‘Tis The Season For Unfriending

It’s that time again where we see the true colors of our friends and family on social media—political season. I’m not talking about those who disagree with your points of view, I’m talking about those who can’t utilize social graces and respect for yours. I do love a debate—an intelligent, mature one.  When someone choses to resort to name calling and disparaging remarks, it’s a clear sign of their inability to cleverly discuss what they believe in. I don’t debate with these people as they are clearly not open-minded or reasonable.

Generally, I choose to not post anything that will draw too much attention, especially negative. What makes this wrong is that I’m not utilizing my feed as I want, therefore giving away my agency to others. It’s not because I don’t want to have a discussion, it’s more because I don’t want to end up “unfriending” should things turn as ugly as they sometimes do. As far as someone else’s feed that becomes increasingly offensive to me, there’s an excellent feature on Facebook where I can still be friends and unfollow them—or “snooze” their feed for 30-days. This, however, doesn’t stop them from seeing or commenting on my posts. Therein lies my dilemma. 

I guess what I’m wanting is the respect I give to other’s opinions and posts to be reciprocated. I scroll on by if I don’t like what you’ve posted and should I make a comment, it isn’t about the person, but about the post. If what they posted isn’t true, then I may say so and why—if I choose to bother. My feed is one of light-heartedness, family, and the occasional disenchantment. I can’t post everything that disappointments me as I would become too grizzled. But, you can be sure that I have researched thoroughly anything I choose to post. We’ll call that responsible sharing.

The reality is I will probably be discouraged at some point by what I see and will do what I must—if unfollowing doesn’t do the trick. This isn’t about being too sensitive, it’s about making my feed into what I want. We don’t have to like the same things to be friends and I’m always up for an affable debate. In the end, I will continue to show respect, support, and friendship to those who choose to share their social media with me. And, I will demand the same from those I choose to share mine.

“We should behave to our friends as we would wish our friends behave to us” 

Aristotle

We’re Teaching How to Think, Not What to Think

The school year has started and like many kids in our COVID-times, our daughter is enrolled in virtual school here at home. What she hadn’t anticipated was that we were going to take an active role in teaching her about things outside of her daily school curriculum. Some of these things include learning about history—with a focus currently on Florida’s history. We plan to read about and visit many landmarks and historical sites within a day’s drive. She has participated in a webinar on finances now that she has her own bank account. She will learn how to budget her money and keep track of her spending and saving. We have also added the Woman’s Movement given it’s the 100th anniversary of 19th Amendment. It’s important that she understand how far her gender has come. I want her to have an appreciation for the women who came before her and how they laid the foundation for future generations. They did this by pursuing not only what they wanted from life, but battled against those who saw to oppress them. 

We are currently reading And Yet They Persisted: How American Women Won The Right To Vote by Johanna Neuman.  We take about an hour of time together each night, taking turns reading and discussing things along the way. The writing is a bit advanced for a sixteen-year-old, so we utilize the dictionary frequently to ensure a clear definition of terms. I’ve come to realize that although I know the meaning of these words, sometimes I’m unable to clearly define them for her in a way she will understand. This is also where Michael comes in as he easily provides concise definitions and examples—he’s usually sitting off to the side listening as we read. Another thing we do is frequently pause to ensure our daughter understands the material. This takes up a lot of time, but it’s important for her to comprehend what she’s reading. Needless to say, we are all learning. 

Part of our learning experience is watching lectures—which we did today. The speaker was Johanna Neuman, who authored the book we’re reading. This creates an opportunity for discussion and better understanding of the points the writer is trying to make. Our daughter does seem to have an appreciation of the privileges and rights she enjoys because of the woman who came before her—more so now. Unlike her great-great-grandmother, she gets to have an education that includes more than learning to sew. She can be a pilot, a scientist, or even a president—of our country or of her own company.  One thing my daughter said today was her inability to comprehend how anyone can be sexist in this day and age—a frame of mind that would consider excluding women from what they want to do. I feel exactly the same and delighted she doesn’t feel like her possibilities are remotely limited.

