Monday, December 26, 2011

Is it time to change how you approach change?

"The key to change is to let go of fear." - Roseanne Cash
Not easy for some people, and I am one of them. I like things comfortable and familiar. I like to know what to expect. I like the "norm." Even when the norm isn't good, I still prefer it to the unknown.

Some people get excited about the unknown. The adventure of something new. I envy those people.

Objectively, I see the benefit of change. And realistically, I know life is all about change and you can't avoid it even if you try. Nothing stays the same - EVER.

Not all change is for the better. But we do well to see the opportunity of change, even when we don't ask for it or want it.

My friend Brenda recently wrote a wonderful post on her blog Passionate Pursuits. Her post was thoughtful and reflective, and wasn't specifically about change, but it made me think about it in a roundabout way. She talked about events in life, broken down into three parts--the beginning, the middle and the end. It was really eye opening for me to think about life events in terms of parts. When I ponder change, I realize I tend to focus on the ending aspect.

I'm sure my focus on endings is a result of my own life experiences and one reason why I resist change so much. If you read my blog regularly, you know that my father was in the Army so we moved around a lot. Each move was about a new location, a new house, new friends, a new school, and new activities.

That's a whole lotta new. A lot of beginnings.  At the time, I enjoyed this. At least I thought I did. But once I got older, I began to crave stability.

I dig the middle. No change involved there. That's where I'm good.

So it's not ALL about saying "goodbye" it's about feeling in control. When you know what to expect, you feel in control. When you are in control, nothing bad will happen.

That is clearly an illusion, but it's funny how the human brain works. Fear is created when we don't even realize it. Fear that keeps us stuck in old patterns and behaviors, unable to move forward.

And mine is clearly fear of change.

"Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't. - Steve Maraboli

How do YOU feel about change?

With another new year about to begin, and many people making their New Year's resolutions, this seemed like a good question to ponder.

Predictably, I leave you with this song by David Bowie. You can't write about change without THIS one going through your mind! It's still one of my favorites.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moms Don't Dance

Ok. Here's something to blog about. It's the shortest blog post ever and not even my material.  But I thought you would enjoy it. I'm saving it for my parental archives. Something to make me smile in my very old age. 

I was sweeping the front entryway and dancing with the broom. The boys were in the living room watching t.v. and they saw me and rolled their eyes.

Me: What? You guys just don't appreciate the entertainment I provide for you.

Kevin:  It's just not right.

Me:  You think I should have curlers in my hair and act like a grandma?

Kevin:  Just don't dance.

Me: What's life without dancing?

Jack:  Footloose

Hope that made you smile!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ghosts of Blogging Past

Woohoo! Ok, this idea definitely will save my ass because I have been completely unmotivated to write anything new lately. I have a LOT of junk going on in my personal life (sorry, don't want to share yet) and I just can't seem to summon up anything to say that isn't too private or depressing.

SO.... along comes this great little blog hop and I'm definitely hooking up!! The idea is to go to your first week of blogging and repost what you wrote. I'm all into recycling! Plus, this gives anyone who is new to your blog, a chance to learn a little something about you.

After you read this, you can go have more bloggy fun by following the links at Mommy2cents and Chosen Chaos. You can have fun reading some other wonderful blogs and even join up yourself.  Enjoy!

What's in a name?

Hi. My name is Michael Ann. Yes, Michael. Ann. Like Mary Ann, but Michael instead. Yes, like the boy's name.

My  name was supposed to be Melissa. Isn't that nice?? But mom changed her  mind at the last minute while watching her favorite tv show, Dr.  Kildare. There was a nurse character named Michael Ann, and I guess  that just tickled mom's fancy, and she changed her mind only days before  I was born. Curse Dr. Kildare!

All my life I've had to suffer through the same questions by well-meaning strangers.

"Are you sure it isn't Michelle?"

Uh, yea, I'm sure.

"Did your parents want  a boy?"

No, they already have one.

"Are you named after your dad?"

No, my brother is, and his name is Peter.

Grr....  I understood their curiosity. I understood my name was unusual. But I was just a kid for goodness sake.I  just wanted to be normal. To fit in. Why couldn't I have a name like  Susan or Debbie or Kathy like all the other girls?

When I was in high school, I had the idea to change the spelling of my name. I thought maybe  that would make it seems less unusual, or less "boy." I changed the spelling to Mykle. Um...yea, I know. That didn't really help. In fact I  think it made it worse. So I changed it back to Michael, causing even  more confusion. When I was in college, someone in my dorm started  calling me Mickey, and others followed suit. I didn't really love it, but I  thought it was  better than dealing with all the Michael questions. After awhile, that  nickname grew on me and I liked that most people didn't even know my  real name was Michael. Mickey suited me--it's cheerful and spunky,  exactly like me. :-) My college friends still call me Mickey.

That  was fun while it lasted, but when I got my first job out of college, I  decided it was time to let go of Mickey, and embrace my adult self and  the name that I came with. I decided to reclaim it with pride. Yes, I  am Michael Ann! That's my name and don't wear it out! Oh, did I say  "adult?"

Now days, having  an uncommon name is not, well, uncommon. In fact it seems to have become  desirable. The weirder, the better. Children with names like Apple and  Rocket probably won't experience what I did while growing up. Different  has become the norm. Kind of defeats the purpose huh? Better off  choosing a name like  John or Ann. Now THAT will really be unique!

I would like to  give this story a happy ending and say that as an adult, I am finally  learning to accept and even appreciate my special name, but honestly, I  still struggle with it. Maybe I just can't shake my history. I know I  could go and have it legally changed...but I've never been willing to go  that far. That just somehow seems wrong. It wouldn't be ME.

