Thursday, February 26, 2009

Enabling my sanity

I have been pondering things lately that have made headlines here in the US. I wrote about one in my last post. In case you missed the reference, it was about legalizing same-sex marriage. I have no problem with people marrying, same-sex or not. Although it can have much more negative ramifications when children are born into the mix, I still do not condemn the idea.

What I did not say in that post is, despite having no prejudice toward homosexuality, that I am not always comfortable when in the presence of some gay couples. Does that make me a hypocrite? I think not because I can say the same about the actions and behaviors of others, too. We all have qualms and distastes that make us squirm, whether that be how someone looks, behaves or expresses themselves. (I have a few customers that have become overly attentive to me; this makes me very uncomfortable and I would love to run as fast as I can in the other direction when I see them coming. But I have no choice... so I smile and complete our interaction quickly with professionalism & courtesy.)

My point is that we cannot always avoid the things that annoy, upset or offend us. We have to politely deal with them and accept that we have all molded our own flair, personality and character based on a unique formula of how we were raised and what we value. If we all danced to the beat of the same drum, life would be quite dull.

The other subject that has ignited much controversy, here and around the globe, is the Nadya Suleman IVF
(in vitro fertilization) dilemma. Yes it is a dilemma because now there are 14 children dependent on a naive mother, and 3 (possibly more) of these children are handicapped.

I don't denounce IVF because it is often the last resort for couples who desire a "normal" pregnancy, rather than adoption or surrogacy, to realize their dream to be parents. If the process is done ethically, the desired result is one to three healthy babies at most, born to an enthusiastic, stable & financially sound couple. Not to a single unemployed woman who has 6 children already, has no husband or significant other, is living in a 3 bedroom home with her parents, and has an overwhelmingly obvious obsession with a Hollywood icon! I certainly hope that this nutcase doctor is stripped of his medical license and is sued for malpractice by the State of California.

Phew... I feel better now that I've vented. Thanks, Blogger, for enabling my sanity.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Odd couples

There are people all over the world who harbor certain prejudices that I cannot fathom. Ironically some of these people are highly religious, church-going folks. Although most people would not consider me religious, it is my belief that God loves all creatures, human & otherwise. He loves sinners & saints alike. I was taught that God will never turn away from you, despite choices & actions that would often be deemed deplorable by others.

I think of myself as a pretty open-minded person who, for the most part, can accept behaviors shunned by others. Case in point: Love. If you love someone, who has the right to criticize or rebuke your feelings, or to outlaw it for that matter? I know a few gay & lesbian couples and have no prejudice against the life they have chosen. The power of love know no boundaries.

I found this love story
on someone's blog (sorry, but I cannot remember which...) and thought it was so precious. It exemplifies the mystery of attraction & the power of love. I hope you enjoy it, too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Laughter really is the best medicine

As anyone who reads my blog on Blogger knows, I am not a daily contributor. I would love to sit down everyday and jot down something inspiring or comical, but I have a busy life. I also have an addiction to the tube, which I'm trying to break, and mounds of laundry to do (not to mention various other domestic chores).

I also enjoying surfing the world of blogs in search of good reads. And I love to peek in on links looking for points of interest and touches of glee. The other day I hit pay dirt when I discovered this story. But I will warn you: I have not laughed that hard in years and I nearly pp'ed my pants. Now go and have a good laugh:
The Revenge of the Vacuum Cleaner, by Auds at Barking Mad.

I cannot wait to hear your reactions to Auds' antics... and look forward to sharing more funny stuff in the future. Meanwhile, I hope you have a fun-filled week.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

If I had 90 million bucks

The other day, out of the blue, my son asked me what I would do if I had 90 million dollars. Instantly I said I would share it. And I meant it. I would really spread it around.

Of course I would take care of my family first. I'd invest a good portion in trust funds and hire someone to design a secure financial portfolio for each of my children, all of my siblings and my parents (including my in-laws). Then I would become an anonymous philanthropist.

