I’ve Got This: Don’t Worry About Me

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I’m the “Queen of Cheap.”

I’m not talking about finding the best bargains, although I do love a good deal, or hoarding the first dollar I ever earned. I’m referring to the ability to put my own needs ahead of everyone else’s. While I often start out with good intentions, when push comes to shove, I almost always short-change myself.

It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m a “mature” 50-something woman who should know better, I still find myself falling back into old habits.

As I try to figure out when this self-deprecating behavior began, I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t jump at the chance to “help.” As a kid, my baby sister would yell “Debbbbbiiiiiieeee,” and minutes later I could be found doing whatever chore she didn’t feel like doing. My parents were baffled by my inability to say no to her, but I always shrugged it off as, “I’d rather do it myself than listen to her whine.” There was some truth in that statement, but what I really meant was, “I’d rather do it my way and avoid fighting with her.”

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Things haven’t changed much since I was a kid; I’m still a bit of a control freak and like to do things “my” way. Even if it means staying up late to clean the house myself or run errands for others instead of tackling my own projects, I’ll be the one to volunteer to handle things. I also still shy away from confrontation. While no one likes to fight, I sometimes take it to extremes by doing everything in my power to keep people happy. I’d rather take the bullet or go without instead of disappointing my family.

I work a full-time day job, do freelance writing at night and yet still feel it’s necessary to do all the housework, laundry, shopping, and cooking. Until a few months ago, our grown daughter and boyfriend were still living at home. It wasn’t uncommon to find me making all the next day’s lunches and cleaning up the kitchen after everyone had gone to bed. I’d rather mumble under my breath about having to do everything myself than risk a fight.

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I tend to take on more than I can handle, so I’m almost always running late. This is a constant source of frustration for me. Physically, I’m always exhausted; and emotionally, I’m rarely satisfied with the way I’ve handled things. I get mad at myself for not letting someone else do some work (even if it’s not the way I would do it), and then I get mad at them for not offering to help. I guess they need to work on their mindreading skills too.

I’ve always envied those women who have been strong enough (aka bitchy) to convince their partners and children to share in the household chores. The truth of the matter is, things get done half-assed because I don’t have the time or energy to do them right. I’m an intelligent woman and an excellent communicator at work; but when I step through my own front door, I turn into a mouse.

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Don’t get me wrong, there are no guns being held to my head or unreasonable demands being made by my husband or anyone else. This situation is all on me. I do find great joy in taking care of my family, and when they offer to help, I usually say no. At that moment when I could turn things around, I feel bad for asking. Silly me goes into “Mama Bear” mode, putting their tired eyes or plans to play in front of my own. Of course, it doesn’t end there. Even on those occasions when they insist on taking over, I silently criticize what they’ve done. Yes, I have been guilty of reloading the dishwasher after my daughter left the room – what is wrong with me?!

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Although I’ve been working hard to change some of these bad habits, my tendency to avoid conflict almost led to financial disaster for our family. Instead of sharing with my husband the heavy burden of debt we were facing, I thought I could fix everything by “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” I learned a valuable lesson with that situation, so I’m not sure why I’m not dealing with this better.

Now that the kids have moved out and the house is quiet again, it’s the perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf. I realize that I didn’t do my daughter any favors by not teaching her how much energy it took to run a household. She’s tougher than I am, though, and she’s already set some ground rules with her boyfriend about sharing the chores. Maybe she learned something from watching me after all.

As my husband and I close in on 37 years of marriage, I guess it’s time I come clean about what I need for a change. He’s actually a better cook than I am, and he shockingly really loves to do it. I know that old habits are hard to break, but maybe it’s time to let him wear the crown for a little while.

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I’d welcome your comments on how to go about making a change. Should I do it slowly or rip it off like a bandage? Am I the only one foolish enough to try to handle it all or do I have company? If you think someone else could benefit from my experiences, I’d appreciate a share.


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#ItsNeverTooLate      #AgingWithAttitude


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ONLY ONE. LONELY ONE? The Regrets of Having an Only Child

Only One. Lonely One.

As a woman and mother over 50, I’ve found myself looking back to examine some of the crossroads in my life. I wrote this post a couple years ago, but I think it’s a story that many only-child moms out there can relate to. 

With only one child to focus on, my “empty-nest syndrome” arrived quickly and hit me hard. As crossroads go, this one was pretty significant. As I look back, though, I remind myself that being a mom (to one kid or many) continues to be my greatest joy.

