Societal Honesty: Do You Really Want to Know?

Some people will not tolerate emotional honesty in communication.  They would rather defend their dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others.  Therefore, having rationalized their phoniness into nobility, they settle for superficial relationships.  ~Author Unknown

According to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, “On March 15, the television show Primetime Live with Diane Sawyer focused on honesty in everyday life and asked Michael Lewis, PhD, to tell the truth about lying. “Socially acceptable lies form the glue of our society,” explains the researcher. Lewis believes that lying is a very common activity evident everywhere from presidential politics to international affairs. “In a single day, most of us lie a minimum of 25 times and by age 2 to 3 years, 70 percent of all children lie very well,” he says.”

Wow. Really? I generally consider myself an honest person. Being brought up in a Christian home, I was taught that “honesty is the best policy.” I learned the lesson that a lie only gave way to a punishment, normally of the “tanned backside” kind. I’m thankful that I was taught to be an honest, upright citizen, despite my childish willpower to hide the truth. But this blog post isn’t focused on lying about where-you-got-that-orange-Faygo-in-the-fridge-when-Mom-told-you-not-to-go-downtown {story for another time!}, this post is about one of the socially acceptable lies we tell each other every day.

“How are you doing today?” We all ask and answer this question numerous times each day. Whether it is in line at our favorite coffee shop, greeting co-workers in the office, talking to family members, or simply passing an acquaintance in the hall, more often than not, we answer with a lie or expect a short generalized reply. And, to tell the truth, do we really want to know? Are we really interested in the answer or do we expect the nondescript “Fine, thanks!” as we walk by? Are we a society of habitual liars? If we base our answer upon the University of Medicine/Dentistry, I guess we truly are.

Making it Personal

Over the past nine months, many people have asked me how I’ve been feeling. Maybe it’s just me, but 3x a week physical therapy generally means that you’re still in quite a bit of pain. Surgeries aren’t fun. Yesterday, my physical therapist said that I’m looking at six months before the intense pain starts to go away and a year until it becomes bearable. Lovely. Just what I wanted to hear.

I hate being negative. I loathe the defeated spirit that I constantly battle. I’m not perfect; I wrestle with post-surgery depression and the feelings that I’ll never again be able to lift my arm without pain. Unfortunately, my line of work generally requires heavy involvement from shoulders and I wonder if there will ever come a day when I go without my faithful Ibuprofen. I desperately want to play my piano, but know that I am not strong enough to play even a simple song without pain. All of these facts run wild inside my head when I try to figure out how to respond when asked how I’m feeling.

The Flip Side

Despite the pain, I’ve learned that “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” (Ben Franklin) I have come to realize that without the pain of recovery, there will be no strengthening. If I don’t push through the pain, the muscle soreness, the bone aches, I will never reach the level of mobility that I desire. Truly, no pain, no gain. Without struggle, no battle is won. I relish the recovery because I will be stronger when it is done. I will play my piano again, I will complete a work day without pain medicine, and I will be able to lift my arm with minimal pain. These things will happen… I just have to keep doing what I know is right, push through the pain, and focus on the finish line.

In the midst of all of the conflicting emotions of ground won and lost through physical therapy, I realize that I am actually quite blessed. I have a wonderful doctor and therapy team. I woke up this morning and got out of bed. My eyes see, my ears hear, and my mouth speaks. I have use of both my arms–my shoulder hurts, yes, but I have two working arms. My knees still work and my feet carry me where I need to go. I have a family that loves me, friends that support me, and a job that pays my bills. I breathe clean air, live in a city where people vacation, and love the man God made for me. 

So, I’ve decided that when someone asks me “How are you doing?”, I will answer, “I am blessed.” Now that, is being completely honest. 

“I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am, among all men, most richly blessed.” ~Author Unkown

Eye Life: Living in the Eye of the Storm

In Florida, there are basically three seasons: Summer, Not-So-Hot Summer, and Rainy Season. This week, the eyes of countless weathermen have been watching the skies south of Florida as Tropical Storm Isaac makes its way toward our coastline. At the time of this writing, it is still a Tropical Storm and has yet to hit Puerto Rico. They predict that after passing over the Dominican Republic and Haiti, it will either slam into Florida’s western coast or gain speed in the Gulf of Mexico with a nebulous track toward the as yet undetermined southern states. Needless to say, the husband and I will be buying water and saltines tonight.

