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Tough

Easter pail instead of basket in the early years.

There are many meanings for tough these days.  That jacket is tough.  Are you tough enough to take me on?  That kid needs some tough love.  Tough luck, buster.

I heard that last meaning a lot growing up when it came to wanting something and not getting it.  “Tough.”  As much as I may not have liked it back then, it did teach me the difference between what I need and what I want and how to prioritize the two.  It’s the same lesson I taught the teenagers I worked with, but in a different way.  “Oh you want a Playstation game, but you really need new socks and shoes and only have enough for one or the other.  Okay, you can buy the game, but who is going to buy the shoes and socks for you?”  The answer was no one.

I had to do a lot of prioritizing like that in college.  I really needed to pay the rent but friends wanted to go out to dinner yet again.  Sorry guys.

Easter is coming up and guests are shopping the store pretty hard.  I feel like it’s the holidays again some nights.  Last night I happened to overhear a woman on her cell phone calling someone asking, “What does he want?  What does he need?”  I’m thinking to myself, Seriously?  When did Easter become another Christmas?  Did I miss something?  I mean, as a kid I got jelly beans in those plastic eggs and maybe a chocolate bunny.  I got to hunt for Easter eggs and we went to church like we did every Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

I tried to write that whole conversation off that I overheard.  That was until I overheard a conversation between two female friends who ran into each other in the shoe section.  One of them was looking for shoes for her son because one year they got him new shoes for Easter.  Now he expects new shoes every Easter.  They were talking about not wanting Easter to be like Christmas and I’m thinking, right on. They talked about not wanting to give them baskets full of sugar.  Right on!  “But we can’t just stop now.”  It took everything I had to not run to their aisle and yell, “Are you freaking kidding me?  YOU’RE the parent.  Of course you can stop now!   YOU draw the line.  YOU get to tell them no.”  If I had not just returned from my break, I would have left for one because I was seriously disturbed by that conversation.

I am not a parent.  Not a biological one anyway.  I’ve been a stand-in parent for many teenagers and young adults.  I set an example for them.  I told them no.  I drew a line and gave them appropriate consequences when they were crossed.  Of course they got upset with me.  What teenager doesn’t get mad at their parent for being told no you can’t have or do something, or for taking privileges away for a week?  It doesn’t mean they hated my guts and refused to talk to me.  Maybe in the moment.  But, they got the lessons.  They understood what they could and could not do.  What they could and could not have.  They are all adults now and I hear from some of them.  The ones I hear from all fully understand what I was preparing them for now that they are living on their own.  While I was working with them, there were boundaries to be observed.  I obviously couldn’t tell them I love them even if they all had a little piece of my heart.  But, I loved them all which is why I put my foot down and set limits with them.

In the end of that job, I was working mostly in the group home my agency ran. I did my best to give them as normal of a home experience as I could.  I made a scrapbook of all the things they did in the house.  The day they all moved in.  Decorating the gingerbread men for them for Christmas.  Receiving college acceptance letters.  All the things most mothers try to do for their kids.  I also took them to task for all the stupid teenage shit they did, too.  “What were you thinking?”  “Get over here and finish your chores.  NOW.”  “If you don’t stop yelling at me, I’m turning this car around, taking you home and you can call your mother to explain why you missed your senior pictures.”  That last one, true story.

All those times spent disciplining them or telling them no, I never once said, “Tough.”  Nor did I use the same tone of voice I used to hear it.  But, the things I said and the way I said it were all conveying that same message.

I know a lot of wonderful parents who are firm, yet loving.  They are able to discipline their children and set limits with them.  They love their children unconditionally and make sure they know it even when they have to get tough.

There are parents out there that I just wonder about.  They can’t say no to their children.  They can’t set limits.  These are the parents that need to toughen up for their children’s sake or they will be the adults later on that don’t know how to function at school, work, or in their social life.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Second Life

My digital self

I met Chaz in a chatroom way back when the internet was still relatively new to the general public.  Next month we will celebrate our 13th anniversary.

We both made many friends in that chatroom.  We still have contact with a handful of those friends and I’ve made more friends in other chatrooms.