 

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With only a few remnants of my daughter’s childhood remaining in her Barbie-pink bedroom, it’s hard for me to find the right words to express my feelings on this night before she literally moves into adulthood.

It’s so unlike me to get all teary-eyed at the thought of Lanie growing up and moving out, but here I am with tears on my cheeks.

Every mother, at one time or another, worries that they haven’t given their child all the tools they need to lead a happy, successful life, away from her protection. My cross to bear is buried a little deeper in the regret that I never gave her a sibling.

My mom always warned me that if I was going to have children, I had to make sure I had at least two. She was an only child herself, and she hated it. Whenever my sister and I would fight, Mom would step in and remind us how lucky we were to have each other. My mom was right, I don’t know what I’d do without my sister today.

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At two, Lanie came running into the room to demand, “I want a baby sister, and I want one now!” My hubby and I laughed at the time, but deep down, I was anxious that she’d hate me forever if I didn’t comply.

I had planned to have more children but, as it so often does, life got in the way. Troubles in my marriage, a financial hardship and a serious injury thrown in for good measure pushed that dream out of reach.  Instead of a sibling, I’ve spent most of her life trying to mold her into a strong, independent woman who was as comfortable being alone as she was in a crowd.

It was tough when she was young. Even though she had a lot of friends, there were days when there was “no one to play with.” I’d remind her that she was lucky to choose her friends rather than be stuck with a younger brother or sister she was constantly fighting with, but she wasn’t buying it. She was sad and lonely, and I was pretty sure she thought it was all my fault.

I’ll admit to overcompensating by spoiling her a little. What would it hurt if we bought her that video game, just because? Who was harmed if we took her on expensive vacations to Disney, just because? I often reminded her that we couldn’t have done any of those things if she had siblings – we just wouldn’t have been able to afford it if there were more kids. As I think back, I’m pretty sure I was trying to convince myself that being an only child was good for her.

Lanie begged for a dog for years, but as a full-time working mom, I really didn’t want the extra burden of caring for an animal. Besides, she wanted a BIG dog. I did concede to getting an aquarium filled with beautifully colored tropical fish. Looking back, the dog might have been easier as we killed off more than 34 fish before learning how to keep their environment healthy. As Lanie and I struggled to keep her fish “siblings” alive, we both learned a valuable lesson – life doesn’t always work out the way you plan it, so you’ve just got to do the best you can with what you’ve been given.

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The middle school years improved a little. Lanie had a close-knit group of friends that would take turns going on family vacations with us. Those six girls were inseparable, and after a while even started to dress and look alike. These friends helped Lanie feel a little less lonely and my girl quickly emerged as the leader of the pack.

By high school, Lanie had all but forgotten that she was “different” because she was an only child. In fact, she became the “lucky” one. While all her friends had to share everything with their brothers and sisters, “Lucky Lanie” had everything to herself.

I think the ultimate sign, for all of us, was that being an only child brought great rewards appeared three years ago. Lanie was in her last year of college, and on her way to becoming a nurse. Her boyfriend was living an hour away in a rural community. With limited job opportunities and no real options in sight, we invited him to move into our home. While that may have been unconventional, Lanie got it; and I think I finally did too. Had we had other children in our home, this invitation would never have been extended. Because we were able to open our home to someone my daughter cared so much about, we were able to make a positive impact in both of their lives.

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Lanie is now moving into her own home and creating her own family. Ironically, she’s a nurse at a fertility clinic where many of the patients struggle to have even one child. We’ve had many conversations now that she’s an adult, and I believe she recognizes the benefits of being an only child -like getting all the attention, all the presents, all the money and all the love.

As for me, I think I’ll always wonder what it would have been like to have more kids, but I’ll never regret having just one very special one.

 

Do you have any only child? Were you one yourself? Are you closer to your child or parents because of it? I’d love to hear your perspective.


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DWI: The High Cost of Having Too Much Fun

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It’s interesting that as I get older I re-visit some experiences and recall those memories with total clarity—no matter how long ago they happened. This life experience was one that made such an impact I’ve carried it with me for almost 40 years.


Getting a little tipsy used to be fun.

Even though the legal drinking age was 18 when I was growing up, sneaking a couple beers from the fridge for my friends when we were only 16 gave me as much of a high as actually drinking the stuff.