I’ve always loved storms. Even as a child, thunder and lightning only brought excitement and wonder. I think it may be because I grew up in a house not too far from railroad tracks; the feeling of thunder in a shaking house still reminds me of a train coming, never the possibility of the destruction from an impending storm. As a child, thunder was “God’s bowling league” and lightning was only “gigantic lightning bugs.” What can I say? I was an imaginative little tyke.

Travelling in Tampa Bay this weekend is going to be limited at best due to the Republican National Convention. It’s one of those weekends where staying home in pajamas is a delightfully rational idea. However, now that TS Isaac is in play, it’s an even better idea.

Defining the Eye of the Storm

According to ehow.com (you’d be amazed at how many sites didn’t have a usable definition of ‘eye of the storm’), “A hurricane (tropical cyclone) is a giant rotating storm with winds of 74 to 200 mph and heavy rain, which can cause high tides and waves. It is in the center of this activity that the eye of the storm is formed, an area clear of storm. The eye of the storm can be slightly cloudy or clear resulting in limited to no precipitation. If you were to stand directly in the center of the eye of the storm, you would notice that the weather is calm, there is a slight breeze and there is no precipitation. Blue skies are seen in the daytime and the stars at night. When viewed from helicopter, airplane or satellite, the eye of the storm appears circular.”

Living the Eye Life

In the eye of the storm is shelter from all-encompassing weather; in the Eye Life is shelter from all-encompassing worry. 

Life is hard. Sometimes it feels that the storm is too big, the resources to small, the trial too large, the escape hatch too far away. If we are to successfully navigate this thing called life, we must live in with the storm in view. The Eye Life. To me, it’s ok for the storms to rage, the winds to blow, I have an anchor safely secured in the eye of the storm. We should live inside the storm tethered to our anchor, affecting change upon our individual Eye.

My anchor is my family, my faith, my worldview. The world does not revolve around me; on the contrary, sometimes I feel as if the world is passing me by with people moving on into grand futures and me staying here, faithful about my duties. Working at a college does that to a person, I guess.  I do not live by focusing on my surroundings, but upon the stabilizing influence of my mentors and my faith. If I veer too far from my anchor, I enter proverbial “inclement weather” and lose my stand by shaky footing.

Stand upon the rock of your convictions, the resolution of your faith, the stability of your family and support system, and the balancing of your fear. Join me in living the Eye Life. 

Is today a day to gather strength from the storm –
a day to to learn life lessons for the next battle?
Or is today a day to sit by the fire
and watch the storm rage outside?
Either way, the storm is just life.
Give thanks for all of Life.
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Contentment: Wanting What I Have

My crown is in my heart, not in my head,
Nor decked with diamonds and Indian stones,
Nor to be seen; my crown is called contentment;
A crown it is, that seldom kings enjoy.
~William Shakespeare, Henry VI

In this age of instant gratification, instant messaging, and instant coffee, living a life of contentment demands a delicate balance of ambition and apathy. Not only should we be content with such things as we have, but we should also strive to pursue excellence and personal growth. It is in the image of the proverbial scales that we find a visual definition of the fragility of contentment. I would dare  say that being content is a momentary pursuit, one that commands both dedication and repose.

The Equilibrium of Contentment

Equilibrium, defined as “a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced,” perfectly illustrates the necessity of both ambition and apathy as requirements for contentment. While ambition is the desire to achieve, apathy is the lack of desire.

Think about it: without the ambition to achieve goals, we attain nothing. Without the lack of desiring more than we have, we become restless and discontent with our lives. There has to be a balance between wanting what we have and pursuing what we want. We have to be content and visionary. It all comes down to being consumed by acquisition or consuming our life with contentment.

