August 12, 2016

Two simple, yet powerful (and underused) words

Thank you.

Two syllables, yet so hard for some people to say.

Everyone knows you don't (shouldn't) give to expect something in return. What we all should know though, is that saying thank you should come as an automatic response to so many situations. Case in point:
A man held the door open for me and let me walk through the door first at a busy restaurant, I said thank you. He said, "Well you sure are welcome" as if it surprised him that I thanked him. In return, and because it was appropriate, I let him put his name on the wait list first. He said, "That was really nice of you, thank you" and there in a matter of less than a minute, two thank you's were swapped, good feelings were had by all. So Simple.

From the very onset of my life I can remember my mom teaching us the importance of a thank you. Any holiday or birthday where gifts were exchanged, we had a list of who gave us what so that we could properly thank them afterwards. That has carried on into my adult life and something I would instill in my children had I had any.

It's such a small gesture with such a large impact. So why is it so hard?

This post comes from something that happened recently, or that has happened repeatedly for years now. I am not going to give specifics, but I feel shafted by someone. Someone I have given to secondhandedly (not a word, but you get it) for years that I don't believe has ever thanked me once.  Again, not an expectation, but it got me thinking/wondering if this person really is thankful or is just so used to being the receiver rather than the giver, that it doesn't even cross their mind to be thankful. It's mind boggling to me really.

Think of the last time you received a genuine thank you in the mail. Didn't it make you feel great? So why not say thank you more often? It doesn't have to be in receipt of a gift, but maybe just a heartfelt thank you for: being a great friend, parent, sibling....  Maybe it is for a gesture of kindness, act of selflessness, or just for the hell of it. It would turn a bad day good and a good day great for sure, I guarantee it.

So I challenge you. Send one thank you per week to someone you know. It may not make a world of difference, but it may just brighten the day of someone you know.  Do you accept this challenge?



June 20, 2016

To Break-Up or Not to Break-Up?

Since I currently have ample time to sit and ponder life, I get to thinking that maybe Alaska and I need to break-up. Maybe I need to move on with my life and get out of this relationship. I've tried for 10 years to make it work and it just hasn't. Then I think, "What hasn't worked?" I've met some great people, had some amazing experiences, and get to live in an amazingly beautiful place. So what's my issue? Why do I want to break-up with you Alaska? Here are a few reasons in no particular order:

1. Well, Alaska.... you're kind of a whore. With such a diversity of people here there is bound to be issues, but DANG GINA, it is getting bad here! Shootings, stabbings, robberies, murders.. I feel like I’m living in the ghettos of Compton. You can’t read the paper without reading about someone dying the night before. It’s a tab bit scary in these parts.

2. I’m really so over your mood swings. It’s supposed to be cold with snow in the winter and warm with sunshine in the summer. It isn’t that hard to get it straight? I don’t bother ever looking at the forecast because you change your mind on a whim. I think you need to get on hormones and keep on an even keel. Even though I’ve enjoyed winter for awhile now, I’m a bit over shoveling, changing tires, wearing jackets, and all the other stuff that comes with winter. I just want sun… all the time.

3. Your bosses. You see Alaska, the people that run you can’t seem to get it right. You have so many different people here trying to run things, and it seems that all of those people are out for themselves and not for the betterment of the whole. For such a unique place, we should be working together to make you better and we aren't. I've never lived anywhere where every. single. issue. is debated/discussed/debated again over and over again. It's as though people just need to hear themselves speak and they have to have an opinion even if they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

4. You ain’t cheap! Not only do we pay exorbitant prices for food here, we also have to pay high prices to cook that food! Cut us a break here. Not to mention taking some time to myself Alaska. Sometimes I need my alone time and need to leave you for a bit but man oh man you have to sell your soul to get an affordable ticket out of here. Maybe instead of the dividend we get a, “Get out of Alaska” free ticket each year. Cabin fever is a real thing you know. Mythbusters proved it!
I know I’m bringing up a lot of baggage Alaska- it hasn’t all been bad. There are so many things I’ve appreciated about you in the past 10 years. Topping that list would be the lack of poisonous spiders, fleas/ticks, skunks. The inability for people to ride crotch rockets all year. Your utter lack of social standards when it comes to dress codes.