I remember how my heart raced with anticipation whenever the “gang” got together. I was a “closet rebel.” To most of the adult world, I was sweet, innocent and a bit of a geek. I was the trustworthy one and always did the right thing. Of course, when no one was looking, my wild child side came out. It was amazing to hang with the “cool kids” and stealing some booze from a dad that would never notice elevated me to a position of admiration among my rowdy peers.

It was ironic that I never really cared much for the hoppy flavor the boys seemed to crave. And even though I wasn’t the prettiest or most sought-after girl in the group, I earned their respect as the risk-taker.

 

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Courtesy of mentalfloss.com

 

Reminiscent of “That 70’s Show,” I remember hanging out night after night on worn-out furniture in our basement retreat. The heavy base sound of our “too loud” music was always pounding in the background, while the guys talked about their super-charged engines and the girls shared the latest gossip. There was always plenty of cold beer and cheap wine to go around, so we all drank. It’s just the way it was.

Even though we all knew the dangers of drinking and driving, we all did it anyway. There was no such thing as sobriety checkpoints or breathalyzer tests, so as long as you stuck to the back roads, you’d be fine – or so we thought.

In addition to feeling immortal, kids seem to believe that bad things can’t happen to them— until they do. That’s how I felt, so at 18, when my boyfriend and I were hit head-on by a drunk 23-year-old and his equally blitzed friend, I was shocked. Thankfully, we had the bigger car so were able to hobble away with a broken ankle and a wrecked-up knee. The party-boys weren’t so lucky – the driver never regained consciousness and died three months later; while his friend suffered major internal bleeding that caused him to lose his spleen and a kidney.

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I suppose I should have been outraged at the driver’s stupidity of getting behind the wheel that night, but I wasn’t. What I really felt was the senseless loss of two young men who were just out for a good time. If only they had called a cab.

While my dad never condoned underage drinking, perhaps watching him casually drink (and drive) had desensitized me to its horror. By the time I had the accident, I was “legal” and had stopped drinking to impress. I no longer felt pressured to chug down a beer to fit in with the crowd, so our date that night consisted of hanging out at a local restaurant, eating chicken wings and drinking pop.

While I wasn’t as angry as I should have been at the reckless behavior displayed that awful night, I did recognize just how very close to death my boyfriend and I had been. Even though the wreck happened 39 years ago, I can still see those blinding headlights barreling toward us, hear the earsplitting sounds of shattered glass and twisted metal, and feel the terrifying panic that we might not survive. Even worse than that, on any other night, it could have easily been me that had caused the accident.

Just hours after the crash, as we sat in the police station recanting the night’s events, I remember feeling a pang of guilt as the officer praised us for being so responsible. I actually wanted to defend the driver of the other car when the cop said, “Finally, the drunk got what he deserved. Usually, it’s the innocent ones that suffer the consequences instead.” I felt neither responsible nor innocent that night. However, I did feel grateful that I had been given a chance to change things.

Ironically, it was my dad who insisted that I get in the car the next day to face my fears and drive by the accident site. He was determined that I become stronger for having lived through it instead of being stuck inside my anxiety. He was right to push me to regain control and never let my fears of what “might happen” dictate how I live.

It only took me six weeks to heal from my injuries, but it’s taken a lifetime of making good decisions to make sure I didn’t waste my second chance. While kids may complain about having to wait until 21 to drink or about strict DWI laws, I’m happy they’re in place. Hopefully, by making it a little more difficult for our young people to over-indulge, they won’t have to learn life’s lessons like I did – the hard way.

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I still enjoy a glass of wine or a mixed drink once in a while, and on a hot summer day, I’ll steal a refreshing swig of my husband’s ice cold beer. What I won’t do is drink and drive. I grew up fast that night. I learned that no one is invincible, that not everyone gets a second chance to make things right, and that I wasn’t willing to pay the high cost of having too much fun.

What about you? Did you experiment with alcohol before you were “legal?” Do you think DWI laws are overkill or just right? This message seems to be timeless. So, if my story inspired you to think for a moment before drinking and driving, I’d appreciate if you’d share it.


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A pro-aging revolution

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Ladies of every age rejoice. You now have permission to “be you.”

Check out Augustine’s post. It’s time to celebrate our life experience, inner and outer beauty, and loving every day.
http://wp.me/p9wb0-5LD

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Two Fun Styles for Women Over 50

You’re only as old as you feel. Want to stay fashionable and trendy but worry you’re too old to wear what’s in style?

