10 Things That Didn’t Exist When I Was 10

10 Things

Even though so much of the technology I use daily was purchased in the last several years, it’s not until I start to wax nostalgic about things I now take for granted that I realize all the things my now 10 year old BabyGirl has that I didn’t when I was her age. Being around my grandma, I’m often reminded how she grew up without “basic” things like a phone, an electric refrigerator, or a car. But, I don’t always think about all the things that are “new” to me.

So I started writing down all the things that exist now that weren’t even thought of when I was a kid. There were definitely more than 10 things! As I was writing things down, my daughter was asking me how I used to do things if I didn’t have “this stuff”. I felt like I grew up in the stone age! BabyGirl knows that Bubbe didn’t have things “because she’s old”. But when it comes to thinking about me as a kid, it’s hard for her to realize that just 40 years ago many of the things she uses daily didn’t exist. It’s baffling to her, and quite frankly to me too, that I couldn’t watch my favorite show every night before bed but she can. When you think about it, 30 years doesn’t seem like that long ago.

10 Things That Didn’t Exist When I Was 10

1. Voice mail – we take for granted that you can pick up the phone and hear a message from someone who was trying to reach you. When I was 10 there were answering machine but they were expensive and clunky and few people had them. If you called your friend and no one was home you’d wait awhile and call them again. In my house we had a “no answer” rule during dinner. My mom said that if it was important they’d keep calling back. So some evenings we’d sit through dinner listening to the phone ring because if you didn’t answer it and the person on the other end didn’t hang up after 3 or 4 rings then it would just keep ringing.

2. Mandatory seat belts – our car had seat belts, but we weren’t required to use them until I was a teen. As a kid, I’d sit in the back seat and slide from side to side on the slippery vinyl seats. If no one else was sitting in the front then I could sit up front. Without a seat belt! I liked going to play bingo on Sunday with my grandma because then I could sit in the front seat of her giant blue Chevy. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt and I, for sure, didn’t have one.

3. Cable TV – we had 3 channels, 4 if we got the UHF channel to come in clear. I remember that my grandparents had a TV Guide from the newspaper, but no one needed a guide to know The Wonderful World of Disney came on every Sunday at 7pm and HeeHaw was on at 7pm on Saturday. There was the Lawrence Welk Show, too. And Carol Burnett and Little House on the Prairie. They all came on at the same time every week. Just a few shows. And we all watched these same few shows.

4. Cartoons 24/7 – can’t sleep? Today you can turn on the TV and find cartoons on any time of the day or night. When I was a kid, cartoons were on Saturday morning. And it was a BIG deal! We’d get up early to watch Tom and Jerry, the Roadrunner, Elmer Fudd, and Buggs Bunny. If you missed it then you’d have to wait an entire week before they’d be on again. Kids across the country were glued to the TV for hours on Saturday morning, and parents didn’t care. They knew where we were and that we were probably eating a giant bowl of Count Chocula, Cookie Crisp or Boo Berry cereal.

5. Computers – my daughter had her own computer when she was 2. Sure, it was a hand-me-down but it was all hers. She knew how to turn it on and how to click on the learning games I set up for her. I remember using a Lisa in 1983 and eagerly awaiting the Macintosh when school started in 1984. But I did not get my own personal computer until after I graduated from college. I learned how to type in 7th grade on a manual typewriter with no letters on the keyboard. My daughter learned how to type using a computer program when she was 4.  She will never know the frustration of spending hours typing a paper (with carbon paper!) only to realize she didn’t leave room for the footnotes or completely skipped a sentence and has to retype pages and pages.

6. Digital camera – OK, yes, cameras existed when I was a kid. But I didn’t get my own until the mid 1980s when I got a Kodak Disc Camera. It was so new and different, I was one of the “cool kids”. Not only could I not see the crappy photos I was taking, but the film wasn’t cheap and then I had to pay to get these crappy photos developed. But I’d get the photos back from the drive up photo mat and painstakingly write on the back of each of them – in acid-based ink! – and put them in a photo album with a sticky plastic cover. Today, my daughter grabs my camera and takes amazing photos. Still, all those “old photos” remind me of the important moments in my life. I was much more selective of what I would take of picture of back then. Today, it’s so easy to take a photo of just about anything because there is no real consequence if you realize you didn’t want it. Everything seems worthy of photographing, but at the same time everything seems inconsequential.

7. Internet – When I graduated from college, the world wide web was just born. Research for middle and high school meant going to the library, or grabbing one of the encyclopedia from the gold-bound set in the living room. Looking up where something was located in town meant going to the phone book. If I wondered about something, there was often no easy way to find out more information. There was no instant access to anything. If I wanted to know how far Boise was from Tulsa, I’d have to get out the road atlas and figure it out. Today, I can get that answer in less than 2 minutes. My daughter was using the internet for her learning from a very early age and being exposed to a world bigger than she could imagine. At 10, if it wasn’t in my school library or the fancy-looking encyclopedia I was pretty much out of luck. Today, “I don’t know” has been replaced by “Let me look that up on the internet”.

