TGIF

It’s Friday.  The work week is over.  A long, holiday weekend is in front of me. 

Just like every other Friday (or any day in general) I come home to a house where two happy pups are wagging their tails and excited to see me. I give them some love and ask them how their day was (yes, I talk to my dogs). After that, I check on Landon, the teenager who shares the house with me, yet I seldom see him, who’s in his room online gaming with friends. Then, I go out back, say hello to my flock of chickens (again, yes, I talk to my chickens), collect eggs, feed them and give them fresh water. This right here is the highlight of my day. And, it’s the same thing. Every. Day.

Other people come home to their loved ones. Their partner in crime. Their boo. Hell, I don’t know what couples call each other anymore. I’ve been out of the game so long I’m not sure what it’s like to come home to anyone anymore. And simply put…. I’m lonely.

I wish I had someone to come home to everyday. Someone who is interested in how my day was. Someone who is as excited to see me as Toby and Parker are. (Those are my dogs by the way!) I wish I had someone to talk to about my goals and ambitions.  I wish I had someone to give me career advice.  Recently, I’ve been racking my brain about where I see myself in a year, 3 years, and beyond.  I know I’m capable of so much more career wise.  I feel like I’m in a rut. And there are days I REALLY wish I had someone to talk to about it.

I may not have a lot in life, but I have some AMAZING friends who are ALWAYS there for me. So when I say that I’m lonely, I mean that after my day is over, I want more than just my couch, a cup of coffee and Netflix to comfort me. However, my small group of friends make themselves available for me. Whenever I need them. And for this I am thankful. Not everyone has friends like this. I am truly lucky to have them in my life. Because without them, I would be more of a mess than I already am. And that’s scary to think about.

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. Hell, maybe more like the last two months. I put on a brave, confident, I’ve got everything going for me face. But there’s a reason I don’t play poker. People who know me well can see right through my so-called brave face. And they call me out on it. I am the type of person who doesn’t like to burden other people with my problems. My usual answer when asked how I am doing is “fine.” Sometimes I even switch it up and say, “I’m good.” However, in my core, in my heart, I’m not.

I’m not going to bore you with any specific details.  And I will get through whatever this funk is.  I’m a tough cookie.  Eventually, I’ll be OK.  But right now, I have a lot going on in my head.  I over think everything, I beat myself up about every little thing, and I only make things worse for myself.  Especially when I spend most of my free time at home, ignoring my phone, and staying locked up in my own little pity-filled world.  There are some changes in store for me. I have to do what is best for me. I have to learn to love myself. Flaws and all.

Please don’t take my rawness as an attempt to get attention or pity from you.  I am just being real.  I hope this serves as a reminder that everyone is facing a battle, going through a hard time, or struggling in some way, shape or form.  They may not always show it.  So be kind to everyone and smile at strangers.  Sometimes that’s exactly what someone needs, especially when they have no one to go home to.

The Struggle of Being a Gold

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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?

Holidays, Birthdays and Balloons, Oh My!

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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!)   

Cheaper Than Therapy

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For me, going to the gym is therapeutic.  It doesn’t matter what kind of day I have; the gym is always there for me to vent and let it all out.  I work out about 5-6 times a week (I would go 7 days a week, but I must force myself, for my body’s sake, to take a rest day).  Some days I need to get out of my head and stop worrying about things. There are also days I am mad, angry, even hulk-like.  Then, there are days when I’m on an emotional roller coaster holding back tears or fighting the urge to scream and yell.  Then again, I also have days when I’m feeling like a certified bad ass *insert Wonder Woman* and feel there isn’t anything stopping me.  It doesn’t matter which kind of day I have, being in the gym is my happy place. 

I put my ear buds in, crank up my workout playlist on my iPhone, and let it all out.

I go at it hard (minus the grunting and clanging of weights – I don’t want Planet Fitness to sound the ‘Lunk’ alarm on me) and forget my troubles.  It works.  Every.  Damn.  Time.  The best part is, I don’t have to be social.  I go to the gym to workout; Not to make friends or socialize.  In fact, when people try and talk to me at the gym, it annoys me.  This is MY time.  I don’t get much of it, so leave me alone – Please and Thank You. 

The gym isn’t my only means of letting out stress.  Sitting in my backyard watching my backyard flock of chickens is my version of meditation.  It is nearly impossible to get mad or upset while watching 18 chickens with 18 different personalities cluck, peck, and scratch their way around.  I could sit there for hours. Sometimes, I sit there imagining what it would be like to be a chicken.  I mean, hell, mine are so darn spoiled. 

I might be better off as a chicken in my next life. (hee hee)

Meditation works for some people.  I have tried it many times: you know, the whole sitting in a quiet place with no distractions, focused on your breathing thing?  It does not work for me.  It doesn’t feel natural and I just can’t seem to relax my mind. Some people are able to meditate with great ease.  I envy them and their ability to recharge in such a peaceful way.  But that’s OK. I found what works for me.  When I sit and watch my backyard flock, I can relax my mind and enjoy my surroundings.  Even, if only for a little while. 

*NOTE:  I am NOT discouraging people from seeking help.  I fully support talking to a counselor or seeking help from a chaplain and/or medical or clinical professional.  In fact, I have talked to a professional on more than one occasion since the age of 17.  However, I fully support the notion: find what works best for YOU!  There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to taking care of you.