Wait  a minute. Me. Yes....I guess Michael Ann really does feel like me. It  should after all these years, huh? Ok, I admit, it hasn't been ALL  bad. I have had my share of compliments too. And I have to tell you,  when I am introduced to someone and they immediately say, "What a lovely  name!" it completely makes my day!

I realize in the grand  scheme of things, this is a minor issue, but I'm still going to tell the  Starbucks barista my name is Michelle.

Do you have an unusual name?

I leave you with this song.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Random Thoughts 2

Here's what I'm thinking in my head today.

Baking. Doing lots of Christmas baking. If you need some ideas for Christmas treats, check out my blog, The Big Green Bowl. The Rocky Road recipe is to die for!

Christmas Shopping.  Almost done, but still have a few things to purchase.  I might have bought myself a few things in the process. It oddly helps with holiday stress, to spend money on oneself, especially when the stress is about how much money one is spending.

Ozzie. My dog. He's a big black lab/pit bull mix who is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He's sweet but crazy.  I seriously need to get a video of him racing around the house like a bat out of Hell, and I need to accompany this video by Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train. I think we could win America's Funniest Home Video.

The dog has no couth.

And no, he is not named after Ozzy, he is named after Ozzie Smith, the greatest Shortstop who ever lived. 

The Wizard of Oz

Next to him is Omar Vizquel, the second greatest Shortstop who ever lived.


Isn't he cute? Sigh...

The first Giants game I ever went to, all I cared about was seeing Omar. We had great seats, right down by the Giants dugout. I had brought a big sign I had made that said, "Omar, you short-stop my heart!" When he went out on the field to stretch and warm up, I yelled his name and waved my sign. He  flashed that amazing smile and gave me the peace sign over his heart gesture! My children were mortified but I was on Cloud 9!

Ok...anyway, where was I?

One of our cats is named after Omar.  He's cute too.

I mentioned here once before that my favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz.  There seems to be a theme of Oz in my life. I think I should think about this.

Anyway, Ozzie was running around the house this morning with something in his mouth and it didn't look good.  It was my son's soccer shin guard.  Crap!!  Ozzie is truly in the dog house now.

Anyone want a cute but destructive and clueless big black dog? Free to good home!

Ok, last thing. One random thought leads to another. That photo of Omar Vizquel catching the ball in mid air? He isn't the only one who can do that.

That's my son Jack!

Happy Day, everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Who stole Christmas?

It's been two weeks since I posted. I was out of town and didn't have anything prepared ahead of time. 

Then, well....I wanted to write about the holiday season being upon us now and my feelings about it, but whatever I have to say is rather negative, and I wasn't sure I wanted to go there with you all.

But... since this is weighing very heavy on my heart, I decided to go ahead and write about it.

Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year. What kid doesn't love Christmas?  Kids have nothing to do but soak it all in. They write letters to Santa, help decorate the tree, eat Christmas cookies and basically spend all their time getting excited about the presents on Christmas morning.

As a young adult and especially as a young parent, I still enjoyed Christmas. I loved doing all the same things that my mom did to make the holiday special. Decorating, baking cookies, buying presents, and playing endless Christmas music on the stereo.  It was fun watching how excited my children got during this time of year. I loved participating in the fantasy of Santa and the North Pole and the reindeer an elves. It was still magical.

A few years back though, I got burned out. As my kids got older, the magic seemed to disappear. They no longer believe in Santa and the gifts they wanted became more expensive.  But this is not about them. It's not their fault. It is more a cultural thing for me at this point.

Two words -- BLACK FRIDAY. 

Giving an actual TITLE to a day for shopping-- treating it like another holiday?  The creation of a day where everyone goes out to buy and buy an spend and spend like a bunch of mad people....  I don't remember any Black Fridays when I was younger.  What is happening in our world that this day even exists? It is just too much. We have sunk to a new low.

And in this economy,  how is everyone paying for all that shit they are buying?  CREDIT CARDS. This is what is wrong with our culture. Buy now, pay later.  Or not. Go bankrupt instead.  If people don't have the money now, what makes them think they will  have it later?  What ever happened to only buying stuff we could actually afford? 

Is this what Christmas is supposed to be about? 

I know, I know. I don't have to make MY Christmas about this, and why should I care how others choose to spend their Christmas? I care because it affects everyone. Materialism and the focus on STUFF as a source of happiness is just plain wrong. That's why our world is the way it is.  People are disconnected and feeling empty.  They fill this void by shopping for STUFF.

Shopping is something we do all year long anyway. Why can't we have one time of year when that is NOT the focus? 

What if we all boycotted shopping for one Christmas season?  Just imagine how that would look. If everyone just focused on their relationships and their communities, what would that look like?

I don't give a damn about supporting the economy by shopping. I do give a damn about supporting my family and my community by not encouraging  everyone to go into debt.

I don't know..... the Christmas season just shines a light on all this for me, and it makes me depressed.  I find it hard to get excited.  I am trying. I am going through the motions. I am trying to keep it sane in my own little world.

I do love baking Christmas cookies and sharing them with my family and friends. I take a tray to our veterinarian's office and the doctor's office, and I love seeing how happy that makes them.  I enjoy buying little treats for my co-workers and my kids' teachers. I do enjoy shopping for just the right gift for my special people, and I don't overspend. 

I love spending a foggy morning at the Christmas tree farm, choosing a tree, drinking hot cider and riding in Santa's sleigh, even if the kids don't believe anymore. I enjoy the lights on the houses and I adore all the holiday music.

I'm keeping the traditions in my own little family and trying to be cheerful.

I'm thinking about starting some new traditions too, to help myself and my family better focus on giving and community.  We do all the donation things that come up, but I'm thinking of some larger scale volunteerism.  Something has to change. I really don't like feeling like the Grinch!

How do you stay focused on the good parts of the holiday season?

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