8. Personal mobile phone – my smart phone, with a high quality camera, the ability to play games, a full jukebox of music and the ability to call anyone in the world from anywhere in the world is smaller than my first real camera. I was in high school when I had saved enough money to get a phone in my room. In my room! Today, I have a phone wherever I go. My daughter sat in a cafe in Italy having a video chat with her dad in Arizona using my smart phone. When I was her age, the phone was attached to the wall in the kitchen and talking to someone in another country was a luxury only for adults. Leaving the house meant being out of contact. If you needed to call someone while you were out you had 3 options – (1) use a pay telephone, (2) stop at a business you frequented and hope they’d let you use their phone or, (3) wait until you got home or to where you were going. How we were able to survive is unfathomable to younger generations.

9. On demand music – I remember having a clock radio in my bedroom when I was in high school. I also remember trying to record music off the radio because I couldn’t afford to go out and buy the newest record or tape, only to end up having the first few seconds of a song being talked over by the DJ. Buying a record or a tape was expensive. I had my own record player (it was a pink Fisher Price!) that played 45s, but I had to share the cassette player. But that was to listen to music at home. There was no listening to music on the walk to school. In the car all we had was AM radio. I was in 8th grade when we got a car that had FM radio! Listening to music meant listening to whatever was on the radio, and even then there were only a few stations. And it meant waking up early Sunday to listen to Rick Dees or Casey Kasem playing the top pop music of that week. Now, almost all the music I listen to is music that I control. My daughter doesn’t understand that there was a time when parents didn’t listen to the same kid-friendly song 82,972 times in a row.

10. In-home gaming devices – We have a Wii and BabyGirl loves playing it. I was in 7th grade and a friend of mine got an Atari and we’d hang out on the weekend playing Pong. I showed BabyGirl what Pong was and I think she was unsure what to say without sounding rude. Pong was awesome! Compared to the interactive gaming devices on the market now, it’s laughable. But it was hours of fun. Most of the time though, we played outside and rode bikes all over the neighborhood or went swimming at the neighbor’s house or played tag or ball or any made up game. We were outside for hours running and playing and just having fun. I remember playing soccer between the houses and using the street lights as bases for baseball. And I vividly remember skidding tires, falling over on my bike and breaking my arm but still playing until it got dark. The definition of playing and fun was different. And BabyGirl will never know how fantastically amazing that kind of fun was.

It look at all the things I take for granted now and how different my daughter’s childhood is than mine. For generations, parents have done this. Looking back and comparing the differences is both exciting and bittersweet. My daughter can watch TV on a mobile device anywhere in the world. I was so excited when we got a console color TV. My mother had black and white TV, and my grandmother didn’t have a television in her home until she was in her 30s. Times change. Technology changes. These changes impact our lives in ways we can’t imagine when they first come out. Looking back to when I got my first Sony Walkman I could never imagine I’d have the ability to listen to music in a more personal and “on demand” way.

Technology changes our lives, usually for the better. But there are some things I think my daughter misses out on because technology is so ubiquitous and integral to our lives. What things do you use now that weren’t around when you were a kid?


What Does Someday Look Like?

what does someday look like

There have been a few people tell me that I shouldn’t talk in terms of ‘someday’. That I should have a more measurable time period. Yah, that’s nice and all, but the reality of it is that I, as well as many others, say that we’ll do something someday. That ambiguous time in the future known not as today or tomorrow or next week or next month or even five years from now, but as the elusive someday.

Experts talk about being concrete and measurable when setting goals. ‘Someday’ surely does not make the cut as either concrete or measurable. So why ‘someday’? Why not something more concrete and measurable?

Well, the truth is that sometimes we want to be vague so that we don’t really have to commit to doing something. It’s the fine art of procrastination. And someday is its mistress.

Someday is a moving target that can only be defined in the same way obscenity is defined by the courts. I’ll know it when I see it! That’s pretty vague, isn’t it? I’ll know it when I see it. Talk about commitment phobic!

I come from a family of doers. My grandparents planned extensive trips, not for someday, but for set times. Retirement wasn’t some day in the future. Both my grandmother and grandfather knew when they were going to retire. They planned it and discussed it and because my grandfather was ‘detail oriented’ he had it written down. And I wonder why I write all this stuff down? Hmmm.

When I would talk about going to college it was never a vague discussion, it was always very concrete as to when I would start and how long it would take. There was grad school to be had, so everything was planned with concrete and measurable objectives. Achievement was not subjective.

