Setting Boundaries

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When my kids come home from school, upset because someone has made them feel bad about themselves or their abilities, my first and last response is always comfort. Then what can we do to change the situation?

Can you turn the other cheek? Is it necessary for you to be in the person’s presence, as in do you have to associate with them?

When they’ve calmed down, we usually have a conversation about setting boundaries which includes control and giving their control to someone else. I know, it’s a big concept. But more often than not, I’ve found it to be true.

When someone makes you feel inadequate, or hurts your feelings, your response makes all the difference in the world to your own happiness. Please understand, I’m talking about day to day conflict, not serious bullying or abuse. Those should be put into a different category and dealt with differently.

I recently got a taste of my own medicine, so to speak, on Facebook. Big surprise, right? #nosurprise

I miss the days when Facebook used to be a place to post pictures of your kids’ achievements, or celebrations, or good news. But it’s taken such a dark turn lately. Depressing, really.

So much arguing and political bashing on both sides, and quite frankly, I’m tired of the fighting. It’s really starting to affect me.

I’m hesitant to say what I posted, because, though I got all kinds of “likes” and what I posted was, what I thought, constructive and meaning to bring everyone together, it was met with one person’s venom and anger and it shook me to the core. I’m still upset about it three days later.

The stupid part is that the comment was from a “friend” from high school who I haven’t talked to in 30 years, and the only other time she’s left me a comment was on another post that was met with equal venom and anger. Obviously, she’s an angry person who I have NOTHING in common with anymore.

So what did I do? I gave away my control to a virtual stranger. I let HER make ME feel bad about myself. I let her opinion matter to me. Why? I’ll NEVER have to talk to her. We don’t even live in the same state anymore. I didn’t practice what I preach!

Here I am telling my kids NOT to do EXACTLY what I did. #parentfail

I think Facebook is dangerous because it gives some people the assumption that they have POWER. People say things on Facebook that they would NEVER say to one another in person. They drop their garbage and then drive away. They don’t ever have to face a consequence.

I don’t like to “unfriend” people without serious thought and consideration. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought “Why am I “friends” with her?” The only thing we have in common is a past, and even that is limited. And the only time she ever comments is to criticize, and that’s not healthy. If we were “friends” in real life, I would probably eliminate her from my life anyways. #boundaries

So I took back my power, set my boundaries, and set an example for my kids: Not everyone you “friend” on Facebook is a friend. It’s okay to be discerning. Life is what you make it and no one has the right to steal your joy.

And that’s what I want to instill in my kids. It’s YOUR joy, and if you need to set up boundaries to protect it, than that’s perfectly acceptable.

When do parents stop going to kid’s birthday parties?

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My youngest, my baby, is turning 11 years old this month. That means middle school is just around the corner. #wheredoesthetimego

His birthday party is planned. This year he wanted to do laser tag. Sounds fun, right?

Over the years I’ve grown to resent the “birthday party competition” among parents. I can’t believe what parents are willing to spend on their kid’s parties. No judgment (okay, maybe a little), but I just can’t imagine spending $500 or more on a child’s birthday party! It’s bad enough that I’m forking over about half that much for this one. Call me cheap if you want, but it kills me every time. #toocheaptoparty

Since he’s turning 11, and most of his friends are already 11, I figured I’d be getting RSVP’s from the parents eager to drop their kids off for two hours. A mini vacation, right? The kids are going to be supervised in a closed arena, after all. So imagine my surprise when almost every parent is coming with their kid!

Now I would understand if these kids were NEW friends and I didn’t know the parents, but I do know them. Our kids have gone to school together for the past 5 years. The kids have been to each other’s houses to play. They’re good friends.

Don’t get me wrong, the parents are nice people and I understand wanting to socialize, but at what age do we let our kids go without us? Especially to something like a supervised birthday party? Am I the only one who thinks that 11 years old is old enough to go to a birthday party without mom or dad?

So now I have to rethink (and re-calculate) the birthday budget to include food and cake for adults too! And that gets costly. Kids are happy with pizza and cupcakes…but adults? Do you think they’ll be surprised when they get pizza and cupcakes too?

