Thursday

You've Got to Know When to Hold 'Em...

(pic from zazzle.com)


The Gambler lyrics.

Wouldn't it figure.

You know how I love to hit the casinos, so it's only right that the most relatable lyrics I could find for this blog post were to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers.  I often find the best way to express how I feel lies in a quote from a song or a movie.  This is no exception.


You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
(sometimes you just know you need to walk away for a little bit - hopefully before you feel the urge to run)



I've written this post 100 times over in my head; in the middle of the night, in the car, while shopping, at work - over and over.  I'm finally at a point where I just need to get it on the blog and explain how I feel.  All of these thoughts, coupled with the fact that Facebook shows my posts to 1% of my people have made me finally just want to put this out there.

When I had my third baby, I was deep into the clutches of Post-Partum.  I had 2 under 13 months old, no family around to help and friends that were at least an hour away.  I was lonely, tired, frustrated and sleep-deprived.  My best friend told me to sign up for Facebook and that it would be a good way to connect with others, laugh a little, and help me to feel a little less isolated.  Facebook immediately became a friend - especially at 2 am when I was up feeding a baby.  I could scroll through my news feed and see what everyone else was up to - for it sure felt like my world was at a stand still.

I began posting quirky little one liners - usually about babies or diapers - or sleep deprivation.  I would get a buzz off of the responses I got from friends.  You crack me up!  You should write a book!  You need your own blog!

All of these comments went to my head and I started writing a blog.  A few months later, I found the courage to actually publish my thoughts after I read a few really funny blogs.  It was a little nudge of courage telling me that it was totally okay not to be Pottery Barn Perfect.  Self-deprecation was my specialty for years - so why not share it with the world, right?

I started the FB page to go with the blog and planned my day around making ecards and memes, all while tending to the wee ones.  I became hungry for likes and comments, shares and wall posts.  I read every comment, good or bad, and took them all to heart.  I read blog after blog, page after page and became immersed in the blog world.  I made friends, met the funniest people ever, witnessed talents being exposed and developed a love for my hobby.

And then it became too much.  It actually became an addiction - an obsession.

Wait, honey, not now- I just have to check Facebook 'real quick.'
Mommy didn't hear you - say that again?
Can you just give me five minutes, I just have to comment on something before I forget.
Oh no, one of my friends is having a bad day, I just have to send a quick message to her.

The twitching started.

I need to check my page.
I need to respond to a comment.
What did that blogger write today?
Did I support so and so when they put themselves out there today?
Did I like a status?
Did I share a friend's post?
What did I miss while I was gone?
Did I catch up?
Did I this?
Did I that?
OMG I haven't commented on that thread, they are going to think I'm a self-absorbed jerk.
Gotta go.
Gotta go.
Gotta get it done..
Hurry kids...we're late.

No.
No more.
This is crazy.

I mean yes, I want to know what my friends are eating when they go out...via Instagram photos.
Yes, I want to 'like' that my friend's little girl started pre-school.
Yes - I do want to read someone's Jerry Maguire-like thesis about life that they wrote at 3 am.
Yes- I truly care that my friend had to put her dog down.  I care. 
I do.

But at what price?
My sanity?
My kids' precious moments?
Why do I feel the constant need to respond to every post, every text message, every email every everything in record time??
Why is there so much guilt associated with commenting on everyone's everything?
I can't keep up.
And admitting this, is hopefully the first step to fixing the need to do so.


I get that I cannot possibly be all things to all people.  And at 40, I am ready to stop trying to be.  For my soul's sake, I have to do what makes me happy and what makes my days with friends and family worth reflecting on at the end of the day.

So I don't make an ecard for 6 months straight...the world will keep spinning.
So I don't write the world's most brilliant blog post...life will go on.
So I don't comment on my neighbor's photo of her cake she slaved over..the sun will shine again tomorrow.
So I wait until tomorrow to respond to an email...it'll be okay.

It has been so much fun.  This hobby.  Doing something that made me truly happy and proud.  I love watching others who love to blog find their success, reach their goals and celebrate their achievements more than I can express. The one aspect I don't care for at all is reading the posts that rip other people apart -  - then the rebuttal to that letter - then the rebuttal to that letter.  You've got Pinterest Perfect vs. Imperfect  posts - then more rebuttals, then more open letters - it's too meanspirited to read all of the time.  Add the nasty comments on those that multiply like rabbits and what do we have?  A tornado of negativity swirling around the internet that is so destructive people find themselves slamming their laptops shut from disgust and rolling their eyes so hard they damage their optic nerve.  I keep seeing articles on how Facebook users have depression tendencies - well is it any wonder?  When you are constantly being bombarded with the War of the Words in your newsfeed every morning?  My original goal was to make people laugh and spread joy.   My goal now, however, is to forgive myself if I don't write, forget the fact that I didn't make my kids' latest one- liner my status update for all to read, and to savor the moments in between instead of trying to work every highlight into a post or funny photo.

