S is for Stress

In the face of finals, I struggle to find comfort in the little things. These little things, a well-made PB&J, smile from a stranger, are a must in life, no matter your career, age, or point in life. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, stay tuned. I now present the ABC’s of the world’s greatest small pleasures.

A is for Apple. Or really any other piece of really good fruit. Not only is it comforting to bite into that perfectly ripe piece of fruit, it’s healthy too. Fruits ward off many diseases and keep you living longer.

B is for Bed. In the face of the hustle and bustle of life, we don’t always get the recommended 8 – 10 hours of sleep a night. Taking a 20 minute power nap is enough to refresh, provide an energy boost, and finishing checking things off the endless to-do list.

C is for Cooking. Whether it’s for yourself, your family, or just for fun, cooking can be a fun way to relieve stress. Trying new things can increase your confidence and self-esteem, making the day much brighter.

D is for Dog. Man’s best friend has proved time and time again to be a very dependable source of comfort. We can always count on our furry friends to greet us at the door and wag in appreciation of our presence. Studies have shown that dog and cat owners enjoy a lower blood pressure, higher immune system, and even a better love life!

E is for Exercise. Aside from the obvious benefits to your health, exercising has been proven to release endorphins. In other words, working out = natural high.

F is for Flower. This pollenated pleasure might not be a comfort for those with allergies, but hasn’t everyone heard the saying, “Stop and smell the roses”. Having actual roses, or any flowers, may be a good reminder to take an extra minute out of the day and be thankful for what’s around you.

G is for Google. This is a dangerous guilty pleasure for me. Meaningless web surfing is one of my favorite things to do, and one of my favorite ways to procrastinate. There’s something about jumping from link to link, absorbing current information, watching various YouTube videos, and I’ll admit a little Facebook creeping, that makes the rest of the world a blur.

H is for Hoodie. No matter the time of year, freezing outside during the winter, or freezing inside during the summer, being enveloped in a hoodie makes any obstacle seem conquerable.

I is for Ice Cream. This one is self-explanatory. Whether it be Cookies’N’Cream, Rocky Road, classic Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, (I could go on and on), a serving of this frozen delight will move you one step closer to a smile.

J is for J.K. Rowling. Dork alert: Harry Potter books are my one and only, greatest escape. The books have been captivating me since I was 11 years old. My husband, the big bad cop, laughs at me every time I pick up one of the seven tattered paperbacks. Harry Potter isn’t for everyone, I confess I really dislike Lord of the Rings, but finding an old book I once enjoyed, or even a new book that’s just starting to get good, is enough to make my day. One chapter is all it takes for my stress level to plummet.

K is for Kiss. Not the hershey kind, although chocolate is without a doubt a great small pleasure, a kiss a day keeps the doctor away.

L is for Laughing. Another saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”, isn’t all that outdated. Genuine laughter cures a multitude of ailments including, but not limited to, anxiety, bodily pain, heartbreak, grumpiness, old age, young age, middle age, and everything in between.

M is for music. I generally don’t think of myself as a music fanatic much like many of my friends, however I’m slowly realizing it surrounds me everywhere I go. I love to have upbeat tunes to karaoke to in the car, mellow jazz to listen to while I work, and good ol’ Motown to dance across the house while I’m cleaning. Sometimes I don’t think we realize how much music affects our moods. Feeling down? Crank up an old favorite and dance your worries away.

N is for Note. Post-it notes used to be square, bland yellow, pink, and blue. Today, they are sold in various shapes, vibrant colors, and sizes needed for every occasion. I enjoy indulging in every unique pack of post-its I come across, and leaving encouraging notes around the house on mirrors, the microwave, on the underside of the TV remote, inside the refrigerator, in the shower on bottles of shampoo, in drawers, and on doors. Remind yourself that you’re beautiful.