3 years ago one of those friends introduced me to something different.  A virtual reality.  You have an avatar that you navigate around a virtual world.  I messed around a few times in it and then Chaz tried.  You can say we got hooked together.  We explored areas together.  Met new people together.  And, had a lot of fun together.

The appeal of chatrooms and Second Life for me was being able to “meet” and chat with people from around the world.  Second Life just added more ways to interface through the digital realm.  Not only is there text chat, but voice chat, as well.  Musicians can put on shows without ever having to lug heavy equipment out of the house.  Deejays can stream wearing their pajamas.  Everyone has dance skills.  White men can jump.  And, the chances of a female avatar being a man in real life is high.

Just some of the Ohana

I encouraged Chaz to start performing in Second Life after seeing a show that wasn’t all that great.  The guy had a good voice and could play guitar, but he wasn’t consistent and he didn’t have charisma.  Chaz has that wow factor.  I kept after him, as did some friends and he finally started performing.  It got to the point where he was doing at least 5 regular shows per week.  An hour long each.  Everyone has missed his shows since he couldn’t keep them up while he was traveling for work every week.

I got into deejaying.  I’m not fancy.  I can’t mix like my brother can.  I’m more like a radio deejay, but more fun.  When I have a crowd, especially people I know, I can go off their vibes to play what I know they like and what matches the mood of the group.  There is nothing like seeing (in text) the excitement of the audience when you play a song they enjoy.  It gets me going and before it know it, 2 hours have flown by

We have some really good friends who are like family to us.  We’ve even met a few of them in real life.  One of them we watched graduate from college through internet streaming.  We hope to meet them all one day.  Preferably on a big vacation together.  We tried to do a big trip to Pigeon Forge.  Cabin in the mountains.  But, life got in the way and we haven’t done that yet.  ONE DAY!

I’m not in Second LIfe as much as I used to be.  But, I still have fun when I am in there!

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Reduce – Reuse – Recycle

Tomorrow is Earth Day.  Most people are conscious of this and make an effort to do something that day to reduce, reuse, and/or recycle their waste.  One day a year isn’t enough though.

Each year, I’ve made Earth Day my day to find something new to add to my list of things that I do to follow the R’s.  Last year, I was composting and growing a container garden.  Sadly, neither of those worked out well. Flies decided to get in my compost and reproduce.  Maggots were crawling out and falling down to our neighbor’s patio.  My garden.  Well, it stayed green, but never produced fruits or vegetables once they flowered.  That’s a step up from me growing just dirt, though.

The Diva Cup

One thing I did start using is the Diva Cup.  It reduces the amount of waste every month from using pads or tampons.  It can be messy to insert, take out, and clean.  But, you only have to do twice a day.  They are good for one year before you need a new one.  Whole Foods now carries them.  If you don’t have a Whole Foods in your area or another health food store that carries them, you can find a host of sites online that sell them.

This year, I’m trying to re-use (up-cycle if you will) things like clothes, linens, etc.  I normally take our clothes in to the Goodwill.  However, the clothes that they won’t take usually get turned in to rags.  I have a ton of rags.  I keep a basket of them in my kitchen to use in place of paper towels.  I also have some good dresses that I just don’t wear anymore, but they are still good to use as something else.  Skirts.  Bags.  Oh the ideas I have.  I just need the time to do them.

It’s not always easy to make these changes.  To be conscious of what you buy, what you use and the effects the waste has on our environment.  Start with turning your old clothes into rags and stop buying paper towels.  Use cloth napkins.  Your bank account will thank you.  Find a recycling center near you to recycle some of your waste if you don’t have pick up where you live.  Look into recycling old electronics rather than tossing them in the trash.  Use recyclable bags at the grocery and other stores.  I even have reusable produce bags that I can wash between uses.

Start small and work your way up to more and more.  One day, I hope we can live in a place where we can use solar and geothermal energy.  I’d like to be able to compost without having maggots invade the neighbors.  I’d like to grow a garden in the ground rather than in containers.  Until then, I’ll make the changes I can.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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