So what does this mean? I’ve said it time and time again— I should move out of Alaska. Yet I never do. Why is that? What hold do you have on me Alaska? We only live once, so why not go try out another state, or hell, even another country? I have husband.. kids… JOB (haha).. just a cat and chickens. Is it fear of starting over? Having to make new friends? Maybe I just bite the bullet and do it? If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Why haven’t you?

May 24, 2016

When you are a square peg in a round hole

It will be of no surprise to anyone reading this to learn that I can be somewhat opinionated. But you see, that isn't a problem. The problem is HOW you deliver said opinion. Or even just speaking it at all really. You see, I just got fired (again) after 5 months working in an environment that I would deem unhealthy for anyone who has a mind of their own. You see, the organization is practically run by three women, two of which are 70+ years old. You know the saying that you, "Can't teach an old dog new tricks?" It is SO true!! So let me back up here---

When I was hired I was told they were excited to have someone come on board with such great ideas and a passion for educating Alaskans. I was excited to come on board. For the first month or so I was called the "favorite" in our department. My boss invited me for wine, told me about her family, and yes, treated me like the favorite child. Then I think she realized she didn't hire someone who would come at her beck and call or agree with her when it came to spending an outlandish amount of money on a SIM table that we'd NEVER USE! I had an opinion- shoot me. One day she was in our Deputy Director's office and we had a meeting to go to. I quietly knocked on the door and was WAVED IN. I explained we had to go or we'd be late. It was then our DD yelled at me. Yelled at me like a bad child. "How dare you enter a closed door meeting with such unimportant information. Do not ever come into this office without being invited again. We were discussing information you should not be privy too. Get out!" I was shocked. I had never, in my entire life, been yelled at like that by a manager...especially one who was moonlighting as our HR Director! I spoke to my boss about it later and she said, "That is just how she is." Umm. NOT Ok. It was then I knew my boss would never back me up... so so so true it turns out.

Now to the "setting me up for failure" part of the story. 
Step One: There is a girl in our HR department who claimed I offended her during orientation, and  I was "dismissive" of her in the bathroom (what does that even mean??). I have not said more than 20 words to this girl. So I asked her nicely what I did that offended her that she would go to HR more than once about me. She said nothing had offended her and that she had never said anything of the sort. I requested a meeting with all parties involved, it never happened. I was told to forget about it.
Step Two: I had a counterpart in Valdez. Same job. Same job description. Same. Same. Same. Except for one thing- I was asked to partake in extra meetings, write RFP's, help with grants, etc. etc.
Step Three: In the 5 months working there, I was never asked about the progress of my work or the work of my staff. Nobody ever asked how we were doing, how things were going, nothing.
Step Four: I was told by my boss to not pay my staff for helping in their village council offices. When I explained that to my staff, an email from the Village Chief was sent to my boss and our Executive Director saying basically that he was appalled that we wouldn't pay our staff to help out in their own village. Did my boss say, "Sorry about that? We will do so from now on"? NOPE. She threw me under the bus saying I had made the decision without her knowing. Ridiculous.

So last week when I was called in to the HR conference room with my boss and the HR Director and was given a list of "offenses" that included offending the HR girl, not being supportive of my staff which is why they aren't producing work and stepping outside my job duties.
I explained that I had tried to rectify the situation with HR girl, and the only time I have ever "stepped" outside my job duties was when I was asked by my boss. I asked if they had talked to my staff to determine if I was or wasn't supportive (they had not).

So did it come as a surprise to me when I got my pink slip? Nope. You see, when you have a boss who doesn't care about your work ethic, performance and only cares about themselves, it just won't work for someone like me. I look at the big picture, I look at my staff, I look if we are spending money appropriately. Even though I am not from the region that I worked for, I wanted the program to be a huge success. Something it hasn't been in the years that it's been going on. I wanted my staff to be proud of the work they did for their communities. I wanted to create a product that would be used and not just shelved in storage units. And you know what? I was doing a good job at it too.