Charles Spurgeon said it best: “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”

The following is a clipping from Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner: “That same night, I wrote my first short story. It took me thirty minutes. It was a dark little tale about a man who found a magic cup and learned that if he wept into the cup, his tears turned into pearls. But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear. So he found ways to make himself sad so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls piled up, so did his greed grow. The story ended with the man sitting on a mountain of pearls, knife in hand, weeping helplessly into the cup with his beloved wife’s slain body in his arms.”  

Taking it a Step Further

My husband and I went out to lunch with his boss (free pie day at Village Inn!) and discussed the issue of contentment. I brought up this blog post and how I was “gelling” my thoughts on the subject. As a parent of a five year old boy and a ten year old girl, he had an interesting perspective on contentment. “You have to have a balance between how you achieve contentment and how you teach your children to be content,” he said. “Hopefully, your life experiences have brought a sense of maturity; that maturity is defined by your contentment level.” He then described how his children see the fancy new toys, the extroverted personalities, and the height differences in their friends, but they have to learn how to be content with what they have, even at their young ages. Together with his wife, he is consistently teaching them to appreciate what they have and who they are. Contentment is not something to be achieved; contentment is a state of being.”

Parenting brought contentment to a whole new level for me. I was thinking of contentment as being happy with my career, my electronics, my house, I wasn’t even considering the fact of teaching contentment to a child! Being content with what you have is one thing; communicating how you came to be content is another. I can only pray that when our time comes, my husband and I will have this contentment thing down!

Making it Personal

  • I don’t have an iphone; I do have a cell phone that calls my loved ones.
  • I don’t have the latest fashionista must-haves; I do have a closet overflowing with colorful clothes that fit.
  • I don’t drive a Pontiac Sky (my favorite); I do have a car that gets awesome gas mileage and looks nice.
  • I don’t live in a Florida mansion; I do live in a comfortable house filled to the brim with love, laughter, and joy.
  • I do have a husband who loves me.
  • I do have a job that pays my bills and lets me save a bit each month.
  • I do have friends that love me.
  • I do have a church that meets my needs.
  • I truly do have a wonderful life

How do you define contentment? If someone asked you about contentment, what would you say?

Love Like Crazy: Reflections from a Song

From the moment I heard Lee Brice’s song Love Like CrazyI was captivated by the story of a lifetime of Crazy Love. The song tells the heartwarming tale of a couple celebrating 58 years of marriage and how they kept their Crazy Love alive. It reminds me of my grandparents and brings a smile to my face as I remember hearing the stories of how they met, fell in love, and lived out their own version of ‘happily ever after.’ 

My first experience with Crazy Love was at home. One of my most vivid memories of sacrificial love was a seemingly insignificant act by my Dad. Because his job demanded an endless schedule of international travel, he was overseas for a good portion of my childhood. One summer, he was scheduled to be gone for an entire month, setting up a telecommunications network for a company in Chile. After two weeks had passed, my Dad surprised Mom and I by showing up for a quick weekend. I remember being shocked that he was home, but he explained that when the option arose to take a vacation trip to Antarctica for the weekend or fly home to see us, he chose us. If my Dad had chosen the Arctic cruise, he would have reached his goal of travelling to every continent. Rather, he chose time with his family. To a seven-year old, choosing to come home rather than visit penguins defined Crazy Love.

Later, I watched my Mom care for my Dad through his horrible battle with cancer. Nothing epitomizes Crazy Love like supporting a spouse through sickness. Sacrificing her own schedule and plans, my Mom became the nurse, the comforter, and the supporter to a man slowly dying of cancer. To this day, she wrestles with back pain from the countless times she physically supported his weight. The night he passed away, she said, “Goodbye, my Love! You’re with Jesus now!”, but she still carries that Crazy Love in her heart. Crazy Love transcends death.

Lifetime Crazy Love isn’t old-fashioned… it still exists. Whether it is choosing between penguins and family, supporting an ailing spouse, or texting “I love you” at random times throughout the day, Crazy Love is possible. It takes commitment, perseverance, and a dedication to keeping the fires burning. Since my husband and I have only been married for a year and a half–we’re still writing our Crazy Love story–I plan to emulate the strong marriages around me, to guard my marriage with passionate resolve, and to exemplify the characteristics of true, enduring love found in I Corinthians 13.

