that he would throw on the ground and then he would wobble after it like a drunk trying to pick up their shoe that fell off.  He would reach his toy, pick it up, throw it again, and chase after it.  The entire time the baby was getting  closer and closer to me and further and further away from his father, who didn’t turn around once.

At this point I should mention that kids, for whatever reason, always seem to like me.  While adults, even complete strangers, always seem to trust me with their children.  So I was not surprised in the least when I saw that this little boy was making his way in my direction.  What I was surprised by was when he took a fast detour and went running to throw his toy over the railing and onto the unsuspecting people on the floor below.  Thankfully another mother stepped in, picked the baby up, and returned him to his father.  The father threw the baby in the air playfully and said, “I have two of you now.  I always forget that I have two of you!”  Oh dear Lord!  That child has been on this earth for, AT LEAST, twelve months now and you keep “forgetting” that you have him?!  I’ll admit, there was a part of me that didn’t intervene because I wanted the mother to come back and see how far away her baby was and how the father wasn’t watching at all.  But, alas, mommy came back and was none the wiser.

The forgetful little family left and I was able to focus on my studying again, instead of keeping a watchful eye one someone else’s spawn.  My next distraction came in the form of three high school kids: one boy, two girls.  One of the girls asked someone about a wheat allergy.  The guy answered her saying something about gluten. The girl then asked, “If they don’t eat wheat, are they a vegetarian?’  At this point I simply stopped working because I knew that I couldn’t NOT listen to his answer.  And boy, he did not disappoint when he said this:

“Yeah.  Well vegetarians don’t eat wheat but they also don’t eat cows or chickens.  See, they believe that all animals have a soul so they refuse to eat them.  But they do eat fish but that’s different.  It’s okay to eat fish because you’re not hurting their soul.”

I seriously snorted as I tried to contain my laughter.  Was this kid for real?  I thought my head was going to explode when I heard her say:

“Wow, you’re really smart about so many things.”

To which he replied,

“Yeah, I know a lot of really random facts about people and the world.”

It was at that point that I decided to call it a night.  I knew that, as long as they were still talking, I would never be able to get any more work done.  All in all though I am pleased with the three hours that I did get it.  Hooray for me!

Thankful For People Who See More Than a Hat

Okay, I feel that it is important to start this post off with a definition.

Goal:  noun. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed.

That being said, I didn’t say that I WAS going to write everyday.  I said that my GOAL was to write everyday.  So, yes, I missed two days.  However, I feel like we are focusing on the negative instead of the fact that I nailed it on six days!  Let’s all just accept that and move on, shall we?  Fantastic!

Today, on this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the friends and family who still let me pretend.  As a child in elementary school I was kind of a loner.  I was the baby of the family and never quite felt like I fit in with my siblings and their friends.  So, I would spend hours at a time just playing by myself in one of the many story lines that I created.  I must have lived 100 lives before I ever turned 12.  There was no job that was off-limits, no land that went unexplored, and I was always adored by the man of my dreams.  Indeed, life in my own little world was perfect and I was in complete control.

As I got older though I came out of my shell and by middle school there was no hope of ever stuffing me back in my shell.  I loved being the center of attention and I always had a story to tell if I had a willing audience.  I started to realize though that “playing pretend” wasn’t cool anymore and, worse than that, it was unacceptable.  People wanted me to “grow-up”, “act my age”, “stop daydreaming”.  So I did, around them anyway.  The real truth is that I’ve never stopped playing pretend.  Even now, when I bake cupcakes I am the owner of the finest pastry shop in Paris.  When I cook I am a gourmet chef with my own cooking show.  When I drive to work I am escaping from a madman as I race to the town square to defuse a bomb that is set to explode in twenty minutes.  All of this is my release.

Life is far too serious sometimes.  People get so wrapped up in things that they fail to see the humor in life.  We are focused on things that we think are all “matters of consequence”, but we are wrong.  There are very few situations that we will find ourselves in that are truly a matter of life or death.  Many situations that we stress over aren’t even a matter of having a job or losing a job.