And so I’ve been thinking about all these ‘somedays’ I have. Not so much a bucket list but rather an extensive personal guidebook of things I want to do. Things I’ve not already done because I have allowed the elusive ‘someday’ to get in the way of me actually doing it.

It’s not as simple as writing out a date next to something to make your goal concrete. You want it to be achievable. Why set yourself up for failure. Sure you may want to take a fabulous vacation. But why attach December 31, 2011 as a randomly selected date when you know it’s not possible. Better to be realistic but further out into the future. Better to create the opportunity to succeed!

It’s going to take me awhile to put this into action. It’s a different way of thinking. Rather than just keep adding to a list of things I’ll get to eventually, taking a few things and purposefully working toward them will bring about the success and motivation to keep working toward those very big somedays.

What does your someday look like? Do you create dates or measurable criteria? I’d love to know how you figure out when your someday will actually be.


New Year Meme: 9 Questions

Dinner at Maggiano's with NO BREAD

Today I’m linking up with two wonderful women, one whom I know IRL and one I only know online. Both of whom I consider my friend. You’ve heard of Mingle Monday, because most Mondays I’m linked up to Robin at Add a Pinch to share and meet new people and read great blogs we might not find on our own.  Today I’m also linking up to Jessica’s ‘A New Year Moment’ at It’s my Life.

Jessica started a meme (pronounce “meeeem’) with a few questions to reflect on 2010 and kick start 2011. Yes, I know I reflected on 2010 and gave thought to what 2011 will hold using the phrase from the popular Rent song ‘Seasons of Love’ – How Do You Measure A Year. But I adore Jessica, just had dinner with her and a few other great friends (all of whom you should consider following on Twitter – CountessMo, GraceDuffy, CarrieActually, and Kikarose), and thought maybe these questions would also help you get to know me better and help you think about 2010 differently than you may have.

The photo at the top is from dinner last night at Maggiano’s where, if you can imagine, they were out of bread, tiramisu, chicken something-a-rather, and we got the last order of gnocci and crème brûlée. We toasted to a Year of Awesome for all of us!

So, without further adieu, the questions:

Can you sum up your personal 2010 in just one word?

Best thing you ate in 2010?
Can’t answer this. While I enjoyed many wonderful foods, I try not to focus on food. That’s a personal thing that goes back to weight issues. Oh, the hang-ups!

What do you feel you wasted time on last year?
I wasted time thinking about and caring about what other people thought of me, my blogging, my personal life, my business, my successes and my failures.

One regret from the past year?
I regret holding on to and giving other people control over how I feel.

What do you wish you’d spent more time doing in 2010?
I wish I spent more time just being mom to BabyGirl and not also wearing the ‘teacher’ hat. Homeschooling is sometimes like working from home, there are times when you feel you can’t turn it off.

What’s one thing from 2010 you hope not to relive ever again?
Anxiety/panic attacks. These take my breath away, not in a good way. If they’re happening to you, please get help.

What one accomplishment from 2010 are you proud of?
One? Just one? I’ve done so many things that make me proud but the one most important thing is that I finally recognized that I stood up for me and my family and that it wasn’t a bad thing.

What one dream do you hope to realize in 2011?
It’s a work on progress, all my Somedays. I want to live bigger and bolder than I’ve ever lived before.

What one extravagance do you want to experience in 2011?
I hope this year we get to take the trip to Europe we were going to take in 2009. I want BabyGirl to know that the world is so much bigger than we see, we study and read about. I want to walk with my family among ancient ruins and modern structures. Meet people who are like me and are different. Hear a language that is unlike mine but experience the universality of what it means to be passionate for life.

Now, go check out what Robin has at Mingle Monday and see the others who’ve linked up to Jessica’s New Year Moment Meme.


Dealing With Rude People: Holiday Edition

Some days don’t you just want to do this? I know I have. And there have been a few times where, despite my better judgement, I’ll decide to let someone know that they’re being rude. And it rarely goes well.

One of my most significant memories of dealing with a rude person isn’t really about me dealing with them. I was out at a restaurant with CycleGuy and my friend ZoniDuck and some drunk fool kept backing into us. Being the guy, CycleGuy puts himself between RudeDude and Zoni. But RudeDude doesn’t get it. Then RudeDude turns around and says something to me and Zoni, trying to get us to pass judgement on something that would somehow lead to him drinking even more than he’d already had.  And before Zoni could answer, CycleGuy took over and let RudeDude know that we’re not answering his questions.  It was classic drunk frat-boy kinda behavior that followed. Fortunately, our name was called and RudeDude was left behind.

In my mind I can come up with a bunch of comebacks for rude people. Only, I rarely allow them past my lips. Part of me is scared. Scared they’ll beat the pulp out of me. And part of me just doesn’t want to engage with someone who’s acting a fool. Many times, it’s just much better to watch and allow them to self-destruct.