To me, Lifetime Crazy Love is an attainable goal.

They called them crazy when they started out.
Said seventeen’s too young to know what love’s about.
They’ve been together fifty-eight years now.
That’s crazy.

He brought home sixty-seven bucks a week.
Bought a little 2 bedroom house on Maple Street
Where she blessed him with six more mouths to feed.
Now that’s crazy!

Just ask him how he did it; he’ll say pull up a seat.
It’ll only take a minute, to tell you everything.
Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse “I Love You!”
Go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense.
Never let your prayin’ knees get lazy,
And love like crazy!

They called him crazy when he quit his job.
They said them home computers, boy they’ll never take off.
Well, he sold his one man shop to Microsoft,
And they paid like crazy.

Just ask him how he made it,
He’ll tell you faith and sweat,
And the heart of a faithful woman,
Who never let him forget.

Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse “I Love You!”
Go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense.
Never let your prayin’ knees get lazy,
And love like crazy!

Always treat your woman like a lady.
Never get too old to call her baby.
Never let your prayin’ knees get lazy,
And love like crazy!

They called him crazy when they started out.
They’ve been together fifty-eight years now.

Aint that crazy?

Pain and Suffering: Lessons Learned from Physical Therapy

On January 7, 2012, I was rear-Tboned by a large SUV. In my brand new car. Literally. We had made one payment on the Corolla. Long story short, I messed up my right shoulder and arm. After three months of physical therapy, my doctor ordered arthroscopic surgery of my shoulder. May 31st rolled around, the surgery was completed, and I was put back into PT. (That’s about as brief as I can make the story.)

Today, I began Phase III of the shoulder rehabilitation program and introduced 1 lb weights to begin strengthening the arm. Mind you, this comes on the heels of a painful few days due to a muscle spasm in my deltoid…  which had to be worked out through a deep tissue massage by my therapist. It’s a love-hate relationship these days with my PT. Love it because it helps, hate it because it hurts.

What I’ve Learned from 7 Months of Physical Therapy:

  1. Your therapist is both your friend and your worst enemy, only unlike your friends, they don’t care what you think of their methods.
  2. Just because I stop breathing doesn’t mean my therapist is going to stop the exercise.
  3. Regular, daily used household items can double as torture instruments when in the hands of a physical therapist. Rubber bands, folding chairs, paint rollers, and rubber gloves are scary things.
  4. “Would you like some Biofreeze on that?” is a cunning ploy used by therapists to make “deep tissue massage” sound more appealing.
  5. Saying “I can’t” makes no difference. You’re going to do it anyways.
  6. Losing count during repetitions just means you get to start over again.
  7. Asking me about movies, travel, or work does not take my mind off the pain, it simply challenges my multi-tasking abilities.
  8. Ice and Ibuprofen: the recipe for relief
  9. “Try this” never turns out the way you think it will.
  10. No Pain, No Gain

All that being said, I am truly thankful for the physical therapists that have been working with me over the past 7 months. While it is still far in the future, there is an end in sight only because of them. Thank you, James and Eric, for putting up with my complaining, pushing me through the pain, and helping me along this road to recovery!

An Audience of One: Part 2

Yes, I’ve already written about acting for an Audience of One, but since I’m currently involved in a community theatre production of Miracle on 34th Street, I thought it would be timely to revisit this thought. Once again, I find myself in the throngs of busyness, trying to keep the house clean, making yummy meals for the husband, and not letting my productivity at work slip, while endlessly rehearsing lines in my head, becoming “Doris Walker”, and keeping my head above water during this holiday season. It’s been a fun six weeks… hence the lack of postings on this blog.

I previously stated in An Audience of One that my favorite part of the show is the monologue. As Doris Walker, I am playing a part that I’ve never truly experienced, that of a stuck-in-her-own-shell, realistic, somewhat hardened divorcee with a ten-year old daughter. It has been a task trying to identify with the feelings that Doris displays throughout the show, but it has been a delightful challenge. My husband saw the show last weekend and remarked, “It was so odd; I know you, but I didn’t know you!” As an actress, that was the sweetest thing he could have said.

