Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

If the Pants Fit...

My husband and I were at the gym recently and as we finished up by doing some stretching, I overheard the conversation of the two guys behind us. Both men were in their fifties, one was rather short and stout with the other being tall and slimy. I tried to block them out since most of the conversation seemed to center around young women who were working out. I could feel myself getting agitated and I tried to ignore them. But then my head decided to turn around and my eyes began giving them the evil glare. My husband was oblivious to all this since he couldn't hear them. I tried to focus on stretching my glutes.

Then tall slimy says, "What's the difference between a girlfriend and a wife?"
Short stout replies, "I don't know."
Tall slimy is yucking it up, so proud of himself he can barely give the punchline, "Oh, about fifty pounds." Both men roar.

I almost have an out of body experience as I turn around to glare stare. I confirm that they are both wearing wedding rings. I am livid. How dare they talk about their wives in such a disrespectful manner? Who do they think they are ~ George Clooney? Brad Pitt? I decide how to best take them on. I must defend married women of the world, women who have sacrificed, gone without, raised children, worked long hours...when I felt my husband tapping my shoulder. "You okay?" he asks, wiping the foam from the corner of my mouth.

"No, not really. Those two sleazebags think they are so funny. I just want to..."
After thirty years of marriage, my husband knows me well and he can tell he had better remove me from the situation at hand, quickly. He walks me to the womens' locker room and asks me what was said. "I'll tell you later," I reply.

I grab my gym bag and head for the showers. Hopefully my blood pressure will settle down. The hot water feels good but I am still disturbed by 'the joke'. I can't stand jokes which are at the expense of other people. I can't stand old married men who think they are some type of stud muffin. They make me gag. I feel a need to put them in their place.

I pull my jeans out of my bag and proceed to put them on, one leg at a time. Hmm...I had better calm down and focus on getting dressed because I seem to have an issue. Both feet are in and I can get these jeans on over my knees but what is going on with my thighs. What the heck? I look at the tag on my jeans and realize I grabbed my 'skinny' jeans. Well, actually since the holidays these might now be classified as my 'very skinny' jeans. Like many women I have a variety of sizes in my closet to keep up with my everchanging waistline. I have pre-baby, postbaby, prePMS, postPMS, perimenopausal, and now the newest size to join the closet...menopausal. It is good to have options.

So there I stood, struggling to get into my jeans in the changing stall. Not a lot of room to move around in so I opted for jumping up and down as I shoved my thighs into place. I marched in place at a rapid pace to stretch the material out. I was now working up a sweat and my face had a rosy glow. Now the tough part - the zipper. My best bet would be to lie down, suck in and zip but there was no room in the stall and there was no way I was going out into the main locker room in front of all those women, many young women, and laying down on a bench. No way. I sat on the little stool, put my feet on the opposite wall of the stall and tried to lay backwards. I sucked in, laid back and whacked my head on the counter. I wanted to kick short stout and tall slimy where it counts.

I wish I had a pair of pliers in my bag. Maybe I should just put my gym clothes back on. Gross. I stand up straight, on tippy toes. I suck in real deep so my belly button hits my spine - LOL - and I pull on the zipper. I yank as hard as I can. I think about those two sleazebags yucking it up and SUCCESS! I am now fully dressed and ready to go. I bend over to pick up my gym bag. Ooohhh... I knelt down to pick up my bag. Bending doesn't appear to be an option at the moment. Denim can be very stiff material. I look in the mirror for a quick final glance and try to ignore the fact that all of the extra skin and body parts have shifted and it appears the stomach fat has been shoved up so high it is squishing out the neck of my sweater. Attractive.

I enter the gym lobby and meet up with my husband.
"You okay? Your face is really red and you're walking funny."
"I am fine. Let's just get out of here," I growl.
"So what did those guys say that upset you?"
"You know, it doesn't really matter. Let's go."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's your Best Thing?

When my four children were young I worked hard to make sure we had sit down dinners each evening ~ together. I had read an article in a magazine about how to promote healthy, positive conversation at the dinner table. I decided to give it a try because I was tired of the bickering, whining, elbowing and kicking under the table that seemed to have become a routine.

It was an easy idea - no gadgets necessary. No bells, no whistles, no gimmicks. I took my place at our table and asked ~ 'What's the best thing that happened to you today?' and then we went around the table - one by one - and we talked. It was awkward at first but the kids, my husband, and I quickly got the hang of it. I was amazed at how it pulled the family together and meaningful conversation developed. So often you will ask kids what they did in school and the reply is 'nothing'. But now they had to be specific and it worked- and it allowed me to get a clearer picture of what was happening in their lives. More importantly it forced all of us to focus on the positive aspects of our lives.

The one rule I had was...they had to say something. There were times during the teen years when they would reply that nothing good had happened to them. I would remind them that at least they had the opportunity to wake up and see my smiling face... and that was a good thing. They would do the eyeball roll but eventually they would come up with one good thing that had happened during their day.