Now that we’re in full holiday mode, I thought I’d share with you a few survival tips for dealing with the inevitability of encountering rude people.

Dealing With Rude People: Holiday Edition

1. Rude Law Enforcement or Rent-A-Cop: You won’t win. Face it. They have the power to arrest you or, at minimum, detain you. None of these options is good for you. Best way to hand rude law enforcement or rent-a-cop people is to breathe deeply, answer their questions pleasantly (while keeping all seethe on the inside) and get their name. If you can ask for a supervisor, do so. But under no circumstance should you escalate the encounter. It rarely ends well for us regular folks. Take names and deal with it later.

2. TSA: See #1 Above. It’s not cool to be searched or be subjected to the enhanced pat down, but remain calm, keep your cool and use your inside voice. If you feel you are being mistreated, ask for a supervisor and take down names so you can file a complaint afterward.

3. Waitstaff at a Restaurant: We’ve all have rude waiters and waitresses. There’s a bell curve for every profession. Some are good and some aren’t. There have been horror stories of servers spitting on people’s food or dropping food on the floor and putting it back on the plate. Don’t react immediately. Take a breathe and try to determine what’s going on. Is the server upset at something you said or did? Was there a misunderstanding? Is the server overwhelmed and taking it out on you. Knowing what’s going on and remaining calm and polite may help to diffuse the situation. We all have bad days, so during these busy times try to have a bit more empathy. However, if you are being mistreated or not getting the service you feel you deserve, ask to speak to the manager. If that does not help, you can always leave and take up the matter with corporate. We’ve all had bad servers. Ask CycleGuy, I don’t hesitate to get control of this situation very quickly!

4. Retail Salesperson: Get ready for frazzled employees. We all deal with jerks every now and then. Some handle it better than others. If the salesperson isn’t being pleasant or helpful, you can always leave. Channel your inner Pretty Woman and just walk away. There are other salespeople willing to help, or ask to speak to a manager if you need to share your shopping experience. Busy days are not an excuse to be rude to customers, nor it is a reason to be rude to salespeople. Confronting a rude salesperson often won’t get you anywhere, so leave or ask to speak to a supervisor if you feel you need to address the matter immediately. If you’d rather not engage with the salesperson, most retail stores have a customer service area where you can go and ask to speak to a manager. Don’t engage the rude salesperson/manager, you’ll just get more frustrated. The pen is mightier than the sword! And having worked retail during the holiday, I can tell you first hand that it’s not as glamourous as one might envision. The hours are long, the people can be rude and co-workers may be annoying. But these are no excuses to act like a bee-otch. And you don’t have to take their attitude.

5. Airline Personnel: Let’s face it. It’s the busy season for travel, the weather isn’t always the best, things break down. And rude people abound. Imagine having to deal with jerks all day long? It’s no excuse to treat other people poorly, but we all know it trickles down. Quickly. Keep your cool. Be prepared. And realize that if an airline employee is being rude or snarky, that you can diffuse the situation by just recognizing that they must have just unloaded a plane full of asshats. Humor is a great way to get the person to see the good that does exist. I’ll be flying during the holidays and will do my best to ensure that I arrive with the right attitude and a big dose of flexibility. And some depends (just incase we’re stuck on the plane!).

6. Other Shoppers: Just assume everyone else is on crystal meth and coming down hard. That being said, just avoid other shoppers. There will be elbows thrown for that last toy on the shelf at 70% off. Someone else has waited in line and feels entitled to push and shove. Don’t forget, people have been killed for Black Friday Deals. It’s not worth it. I know you just want to ‘keep it real’. And why should you defer to the jerk? How come you can’t push your way to the front for the last Cabbage Patch Kid? (Oops, sorry, wrong decade!) Yes, you can push and shove, and get snappy and snarky and say things you may later regret. The problem is that there are people who are just looking to pick a fight. Remember, is that thing worth a trip to the ER or a concussion or being angry for the next several days? No, it’s not. It’s just stuff. You’ll find it again. But if you don’t it’s not the end of the world. There will be more. People can be rude and we can’t do much about it. We’ve all encountered them when it’s not the holidays and we want to punch them in the face. Don’t hesitate to alert the store personnel if it gets out of hand or if you feel threatened.

7. Kids: Yours and other peoples. They’re tired too. They’re bored, they don’t want to do their chores. They’re watching too much TV or playing online or using the gaming system. Whatever it is, kill ’em with kindness. The holidays can be stressful for our kids and their friends and the kids of people we encounter. Remember how much you hated the crowds and the unfamiliar food and the huggy, touchy, feely see once-in-a-blue-moon family members. The kids hate it now too. Try to relate to their feelings and either explain things to them so they’re prepared or find alternative activities for them to keep them in a more pleasant mood.  Oh, and make sure they eat healthy and nutritious food. If you have ‘one of those moments’, acknowledge it, apologize and move forward. We’re not perfect!