But we are adults!  We are adults and everything we do must be significantly important!  People depend on us, damn it!  People expect us to be in control, in charge, and on top of everything!  We simply have no time for “playing pretend”!  Or do we?  What if “playing pretend” is one of the most important things that we can make time for?  What if “playing pretend” is what would make the rest of it more bearable?  Think about it…. next time your boss is yelling at you just imagine that their head is a giant kitten head and they’re only angry because they want a saucer of milk.  Are they still going to be mad at you when they have a kitten head?  Of course, you messed up, deal with it.  But maybe if they have a kitten head you won’t get so bent out of shape about the situation.  Maybe you will simply fix whatever it is that they want you to fix and move on with you day.  Maybe, maybe not, but you won’t know until you try.

You can go right on being an adult who only sees a hat, but I refuse to.  I promise that I will always see a boa constrictor swallowing an elephant.  And if you can’t understand that, well, you understand even less about me.

Saint-Exupéry, Antoine De. The Little Prince. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1943. Print.

Three Step Process to Healing a Broken Heart, Starting Your Life Over, and Walking in Faith

Even as I type this I am asking myself, why would I share the most intimate and painful moment of my life with a world full of strangers on the Internet?  Even as I ask this I hear my reply, because it is Message Monday and this is your message to share.  So, that being said, I open myself to you in the hopes that you will find something in my story that rings true for you and that you can possibly use to heal your broken heart, start your life over, and walk in faith.

It has been three years now but at the end of every July I still find myself anxious with the memories that were created years before.  It was a typical day at work, which means that we were incredibly slow and were cutting hours.  I was notorious for going home early but, on this day, I decided to work my full shift; funny how we can replay one choice in our heads over and over and over again.  I often wonder what the outcome would have been if I had decided to go home early.  Around 4pm I received a phone call from my apartment complex informing me that my apartment had been struck by lightning and was burning down.  I remember falling to my knees and crying, “But my cat’s in there, Peter Pan’s in there.”  I couldn’t believe that this was actually happening to me.  I had no idea what I was supposed to do or how I could fix this.

My boss got me into her car and drove me home.  As soon as we reached the city limits we could see the massive plume of smoke guiding us to our destination.  I knew what that smoke meant.  I had been a Disaster Relief Volunteer for the American Red Cross for five years.  I had responded to enough house fires to know the difference between enough smoke to show that there was damage and enough smoke to show that all was lost.  So I knew, before we got there, that all was lost.

When we reached the fire, my worst thoughts were confirmed.  The lightning had struck the unit right next to mine and had burned through our roof and all the way across our building.  As the flames burned across, they dropped burning drywall down which made the fire burn from the top and the bottom at the same time.  Mine and my neighbors unit were completely destroyed, as were some of the other units on the second floor.  I stood there and watched the life that I had created for myself (I had moved to South Carolina only two years before) float away on the ashes.  I felt, not angry, not sad, but completely and utterly empty.  The wind blew and I was assaulted with a mixture of clean earth that had been freshly rained on and the smoldering remains of my home before me.  In that mixture I felt my heart stir, and the words to a song were lifted up:

I was sure by now

God You would have reached down

And wiped our tears away

Stepped in and saved the day

But once again, I say “Amen”,

and it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls

I barely hear Your whisper through the rain

“I’m with you”

And as Your mercy falls

I raise my hands and praise the God who gives And takes away


And I’ll praise You in this storm

And I will lift my hands

For You are who You are

No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried

You hold in Your hand

You never left my side

And though my heart is torn

I will praise You in this storm

Never before in my life had I received such a clear and loving message from God.  I knew, without a doubt, that I was not alone.  Even as I cried myself to sleep each night, I would still hear that song and I would know that He had not abandoned me.  Even when I had to put my darling Peter Pan to sleep, due to the burns he sustained, and my heart was darkened with anger, I still heard that song. I believe with all of my heart that this fire was meant to be a part of my story.  I also believe that God put me in South Carolina so that, when I lived this part of my story, I would be surrounded by His people who knew how to touch me with their prayers, their love and their grace.  To this day I still feel indebted to the people who showed me what faith really means. 

Step One to Healing a Broken Heart, Starting Your Life Over, and Walking in Faith:  Believe, with all that you are, that you are never alone.  He is with you and He will guide your way, if you let Him.

(If I were better at computers I could embed this video.  Alas, I am not. So click the link to check out Casting Crown’s “I Will Praise You In This Storm”.)