I consider myself a relatively simple person; my needs take priority over my wants. That is not to say that I do not have the most expensive taste of anyone east of the Mississippi. When it comes to spotting the highest priced item in a store, it's a sure bet it has made my toes tingle as I raced at full speed from across the room to touch it, all the while salivating like a wanton dog.

But I have become alarmingly practical in my old age, and I can thank my hubby for that. He is the epitome of simple & practical, and that's why I love him. When we met we were so polar opposite. Yet now we sometimes don't even have to utter a word to know what the other is thinking.

We hadn't exchanged gifts at birthdays, Christmas or Valentine's Day for years until the kids started noticing. So a few years ago we began buying small practical things for each other to amuse the kids. For instance, back in 2006, my Mother's Day present was a baseball mitt. Why? Because that's what our sons love, and my husband wanted me to enjoy it with them. It worked out well for awhile, but now they both throw so hard that I spend more time cowering away from their throws than actually participating in the game. Although he's only 8, my youngest can fire a baseball fast enough to knock out all of my teeth. No lie! Still, I cherish that glove... though it doesn't get much use.

Anyways, if I had 90 million dollars, I would share it with the hungry, the cold, the homeless, the sick, and the deprived. And I would find them all at the animal shelters and rescue facilities. I'm not a big fan of breeding because it's my view that there are way too many dogs & cats on this earth
already and countless animals are abused, overlooked and abandoned by their owners to justify adding to the population.

Lastly I would share my 90 million dollars with wise men & women who aspire to make to world better, people who give of themselves to help mankind, people who have sacrificed to save the lives and souls of others, people who unselfishly bestow our society with compassion and charity, people who inspire others to live their dreams, people who are not afraid to face the storm for the sake of their neighbor, and people who genuinely appreciate the gift of giving.

So to sum it up... If I had 90 million bucks, I would pay it forward.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Have you hugged your cashier today?

I mentioned before that I work with the public and that I would share with you some adventures of doing so. Before I start, I want to say that I like my job(s); I do not LOVE my job(s). The work I do love is being a wife & mom. I believe that I give great customer service and I am considerate, polite and outgoing.

I have several repeat customers with whom I have a great rapport. Most of my customers are fabulous seems everyday I encounter people with no manners, little courtesy, and deplorable etiquette.

My biggest pet peeve is being ignored... because the person I'm helping is chatting on their cell phone about such important topics as social injustice [i.e. her best friend slept with her ex-husband, how flaming mad she is and how she's gonna exact her revenge on the little witch... Riveting conversation!] All I can say is that I wish that the use of cell phones be banned in stores, theaters, doctor's offices, and behind the wheel. Have you ever wondered how the human race ever exist before this grand technology? And what about those ridiculous ring tones... one lady's was an ambulance siren and it rang for about 30 seconds before she finally answered her phone to tell her son what he could watch on TV until she got home.

I often get coughed on, sneezed on, frowned at, shouted at, mumbled to, belittled, and criticized. One of the things that bugs me the most is when a customer throws money at me. Or when they put their money on the counter just far enough out of my reach and ignore my open hand. But that's not as bad as when they stand there watching me, with my hand in a brace, while I not only ring up all 197 items but put each & every one of them in their reusable bags which reek of cat urine. [Um, did you know that you can wash those every now & then?] I've even had a customer chastise their shopping partner by growling "Don't do that. It's HER job!"

Yet the thing that bothers me most is when a customer coughs/sneezes in their hand while unloading their items onto counter. [Guess what, ma'am... now I have to touch all those germ-riddled things. Thanks for sharing your cooties! So do you want your 5 lb can of beans on top of your chips or on your bread?] Seriously, doesn't everyone know that you should cough into your elbow not your hand?

But it's just as bad when they bring in their child who stayed home from school with the flu or head lice, and then let them touch everything, that is after they've rubbed their snotty nose or scratched their head... Oh and then they let the child hand me their money. Whatever happened to common sense? If you're sick, stay home and ask your neighbor or husband to pick up the items you need.

