15 June 2017

Glamour Do's and Don's

When I was a kid, one of my older sisters had a subscription to Glamour magazine.  She was all about fashion and style, and what was the latest, etc.  I would usually take a look at it, because I took a look at/read nearly everything that was in the house (seriously, my parents had no interest in censorship - I'm sure I'd be in the care of Child Services in today's world).  Sometimes I found it interesting, sometimes it was all beyond my interest or understanding, but my very favorite part ALWAYS was at the end of the magazine, where they would have the page of Do's and Don'ts.


This isn't really a good representation of what it used to look like, but you get the idea.  I used to enjoy this because, at least when I was a kid, I seldom saw people actually dressed or made up like the "Don'ts" and found it highly amusing.

I haven't looked at a Glamour magazine in many years, so I have no idea if I would have the same kind of appreciation for it.  But I'll still see people whose attire or makeup is astonishing/frightening/whatever and think to myself, "Surely that's a Don't."  But that's as far as I take it.

Today though, we have a LOT more people deciding what is or is not appropriate - in just about every category.  I am particularly fond of the ones where they inform us of what women should/should not wear/do after the age of ____ (fill in the blank).   I guess I find it even more shocking/amusing that to some, it's gospel truth!

But a friend recently showed me this item, and I was highly amused because: a) after 30??? are you kidding me???, and b) one of the items is hoop earrings!!!  When I read this, I laughed out loud, because I don't understand how hoop earrings are a problem for anyone of any age.







I'm afraid I don't get it.  Granted, I see some hoop earrings that are so large/heavy/embellished that I would never wear them myself, or I would find them uncomfortable if I did, but I've never seen anyone of any age wearing hoop earrings and thought, "Whoa, that shouldn't be happening."

Shorts where your butt is showing?  I don't personally want to see anyone wearing those.  Sheer tops/dresses/pants?  Same thing.  I mean, there are so many other things to choose from, and someone is taking a stand on HOOP EARRINGS???

If you're looking for me, I'll be taking off my hoop earrings, putting on my orthopedic shoes with rolled down  knee-high nylons, and sitting in my rocking chair until it's time for my medication.

23 May 2017

Kindness

"Always be a little kinder than necessary"
James M. Barrie

A few years ago, I became aware of the One Little Word concept through some blogs I follow.  In a nutshell, the idea is that you choose a word to guide you through the next year.  For instance, if you chose the word "Joy," you would try to guide yourself throughout the year to find, experience, and give joy.  It's a way of teaching yourself another way to be mindful.

I decided to try, and chose the word "Kindness."  Mainly because I knew in my heart that *true* kindness was difficult for me.  I have an easy time being kind to those I love, or to those who are kind to me.  I think everyone finds that pretty simple, even a no-brainer.  But it has always been hard for me to be kind to those who are not that way in return, or to those who didn't somehow measure up to my expectations.  I thought that perhaps if I could consciously become a kinder person, I would become a better and happier person.

At first, it was truly difficult.  I am not patient, and do not suffer fools gladly.  I also tend to be annoyed by things that don't even concern me, and am quick to judge.  I would find myself in my usual mode, and then remember that I was trying to be kind.  (I mean, I even bought a necklace with a pendant that said "Be kind" to help remind me!)

The funny thing was, as the year progressed, I started to realize that I had internalized my desire to be kinder and was often acting that way without having to consciously remind myself.  I tried to look at people and situations in a different light, which was a hard thing for me to do.

It was really hard.  It still is.  But today I'm a much kinder, much better person than I was before.  The One Little Word has really stuck with me, and there are several times a day I think of it.

These days, the world does not seem as kind as it may have been before.  It's difficult to turn on the TV, read a newspaper, or log in to social media and not come across some event, attack, behavior that is appalling, tragic, or inhuman.

I think that in this world, in these times, kindness is more important than ever.  And in a lot of small ways, I think it is stronger than ever.  Reading about the attack last night in Manchester, England, where completely innocent people attending a pop music concert fell victim to pure unadulterated evil, has emphasized this to me.  People in the town immediately started doing what they could to help.  Hotels opened their doors to those looking for a safe place to be.  Law enforcement did not just look for those who set off the bomb, they went into crisis mode to track individuals and provide what information they could as soon as it was available to them.  This morning on Twitter, there were so many messages from individuals offering people a place to stay, a home-cooked meal, or even just a cup of tea.  These are acts of kindness, maybe not ones offered every day to every random person, but there nonetheless when needed.

