Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two Hands

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I've been working on my other blog, documenting the journey with the new house. It's hard to keep up with two...

The other night I got a call at around 2:00 a.m. It was my Dad, saying he was very sick and was having severe pains in his stomach. He wanted me to come get him, and take him to the Emergency Room. In all his 80 years, that's the first time he's ever requested to go to the ER, so I knew it was something serious.

Turns out he was having a gall bladder attack and may have to have a little surgery. But in the hours we were in the hospital waiting for test results, something odd happened. My Dad became very needy. I could tell he was very scared. He's extremely healthy, and not used to being sick or in pain. If you've ever had a gall bladder attack, you know how incredibly painful it is. At one point, as he was starting to come down from the attack, he tapped my arm indicating he wanted me to give him my hand. He held it very tight for a long time. Neither of us said it, but at that moment I knew we were both thinking the same bad we both missed Mom.

After a long time, I started to lose feeling in my arm, so I pulled away. But when I did I stretched my hand out next to his and showed him just how much our two hands looked alike. It was my way of letting him know I was part of him and I would always be there for him.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It Ain't Fittin'....It Just Ain't Fittin'

The other day someone told me something that I just can't get out of my head. This person told me they didn't like hot dogs. I don't know why, but I just can't wrap my head around that. I can understand someone not eating hot dogs because they think they are unhealthy or because they can't stomach the ingredients, but how can anyone not like a hot dog?

There's just so many ways to love a dog! Boiled least favorite. Dogs on the grill...I like mine with a little ketchup, mustard, sweet relish and sweet onion. Dogs broiled on the little roller thingys at the ball game or at the Target food stand. I like those naked! And then there's the artery clogging dogs I get every now and again from the Nathan's man...chili, cheese, sweet sauteed onions and green peppers, and saurkraut. These dogs I limit to about 6 a year, for health purposes. can anyone not like hot dogs????!!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Life Knows What We Need

I was preparing to leave work for the weekend one Friday night in late July, when a strange thing happened to me. The facilities manager of our office building came in and asked me if I might know anyone who would be interested in adopting two Siamese cats. We have two cat lovers in my office, so I immediately went over and inquired if either of them might want a couple of new additions. They both said no. I mentioned to the fellow that I'd send out an email to the rest of the company on Monday. That's when he told me there wasn't time for that.

It seems there was this man who was being evicted from his loft, which is also owned by the same company who owns the building we occupy. The facilities manager had been in contact by phone with the man all day as they were clearing out all his possessions. Problem was, no one knew what to do with these two cats. The man's response was "put them out on the street corner for all I care".

We'd been looking for the right family pet for some time. There was the ill-fated week we fostered the Greyhound, and we kept tossing around the idea of a different dog. Problem is, we work all day and no one is home to train or care for any animal. I didn't feel it was right to leave an animal caged all day, and I certainly did not want to come home to messes everywhere and pee on my floors. Plus, I'm just too tired and busy to devote the necessary time to training a dog. I don't really know how to do it anyway!

The thought of a cat never really entered my mind. A lot of people simply hate them, and have no qualms about telling you so, and many people are allergic. Plus, the only other cat I ever owned ruined my carpet by peeing wherever she felt like peeing, she didn't particularly like to be petted, and she bit. But nonetheless, these two Seal Point Siamese ended up at my house that evening and they've been there ever since!

Kitty #1 reminds me of a cheerleader. She wears a pink collar. She's perky, she's friendly, she greets everyone at the door, and she's slightly annoying. This kitty came in the door that night acting like she'd lived here her whole life. She was just grateful to be here. The great thing about cats is, they don't really know their names anyway, so we call them all sorts of things. This kitty is Fancy Cat, or Good Kitty, Pretty Kitty, etc.

Kitty #2 was so mad when she got here, that she barracaded herself in my bedroom and hissed at anyone who came near. This kitty wears no collar because you'd have a better chance of putting a collar on a rattlesnake. Good news however, this one is now very well adjusted and will come sit on your lap and let you pet her. She's very different from the other one. She's got a bit of an attitude. We call her Bad Kitty, B.K., or Elphaba, since she reminds us a little of the Wicked Witch. I have to say; I think Bad Kitty is my favorite of the two. We know how I like the bad ones!

I've had a couple of phone conversations with the ex-wife of the man who was evicted. She says he is bi-polar and in his normal state of mind would never have let the cats go, let alone be evicted. She also told me a shocking bit of news; the cats are sisters and are 14 years old. Figures! I finally get animals that I love and they are a couple of old ladies!

So I guess you never know what's going to happen. I didn't expect to have them in my world, but now wouldn't trade these two cats for anything. Sometimes we just have to trust that Life knows what we need.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Love Season Premier Week!

Last night was the season premier of my favorite show, "The Biggest Loser". If watching that show doesn't motivate a person to be healthier, nothing will.
The show opened with these powerful statistics:

"For the first time in American history there are more obese people in the U.S. than merely overweight people."

"Two out of three of us are fat."

"An epidemic disease."