Oh my, the life of a cashier... how character-building! All this and more for minimum wage & a migraine. And if you're wondering why I'm still a cashier, two words: bills & flexibility. Money doesn't grow on trees plus I can virtually make my own hours, all the while earning precious time off. I now get a little over 5 weeks of paid vacation a year... (not bad for a pion, eh?) I know there are better, more lucrative jobs out there, but for me this fits my priorities. Mom & wife 1st, public servant 2nd.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hanna & the 7 trolls

I originally posted this on "myspace" and it bears repeating... I'll follow up soon with more Hanna horror stories but I hope this one makes you giggle under your breath...

Unless you live under a rock, you know the story of Snow White and the seven dwarfs. Well this story is about some of the people I encounter at work. There's CRABBY, LAZY, GRUMPY, SLEAZY, CREEPY, FRIENDLY and SWEETY.

The other day I met CRABBY ... She came to my lane and the first thing she says, with the most sour tone she could muster, is "Don't blame me if I have too many items for the express lane. I was shoved here by your supervisor!" For those of you who encounter CSRs at a store or market, this is the wrong way to start a transaction! Certainly bound to put your CSR in a defensive mood. Anyway, I say that I have no problem helping her and ask her to put the fragile items to the back so I can keep them away from heavy stuff that I'd be packaging first. Well did that ever set CRABBY off. She wasn't going to be told what to do and how by anyone, much less me. She grumbled and mutter about how she's never been told how to place her things and what things should be put where. Needless to say she wasn't going to heed my advice.

Instinct is to lash back and pack her case of soda on top of the lightbulbs and bread, but being the good CSR that I am I just packed everything neatly and accordingly then smiled while I thanked her for shopping at our store. End of story, right? Wrong! CRABBY went to my manager and complained that she was basically bullied by me and the next time I told her how to put her items on the counter she would have me answer to the store manager who would most certainly pull the rug out from under my job security.

Then there's LAZY. These people think that they are immune to lifting a finger no matter what. They could have 300 items in their order, but they would rather have them pile up in a crumbled heap before they would dream of bagging them. Yet they never fail to berate you about their precious items getting crushed either.

GRUMPY is a typical sort... too bitter to be bothered to (a.) greet you (b.) help you or (c.) thank you.

MEANY needs no further description. SLEAZY are those who love to thwart, cheat and manipulate the system. Most of these people buy items for thrill or pleasure rather than need. CREEPY are mostly those who you wouldn't want to meet in any alley, dark or light.

Of course FRIENDLY & SWEETY are my most favorite customers. They are a joy to wait on because they never complain and yet they go out of their way to make you feel valued.

So the next time you go to the store for something, remember to be FRIENDLY or SWEETY. Smile and be nice. Make an effort to treat your CSR with respect and appreciation because chances are they've already served the other 5 trolls that day!

My Wish for the Wall

Another one of my posts that I originally published on "MySpace". I wanted to share it with all of you. By the way... Happy Valentine's Day, friends. May your heart feel love & joy throughout the year.

I had never heard of the wishing wall in Israel until today. One of my co-workers is taking a trip to Israel and she asked me if I wanted to give her a wish for the wall. Evidently when you go to this sacred place, people write down their deepest desires, hopes, prayers and/or dreams on bits of paper, then stick them into a crack in the wall. It is believed that the wall is sacred and blessed, therefore your wish is believed to have miraculous power to come true. So although I was at work, I gave it a bit of thought and came up with this wish:

My deepest wish is that my family and children experience a long healthy life accentuated with peace, love, joy, harmony, prosperity, forgiveness, poise, loyalty and perseverance.

May they live unselfishly in the process of making a positive impact, change or difference on society and the world.