I'm not saving lives here...I'm nobody's poet, hell, I'm nobody in general.  I'm just a mom who tries to make her follies into funnies, to make lives a little happier, to spread thoughtful joy and a few laughs and make the world a little less scary. It's just time for me to get back to the basics right now and sometimes that means rearranging priorities and how you look at things on a daily basis.  I just want to write like I am one of your girlfriends that you have coffee with.  The one that makes you feel important and that listens to your stories and laughs with you, never at you.  I want to be the kind of blogger that always leaves you thinking about something pleasant, or that makes you think in a way that maybe you didn't before - or even someone who is a bright spot in your day.  Maybe I'm asking too much - but that's my goal.  Blog when I've got a story to share, a smile to spread, a laugh to send through the computer.

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep
'Cause every hand's a winner
And every hand's a loser
(same applies to blogging - sometimes you write and it's perfect, and sometimes you write and it's total shit...you just have to know what to publish and what to leave in drafts...)  


I'm so grateful to everyone who has read and supported and been a friend to me through this experience.   My new hope is not to be the funniest, most wonderful blogger in Cyberspace, my hope is to write when I feel moved enough to do so, to write quality, not quantity, and to love to blog again so that it shows and spreads joy to others.  In the meantime,  I'll still be around, just not running to my laptop like a crazed person anymore.  Baby steps to a simpler life.

Happy 2 Year Blog-iversary to me.  I hope this gift continues to give in the most positive way possible. 

Love and Hugs..Now and Always -
Until the next time I have something worth writing -Merry Christmas, and may 2014 be full of joy,
~DG

Tuesday

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the City Council Meeting...




It's no big secret that I volunteer for a few non-profits in the area.  And it's no big secret that I spend much of my extra time running around trying to find bargains on toiletries, outerwear and boots for kids.  It's been an interest of mine for the past few years and as the needs of this area continued to grow, so have the hours I've put in.

I've always said, the reason to do these things is simple:  you can't fix everything, but you can volunteer some time here and there to help someone who's struggling and in turn, you surround yourself with good karma and a heart that overflows with gratitude.  Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine a day would come when those things big and small that I did would be recognized in such a surreal manner.

It started just a few weeks ago at the height of our volunteer work for the Santa Fund (providing boots, snowpants and outerwear to kids in need).  We distributed hundreds and hundreds of items in a short amount of time.  One evening, I got an email from our fearless leader, Janet, saying that on Monday, December 9th, the Santa Fund would be recognized for its service to the children in the community.  I was absolutely thrilled at this knowing that it might prompt the residents of the area to donate money or coats once they are reminded of the good we do at the city council meeting.

It was a long Monday.  I had worked all day, drove my kids all around town, found time to prepare dinner and even do some laundry in between.  It was one of those days where I couldn't catch my breath, my nerves were shot and I was feeling the sensation of my throat closing up from the stress of way too much to do.  It was snowing and freezing rain, absolutely miserable, raw weather and my first thought was I don't really need to go to the City Council meeting to get my photo in the paper, let some of the other board members go and be recognized.  You know how you just kind of start talking yourself out of things?

I mentioned to my husband, maybe, just maybe the weather might have canceled the meeting and he quickly shot the idea down.  Those don't get canceled, like ever.  This is New England.  It's right down the road, just go and you'll be glad you did - it's about time they recognize the volunteer work you all do.

He followed me around as I got dressed.  I was like what do you want?  He just found things to chat about from the day's events.  I found it very odd and then it hit me.

He's going to wrap my presents or something - there's definitely something fishy going on.   So I finally just called him out.

You're up to something - are you hiding a present or something?   He started to laugh.

Okay I'll let him have his fun.

I threw a few curls in my hair, added a fresh bit of lip gloss and off I went in the cold.  As I drove over there, a car skidded left of center and just about plowed me into the next town.  I swerved quickly and just about hit the sidewalk.

This is crazy.  The weather sucks.  I don't need accolades for my charity work..what if I got in an accident on the way to the meeting that would be horrible! 

So I took it slow, almost to a crawl - still shaking from the near tragic moments just minutes before.

