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Sticking with What and Whom You Like: The Secret to Success

“When you find something you like, stick with it.” This is what an inspirational older man told me the other day, when I asked him how he was able to work for the same two companies for 50 years and stay married for 35 years. Seems simple enough, right? You like your job? Stick with it. You like your spouse? Stick with him/her. But, to me, that seemed outlandish at the time. Today, in many industries, people hop from job to job every five years, and even spouses and partners. I used to joke that when you meet someone new, you create a “lease” with him that will expire after five years. If you want to renew it, you can. But, otherwise, you’re good. Move on.

I think I’ve developed this sort of transient mentality over the years, having changed careers and cities many times. I’m also divorced. I did have long term relationships (8 years, 7 years, 5 years), but none that have lasted 35 years. Well, I mean, I would have been dating someone at age 10 if that were the case. Interesting to note: my boyfriend now is someone I met when I was 10. Hm… is this a sign?

Anyhow, I got to thinking that this man’s statement about sticking with things you like is simple, yet very complex. For some of us, it’s not so easy. Tenacity and perseverance are not necessarily attributes consistent with today’s fast-paced culture. Our attention spans are limited, we use technology to elicit immediate results, and we strive for more, more, more. Sticking with something seems lackluster, or not ambitious–complacent.

BUT, there is merit to it, I think, and something to aspire to. “Wherever you go, there you are.” That’s another saying. No matter where you move, what new job you start, what relationship you begin, you are still YOU (well, unless you undergo dramatic changes with therapy). I have learned this. Thing is, I’m essentially the same person I was when I was, like, 28. Oh, how I long to be 28 physically as well! But, yeah, I’m the same old, same old; and, now, just old.

I am going to take note from this man. From now on, I am STICKING WITH IT, IF I LIKE IT! YES! No need to think of bigger and better. Just BE.

Sounds easy enough, but can we do it? I hope to.

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“Was I Better Today Than Yesterday?”

“Was I better today than yesterday?” This is something to ask yourself. And, if you answer “no” today, then you will most likely answer “yes” tomorrow. Or, so this what I heard on an Oprah podcast on Fulfillment. I am not so sure that I can always answer “yes” the next day, though. The idea behind this notion is that we, as people, don’t repeat negative behaviors twice, and we work on making our situations better, not worse. We move forward, not back.

I don’t know about you, but I repeat my mistakes all the time. It’s like I’m sometimes this albino rat in a science experiment, who is missing a receptor firing and can’t learn well. I’m the broken rat in the Skinner Box experiment, who fails to learn that if you press the lever, you may get a food pellet.

Did I just liken myself to a rat? I did. Actually, I feel like that was in my subconscious, because someone once called me an “old rat.” I will leave that story for another day…. but, yes, it hurt my feelings.

I think, tomorrow, I’ll just do the same sh*t

Anyway, so, I am going to try to be better today than yesterday. I mean, it’s already 5:00 p.m., so I don’t have too many hours left before the day is over. I am going to grill some chicken on my new broiler, since my grill outside is still broken. Cooking a meal? That’s better than the ordering I did yesterday. Then, I’m going to try to get some writing done. Ha! That is so not happening. I’ll probably just have time to help my kids with their homework, play American Girl dolls, and zone out with some TV show. I mean, honestly? That’s kind of better than my day was yesterday, in the end. Oh, wait, but was I better…hm…that’s another question.

Tomorrow, I have HUGE plans to be better! I am going to work! Yay! Oh, but the morning will be better, because today I put my travel mug of coffee in my purse, and when I bent over to get the bags in the backseat, the coffee top flew off and spilled coffee all over my brand new car, my clothes, and the bags. I legit started to tear up in the parking lot, and a very nice, compassionate woman asked if she could make me another coffee. I told her, “no, thank you,” but she did bring me a new bag to put my stuff in, which was not covered with coffee. My faith in humanity is restored.

This was me in the parking lot, but covered in java

I’m going to work on being better today now. Tell me about your day!

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The Grind. How Can We Escape it and Simplify Life?