8. Charity Seekers: There will be bell-ringers and money collectors for all kinds of charities. You don’t have to give to all of them, or any of them for that matter. That does not mean they should be rude to you or you to them. Many of them are just trying to do their job and they’re hungry or tired or cold or annoyed. How would you feel spending 8-hours asking people for money? If you want to give, give. If you don’t, say no thank you and walk away. If they’re rude or abusive, call the police or seek a manager at the establishment where you are. This is one of my peeves. Some of them are just very aggressive. While getting in their face may seem like a good idea, it’s not. They’re not worth your time or your elevated blood pressure.

9. Friends: Yes, our friends will be rude to us, and we to them. It happens. The stress of the holidays, other people being rude to us that gets our mood down, hunger, cold, lack of time, all of these affect our mood. Try not to let it. Focus on why you’re with your friend and how much you care about them. If they’re having a bad day and you think they’re taking it out on you, call them on it. You’re friends, right? Sometimes we don’t recognize our own behavior as being unacceptable.

10. Ourselves: Sometimes we can be jerks and kick up that rude level just as well as the next guy. Know your triggers. Stay comfortable, hydrated, fed, on time, and focused. Be flexible but don’t let people take advantage of you. And, as Kenny Rogers said in The Gambler, “Know when to walk away”. We know that rude people suck. And we all know that we often feel guilty when we’re overtly rude to someone. (OK, some people get off on it — both online and in real life). Don’t be ‘that person’. If you need some personal time, take it so you can regroup. We can ruin our own holiday experiences just as well as other people can ruin ours too. At least we can, in most cases, control ourselves.

So there you have it, the Dealing With Rude People: Holiday Edition. What are your thoughts? Did I miss anything? How do you handle these situations? Share your insight so we can all try to make this holiday season more pleasant for everyone.


Why Leaving DirecTv Has Been Like Leaving An Abusive Relationship

Dancing With The ... Stars?
photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Almost 13 years ago CycleGuy picked out the house we live in. By himself. As in, he was in Arizona and I wasn’t. Yes, we were married. No, we didn’t hate each other.  He moved to Arizona to take a job before I got out here.  Just like he did when we moved to Ohio.

Aside: Before I go on, I have to say I see a pattern here. He moves somewhere for a job and I follow later.  Sounds like a country song – My Husband’s Leaving Me, Sorta. But I digress.

Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted by myself, CycleGuy picked out our house on his own. He did a great job because I’d have picked out this same house too.

However, the genius builder never coordinated with the cable company to pull the cable to our house.  Who’d have known to check that before they moved in? Well, not us that’s for sure. And our house faces North and the back is to the South and back in the day (of 1997) you could get about 6 channels if you just had an antenna. But we couldn’t even get that because we have a mountain (or, as CycleGuy calls it, a hill — he’s from Colorado where they know mountains evidently) that obstructs our ability to get a signal from whatever it is we’d need to get a signal from to get our local channels.

So no cable and no free channels. And being people who need to watch the news, AKA The Daily Show, we call up the satellite company and they’re out in about a hot second to whip up one of their dish-y things and get us set up with 8,643 channels. WooHoo! Although I have no idea what most of these channels are because if it wasn’t QVC or Lifetime (I needed a good downer movie every so often) or whatever the channel was for The Daily Show I had no clue and never really cared.

Fast forward a few years and we switch from ‘the giant dish’ to the little one and go with DirecTv. We got that DVR thing and life is good. That is until they don’t carry cycling anymore. Mon Dieu! Some people have their NASCAR or their Monday Night Football, we do the bicycling. Because cycling is a somewhat controversial sport that no one really watches I guess that it’s OK to drop it from the line up. Whatever! But DirecTv had done this before and dropped channels only for them to reappear soon. I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides, cycling season was over so who cared.

Fast forward again a few month this time and it’s cycling season and there’s nothing about whether DirecTv was getting back cycling. I get a bill that said they’re raising my monthly fee. Huh? You cut out cycling and now you want me to pay more? Really? I’m not that person. I don’t deal in these types of shenanigans!

Boop, Boop, Boop, Boop (that’s the sound of me dialing the 800# for DirecTv). The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Hello, DirecTv? Why are you raising my rate but leaving me without Versus?

DirecTv: Our prices reflect enhancements and improvements [after which all I hear is the teacher from Charlie Brown talking]

Me:  I’ve been with DirecTv for about 10 years, and new customers [after which I’m sure all the agent heard was the teacher from Charlie Brown talking]

DirecTv: I’m sorry you’re not happy with our service.

I’ll spare you what was a 20+ minute conversation and the several subsequent conversations which ended in my canceling DirecTv. Because basically what they told me was that my loyalty means nothing to them. [Don’t start gloating now Qwest, you’re on my radar right now!]