The day after the fire I returned “home” to see what, if anything, was left.  The maintenance crew was going through the apartments to assess the damage but they said that I was not allowed up, due to the potential danger.  I stood there with tears streaming down my face as I begged one guy to please let me up; and if he couldn’t, to please just bring me anything down that was still there.  He looked at me with such sadness in his eyes but he agreed to go back up after the rest of his entourage had left.  When he came back down he was carrying what was left of  my grandfather’s Army footlocker and one tiny piece of paper.  As he placed the footlocker at my feet he held the piece of paper out to me and said, “I don’t know how, but this was still on the refrigerator. Everything else is gone.”  As I reached my hand out to him, he took it and squeezed it in his own.  He looked down at the paper again and I could see the tears well up in his eyes.  He handed the paper to me, smiled a sad smile, told me that he would pray for me, and then he walked away.  When I realized what was in my hand I understood his reaction. I also understood that it was yet another message, hand-picked, just for me.  I held a poem that my friend J. had sent to me quite a while back.  It was something that I put up on my fridge so that I could see it every day until I figured out what it meant to me.  Until that day, I had not decided on it’s meaning in my life.  On that day, I no longer had any doubt as to what it meant for me.

In the days and weeks and months that followed, I would marvel at how that one tiny piece of paper survived.  The microwave had melted into the counter, the pantry door had burned in it’s jamb, the mail on the counter had disintegrated.  Yet this one, tiny bit of paper had somehow survived the flames that destroyed everything around it.  Unbelievable!  Unbelievable only if you do not believe that God will speak directly to you if you are willing to listen.  I was willing to listen.

Step Two to Healing a Broken Heart, Starting Your Life Over, and Walking in Faith: Have faith that the answers which you seek are out there, if you are willing to seek them with an open mind and an open heart.  Give yourself the freedom to simply let go.  “Let all go dear, so comes love.”  I did.  I let it all go and I was rewarded with a love like I have never known.  I will never be able to explain what it felt like to have my heart feel like it was going to shatter under such sadness but that it was also on the verge of bursting with the outpouring of love that my family, friends, co-workers and community had shown to me.  In the aftermath of the fire I truly understood what it meant to have “my cup runneth over”.

(The white square is where the magnet was that was holding it to the fridge.)

I made the eventual decision to leave South Carolina and take a job transfer to Cleveland to start my life over.  We were opening a new location and I knew that that would be the perfect time to blend into the crowd, as everyone there would be new, and I wouldn’t have to share much back story.  Just over two months after the fire I joined my co-workers and brothers in faith for our last lunch together.  When we were ready to leave I hugged them with everything that I had as I tried to fight back the tears.  They had, without a doubt, changed me and I knew that I would hold them in my heart forever.  I had almost reached the state line to cross into North Carolina when I received a text message from C.  The text was simply a radio station.  I quickly turned to the station and heard these lyrics:

And today you know that’s good enough for me

Breathin’ in and out’s a blessing can’t you see

Today’s the first day of the rest of my life

And I’m alive and well, I’m alive and well

I had to pull off to the side of the road because I was crying so hard.  This was it!  This was exactly what I needed to hear as I drove away to begin my new life! I finished the ten hour drive to Cleveland, with tears every now and again, and set about starting over.  About two months had passed when I found myself humming that song.  I had never actually heard the entire song but I was sure that I would like it.  So I went up to the store and treated myself to the new Kenny Chesney c.d.  When I got home, I cuddled up on my bed while clutching my pillow, and pushed play on the c.d. player.  And that is when I finally heard the beginning to the song:

It’d be easy to add up all the pain

And all the dreams you sat and watched go up in flames

Dwell on the wreckage as it smolders in the rain

But not me, I’m alive

I immediately was reduced to a fit of giggles mixed with tears.  How ridiculously, insanely appropriate.  Once I calmed myself down enough I dialed C.’s number.  As soon as I heard his warm southern drawl I said, “You rotten son of a bitch, you!  You are such an asshole!”  He immediately burst out laughing and said, “I was wonderin’ when you was gonna hear the rest of the song!”  Even as I listen to the song now, I still can’t shake the feeling that it was written just for me. I love the fact that I heard what I needed to when I was leaving South Carolina, but then I heard the rest of it when I was ready to.  You can’t force moments like these in life, they are simply part of life’s amazing wonder.

Step Three to Healing a Broken Heart, Starting Your Life Over, and Walking in Faith:  If nothing else in life, allow yourself to laugh!  Sometimes laughter is the only thing that can break though a shell to let the real healing begin.  C. helped me to put things in perspective.  Yes, for all intents and purposes, I had lost everything; but I was still alive and well, and that’s good enough for me.  Some days, the simple fact that you are still alive is going to be the best thing that you have going for you, allow that to be good enough.

