throw it out

When In Doubt, Throw It Out!

The Better Me Project—Day 14 (Throw it out!)

There’s just something about spring (if it would ever get here…). Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, people are shedding their winter coats and getting outside. (Pollen everywhere, watery eyes, people sneezing, kids falling off bikes—the joys of school nursing.) Despite the allergies running rampant, it’s a great time to engage in a little game called THROW IT OUT!

Ah, Spring Cleaning! It’s good for the soul. It’s a way to start anew after a long winter of being trapped in a smelly and cluttered house. This is an activity that my hubby and kids absolutely hate, mainly because I tear around the house on a cleaning and organizing rampage. I vacuum and dust and sterilize beyond recognition. I organize closets and rearrange furniture (hubby hates when he comes home from work he never knows where everything will be). And I find myself filling garbage bags full of…garbage.

A caveat, of course…

Now, I don’t go around just tossing things willy-nilly, but I have been known to throw a lot of things out over the course of my spring cleaning. Shoes, outgrown clothes, condiments that have grown fuzzy and sticky in the fridge, ripped pillows, baseball trophies. I’m not a sentimentalist. I’m not an ogre, either. I mean, I keep mementos from the kids’ childhoods like the onesie my daughter came home from the hospital in and the the ball from my son’s first homerun. I keep report cards and favorite stuffed animals. But I draw the line at every single program that mentions their name, every certificate (Best Color-er??? Really, that’s a thing???), and all those art projects with excess glitter, glue, and Cheerios.

Yet, something is stopping me…

My general rule has always been…Not using it? Throw it out! Well, that’s how it always was in the past. Lately, though, I’m starting to notice that I’m holding onto more and more things that I would have just chucked to the curb in years prior. Those pants that haven’t fit me in nearly five years are still floating around in the back of my closet since I’m convinced that at some point in time I WILL FIT INTO THEM. The iPhone that I had for years before I broke down and got a new one? Yeah, that’s still in a drawer somewhere in case I need the notes on it or I discover I didn’t download a picture or something. All those college brochures coming for my son that can easily be downloaded off the net. Coupons I just might use, despite the fact that they expire in two days. A paper my daughter got an A on, even though she’s gotten many of those. The leftovers from dinner the other night that someone (mainly me) might eat. I’m suddenly afraid of throwing out something that might be useful in the future.

And I really don’t want to waste. You know how bad I feel wasting food? I can’t ever remember wasting anything as a kid. There were four kids and everything gotten eat or reused a thousand times before we even thought of tossing anything. We were not “poor” by any stretch of the imagination, but we didn’t have anything to waste, either. I guess that mindset has followed me throughout my life.

Stop the madness!

Slowly but surely, I’m letting things pile up on me. What’s wrong with me? Am I becoming one of those hoarders? (If one thing makes me shudder, it’s those shows where people pile up crap in their house until they can’t even walk.) In fact, watching those shows is often what inspires me to resurrect the throw it out game to begin with.

No! There’s no way I’m hoarding. But I have noticed that when I feel like I’m losing control over things, or a lot of negative events are in the forefront of my mind, I tend to hold on to more stuff that I don’t need. I am less likely to throw things that are rotting in the fridge out or clean off the table. Maybe it’s simply because I’m overwhelmed by the situation. (I guess that’s what happens to hoarders, too.) When the going gets tough, sometimes I just want to pull the covers over my head and not worry about keeping the house neat and clutter-free.

I’ve got to get myself out of this funk

So what would make me feel better? Getting rid of things that I don’t need! Seriously, there’s hardly any rush like picking up something that’s been sitting around the house for years and deciding to throw it out. There’s a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I never read it, but it was referenced on Gilmore Girls so that’s pretty much the same thing as reading it. Anyhoo, the point is, according to this book, you’re supposed to hold something in your hand and if it doesn’t bring you joy, you’re supposed to get rid of it.

So basically, Throw it out?

I guess in theory this works most of the time. Obviously those boneless spare ribs in the back of the fridge and the expired oatmeal in the cabinet are not bringing me any joy. Neither are those pants that aren’t ever going to fit me again, no matter how much I dream that I’m 31 and running 5 miles a day again. (Damn, I’m lucky if I get my 10,000 steps in anymore.) But the computer that’s running slow isn’t bringing me joy, either. And the couch that’s lumpy from the dog using it as a bed? Joyless. I can’t throw it out, though. I need a couch and a computer and I can’t just buy a new item every time something isn’t performing its function properly (I would have tossed hubby long ago if that was the case…hehe).