So that's my wish. I hope it, even remotely, comes true. I know about 10 years ago, that wish would have been much much different than it is today because I didn't have children then. I probably would have wished for enormous wealth and celebrity. But money and fame are no longer priorities on my list anymore. I am comfortable with the person I am without those. My children and my family are my main focus now. If I had to sacrifice everything for their happiness and health, I would do so without hesitation. The power of a mother's love is incomprehensible and invincible. And I know that I am a more successful woman today as a part-time grocery clerk & full-time wife and mother than Oprah will ever be, because I have touched the lives of my own flesh & blood.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My contribution

If you read my last post, I ended it with my personal mission statement in life: to make a difference in the lives of others!

Though my daily success in this quest may not live up to someone else's expectations, I believe whole heartily that my goal is genuine. I have often worked with the public, in some type of customer service job. It's rewarding for me to help people, whether that be providing good service or going the extra mile to ensure that their needs are met beyond their satisfaction. Being a public servant is also very frustrating; humans are not easy creatures to please and society is riddled by bullies, villains and just plain imbeciles. (but I'll save these thoughts for another post...)

Anyways back to the topic; my contribution. I believe that I was put on this earth to make a difference, to garner a change, to rally for a cause, to stand up & be heard, to question authority, to find the greater good, to be a soft place to fall, to lend an ear, to reach out my hand, to foster a giving heart, to bolster compassion, to share my message. Some may call it folly; others may deem it wisdom. But I call it a vocation.

It is our job as people, citizen of this precious earth, to be generous to the needs of others. Open your heart not just your wallet when someone needs help. All of us have a civic, moral and personal responsibility to pitch in. Whether that be jumping into a raging river to save a drowning dog, serving on jury duty, or doing your part to make someone's burden lighter.

Have you ever told someone that they have a spinach between their teeth, or a spot on their shirt? Have you ever just stood by and watched while someone committed a crime or a social injustice? Have you ever come to the aid of a total stranger, a helpless child, or even someone you dislike? Don't wait until the person next to you reacts. Be a leader. Take charge. Don't be afraid to fail. You will be reap great personal reward by demonstrating such courage.

Take a minute every day to sincerely a
cknowledge someone and be prepared to step in to lend them a hand if the occasion arises. Take the time to thank the people in every workplace; make eye contact, smile and be present to them (i.e. leave your cell phone and Ipod in the car). It truly does make a difference.

A Dream or A Journey...

I originally posted this piece to my "MySpace" page last April but I wanted to repeat it here for anyone who may visit my "life" via this blog. Read on then I will follow up with more later...

Every parent wants the best for their children. Since day one, we have made decisions that we believed would have the most positive impact on our life and the lives of our children. Planning, plotting, calculating, strategising, wishing, hoping, dreaming, praying for a happy and carefree existence, a peaceful and placid home, and many successful and enriching endeavors.

Life throws you so many options, choices, and curve balls that you're sometimes left second guessing the routes you've chosen. I've often wondered if I should bother exhausting myself with all the work I put in to realize a goal if, in the end, my realities fall way below my expectations.

It all comes down to the old adage about the "best laid plans"... My vision is typically much more extravagant than the end result. Yet I still dare to dream, to set my goals high and reach the pinnacle of my heart's desire. That's what I will continue to do and hope that my children will hunger for things that they might otherwise believe to be beyond their reach.

After all, the journey always begins with the first step. In my case, it's always a vivid picture of perfection. Yes, I'm a perfectionist who sometimes obsesses over minute details. But I believe that one should always strive to put their best work on the table because it's a reflection of your inner self. Be wise to the voice inside your head that tells you to never give up, never be afraid to take that first step into the unknown, and never give yourself an excuse to quit.

As did the great Martin Luther King, I have a dream... to make a difference in the lives of others.

Monday, February 2, 2009

When tragedy strikes

In my last post, I wrote a bit about a fire in our community. Well, I stopped by the house again last Friday with my youngest son, and talked to a man who was working on demolition and clean-up. When I asked where the family was now living, he gave me directions and off we went. I wasn't sure what I was going to say, but my heart told me I had to go.