Sadly, there are more kinds of evil in the world than ever.  Fanaticism in its many forms seems to have increased.  Innocence, once lost, cannot be regained.  Evil, once unleashed, cannot be obliterated from existence.  Things can seem bleak, hopeless, and it's easy to be overwhelmed.

But if there is one thing I have learned in my own journey, it is this: there are no small kindnesses.  Every time you are kind to someone else just because you can be, you are standing up to evil and helping to restore humanity.

Be kind when you can be.  Even when it's hard.  Especially when it's hard.

15 May 2017

When the Unexpected Works Out

I would have to say that 99% of the time, I'm a fairly cautious person as far as buying things goes.  Particularly in the case of clothing, since getting things that both fit me and that I like for a price I am willing to pay can be tricky.

At the moment, I don't remember exactly how it turned out this way, but I recently found myself in the possession of a $75.00 J. Crew gift card (I think it was from a return of a gift after Christmas).  I'd forgotten all about it, and came across it when I was cleaning out various pieces of paper and whatever from my purse and wallet.  Hm, I thought - $75.00 is a lot of money, I should spend this.  So I poked around on the website, since the closest store to us is somewhat small, and I'd actually have to change out of my pajamas on a weekend to go there.

I saw a few things I liked, and gave them consideration, but then I saw these and for reasons I still do not completely understand, decided that maybe the gift card should go towards purchasing them.  There was some kind of sale going on, so between the gift card and the sale promotion, they were under $50.00.  Still in this state of weird unreality for me, I ordered them.

What was that about?  JEANS?  I have a hard time finding jeans that fit me and that I like.  And "boyfriend" jeans?  With rolled cuffs?  What in the name of a small black dog named Pete was happening to me?  First of all, it was unlikely they were going to fit; if they did, the legs would likely be too tight to suit me; and, they were probably going to look ridiculous.  My only consolation was that I knew I could return them, but I was irritated at myself, because why did I buy something that was not going to work?  

So then I probably saw something shiny, or thought about pie, because I completely forgot I'd ordered them and went on to be concerned about something else that I'm sure was unimportant.  As one does.

A few days later, the package arrived and I was actually embarrassed.  It was visual proof of my huge mistake in judgement.  But I opened the package, if nothing else, to see if it would be easier to return things via mail or get dressed and walk up to the store.

The thing is though, the jeans kind of looked nice.  And when I took them out of the plastic bag they had been shipped in, they didn't look all that "trendy" or tight.  They actually looked like they might fit.  And the rolled cuffs could be unrolled.  I was intrigued.  So I figured, what the heck, and tried them on.

Huh.  They FIT.  Really well.  And the legs were not tight.  And they looked nice, not like I was trying to make people believe I was 30 years younger and 20 pounds lighter.  Because I am not a supermodel, they were not as cropped on me as the picture on the website showed.  I actually liked them.  And so I decided to keep them.

Since that time, I've worn them four or five times, and it turns out that they are one of the nicest pairs of jeans I've ever owned.  Even The Tim, who seldom comments on anything I wear, said, "Are those new jeans? They look nice."  WHAT???  

I have decided that it was just one of those times when the universe was on my side, and the planets all aligned.  I am unlikely to ever order jeans online again, from any website, because I feel like I've used my one free pass.  

But boy is it making me happy in the meantime ... :-)


See?  HAHAHAHAHAHA - who IS this???

09 May 2017

An Unpopular Rant

I noticed my last post was in March.  Ugh.  Sorry about that.  It's been a rough few months, and though the desire was there, the making of time was not.  Hopefully I'll get back here on a more regular basis.

Of course, if I am lambasted and made a social outcast by this post, maybe not ...

Disclaimer:  I think that parental leave is a very important issue, and that it's clear the U.S. needs to get their act together - and I think fathers need as much access to it as mothers do.

Having said that, I think that employers also need to determine how to deal with the work not being done while someone is on maternity leave.

Of the seven times I've been working with someone who has taken maternity leave, there has been only one time when that person came back to work full-time after the official leave time was up.  The others either quit over the phone the day before they were supposed to return (for real - they were able to get the full benefit), or extended their leaves indefinitely, right before or after returning to work.

As someone who has taken up to eight weeks for medical leave, I fully understand that it's inconvenient for co-workers and employers.  Either the work doesn't get done at all, because you are the only one who knows your position (my case), or someone else has to do their work and yours for the time period when you are out.