I get it. I am opinionated. I won't ever change that for anyone or for any job. If you want to hire some brain dead lackey who will do whatever you say regardless of the outcome, then go for it. But do not hire me explaining that you did so because of my ingenuity and great ideas when you know darn well you will never let me exercise either of those things.

April 12, 2016

A Decade Gone By

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of me living back in Alaska. I never in a million years thought I would ever return to live back in Alaska, but when your brother calls and needs you, that's what you do. Granted I'm sure he didn't think I'd actually move up here and IN with him, but que sera sera.

I've experienced a lot in the last decade. I've met people who will stay in my life forever and some that stayed in my life too long. I'd like to think I've learned what is important in life and what makes me happy and what doesn't. And now ten years later, I sit here looking back at all that came from this Alaskan adventure and look forward to all that is to come.

Friends. 
I truly have met some amazing people in my life. There are also those friendships that have come and gone. It was one of the harder lessons I had to learn in life; how to let people in my life go that I didn't feel were meaningful in any way. Just because I'd known them for years, or that we had mutual friends.. those weren't reasons to carry on a "friendship" that had no substance. Adios Amigos!

Jobs.
Whew.. I could go on and on and on about this topic. I bet I've had 40+ jobs in my life and none of had more impact on my life than those that I've had in the last 10 years. I learned that just because a non-profit looks good on the outside and "does good things" for whomever their target audience is... doesn't quite mean that everything is sunshine and roses on the inside. My take away was that unless you are truly dedicated to the mission and the work that you do, you should not work for a non-profit. It doesn't make sense to. Quit right now.
Moving on... I've always enjoyed learning and when the opportunity came for me to learn something entirely new, I jumped on it. I dove head first into a world of unknown people, places and experiences and I loved every minute of it.. until I didn't love it anymore, then I was miserable. From this job I learned that some people are greedy with money and some are greedy with the need to be revered. Again, it wasn't about the work that was being done but the power that some people needed in order to feel important.
Moving on again... One thing I will never, ever, accept in another job is complacency. You know the issues but choose not to fix them? Arrivederci!
My whole point is this... you spend a ridiculous amount of time at work so why not love it? Why not be passionate about what you do and be excited to go every single day? Speaking from experience, it can damn near make you a depressed lunatic to hate going to work every day. AMEN!

Relationships: (non-friend category)
'Wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv."
Listen. I want to find someone to "settle down with" just like every other single woman out there looking for a relationship. It takes me back to a job interview when I was asked why I would make a good supervisor. My response, "Because I've had the best and the worst supervisors and I know which I'd rather be." It is the same thing in relationships!! I've had some truly awful relationships (cheater and seriously psychopathic liar) and I've had some great ones. Which would I prefer? hmm, let me think. So if I've had some good ones why haven't they stuck? I'm going with the unrequited love route. The ol', "The timing just wasn't right." My mother and I have often talked about the supposed key to successful relationships: The Spark. I say it has to exist, she claims that it doesn't. Granted I know there are more important things than The Spark. I mean, they have to be good looking. :)  But in all seriousness, you have to WANT to be with that person and not just WANT to be with them to be with someone...  In the end, I'm fairly certain I'm not going to settle for someone who I don't think is right for me. If that means I adopt a dozen cats and knit sweaters from their fur, so be it. At least I won't have to shave my legs on a regular basis.

Family
I love my family, I do. We've had some trials and tribulations through the years, but we've come out ahead of the game. In the last ten years all of my family has lived here at some point. Now it's just my younger brother and I. I don't recall us ever being close growing up. He was kind of a schmuck actually. But now I enjoy hanging out with him and seeing him not be so schmucky. My parents live in this hell-hole called Arizona. Why, I don't know.. but they do. I guess the desert is better than living right on the ocean in your own paradise..... I digress. It's fun to be adults with my siblings and my parents. Knowing I can cuss without getting my mouth washed out with soap... or talk to my mom about things she doesn't always want to discuss with me ie: sexy time. My older brother is getting married this year which is so weird. To think there will be another girl in our family just blows my mind. My dad has lightened up through the years and has some one-liners that will make you pee your pants. I am very grateful for them and am glad that we've stayed close through the years and I imagine will only grow closer as we get older--- especially when me and my cats move in with one of them ----

So the past ten years have been good and bad, but mostly good. To think in another ten years I will be 46 and probably bitching about menopause (or lack thereof), reminiscing about how they don't make any good shows like The Golden Girls anymore, while eating friend Spam sandwiches in my moomoo. Kind of sounds glorious if you ask me.