(Yep, couldn’t do it here either.  Click to see Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews perform their song, “I’m Alive”.)

In closing, life is rarely going to work out exactly as you had planned.  There are roadblocks and hurdles and obstacles for you to overcome.  Believe that you are never alone.  Give yourself the freedom to “let go” and create space in your life for love to enter.  Laugh as often as possible and appreciate that being “alive and well” and “breathing in and out” is a blessing that is denied to many but that has been shared with you.

Study Sunday? More Like, Anything But Study Sunday

Seriously?  Why am I so bad at this? In high school I was such an amazing student in the beginning.  And then I was a mediocre student in high school at the end.  Either way though, I certainly was not a bad student.  Even when I started university (no one I know actually says university but I think it sounds far more sophisticated than college) I was an “A” and “B” student.  But now, now I simply don’t care anymore.  I have one lousy year left and it is taking absolutely everything in me to make it happen.

In my defense, I’m not actually taking any classes right now.  However, I am supposed to be studying for a Business Finance class so that I can test out of it, thus avoiding the cost of the class and the six weeks that it would take to actually complete said class.  So I do feel like I have a little leeway to not fully be committed to Study Sundays yet.

Today, in an effort to avoid studying I did the following things:

1. Slept, a lot!  Seriously, I slept until noon.  I usually reserve that for my traumatic high school years and when I am nursing a serious hangover.

2. Went grocery shopping, which was part necessity, part avoidance.

3. I played around on Pinterest for probably about two hours.

4. I actually cooked myself dinner; I haven’t done that in a few months.

5. I watched the movie Goon. I will be honest, it wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be but I really did enjoy it.  And, who can ever argue with a movie that has Seann William Scott in it?  Not me!

6. Then I ate the delicious dinner that I made.  Again, that was both a matter of necessity and avoidance.

7.  My friend P. showed up so I decided to feed him too.

8.  We watched the movie 21 Jump Street together, which I found to also be funny.

And now?  Well, I could just call it a day and go to bed.  But why stop there?  P.’s already here and I have a bottle of  Blue Diamond Syrah.  Oh…. and I have the movie Vow for us to watch, so that should be a good, depressing way to end the night.  Here we go!

Even a Potato Chip Can Hurt You

Below is an actual letter that I sent to Frito Lay and their subsequent response:

Dear Frito-Lay,

For many years I have been on a quest, a quest to find a potato chip whose flavor is true to its name. For many years now, I have been severely disappointed. However, today as I was shopping at my local Giant Eagle, I was careless as I allowed my hopes to soar to a new height. There in the potato chip aisle before my eyes was a bag of Molten Hot Wings Flavored Ruffles! I clutched the bag in my hands as I thought, ‘This might be it! This might be the bag of chips I have been searching for!’ I threw the chips into my cart and raced for the checkout counter. I still had other items to purchase but my heart was beating with such vigorous excitement that I simply had to fulfill its desire.

As I thrust open the door to my house, I flung the groceries on the table and reached for what, I had hoped was, the Holy Grail of the potato chip world. I opened the bag with a tenderness which I have not shown in years. I allowed the aroma of the chips to waft over me. As the smell penetrated my nose I began to feel like Pavlov’s Dog. Every gland in my mouth began to salivate with the expectations of a dream come true. As I raised the delicacy to my mouth, I began to picture C.E. Doolin and Herman W. Lay (the founders of Frito Lay) standing over my shoulder looking on approvingly. This was their vision. This was the dream of two entrepreneurs.

I found your chips to be, quite possibly, the largest disappointment in my life.  The description on the bag and the description in my mouth were at direct odds with one another.  Molten Hot?  Not even close.  I would say lukewarm, at best.  You encouraged me to imagine “Wings, dripping with sauce and ready to wash down with your favorite beverage.”  The taste of your chip encouraged me to imagine wings that wouldn’t know hot sauce if they took a bath in it.

I tried to improve the situation by placing the chips on a plate with celery and carrot sticks.  All this did was cause me to feel an even deeper disappointment than I already felt. Now, not only did the chips pale in comparison to the real thing, but my heart also paled in comparison to the hopeful heart which I had felt only moments before.

