Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

Blue Jean Jacket Cameo Boutique

Recently, “life” has been slapping me in the face. 

Go here. Do this. Make sure this gets done. Oh, wait, let’s add back pain to the mix. Don’t forget to mow your grass. You can’t miss the gym. Ok, maybe just one day. All those chickens are not going to feed themselves. Time to cheer on the Marlins and support the baseball players living with you all summer. You are out of milk, and bread, and coffee creamer – Wal-Mart is calling. Try out a new TV show on Netflix…. Next thing you know you’ve binge-watched four… you heard that right, four full TV series. Oh, and by the way, Parker needs daily medications 16 times a day for 72 weeks and since he won’t take a pill you have to hide it in a peanut butter sandwich……

OK, I may have exaggerated that last point. Except the peanut butter sandwich. That part is true.

That’s why I haven’t been blogging. (or answering texts, hanging out with friends or wishing all 800 and something Facebook friends a happy birthday even with the daily reminders on my phone).  Ooops, my bad!

Things have finally slowed down. Well, slightly.  And, I recently tried something completely out of my comfort zone.  It was – dare I say it – Fun! 

I recently starting “modeling” for a local boutique in Swansboro, North Carolina.

Cameo Boutique. 

I remember when it was a bridal store tucked away in Morehead City (I was probably 17/18 years old at the time).  I also remember when the store moved to Swansboro in the shopping center next to Taco Bell.  Then, years later…. many years later, it moved to its current location in a sweet, pale yellow, quaint ‘home’ on the edge of downtown Swansboro.  Gone are the days of a bridal boutique.  It’s a cute, fashionable, colorful, friendly and most importantly affordable boutique owned by a wonderful and sweet woman, Monica.  And she sure does have an eye for colorful styles and trendy, long-wearable fashions.

First and foremost, let me assure you I am NOT receiving a kick-back for writing this blog about Cameo Boutique.  You may have seen my personal Instagram where I tag the boutique when I am posting pictures of me wearing her items.  I mean, isn’t Instagram where you share your food, workout and clothing pics?  Hello – I am trying to keep up with the youth of America!  (ha ha)  Cameo Boutique is a small, local business which provides customer service you won’t find anywhere else.  (Trust me, I just read a Facebook post of a local business in New Bern where the owner was blatantly annoyed that a customer dared to walk into her establishment 5 minutes prior to closing and she only made the situation worse in comments in the thread by insulting other customers/people.  Because of that post, I will never go into her shop now.  I was looking forward to checking out her business.  Oh well.  But, to be kind, I will leave out the name of the new ‘junks and antique’ store in the local area.)

So, here’s to trying something new.  It’s a learning curve for me. I’m not naturally pretty – I definitely need makeup!  And my smile, eyes and poses can and will get better. 

Side Note:  I would really like to have a breast removal because I hate them!!!!!  Maybe I’ll set up a GoFundMe to have ya’ll help me get rid of these things!  – Just kidding… I would never accept a handout.  A sugar-daddy maybe.  But never a handout.  😊  I have already looked into it and my insurance won’t cover it and will be about $10,000 over the course of 6 months and 2 surgeries.  Note to all those young girls… DON’T get implants!)  I digress.

Cameo Boutique Purple Top

With constructive criticism from myself and my dear friends (whom I respect for sharing with me) I have some things to work on.  Because I want to represent the Cameo brand well.

What are you waiting on?  Go check out the boutique. 

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cameoboutiqueandformalwear/

Website:  https://shopcameo.boutique/

The Struggle of Being a Gold

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

For almost a decade I have been a licensed facilitator for Shipley Communications in 4-Lenses Temperament Discovery and have taught the personality assessment training to thousands of people (mainly active duty members and their families).  Identifying and understanding personality styles – think disposition, character, nature, spirit, etc. – allows you to determine how people think, feel, work, play, learn, teach, speak, write, lead and follow.  It’s a very interesting subject.  But most of all, it opens your mind and enables you to see the world from somebody else’s “lens” which, if used for good, can improve all of your relationships (work, family, significant other, neighbors… the list is endless).

You’ve probably heard of Myers-Briggs which is the identification and description of 16 distinctive personality types.  It’s an assessment of over 100 questions which results in being placed into one of the 16 personality types like ISTJ, INFP, ENFJ.  I’ll be honest, I took the Myers-Briggs test two times: once in college when I was 18 and again in my mid-twenties.  I cannot for the life of me remember what “personality type” I was.  This is where 4-Lenses is different (and a little bit easier to remember).  Instead of 16 personality types, 4-Lenses breaks it down into four temperament colors:  Blue, Gold, Green and Orange. 