O is for Ocean. Not everyone is lucky enough to live only moments from the beach, but Google Images is only a click away. Beach scene screen savers are a dime a dozen and usually have the glorious sound of crashing waves that accompany the bright sun and sand. With closed eyes and a good furnace, it’s easy to pretend you’re there.

P is for Photo. Digging up an old photograph is a great way to relive a good memory. With the help of the glossy paper, you can escape to the sandy beach, a fun night out on the town, or a family get-together. All the smiles will eventually become contagious.

Q is for Queen. Or King. Put on a plastic crown and order your dog to jest for you. Thinking of yourself as someone important increases confidence, helping you get things done quicker and with a sense of pride.

R is for Rocker. New parents don’t put rocking chairs in nurseries just for looks. The motion of rocking has a calming effect on babies, and event adults. Spending 5 – 10 quiet minutes in a nursery rocker or Barcalounger will have you feeling like new.

S is for Sunshine. It’s all about the vitamin D. Scientists have found that 75 percent of teens and adults in the U.S. have a vitamin D deficiency. We get 99 percent of our vitamin D from the sun, which can be hard to come by in the winter months. So even if this means plugging in a space heater on your patio, soak up that sun!

T is for Television. There is absolutely nothing wrong with vegging in front of the TV. Guilty pleasure shows help us forget what’s going on in our life, and allow us to focus on someone else’s problems. So go ahead, TiVo the latest episode of Teen Mom, One Tree Hill, Bachelor,  and Gossip Girl. We won’t tell.

U is for Unicorn. And all other mythical creatures we read about before bed. Take a few minutes to remember playing prince or princess, and all the amazing fairy tales that you secretly still hope will one day come true.

V is for Vitamin. Not only is it important to take vitamins for health purposes, new vitamins for adults are reminiscent of the Flinstone tablets we took when we were younger. New Once-a-Day Adult comes in gummies, berry flavored, even sour! Again, it’s ok, we won’t tell anyone.

W is for White Noise. Or any other sound machine produced sound. Personally, white noise reminds me too much of being in a horror flick, so I always stick with crickets or waves. But whatever sounds you find comforting, station that machine nearby and relax.

X is for X-Ray. If this list has failed you so far, go to the doctor. You need medical help to relax.

Y is for Yo-Yo. Fun and simple toys such as Yo-Yos, kites, and Slinkies offer a nice break on a stressful day. Toys that meant the world to you a child can still hold a special place in your heart. Easy to keep in a desk drawer, find solace in a quick game of Jacks.

Z is for Zoo. Whether it’s actually going to the zoo, or flipping on Animal Planet, watching cute otters and regal lions are a guilty pleasure that date back to our childhood. Just don’t take this one too far and adopt a pet raccoon.

So there we have it, a list of guilty pleasures. Two things are important to remember about guilty pleasures. One is to remember to get all work done, and only relax if time is left over. The second is to disregard the first, else they wouldn’t be guilty pleasures!

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Oh, the Places I’ll … Never Go?

With my tentative graduation date less than a year away, I know what degree I’m getting, but not a clue about the career I’m going to use it for. English applies to everything, it’s the language we speak. At least that’s what I’m hoping. I continue to take career test after aptitude test, all resulting with careers like nursing (bed pans? no, thank you), telemarketer (because I just love getting cussed out and hung up on), teacher (I hate being in school, why would I want to inflict the same pain on others?). I’m a big girl now, with big girl decisions and big girl bills. But when it comes to making what should be an easy decision, why do I still feel like a little girl?

College campuses across the nation put millions into career centers, places to help their students, and even alumnae, make connections and select a career that is best for them. Counselors are consistently on site, ready to advise and provide guidance. I’ve been to one of these, in a fit of panic, sure my ultimate destiny is to amount to nothing. They were nice at the career center, I’m sure they’ve been dealing with doubtful students since the job market went crashing down. Still, they were not able to tell me anything about myself, or lead me to any kind epiphany. As I’ve already mentioned, online career tests are as helpful for choosing a career as facebook would be. Come to think of it, facebook may be more helpful.