February 17, 2016

To Date or Not To Date?


At my age, I really cherish the friendships I have with other single women. Not that I don’t love my married/coupled friends, but my single friends and I have more in common… well, kind of.

So a few of my single friends and I have been having conversations asking whether or not we want to be in a relationship, or why we aren’t in one, or if there are particular reasons we haven’t found one that sticks. I know that I’m pretty picky, and having that elusive “spark” is important to me. I want someone who gets along with my friends and family and who enjoys the same things as I do.. blah blah blah.

It all got me to thinking about being single at 36 and if I really want to be in a relationship. So I created a pros and cons list that might help me decide (although very doubtful).

 

PROS                                                                                      CONS
Having a companion to do things with                        Feeling like you have to have them along for everything
Getting knocked up                                                         I can do it without a relationship (IVF,not being a slut)            
Being old by myself                                                         If they got older faster I’d have to take care of them
Sex                                                                                      I don’t think there is a con to this one..
Having someone to cook for                                          Unless they are picky and have a ton of allergies
Cuddling                                                                             Do not cuddle with my while sleeping. I hate that
                                                                                             Having to share my holidays with his family
                                                                                             Not being able to hang out with my friends all the time
                                                                                             I probably can’t have a household full of animals
                                                                                             I tend to date cheaters.. so there’s always that
                                                                                             I can’t move at a moment’s notice
                                                                                             I imagine they’d want me to shave my legs daily
Help cleaning my coop??                                                Hmm, maybe I do want a relationship
                                                                                             I like my alone time
No more first dates- I hate those
 
This is all off the cuff so this list is rather arbitrary-- but as you can see, my CON list is longer than my PRO list. What does that mean? More chickens, cats, moo-moos, and less razors. Sounds like a good plan to me.
 

                                                               

January 4, 2016

Adios 2015.... Bienvenidos 2016!

I will be turning 36 this year. For most, age is just a number. For me, it’s my biological clock speeding by. I know some of you may find it hard to find seriousness in the fact that I’d like to procreate, but I would. Who wouldn’t want a mini-Beth?? Sheesh!
I look back at years gone by and think, “What should I have done differently?”—why this question always arises at the start of a new year, who knows. I supposed I could have pondered the same thing on August 14 or October 23…. But whatever, it’s the New Year so new changes… I’m not calling them resolutions because that’s just setting you right up for failure; in my case anyway.
I’ve read lots of books about making life changes and I am going to take the route of creating a vision board with things that I will accomplish this year. Here are things that will go on it that I’ve thought of so far:
1.      Get healthy. I don’t need to lose a ton of weight or anything dramatic. I mean, I do, but I only have SO MUCH will power... But I do want to get back into shape so I can play soccer without dying after 1 minute of running. I want to start hiking again. I want to make exercise a part of my routine. As far as eating, I am probably not going to change that too much. I love food and when it comes down to it, I’d rather eat what I want than not.. so there. I should probably also simmer down on the Coors Light but let’s not get too carried away.
2.      Save at least 10% of my income aside from my retirement account. When I was unemployed for an extended amount of time I would literally buy only what I needed and not what I wanted and I lived on a fraction of my income. Those impulse purchases will kill ya! So I’m going to pretend I’m unemployed and broke. I will give myself a budget and will have to stay within that budget.
3.      I will put more effort into myself, aka stop being so damn lazy. (I guess this goes with #1 but what I mean is…).. not getting up and putting on the frumpiest thing I can find because it’s easy to put on. Or not put my hair in a ponytail every day because it’s easier than blow drying it and styling it. I will spend less time on the couch and more time doing things that make me happy.. although that couch and some Bravo series really make me happy… I digress…
4.      I am going to let whatever will be, be. I am not going to force relationships.. whether it be with friends or “friends” wink wink… C'est la vie!!
5.      I am going to go on a vacation to somewhere I want to go. No offense to those that may take offense to this, but I would love to see you and your family, but this vacation is going to be all about me and what/where/who I want to see. I’m fairly certain it doesn’t include you.. sorry!!