Don’t worry, this is not a lesson in personality types.  Rather, it’s the struggle I face being a Gold. 

See, let me share with you a little about the Gold personality type.

  • The Gold personality believes in the benefits of discipline as it is critical for success.  
  • Golds can be prudent and prudent people know how to conduct themselves with good judgement, common sense, and even caution in practical matters. 
  • Just like the Boy Scouts, Gold’s like to be prepared.  They will spend a considerable amount of time and effort anticipating problems and forming not just one, but multiple backup plans.
  • Traditions are very important to Golds.  Traditions bring a feeling of stability, security and order.
  • Gold’s hate change.  Like, in a dragging their feet kicking and screaming kind of way.  They eventually come around, but they are vocal about their feelings with change. 
  • Gold’s feel obligated to take on responsibilities.  They will sacrifice their personal time to take on new responsibilities. 
  • They believe in hard work, dedication and trust.  And once a Gold loses trust in someone, it is gone forever.  There is no coming back. 
  • Golds enjoy a good old-fashioned list.  When they complete something on the list, they cross it off.  If they do something that wasn’t on the list, well, you guessed it – they will add it to the list so that they can feel the satisfaction of crossing it off the list. 
  • Golds need order, rules and schedules.  Without it, they feel like life would be too messy and chaotic.  To help manage their schedule, they use planners, apps, and appointment books.
  • Security, to a Gold, means having a good-paying career at an established institution that fosters positive societal standards. 
  • Golds are loyal to a fault.  They dedicate themselves to their employer, significant other and their friends. 
  • To a Gold, there is right and wrong – no in between.  Following rules is important and they expect others to respect authority and follow the rules just as they do

Why do I write all of this?  Because being a Gold is tiring.  It’s exhausting.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, my house is almost always immaculate.  Everything is in order.  All my bills get paid well before they are due.  I keep charts and lists for just about everything.  I constantly reevaluate my life and the goals I have set for myself – personally, financially, educationally, and career wise.  Almost every minute of every day is scheduled, and I am a creature of habit and repetition.  I have to plan everything I do because I don’t like spontaneity.  I come off as rigid to people who don’t know me.  Some might even consider me a bitch because of it.  I promise I’m not.  It’s just my personality.  Luckily, I have amazing Orange, Green and Blue friends who not only appreciate my “gold” but help me be less “gold” on occasion.  And I love them for that.

When Did I Get Old?

This morning I woke up a little before 7am, just like clockwork.  No alarm needed.  I got out of bed, let the dogs out, opened up the chicken coop and made my way back into bed.  It’s Sunday.  I wanted to sleep in.  I should have known better.  After an hour of laying in bed watching the morning news, I decided going back to sleep wasn’t going to happen.  So, I got up, made my bed and headed straight for the coffee pot. 

As I waited for my coffee to brew, I reached up into my medicine cabinet and took my multivitamin.  After I enjoyed my morning brew, I got dressed and headed to the gym.  80 minutes later (today was cardio day) I headed back home.  When I got home it was time to take my daily pill.  I reached back into the medicine cabinet.  I started prepping dinner, had some chicken chores outside to take care of, vacuumed and dusted the house.  At this point it was only 1pm.  I figured with nothing left on my agenda, I’d jump in the shower.  I headed to the bathroom to take a shower when halfway there I remembered that I have a lumbar injection tomorrow morning.  At that point I smiled.  Then laughed out loud.  It was also when I realized – I’m a 60-year-old woman.  When did this happen? 

Let me take you back to Friday.  Friday, my dad and I went to a Morehead City Marlins game.  It was a father-daughter date night.  On the way to the field dad told me he tried looking up someone on Facebook and he said, “They must not be a Facebook user.”  I replied back, “Yeah, this younger generation doesn’t really use Facebook.  They are more of Snapchat and Instagram users.”  My dad started laughing and repeated my, “This younger generation” in a mocking way.  Laughing, I looked at him and said, “Seriously, dad, I can admit I am not young anymore.  But my generation is probably the last that uses Facebook for social media and connections.” 

Fast forward 15 minutes when we pulled into the Michael’s parking lot.  I needed something from inside.  Dad turned off the truck and followed me in.  I went straight to the yarn aisle.  I was there no more than 3 minutes when I hear my dad yelling, “Hey old lady, hurry up and pick out your yarn.”

Well, there you go ladies and gentlemen:  My 65-year-old dad called me old.  And he got quite the kick out of it. 