A few phone calls later I’ve got Dish Network coming out to install and set up our new dish and receiver and whatever else it is they have to do that I have no idea what it is. We’d had Dish Network before and we left them because they were cutting channels too, but they’d since added them back and more. They now really competed with DirecTv AND they had cycling. Had they not had cycling we’d have no reason to have TV.

Yes, I’m 700 words in to this and just now get to the fun. Day after I cancel I get a call from …. wait … can you guess? Correct! DirecTv. They were calling me to tell me that as a loyal customer they value my business and they’d like for me to be a customer again. What? Are you kidding me? I’d spent days on the phone with ‘you people’ getting no where but as soon as I commit to a contract and have an early termination fee but haven’t yet learned how to turn on the TV without asking BabyGirl you’re calling me wanting me back? Are you serious, DirecTv?

I wasn’t good enough to help BEFORE leaving for the competition but as soon as I AM GONE it’s all, please please please come back. We love you. We’ll take care of you. We didn’t’ mean to hurt your feelings or be mean to you.

If you read that last paragraph in isolation you’d see that it sounds like I’m talking about an abusive relationship. And, well, that’s kind of what it’s like when you’re a loyal customer. They treat you like crap and ignore you and tell you that you’re not worthy. Until you leave. And then all of a sudden you’re valuable and they really do love you and if you come back they’ll give you special things and pat your hair and tell you they love you.

And if you don’t go back right away they’ll start calling you all the time. Yes, I’ve had up to 3 calls a day from DirecTv asking me to come back. And I’m always nice because this is their job and in this economy just having a job is huge and I’m not here to hassle anyone. I explain my position and why we’re in this position of them calling me. Every. Time. They. Call.

I’ve been asked a few times if I want to be on their no call list. But I don’t because the calls don’t bother me. What bothers me is that they still don’t get it. After 7 months of me telling them that all I wanted was to be treated fairly as a loyal customer when I was a customer, they still don’t seem to understand the words coming out of my mouth. If they valued me as a customer when I was one we wouldn’t be here. I signed a contract with another provider because DirecTv basically told me to I was worthless to them. That I meant nothing. That I could leave because they did not care.

Except really they do care. A Lot! But evidently not enough to get me out of my existing contract without my paying a lot of money. Why would I pay money to come back to you? You told me I meant nothing to you, but you were lying. You didn’t think I’d really go, did you DirecTv? But I don’t play that way. I had been committed to you for years. I even told you I was considering leaving you. I told you why I would leave. I asked for you to show me that I did matter to you.

We shared such good times. But then you saw the pretty girl with the shiny hair and I didn’t matter any more. I know you were looking at her, you don’t need to lie. She was pretty. She looked nice. She was something new. Me? I was just the ugly old lady who you thought would never leave.

Until I did. And now you want me back.

I’m not sure, though. Because I’m not sure you won’t do the same thing to me again.

NOTE: Please don’t yell at me because of my reference to abusive relationships. No, DirecTv didn’t do to me what these horrible men do to women in abusive relationships. I’m not comparing myself in that sense, so please don’t hate me.


Go Big or Go Home

Pollen Hunt photo credit: Raina Emms


It’s a common phrase among athletes and motivational speakers. It’s about taking chances. It’s a way to encourage yourself. Big results require big actions.

I’m often wondering how to make things happen in my life. From creating this blog, to making dinner, to homeschooling and even running my other businesses, I move forward each day trying to make the best of what comes.

When I think about those things I want to do ‘Someday‘ I sometimes talk myself out of putting them on my list because they’re ‘too big’ or would require something beyond what I currently have.  It’s one thing to save money, something completely different to to figure out the other things it might take to make that ‘Someday’ happen.

I like to think I’m always up for a great adventure. But the truth is that I’m often talking myself out of things I want to do. And the funny thing is that I’m a huge advocate for my friends and always supporting them and cheering them to dream big.

Here I am though, not following my own advice. And while I’ve declared this my Year of Awesome I’m not always making the most of it. I’ve caught myself editing my experiences before they happen. How am I supposed to experience Awesome when in fact all I’m going for is Awe-so?

A friend of mine told me that without ME, it’s just AWESO. Sounds corny, but he’s right. I need to be part of it. I need to Go Big or Go Home. I need to be more than just Aweso. I want to be more than that.

I’m not normally a risk taker, or rather I don’t see myself as a risk taker. But making all these Somedays happen takes some risk. They’re not going to happen on their own. Sure, I can figure out how to save the money but what about actually doing them?

I’m tired of the status quo. I’m tired of milktoast.

I live with an amazing risk taker. CycleGuy is the yin to my yang. I’m all about wait and see and he’s all about let’s go now! You’d think after 20+ years some of his adventurous tendencies would have rubbed off on me. But now, finally, I’m getting it. I’m seeing that life really is about living it to the best I can.

