Weekends and new reality shows

I had such a great weekend. It was filled with lots of family, friends and fun.

I must admit I am a tad tired though, and, my brain is a bit mushy. I have decided to follow my own wonderful Monday morning advice :-), and instead of getting stressed because I can’t decide what I want to write about, I reviewed and savored the family and friends I saw, and the fun I had this weekend:

  • Nate, Tim, Luann, Jonas, Dylan, Dao, Malinda, Pat and Tasha,
  • dinners out, lakeside picnics,
  • Kumquat Festival (tangy tart little citrus fruits in Dade City), country drives
  • roving pirates – Gasparilla in Tampa, cappuccino in Ybor,
  • Peace Corps recruitment event (50th anniversary this year!),
  • shopping at a Cuban bakery and a huge Asian grocery (Peking duck for dinner tonight),    
  • driving home hours in the dark, walking in just as the last episode of PBS’s Downton Abbey began, 
  • reading a fantastic book, and getting another (more on both in future posts),
  • locking us out of a friend’s house for about three hours – we took a walk and then sat and talked, anything can be fun with a friend!
  • And, last but never least, sunny skies and cool breezes, everywhere  – this is after all, Florida in January.

Then I savored each one, just for 30 seconds, or so. Ahh, heaven, again! Okay, now it is your turn, review the good stuff, savor it a bit. Mmmm, feel your shoulders relaxing, a smile forming?

Well, I feel great and in keeping with my Monday morning no stress theme, I am using a “postaweek2011” topic today, which I think is a fun, creative way to get started on the last Monday of the first month of the 2nd decade of the 3rd millennium:  

If you had your own reality show, what would it be?

What would it be called?

What would it be about?

We can’t wait to hear all about it! I am sure it is creative and fun – I know you are good at this. Go ahead share it.

Oh, and special congrats to my friend Mary! Congratulations, Mary. You can read about her happy news in her comment on “A little help from our friends”. And, if you didn’t get to it this weekend, follow Mary’s lead and start your Monday morning off right, by letting someone you care know you care or by thanking them for something wonderful – large or small – they have done for you.

Have a great Monday!

A little help from our friends

I blog on WordPress. I love it; it’s free and easy to use.

They offer lots of options and support such as, their new initiative for 2011 POSTADAY/POSTAWEEK, which offers bloggers ideas for daily posting topics and lots of great blogging tips, but best of all they connect bloggers to each other.

Connecting is important, and having a support system is a good idea for any change or new undertaking in our lives.

I officially joined POSTAWEEK today. I took my good ol’ time doing it; the program began January 1, but since I’ve been posting at least once a week for almost a year, I figured there was no need for me to join. I was wrong. The emails I signed-up for have been helpful and fun, the connections I have made are much appreciated, and well, it is time to give credit where credit is due. 

So, when you see the “postaweek2011” tag on one of my posts, you will know that in some way the idea for that day’s post started with an email or some other form of inspiration from WordPress. 

We all need a little help from our friends. Sargent Shriver, who passed away last week and was the first director of the Peace Corps and of many other life-changing social programs once said:

Nearly everybody in their life needs someone to help them. I don’t care whether you’re the greatest self-made man; the fact is, someone has helped you along the way.”

Why not take some time this weekend to connect or reconnect with someone, who has helped you?  Give them a call or send them a card or email to say thank you.

Or, reach out to someone, who could use a bit of support, and if that someone turns out to be you, ask for help.

I’ll go first . . . thank you WordPress, Sargent Shriver, and all of you, who read my blog. I appreciate it. Thanks for your comments and “likes”, and I hope you’ll continue to encourage me along my “postaweek2011” way.

Have a great weekend.

Insomnia, anyone?

Have you ever woken-up in a cold sweat, disoriented, with your heart pounding because you heard an extremely loud noise or voice calling your name – only to realize the sound was in your head?

If you have, then you’ve experienced “Exploding Head Syndrome.”

J.M.S. Pearce, a British neurologist, dubbed the condition – honestly, that’s its name, and he and other doctors have done a fair amount of research on the topic.

To qualify as an Exploding Head Syndrome episode:

  • The noise or shouting has to be LOUD.  CRASH! BANG! BOOM! KAPOW!
  • It has to awaken you.
  • It must seem very, very real.
  • It occurs an hour or two after you fall asleep. 