So in honor of my undefined future, I will now shoot down every career field I can think of.

Accounting/Finance: I still have trouble with long division, I don’t think anyone wants me doing their taxes.

Advertising: But all the best slogans have already been used.

Architecture: The hard hats would make my hair flat.

Broadcast: I’d have a hard time keeping a straight face when reporting, they’d fire me at the first commercial break.

Education: I hate school, homework, and all things related to school, and homework. Worst. Teacher. Ever.

Environmentalist: Yeah watch me go to work in my gas guzzling car with my plastic grocery bags in the back.

Fashion/Retail: I’d love this job. But I want to actually work, not spend the first 20 years of my career making coffee for others.

Film/Television/Theatre: Let’s face it, you have to be crazy to make it big, and I’m just not crazy enough.

Government: One government job per household is enough for me. My husband has this one covered.

Health Care: I despise being sick, I don’t really want to spend time around others when they’re sick.

Human Resources: I’m a big believer in the “Get Over It” campaign.

Lawyer: Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to argue, but I don’t think stomping my feet and pouting would get me anywhere.

Nannying: The only kid I have to like is my own.

Real Estate: Yes I’d love to give up my whole weekend showing people houses they probably can’t afford.

Sales: I don’t think customers would appreciate my strategy – “Just buy it, ok?!?”

Skilled Trades: Everyone should have a degree to work on leaky faucets.

Transportion: I can’t parallel park my own car, much less a 747.

Volunteer Jobs: I want to make the world a better place and everything, but the whole point of getting a job is to make money, else I’d stay home and watch Maury all day.

I now leave it in your hands, world. If you think of any jobs that I’d only be slightly miserable at, let me know.

 

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Blah Blah Blah

This scene from Bruce Almighty always has me laughing to tears. However, a similar scene after the Grammys had a much different effect on me. Serene Branson, a CBS reporter, was on scene after the Grammys. At first glance, Branson appeared alert and put together. It was not until she opened her mouth to report, that made it very clear there was something very wrong. Frightened viewers at home watched a panicked Branson incoherently attempt to pass the report back to the studio. Although her babbling may illicit giggles for some, the incident was, and remains, nothing but critical.

Many are speculating that Branson suffered a stroke, causing the aphasia. My Grandfather has had six strokes within the last two years, and while I have no medical training, Branson’s stricken look and labored ramblings were all too familiar. Paramedics were immediately called to the scene and it is reported than Branson’s vitals were normal. It was also reported that a colleague drove Branson home as a precaution.

A great deal of controversy has already surrounded the event. Many believe, and I must admit I agree, that the reporter should have been taken directly to the hospital. We’ve all heard the commercials, and probably made fun of them, but the truth of the matter is, “Time save, is brain save“. With immediate tests, the scary incident could be defined by doctors and the young reporter could take action, versus wondering what really happened.

And even scarier news, the number of young men and women stroke cases have skyrocketed, increasing 51 percent for men ages 15 to 44, and 17 percent among women of the same age. The cause? Doctors aren’t sure yet. Obesity, as usual, is the first cause out of the gate with doctors standing behind their Eat Right and Exercise banners.

At the end of the day, there are far too many health problems to watch out for. With constant rising numbers in different age groups being affected by this and that, one could worry oneself to death. What really doesn’t help matters either is shows like The Doctors and Doctor Oz. Who wants to sit around and learn about what new disease might end up killing them? (Mental note, tell Mother that Dr. Phil’s at least easier to make fun of). As for me, I’m good not knowing.

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Rejoining the Real World

It’s rough being sick. It’s rougher coming back. The days of laying on the couch feeling sorry for yourself are long gone, and people expect you to be back on your A game. Don’t get me wrong, I despise being ill. I was the only child in history, that I know of, to state, “I’d rather go to school than be sick”. It still holds true today.