As I said before, acting demands excellence; to be a successful actor, you have to effectively communicate thoughts and emotions to an audience. The audience must not only watch events as they take place, they must understand why characters respond to events as they do and feel emotional connections to the actors. In my opinion, it is easier to establish an emotional connection with the audience around Christmas time. Everyone is looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of buying, wrapping, sending, giving, and eating during this most wonderful time of the year. They’re trying to fill the need, supply the desire, find the perfect present, and get the gifts to Grandma before the 25th. It is such a privilege to offer brief moments of magic through the looking glass of the stage.

Looking Beyond the Stage

Once again, I wish to look beyond the stage, beyond the audience, and through the twinkling spotlights. I wish to turn this blog into a lens of introspection with a question: In all our busyness, do we truly take the time to stop and thank God? We just baked our pumpkin pies, carved our delightfully seasoned turkeys, and ate our fill of canned cranberry sauce. We just paused as a nation to offer thanksgiving to God for the initiative of lonely pilgrims desperate for religious freedom and a new beginning. Our hearts were just filled with the love, laughter, and family togetherness of the holiday. We just experienced Thanksgiving.

And yet, what has December become? In my life, this year is full of rehearsals, performances, and photoshoots. For you, it may be shopping, church cantatas, gift wrapping, travelling, or other methods of creating “holiday cheer.” Can we really say that we have continued in a spirit of Thanksgiving through these few weeks since November 24th? Are we living our holiday season for the Audience of One? Can we truly say in all our busyness, we continuously thank the One who has provided the ability and means to even celebrate Christmas?

Looking Beyond the Holiday

More than just pausing to be thankful, do we honestly remember what Christmas truly means? It is the remembrance of the divine moment when Hope was born. Christmas is more than pretty presents, sparkling tinsel, and caroling in the snow. It is the epitome of living for an Audience of One. Through Christmas, we begin to understand the One for which we live. By remembering Christ in Christmas, we acknowledge our inability to do anything apart from our Saviour, our fallibility, our inherent selfishness, and our breathtaking, undeserved future.

As much as I pour my energy, time, and thought into the character of Doris Walker for Miracle on 34th Street, I should radiate Christianity. I should go about my busy holiday planning and shopping as a Christian. I should be a vibrant light, a true testimony, a willing servant to others. I shouldn’t focus on the “getting” of the season, but on the giving. There shouldn’t be a difference between what I say in the store (to get that last “perfect” gift on Christmas Eve!) and the way I live what I believe. I should exhibit the true Christmas spirit through living my life for my Audience of One.

Just as I cannot see the audience when I stand in the spotlight, I should live my life this Christmas with only my Audience of One in view. 

Self Respect vs. Halloween Costumes

When did Halloween become National Dress Like a Floozy Day? In the interest of full disclosure, this post may offend some of you. I will be using this blog post to address something that has been bothering me all weekend.

On Saturday, my husband and I went out to dinner with his grandparents in honor of his birthday. (Happy birthday, Sweetie!) We went to Applebees because Grandpa was craving Riblets. Unbeknownst to us, Saturday was the day that the management had decided to allow their greeters and servers to dress up for Halloween. This could have been an enjoyable experience if not for the plethora of cleavage and gartered thighs that constantly paraded past our table—delivering food, nonetheless. Not only did this bother me from a modesty standpoint, but also from a cleanliness, “you’re handling my food” point of view.

After we said goodbye to the grandparents, we began the hour drive home, stopping at Wal-mart and Target once we got to Tampa. Customers roamed the aisles in their Halloween garb—the bulk of which consisted of, once again, plunging necklines and mini-miniskirts. When did it become ok to parade around in less-than-covering outfits simply because of a date on the calendar? Why would any self-respecting woman choose to dress like that in public?

Where has self-respect gone?