I grind my teeth. And, I clench my jaw. I was reminded of this at the dentist last week. But how do I stop from clenching when I feel overwhelmed? I feel overwhelmed this week…and often. As my editor just remarked, “You’re doing too much. Try to take a break from the book, because you’re rushing it.” I was trying to wrap up writing my book, but it isn’t ready to wrap up. That’s the thing about writing a book: it evolves, changes, and you, yourself, can’t predict the turns it takes and even how it ends. It’s not ready, and I can’t force it, even though I need a break. I wanted to check off the box: book complete. Check. Done. But I can’t. I can’t check off many things. The to-do list just continues to grow, or one thing is added as another is completed. I’ve got to stop clenching my teeth about this before I have none left!

These are nice teeth, and not my lips. But I wish I had sugar lips!

So what are things we can take away from our to-do list to simplify? Here are some constants in my life that will never be “done:”

  1. Take care of the kids. I do this six nights a week alone one week, and four nights a week alone the other. There is no getting around it, as they are still in elementary school. I could work on letting them be more independent. For example, I still cut their food and give them baths. Shh, I know. Don’t chastise me! But, I sort of like that they need me. I bring them snacks, clean their rooms, play with them all the time. In short, I create some of this “stress” there. Maybe I can work on that.
  2. Go to work. I can’t change this. We all need a paycheck. And I like my job. But, yeah, it takes up a lot of time and headspace. I think about it when I’m not there, and I check my emails at all hours. I can work on that too.
  3. Walk my dogs: I could hire a dog walker, but why even have the dogs? I LIKE walking them, but it also stresses me out when I haven’t, or when I’m rushing to work, and getting the kids out the door, and they are imploring me to take them on some long walk with their sad, little eyes! I guess I could get up earlier. Oy.
  4. Writing: I want to finish my book. I have 300 pages. I need to finish it. I want to continue to write my blog. I love writing it, and I love reading blogs. I need to make the time, or the quality suffers.

Well, okay. OMG, you know what I left off that constant list? Take care of MYSELF! I just realized that! Self-care. This is something we often forget, right? It takes a back seat, and then I go to the dentist and find my teeth are worn down. Or I cry for no reason when I listen to Piano Lounge music on Spotify while driving. I’m like bawling to some Kate Bush song and thinking, “Wait, why am I crying right now??” This happened yesterday. Then, I realized I think I’m just to freaking busy and overwhelmed.

Sorry to vent. I know we all have a lot of must-dos and should-dos.

I also need to stop apologizing.

But, first, I’ll work on grinding my teeth.

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Pandemic Pod Panic: Is Your Social Life Causing Angst?

Have you spent more time worrying about your–and your child’s–social life since the pandemic hit? If so, you could be suffering from Pandemic Pod Panic, aka “P3” (I just made this up). I read this interesting piece in the Boston Globe that detailed how many of us have been gripping about how we and our families are left out of social activities during this time of social distancing and isolation. Is this you? I have been guilty of it, I must admit.

First off, let me define a Pandemic Pod, for those of you not in-the-know. It’s essentially a small cohort of families who have stayed together and played together throughout the pandemic. The Pod subscribes to the same level of concern about COVID and, for the most part, interacts socially with an equal level of discretion and safety. Some pods may have more stringent policies when it comes to traveling by airplane, riding the school bus, or dining indoors. Others may be a little less rigid and feel those activities are okay. Typically, what one pod member believes, so does the other. This is why there is not much cross-pollination of pods! And there can be apparent judgment of pods that do not think–and most importantly ACT-alike. This is sounding like a cult..

Let me be clear: I am not judging anyone here. And no one’s beliefs are wrong. Unless they are not mine. Wait, joking! No, I mean, be safe, people. Obviously.

Anyway, back to the topic at-hand: Pandemic Pod Panic. I have noticed that I don’t see or talk to some of the friends that I used to since last March, the onset of COVID. This has caused me to wonder if it’s because of something I’ve done, or how I choose to live during Covid, or if it’s just something about them wanting to isolate. Some of it, too, is because we don’t run into each other at soccer, for example, or during school activities.