Please do not be so careless in the future to encourage your customers to “Dream big” when you know that their hopes will be severely dashed.  As a corporation in these fine United States of America, you have a moral obligation to be honest to the American consumer.

Please consider revising either your recipe or your packaging before your web of deceit takes you, and your company, the way of Enron.


Erin Elise

I mailed this letter to the CEO of the company a few months back and received no reply, how upsetting. Last week I decided to send it again, via the “Comment” section of their website.  Within two days I received the following reply:

Hi Erin,

Thank you for contacting Frito-Lay with your feedback about Ruffles Molten Hot Wings.

We’re sorry this snack was not what you expected–and your comments will be shared with our Marketing and Product Development teams. We’re also sending a coupon to you that should arrive in about a week.

Your satisfaction is the key to our success and we thank you for choosing a Frito-Lay snack.

We hope all of your future purchases are completely satisfying and great-tasting.

Best regards,
Natalia Frito-Lay Consumer Relations

To be fair, I don’t know Natalia.  This may be me profiling but I picture her as a tall, unimaginably sexy Russian woman whose wardrobe consists entirely of all black clothes that appear to make love to her body as she wears them.  I imagine her reading my email and thinking, ‘Ha!  Stoopid little pudgy American girl.  She is upset because her after school snack is not tasty treat she hoped for.  In Russia, ve get bread and ve get vodka and ve are happy for it!  I vill send her coupon for more potato chips to make her even more pudgy and less attractive to Russian men!”

I mean, it’s not like I expected a hand written apology letter.  It would have been nice though if Natalia had invested even a fraction of the time in her response that I put into my complaint.  I understand though.  She is probably too busy being sexy and smacking a riding crop against her palm to intimidate the middle aged men in her office.  So I will simply accept my coupon graciously and begin planning a Potato Chip Party, sponsored by Frito Lay.

Same Old Song and Dance

Okay, to be fair the goal was that I would write every day.  The goal was not that I would write at length every day.  Maybe I’m splitting hairs here but I do believe that I have a certain level of entitlement, considering that this is, indeed, my blog.

That being said, let’s just call a spade a spade for tonight.  I never seem to have enough money.  Not in the sense that I never seem to have enough money to own a paid off vehicle, go on lavish vacations, and expand my wardrobe.  I never seem to have enough money in the sense that when I try to “rob Peter to pay Paul”, Paul informs me that Peter foreclosed on his house last week so I shouldn’t expect to get anything out of him.  Of course!

When it comes to money I really don’t think that my expectations are that high.  I’m not saying that I want to make a million dollars every year.  I’m not saying that I want to make $100,000 every year, although that would be nice.  I’m just saying that it would be nice to have $500 of spending money every month.  Bills would be paid, money would be invested, savings account would be loaded and I would still have $500 left over to do with as I see fit.  Is that asking too much?

Perhaps next week I will have an action plan on how to pay down my debt.  Perhaps next week I will win the lottery.  Perhaps next week my boss will tell me that they are so impressed with my performance that they are giving me a $10,000 a year raise.

Most likely though I will probably just bitch that utilities should be run like they are in Monopoly.  I would simply roll the dice and pay 6 times the amount shown. That seems fair to me.  Then I wouldn’t have to choose between gas in my car, food on my table, and air conditioning.

There’s no tidy little wrap up to this one, as you can probably tell that I’m just not feeling it tonight.  Please check back in tomorrow though.

Super Special Sibling Speak

Let’s be honest with each other, shall we?  I grew up as the baby of four kids.  We had our ups and downs but, let it be known that, I wouldn’t change a single thing.  That being said, there were many times growing up when I thought that my siblings were complete assholes.  For example, there was the notorious time when they actually made an entire flowchart explaining that I was adopted and who my potential fathers were.  I think the end result was that I really belonged to the mailman.

My three siblings all have dark hair, dark eyes, and a more olive-toned complexion.  I came out with bleach blond hair, green eyes, and porcelain bordering on transparent skin.  The picture below should illustrate why they said I was adopted.  At one point they even told me that I was actually a Cabbage Patch Kid and that I had Xavier Roberts written on my ass.  Classic!