Yet I can’t deny that getting rid of items is not only helpful for de-cluttering and reorganizing your life, it’s cathartic as well. When my house is clean and organized I feel like I can accomplish anything. So, what to do?

Hence, Spring Cleaning

So this spring cleaning thing had to happen. I tried over break to get into it. I woke up one morning and decided to clean out the fridge (that’s a good place to start, right?). There was food in there from God knows when. Jars of sauce with fuzzy mold growing on it, green cheese, salad dressings with expiration dates from when Obama was president (the first term). Leftovers that had become attached to the containers they were in (I just chucked the whole thing). What was I doing holding onto this stuff?

I cleaned with Lysol and put everything back in its place. And then I looked at the nearly empty fridge and started to panic. We had no food! We needed food! So I made a list and went to the store and came back and restocked the fridge. I sighed with relief. But then I realized I was so exhausted from the whole ordeal that I had no energy to do anything else in the “de-cluttering” project. I would do it tomorrow.

Except, I didn’t

Maybe it was the abysmal weather that stopped me from cleaning and throwing things out. Perhaps it was because I peeked into my daughter’s room and had heart palpitations from the pre-hoarder state of the place. Or maybe I’m just tired of being neurotically organized all the time and I’m letting myself go. Or more likely, letting it go has overwhelmed me and I don’t know where to start. At any rate, I KNOW I need to get with the program again…even just a little bit.

Today is a new day

So it’s Saturday. A perfect day to tackle that front closet…the one where bags and shoes hit me in the head when I open it. If I haven’t used it, I’m going to throw it out. Then the other closet with the ripped towels and sheets that I saved “just in case. And then my drawers and clothes closet…I don’t need half the stuff I have. I’m going to simplify my life and throw things out. Or box things up to donate. At any rate, I’m not keeping all this stuff I don’t need. I can’t hold onto everything. And the good news is, I don’t have to do it all today (as much as I tell myself I must—that’s how I get burnt out). One day at a time…one closet at a time.

 

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gossip

Look At Me, Gossip Free

The Better Me Project—Day 13 (Gossip Less)

What’s harder than avoiding road rage, complaining or accepting compliments? Avoiding gossip. (My grandmother used to say something about gossiping like an old wash woman, so as a kid, I associated gossip with laundry. This was probably as she was gossiping about the next door neighbor she despised…)

Gossip—They Probably Did It While They Built the Pyramids

Gossip…it seems to be the cornerstone of our society and has been for years. While social media seems to cause gossip to spread like wildfire (another reason to Disconnect ), we can’t blame it all on the internet. It’s human nature. People were probably gossiping about Adam and Eve (“What a ho! Did you see that leaf she was wearing?”)

I remember waiting on line at the grocery store as a kid and seeing the tabloid magazine screaming out that Elvis was still alive and living as a martian in the Fountain of Youth. I remember overhearing my parents and grandparents whispering about this person or that person. When I went to school I recall kids talking about each other behind their backs, each year the whispers getting louder and more vicious (“Did you see who she was talking to? What a slut! Did you hear what happened with her boyfriend? Oh MY GOD!). You would think this would die out after high school but I assure you…it does not.

(PTO Mom to other PTO Mom: “Stay away from Jane. I heard she gave her kids non-organic baby food…”)

I’m Not a Saint

Let’s face it. We are ALL guilty of gossiping. Why do we have this uncontrollable urge to share things that may not be any of our business? Well, for starters, it’s fun and helps us feel like we’re fitting in. After all, there’s no greater bond than two people who “hate” the same co-worker. And who doesn’t love a bit of scandal to make our own lives seem better? If she’s getting a divorce because she caught her husband cheating with her cross dressing hair dresser, our problems pale in comparison. And if you’re the one with the juicy tidbit, you think that elevates you in other’s eyes or that it makes people like you. When you know something they don’t know, it makes you the star of the show. Or at least it feels like that.

If We All Do It, Is It So Bad???

There are studies out there that say some gossiping is healthy and helps establish a hierarchy of society and blah, blah, blah. Some gossiping is meant to serve as a warning and helps people in the long run and more yada, yada, yada. Yet, when asked, people tend to view “gossipers” negatively. After all, setting rumor mills alight all over town doesn’t exactly bode well for projecting positivity into the universe. It makes one look like nothing more than a school yard bully, looking to cut down someone else. It’s not as helpful as we pretend it is meant to be. Let’s be honest, most gossip is simply self-serving. It makes us feel better about ourselves in some way.