Check out this post from Oro  Gold Cosmetics that puts this myth to rest.

http://wp.me/p2dVvI-18Q

Giving Your Vision a Voice.

#ItsNeverTooLate.    #AgingWithAttitude

Good People Doing Good Things — Seniors

There are a lot of good people in the world. When I read about these amazing seniors and the good work they are doing, I just had to share.

We can all make a difference.

It’s Never Too Late!

http://wp.me/p11o1H-8Z5

Giving Your Vision a Voice.

Can You Really Teach an Old Dog?

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I suppose I consider myself one of those “old dogs,” and yes, it’s true, you CAN teach an old dog!

I’ve been in office administration since I was a “tween.” I remember coming home from school every day with purple hands from volunteering in the office. We used a mimeograph machine that used purple ink to make copies of handouts and test papers for the teachers.

I remember Typing 101 in 9th grade and being afraid to move from a manual typewriter to an IBM Selectric because it might be too fast for me.

And I’ll never forget being on the “knows little or nothing” list in 1995 when my company got computers. The advice I got from the tech about learning to use a mouse? “Play solitaire.”

Yep, I definitely qualify as an “old dog.”

The amazing thing about living for over five decades is that I’ve earned the right to carry a little attitude with me.

Like others before me, I’ve had to keep up with technology or be left behind. It’s not enough to have 30 years of seniority under my belt.  Sit still too long and one of those puppies with more energy and more curiosity will bound in and steal all my toys.

So, to keep this metaphor running a little longer, I bare my teeth and growl a little to keep the intruders away from the door, and then I get to work.

You see, learning new technologies is a never-ending process. As soon as you master one, a new one pops up to throw you off balance. My saving grace has been my unwavering desire to be a life-long learner, so I keep pushing on.

So, here are some words of wisdom I can share to help you learn new tricks:

Prioritize

There is absolutely no way you can learn every new technology that’s available or soon to be the next big thing. So, you need to figure out what’s most important to your career or lifestyle.

Do you need to create presentations for work or want to connect with friends through social media?

Are you launching a digital career and need to learn SEO and CRM? Or maybe you want to start with what those terms actually mean?

Step back and evaluate what you want to/need to learn about and start there.

Use Technology to Learn Technology

Do you remember what a pain it was to do research for mid-term projects before the internet was around? Dragging out the encyclopedias or spending endless hours at the library trying to find a few morsels of information that were relevant to the topic?

I think kids have it made today. What I could have done if only I had access to Google or YouTube all those years ago! I can’t go back, but I definitely can use them to learn going forward. And you can too!

Pick a topic to search on Google: What is SEO? Or watch a YouTube video: How to set up a Twitter account. And you’re on your way.

There is also an unlimited number of online resources available to teach you the ins and outs of social media, smartphone apps and starting your own business. I’ve had great success with courses like Influencers 101 <—–affiliate link) where I learned how to use Twitter in my business. I’m constantly amazed at how quickly I can go from knowing virtually nothing about a program or service to being an expert. You can do it too!

Build Relationships

One of the most surprising things I’ve learned from my writing business and my administrative job is that building and maintaining relationships is more important than keeping up with the latest technology.

It’s critical that I not neglect my clients while trying to improve my skills. I’m often shocked that my clients look at me as an expert in the digital world because I do know much more than they do. And what I don’t know, we’ll figure out together. They’re forgiving as long as I maintain my focus on customer service.

In contrast, I’ve connected with many people online and in person that ARE experts in the digital world. I’ve been amazed at how willing people share their knowledge with me to help me learn or even do the project for me. You don’t have to know how to do everything yourself; you just have to know where to go to get it done.

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So, if you’re ready to step up and learn some new tricks—prioritize, use technology and build relationships.

You’ve got this! You’re Never Too Old!

So what tricks have you got up your sleeve? Have you found some ways to adapt and keep up with technology?


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Baby Boomers are the Best and Millennials are the Worst

If you’re a Baby Boomer like me, it’s important to read Mary’s take on what Millennials really need.

It’s time we give this generation the benefit of the doubt & realize they have the same needs, desires & worried that we did at their age.

Let’s be part of the solution & help guide & mentor instead of judging & complaining.

Thank you, Mary, for your amazing insight.

http://wp.me/p3OPlt-1AV