I want to be like all the people I see living life out loud. I want to find ways to Go Big or Go Home. I can be a risk-taker! I can be bold!

If you were to GoBig or Go Home, what it look like?


Slow but steady always wins the race

I’ve gone through life at a very frenetic pace. Always somewhere to go or something to do. I’ve often become frustrated at how slow time goes by or how long it takes me to do something. But, ultimately, regardless of what I want to do time moves at it’s own pace. It doesn’t care about my plans or my goals. Time never worries that it’s going by too fast for me or even too slow for that matter.

I’ve been be-boppin’ along trying to do everything on my list, often accomplishing nothing because I’m paralyzed by time. The abstract frame of reference for a beginning and an end. Do I allow myself 2 hours or 20 minutes? It doesn’t ever seem to matter though because it’s never enough time. And so I sit and fret or instead work at such a crazy pace that I won’t stop until it is all done. Every. Last. Thing.

It’s often me setting these arbitrary time constraints. Why, I’m not sure. Well, OK, I do know. My personality is such that I need this order and structure and focus. I’m the typical stress-out, rushed Type-A. And from what my family says, I was born this way. But I hate it. I hate that I get stressed out because I can’t meet my arbitrarily set deadline. It’s artificially imposed but my anxiety goes through the roof if I don’t meet the deadline.

I need to practice more of what I preach. I’m trying to teach about saving money to achieve your dreams and I know that slow and steady is the key. It’s the key to many aspects of personal happiness. I’ve never met anyone who has woken up and overnight has saved thousands of dollars. I don’t have lottery winner or stock market guru friends. Instead, I know everyday people who want to figure out how to go on a vacation, buy a special gift and a host of other things.

Do as I say not as I do. That’s not a very good way to get a message across. As I work on saving for all the somedays I have, I do take the slow but steady approach. By figuring out the end cost and dividing it by a reasonable amount I can figure out how much I need to save weekly – or daily for that matter.

So why do I set these unrealistic and crazy goals for the other things in my life? Well, old habits die hard. But I’m re-learning. Not only so I can have the best life I can create but also so I don’t pass on these quirks to BabyGirl. She doesn’t need the stress.

Photo Credit:  Cliff1066


Thanks to ‘Retro’ Music on TV I Live in a Time Warp

Image courtesy of Andrea Rueda

So in addition to Glee, it seems that many companies are using 80’s tunes for commercials. Specifically, Lincoln’s use of Major Tom by Shiny Toy Guns has me singing this very weird song. And with singing odd songs of the 80’s come the responsibility to explain said random song to one pre-tween BabyGirl.

Thanks to Glee, I get my fix of the best songs from my youth. And thanks to Glee, I get to share them with my daughter who thinks they are the best thing since Chai Tea. And because it’s not me pushing this music on her there is a higher success rate for her acceptance.

But now I live in this bizarro time warp. Where my own child is singing songs from my childhood. Not because it’s nostalgic and she’s heard me playing my cassettes or walkman. No, she’s hearing them for the first time sung by ‘kids’ or played in commercials. As if they are new!

And while I might think that music of the 1980’s was the bomb, off the hook, rad, gnarly, wicked, bitchin’ or even just plain duuuude (you pick your favorite one!), the fact that it’s back makes me feel old, er, I mean, nostalgic. But then I’m all excited because my daughter is singing songs of my youth. And then I feel old, um, I mean nostalgic, again.

Maybe I’ll look at the midnight movie listings and see if I can find The Rocky Horror Picture Show. At least there I know I’ll be reliving my youth and the Time Warp.

What makes you feel that you’re living in this altered state of youth?


Finally Speaking Up

This week started out uneventful enough. I had a long list of things that needed to be done and I knew I’d get them checked off, no problem! Then the email came in. Innocuous enough, it was a question from another person on the board of directors for an organization I’m involved with. But, only at first blush. After reading through it though, the email was really a passive agressive slam.

But, being the dutiful board member I crafted up a professional response. Not one to point fingers or throw people under the bus, especially someone with the organization whose contract was up, I avoided any appearance that blame was being laid upon people who couldn’t defend themselves.

Then a response from one of the leaders of the organization. Addressed to me but several others copied. Normally, not a problem. But this time it was. For me. See, if you’re going to say something condescending or rude to someone in an email do you really need to copy other people? I didn’t deserve the email that showed up in my inbox. I’ve been on the board for some time and have a lifelong commitment to this cause (sorry, I can’t disclose the organization because ‘technically’ I’m still on the board) so I don’t deserve to be talked down to, especially ‘in front of’ other people.

It was the last straw. I’d endured enough and I was finally going to speak up and say ‘enough is enough’. My contribution has been marginalized, my expertise questioned and my time taken for granted. So rather than doing what I’d normally do and write out a pleasant letter of resignation offering some vague reason related to undisclosed personal or family matters, I emailed off a one line resignation. ‘Effective immediately, I resign my position as member of the board of THIS nonprofit.”