The Negative Consequences

What happens when the rumor that we’re spreading isn’t true? We look like idiots for telling lies. Not to mention, we appear to be catty and mean. We may have unnecessarily hurt someone else for no reason other than to feel better about ourselves.

I was at a meeting the other day and all of a sudden, people started ripping on other people that weren’t in the room. And I was no exception. Before long we were all laughing and joking and having a good time. At someone else’s expense. Don’t get me wrong…most likely these people would never know what we were saying, but still, I couldn’t help but think…

What Are We Doing????

As adults, we tell the kids at school that they shouldn’t talk about each other behind their backs and then we literally turn around and talk about other people behind their backs. We tell the kids that are victims of the rumors to ignore it, that the rumor spreaders are only doing it because they feel insecure and want to fit in by hurting someone else. And then we turn around and spread a vicious rumor about our acquaintance’s lover that she’s meeting in an alley when she’s allegedly at the gym. What happened to practice what you preach?

I, for one, have decided that I’m not going to be a part of gossiping from this point on. I’m going to set a good example.

I’m Not Trying to Be a Goody-Two Shoes

I know I sound like I’m being all preachy and I’m perfect over here, but I assure you, I’m not. I get it. This one is HARD. If anything, I’m constantly reminded about how this is a PROJECT. It’s been very difficult for me to bite my tongue when rumors are flying (especially when I know something they don’t know). And even since creating this particular precept, I’ve had a very hard time keeping my mouth shut. I want to fit in and not look like the goodie-two shoes who’s not participating in the backbiting and back stabbing. Who doesn’t want to be liked?

But as a person who has been the recipient of rumors in my life, I know how hurtful they are (and it makes no difference whether they’re true or not). I think in the long run, the less gossiping I do, the more well liked I will actually be. If people hear me gossip, unconsciously they know at some point in time that I might possibly start talking about them. I’m going to be viewed as less trustworthy. I’m going to be seen as negative.

How Can I Do This?

So how am I breaking the cycle (for myself)? Well, the most effective thing for me has been to literally think before I speak. I’m an infamous emotional speaker—I blurt out what’s on my mind all the time. So when someone says to me, “Did you hear what happened to so and so?” my immediate response is to either share what I know happened to so and so, or lean in on my hands and say “No! What? Tell me!”. Thinking about what I’m going to say before speaking when someone presents me with a juicy nugget like that has proved a challenge, but I’ve been trying to smile politely and tell the person “No, I haven’t heard.” and change the subject. This sends the message that I’m not open to hearing about it. If they insist on telling me, I listen, but once again, I try to resist the urge to add input. It. Is. Very. Difficult.

Still Not a Saint…

Because it’s so difficult, I’ve had to bend the rules a bit. Since some gossip has been deemed as helpful, I’ve listened to it and said things like, “Wow, that’s a shame”, “Yikes, that nose job must hurt” or “It must be difficult for her to have to share bras with her husband.” just to let the gossiper know that I’m not interested in bashing anyone, even though I will listen the information they want to share. And sometimes FACTS are helpful (hence the “good” gossip). If my son’s classmate got busted for selling weed out of his locker, it’s good to know that for future reference when my son brings that kid to hang out at our house. Likewise, if my neighbor is being investigated for embezzling PTO funds, I know I should be careful with my money around her.

This is Going to Be a “One Day at a Time” Sort of Project

Like I said, I’m a work in progress. Not every one of my flaws can be eradicated in a month. Many of them are deeply ingrained. This is going to be a lifetime process—a constant battle. I just want to be a better me than I was yesterday.

And by the way, I’m not going to condemn someone for gossiping—it’s a challenge to stop. I’m not even saying you should stop. You gotta do whatever works for you. This is my project…this is one of the things I’m trying to change about me. I’m just trying not to be a wash woman…spread the word.

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Disconnect to reconnect

Disconnect So You Can Connect

The Better Me Project—Day 12 (Disconnect to Reconnect)

Toss your phone out the window! Okay, maybe we don’t need to be that rash, but almost all of the books and articles I read regarding happiness and success suggested that maybe our reliance on technology is not such a great thing for our social skills. Social media, intended to bring people together, actually seems to be tearing us apart. Maybe we ought to try to disconnect from it.