She recognizes women are still working today toward total equality. She does, however, need to take a moment to process that when I started working in the business world back in the early 90s, I couldn’t wear pants to work. Women were only allowed to wear dresses or skirts—and required to wear pantyhose. My legs itch just thinking about it now. What’s also a challenge for her to understand—from both our reading and what she witnesses—is that there are some women who are good with the limitations a patriarchal society. They accept those rules and willingly play by them. The key point is for our daughter to appreciate that everyone should be free to live how they choose—even if she doesn’t agree.

In a world as diverse as ours, she has to accept that everyone will have a different perception of how life should be lived. Even those who grow up with the same parents have children with opposing views, so how can one expect the various cultures of our society to conform to one viewpoint? What we offer in our home is the right to discuss absolutely anything and learn from both sides of an argument. We want her to understand that ignorance of an opposing view is a sure way to lose a debate. The advantage to any discussion is knowing about all sides, not just what you believe. One must appreciate the complexities that create an individual’s point of view—whether that be upbringing, education, or experience. She must also be receptive to learning from others and find value in a difference of opinion.

In the end, she will have to decide for herself how she wants to live her life. She will discover on her own what causes she wants to fight for. Our job as parents is to ensure she is armed with a diverse education that will enable her with intelligent thought. This education includes the reality of the world she lives in and its history. 

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.” 

― Margaret Mead

Asking A Teen If They Want Advice Is Just A Formality

It’s always amazing to me that children brought up in the same household can be so very different. They may have the same parents, same upbringing, and same opportunities—however, the outcome is anyone’s guess. We see the similarities in our kids—certain characteristics—but quite commonly, they each march to a different drummer. The question is how do you help each of them find their path in life?

I do not accept the philosophy of “You can be anything you want to be” that we all heard growing up. It’s really just something encouraging to tell kids. As they get older, however, we realize there are things they just can’t do. The key is that there is unlimited potential to try anything they want—but, they have to put in the work.

My children, two of which are technically adults, have vastly different capabilities. My middle child is the most social and can definitely read any room he enters. He is quick to assess a situation and knows where a conversation needs to go. He took a drastic step in joining the army, becoming an infantryman. This was surprising as he has a lackadaisical approach toward life. Joining the military was in opposition to his personality—however, he thrives on challenges. I was pleasantly surprised by his determination and so very proud of him. 

The oldest leaves me flummoxed. Although he is regimented and likes routine, the military would not necessarily be a good fit. He wouldn’t thrive in a demanding situation and is quick to shut down if challenged. Unlike his brother, he can’t easily read people and isn’t a social creature. Drawing inference from most situations is not in his wheelhouse. He doesn’t want to go to college, but has considered technical school. He has always liked the mechanics of things, but problem solving would be a challenge for him. Ultimately, he has to decide, but he hasn’t a clue of which direction to take—and I don’t know how to guide him.

The youngest is my most creative and has fabulous artistic talents. She has an interest in digital art and demonstrates she can succeed with what she creates on her iPad—as well as, traditional drawing on paper. She is also filled with an abundance of empathy for people and animals—fluctuating the idea of becoming a doctor, veterinarian, or teacher. She is still young enough to figure things out and surprisingly talking of being an airline pilot. I’m not sure where that came from, but I encourage her to see if it’s a fit.

All three seem to be resistant to parental advice unless they are the ones to ask—even then it’s iffy. The strength to resist choking them as they dismiss my advice is an acquired skill I’ve mastered over the years. I know they need to make their own decisions, doing what they feel is best. How else can they appreciate the success or failure? The problem is I don’t want them to fail more than they have to in order to learn. Naturally, I tell them I listened to my parents and followed all their advice. The laughter breaks the tension, but I do say I wished I had listened more.

The only thing for me to do is be available when they want to talk and use that opportunity to slip in any advice bottled up in my parental arsenal. I will still encourage my oldest to find his path in life—even if we don’t currently know what it is. In the end, all I can really do is introduce them to the world and let them make their own decisions.