"For the first time since the Civil War, life expenctancy is predicted to drop. And the main reason: obesity"

"You can start with heart disease, cancer, diabetes."

"Childhood obesity rates in this country have tripled."

"This is the number one public health challenge of the United States."

"Instead of just talking about this problem, we have to act."

"The First Lady is right, we must act now."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This And That

There's a lot going on in my life right now. Awhile back I wrote that I was interested in flipping another house. Well, it looks like that's going to be a reality. Only there's an unexpected twist this time; I'm not doing it on my own. Sally and I have partnered on this one and I'm feeling really good about it. Ever since I found out our offer was accepted, my mood has lifted and I don't feel nearly as depressed. I'm excited and I feel like I have something to look forward to. I understand that fixing up old, dirty houses isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if anyone would like to come see the "before" side of the project, let me know. Hopefully we'll have possession of the house by the first of October.

My daughter turned eleven yesterday. I love that little girl more than life itself. She is turning in to an incredible young lady. She's playing volleyball at her new school and has made lots of friends. I'm very proud of her and thank God every single day for bringing her in to my life. I honestly can not imagine my life without her.

Things are good right now. I just had some blood work done, and got a very good bill of health from my doctor. I'm trying to inch my way back towards Healthy Mind, Healthy Body.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quotes I Like

Some of the people in my life are about to take on new challenges. I am excited for us all. Tonight, this seems appropriate:

"Fear not that your life will someday end.
Fear only that you do nothing with it."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Opposites Attract

My husband and I got out of the house early this Sunday morning and met Sara and Marty-Marr for coffee. During our visit, Sara made the comment that she had advised both her daughters they should marry a man just like their dad. That sparked a conversation about the types of people we pick. Sara said we either seem to pick a person that reminds us of our parent, or we pick the exact opposite. I realized I always pick the exact opposite.

I don't know why--my dad is a great guy. But when I was growing up I was sheltered from everything. We never went to the Catholic picnics like everyone else. We never went to pizza places or the popular fish places because they served beer. My dad refused to go anywhere or eat at any restaurant that served beer. He didn't want me exposed to it. Looking back, I have to wonder if that was such a good idea.

I think it's human nature to be attracted to things that seem forbidden. So does this mean we should allow our kids to be exposed to things so that they won't be so lured in as adults? Who knows?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

No Free Parking

Have you ever played the game Monopoly? I have....alot. It's fun--especially when you are winning! We all know the secret to the game. The one who buys the most properties usually wins. When you own pretty much everything, you have a "monopoly".

Did you know that four meat packing companies in the United States, now slaughter and package about 80% of all the meat sold in this country? This has caused a 15-year trend in which several thousand ranchers are forced out of business every year, resulting in the smallest U.S. cow herd in several decades and threatening a way of life that has kept the nation supplied with beef for more than a century.

In May, 2010 the Associated Press reported the federal government is conducting an investigation into whether the "Big Four" are illegally or unfairly driving down cattle prices. And it makes good business sense; the lower they drive the prices of their product, the more they sell. When you can buy a pack of steaks for $8.99, why in the world would you pay a farmer $15.00? It's a monopoly.

Price is by far the number one objection I hear when I try to steer my friends and family to the Farmers Market for meat. I would gladly serve my family grilled cheese sandwiches one night a week in order to pay more for steaks raised by a local farmer.

People like to talk about how much better things were "back in the day". Stores were better, restaurants were better, everything was better. But every time we choose Cheap and Convenient, we are closing down another farm or another family owned business, and we are killing the traditional American dream that we are all so nostalgic about.

I get a lot of flack for my strong opinions about food, and that's fine. I don't care if people make fun of me. I know they do. Sometimes they do it to my face, so I can only imagine what they say behind my back. But I'm proud of my stand on this subject and I will continue to educate myself and pass on information to anyone willing to listen.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pleasing The Public

We've all heard the story of the JetBlue flight attendant who quit his job after he had a go with an unruly passenger. He grabbed a beer and slid down the emergency slide, making headlines worldwide.

Whether you agree with the guy or not, one thing is for certain...any job that requires working with, and pleasing customers is hard.

I have worked directly with the public for more than 26 years. There have always been challenging or hard to please customers, but in the last five years something has changed. Customers have become unusually rude, and unreasonably demanding. Sometimes even violent. Recently, a lady went nuts at a McDonald's drive thru because she wanted Chicken Nuggets and they had already started serving breakfast. She physically attacked the drive thru attendant through the window! Heck, my own father told me to go into Lowes and "get loud" the other day when we waited five minutes for someone to come load a grill into our truck.

So today I had an extremely difficult customer. He didn't seem to have a legitimate complaint, he was just angry. He fussed about the way something was worded on his bill. He fussed about the way something was worded on the credentials he had from our company. He was rude to me, and insulted our company and our employees in front of several other customers.