I got to City Hall.  Just about fell on my ass three times trying to get through the icy parking lot - and entered the warm building.  Mark had told me that there would be one meeting prior to the CC meeting and not to panic if it looked like it started without me.

I just stood in the hallway, not wanting to go barging in.

I waited.
And waited.
And waited some more...

Where the hell are the other board members - they should be walking in any time now - I'm not walking in alone.

Finally - I heard the door open to see some of my very favorite people in the world enter.  Friends, children of friends, more friends.

Hey, what are you all doing here?

Stonefaced.  All of them.

They were there for the City Council meeting segment dedicated to the walking trail.

How weird.

We all went upstairs to the meeting.  We walked in right at 7:00 pm as the pre-meeting shuffled out.

When I walked in, I saw more of my favorite people..some board members...and then family...my old boss...my kids' friends' parents, when I tell you all of my most treasured people (except my family in Ohio).  My legs started to shake when I saw Mark and my three beautiful boys walk into the meeting with flowers and cards.

Heart attack city.  Hands trembling, tears in eyes - all I could think of is  - what did I do and what is going on here??? The board isn't getting recognized, are they?

The head of the board of the Santa Fund led me to the front two rows of the meeting.  We sat through some approvals of the minutes, some banter about downtown restoration and what not.  I had no idea that the entire back of the conference room was filled with my loved ones.

The Mayor came to the podium and started to speak about the Debra Bieniarz  Memorial.  I was very aware of this award and its recipients because it recognizes one person a year for their dedication to children in the Lakes Region.  Debra  was a police officer who died tragically.  Every year a committee selects someone to be recognized based on nominations from city residents for this award.

I can't breathe at this point. Surely I am not the recipient of this award, I am NOT worthy of this.

He started speaking of all of the things I've done.  I heard every other word because I was fighting the urge to do the ugly cry.  And I mean the sobbing, bent over, drooling, snotty ugly cry.  I was trying to breathe and stay calm but at that point I even forgot how to inhale.


"This year's recipient is always willing to help out our community's children and families.  She is resourceful and uses her community connections to help guide families to services that are needed.  The Lakes Region is very lucky to have her in our community; she is loved and respected by many and has truly made a huge difference in many children's lives...In recognition of this year's honoree's tremendous commitment to the youth of Laconia, I am very proud to present this year's recipient....Andrea..."

I stumbled to the Mayor's side.  Took the beautiful gold plate and shook his hand.  I might have stopped crying long enough to get a photo for the newspaper and say a few words.  As I looked out into the audience and saw myself surrounded by the love of friends and family, I am pretty sure my heart exploded because I couldn't breathe from the pressure in my chest fueled by an indescribable level of pride.

I will never ever be confident or secure enough to say that I accepted the award with a feeling that I deserved it.  I still do not feel worthy enough to carry this honor as there are so many people that give tirelessly to this community, but I am gracious enough to accept the accolades and use the trust the community has in me to continue to pay my blessings forward.

As we all walked out of the meeting, and I was handed bundles and bouquets of flowers, letters, cards and other gifts - coupled with already shaking, carrying my coat and purse, I knew what was coming next.

I dropped the plate.

CRASSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

It made the LOUDEST noise.  Imagine the sound the crashing of 2 cymbals make when  a bandmember slams them together during a performance in an orchestra.  Then multiply that by 100.

I've had this award for 4 minutes and I dropped it.  This is why we can't have nice things.

My husband, who was still in the meeting, addressed the concerned council goers.

"We're Greek.  We break plates when we celebrate."

The meeting erupted in laughter.

So in typical DG fashion, I'm awarded one of the highest honors in this community, and I almost break it before I even get out the door.

There's a scratch on that plate from the fall.  It's flawed, it's imperfect and I love it.

It's just like me.

Thank you all for supporting me in my adventures en-route to making this world a better place.

xo Cheers and love,
Andrea
the Do-Gooder known as DG

Ps - I had to scan in the letter my 13 year old wrote me on behalf of my boys...I almost drown in tears.


Thursday

7 Songs a Singin'...

Teeny tiny disclaimer - my opinions are my own - there, I said it.  Everyone has their personal faves and worsts, right? Carry on...