Misstaeks Happuhn

We live in a world of take-out meals right now and we are no exception in our house.  I do cook about 90% of our meals, which is no problem for me since I love to cook. However, there are times when only a restaurant-made meal will satisfy. 

In the past when we did venture out to grab a bite, we rarely (if ever) utilized the drive-thru. It doesn’t matter if we are getting a hamburger or a cup of coffee. We get out of the car and go inside—if we are getting food, we’ll usually eat there.  Besides, there’s always a possibility that something will be wrong with your order and you’ll have to get out of your car anyway. It doesn’t happen ALL the time, but it happens.

On Sunday, we decided to pick up some barbecue to take home and ordered a family feast online—pulled pork, a whole chicken, garlic bread, and two sides—French fries and baked beans. Once our order was brought out to our car, I decided to place it in the back, which would also allow me to check that everything was in order. I opened the containers, with the exception of a round, taped container and one styrofoam box at the bottom. The smell of the fresh, hot fries in the top box overwhelmed me and I got distracted. 

Once we arrived home, twenty-minutes later, we discovered the one box I didn’t check had a bag of donuts. There was no chicken, no pulled pork, and the taped container I thought was baked beans was barbecue sauce. I knew the restaurant had been very busy with Easter Sunday because the employee mentioned it. I was actually blaming myself for not checking the last container, but the reality is it wasn’t my fault—or was it? 

We drove back up there after I called and the rest of my order was waiting for me. They were apologetic and thanked me for my understanding. I smiled graciously and thanked them as, oddly enough, I was more angry with myself; however, I did check everything this time before walking out the door. On the drive home my disappointment was appropriately placed with them for not recognizing that the one bag they handed me originally could have in no way held my entire order—it was easily a two-bag situation. Additionally, someone else was missing their donuts. That’s borderline criminal, if you ask me. The good thing is that I let it go and enjoyed my meal.

We all have to remember, people are not infallible and we shouldn’t be upset when mistakes are made. We are all trying to work together with this situation our society is facing. The one thing I didn’t do, nor have I ever, was yell at or berate a person for getting my order wrong. What purpose does that serve aside from confirming you’re a jerk? Everything can be handled with a smile and letting the person know a mistake was made. More often than not, compensation is given when this happens anyway. And, I got free Hot Bag O’Donuts with dipping sauce! Well, they didn’t mean to give it to me, but whose complaining? Certainly not my daughter who likened the donuts to yummy churros. 

In the end, I felt full and satisfied with my meal. I WILL go to the restaurant again. I will check ALL of the containers before driving off. And, I will continue to treat people how I want to be treated should I make a mistake. 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I am pretty sure that if one were to look at social media, you would assume humanity itself is the one with a life-threatening virus. Let’s define humanity a la Merriam Webster:

Compassionate, sympathetic, or generous behavior or disposition—the quality or state of being humane; the quality or state of being human; the totality of human beings—the human race. 

My perception of things is nothing new, and honestly, I do spend some of my precious time viewing comments from those who angrily express their opposing views. It’s a comedy, shit-show as far as I’m concerned. This is just my humble opinion, but I am confident I’m not alone. With more people stuck in their house with the stay-home order, people seem to have more time to peruse the internet. The effects of feeling cooped up are rearing their ugly head on even the most innocent of posts.

I expect such things from Facebook and Twitter as I have seen this behavior for years. What has surprised me most is the people on the Nextdoor social media site. 

“Nextdoor is the neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services. We believe that by bringing neighbors together, we can cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. Building connections in the real world is a universal human need. That truth, and the reality that neighborhoods are one of the most important and useful communities in our lives, have been a guiding principle for Nextdoor since the beginning.”

I have been a “member” of Nextdoor since 2017. It is broken down into neighborhoods, and expands out even further. However, I can post something solely for immediate neighbors in my condo community, about 250 of the 370 who have created an account. One of the key elements has normally been to be respectful and avoid those topics that create friction: politics, religion, and sexual content.  We have been a light-hearted, helpful group with the occasional frustrations posted—but, they are more often than not extremely respectful.