I apologized for all his inconvenience and tried my best to answer all his questions. I told him I would pass on his concerns about the verbiage. Then he said in a condescending tone, "Oh thank you. You've been ever so helpful today." then he mumbled something under his breath as he stepped aside. I couldn't resist the urge to say "Excuse me?". He didn't look up. I said "Did you say something else?". He never looked up. I let it go and took the next customer in line, but I was physically shaking by the time it was over.

For the past few years now, customer service people across the country have been taught they must "totally satisfy" the customer. The idea being that "satisfied" customers are not loyal customers. Only customers who are "totally satisfied" will remain loyal to a company or brand. Many companies, including mine send out comment cards to customers. Only the ones with perfect marks count. I've even had desperate sales people beg me to mark any survey cards I might receive "Totally Satisfied". At my company we don't beg. But we are instructed to say "I hope you were Totally Satisfied today" so as just to plant the idea into their heads in the event they should receive a card.

Also, those dealing with the public have been trained to empathize with the customers. "I understand how frustrating it must be that we're serving breakfast and you can't get your Chicken Nuggets, ma'am". It's been beaten in to our skulls that the customer is always right.

Well, here's what I think. This system is starting to backfire, giving American consumers a twisted sense of entitlement. The customer is NOT always right. Often times the customer is looking to pick a fight with someone because they are bitter, miserable human beings. Or possibly they have been out partying all night and need to get some grease on.

I'm a consumer. I know how frustrating it is when I have trouble getting what I want. We're all time-starved and there just aren't enough hours in the day. We want what we want when we want it. Cheap and Convenient. But when we don't get the grill after five minutes, it doesn't give us the right to walk into the store and start yelling at people, any more than it gives incompetent employees the right to be rude to customers. Employee or Consumer, manners and common courtesy don't fly out the window just because I want to hurry home and have some bison burgers!

I predict the tide is going to shift. I think we're going to see more and more instances where low paid customer service representatives across the country snap. I believe the JetBlue guy was just the beginning.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Feeling Low

Tonight I sunk into a depression. I'm not sure if it was the thought of going back to work tomorrow, or maybe it was because I felt my Dad took a couple of jabs at me today.

I felt like a failure all day, and by nightfall it just got to me. For the second time this weekend, I retreated to my bed in hopes it would pass.

This is becoming more and more frequent. As I mentioned awhile back, it's rather new to me. I'm a pro at anxiety, but this depression thing is new to me. I don't like it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Who Is Watching?

No matter how many books I read about substance abuse and addiction, I am never more captivated about the subject than when talking about it with my husband. I may be the self-proclaimed codependence expert in the household, but after two stints in rehab and a fair amount of AA meetings, my husband is way more educated about alcoholism and addiction than I could ever pretend to be.

Yesterday we were having one of these discussions, and my husband shared something with me. Every alcoholic who has stepped up and admitted they are a powerless over alcohol has a sea of eyes constantly watching and constantly judging from that moment on. Family members, friends always thinking "Will he fail? Will he fall off the wagon?". To them, that's okay because part of recovery is accepting responsibility for the things you've done, and making amends to the people you've hurt.

But my husband pointed out to me that in that sea of watchful eyes, there are many people who are equally addicted. Some know it, but aren't willing or able to deal with it, a few are completely clueless, and some are hiding it--hiding how much and how often they drink from the rest of us and possibly even from themselves.

So while admitting you are an alcoholic may give everyone else a free pass to watch and judge you, it also gives you an insightful gift. The gift of being able to spot another addict from a mile away.

Bill W. (the founder of Alcoholics Annonymous) also recognized this gift, and believed those in recovery should use it to reach out to others. That's how AA went from two men, to hundreds of millions of confirmed members worldwide.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Mom

Sometime around the 8th grade, I came home from school one day telling my mother about a technique I had learned in Health Class. You could use this technique on someone if they were choking. It was called the Heimlich Maneuver. After a quick demonstration, I went on about my day; probably doing homework and then playing Clue and listening to Bob Seger with my friend Sammy.

A few weeks later my parents and I were at the Blue Boar Cafeteria having dinner. I was sitting across from my parents who were side by side. Behind them I started observing a lady who appeared to be in distress. She was choking. The person next to her started patting her on the back. I said to my parents, "That lady back there is choking". After several seconds some of the people she was sitting with had gotten up and were holding up her arms, hitting her on the back, and generally not helping at all. At that point I said to my parents "Wow--that lady is really choking".

My mother never even turned around to look. She simply laid down her fork, got up, walked across the room, came up behind the lady, assumed the Heimlich position, and gave one big heave. All 110 pounds of her weight must have gone into that heave, because whatever was lodged in the lady's throat flew out of her mouth on the first try.

My father never turned around, or never even stopped eating. He looked at me and said "What is your mother doing?". I said "She just unchoked that lady".

As my mother returned to her fried chicken I heard an on-looker say "She must be a nurse".

Whenever this story was told later on, my mom would always remind people that typically you have to perform the maneuver multiple times before it works, and often the choking person can sustain injuries, including broken ribs. Not only did she save the lady's life, she was able to sucessfully perform the maneuver on the first try, leaving her injury free.