I work in a very small office.  People take certain liberties in that office - like turning on the office stereo to blare Christmas music since way before Thanksgiving.  I don't mind it - I love Christmas music - good Christmas music. But the station we have it on is kind of pushing me over the holiday cliff when I'm already stressed enough. I would have to say that there are ups and downs to listening to an all-day Christmas music channel - I mean there are only so many songs out there.  So, much like the emotional ebbs and flows of the workday, there are mood highs and lows invoked by the playlist of the local radio station as well.  Experiencing the range of roller coaster - like emotion during this playlist, I felt compelled to come up with a Top 7 List of songs to avoid at all costs if you are stressed this holiday season.  The feelings the following songs bring range from maniacal to mental, cranky to crazy and looney to loco. Please don't get me wrong - I love 98% of the holiday songs out there but the 2% make me wanna bang my head on my keyboard, not a Christmas drum.

Based on the past few days of constant caroling in and around my desk, I've compiled a list of the top 7 songs you should avoid at all costs if you are stressed out this holiday season.

These will only make it worse.

Trust me. (And yes, these are just the ones that make my head hurt - I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but please, feel free to comment with your most -loathed or most -loved carols..)


#1, Numero UNO, Absolute Worst song to listen to -   Jingle Bells - Barbara Streisand
If you are already tipping the crazy scales - one listen to this Christmas-on Crack song will push you over the edge.  Don't do it.  When this song comes on I want to beat my printer with a baseball bat Office Space-style.  

2. The Christmas Shoes by New Song - I thought Christmas jingles were supposed to be upbeat and happy?  Sweet Baby J - this one makes me want to drive off the road from the sobbing.  Must. Change. Channel.  If I had a flask of whiskey at my desk, I would have consumed every last drop of it to get me through the depression that song put me through.

3.  Christmas Wrapping ~ The Waitresses - Not sure if it's the monotonous sounds of the singing, the fact that I miss my early twenties when I hear this song, or that I still don't know the words after 3 decades of listening to this over and over again.  The fast, rap-like lyrics make me equal parts jittery and stabby.  I feel like I need to be marching with a baton in Big Lots when I hear this in the store.  The horn makes my ear bleed.  Is that a real horn or one of the New Year's Eve blowers?  Ooof.  Painful.

4. Santa Baby - Madonna's version.   - also known as the Gold Digger's Christmas song.  Awful.  I hate everything about this song.  It should be the theme song to the Real Housewives' Christmas special.   Sadly enough, it's one of the few hit Christmas jingles written by a woman.  *cringe*  Sure we all want nice things for Christmas - but no one wants to hear the innuendos promised in exchange for a yacht.  

5.  I'm sorry - I'm sorry in advance, truly I am - and for the record I am a peace loving nutter for the most part...but I have to put John Lennon Happy Christmas.  I'm going to follow the Barenaked Ladies lead on this and just blame it on Yokey.  Is it just her singing the background lyrics or is it an entire group of first graders?  Regardless, it makes me want to staple my ears shut with my red swingline.  Sorry folks - it's coming in at number five.  This is a good lead in to my number 6...

6.  (Simply having a ) Wonderful Christmas time - Paul McCartney.   And why wouldn't he? He's rich as rockefeller, a successful musician - one of the most loved people in the entire world so yeah, it's simple - ding dong - ooohhhh ohhhhh ohoh ohhh doot do doot doo doot do.  No.  Not even a little.  It's just a slow, painful earbleed.  The kind that sticks in your mind all day so no matter what you do, you're either whistling, humming, or struggling with the words for the rest of the day.

7.  Santa Claus is Comin' To Town - Bruce Springsteen.   I'm so sorry, I do love the Boss - seriously I do.  I could do without this song though.  I feel like he need a hot chocolate and a blanket - maybe a back rub or something - he seems tired, out of breath, and in dire need of a break from even speaking.  Shhh...don't sing - don't speak...just chill out Bruce.  What's so funny?  Are you drunk?   Ooof then he starts struggling at the end and I just have to turn it off - he can barely finish his words and I'm not sure if he's laughing or he's crying - what's he doing? I never know what he's dooooing at that part.  I'm exhausted by the end of the tune.  And I need Motrin.    Why put that happy little piano jingle in the last 4 seconds and try to make it all better?  It's too late, I'm traumatized.

That's all for my Holiday Earworms - - I'm hoping I get some of those Bose noise canceling headphones for Christmas so that next year, I can just pop those on at my desk when any of the 7 Deadly Songs come on.

I will leave you with a laugh - and let me tell you - if this cd was available - I would buy it and play it on a constant loop because it makes me cackle hysterically every single time I watch it.
Enjoy.
Watch the SNL video A Very Buble Christmas


Until next time, 
Cheers, love and turn the volume down wouldja?
~DG

PS - - MY FAVE THIS SEASON IS THIS ONE BY JD MCPHERSON! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTTKis3IJ-s#t=89