The syndrome is a type of insomnia and is most likely the result of stress or extreme fatigue, but really isn’t serious.

Doctors think that many more people suffer from Exploding Head Syndrome than report it. And, most folks feel better the minute they hear others have experienced the same phenomena and that they aren’t going crazy or suffering a brain-related malady, so I am spreading the word to make everyone feel better . . .

If you wake-up to loud, imaginary bumps in the night, it’s okay. Take a deep breath, slowly, in through your nose, out through your nose, and go back to sleep. Everything is okay. 

Exploding Head Syndrome is easy to cure:

  • reduce the stress in your life
  • don’t let yourself get too tired. 

Easier said, than done – but manageable nonetheless, and probably better than hearing the sleep-shattering sound effects our brains are capable of creating.

 

A cure for the Blue Monday blues

Last July, I listened to and wrote a post about a humorous and helpful presentation on happiness by Dr. Srikumar Rao, a professor at Columbia University. Rao is a well-regarded speaker and the author of “Happiness at Work: Be Resilient, Motivated, and Successful – No Matter What” among other books, but what really impressed me is Rao exudes happiness.

I thought today, “Blue Monday 2011”, might be a good day to update and share that post again. 

In Rao’s presentation, he explains that most of us are using the:

 If . . . then” model, which means we are constantly telling ourselves, if this happens then I will be happy. 

If I  . . . 

  • pay my bills,
  • lose weight,
  • fly to a warmer climate,
  • move to  a warmer climate,
  • start running,
  • stop smoking,
  • start budgeting,
  • find a job,
  • quit my job,
  • get married,
  • buy a house
  • have kids,
  • get divorced,
  • start over,
  • etc.

. . . then I will be happy.

Life can be a never-ending series of “ifs” – if we let it – and could then turn out to be a never-ending series of delays and disappointments – if we let it.

Rao suggests that instead of putting all our eggs in the outcome basket, we put them in the process basket. Meaning, we set goals, but don’t delay gratification, appreciation and happiness until, or if they are reached.

Plan ahead, but seize the day – and fill it with happiness. I like that. 

Okay, it’s time to cure your Blue Monday blues. Start with this happy little guy, and then watch Rao’s 17 minute talk

If you are in a hurry, listening to the first 9 minutes of his talk will improve your outlook (it starts a little slow – hang in there – at 7 minutes he shares a memorable example that will make you LOL and can be a great help in the future). 

Listening to the last 8 minutes could change your life, if you let it.

Warning, Warning

Guess what lies ahead . . . I wish I had some scary movie music to play right here . . . doo, doo, doo, doo . . . 

Blue Monday is just around the corner!

What’s Blue Monday? 

Only the most depressing day of the year! Yes, Monday, January 24, 2011 is predicted to be the most depressing day of the year, i.e. Blue Monday.

Why?

Well, Dr. Cliff Arnall a former tutor at the Center for Lifelong Learning of Cardiff University in Wales says it because of the following six factors:

  1. Weather conditions. (Less sun and lots of cold and snowy weather blanketing the Earth this time of year.)
  2. Debt level and our ability to pay that debt. (Ouch, all those holiday shopping bills coming due.)
  3. Time elapsed since the excitement of Christmas. (Even taking in to account that many folks do not celebrate Christmas or celebrate it in January, the holiday build-up and hoopla in December raises everyone’s adrenalin a bit.)
  4. Realization that we already may be letting our New Years resolutions slide. (Not those of us who are OTATing, of course.)
  5. Our general seasonal motivational levels. (Winter malaise setting in, all that holiday food still hugging our waist lines.)
  6. And, our overall need to take action and to have something to look forward to. (Not too many holidays in our immediate futures.)
  7. It’s a Monday! (I added that one.)

Well, there you have it.  Bad day ahead.

Actually, there is no scientific proof January 24 will be the most depressing day of the year, the entire concept was a publicity stunt by a travel company, which grew into a popularly held belief.

That said – from personal holiday experience, the general logic of Arnall’s factors, and having lived in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio for 36 years – the end of January can be a pretty depressing time of year. But feel free to ignore this warning, or to apply the following tips to any day you find particularly bothersome.