Currently though, there is a situation at work that is making my days miserable.  One of my co-workers took maternity leave beginning on December 5, 2016.  She was due to be back on March 6, 2017.  During the time she was gone, I was told (not asked, not suggested) that I would be doing her job as well as mine (which is already a job that four people used to do).  No extra pay, of course.

In the spirit of being supportive, and knowing that people had to deal with me being out on medical leave a few years back, I did my very best between December and March.  I was not allowed to take any days off that were not already scheduled, which was a pain, and when I broke my ankle and DARED to be out for two days, I was reminded of the importance of being at work.  Blah blah blah.

March 6 arrived, and the co-worker returned.  At a departmental staff meeting on March 8, it was announced that the co-worker missed her baby too much and didn't want to put him in day care all of the time, so she would be coming in for 1-2 days a week "indefinitely."  She is still considered full-time and being paid and getting benefits as such.  Nice work if you can get it, if you ask me.

I then asked our boss (privately) what this meant for my workload, and it was like I was speaking Ubangi or something.  What did I mean?  Of course I would keep doing her work, she is at home with a baby!  She will be "working from home" a lot and "checking in."  (She is a person who deals with the public all day, every day, btw.)  They can't afford to hire someone to fill in for her, and don't have any extra funding anyway.  So I will be continuing in the current situation "indefinitely."

When I was on medical leave, I did not receive any pay or benefits, so went back to work as soon as it was at all possible, and was not given a part-time option.  I completely understand that my co-worker finds it hard to leave her baby, I'm sure it is.  I'm sure she is also exhausted a lot of the time.  I know her life has changed dramatically.

But again, I'm stuck.  And frankly, I'm annoyed about it.  HR says it's not an "HR issue," and even a friend of mine said that I should not be complaining because someone was extending *maternity* leave!  Because, as I'm told whenever a co-worker with kids gets time off and I don't, "I don't have a family, and they do."  (Apparently The Tim and the kit kats are bogus family.)

Employers need to realize that maternity/paternity leave is essential for the employees directly involved, but also for those picking up for them as well.  I am barely able to complete any of my work, and I refuse to start working longer hours because of this.

OK, I may have lost a lot of you here, and if so, I'm sorry.  But it's unfair, and frankly I'm royally sick of it.

If you are still here, thanks for reading to the end, regardless of your feelings.  I'll try harder next time to post something less bitchy.  :-)

08 March 2017

International Women's Day

Today, I went to work.  Because I don't have any extra days to take off, and couldn't have taken off today anyway, because of our work situation.  I had intended to wear red, but was in walking zombie mode when getting dressed this morning, and completely forgot.  Oh well, at least I  had a red bracelet on ...

BUT - I have a job, even if it is one with issues.  I get a paycheck once a month, and since my husband is also employed, I get decent health insurance through his work.  I actually am lucky enough to have that choice.

Not every woman has anything close to that, and yet there were still people who asked, "Well then, when is International Men's Day?" (My response would be every day, but maybe that's just me.)

We are living in a tenuous time, when poor women are being even more and more marginalized.*  Many of those that write the laws and pass those same laws are anxious to put the poor in their place, to stop them from being so lazy, or from playing the system.  

Women are just so often not seen as that important or as useful, especially once they have provided children (preferably male, to "carry on the name"), and when they stand up for themselves, the criticism is rampant.

You know what?  There are some women who are lazy. There are some women who try to play the system.   There are some women who are only ever looking out for themselves.

Just like some men - wait, WHAT???!!!

I hope enough people of every race, gender, and persuasion will keep fighting and keep annoying those in power. 

*as are men and children, but I am focusing on International Women's Day here.

********

On a kinda/sorta/maybe-not-really-related note, the other day, an acquaintance of mine who is about a year older than I am, was telling me how she found a great pair of new jeans over the weekend, and was going to wear them out to dinner with her friends this week.  She posted a picture of herself and her friends on Instagram, and her new (and might I add expensive) jeans, were the kind that are ripped and torn.  When she asked me if I'd seen it and I said yes, she asked me what I thought of the jeans.  I said they looked fine (and they did, she looked nice enough).  She asked me why I never wear ripped jeans, since they are in style.  

And I had to tell her that she will likely never see me in ripped jeans, if I can help it.  And though she assumed it was because I thought I was too old to wear them, that's not really the reason.

When I was growing up, we were poor.  As in, really poor.  But my parents always took pride in the fact that we were always clean, and that our clothes were always not just clean but presentable in spite of circumstances.  People who wore ripped clothing back then were poor people, and my parents always said that just because we *were* poor, we didn't have to *look* poor.  Our clothes were mended if they ripped or torn.

