Category Archives: blogging

Entering the (dev)ice age

I recently took stock of the things that keep my human bits going day after day. It’s not an attractive list.

Multiple prescription meds, including the one recently added for chronic dry eye syndrome (not caused by swimming, but probably not helped by it, either). The OTCs, including pills for major muscle pain; the balms, salves, ointments, creams and patches for assorted aches; the earplugs (so I can sleep), the elbow brace (keeps my right arm straight to prevent nighttime cramps), saline nasal solution (periodic allergy relief), mouth guard (for TMJ), the toe separator (bunion that needs removal some day)…

keds

For the days when this was all we needed for play.

Some of the issues are age-related: the body breaks down and does not recover like it used to. Some are stress-related, some are inherited. As I gaze at the medicine cabinet, with more first aid products than my local pharmacy, I sometimes wonder how I still get up and function. It does not surprise me that people give in to pain, relying on prescription painkillers, booze and the indulgence of others to relieve their suffering. I used to watch a show on the A&E network called Intervention, where family and friends of an addict would lead them into a meeting and tell the addict they were loved and cherished, but admission into a treatment facility was something they had to do, or everyone in the room was forsaking them. I was fascinated with how people got to the point of addiction and living at their lowest point in the first place, particularly when many addicts seem to start out with a normal life. Both the state and county I reside in are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, where people overdose and die every day. Most of these dead are young people, whose lives were unremarkable until things took one bad turn. Pain started,  pain moved into unbearable territory, drugs came next and the war they would never win began.

 

I am happy every day for my average life, with average challenges. I’ll take this any day, along with average aches and pains, over dealing with worse. Meanwhile, I noticed these new compression running socks online the other day and I was wondering…

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A job update: I am starting part-time work next week, with a very nice property management company. Nice people, good hours, and interesting work. Looking forward to trying something new!

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Filed under athletic competition, blogging, Current news, Cycling, drugs, Exercise, mental health, opioid

Day One of a Next Life

enjoylifeIt rained all day, courtesy of Tropical Storm Emily. A surprise storm that the TV weather wonks did not see coming, despite their constant bragging about using the latest in advanced radar technology.

But a surprise like this is fine. It’s been a good first day of a different kind of life. I ran, had breakfast and got down to the business of working on what I love – writing. I took a break to clean the bathrooms, went out on some errands, had lunch, worked some more and rode my bike on the indoor trainer before dinner.  My life is still as disciplined as it was when I punched a time clock, but now it is ruled by lists on a legal pad and a pair of white boards in my home office.

I have two interviews for part-time work scheduled this week, along with a volunteer gig that I have looked forward to and missed for a long time. I have given up contact with the standard nine-to-five world, but I’ve already gained a measure of calm and purpose. It’s not the same when you don’t leave the house and go to the same job every day. There is some sense of imbalance, a lack of the sure and steady grip on life. But this is part of the process of scaring myself into doing something bigger, different and more challenging. I was very good AT my last job, and I think I left the office in a better place than it was when I started. But I was not very good FOR that job. I was not forced to think or amaze anyone or use any of the skills I’ve learned in life. I thought about taking a holiday, a kind of “gap week,” to regroup first before moving on. But my energy is good and my mind is ready to head out and get to whatever is next.

 

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Filed under blogging, Careers, charity, employment, freelancing, unemployment

I Got Stupid and Signed Up For A Triathlon

This is what I'm used to. Won't be this nice in a triathlon.

This is what I’m used to. Won’t be this nice in a triathlon.

It’s been a busy time here. And yes, you read the headline right. I got stupid and decided to add yet another new endeavor to my bucket list. Bad enough my first open water swim is two weeks away. Now I have a triathlon less than three months away as well.

It seemed like a good idea at the time I hit the “Register Now” button on the website. No, I didn’t think it through for very long. Yes, I did have a sports-deprived childhood. No, my parents weren’t mean to me. Yes, I can cycle, run and swim. No, I have no idea what I’m doing in triathlon-land. Yes, I think I will figure it out.

I’ve already had my first shock trying to find a one-piece triathlon suit, Size is a problem. My size, not the suit’s size. Triathlon types are skinny people. I am not one of those types. So the search is ongoing. I have all the other gear I need. I have three months to build up a good-size case of nerves. Part of me wants someone to talk me out of this. Part of me wants to find out if fear and adrenaline are enough to push someone through a multi-sport endeavor.  As time and training go on, I’ll keep you posted on what I do, what I learn and even confess to (at least some of) the abysmally idiotic things I don’t plan on, but will inevitably happen along the way to the last Saturday in June.

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Filed under blogging, Exercise

Fat-Shaming, Or Fit and Focused?

Maria Kang has been called everything from an inspiration to an idiot.