I spent two weeks, which is two weeks too long, laying around feeling miserable. At first it was mono. Swollen glands and general misery told them so. But when it started getting worse it was the flu, even though I’d gotten the shot. After every medical intern in the city had had their share of staring at me, it was decided. I was just sick. Stay hydrated and get lots of rest. Thanks guys, I would never have figured it out without you.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be back up on my feet. But I feel as though in a matter of seconds I could get knocked back down by all the demands flowing in. I’m lucky enough to work from home, so they didn’t miss me at the office. But when the degrees in my temperature went sky high, so did the number of unread emails in my inbox. While I was out, I missed approximately three business meetings, two college papers, and one test. On top of that, the wedding still needs some last minute fine-tuning, and my laundry has taken on a mind of its own.

As we all do, I’ll make it. But I can’t help but to return to a somewhat subtle theme of mine, how did life get so rushed?

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Ice Ice Baby

Stop, collaborate and listen. The northeast is expecting the winter storm of a lifetime. So far, local meteorologists are predicting Louisville to expect mostly rain. The brunt of the storm will slap St. Louis, Chicago, and Indiana. Indianapolis was told to batten down the hatches. Bread and milk is sure to fill every northern home.

Meteorologists are predicting an event similar to that of the Ice Storm of 2009. Icing on the cake, a windstorm to follow. Before I go off the deep end on discussing my disdain for winter, I have to admit the severity of the predicted storm is not to be questioned. Be safe on the roads, layer up if you have to go outside, and check on elderly neighbors. This storm’s going to go down in history.

You know it’s serious when even the meteorologists seem to frazzled, their reports frantic and ever-changing. The six o’clock news is a one man show, running from radar to computer, tapping the snow and ice dance. Although, as I mentioned earlier, Louisville is expected to escape the confrontation, I can’t help but travel back in time to my freshman year of college. They didn’t predict an ice storm for Louisville that year either. Comforting.

It was unlike anything I had ever seen, or heard. Trees that normally stood twenty-five feet tall were weighed completely down, their topmost branches lounging on neighbors’ lawns. The eerie quietness was broken every so often  by branches falling through the air landing on houses, cars, and many roadways. Up until now I never thought I’d see a similar sight. But as I check our local news stations’ weather blog updates, and the storm inches farther south, I’m thinking I might have the terrible luck to witness two major ice events.

Any other day of the year, a ten foot tree in my parents’ front yard. 2009.

Indiana officials have acknowledged the storm threat, but are telling reporters there’s not much to be done about ice. Streets can be brined to help dissolve snow, but the government can’t exactly order warm temperatures and sun. Even if they could, it would probably be on back order.

The storm that’s already being referred to as catastrophic and life-threatening, will bring much unwanted attention to surrounding areas. In the time before and during the storm, there will be a realistic concern for citizens’ lives. After all is said and done, power crews will earn hundreds of hours in overtime trying to restore power to affected areas. Sound like a beautiful Winter Wonderland? Only if you’re Perry Como.

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Oh … Fudge!

” Only I didn’t say ‘Fudge’. I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the ‘F-dash-dash-dash’ word!” This scene from a christmas classic, A Christmas Story, is funny to laugh at now, but was not so funny to a child in the 40’s. As the movie demonstrates, an explicative once earned you a date with a bar of soap. The connection is not hard to draw; If you curse, then you have a dirty mouth. Dirty mouths, like anything else dirty, must be washed with soap. Ralphie, like I’m sure many other children of older America, got well acquainted with bars across the board. “Over the years I got to be quite a connossieur of soap. Though my personal preference was for Lux, I found that Palmolive had a nice, piquant after-dinner flavor – heavy, but with a touch of mellow smoothness. Life Buoy, on the other hand … Yuk!”

The scene from A Christmas Story was not out of the usual, and though it is not a method commonly used today, it did not spark a nation-wide controversy. However, a recent video in the news has us looking back to Ralphie and reevaluating what exactly is the thin line between discipline and child abuse.