Now don’t get me wrong—Facebook has so many positive virtues. I’m able to keep in touch with family that I wouldn’t normally see on a regular basis, I get to watch my friends’ kids grow up before my eyes, and I’ve met dozens of fellow authors through Facebook groups, people who have immensely aided my writing career. I can be assured that one of my friends will post a video of a puppy or baby every day to make me laugh, someone will mention a great new restaurant, and of course, I’m alerted to the fact that it’s supposed to snow or there’s an awards show on TV.

But over the past few years, Facebook has become less about what people ate for dinner and more about conflict. Who doesn’t agree with whom politically? Who thinks someone else is doing a lousy job parenting? Who can’t believe what their kid’s teacher did today? Who wants to point a finger and waggle it around accusingly? Everything and anything, including those cute pictures of your friends’ kids (she let her daughter wear that to school???), are up for debate and discussion.

Can’t you just ignore it????

I’ve been trying to scroll by all that soul sucking nonsense, but unfortunately, I’ve found myself debating and waggling fingers with the best of them. I’ve found myself wasting endless hours reading people’s responses to crap that I don’t even really care about. I’ve found myself angry and fuming, cursing people for their “stupidity” and basically for not agreeing with me. I’ve literally had heart palpitations and flung my phone across the room. That’s definitely not the sign of someone who is calm and happy and has her $hit together. I should give up Facebook, I decided. I need to disconnect from it. And I was going to, but…

It’s Almost Impossible to Disconnect Completely

I just read an article about how Facebook has made it impossible for people to get rid of it and it’s completely true. I need my Author Facebook to reach readers and engage with them. And I need my personal page to keep in touch with all the other people I care about as well. Everyone is way too busy in this day and age to keep in touch any other way. Sure I could make phone calls and write letters like we used to, but who would participate with me? It’s one thing to make a change for yourself, you can’t force others to do it, too. I couldn’t be the outlier here—I’d be all alone. I thought long and hard about this decision, but I ultimately decided that the “good” could outweigh the “bad” if I took the control of the situation for myself.

The Rules

That meant setting up “rules” for myself. These rules were not only born out of my desire to disconnect with social media, but to help me reconnect with the real world. The day I decided to do this, I calculated how many times my hand went to my phone either to check Facebook or another app, from the time I woke up till the time I went to bed. Are you ready for this? I gave up at 251 times. That was only at 3:15 pm. Holy crap! How much time was I really wasting aimlessly scrolling through people’s posts and reading responses and muttering to myself? Plus, how much time was I wasting checking my blog stats and watching videos of cats push things off the table? How much time was I wasting playing Sudoku and freaking out over my book reviews on Amazon? The answer is so, so, so much time. So much time, I can’t even compute it. And what was I missing in the “Real” world if I was so much involved in my online world?

Can I Do This????

I definitely needed to cut down, if I couldn’t disconnect altogether. How could I cut down on my online world? For starters, I decided that I would only check Facebook on the computer and NOT my phone. I would post daily to my author page and answer that way ONLY. This would not only limit the amount of times a day that I could actually go on Facebook, it would also limit the amount of time I would engage in it because who the heck wants to sit behind a computer screen? Sure we have no problem hiding behind our phones, but forget the big old computer screen. I deleted the Facebook app off my phone (I did keep the Facebook Pages app though, so I could see if I needed to check it or not.) Since many of my posts are automatically scheduled (Thanks Hootsuite!), within two days I nearly forgot about Facebook. Yes, really. Without the app on my phone, I had to make a conscious effort to actually go on the computer to answer the posts. I had to remind myself at the end of the day, “Wait! Facebook!”. And you know what? I didn’t even miss it! I thought I would sit around wondering what other people were up to, but I realized I was getting so much done that I didn’t even wonder at all.

I’m Living Without Facebook! Yah!

One problem solved, but I still had the compulsion to break. I was still picking my phone up several (hundred) times a day for no reason. I knew that I needed to stop myself from touching my phone. How could I accomplish that? I could put the phone out of reach. If I didn’t have it in front of me, I knew I most likely wouldn’t go look for it unless I really needed it. So I put it in my purse until I had a panic attack. What if someone needed to reach me? What if someone was calling me and I couldn’t hear the phone because it was in my pocketbook? Okay, so I’ll put the phone in front of me but I WON’T touch it. Wait? Was that a message that popped up? Oh, no, just a weather alert. I don’t need that…I can see it’s snowing from looking out the window. Okay, back in the purse. Wait, is it buzzing? No? I could have sworn I heard buzzing.