I know we always say that “things were different when I was a kid,” but we survived. Most of us even thrived. I remember I had a surprise birthday in 5th grade with about 8 girls, and we all lived though it. And that was GIRLS. No one got bullied, no one got abandoned, and we had fun WITHOUT our parents (well, my parents were there – it was at my house…this was pre-laser tag days when we were forced to play party games and eat cake).

Maybe I’m totally off base here. But I wonder how many parents will show up to the next birthday party, or the next, or the next…etc? At some point we have to trust that our kids will remember all we’ve taught them. Sometimes we have to let loose on the rope a little, or they will never learn to fly on their own.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Because according to the RSVP’s, there are only 2 other parents who feel the way I do.

The Coffee Shop Vignettes – Jessica & Daisy

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Jessica wiped Jared’s pudgy face and he cooed at her. She’d already dropped the older two off at school, and had time to go to the gym. She wanted to enjoy her cup of coffee in peace, but Jared had a cold and couldn’t go to day care, so she had to bring him with her. So much for “me” time. She checked her lipstick in the review mirror one more time before getting out of the car.

She stood in line, with Jared perched on her hip. Two people ahead of her stood a woman holding a baby with out of control curly blond hair and a toddler, with equally crazy hair, hanging on her prairie skirt.

“Stop that, David…put that down,” she scolded. The one on her hip let out a single scream, and David laughed at him. Within minutes, David realized he had an audience with his brother, and began dancing in line. The woman struggled to control him, but it was clear she was going to lose that battle.

Jessica craned her neck to see the spectacle. Jared cooed and she shushed him. He obliged.

By the time the woman had gotten to the front of the line to order her coffee, David was in full entertainer mode, dancing around standing patrons. The woman struggled to give her order and then find her money while still keeping track of David. Other customers grimaced and gave her dirty looks. Jessica rolled her eyes.

“No control,” Jessica mumbled to herself.

“You got that right,” the well-dressed man in front of her said.

David continued to dance around the tables and the younger one screamed in delight as she made her way to the table. Jessica had to raise her voice over the commotion so that the clerk could hear her.

“David! Get over here!” the woman raised her voice.

Jessica watched her along with the entire café. She shook her head as she got her coffee and tried to find a table anywhere but near David and his Mom, but there was none. She was forced to sit right beside them.

Jessica no sooner set Jared in the high chair and he began to cry. She gave him a pacifier, but he spit it out. She gave a quick and inconspicuous sniff, but his diaper was fine. She could feel the eyes of other patrons on her and it made her uncomfortable. She was getting more flustered by the moment, and felt the need to leave, but she really wanted to enjoy her coffee. Still, what would people think? Even the older woman across the way waved at Jared and smiled at him, but he continued to cry. It was turning into a fiasco.

And then David came over to her table.

“Is he okay?” he asked.

“Yes, he’s fine, thank you,” Jessica said trying to shoo David away. She didn’t want people to think David was with her.

“But he doesn’t sound okay,” David continued.

“Thank you. I can take care of it,” Jessica said. Why wasn’t David’s mother attending to him?

As Jessica was struggling with Jared, he arched his back, knocking over her coffee. It spilled all over the table and onto the floor. Jessica was mortified. She reached for napkins, but only had a few.

David jumped back. “Mommy, Mommy! The baby spilled!” he announced to the café.

Jessica restrained herself from yelling at the child.

“Here let me help.” It was David’s mother. She appeared from nowhere and held a rag in her hand. Without a word she began cleaning up. David ran to the counter, got more napkins, and began helping too.

Jessica continued to tend to Jared. He’d started to quiet down as he was distracted by all the commotion. She didn’t want the woman helping her, but she really did need the help.

“Thank you,” Jessica said.

“No problem. This is nothing compared to the mess my boys make,” the woman said.

Jessica looked at the woman’s baby who sat quietly chewing on his pacifier. She felt guilty for judging the woman.

“I’m sorry. Jared’s not usually this much trouble. I don’t know what happened. But thank you for your help,” she said.

The woman handed the rags to David and he took them to the counter and handed them to the clerk.

David retuned with a cookie.

“Look Mommy! The lady gave me a cookie!” he said.

“That’s because you’re such a big helper. Thanks buddy,” she said to him.

“Again…thank you,” Jessica said.

“No problem. We mom’s have to stick together,” the woman said.

“Yes, I guess we do,” Jessica agreed. She held out her hand, “I’m Jessica.”