For the most part, my memories of my childhood with my siblings are broken into two categories: when we were laughing and when we were fighting.  We were experts at polar opposites so when we fought we really fought!  But when we laughed, shit, we could laugh for hours.  I think the laughter actually frustrated my mother more than the fighting.  The fighting was something that she just wanted to end but she never wanted to be a part of.  The laughter was different though.  It wasn’t that we intentionally left my mother out but I feel like so many of the times that we were laughing went without an explanation.  And when we would try to explain, the explanation always fell short of why we really found something so funny.  A perfect example is when my sister L. and I would ride in the back seat of the car together.  One of us would very gently, and very slowly poke the other one in the arm with our pointer finger.  The other one would then respond in kind.  We would go back and forth doing this and, in a matter of minutes, we would be in a fit of giggles.  Mom would always demand to know what we were laughing about but how do you explain something like that?  As an objective adult I don’t see how that was so funny but, even now, it will still make us laugh.

Those little moments are part of the reason why I always feel both sad and lonely for kids who grew up as an only child.  You can have an amazing relationship with your parents, you can meet handfuls of fantastically wonderful friends in your life, but nothing will ever compare to the relationship that you share with a sibling who has shared your entire life with you.  They have a shared perspective on you, your life, and the world as a whole that no one else will ever understand.  I share a language with my siblings that I couldn’t possibly explain to anyone else.

My other sister D. and I grew incredibly close when I moved out to Denver when I was 18.  I swear that she could always sense when I was lonely and homesick and in need of her support and she would reach out to me to offer that support.  My brother A. and I never seemed to need verbal communication to show that we loved and supported each other.  I was his little tomboy sister.  We would rough house, play sports, and talk about the girls that he was interested in.  I still maintain that he is the main reason why some of my closest friends throughout my life have always been guys.  He provided a sense of security, humor, and understanding to me and he never made me feel like I had to explain myself or my feelings.  He just rolled with the punches, both literally and figuratively.  He is also the main reason that I have a tendency to play “Punch for Punch” with gentlemen when I have had a few too many to drink.

Some people have “twin speak” and I maintain that we have “sibling speak”.  We often finish each other’s sentences, trains of thought, or can follow a line of vision to zone in on what the other thinks is so funny.  Friends absolutely hate playing games with us if any of us are on the same team because we always dominate.  A prime example is the game “Catch Phrase”.  In this game the caller is given a word and they have to get the guesser to guess what that word is without saying the word.  When my sibs and I play together the game goes a little like this:

D.:  A dog

L.: Bichon Frise


L.:  A State

Me: Nebraska


We all just exist on the same wave length and there is no place else that I would rather be.  L. utilized “sibling speak” when she called and asked me the following questions this week:

1.  You remember that song?

Answer: Yes, it was the Care Bears “Things Are Getting Better All The Time”.

2.  What were those books that we read as kids?

Answer:  The Serendipity book series.

3.  What was the quote about crying by Andre?

Answer: “She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short.”  Brian Andreas

Even when we ask the wrong questions, we are still able to give each other the right answers.

So on this Thankful Thursday I am not simply thankful for my siblings; I am thankful for the kids that I grew up with and the adults that I have become friends with.  We share a bond with each other that will never be matched or duplicated.  Their pain is my pain, their joy is my joy, and my heart beats not just for me, but for each one of them in turn.  So while I may still look a little like the mailman, there is absolutely no doubting that we were all, indeed, cut from the same cloth.

The girls and I:


My brother and I:


Where Acting Like a Three-Year-Old Gets You

Perhaps I should have really thought this whole blog thing through a little more.  I mean, come on, a post every single day?!  Ugh, it’s day one and I’m already exhausted.  On top of that, I don’t know that starting on a “Weigh-in Wednesday” was the best idea ever.  This is probably going to be my least favorite day of the week and I decided to start here.  But alas, I must not disappoint my fans, opps! Correction, fan.

If you have ever spent any time around toddlers, you are probably familiar with their, “I can do it / let me do it” phase.  This usually happens around three years old and tends to follow the “no” phase.  This is a time when children start to become more self aware and realize that they can do things on their own and take a huge amount of pride in doing things on their own.  As an adult you are usually forced to sit back uncomfortably and then clean up all of their messes (usually juice that never makes it into the cup, even though they INSIST that they can do it) because, let’s be honest, they’re three!!  How much can they really do on their own?!  Nevertheless, this is an important developmental time for children as they learn to assert themselves, test their limits, and give their parents a glimpse of hope that they will not be dependent on them until the ends of time.  For me, this phase started around three and lasted oh, I don’t know, 27 years!