Forced to Disconnect Involuntarily

I was actually forced to follow this rule late last week. We took a drive down to the condo in OC. I insisted on driving (hence the lack of hubby’s road rage on the trip). About a half a mile before we were supposed to get on the Turnpike, I realized I had left my phone home. I could actually see it in my mind’s eye…sitting on my night table. I had stuck it in the charger for some extra juice before the trip since my daughter absconded with my car charger a few weeks ago and I knew I wouldn’t be able to charge the phone if it died on the trip. Panic set in quickly.

Hubby told me to turn around, but I didn’t want to make the trip even longer. I mentally ran through all the reasons I would need my phone for the next 60 plus hours or so and realized my reasons didn’t warrant me turning around. (My biggest concern was actually breaking my Timehop streak, but I knew I could send someone over to the house to check my Timehop for me and not lose the streak…no I am not a loser.)

If I Can Do It, So Can You

So I actually put this into real practice—not just cutting down on my phone use, not using it altogether for exactly 57 hours. I thought it would be a lot rougher than it was (it probably helped that I was with most of the people that I would normally be texting). I also couldn’t take pictures, but hubby managed that for me. So you see people, it is possible. And it’s amazing how much it opens your eyes when you put down your phone…not only to the world around us, but to everyone else…ON THEIR PHONE.

Once I was without my phone, the first thing I noticed was how much everyone else was in their phones. Walking down the street and driving in their cars. At restaurants and even in the bathrooms! Kids in high chairs and strollers are on their parents’ phones! No one is actually talking to the people they’re with…my own family included. I’m wondering if our generation and the one after ours will all require chiropractic services or neck surgery at some point in time. Not to mention therapy. People! There’s a whole world you’re missing and you don’t even need to buy extra memory to enjoy it! Disconnect! Put down your phones! See the whole world, not just the view from over your phone!

(But don’t forget to FOLLOW my blog so you can keep up with my crazy Bad Mommy life.)

More on this topic:

Life Before Technology Ate Our Brains

Shock Collars for Social Media

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Accept Compliments Like a Badass (No, Really!)

The Better Me Project—Day 11

Remember yesterday when I said I have to admit my mistakes and accept constructive criticism in a positive way? Well, believe it or not, that’s actually easier for me to do than this next precept. I must Accept compliments. I never realized that I could not accept compliments until recently when a friend was gushing about my author prowess and I was just deftly knocking the accolades aside. I was mortified that she was trying to assign these positive attributes to me. My face turned bright red and I immediately countered her praise by pointing out everything I had actually screwed up. She shook her head and asked, “Why can’t you just accept compliments?” I shrugged because I really didn’t know. Was it because I thought what she was saying was untrue? Did I not believe I had talent? Did that talent embarrass me in some way? She was saying she thought the blog post I wrote was great and resonated with her, yet instead of simply saying thank you, I had to deconstruct my post and explain its flaws. I muttered an apologetic thank you at this point and went off to lick my wounds and contemplate my childish behavior.

Why did I always get shy when praise was given? Up until this point, I just thought by swatting away compliments, I was being humble. Being humble was a much more desirable trait than actually having people saying complimentary things about me. (I could almost imagine them complimenting me amongst themselves…That Heather is so humble! As long as they never said it to my face. That would be mortifying.)  It’s extra weird because I want people to notice me, I want people to tell me I’m doing a good job, that I look nice, that they admire me…yet, I can’t stand it when they do. What is up with that? I was determined to find out what was making me this way.

Apparently, I’m not alone. A few years ago, a teen photographer conducted a social experiment in which she told people they were beautiful and photographed their reaction.  Many of her fellow teens got red-faced and embarrassed by the compliments; some tried to dismiss her or tell her she was crazy. An occasional person thanked her. In 2016, Psychology Today published an article that claims a whopping percentage of women cannot accept compliments. Instead of simply saying “Thank you” when someone says something nice about them, most women will disagree with the compliment-er or dismiss the compliment altogether. The reasons for this seem to stem back to self-esteem, culture and innate biology, making it a complex study in why women hate on themselves and other women. In a nutshell, we can’t accept compliments because we don’t want to look like we are full of ourselves. If we have low self-esteem, accepting compliments and praise goes against the internal monologue “you are worthless” that we sell ourselves. If we do have high self-esteem, we still toss the compliments aside because we don’t want to look conceited. This is why I, and billions of other women, tuck our heads down and mumble self-depreciating remarks whenever a compliment is bestowed upon us. We are afraid of what we look like to others.