“Oh, I’m Daisy. I know, it’s a weird name. It’s what happens when your parents are hippy’s,” Daisy said.

“It’s lovely,” Jessica said.

“I’m David,” David said very loudly.

“It’s nice to meet you too,” Jessica said.

“Do you have any coffee left?” Daisy asked.

Jessica looked at her cup which was empty. “Nope, so much for that cup of coffee.”

“Here, let me go get you another. What was it?” Daisy asked.

“Oh, you don’t have to…” Jessica started.

“It’s okay. I’m sure they’ll give you a free one.”

“Um…Mocha, thanks,” Jessica said.

“David, watch your brother,” Daisy instructed.

David dragged his brother’s high chair over to Jessica’s table and sat in the chair across from her.

“That’s my brother. His name is Riley,” David said.

Daisy returned with Jessica’s coffee and they spent the next hour talking about their kids, and Jessica realized they weren’t so different after all.

Introducing “The Coffee Shop Vignettes”

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Sometimes it’s hard to think of an idea for a Blog Post, but it’s much easier for me to think of a story. I think I get it from my dad.

When I was really little, he used to sing a bedtime song to me that he made up called “Jackie Penguin.” In the song, Jackie Penguin would just happen to have the exact same day I did. And Jackie Penguin’s day always ended happy or learned a lesson, just like I did. #thanksdad

That’s where the inspiration for “The Coffee Shop Vignettes” came from: for the days that I don’t have a Blog Post, but I do have something to share…or at least my fictional characters do.

My hope is that the reader would see themselves in the situations, or their friends, and would find connection and comfort.

This is a compilation of encouraging conversations from everyday life. Imagine yourself sitting at your local coffee shop cozied up with a book, surrounded by other patrons. It is alive with conversation, of people coming and going, and slowing down just long enough to get a glimpse into one another’s lives. These are the stories of your neighbors, your friends, your family, and maybe even your own story. They may sound familiar to you, and you may have even overheard a similar story at the table next to you.

My hope is that some of the stories bring you comfort, reminding you that we’re all in this together. Your stories are my stories, my stories are yours. Please check out the first installment of “The Coffee House Vignettes” listed under the “Categories” sidebar.

A Tribute to Customer Service

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Anyone who works with the public in a customer-server relationship knows it can be trying at times, on both sides of the fence.

I’d like to give a shout out to all of the customer service people who take their job seriously, and to let them know that their smile and ability to do their job effectively is appreciated.

My favorites are those who I see on a regular basis, who seem to recognize me. Being friendly and polite goes a long way.

My friend and I stopped by the grocery store on our way home from lunch today, and I came across my favorite cashier, Julie. She is always friendly and cheerful, even when I can tell that she’s had a long day on her feet. Julie helped me pull a fast one on my friend, who wouldn’t let me pay for her $2.04 loaf of bread. Julie joked around with us while my friend and I fought over letting me pay for the bread. So while my friend was busy digging through her purse, I slipped Julie the money, and she rang it up before my friend could object further. Now that’s customer service.

Or there’s Susan, our family Optician, who knows my kids by name, and never hesitates to joke with them. She goes out of her way to help us choose glasses that are in our budget, while still finding a style that my kids love.

There are countless food servers, coffee baristas, retail salespeople, medical receptionists, tech support personnel, bank tellers, clerks and hundreds of other customer service people that we deal with day after day. Chances are most of us have been in a customer service position at one time or another.

In a day and age where we push buttons to select the right “option,” where we “dial by name” instead of talking to an actual person, where receptionists are few and far between, where we order anything and everything we want on-line, where human connection is dwindling, customer service is a dying art.

So “thank you” to the customer service representatives that add their own personal touch.

Have you met an exceptional customer service person that deserves a shout out? Does the personal contact keep you coming back?

My Epilepsy Experience and being your own advocate

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First, some history. I’ve had epilepsy (absence seizures) all of my life, we think. I say “we think” because ever since I can remember, I have experienced the Auras that go along with my type of epilepsy. In short, we never knew there was a “problem” because when I was young, I would tell my mom that I felt weird, but I could never really explain what I was feeling, and she never saw any outward symptoms. When I was about 19 years old, I had an episode while I was driving and drove off the road and into the bushes on the side of the road. That’s when the whole adventure to diagnosis started.