True, most of the women wearing such costumes are not who their clothes (or lack thereof) portray. They’re using Halloween as an excuse to let the alter ego out, to throw caution to the wind, and to accept consequences of such decisions. “Consequences? What consequences?” You say? Think about it. Today’s world. Public parking lots and wild parties. Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but showing that much skin is an invitation, no matter what time of year.

This experience caused me to pose the question, “Don’t you have more respect for yourself? Your assets are not only skin deep!” Self-respect should permeate all aspects of your life, including Halloween costumes. If you can’t respect yourself enough to tastefully dress up for Halloween, respect those around you and dress appropriately. It is a tragic commentary on the state of the American woman when so many throw out their sense of decorum for the sake of a party.

What is self-respect?

The dictionary defines self respect as proper esteem or regard for the dignity of one’s character. The very words “dignity” and “character” could never be used to describe what my husband and I saw on Saturday night. Why do we feel that we have to “floozify” our attire in order to be accepted at Halloween parties?

Let’s go deeper than Halloween costumes: what has happened to self-respect in American society? So many young women feel that they have to show off “what they got” rather than develop their own character, personality, and opinions about life, liberty, and happiness. Fashion has become a matter of exhibition. Don’t believe me? Have you been to the mall lately? Where are the women who stand up for self-respect, for decency and modesty, and for the charactered upbringing of today’s youth.

That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong. ~William J.H. Boetcker

Where does the fault lie?

Quite honestly, the fault lies with us. We who are adults need to be setting the example for the next generation of women. We set the bar. What we allow in moderation (ahem… Halloween costumes), they will flourish in excess. We think it’s ok to show cleavage and garters for dress-up parties; they think it’s ok year-round.

Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners. ~Laurence Sterne

 I guess this blog post is a call to respect ourselves. It is a challenge to be more than an alter ego for Halloween. Make a difference, be respectful, be the example. Those little Trick-or-Treating eyes are watching.

Capture Beauty

This weekend, I had the privilege of photographing the wedding of two friends, Anna and Nate. Their beautiful ceremony was held in Warren, Maine, a little town north of Portland. There is nothing more breathtaking than fall in Maine. The trees shedding their rainbow leaves, the crisp autumn air, and the crystal clear blue skies were delights to this Florida-bound Coordinator. Because my mother grew up in Maine, I’ve spent many a vacation on its rocky coastline. Lobster dinners, skipping rocks, afternoons on the sailboat, and cold, starry nights have always been favorite parts of my childhood. When I think of beautiful things, Maine is always on the top of the list.

Beauty is as beauty does: What truly is beauty? What defines beautiful? Is it a striking appearance or a complex melody? Does it hide within a verse of poetry or can it be found through an experience? Like so many other things, beauty is described differently by each individiual.

To me, beauty is found in smile lines around aged eyes. It dwells in the stolen glances between lovers. I define beauty as the joy I feel when observing the canvas of creation, a sunset sky, an autumn mountainside, and the crashing of the sea. I find beauty in experiences shared with friends, dinners with loved ones, and chance meetings with eclectic strangers. I see beauty in the dancing steam of my morning coffee. Beauty is tangible; it exists in the minds of its beholders, yet can be observed by the diligent seeker.

I’ve travelled the world. I’ve seen mountains, canyons, oceans, and monuments. I’ve experienced black tie events, thunderous symponies at famous opera houses, and serene international escapes. I have purchased rare jewels and found secret treasures. I have lived fully, loved passionately, and laughed uncontrollably. My life is beautiful, my past is colorful, and my future is ready to be lived. I have experienced beauty; I have truly been blessed.

 Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beauty must be lived. It must be remembered. To not chronicle beautiful moments is to lose them to the hourglass of time. Capture your moments. Seize the opportunities to experience beauty and hold them forever in your heart.

Home Sweet Apartment: 10 Simple Rules

Over the past ten years, I’ve had a good many neighbors, some of which were the “you-get-the-gold-star” kind, but most have been the classic “I-don’t-give-a-care-if-it-bothers-you” type. After being awoken yet again by my upstairs neighbor’s beat boxing washing machine, I decided to come up with 10 Simple Rules for Apartment Dwellers.