Like when someone says, “Wow, I really like you in that dress!”, we shake our heads and say, “Oh, it’s my sister’s. It looks much better on her.” Or, “You did a great job on that presentation!”, we respond with “I missed a few points.” We just cannot take compliments without demeaning ourselves in the process because we don’t want people to think ill of us for accepting their compliments. We dismiss the praise we get because we think by doing so, it makes us look better in the eyes of others. But wait! Wasn’t I supposed to stop caring about how I looked to others??? (Don’t Give a Crap)

Ironically, this makes us look worse. According to this article, people think that when you dismiss what they’re saying to you, you’re actually being the opposite of humble. They are annoyed that you’re basically telling them what they think doesn’t matter! You’ve made enough of an impression on them for them to voice their (positive) opinion of you and there you go…telling them their opinion is crap. Ughhhhh! Why should anyone compliment you after that? You made them feel bad and worthless along with yourself.

What should we do to break this cycle? (Besides take compliments with a polite “thank you”, of course. A Huff Post article, also from 2016, has some suggestions, including giving yourself praise like I am worthy, I am unique, I am talented, I am beautiful. What?!?!?!? No way! I can’t do that! That definitely makes me look conceited!

Or not. Telling yourself that you’re worthy, you’re unique, and that you have talents to bestow upon the world is a way of accepting yourself for who you are, rather than continuing that self-depreciating monologue that you’re not good enough. Jen Sincero also touched upon this idea in You Are a Badass (I highly recommend this book). She is REALLY big on loving yourself and giving yourself positive affirmations on the daily. Yup. Looking at yourself in the mirror every day and overlooking the middle-aged pimples and wrinkles (now if that isn’t unfair, I don’t know what is) and telling yourself that YOU ARE WORTHY. And you’ve really got to do it to believe it. None of this saying it in your head nonsense. Whisper it if you have to, but you need to send your voice into the Universe to start believing it. Stop the hating yourself monologue and actually tell yourself that you LOVE you. Shout it to the world, in fact!

The weirdest thing happened when I started doing this daily exercise. I started getting MORE compliments than ever! Which, a few months ago, would have caused me so much anxiety that I would need to take a puff of my inhaler. But lately, I’ve been able to just smile at my compliment-er and say, “Why thank you! I appreciate it.” It’s really not as difficult as I thought it would be. And it makes me want to spread the positive vibes and compliment other people, which is why I’ve gotten in the habit of doing just that. I try to compliment someone at least once a day. Tell my son that the blue shirt he’s wearing brings out his eyes, tell my daughter that her hair looks nice today, tell a random stranger that I love her shoes, tell another random mom that’s she’s doing a great job parenting…and mean it. We are all in this together. We need to build each other up instead of tearing each other (and ourselves) down. This is how great things get done. It starts with us.

Eat Some Crow

The Better Me Project—Day 10

Every once in awhile, I make a mistake. Yes, yes…I know this is unfathomable. How could I possibly? But believe it or not, I, like every other human, makes mistakes. Sometimes they’re minuscule errors that half the people I know wouldn’t even notice, such as spelling a word wrong or using incorrect grammar. Other times my blunders include running over the curb in the driveway, burning dinner, and putting the wrong email address in for my concert ticket confirmation. I’ve made wrong turns and gotten us lost, and I’ve sworn up and down that I knew the answer to something and have been wrong. And still other times I make huge a$$ boo-boos like rear-ending a guy at a stop sign because I was changing the radio station or making a giant hole in the wall with a sledge hammer because I got mad at hubby. The point is, I’ve messed up.

The most difficult part of messing up is often owning up to it, saying, “Oh yeah, I screwed up. My bad.” For some reason when we make a mistake, it seems our initial instinct is to cover it up like kitty litter. I know that I have, in the past, made excuses for my mistakes. Or other times, it’s convenient to point fingers and try to put the blame on someone else. I wouldn’t have gotten the speeding ticket if we weren’t in a rush because the kids were taking so long to get out of the house and then were fighting in the back seat.

