November 19, 2012

Am I The Only One?

Am I the only one who is annoyed about the Black Friday bonanza spilling over onto Thanksgiving day?

Actually, that's a rhetorical question. I'm not the only one who is annoyed. I've been scouring social media platforms this evening looking for evidence of other's discontent on the subject, and I found plenty.

You see, I'm so thankful for the things I have, but that's just the issue: they're things. Possessions. Objects. Sure, I think some of the things I own are pretty cool, and certainly there are many other things that I would like to own, but that aren't in my price range. Objects, though, do not have the meaning that relationships have. For what it's worth, I think that possessions aren't what makes life worthwhile, it's the relationships we have. I don't need "big-ticket items" like a TV to enjoy life. In fact, I don't even have cable (there's not much in the way of TV programming that's worthwhile, in my opinion), and I actually don't miss it one bit since I made the decision to get rid of it.

My family, friends, co-workers, and others are worth far more to me than any object.

Where did that thought process break down in our society? It seems like more and more people are less focused on Thanksgiving (these days, I sometimes wonder how many people know the holiday's origin), and are more focused on Black Friday deals.

I'm a Black Friday shopper. I go out every year in search of deals, but I absolutely refuse to go out on Thanksgiving Day to shop for objects when I could instead be with people that I care about and who care about me. This isn't a new feeling for me, because I distinctly remember discussing this last year.

Sadly, there is a demand for these stores to be open on Thanksgiving Day. I understand the insistence from these companies that their customers have asked for sales on Thanksgiving, but wouldn't it be great to see some companies taking a stand? Have a backbone. What about an ad that says something like, "we believe in giving thanks, and we're thankful for our employees and their families, so we won't be opening our doors until 6 am on Friday?"

So, this year, I'm talking to you, Sears, Kmart (opening at 6am on Thanksgiving Day? Really?), Target, Toys R Us, and Target. There are others, I'm sure, but those are coming to mind first. Let your employees enjoy the holiday, and stop making it sound absolutely urgent that I leave my family on Thanksgiving to find a good deal.

Sears actually responded to my tweet on the subject, saying that they were focusing on seasonal employees and those who volunteer to work on Thanksgiving. It's the same response they have sent hundreds of others who are raising concerns about the hours of operation. In response, I asked whether there would be a consequence for employees who didn't volunteer and how many were "volunteering" out of necessity. I haven't gotten a reply to that one.

What do you think about all of this?

November 17, 2012

The Enemy in the Midst of Excitement

Do you hear that? Can you smell it? The holidays are in the air, ladies and gentlemen, and I couldn't be more excited. This is without a doubt my favorite time of the year. I'm actually not sure if it would be possible for me to be more excited about the fast-approaching holidays as I am.

I like to remind my fiance that on the top of my "reasons why I'm marrying him" list is because he is just as excited for this time of year as I am. Growing up, both of us were the giddy kids on Christmas morning waking everyone up at 4:30 because, really, what's the point in trying to sleep if you're just that excited? Recently, I assured my parents that even though Cam and I will be spending our Christmas mornings together once we're married, we will make a point of waking everyone up so that our presence won't be missed too much...Oddly, my parents didn't seem to excited about my generous offer to call them repeatedly until they were up and at 'em on Christmas morning.

Oh, and if you're wondering, yes, I have already set up my Christmas tree. For those of you who just said some variation of "ugh, seriously?," it's only because I store my tree in my shed, and I have developed a phobia of spiders, which is ironic since I have a degree in psychology. Consequently, I was completely unwilling to venture into the shed to retrieve my tree without the help of either a) a disaster relief responder b) a firefighter, or c) Cam. Someone has to slay those spiders, after all, and it certainly won't be me, if the last time I had to do so is any indication of my ability to stay calm.

Me, waging war against the spider...
Or Charlie Sheen in Platoon, but you get the idea
You see, I found a spider lurking on the ceiling not long ago, and I prepared to wage war. I quickly fashioned a sort of jousting pole out of my broom. On the tip of the broom, I used a rubber band to secure a tissue to it, so that I could simply stab the spider with the broom handle, remove the tissue, and flush the pesky thing down the toilet...But not before I got out my rain boots, tucked my pants into them so that the spider wouldn't be able to crawl onto my leg, found a pair of rubber gloves, which I made sure covered my hands and also the ends of my long sleeves, so that it couldn't find its way up my sleeve. I then used the drawstrings on my hood to make sure the smallest amount of my face was showing as possible. As I jumped and screamed like a complete loon, I finally succeeded, and promptly threw out the gloves, and put my clothes into the wash. It's completely irrational, yes, but that's the nature of phobias, right?

Anyway, I couldn't bare the thought of finding a spider on or around the bin holding my Christmas tree, so Cam had the honor of dealing with that little problem the last time he came to visit.

Since I am a fan of Thanksgiving, and since I don't want to completely skip over it, I have not decorated the tree yet, and I won't be until after the Thanksgiving festivities are over. I must say, though, It does feel nice knowing that I won't be dealing with my little 8-legged arch enemies when I'm trying to enjoy the holiday season.