She’s a bully or a beauty; she’s obnoxious or outstanding. Why the range of emotions, and who is Maria Kang?

The Sacramento mom posted a photo of herself, in exercise shorts and bra top, alongside her three young sons and pointedly asked, “What’s Your Excuse?” And the floodgates of social commentary Hell hath opened upon her.

The mother of three, business owner and recovering bulimic makes no apologies for looking that good. She claims no hereditary or ethnic advantage, no hours-long workouts, nanny, caretaker or extreme dieting regimen. In her own words, “I’m a wife, mother, business owner and nonprofit founder. I dream. I set goals. I plan. I take action.” Makes sense when it comes to getting fit and staying that way. But what about the women (and at least a few men) who read her post, saw her photo and decided it was time to tie her down to the nearest weight bench and beat her with barbells?

Her detractors call themselves real people, normal people, average types. They slam Kang for fat-shaming, for being obsessive and unrealistic, for not really getting it when it comes to what most people face in terms changing their lifestyle habits.

On the contrary: I think she does get it. She’s been through an eating disorder, she’s had three healthy pregnancies in three years without excessive weight gain, she works, and most important, I saw nothing particularly accusatory in anything she wrote. I did not see her outright hating on fat people, or using a verbal cattle prod to force anyone to follow her lifestyle. Just posting the photo on Facebook, Pinterest or her blog and putting the generic question “What’s Your Excuse?” out there is not a sign that she hates YOU. And it’s not likely that you’ll ever look like Maria Kang, either. But that’s fine because neither will I; there isn’t enough workout time in the day or plastic surgery to achieve that.

Go ahead and keep working out and have a goal: look like the best person YOU can be. Because if you want to work out to the point of looking like Maria Kang or anyone else, it probably won’t happen. You’ll give up and walk away from your workouts long before that point. Some goals, like being YOUR best, are attainable with planning and action. Others are just a dream because the time commitment, the money or the equipment just isn’t available.

And don’t slam her just because she looks the way she does and displays it on Facebook. After all, you can post there, too.

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Filed under blogging, Children, Current news, Exercise, health and beauty, inspirations, social media, thought

I’m The Bride And You Owe Me

Wedding Dress

Wedding Dress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A friend sent a link to a recent Huffington Post piece from a woman who gave a bride and groom what she thought was a decent wedding gift. Turns out, the bride was underwhelmed.

The recipient of the $100 cash gift decided to let the giver, a recent college graduate with student loan debt and without a full-time job, know exactly what she thought of the amount and why it was not sufficient:

In terms of the amount we got from you both was very unexpected as a result we were very much short on paying off the reception because just for the cocktail + reception alone the plate per person is $200 (as per a normal wedding range with open bar is about) and Mike and I both have already paid for everything else including decor, photography, attire etc., and didn’t expect we had to cover that huge amount for reception as well.”

Something tells me the bride won’t be getting a lot more Likes on her Facebook page from this guest. Had I received a note like this, I would have sent a toilet tissue roll cover to the bride, stitched with the words, “Here, b!$*h. Hope this covers it for you.” I don’t know if the groom knew about the note; the post does not reveal that. If so, then these two trolls deserve each other. If not, I hope someone forwards a copy to him, and he does the smart thing: files an annulment and heads for the hills. It won’t get better from here.

At what point did weddings cease to be a union of love, witnessed by nearest and dearest, and become a bean-counting extravaganza, where wedding gifts were calculated into the cost of a five-course dinner, open bar with top-shelf booze, choreographed dancing, full orchestras and five-figure prices for the wedding dress? I’m not suggesting that a couple should skimp on the best they can afford, but how about priorities, folks?

  • A good photographer rules. You cannot redo hotos. If video matters, same thing applies. If you’re going to spend anywhere, let it be here. 
  • Good quality food and drink matter. No one needs to be overwhelmed with multiple courses or piles of messy, trendy little finger foods. Food needs to make sense for the occasion, rather than blowing the budget. And alcohol can be beer and wine only. You don’t owe your guests Johnny Walker or Grey Goose.
  • Speaking of food: there are a lot of wedding cake options out there. Look online for ideas, check with family and friends to find a baker (hint: check with local baking instructors and cooking schools to see if anyone can help. I found a fantastic wedding cake baker when I took a Wilton cake decorating class – she was the instructor).
  • A wedding dress can be beautiful without being a budget-killer. Shop at the end of the wedding dress season (dresses run in seasons, just like cars) for a bargain. Check department stores for dresses for the wedding party. If you must have the groom and his party in tuxedos, look for a package deal for the entire party.
  • “Decor” does not have to be purchased; this is a one-day event. It can be rented or borrowed, or even crafted by hand. Check with antique and vintage shops and thrift stores for items you can buy and reuse (flower vases, tablecloths, napkins, place cards).
  • Decide early in the planning stages what you must have, what you can live without and what can be negotiated either way. That gets the budget under some control, and you won’t be easily swayed at those bridal shows, where everything looks so cute and wonderful that you must have it.