I mean, a lot of times, the actions of other people do lead to my mistakes (likewise, my actions may lead to someone else’s mistakes). Ultimately, the fault is mine and I have to own it. By admitting my mistakes, by saying Yes, I’m human and I f’d up, it gives me the opportunity to learn from the mistake. After all, the mistake has still been made whether I own up to it or not, so I might as well get something out of it, right? Turn lemons into lemonade?

Plus, most of us (myself included), need to learn to accept constructive criticism with grace. When other people criticize me, my immediate reflex is to get defensive. But why? I already know I’ve made a mistake or I could stand to do something better than I have—why not accept the advice of someone who might know more and can help me do better? Like when hubby wants to show me how to cook something, I usually get annoyed and ignore him and flop around the kitchen muttering “Who does he think he is?” under my breath. But why do I do this? I know I’m not a master chef (he isn’t either, but he definitely knows more than I do). Why can’t I accept his help with a smile instead of getting cranky and accusing him of treating me like a child?

Maybe it’s because if we admit that we’re wrong, that someone else knows better or can do something better than we can, we feel inferior. I know I’m not inferior to hubby, but my cooking skills may be (okay, they definitely are). And so what? There’s plenty of things that I’m good at. Heck, there’s plenty of things that I’m great at. I can’t be good at everything, but I can certainly learn from my mistakes in order to be better at those things.

Okay, so here it goes. Deep breath…Day 10—I will admit that I don’t know how to cook or drive as well as hubby does, and I will listen to his advice on which pots to use for which dish and how to read a map.

*By constructive criticism, I mean advice that will help make me better—don’t be mistaken—I’m not taking any negative, pointless insults lying down. And neither should you. This isn’t about letting people hurt me and walk all over me. After all, I am a BADASS.

Photo Credit

 

Pour Some Sugar on It

The Better Me Project—Day 9

How many times have we been stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, slamming our hands on the steering wheel because we’re late for where we need to be? How many times, in the same situation, have we cursed up and down because we should have left earlier, took a different route, drove faster, etc., etc.? I used to do that, too. And then, I had an epiphany.

One day awhile back, I was on the Parkway (when I used to work up north) and I was moving along at my usual morning pace, despite the fact that the morning had been a complete mess—I snoozed my alarm one too many times, my blow dryer broke, there was a line at Dunkin’ Donuts. Inside I felt I should be driving faster because I was going to be late. About halfway there, the traffic started to slow—as I crept closer to my exit, I realized that the reason was because there was an accident up ahead. When I got closer, I realized it was a horrific accident and it involved a car that I would normally see on a daily basis during my commute (it was a lime green Mustang and I wondered all the time if it was the lime green Mustang I had sold a few years before).

The lime green Mustang was unrecognizable—an accordion. The driver of the car was laid out on the grass outside the car, off to the side. As I passed, I realized that she had been killed in this accident and my heart dropped into my knees.

I saw that driver nearly every single day around that exit. The idea that it could have so easily been me in the accident haunted me. Sure, that day I was a few minutes late for work, but that was a small price to pay for arriving alive. I felt terrible about that woman’s fate, but at the same time, incredibly relieved that it hadn’t been me. My knees were actually shaking from relief. How could I possibly complain about being late? Late was nothing compared to never making it to work at all.

Ever since then, I’ve played a game with myself when things don’t go my way. I try to imagine how much worse they could have been. Every time I’m stuck in traffic I’m thankful that I’m not the one holding up the traffic because I was in an accident or my car is on fire. When I sneeze and pee my pants as I’m about to walk out the door, I’m glad that it didn’t happen ten minutes later at work. When I drop a twenty outside the house and I discover it’s missing later, I consider that it could have been my whole wallet…you get the picture. Lately, however, I’m thinking that’s still kind of negative and it doesn’t really make me feel that much better because most of the time, I still end up obsessing over what I lost or how my day was still ruined.

So, I decided to change the game to “What’s the silver lining here?” Instead of complaining about the craptastic situation that I find myself in, I have started to contemplate what positive outcome did this situation bring me, what can I be thankful for? This brings more positivity to my life. After all, nobody wants to hear me drone on about how I can’t seem to get it together and how crap things always happen. In fact, I’m convinced that the more I complain about the state of things, the more likely that negative events keep on happening. Thus, finding the positive in the situation might lead to more positive things happening. Okay, it’s just a theory, but it may be right. In fact, many articles (on HuffPostin Redbookfor example) claim that curbing your complaints may actually make you happier. So my idea is, not only am I stopping my complaints, I’m adding a bonus “What’s good about this situation that I normally would complain about?”. It’s positive and more positive.  The Universe is gonna love me.