So for the past twenty something years this has been a tradition in our home. We would do it even when we had dinner guests over. It is an ice breaker and a conversation starter. And now the kids are grown and gone. Our dinner table usually consists of only two plates or worse - we frequently eat in front of the TV ( I can't tell you how embarrassed I am to write that!). I realized recently that my husband and I have gotten away from our cherished tradition. So...I have decided to do something about that! Starting tonight we will have a cozy dinner together, he and I and whoever comes through the front door, and I will ask that very important question...'What is the best thing that happened to you today?'

It is a quiet, snowy Sunday morning as I sit here typing this post. Life is good. I am reflecting on the past week and reflecting on all that I accomplished. The best thing that happened was that we had a wonderful baby shower for my daughter who is pregnant with twins. Twin boys! I am going to be a Grammie ! It is hard to even comprehend this. Where did the years go? My daughter is going to be a mommy?! Oh, and what a wonderful mommy she will be!

The shower was your typical baby shower - times two! Our theme was 'The Perfect Pair' ~ and we celebrated with my daughter. We hugged, we laughed, we oohed and aahed as she opened a mountain of gifts. Her friends and family were so generous and I know that she and her husband are so grateful. I spent part of the time just watching her ...and remembering ... and thinking to myself that this is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TP Therapy

At the gym this morning I spent 40 long minutes on the elliptical machine. I had some definite aggression, anger, frustration, stress to work through so I grabbed onto those handles and I went to work. The music from my Ipod further helped to pump me up. I soon was lost in the zone. My mind started to wander and my blood stopped boiling. I took a few deep cleansing breaths.

I thought about strategies I have learned through the years for dealing with anger and negativity. I recalled a memory from when I was teaching first grade. It was the end of a rather long school year and I had planned a field trip to our local airport since we were studying transportation. After our tour of the airport we were going to the restaurant with the golden arches for lunch.

One afternoon I was sitting at 'circle' time with my class and we were discussing the upcoming trip. I handed each child a permission slip and a letter explaining all of the particulars of the trip for their parents. I explained to the students that I needed to know before the trip what their choice for lunch was: hamburger happy meal or chicken nugget happy meal. I also informed them that we would all be drinking milk - no soda. Since we had recently finished a nutrition unit I didn't see this to be an issue. Wrong. Billy Bob stands up and shouts, "That is a stupid rule. I am drinking soda. My mother says I can drink soda anytime I want." He was probably correct. His mother probably allowed him to drink soda anytime he wanted. Just as she allowed him to bring a knife to school. Just as she allowed him to draw very graphic, often disturbing pictures of the human anatomy - girls and boys - anytime he wanted, just as she allowed him to decide if he needed to meet with our school guidance counselor...he usually refused...the list goes on. This was the child who had whacked me in the head with his metal lunchbox. This was the child who, at show and tell time, shared pictures of his mom on her vacation. How cute - except she was nude. It had been a very long year and when Billy Bob stood up and shouted at me that he would drink soda I made a decision. The only way Billy Bob was going on this field trip was if one of his parents came with us. I had no support paraprofessional in my room and I decided that it would not be wise for me to take all of this responsibility for this child. I was confident that the administration would support my decision.

I called mom that evening and explained my decision. She went back and forth for a while but I stood my ground. She finally saw things my way and told me that she thought it might be good if Billy Bob's father be the parent to accompany us on this adventure. I had no issue with that. As a matter of fact I felt that it would be a positive for Billy Bob to have his dad there. Sure enough, for the next few days Billy Bob floated around the classroom so excited that his dad was going on the field trip with him. His father was frequently not in the picture and the few times I had conversations with him I felt that he was always trying to 'sell' me, never truly listening to the serious concerns I had about his son.

Finally the big day arrived. I was relieved to see that Billy Bob's behavior was golden. He was SO proud that his dad was sitting next to him on the bus. I was glad that I had stood my ground.

We met our tour guide and she explained the rules. We were actually going to walk out onto the tarmac to see some of the smaller planes up close and personal. She stressed the importance of staying within the ropes. I did a quick head count. Where was Billy Bob's dad? Oh, there he was, over in the corner talking on his cell phone. Great. Where was Billy Bob? Oh, there he was. Over at the soda vending machine, kicking it and pushing all of the buttons. I got Billy Bob away from the machine and convinced him to get in line so we could go see the plane. I went over to his father and motioned, frantically, that I needed him to get in line with his son - now.

We walked out onto the tarmac and I was on alert that everyone stayed behind the ropes. The last thing I needed was for one of my little guys to get hit by an airplane. There was a lot of activity - planes landing, taking off, propellers propelling, a little boy running recklessly towards a moving plane...WHAT! Sure enough, there was Billy Bob running out of control, on the wrong side of the ropes. I took off after him, trying hard not to panic. I finally caught up to him and corralled him. With his hand firmly in mine, I marched to his father who had his cell phone stuck in his ear.

I put my Irish temper on the back burner and acted as the professional educator that I was. "Mr. Billy Bob, it means the world to your son to have you here as a chaperone. I need you to focus on him for the rest of this trip. It might be wise to shut your cell phone off so you can focus on Billy Bob. We need to insure that he is safe."