Then, on Saturday, while I was at a friend’s house, her daughter wanted to show me the redecorating she was doing in her room.  We went up to her room and asked my opinion on a few things.  She sleeps on a twin bed and was trying to figure out what to do when she had guests sleep over.  As I was giving her some ideas, she looked at her loveseat, chair and ottoman she got from me a few months back and said, “Or they could just sleep here.”  The look I gave her must have warranted an explanation because she just stared at me when I finally replied, “Well, you are young.  Young people can sleep anywhere.  But there is no way I would be comfortable there.  My back would be killing me.”  After that comment I had to laugh at myself.  “Wow.  I just said that.  I’m old!”

So here I am.  35 years old.  I take daily multivitamins.  I workout every day despite chronic back problems.  And for this I purchased a $3,000 Tempur-Pedic mattress 3 years ago and receive regular injections in my back.  I go to bed around 9pm every night.  And I’ve recently started crocheting.  Personally, I think I am trendy, hip and fashionable.  But I’ve come to discover, if you call yourself “hip” you are probably old. 

Hi.  My name’s Anne.  I’m not as young as I used to be.  When did this happen?

Talking to Strangers

I’ve recently watched a TED Talk – Why You Should Talk To Strangers – presented by Kio Stark.  I’ve never heard of her before, but the title of the short video was enough to pique my interest.  She was encouraging people to talk to strangers.  Her reason:  When you talk to strangers, you are telling them “I see you there.”  And when you look at talking to strangers in that way, she says you develop a genuine emotional connection with someone.

Fear not – this blog is NOT a recap of the video I watched. If anything, I’d much prefer you watch it for yourself.  However, as I watched and listened, it made me smile thinking about how fortunate I am to live in the south.  Here in the south, there is no such thing as a stranger.  Us southerners can pretty much talk to anyone, at any time, for any reason.  While it may not be some in-depth, life-changing conversation, where life-long friendships are formed, sparking up a conversation with someone you don’t know is more like an unwritten, southern hospitality rule.  There might as well be signs on I95 southbound stating – Last chance to turn around if small talk isn’t your cup of tea.  (And by tea, I obviously mean sweat tea.)

I’m reminded of a time when this small-town girl from eastern North Carolina traveled all the way up to Harrisburg, PA, for work.  – Spoiler alert, that small-town girl is me. –  A few of my colleagues and I decided that before we checked into our hotel for the evening we would go out and grab some food.  We found a bar and grill a few miles from our hotel, walked in and decided to sit at the bar.  It was one of those oval shaped bars that no matter where you sat, you could see everyone.  As I was looking at the menu, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat.  About the same time, I saw meal after meal being delivered to my fellow bar sitters.  Naturally, the southern girl in me started asking everyone sitting around the bar what they were eating because it looked so good and being from out of town I was hoping they could give me some recommendations.

At that very moment you could have heard a pin drop.  You should have seen the looks on their faces.  They glared at me in disbelief.  I have never felt so unwelcomed in my entire life.  The bartender walked over to me and gave me some recommendations. 

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

No wonder you don’t hear the phrase: northern hospitality.

So next time you happen to have a few minutes in your day, and you’re willing to look up from your phone for more than 5 minutes, spark up a conversation with a stranger. Maybe they’ve been feeling lonely or just seem to think nobody takes notice of them. And then you come along, a pure stranger to them, making note of their existence by exchanging a few friendly words and maybe even a laugh or two. This could be all that they need in order to feel noticed.

Holidays, Birthdays and Balloons, Oh My!

Photo by Padli Pradana on Pexels.com

Graduation season is here.  Many, and I mean MANY of my friends have kids graduating high school this year. (Yup, I have old friends. Haha…. just kidding. Kinda!)  Some have already graduated.  Some are getting ready to graduate.  Just walk into any Wal-Mart or Target and you’ll see the “Congrats Grad” displays with cap and gown teddy bears, cards, balloons, and class of ’19 items. It’s like being greeted with a simple, slap-in-the-face reminder that someone you know is probably graduating and you should pick up a card, or twelve. 

After you’ve picked out the perfect graduation card and you finally have a chance to look at your list for what you need in the store, the next display stops you in your tracks. That’s right, Father’s Day is just a few days away. Here’s your chance to pick up a little something for dad. And hey, you’ve got options: cards, balloons, miniature tool sets, car detailing gift baskets, the ever-hilarious novelty bathroom trivia books, and shirts that read “DAD BOD” across the front. 

Just as one display is phasing out another display is being set up: Fourth of July, Back to School, Labor Day, Halloween, Veterans’ Day, Marine Corps Birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas….. you get the picture.  And in between each of those holidays are birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, funerals, new babies, showers, etc.  Between Hallmark, Wal-Mart and Target, we have no excuse to forget our loved ones on special occasions.