Boy did I feel good. Within about 10 minutes, though, my phone rings. Quite fittingly, my ringtone is the Dixie Chicks ‘Not Ready to Make Nice’. I let it ring. And I sang along to my phone’s ring. Lame, I know, but it felt so good. I felt empowered!

But time came and I had to return the call to the President of the Board. I gave him the politically correct reason for resigning, CycleGuy got a job in San Francisco. But this guy is good and totally saw right through me and my political correctness.

He asked, and I answered. I won’t lie and say it was great. Because it wasn’t. It was really, really hard. I don’t normally make waves or stand up for myself honestly. It’s easier to whitewash and make things look pretty so no one feels bad. I felt like Charlene from Designing Women. (If you’ve never watched that show, you’re missing out on a whole lotta insight into women!) I was brought up not to make waves. And I was trying not to.

I didn’t hold back. I finally had an opportunity to speak up. And I did. And I felt like crap. Not because I spoke up, but because in speaking up and saying why I was really resigning I knew that I’d be thrown excuses and attempts at placating me. I’d be patted on the back and thanked and praised — all the things that were never done.  All in an attempt to make me feel better.  Not leave the board. Not make wave.

I’ve had several conversations now. I didn’t go to the board meeting this evening. Not because I’m making some kind of political statement, but because I’m not sure I want to be part of this group any more. I have a to think about. When you finally have had enough and speak up for yourself, it’s amazing the feeling you can have.

I’ve been listened to. My opinion mattered, again. Like it did when I first joined the board. I was told I was valuable. But it still feels like an abusive relationship. I feel that pull to return to the relationship because there were apologies and promises for it not to happen again. Although there is part of me that knows it will.

I have my ringtone going through my head. The part that says ‘Forgive sounds good, Forget I’m not sure I could‘ is loud. I’m not sure if things will ever really change I think I still need time.

I’m glad I finally spoke up. I think.

Have you had enough and then finally spoke up? How did you feel? I kinda feel elated and crappy at the same time. Any thoughts about if I should reconsider my resignation?


Technology We Take For Granted

Ten years ago I was a young 30-something, enjoying life as a working woman. No more school! No more homework! But it seems like it was about 10 years ago when technology really started to take off. So it was a good thing I didn’t have all these other things going on so I could really embrace technology and the changes it would bring about.

Nowadays we take most tech stuff for granted. Think about this, though, a mere 10 years ago I could be typing on a laptop but I’d be listening to music on this thing called a Sony Walkman or even the Sony Discman, possibly my ‘boom box’ but definitely it wasn’t digital.  If was was on the internet it was likely DSL, and it was s l o w compared to today’s standards.  And, dare I say, there were people still on dial-up!  Just 10 years ago.

Dial-up? BabyGirl will never know the joyful whooshing sounds of dial-up.  Sony Walkman? One of those should be in the Smithsonian next to a dinosaur! Listening to music required one to actually go to the music store — most of which don’t exist today — and buy an actual CD or, gasp!, a cassette tape. Download was not a verb in our everyday language.  Actually, I don’t think download was even a common everyday word.

A decade ago there was nothing that began with a lowercase i and was associated with Apple Computers. Yep, Apple Computers. Not just Apple. There was no iPod, iPhone, iDrive, iSight, i-anything. We were more like the inhabitants of Gilligan’s Island. No phone, no light, no motor car not a single luxury. Sure, mobile phones were around but compared to today these phones of the past should be on Antiques Roadshow.

If you wanted to watch a movie you went to the local Video Store. Video store, that even sounds funny. Today you don’t have to leave your house, much less get dressed or shower. Hulu, NetFlix, TiVo, DVR were nothing. The only way to time shift was to rent a movie for way too much money and make sure you got it back on time and hope that it didn’t have bad tracking or if you were lucky enough to find it on CD that it didn’t look like it had been used as a scratching post by a pack of wild cats.

Google existed. It wasn’t the juggernaut of the interwebs that it is today.  But it was well on it’s way.  Google, the word, had existed for quite some time. But the company, very new. Search engines were limited, email was proprietary, document sharing was impossible in an online setting. Now, Google is a verb. As in, “How do you get to Sesame Street?”, just Google it.

A decade ago, if you wanted to talk with someone you had to dial long distance and hope they were home, not busy and would be willing to chat for a few minutes. Long Distance rates were high, there weren’t many choice and the thought of calling outside your local calling area on your cell phone often brought chills. There was no way you could interact with hundreds of people at one, like we do today with Twitter and Facebook.

We’ve come a long way, baby!

What technology changes do you think have impacted you most? The least? Would you go back and change how you used technology a decade ago?