Yet, a lot of times it’s very difficult to find the immediate good with individual situations, so often I find myself considering the silver lining at the end of the day when I’m lying in bed. In a way, it’s kind of like a gratitude journal, except I don’t write it down and it’s not necessarily anything that I’m grateful for. Okay, so maybe it’s nothing like a gratitude journal. It’s just me saying, “I’m so glad I got strep throat and had to stay home from work because I got to see a show that I’ve been meaning to find time to watch” or “I’m glad my car broke down because my air fryer came two days early and I was home to sign for it” or “I’m so glad my son called me to pick him up from work but still wasn’t done so I got to catch up on my reading in the parking lot while I waited” or “I’m so glad we ran out of milk before I got to have my cereal because I’ve been meaning to cut down on my carbs and have eggs for breakfast instead”. (I realize this sounds mildly passive-aggressive and sarcastic, but I assure you, it’s not meant to be that way…)

This is stuff I normally wouldn’t be grateful for, but damn it, I’m putting a positive spin on things from this point forward. I will try my hardest not to complain about whatever fate befalls me*. Instead, I am trying to find something good about almost every negative experience, and believe me, the negative has been knocking on my door lately. (What’s up with that, Universe????) The Universe may want to challenge me, but I’m up for the challenge. Good days come with good attitudes. I’m going to be turning negatives into positives like a modern day Mary Poppins. You may think I’m nuts at this point in time, but I’m really starting to learn that attitude is everything. Bring me a spoon full of that sugar and pour it on me.

*By the way, there are actually “No complaint” Challenges circulating around. Some are 21-days, some are shorter like 1 week. Try it! I bet it’ll astonish you how much we actually complain on a daily basis.

The Bad Mommy Cooks—Nevada

Confession: We pulled Nevada way back in January. After much research on our usual state food sites, we couldn’t come up with any specific state foods. I even pleaded with the followers of my Facebook Page to help me out—find out what they eat in Nevada.

I got radio silence. Nobody had a clue. All Nevada seemed to be famous for was casinos. And as a result—buffets were their “cuisine”. What were we supposed to do for our Nevada dinner? Spread out the contents of the fridge and say “Have at it kids?”

No. That wouldn’t do. Hubs and I put our heads together and considered the many items one would typically find at a buffet and make that. Crab legs? We used them for Alaska. Sushi? No way. Pizzas? Meh. Prime rib. Who doesn’t love a nice cut of prime rib (besides vegetarians)? I hadn’t had prime rib in ages. Hubby hadn’t had prime rib in ages. It was settled. We would have Prime Rib.

That was problem #1 solved. Problem #2 was acquiring this prime rib. Apparently, there’s a prime rib season. At least there is around here. I combed supermarket after supermarket in search of the ever elusive cut of prime rib. After about two weeks of searching, hubby suggested we wait until closer to Easter—Prime rib is a big Easter meat, I guess. So that’s what we did. Not only were we able to find a nice piece of prime rib mid-March, but there was a coupon in our supermarket’s circular as well. Score.

There’s really not too much to say about the prime rib meal. We decided on sides for the meal and made sure we had everything on hand for our feast. Everyone wanted to participate in it, so of course we had to wait for a night everyone was home. The last snowstorm of the winter (at least we thought it was the last snowstorm of the winter), seemed like a good night for our Vegas dinner.

Since it was snowing and the grill was covered with about 6 inches of that crap, hubs cooked the meat in the oven (directions here)...after rubbing the meat down with some garlic rosemary oregano butter.

This was the only time we’ve used the oven since getting the Cuisinart air fryer/convection oven. It probably will be the last time as well as the prime rib was even rarer than we wanted initially:

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While I do like my meat on the redder side (and prime rib is supposed to be medium rare), this was even too rare for me (the thermometer read 110 degrees and it should be 120). Hubby stuck it back in the oven while he made baked potatoes (in the air fryer) and the au jus on the stove. The finally product was delicious and well worth the two and a half month wait. This was a fabulous sight on a cold and snowy night:

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Of course, the dishes created were not a fabulous sight:

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