If it sounds like I am being a Negative Nancy about all these wonderful occasions, I most definitely am not.  I love holidays.  I love cards.  I love receiving flowers (hint hint).  I love joining my friends and family in celebrating special occasions.  What I don’t like, however, are balloons. 

Yes. You read that right. I hate balloons.

Mylar balloons are fine but latex balloons are not.  I really don’t know what happened between my childhood and adult life but at some point, something triggered a very real fear of balloons.

Go ahead and laugh. I wouldn’t blame you if you did. I mean, how does a fear like this just happen? When I was younger, I played many games involving popping balloons and competing in balloon races.  I even liked to suck out the helium and talk in a funny high-pitched voice along with my friends – but then again, what kid doesn’t?   

But here I am, with a fear of balloons. Check it out… it even has a name:  globophobia.  I’ve had it for years.  At least, ever since Landon was born. I remember this one time when he was little, maybe 18 months old, and when we left Applebee’s, the waitress game him a balloon. We were driving home and I could hear his little fingers pulling at the latex and something just came over me. My skin started crawling (even sitting here remembering that moment is giving me the heebie-jeebies). Since that day, when Landon was given a balloon anywhere, as I held the balloon to get him into the car, I would let it go and tell him “ooops, mommy lost your balloon.” I know… I’m a bad mom. And those weren’t my proudest moments. But the fear I had when he was holding a balloon was truly painful. So as he grew older the only balloons allowed were Mylar. And I made sure he always had one at his birthday parties. See, I made up for being a terrible, no-good, balloon-losing mom.

My close friends already know this about me.  So to them, it’s nothing new. We can joke about it. But they also know the seriousness of it. It’s always been hard to explain to new people about my fear because they think I am pulling their leg. It’s usually hard for them to fathom that someone can actually be afraid of balloons.  Sometimes, new people think it’s funny to test my fear and jokingly torture me by bringing balloons around me. 

Just a heads up folks:  This is how a friendship with me ends. 

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT chase me with a balloon. 

One of the sweetest moments this past year was when I was invited to a birthday party for my friend’s daughter.  Before the party, she called me to ask if balloons would be OK if they were away from me.  I didn’t want to be the reason for the lack of party decorations so I told her it would be fine but to just let her family know not to chase me with them (I was being dead serious).  I also made sure she knew I could skip out and not come so that she could surprise her daughter with balloons and that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all.  When I showed up to the party, I walked in, and the room was filled with Mylar balloons.  MYLAR!  These balloons are at least 3 times the price – if not more – than regular latex balloons.  Oh my heart!  My sweet, wonderful and amazing friend wanted to make sure I had a good time at the party.  And I did. 

You know how, during the Fourth of July celebrations, when people give out reminders on Facebook and even the news channel will make mention about being considerate of pets and the sounds of firecrackers??? Well, here is your friendship-with-Anne reminder:  Anne doesn’t like balloons.  (But she will gladly accept coffee, beer and student loan donations!)   

I did it…… Again!

Today, in my cap and gown, wearing honors cords, I received a Bachelor of Science in Management/Marketing. Knowing my friends and family were there to support me and watch me as I received my degree, it was truly one of the most special moments ever. And it wasn’t any less special than when I received my first undergraduate degree 3 years ago.

That’s right – I have two bachelor’s degrees.

My educational journey started the fall after my divorce was final.  I was scared.  REALLY scared.  I was 26 years old.  I lived 6 hours away from my parents.  How was I going to support a 7-year-old with just a high school education? 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I had a great job. Financially, I was doing OK. But what if there were layoffs one day? What if, down the road, they required a college degree in order to keep my job? I always wanted to go back to school (when I was 18, I didn’t take college very seriously and just wasted a lot of my parent’s money) but I didn’t know if, or how, I could. How was I going to afford it? When would I have the time? 4 years seemed like a LONG time to go to school. I mean, I couldn’t make it during my first attempt, so how was I going to make it now? Well, thanks to an amazingly wonderful boss (and friend and mentor) she encouraged me to register for school. I spent an entire workday figuring out what I needed and applying for financial aid. By the next day, I was accepted into Park University for their online curriculum.

After I got my first semester under my belt, I felt a little better about going back to school. I was getting the swing of things. I was actually enjoying it.

I took 2 classes a semester (which is the max you could take). Since each semester was only 8 weeks, there were 5 semesters a year. So naturally, I went to school year-round with only a week or two of a break between semesters. I worked full time and traveled frequently for my job. All the while, I was balancing being a single mom and going to school. It was hard. I had many late nights of writing papers, doing discussion boards and taking exams. I would take my textbooks everywhere to read whenever I could. There were many baseball practices where Landon would be out on the field and I had a nose in a book on the side lines. I had to plan outings around school and when we went on vacation, I had to make sure the hotel had free wifi. When I traveled for work, I looked forward to long layovers. I would sit on the ground with my laptop in a chair and do as much homework as I could. My carryon bag for all those work trips always consisted of my laptop and books.