Here are two simple Blue Monday antidotes:

  1. Wallow
  2. Reach out

Wallowers

  • Revel in it. Maybe even take the day off. Really let yourself sink into the day. Enjoy a day of self-imposed misery, a mental health day of sorts. 
  • Plan to stay in bed all day with your favorite and forbidden foods nearby and remote, Kindle, Nook, book or iPad in hand.
  • Pick your favorite victim-of-choice attitude, then give yourself full permission to wallow in it. (Please note: no whining – it can spread this thing.)

My guess is, after you give yourself permission, make all the arrangements, and begin wallowing – you will feel better and end-up having a pretty good day.

Reacher-Outers

Plan to do as many nice things for others as you possibly can.  Plan to PIF-off the day by setting do-gooder goals – this Blue Monday site has formalized the process for you – or plan to be on alert throughout the day for ways to make other people happier. You can:

  • Make the coffee;
  • drive the kids:
  • smile;
  • pay somebody’s toll;
  • let the guy cut in;
  • give up the parking space;
  • hold the door; 
  • cut everyone lots of slack;
  • post a sign at your desk saying Blue Monday – Beware! Then share the antidotes;
  • invite someone to take a walk or to lunch;
  • call someone you’ve meant to;
  • and last but not least, find somebody to hug!

Go ahead, try it and see what happens. 

Well, that’s it. My work is done. You’ve been warned; you’ve got a plan, and since you’re prepared, Blue Monday might turn out to be a fantastic day. Talk to you then.

Oh, if you have any surefire cures for a bad day, please share them, we can all use a little help from our friends.

Cats and clicks

One of Nellie's first and most aloof bosses.

 

In the spring of 1951 when my wonderful friend Nellie was a freshman in college at Indiana State, she heard that a professor on campus was looking for a student to pet sit his cats.

You see, the professor and his wife had two Siamese cats that were averse to being left alone. Nellie was paid to talk to this feline mother and daughter pair when conversation between them lagged. Okay, maybe those weren’t the professor’s exact instructions, but nonetheless her major job task was to keep them company.

The problem was the cats did not find Nellie to be good company, and spent most of their time reinforcing their dislike by hissing and batting their paws at her. Nellie recalls that they were also extremely fond of surprise attacks and spent a great deal of time leaping into the air with the goal of attaching themselves to the back of any chair in which she happened to be seated.

The job did allow Nellie to earn money while studying – with interruptions – three hours, twice a week, for three months until she found another job that offered an increase in salary and hours, and bosses, who were a little less, well, catty. 

Our namesake.

 
One of the most unusual jobs I held was as a click girl at Petries, a very popular junior clothing store. I shared my position with a girl named Karen; we sat at a little table in the back among the new clothing arrivals – a good thing since that gave us first dibs and we had a 30% discount. 
 
Our prime but dingy location also gave us time to chat with each other and for us to get to know the ready-wear manager, Ms. Jezewski, an interesting, kind, never-married, “older” woman (probably my age, now), who had once been a train-riding, white-gloved, New York buyer and still carried herself as such. We also got to spend time with Clarice a street-wise, traveling, window-dresser, whose talent and eye for display and whose outlook on career and life impressed me. These women were my mentors before I knew what the word “mentor” meant.

As click girls, our main responsibilities were to categorize and count the teeny, tiny tickets stubs torn from each item’s sales tag when it was processed at the register. We were inventory control, circa 1970 or so – tear, sort, count.  No computers – no mechanized tracking reports, just two teenage girls in the backroom of the store separating, recording and tallying the amount and price of each item sold.  

Why the name click girls? We held little plastic counters in our hands that went click, click as we counted.

Do you have any odd or interesting jobs, assignments, experiences, or interesting bosses or mentors you met along the way that you would like to share? Comment away – we would love to hear about them.

Leadership

I like Tony Dungy’s take on leadership. Dungy was the well-loved coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2001, and is now a well-respected television sports analyst:

. . . as a leader your job is to help others around you be better . . .

. . . the person who makes the group rise to the top and be the best that they can be.”

I like that. We lead by helping others; words to live by.

(Dungy’s words are from an AOL’s “You’ve got . . .” January 2010 video.)

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