I found the house and spoke to the mother of my son's classmate. She was making and fielding calls to and from various people, insurance companies, banks, businesses and agencies trying desperately to piece their life back together. I offered her a hug, my phone number and our continued support. Then I reached into my pocket, pulled out a gift card and told her that I knew she needed it more than I did. We hugged once more and then I left. But I know I'll be back because I want to do more.

You see this family lost everything. Not just their house, but their home. Plus all of their furniture, clothes, social security cards, birth certificates, IDs, bank account information, treasured antiques, a cherished pet, and various other sentimental belongings. Things we all take for granted each and every day.

Now I am trying to rally the troops to get others to provide a little extra cushion for this family. I hope that I can convince the school, or at least the 5th grade class, to hold a silent auction, a bottle drive or a "penny war" {where the kids in the school collect coins to donate to a charity} Anyways, I hope that I can start the ball rolling today, since I'm home nursing my son's enormous case of the chickenpox.

Funny how life will throw you these little curve balls, whether it's chickenpox or a fire, to get you to stop and count your blessings. We don't live in a very big house with expensive furnishings and decor, but I am grateful every day that we have a house to call home, as well as warm comfortable beds to sleep in, and hot water to bathe with. And I am truly grateful that we are all in good health.

Just yesterday as I was folding some clean towels, I was thinking about how everything we have is old and worn, mismatched and ordinary. Although our furniture is nothing to showcase, we are comfortable with it, it's what we can afford and we really don't need anything more. That doesn't mean I wouldn't want some new, glamorous furniture, especially a dining room set. But for now, we make do.

I get irritated when I hear Oprah tell viewers that they should buy new linens, pillows, mattresses, and upholstery at least every few years to prevent dust mite infestation. Well Oprah, if I had your life I could do that without worrying how to come up with the money to buy groceries & clothes, pay the mortgage & the taxes, pay for fuel & health care and all of the other things we budget for. So for now I will graciously share my furniture with the dust mites and give thanks that we have our house to come home to every day.

Note to self: stop watching so much TV.

Reach Out and Touch

Saturday January 17th was just an ordinary day for most of us. Our family went skiing in the morning and then just hung out at home for the rest of the day. My oldest son invited a friend over. We all spent several hours playing games, laughing and having fun, then ordered out for pizza. Little did we know that just a few miles away, another family was devastated by tragedy. Ironically that family was someone both of these boys knew; it was one of their classmates (and one of their school’s bus drivers, too). Fire destroyed the house, the car, a pet and everything they owned inside.

When I learned about the fire, my husband and I were preparing to bring our boys to Boston for a Bruins game, something we had planned for months and were very excited about. But in that moment, my heart grew heavy and a deep feeling of guilt about my day, my home, my family, and my life clouded my joy. Sporadically throughout the day I was nagged by sadness, helplessness and distress. I wanted to reach out and make it all better.

Later that week, as my son & I drove home in the dark from our monthly date, I showed him the house. Ever since I heard about the fire, I had frequently talked to “LJ” about how it destroyed everything this family had, yet I knew that only seeing it with his own eyes would allow him to fully comprehend the extent of the loss. I pulled into the driveway and flicked on the high beams. Light spilled over what used to be a cherished home. Now all we saw was a pile of ice-covered rubble.

He was speechless. I knew that he was holding back tears. (“LJ” is very fond of the woman who owned this house. She was his kindergarten bus driver and they still exchange many hugs, smiles & waves.) Finally he spoke and his words sent a chill down my spine. “Mom”, he said, “what were we doing Saturday when this fire happened?” I reminded him about our day. He then somberly said “ … so when B & I were laughing & having fun, D & Mrs. R were crying as they watched their house burn down!”

As a mom I know that it’s important to spare & protect my children from harm & turmoil, and yet I am wise enough to know that it is also my responsibility to expose them to things that touch their soul, no matter how difficult. This will ensure that these lessons are learned, absorbed and humanized. It is my hope that their hearts will forever be open and their hands will always reach out to those who are less fortunate.

Pursue your dream

Pursue your dream
Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.