I remember one day when I was sitting on the couch writing a paper, Landon sat down next to me and said, “I want to go to college like you so I can stay home.” It crushed my heart. I looked at him and said, “Landon, no you don’t. You want to get good grades in school and get accepted to a good college where you can actually enjoy college life and not have to juggle work, school and family like I am. I’m missing out on a lot. And I don’t want that for you.”

When I walked across the stage the first time, Landon was in the audience.  In fact, he had math end-of-grade testing that day and I reached out to his teacher and said he would be at my graduation and was hoping he could have a make-up day.  She said, “Absolutely!  Seeing you graduate is important.” 

I received my first bachelor’s degree at 32 years old in Social Psychology with a concentration in culture, industry and organization. I achieved what I never thought I would. I was finally done!

Or so I thought. 

A little over a year later I registered to go back to school. I missed it. I was so used to having a routine that involved schoolwork that I didn’t know what to do without it. And plus, I loved learning. So, in the fall of 2017 I was back in school full-time. And loving every minute of it. That is, until I ran out of financial aid and had to start paying for classes out of pocket. That hurt! I could have taken out personal student loans, but I didn’t want to add to my debt. Thank goodness I only had to do it for a few semesters for a total of $7,000.

I wouldn’t change anything about how long my education journey took me. I was able to show Landon the importance of an education at any age. And that right there is priceless. I want to go and get my masters (I love school and learning) but unfortunately, I have to pay back the $65,000 in student loan debt I have, and I have a kid going to college in a few years. It would be selfish for me to take away from him. Maybe one day I will be able to go for my masters. But then again, maybe one day I will pay off my student loans. But I’m thinking at this point, I may die before I actually pay that in full. Either way, I will be paying off student loans for the rest of my life. And it is depressing to think about. Seriously, some days I cry because I think to myself: Was it worth it? Is it worth having to live poor just to pay for two degrees? And when I look over to where I proudly display my diplomas I’m reminded that I am the first person in my immediate family to have earned a bachelor’s degree. And I don’t have just one. I now have two. Then I smile and say to myself – “Damn right it was. It is worth every penny.”

This blog is not meant to be boastful. Rather, it’s meant to show you that even though there are plenty of obstacles thrown in your way on this journey of life, you can still overcome, achieve and accomplish what you put our mind to. For the single parents out there, you can do it! For those who don’t have a support system for encouragement, I’ll be your cheerleader! Whatever the reason, whatever the obstacle, I am here for you.

Simply put:  If I can do it, so can you!

Family, Beer and Baseball

Landon pitching during fall ball season

Believe it or not, there was a time when I would see a baseball game on the television and think to myself, “OMG, how boring.” Many years ago, I was even asked to go to a Major League Baseball game and I declined because I didn’t want to sit in the stands and be bored. I mean, come on, there is like ZERO action. Or, so I thought.

Thanks to Landon, I was able to stop that idiotic thinking of baseball being a boring sport and I actually began to not only understand, but love the game.

Landon played baseball for 7 seasons. I watched him grow from T-ball to Babe Ruth. We even traveled all the way up to Aberdeen, Maryland, for the Cal Ripken Baseball Camp one summer. We’ve gone to many Washington Nationals games and we’ve even seen the Aberdeen Ironbirds (Short-Season classification affiliate team for the Baltimore Orioles) and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Class A – Advanced affiliate team for the Chicago Cubs). After a good run, Landon decided he didn’t want to play anymore, and that was OK.

Summer of 2016, our first Morehead City Marlins game.

The summer of 2018 I became a host family for the Morehead City Marlins. Even though Landon wasn’t playing, we still had a summer filled with baseball (and obviously beer). But better yet, we also walked away from that summer experience with a new family. And if you’ve never had a baseball family before, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Anne, Dawson, Landon

Well, here we are, with the start of the 2019 season for the Morehead City Marlins just days away, Landon and I have opened up our house again for the second year. But this year, we are hosting two players. Due to the devastation of Hurricane Florence this past September, Eastern North Carolina is still trying to pick up the pieces. Many host families were unable to help out this year. We knew it would be tight, but we would make it work. So, this week we’re welcoming Ryan and Connor to the family.

So, if you’re in the area this summer, come join us at the Big Rock Stadium for some baseball and beer. And before you know it, you just might become family.