So even though I know that things are different today, there is still a huge disconnect for me.  

As in, these women are poor:



But these women are stylish:




And they are all wearing ripped jeans ...

Nope, I can't.  

19 February 2017

Things I've Learned That I Already Knew

At my appt with the orthopedic dr on February 10, she said that things were healing nicely, and that I could start using one crutch instead of two.  She also told me that she would see me in another month, and hopefully then I can get rid of the cast.  This is all good news, and I'm grateful for any and all of it.

But thinking about it, I realized that having the cast and the crutches and the limited mobility has taught me things that I already knew, but they are invaluable reminders.  I'm sharing some of them here, so that all of us can consider things in our own lives that fall into that category.

I am the luckiest person in the world.  At some point, my cast will come off, and I will be able to move around in my usual way, with no limitations but my own, related to age, physical condition, etc.  Some people never ever ever have that luxury as a possibility in their lives.

Multitasking is not a necessary (or maybe even preferable) way to live your life.  I've pretty much been limited to doing one thing at a time lately.  Oh sure, I can knit and watch TV, and those kind of simple and usual things.  But I have been reminded that I can do one thing at a time and then move on to another thing and a) they both get done, and b) the world continues.

Slowing down makes life better.  Not that I live a fast-paced, jet-setting life, but like most people, I try to get as much done on any given day as possible (with occasional do-nothing at all days).  Well, during these last few weeks, I haven't been able to easily move around, even in the house (maybe even especially in the house - all those stairs!), and I find that I am able to be more mindful, as well as more appreciative of time and place.  And at least in my case, slowing down has not had a negative effect on anything I usually try to accomplish quickly.

Time spent reading, knitting, or whatever is never wasted time.   Do not feel guilty for doing things that you enjoy, that help you relax, or that mean something to you.  Again, the world continued.

Asking for/accepting help is not a bad thing, and can even make other people feel better.  I generally feel that if I *can* do something myself, that I should.  But there have been a lot of things I have not been able to do myself, and though at first I felt bad or hesitant, I have now realized that people want to help, and often don't know how.  And if/when you accept their offers of help, you make them feel that they are really doing good.

Self-pity is very seldom helpful.  Years ago - actually as a teenager, I think - I started to allow myself one day where I could wallow in self-pity, for whatever reason (and God knows as a teenager, there are SO. MANY. THINGS).  Whether it meant staying in my pjs in my room all day, or having a major crying jag, or just mentally listing all of the ways in which the world was against me, I'd pile it all into that one day.   Then I would move on for a while.  I still do this, though getting older mean it doesn't happen as often.  But I have been reminded lately that the only person who cares about your self-pity is yourself.  And in the end, you haven't really gotten anything out of it.

Shoes are awesome.  Being able to get up every day and put on any pair of shoes you want to, is the best.

What about you?  Do you have any lessons you've learned recently that you already knew?


07 February 2017

Then There's This

I have a question for you:  Do you remember when people would find out they were going to have a baby, and then when you talked to them, they would say, "Guess what? We're going to have baby!" and then you would congratulate them?  Or if you didn't know them well, they might drop you a note, or you'd hear it from a friend, and think that was nice?

Those were the days, no?

Last week, when Beyonce* announced she was having twins, there was an entire photo shoot, with people acting like she was the first person to ever have a baby, much less twins.  Now having a baby seems to call for entire production numbers.  And then there are the ever-popular "gender reveal" parties - where the couple gets the gender of the upcoming baby from their doctor, give it to a bakery without looking at it themselves, and then invite their friends, cut into the cake, and it's either pink or blue!

And angels rejoice, of course.

You may have guessed I find these things tiresome.  And you'd be correct.  And lest you think it's because I'm becoming a grumpy old woman, I feel I should tell you that this kind of stuff has always annoyed me.  I am all for people sharing their good news, but give me a break.

There is a knit blogger that I also follow on Instagram, and last year, one day she posted a picture of baby feet wearing handknit booties.  The caption said something like, "I had a baby a couple of weeks ago, and we are all doing fine.  It was hard not to talk about it all the time, but I decided to wait until it actually happened."  People left comments that made it sound like she had stolen money from them or something.  I congratulated her and said I admired her decision to do things the way she wanted to do them.

Then there is this article that I read last summer, and thought "Wow."  Good for her.

I realize I'm probably in the minority here, but then again, I usually am ...

*I am so not a fan of Beyonce, but I would have been just as annoyed if it had been someone I really like, trust me!