With what our world is facing today, more people have become hostile, accusatory, dictatorial, and for lack of a better word, bullies. There is name-calling of a degree that even I am amazed by—remind you that I have seen the “best” on Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. There is a boat-load of misinformation being posted, causing panic and anger. I’m even seeing comments that are clearly to incite even the most gentle of people. 

Whatever happened to scrolling on by? I’m just kidding, people can’t help themselves. I honestly don’t bother to comment when things get heated, now or before. In the end, what good would it do? I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, nor is there some prize at the end that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Even the most innocent of comments will have people turn on you anyway. 

I just thought I wouldn’t see it on the Nextdoor site as we know these people—they are literally our next door neighbors! There’s no hiding behind a screen, keeping anonymity because you’re berating the person you used to smile and wave to as you left for work each morning. Bob across the street will avoid coming outside until you’ve driven off now because you called his wife an ignorant, bleeding-heart liberal and adding, “It makes your whole argument even dumber than you.”  Sorry, you’ll have to move now because all of your neighbors hate you…and oh, you’re an asshat.

The posts have gone from “Help me find my cat, Peepers” and “Can you recommend a good lawn company” to “There are terrorists in our neighborhood”—referring to a group of people playing soccer in a local park, ignoring the less-than-ten-in-a-group rule. Never you mind that even though the social-distance rule is being broken, they’re probably your neighbor’s kids. There are ways to protest the activity without being a jerk.

The scary part is that this really is just the beginning of the pandemic for the States and I’m thinking we’re going to see some intense Mad-Max insanity on our social media sites. It’s easy to get angry and lash out with our keyboard. It’s not easy to take those words back from cyber-space, or to look at old Mrs. Willoughby in the face who lives three houses down after you called her a communist.  If we all remember that we are in the same boat, then perhaps we’ll get through this unscathed. Keep your wits about you, neighbors. 

You Are How You Eat…Wait. What?

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to eat, much less what to eat. But, when you witness eating habits every day with those you live and work with, you might have questions. I mean this in the most humorous sense possible, but what’s with people (my fiancé) eating one item at a time on their plate? 

I’ll lay it out for you…

On a plate I place some chicken, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and corn.  He rotates his plate and eats each item—in it’s entirety—before moving on to the next. Hamburger and fries? He eats ALL of the fries first, then the hamburger. Fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, and toast? This is where he might mix it up and lay the fried egg over the hash browns—eat all of it—then eat the bacon, and finally the toast. Who eats toast by itself? You’re supposed to dip it in the egg-juice! Right?

It truly doesn’t bother me, but I wonder if a person isn’t missing out on some delicious combo-flavors when eating items separately. I’m not talking about a picky eater or about not allowing food on the plate to touch one another. If I make enchiladas with rice and refried beans—all are eaten one at a time. Me? I am taking bites of enchilada, quickly followed by the duo of rice and beans…and guacamole…and a chip or two. Am I a beast? Maybe. 

This is more of a curiosity for me, I guess. It’s just so hard to process and my stating they taste better together is met with, “Oh, okay,”—and then still eaten separate. Yes, it does allow for one to appreciate the taste and flavor of the individual items. But don’t you know the magic that happens when they are combined? 

Am I wrong?

I came across this article that breaks down the personalities based on how a person eats. Someone like me, for example, who is labeled a “mixer” by combining the food on their plate—is outgoing and friendly. It goes on to say this person’s overeagerness to multitask “can exhaust them and make them lose track of deadlines.” Yea, this is so me.

For the one food item at a time person, they are detail-oriented and like to think things through. “They see details everyone misses.” It also states “they should be patient with others who don’t follow the same strategy.” Well, that problem is solved as this describes my fiancé rather well. 


There are many other types, such as:


The slow-eater who enjoys every moment and in no hurry in life.

The fast-eater who is good at multitasking, but may miss out on some things in life.

The picky eater who stay in their comfort zone and doesn’t take risks.

The adventurer who takes risks and not afraid to fail.