I then turned my attention to the rest of my class. We went back into the airport and continued our tour. Billy Bob and dad were lagging behind but it appeared that the cell phone was put away. We prepared to get on the bus so we could drive to the golden arches. I did a head count and realized that I was missing two people. Of course, it was Billy Bob Jr. and Billy Bob Sr. ~ incredible. I went back into the terminal to search for them. My head was starting to throb. When I found them, my blood began to bubble as it reached the boiling point. I reached the vending machine just as Billy Bob Sr. put the last of his coins in.
"What are you doing?" I asked, not so calm.
"Well, um, you see, I have to leave. My friend is coming here to meet me. I have business to take care of and I need to get going. So I told Billy Bob he could have a soda if he promised to behave."
"You have got to be kidding me. This is not fair to Billy Bob, it isn't fair to me and it certainly isn't the plan that I set up with your wife. Plus, he is not having that soda while on a field trip with me."
"Aw, c'mon, "....and he continued to schmooze me, sweet talk me, sell me.
I took his son's hand and said "Come on, Billy Bob let's go have lunch with the rest of your classmates."
We walked away from his father.
"Wait, Mrs. Kelley, you forgot this." I turned to shoot him the evil eye. He stood there, holding the can of soda. I resisted the temptation to tell him where to stick it.
Billy Bob and I got on the bus together. He held my hand for the rest of the day and never again mentioned the can of soda.

When we got back to the school we were met by the school's guidance counselor. He was anxious to hear about how our day had gone. With no kids in sight I started to vent. I started to cry. My heart ached for my young student. I now had a much better understanding for why he behaved the way he did. I told the guidance counselor that I wanted to meet up with this poor excuse of a man -alone -one on one.

The guidance counselor then left, telling me he knew exactly what I needed. far as I knew alcohol wasn't allowed on school property. I was curious as to what he had up his sleeve.

He soon came back with a bucket, a large piece of white paper, and a roll of toilet paper. Great, now I was going to probably be a guinea pig to some new therapy treatment he had just read about. He filled the bucket up with water as he told me to draw a life size picture of Billy Bob's dad on the large piece of white paper. I did as directed and he then hung my drawing up on the wall.

"Now, take a wad of the toilet paper, soak it in the water and then throw it hard at the picture of Billy Bob's father. As you throw it, yell out why you are angry at him."

Now the students had all left for the day so let me tell you, I let things fly. Wad after wad of toilet paper stuck to my paper drawing. I laughed as one wad hit him right between the eyes. I screamed about how he repeatedly hurt his little boy. I yelled about how he thought a can of soda could make it okay. I used the whole roll of toilet paper and by the end I was emotionally wiped out.

So if the elliptical machine, treadmill or stairmaster don't remove the stress from your body, grab a roll of toilet paper and start throwing - hard.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hit the Road and Don't You Come Back No More...

We ushered 2009 in rather quietly. We spent the evening with four of our closest friends. We ate too much, drank very little and played games. If you haven't played Mad Gab yet I strongly recommend that you try it soon. Laughter guaranteed! At midnight our host set off some fabulous fireworks. We aahed, oohed and all felt a sense of the excitement, the promise that the New Year holds. The old year was tarnished and had its share of defects and we were ready to replace it with this shiny new model.

My husband and I are self-employed in the world of real estate. And like many professions, when life is good, it is very good. And when life is bad, it can be very bad. We have been on this ride before and I truly hoped that we wouldn't have to venture down this road again but here we are. I will not bore you with details. That is not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to tell you about an unwelcome visit into our lives, a visitor that I am kicking out - today.

My husband and I are both emotional, passionate people. When we work, we work hard. When we play, we play hard. When we dance, we dance hard. When we panic, we panic hard. So during the past few months, we have had to work to remain focused and positive. We are both believers in the power of having a positive attitude. But sometimes we lose our focus and that is when the uninvited guest sneaks in.

This particular guest is invisible yet an aura of darkness surrounds him. I refer to the guest as a male because he is strong and heavy. When he pushes down on my shoulders it can be difficult to remove him. He sits on my husband's chest, making it hard for him to breath. He sucks the oxygen out of the room. He blocks the sunshine from entering the room.

Well, guess what, Mr. Uninvited Guest ~ your visit here in my home, in my workplace, in my body , in my husband's body is over. Pack your bags! You have picked the wrong woman to mess with. I am a Taurus and stubborn is a key component of my personality. So Mr. Bully, my size seven foot is now planted firmly on your backside and I am kicking you out via the front door. Good-bye Fear!

I know what we need to do and we are going to do it. Think positive talk. Focus on positive thoughts. Act in a positive way. Be mindful of moments. Exercise. Communicate. Work hard. Surround ourselves with friends and family. Appreciate the small stuff. Keep a 'happy' journal. Laugh. Dance. Hug. Kiss. Snuggle. Watch Ellen Degeneres. I will stick my chin out and stand tall.

I have been here before and I know that we will survive. I am a fighter from way back. I also know that life could be SO much worse. I will not wallow in self-pity. I will reach out to others in need. I will make the most of each day and cherish each moment. We will survive.

And now I am going to go out into the snowstorm and make a snow angel! Enjoy.
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