I think that’s a good enough start. While I may be getting older, the wiser part is still up in the air but each year brings new challenges, accomplishments and experiences and all in all, I’m pretty darn happy with my life. If only that smart, rich, compassionate, romantic man would show up…

Yes, I love me some Paul Rudd.

November 9, 2015

Yes, no, maybe so. It's just that easy.

Stepping up on my soapbox now.

There are quite a few things that irk me in life. Bad drivers, people who are rude to wait staff, incessant sounds, etc. etc. etc. But you know what annoys me the most? Invitations and all that go along with them. Let me explain……
1.       I have a lot of people I like to hang out with. When I want to hang out with them, I call them and say, “Hey, do you want to hang out?” and they either say yes or no. I would say out of my group of friends, 4 of them ever call and ask me to do anything. I’m almost always the inviter. Does that mean my friends don’t want to hang out with me? Why is that, I’m super fun? I recently had a drink with a friend that I’ve known for years. I hadn’t seen him in a while so I said, “Let’s meet up!” and he agreed. As we caught up, he mentioned he had tickets to something the weekend prior but didn’t go because he didn’t have anyone to go with. Uh, hello.. thanks a lot schmuck! So it brings me to the “why” part of this scenario. Why am I always the inviter? Maybe all my friends don’t do anything until asked? Maybe I’m not as fun as I think? Maybe they are content sitting at home watching re-runs of Unsolved Mysteries? It’s weird and it kind of bugs me. Then again, I’m a social creature who needs to be around people most of the time which means if I want to be around people, I must ask people to be around me I guess..??

2.       I love to throw parties. Most of these parties include food or some type of preparation. How do you know how much food you’ll need? You send an invite out with an RSVP attached. I like to use evite.com because it has a list of all my friends that I’d want to come and it’s easy peasy to send one out. The other benefit of using evite is that you can send reminders, see who opened it, and keep track of people who RSVP’d- it’s a brilliant little website! The thing is, the majority of people never respond which is utterly frustrating and quite frankly, downright rude. I can see that you opened it, looked at it, and then nothing. If you aren’t coming, just hit NO! If you are, sweet, I will have a hotdog ready for you. It is not that hard to make a decision that includes three responses: yes, no, maybe.

3.       As the inviter, I think the most frustrating part is having those people who are always on the fence about doing something. They come up with the lamest excuse possible as to why they maybe can or can’t come. Just make a decision for crying out loud! If it’s a bonfire- no biggie, I could care a less if you RSVP since we are just sitting around a fire. But if it’s something that includes traveling somewhere, staying somewhere, figuring out food, that is not a situation where you are allowed to be willy nilly about the invite. I don’t want to have to wonder, “Oh, is he/she actually going to follow-through or are they going to cancel last minute?” I know a lot of these people by the way. I just can’t imagine how hard it is to agree to something and then just follow-through. I’m not asking if you’ll give me a kidney for the love of God. The benefit of all of this is that I know who these people are and almost always have a back-up plan because I know they’ll bail last minute. But what those people don’t know is that I’m biding my time until they do it that one time that ticks me off so bad that I just stop inviting them to anything and when the day comes when I have two free tickets to an all-inclusive resort in Tahiti, they won’t be invited. SO THERE! (in my childish, neener, neener, neener voice)
What I want to come from this rant is for those of you who are:  a) the people who don’t RSVP b) the people who RSVP and then no-show or c) RSVP but never follow-through… I want you to know that it isn’t small beans for some people. If you never got invited to anything ever again you’d be sad. It wouldn’t make you feel very good. So why risk that by being an insensitive invitee? You’re basically saying, “Hey, I know we’re friends and I know you like me, and I appreciate you thinking of me while doing this invite, but I don’t really care enough about you to respond/show up/follow-through.
As I slowly make my descent from this soapbox, I want all of you to think about the effort and thought that goes into a simple invite. It’s a meaningful thing to invite someone to something and you should take each invite as a gift; a gift that someone thought enough about you to extend that invitation.