1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. 6:30 am is never an acceptable time to do laundry, especially if your washing machine is unbalanced. An unbalanced washing machine needs repair, not constant, early morning usage. Save the laundry for after the socially acceptable time of 9 am or, better yet, the weekends.

3. If your child has tantrums, deal with it, don’t just let them scream in their bedroom for hours. I’m not a parent, so I can’t really empathize with parents of toddlers, but it’s unecessary. I understand that children scream, cry, and stomp around. But, if you live in an apartment (especially on the second, third, or higher floors), your neighbors can hear everything. Allowing your child to scream bloody murder every night is not acceptable. When earplugs can’t drown out your child’s screams, there is a problem.

4. As far as I know, King Kong is not apartment friendly. Therefore, getting up to get a glass of water should not sound like he is your house guest. Stomping isn’t funny.

5. If you have a party, awesome. Have fun. But sitting on your balcony every night, playing your music, drinking your drinks, and sharing your woes with the entire community is not really the most apartment-friendly kind of demeanor. Especially when you’re sharing after midnight. On a workday. Not cool.

6. If you live in an upstairs apartment, please, please do not put any kind of grease down your drain. Get a glass jar for hot grease and keep it under your sink. When you put grease down your drain, it blocks up in mine. The plumbers should not be on a first name basis.

7. Please don’t put your trash in your neighbor’s trash can. My apartment community has the glorious service known as valet trash. It’s a wonderful time saver, but please do not put your McDonald’s bag in my trash can just because it is out for pick up. Use your own can.

8. Living in Florida dictates that you own a variety of colorful swimwear. Awesome. Please use said swimwear at the pool; I don’t want to see your bikini-clad not-so-beach body in the courtyard. That’s why we have two gorgeous pools overlooking Tampa Bay.

9. Pick up after your pets. Really, this should be a given, right?

10. Be nice. I’ll say hi, you’ll smile, and we’ll both go about the rest of our day. It’s really that simple.

True Friendships in a Barbie World

If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends? ~Author Unknown

How do we choose our friends?

I think this question is answered according to where you are in life. Granted, I’m a thirty-something who looks back at her charmed childhood with rosy glasses, but I’m going to attempt to define friendship and/or popularity from my perspective.

  • Elementary: It was simple in elementary school. You wanted to be friends with the girl who had the most Lisa Frank items. Tell me you don’t remember those awesome trapper keepers and stickers! And folders. And pencils. And….
  • Junior High: Can we really take junior high popularity seriously? Hormones, pimples, bad hairstyles—let’s just skip to high school!
  • High School: Once you graduate from the upper elementary building and hit the lockered halls of high school, your world changes. Your Lisa Frank collection starts to gather dust, boys are a whole lot cuter (yet still remain in junior high mentally… funny how that happens! I love you, Dear!), and every night you pray that your Clearasil works. Whatever circle you were in—athletics, drama, academics, pretty people—some were more popular than others.
  • College: In college, you fall into groups that possess similar majors, interests, or personalities. Honestly, I think that as we begin to form our own identity, we realize that our friends are an intregal part of who we are and who we will become.
  • Career: Everything changes once you hit the real world. Or, does it? As a 30-something, living in today’s world of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, online dating, and forum presence, I wonder if we have really outgrown high school mentality of popularity and friendship.

Actually, whatever stage of life we are in, do we really ever grow out of the “Lisa Frank” mentality? Do we surround ourselves with the people that make a difference in our lives, or do continually compare our proverbial trapper keepers? It’s the whole “keeping up with the Jones'” point of view. I don’t want to choose my friends based upon what they can do for me; rather, I want to surround myself with people that inspire me to go deeper into maturity. In contrast to “buying Barbie’s friends,” I’d rather describe my friendships as:

But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely.  Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.  ~Dinah Craik

Whatever stage of life you are in, I hope that you can honestly say that you have this type of friend. True friendship in an increasingly Barbie world is rare; here’s hoping you have found your place in a circle of friends, and that you make a difference in your world together.