Once I discovered that I could do things on my own, I didn’t see much need in allowing anyone to do anything for me.  I have become a bit of a control freak and I am usually pretty certain that my way is the most logical way; at the very least it is usually the most colorful way.  I even have a tape recording of me, at four-years-old, telling my parents that I can’t feed our dog because, “I’m busy doing something”!  Really?!  Was I in the middle of a heart transplant on the kitchen table?  Was I splitting atoms which would somehow lead to the end of world hunger?  Nope.  I was putting stickers on something and I was, indeed, busy.  I tell you all of this to illustrate to you that I have been a bossy, set in my ways, control freak since I was a child and that is a very difficult mold to break out of.  However, in the last few months I have managed to make the tiniest of cracks in that mold.

My stance on weight loss has been pretty similar; I can do it, let me do it, I don’t need your help.  I have come to discover though that there is a difference between being a “failure” and being someone who knows when it is time to call in the cavalry.  Wars are not won alone, so it was silly of me to think that I could ever win this war alone.  I joined a gym two years ago and went, four times?  It just wasn’t “clicking” for me.  But then I turned 30 and had a serious conversation with myself that went a little like this:

Me: Hey, so do you think you’re ready to lose some weight?

Self:  Meh!

Me:  Right, well I just thought that now would be a good time to figure that out.  I mean, you’re not getting any younger.

Self: So?

Me:  So?!  So?!  Are you serious?  So you’re dad died of a massive heart attack when he was 40.  Three of your grandparents all died of massive heart attacks.  Your two uncles have had heart attacks.  And you’re only living grandparent has had so much heart surgery that they actually consulted the Public Transit Authority to figure out how else they could re-route her arteries to keep her heart going.  So do you think that maybe it’s time that you take this seriously?

Self: Meh!

Trust me, I know how frustrating I can be.  But then one day I was doing what I do best, which is socializing, when I started talking about going to the gym.  One girlfriend, C. mentioned that she had just joined the same gym as me and another girlfriend, D. mentioned that she was thinking about joining that gym.  So….. we concocted a plan where we would all work out together two days a week.

The first day that we went we were filled with excitement and the tiniest bit of trepidation.  We started out slowly by doing some cardio.  We then worked our way up to doing some cardio and hitting their circuit training room.  The first day that we lifted weights, I was fairly certain that we weren’t going to walk out alive.  Who knew that 10 pounds  could be so ridiculously heavy?!  But we did it!  And twice a week, we went back for more.

I started to get discouraged after a few weeks though because I hadn’t lost any weight. I mean, not even half a pound.  Not even water weight.  That is right about the same time though that I took a step back and looked at the situation from a different angle.  Perhaps I had not lost weight but now when the incline on the treadmill drastically increased on it’s own, to keep me in my target heart rate, I stopped yelling, “Help!  Help!  Oh my God, it’s trying to kill me!!!!” I paid attention to how quickly I went from 10 pound weights to 70 and 90 pound weights.  I acknowledged that when a leisurely stroll on the treadmill could get me to my target heart rate in the beginning, I am now forced to walk at a brisk clip on a high incline to reach my target.  So, maybe I haven’t noticed any changes on the outside, but I sure have noticed changes on the inside and I’m sure that’s more important.  After all, last time I checked, my arteries aren’t on the outside.

My overall point is that, where I have failed in the past on my own, I have been successful in the present with help.  I realize that asking for help and support from my friends is doing just as much to increase my inner strength as lifting weights is doing to increase my outer strength.  They are the additional motivation that I have needed.  If I don’t feel like going to the gym, they are the ones texting me with a guilt trip (no where near as good as the ones I give, mind you).  When I was terrified of the ab section of the gym (and my body), they were the ones who encouraged me that it would be “fun-sies”.  They totally lied about that one by the way!  They have made me feel that I shouldn’t be ashamed about needing to lose some pounds, or a lot of pounds for that matter.  They have made me feel that, more than anything else, I am worthy and deserving of a healthy body.  And, while you won’t see me in a bikini anytime soon, at least I am on the right track.

Thank you to the two beautiful ladies who have inspired me to find my own beauty!

In closing: where does acting like a three-year-old get you?  It gets you to 30 years old and overweight with a tendency to miss the cup entirely as you spill your juice on the counter.