The doctors figure that the disorder started when I was only an infant. At 6 months old, I got meningitis, with an extremely high fever, and the doctors have assumed that there is probably some scar tissue on the brain that is causing the seizures, though none has ever shown up on an MRI (the scar tissue, not the brain – LOL).

I’m 47 now, and have been through a slew of neurologists They aren’t my favorite doctors for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because they hand you a pill and don’t listen to your ideas.

But I know my body. I know what makes it tick. And without doing my own research and fighting for what I believe in, I would still be taking exactly what they tell me, and having minimal results.

I used to have seizures every month, like clockwork around ovulation until after my period. And I was told by the neurologist (usually a man) that “everything is worse at that time.” Yeah, but why?! But I listened and stayed away from birth control pills because the neurologist said it could interfere with my medication.

Until recently. I started experiencing symptoms of peri-menopause with off and on periods and heavier than normal flow. So, once I again, I started researching. There’s a type of epilepsy called Catamenial epilepsy in which women’s seizures are exacerbated during their menstrual cycles.

I approached my neurologist who sort of dismissed the idea, so I went to my gynecologist instead. The Nurse Practitioner I saw listened to me and put me on a progesterone birth control pill. The seizures stopped immediately! No kidding! For 4 months I was seizure-free. That was the longest I’d ever been without a seizure since I was diagnosed and started keeping track. I had a few breakthrough seizures when the pharmacy filled a different brand name pill for me. I know there isn’t supposed to be a difference, but I fought to get the same brand I had before, and it worked again.

Also, thanks to Peri-Menopause, I started experiencing night sweats. I read that Magnesium will help with those. And it does, sort of. This last weekend I was sick with some sort of intestinal thing, so I backed off of the Magnesium. Within two days I was having seizures again.

So I started researching, and it turns out that people with epilepsy are sometimes Magnesium deficient. What?! No doctor ever told me that. I went back on the Magnesium and the seizures stopped the next day!

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to know that you HAVE to be your own advocate. YOU HAVE TO!

All this being said, I’m not advocating going off your meds. Don’t be reckless or careless and endanger your well-being. I still take my medication, because I think it probably works a little, though I can’t really prove it. But I’m not willing to go off of it simply because I don’t want to stir up the calm waters that I’ve fought so hard to find. But I seem to have found the right combination of meds and minerals to help my particular situation. And who knows? It may change again.

Talk to your doctor. If he or she won’t listen, find another who will. Be your own advocate, no matter what your situation. Sometimes we have to fight for our healthcare. We shouldn’t, but we do.

We deserve to live the very best life we can. We deserve to be healthy, whatever that means for you. Have you ever had to fight for your healthcare? What did you experience?

 

*I am not in the medical profession. This is my unique experience. I am not dispensing medical advice. The above post should only be taken as my opinion.

New Year’s Resolution

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I’ve read a lot…and I mean A LOT… of depressing blogs about how awful 2016 was. The theme seems to overwhelm the blogging world.

And I get it: we had a political climate that divided us (and still continues to); we’ve had what seems to be a significant number of celebrity deaths, especially in the last few months; there have been tragedies, unfair accusations, and a whole lot of judging going on.

But I guess that’s what happens when you put your hope in these things. #falsehope

I got sucked in too, on occasion, but it didn’t leave me feeling an overall sense of dread about the year 2016. Trust me, my family and I had our own share of difficulties in 2016.

But enough is enough!

My resolution for 2017 is to stop listening to the whining and the noise that is so distracting…even consuming.

My resolution is to put my hope in something that makes sense…my faith in Jesus.

I know, I don’t get “preachy” on here too often, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m sorry if it offends some of my followers, and I hope you don’t hold it against me.

My faith is the only thing that makes sense to me, that is never changing, that delivers over and over whether I deserve the blessings or not. #grace

My faith is not a magic trick that will make things appear out of nothing. My faith is a relationship, a genuine hope that everything is going to be okay, even if things don’t work out the way I want them to.

It’s the end of 2016 and I’m still not a published author, I’m not the perfect wife or mother, my house is still not clean, my kids still disobey me, I’m not debt free, I still have epilepsy, and world peace is still not achieved. But all that is okay, because I’m right where Jesus wants me to be.

Here’s wishing you a Happy and Safe New Year! I’ll see you in 2017!