October 31, 2012

Cleaning out the Cobwebs

Sometimes in life, it's important to clean out the cobwebs that clog up our day-to-day activities and can have a draining effect on our moods. Over the last couple of weeks, I've done some much-needed mental housekeeping. I have made peace with things that have been weighing heavily on my heart and mind for some time now, and the difference it has made is wonderful.

I'm lucky to have family, friends, co-workers, and many others who are supportive and enthusiastic about my ideas. Focusing on those things can be difficult sometimes, but I'm making a conscious effort to do so.

In college, I learned some amazing relaxation tools as part of my psychology classes. Today, I'm offering some (perhaps unsolicited) tips to improve your mood and relieve some stress, even if it's just a little.

1) Take a breath: it seems so simple, and yet, many people don't stop to take a deep breath a few times a day. Doing so can help to "reset" your mind, so to speak. I take a deep breath in the morning as soon as I wake up, just before heading out the door for work, and then periodically during the day. Try it! Close your eyes, fill your lungs with air slowly through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth.

2) When you lie down at night, systematically tense and relax your muscles (hold the tensed muscle for 5 seconds, slowly relaxing it) from head to toe. This one is my favorite, it almost instantly puts me to sleep.

3) There are plenty of websites out there that will allow you to choose from any number of ambient noises, such as rain, thunder, waterfalls, etc. My favorite combination is a light rolling thunder and a steady rain.

Ahhhh... relaxation. It's such a welcome luxury at the end of a busy day.

By the way, happy Halloween! Did you catch the cobweb connection?

September 16, 2012

The Power of Grammar

As I plan my upcoming wedding, I am constantly surprised to find that poor grammar is rampant. I typically  pride myself on my ability to manipulate words and use the English language to effectively communicate my thoughts, and I sometimes find it difficult to understand why others struggle with that concept. To me, the proper use of grammar is vital in communication in any scenario (read: there is a difference between "let's eat Grandpa" and "Let's eat, Grandpa." Grammar saves lives, people!), but it seems that not everyone shares that opinion. 

When I am meeting with any professional, especially one with far more experience in a field than I have, I expect a certain level of competence. To me, being able to communicate well is nearly as important as the final product or overall service a person provides. For this reason, when someone begins speaking, and in doing so, sounds like an elementary school student who has not completed one single grammar lesson, I start to get nervous. I worry that without the basic ability to speak well, the professional in question may not be able to produce high-quality results. 

As an example, I was looking into different options for flower arrangements recently. When I expressed to a particular florist that I like simple elegance, she responded with, "I seen something you might like." At that moment, I was almost certain I would not be ordering flowers from this florist. While I understand that the use of proper grammar probably has little to do with her ability to create lovely floral arrangements, I simply could not look past the poor grammar. In my opinion, poor grammar is distracting. I have trouble ignoring it, frankly.

Maybe I'm just a snob for proper grammar, and I definitely appreciate someone who is well-read enough to understand my literary jokes, but I struggle to take someone seriously who is speaking to me without a hint of grammatical intelligence. 

I also flinch when commercials air with lines like "less calories" or "less miles." Companies spend millions of dollars on advertisements. Why, then, does it seem that they are so resistant to hiring an editor?

The same is true about the use of punctuation, by the way. As I demonstrated in the example above, a comma placement can make all the difference. 

Come on, people, get it together. Use grammar well. 

September 14, 2012

'She's Country'

It's true. I'm a hopeless country fan. There's just something about a good southern gentleman in cowboy boots and a great southern drawl that I've always loved.

For years, I resisted country music. I avoided it at every turn. I went through a short punk rock phase, followed by rap and hip hop, both of which came after I finally started to accept that NSYNC wasn't going to be doing a reunion tour any time soon. Of course, that's a reality I'm still not sure I'm fully prepared for.

Last night, all of my dreams were realized. We went to see Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan in concert, and let me tell you, it very well could be the second best concert I've ever seen. The best concert, of course, was NSYNC back in '01. Yeah, I'm still holding on to that one.

The scene outside the venue was everything I imagined, and then some. Plaid shirts, ripped jeans, pick-up trucks, cowboy hats, fake accents, and bad beer surrounded us. I was the opposite of a country girl as I made my way to our seats in my flats, skinny jeans, and an embellished top. Poor outfit choice aside, I couldn't help but sing along to the songs that played from the stage before the performers took over.

Once Luke Bryan hit the stage, my feet were ready for some dancing, and I very happily swayed and sang along with each song. Jason Aldean brought more of the same, and I even caught my hard rock-loving fiance tapping a foot.

All in all, if you ever have a chance to see these two in concert, TAKE IT! My ears are still ringing a little, and I can think of few other times in my life in which I have been quite this tired (after all, today was a work day!), but it was very well worth it.

Of course, if you get the chance to see NSYNC, take that too.

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