A mother in Anchorage, Alaska has modified the old soap in the mouth method to a matter that is quite a bit more burning. First shown on Dr. Phil, and now available on YouTube, Jessica Beagley is taped by another one of her children, pouring hot sauce into her son’s mouth and forcing him to hold it. Although she argues this is no difference than washing a child’s mouth out with soap, many others disagree. Among those are municipal prosecutor Cynthia Franklin, who is charging Beagley with child abuse. In addition to the hot sauce, Beagely also forces her son into cold showers, which is not covered as unreasonable discipline. Hot sauce, on the other hand, falls under scalding and burning which is considered unreasonable discipline. I’d say so.

While the mother argues that the punishment is on the same level as soap, her lawyer argues that there would be no case if the tape had not shown on Dr. Phil. News flash: National television does that sometimes. The whole case seems to be at a moot point. The tape was shown, authorities got involved, and charges are being pressed. I’m sure there are a great deal of mothers standing behind Sarah Palin’s neighbor, but I can’t imagine a single situation, not involving a game of truth or dare, that could merit hot sauce.

To add more to the story, the mother is being investigated by Russian authorities as well, as she and her husband adopted their son featured in the video and his twin brother from Russia when the boys were five. Way to earn respect for the U.S. from all the other countries that already think we’re worthless. And another twist in the story, Beagley’s husband, Gary Beagley, is a police officer in Anchorage. As a fellow Wife Behind the Badge, I’m ashamed.

Generally, I have more sarcastic side-notes to offer. But tonight as I stare at the mother’s plea, not guilty, I don’t have much to offer. And maybe within the next week, I’ll have to listen to my husband talk about responding to a call of child abuse. As much as it breaks my heart, I can’t fix it.

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Goodbye California

I guess we don’t have to worry about California breaking off and hanging out with Hawaii and Alaska. Scientists in California have started talk about a possible “superstorm“. Reports acknowledge the information falls in line with catastrophic movies that have filled our box offices dating back to the 1930’s with The Last Days of Pompeii. What reports have failed to acknowledge is the potential toll the news of disaster is going to take on the residents of the Golden State.

Scientists in California’s Geological Department are warning the government that the damage done by the impending “superstorm” could be more than five times worse than that of a major earthquake. Alongside potential hurricane-force winds,  the most threatening aspect of the storm is the predicted ten feet of water that is said will accumulate over 40 days. Did we piss God off again?

The same scientists that are making these predictions were very open in a discussion with a New York Times reporter. This “superstorm” is not the first in history and scientists and researchers have indicated there is a pattern of these storms every 150 to 200 years. I’m not really sure how this is supposed to make anyone feel better.

My family lives in Florida and ever since I can remember, during hurricane season, there was always the possibility of a non-holiday related reunion due to the massive power of an imminent hurricane. They were always nice visits, usually over before I could register the event. They would return to their home, thankfully never damaged, and return to their everyday lives. The residents of California do not have the same luxury. Technology has come a long way, but still not far enough. Scientists have not set a date, and when and if they do, California residents, with gas nearing four dollars a gallon, cannot afford to take an East Coast vacation for more than a month.

So what are all the beach-goers and vineyard owners left to do? Sit and wait for The Day After Tomorrow to come true? California State Officials met last week to prepare plans for a state of emergency, which is a step ahead of waiting until all is said and done to hold a press conference and skillfully say, “We had the information, yet we had no reason to believe the welfare of our state was threatened in any way”.

There’s not much anyone can say as of this moment in time. With the previous flooding in California that made national news less than a month ago and the shooting in Arizona, the West has had its share of bad news. That’s not to say the rest of the States hasn’t suffered alongside. As I look outside at the drizzling rain, on the opposite side of the country, I can only pray my post will go to waste and no news will be good news. While Senator Giffords recovers in the hospital, this country could use a good night’s sleep.

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