The one who always wants a bite of your food can be a bit possessive and demanding.

Again, this isn’t something that bothers me so much as I wonder what’s going on in their head. Eating is something we all do and without giving thought to how. I never considered it an extension of our personality. In our house, we also have a slow eater, fast eater, and picky eater—all of which fits who they are, even if there is a bit of crossovers here and there.

What about you? Where do you fall in the eating category? 

It’s Not The Alcohol Talking

When I tell a story, it may seem like I’m supplying superfluous information—and, I have been known to go off on a tangent. But, when something triggers a tale, there has to be context for the listener/reader to understand where I’m coming from. So, buckle up…

There is a popular grocery store chain in my area and it recently went out of business. This is leaving the local residents feeling disheartened. One of the features of this store is that you can buy a glass of beer or wine to drink on while you shop. Some of the posts written by locals on social media lament they can’t shop and drink now—what are they to do? These comments bother me and I’ll explain why.

I used to have at least one drink every, single night. It was part of a daily routine in my previous marriage. My ex drank quite a bit each night, sometimes way too much. Once I was separated and on my own with three kids, drinking was limited as I had to keep my wits about me. Over the years drinking alcohol has become infrequent with a month or more going by without any beer, wine, or my favorite spirit, vodka.

Not having alcohol hasn’t become a conscious decision as I really don’t think about it overall. There are times I do want an ice-cold beer or even a mixed drink—and I have one. During the summer, having a beer or two sitting poolside isn’t uncommon—I enjoy it. Have I gotten drunk before? Absolutely, but it’s been a very long time. 

I’m not oblivious to the notion alcoholism is a disease as my paternal grandparents died because of it. And I know the comments on social media don’t imply they are all alcoholics. Honestly, this has nothing to do with them overall. What it has triggered in me is sadness about my youngest sister, who—at the age of 38—died of alcoholism.  Her death was a hard blow to my heart and psyche. Her constant state of drunkenness was more prevalent toward the end of her life, however with her being four states away, I wasn’t aware that her most of her days began and ended with alcohol. 

I do understand why my sister drank—she was in pain emotionally—predominantly due to her estranged husband who for lack of a better word, tormented her the last four years of her life.  Only one who has been with someone with narcissistic personality disorder would understand this level of harassment. Then, unfortunately, her choice of men she subsequently dated emotionally and physically abused her. The autopsy revealed several bruises on her body, but stated she died as a result of her alcoholism. 

Drinking was her way of dealing with the obstacles of her choices and what life was throwing at her. 

My talks with my youngest sister were seemingly productive in helping her work through her problems, but only temporarily. Behind the scenes, her drinking had steadily increased. Both my other sister and I tried to get her to come stay with us for a while, but she wanted to be near her children as she got to have supervised visits with them on the weekends. Those around her were not emotionally equipped to help her despite seeing her demise first hand. 

Not a single day since last May has she not entered my thoughts. I no longer find memes posted on social media about getting drunk or needing a drink humorous.  I am not judging these people so much as my views have changed on drinking—stained by my personal tragedy. Any time I do have an alcohol, it’s not without a small sense of guilt. I know that her death isn’t my fault and I should still be able to enjoy a beer while sunning by the pool; or a cocktail when meeting up with friends—it’s just different now. 

It sounds odd to say I have a new found respect for drinking alcohol, but in reality that’s what it is. Additionally, we shouldn’t just recognize when someone needs help, but do the hard task of intervening. I immensely regret not getting on a plane and getting her the professional help she needed. Remember alcohol and substance abuse happens to the best of families and friends. Don’t let regrets be the driving force in changing your life. 