I don’t really know. I think we can only assume that it’s that, but who knows!? This reminds me of my recent blog post, Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama, and the feeling of being back in high school. And then, when you find out that friend you don’t see or talk to is actually hanging in her own pod? Then you panic: is it me? Why am I not in that pod? Are we no longer friends?

COVID is killing more than our spirits–it’s killing friendships! (insert scary music)…

Um, that’s a little drastic.

Now, aside from myself, I sometimes wonder about my kids. My son, for example, isn’t as social as my daughter. He basically has lived like a sand mole in the basement and on video games for a year now. Well, that’s not entirely in isolation, though, because he’s on a headset laughing his head off with friends. I’ve wondered if he should go outside and play with our neighbors, but he really has no interest, and I get concerned. Like, is he antisocial? Is he going to have friends when this is all over? We can’t really invite people over who he hasn’t seen or been “podding” with, and hence the P3 begins (Pandemic Pod Panic)

I have been fortunate to have a nice group of friends in my neighborhood, and we have been kind of like our own Pandemic Pod. Our children are the same ages and have played since the pandemic hit. Similarly, we adults have met around the firepit and had some wine and been able to socialize while social distancing. But I have heard others lament that they don’t have those opportunities and feel left out. This sense of isolation is magnified when they see it posted on social media–revelry around a firepit with friends. In the Boston Globe piece, they recommended not posting those types of photos to social media so others don’t feel left out.

Wait. But I only post so others feel less-than, right???? (Insert Mean Girls voice). Just joking.

Anyway, what are your thoughts and experiences with this? Have you felt left out, or judged, or worried about social nonsense during the pandemic? Maybe we are just bored! Perhaps this is self-manufactured stress.

🤦🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️🥴🥴

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How Do You Know You’re “Home?”

There is a reason “Home” is called “Home,” and I’m not quite sure where mine is right now. I’m sort of in between worlds. See, I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio (Go Browns!), but I have lived on Cape Cod every summer of my life– and now year-round for 14 years. That’s a long time! I think I finally qualify for the “local” special at the diner, and I can legit say I hate summer people (even though I don’t–just the traffic).

I’ve lived on Cape Cod longer than I’ve lived anywhere, other than Cleveland (15 years). I spent many years in New York City (10) and Boston (3). But, now, I guess Cape Cod is my home, or well, it’s where I own a house and raise my children and have a job. So that’s home? It doesn’t always feel like it.

The reason I bring this confusion up is this: my partner lives in Cleveland, many of my best friends live here, and a lot of my heart is, well, here.

But my children are not.

Here’s a typical “home” in Shaker Heights, Ohio (where I grew up)

So yeah.

I thought about this today when the airplane was landing in Cleveland, and I could see the snow covering the acres of flat ground. The familiar grey sky had cover from Lake Eerie, and I felt a sense of relief.

“Ah, I’m home,” I thought, stepping off the plane and seeing the “Welcome to Cleveland” sign in Hopkins International Airport.

But, when I was taking off in the plane, I cried. I cried because I missed my kids. I saw them this very morning, but I felt so far away, and I was scared. I was scared that maybe something would happen on my flight, and that I’d never see them again. And maybe I was a terrible parent for flying and leaving them behind, even though they are safe with their father for the weekend. I sent my daughter a text on her Gizmo (for those not in the know, a Gizmo is like an Apple Watch for kids, where they can get a call or text from their parents or send a limited set of texts). I said, “I love you so much! I miss you already.” I also texted my parents (who now live on the East Coast).

When I arrived in Cleveland, I was greeted by my boyfriend, and we then met up with my best friend from high school for lunch. It was so nice! I was so happy and thought, “Yay! I am home!” This is where I’m meant to be!

But part of me is missing.

A big part. My kids.

And I know, deep down, this is not where I live. I’m just a visitor.

I just wish it could all be one. I wish I could feel whole in one of the places.

Wherever I am, someone I love is missing.

So what makes a home a home?

You tell me.