And as for gift-giving: keep it within the budget you’ve set for yourself. Don’t be manipulated into handing over cash, like a bank teller who’s just gotten the robber’s note. You’re not responsible for the party. If the happy couple wants to get down and boogie big, let them bring on the Benjamins.

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Filed under blogging, budget, Current news, thought

New Job? Yes! No Compensation…No Thanks

Networking Freelancers

Networking Freelancers (Photo credit: solobasssteve)

I’ve started a serious job search. And while I’m not a veteran at this kind of thing, I’ve done it enough to know that things have changed.

Put it into automotive terms: I’m holding onto the steering wheel, but the car it’s attached to looks a whole lot different.

Early in my working career, we had no social media. No Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other digital assistance for finding job listings, networking, posting a resume, etc. Networking in the old days involved a telephone, actual paper resumés and a lot of drinking in bars. And when a job was posted (in something called a printed newspaper), you faxed your resumé from your office, someone else’s office or a UPS Store. Now, anyone can find a job posting, email, click, attach resumé and hit Send, without ever leaving the comfort of the couch and bag of Cheetos.

And there’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed recently: the idea of working for no pay, just for the possibility of getting one’s work, usually freelance writing, noticed, on someone’s blog, magazine or other publication, for which they are likely earning money. No compensation…um, no thanks. Whatever it is I plan to do from now on, I’d like to get paid for it. I can work for no pay elsewhere; it’s called being a volunteer.

I’m getting the word out to my network, and won’t have an issue trying out part-time gigs, just to see if they are a good fit. I’m not sad or pained by the end of the old working life. I’ve seen it coming for a long time, and kept up the pretense of life support for far too long. I’m getting the money and insurance details in order, and making sure bills are paid off and there’s a good stock of supplies for us and the cats. The Husband was shocked by all this, but handled it well. He saw it coming, and I think he believes I’ll be around the house more. On the contrary, I plan to be busier than ever, I will install a lock on the home office door, and I will find something that makes me want to get up and get to work every day. Never again do I want to feel like a day of work is a four-letter word. And thanks in advance for your support. Oh, and job leads/ideas are also welcome.

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Filed under blogging, employment, freelancing, technology, thought

This Mom Love You, But She Means Business

Janelle Burley Hofmann gave her 13-year-old son an iPhone for Christmas. That was the fun part.

She also gave him an 18-point contract for its use that’s turning out to be a blueprint for any parent who wants to help their kids become more responsible, mannerly and thoughtful, all while reminding them about parent-child roles.

Contracts for teens tend to read like a set of rules: what they can do, when, where, and how late they can be out doing it. Oh, and if they mess up, letting them know who to call so the mess does not escalate into something tragic and irreversible. There’s nothing wrong with parents putting these things in writing. It sets the boundaries in black and white, and the child will have a hard time saying, “But, gee, I didn’t know.”

Hofmann’s contract is different. She keeps the tone lighthearted and loving from the start, but lets her son Gregory know who’s in charge:

Merry Christmas!  You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.  Hot Damn!  You are a good & responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift.  But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations.  Please read through the following contract.  I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it.  Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

Just a few sentences sets it up: Gregory knows what is expected of him, and knows that technology is a privilege, not a right. He also knows from the outset that there are consequences for not following the contract. However, his mother is wise enough to know that $!*% happens:

You will mess up.  I will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.  You & I, we are always learning.  I am on your team.  We are in this together.

Mother encourages son to enjoy his device by playing games and downloading music, but exercise caution in its use, lest he cause harm:

 Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.  Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.  Don’t laugh.  Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence.  It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life.  It is always a bad idea.  Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.  And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.

Holy sensitive subject matter, Batman! How many of you could do this, and do it as well as Hofmann? And do it with humor, letting your child know that you love and respect their intelligence, while reminding them that failure to communicate is no longer an option?

You can see the full contract at http://www.janellburleyhofmann.com/gregorys-iphone-contract/.

English: iphone Deutsch: iphone

English: iphone Deutsch: iphone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And think about using one like it, whether your kids have technology in hand or not. It can be applied to their driving, college study, dating, foreign study/travel or anything else they do where parental guidance is needed, but teenage freedom is desired. You’ll likely get a dandy amount of eye-rolling, sighing and “OMG, you are the weirdest parents ever!!!” but that’s not going to kill you, or your kids. You may get the satisfaction of being around the day your kids have kids, and present the same contracts to their kids.

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Filed under blogging, Relationships, social media, technology, thought