Substance Abuse National Helpline: 800-662-HELP

Mastering Those Tiny Behaviors

There are times that I feel the only consistency is the inconsistency of life. Not very profound, I know and I’m aware that my frame of mind is in need of work. I have many things to be grateful for and they don’t go unnoticed. But…

Getting out of the habit of negative thinking is necessary to propel ourselves forward and it’s not always easy to do. I started reading Atomic Habits by James Clear a few days ago. My fiancé Michael gave it to me when I shared that I clearly don’t know what my purpose is these days. I don’t know what direction I want to go. I don’t feel accomplished. Blah, blah, blah…

There are so many self-help books on the market and finding one that works ironically requires the reading of a self-help book. I’m two chapters into Atomic Habits and I’m already liking the writer’s concept of making the effort to get 1% better every day—“tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.” Doing just 1% every day doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s creating a system, not a goal. When we have a goal and we accomplish it, then what? That’s right, we’re done. However if we create a system, we are consistently getting better—even if results feel slow.  

The same can be said for being 1% worse every day, however that consistency is a habit that maintains itself. What I’ve learned (but, deep down probably already knew) is that the change has to be made within our identity. This is our self-image, judgements, and biases—what we believe.  We need to build identity-based habits on “who we wish to become.” 

He used the example of two people who want to stop smoking and they are offered a cigarette. One says, “No thanks, I’m trying to quit.” The other says, “No thanks, I don’t smoke.” 

See what he did there?

The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to be become a musician.

The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to be a runner.

He states it’s a two-step process to change your identity:

1) Decide the type of person you want to be. 2) Prove it to yourself with small wins.

We all do the same thing convincing ourselves who we are and the book lays it all out:

“I’m terrible with directions.”

“I’m not a morning person.”

“I’m always late.”

“I’m not good with technology.”

By repeating these negative things, it becomes who we are. Our inclination to change is non-existent if we believe we are incapable. Just remember it take just 1% improvement each time—baby steps, people.  We know that feeling, the warm-fuzzy sensation when we have a win. I’m thinking I’d like that feeling every single day, even for the little things. I am a winner (oh, yea).

So, I’m working on my identity and bringing you all along with me. Hopefully, you’ll join me as sometimes it does take a village to bring on change. We will all focus on not necessarily what we want to change, but who we want to become. Think about it this way, every 1% we give toward changing into who we want to be will accumulate. This will direct us toward changing our beliefs in who we are. 

I’m not simply writing this blog, people—I am a blogger. 

Taking Neighborhood Watch To New Levels

Every neighborhood has a Mrs. Kravitz. If you don’t know who that is, you should ask somebody—or just Google it. What will come up is a character from Bewitched, specifically the original series from the 60s to 70s. She’s your nosy neighbor who is constantly watching everyone and knows more than she should about people on your block. If you don’t know who it is, it may be you. I can accept a Mrs. Kravitz, but I don’t have a name for what we’ve encountered recently. 

What do you call someone who goes through the recycle bins to see if you’re recycling properly? Insane? We live in a condo community and each street has its own set of recycling trash bins. We try to be “green” and maintain a separate bag for this purpose. I understand the ins-and-outs of the process and know what I should throw in—mostly. I found out recently that coffee k-cups are not recyclable despite the indication on the bottom of the each cup. What made me look this up was the manipulative way our neighbor approached us.

The usual salutations were given and the topic of recycling was brought up randomly. “People just don’t know what can and can’t be thrown in the recycling bin…” 

She went on to say how jars and cans need to be rinsed out. That pizza boxes can’t be in the bin if any cheese is left on the box. The Kuerig coffee cups aren’t recyclable. All of these things were recently included in the paper bag we used to collect items and toss in the container—along with junk mail, magazines, etc. This neighbor described our trash and it was disconcerting. 

I knew all of these things (aside from the k-cups), but my teenagers apparently did not. What concerns me is that a neighbor went through the bin to seek out violators to approach. It sounds odd, but we feel, in a small way, violated. I can appreciate the concern, truly, but it felt like she went through my panty drawer. It makes me wonder if she goes through anything else we throw away.

Since the encounter, we’ve purchased a security stamp that blacks out our address on envelopes and packages—we even use it for junk mail. We already use our shredder for anything personal, but who knows…maybe she’s piecing that together in her house! 

I suppose I can look at this in a productive and positive way that will help me save the earth more efficiently.

But, it’s weird. Right?