Advice for Reacting to a Crisis

A giant, once in a lifetime Super-Storm is approaching the East Coast attacking multiple states with a vengeance.  At work, I am responsible for all of our offices in the East.  I was sitting safe and sound in my South Carolina home last night while this Frankenstorm was headed straight for 9 of my offices in Maryland  . . . and my employees who live there.

I’d checked in on everyone all day to make sure they were prepared, personally and professionally, and that my subordinates had contacted all of their subordinates and that everyone knew exactly what to do.  I’d spoken with our Call Center to advise them that our offices were closed and that we would keep them updated as we learned more.  So once I’d prepared all I could and made sure everyone else was prepared, what did I do?  Wait?  No!  I kept sending emails and texts saying, “Do you still have power?”  “How’s the weather?”  “What’s happening now?”

Seriously I thought that texting, “How’s the weather” to someone in a hurricane would be helpful?  Why did I need to know if they had lost power yet?  Because we knew it was going to go out, it was just a matter of when.  Was I going to send them some of my electricity when theirs went out?  No.  Asking these questions doesn’t make any sense and they aren’t helpful to the people I’m texting OR to me.  Because even if I do know the details of their situation, there’s not a damn thing I can do from way down here in South Carolina!  But when things happen around us over which we have no control, we need to do things that give us the illusion of control.  So on that same thread, here are my suggestions for ways to help in other crises situations:

Southern Baptist church’s cure

If someone is terminally ill, or heaven forbid they die, take food.  Fried chicken and macaroni and cheese is the favorite here in the South.  I’m not sure why fried chicken helps sick or dead people, but I know it works because churches have been doing it for years, especially Baptist churches, and churches wouldn’t continue to do something useless that makes no sense.

If you need to explain something to a deaf person, but you don’t know sign language and they don’t read lips, here’s what helps, talk really, really loud.  Even though they are deaf, yelling at them will help the situation.  Must be the shock waves or something.  Don’t bother getting a pen and paper to communicate.  That’s just crazy talk!

If someone gets hurt doing something you ever told them not to do, that is the exact time to remind them.  My mother was an expert at this.  Once I fell down the wooden, iced over steps outside our back door.  As I lay there on my head trying to figure out if I could still feel my arms and legs, my Mom was at the top of the steps screaming, “I’ve told you a million times to be careful going down these steps!  I knew one day you’d fall and break your neck out here!”  I can speak from experience that my Mom yelling her version of “I told you so” right after I’d fallen down the steps helped a lot.  It helped so much, that now I repeat this same process with my daughter.  I can tell she appreciates it every bit as much as I did when I was her age.  Ah, family traditions . . .

If you are faced with an emotional crisis to which there is no immediate relief, then a good solution is french fries . . . or cheesecake . . . but not both of them together because that’s just fattening.  This is also an acceptable solution to stress.  For instance, during the two week period when I needed to review 32 budgets?  My solution to the overwhelming stress, 13 hour days and 7 day work weeks?  French Fries!  A bonus is that after a couple of weeks of this plan you can also get a new wardrobe to accent your new physique!

Well, there you go!  That’s the Angry Middle Age Woman’s Guide to Survival during a crisis!  No need to thank me, the least I could do was share my words of wisdom with you while I await the results of this storm.  Really, it was the very least I could do.

No Cursing Resolution = Epic Fail

So I had several New Year’s Resolutions and I am following most of them.  I’m eating healthier, lost a couple of pounds, working out regularly – all the usual resolutions.  But I had also decided to stop cursing, and damn it, that part’s not going so well.

How does she look so calm? (image via hundredpushups.com)

All this working out was bound to pull a few expletives out of me, especially if I’m doing it correctly.  When you hold plank position  for more than 30 seconds and you have any breath left at all, it automatically comes out in four-letter words.  Then when I was dieting I was hungry so my threshold for stupidity was much lower than it normally is and I don’t have a high tolerance for it on a good day with fried foods.  So I had already decided that perhaps this “no cursing” resolution would best be delayed until February, but last Friday I had an unintentional slip that was so funny I had to share.

I was picking my daughter up at school which is not the normal routine.  She usually rides the bus, but we had errands to run this particular Friday.  South Carolina has recently passed a law against texting and driving which I never really did anyway, but now I was sitting still in a car rider line waiting to pick up one of the hundreds of teenagers roaming around outside the school.  I sent a quick text to my daughter to let her know I was getting close to the pick up point so she could be paying attention instead of gabbing with her friends.  I am lucky enough to have a “Smart Phone” with voice recognition so I thought I would take advantage of it.  I hit the speaker button and said, “I’m in line, shouldn’t be long now.”  then I hit send.

I kind of miss my dumb phone

Evidently I have a very strong southern accent that must be difficult for standard voice recognition software to recognize.  A few seconds later I read the message I had sent.  And here it is:

“The line shittin’ be long”

I almost fell out of the car laughing but I was struggling to send another G-rated message so my daughter would not be confused.  I tried again with the same phrase.  This time the message came out:

“I’m in line, should not be long nails”

Luckily by the time I pulled up my daughter saw the car and hopped in, completely embarrassed because her mother was laughing like a hyena.  I finally croaked out that I was sorry about the text messages when she said, “Oh, my phone is off and in my book bag.  What did you say?” 

Well, February 1st is just around the corner.  I’ll give it a shit then.  Ooops, I mean shot.

1.  Thanks to the blog “Who Said Life Wasn’t Complicated” for the picture at the top of the page.

Take Your Husband to Work Day . . . Everyday

You may or may not know by now that I travel a lot with my job.  It gets pretty monotonous going back and forth to the same geographic locations and staying in the same hotels often enough that the Hotel Manager asks about Tink’s Algebra grade, but there is some comfort in that too.  One advantage of my job is that when I don’t travel, I work from home.

"Well frankly Alex she's grounded after the grade on that last test!" <image courtesy of ehow.com>

When I was 16 I contracted Mononucleosis and was placed on what they called “home-bound” for 6 weeks.  A teacher that wasn’t good enough for a real job with the County came to my house twice a week and ate cookies in the kitchen while I did my school work.  I was fascinated to discover that I could complete an entire week’s worth of classroom assignments and homework in about 5 hours a week.  When I asked the teacher about this phenomenon she gave me some non-committal response.  When I asked my Mom about it she said it was because I didn’t have to sit through all the extra stuff they did for the “slower” kids.  I’m not sure either answer was correct, but it did enlighten me to the fact that a LOT of time is wasted in schools . . . and offices!

Only the smart kids raise their hands <image via nctm.org>

So working from home actually allows me to get a lot more done than I would in a traditional office setting.  There’s no other co-workers to wander in and talk about last night’s game or someone to run into in the break room and chat about the latest episode of Biggest Loser and whether or not someone ought to shove Conda off a cliff during one of the challenges.  (And what the hell kind of name is Conda anyway?  I’d write a post about that but the Byronic Man already did here.  You should really check it out.)  I still have the phone and email as distractions, but I have control over who I speak with and when and the answering of said email.  Another plus is that what would be a coffee break turns into putting a load of laundry in the dryer or unloading the dishwasher.  I love working at home because it is so peaceful and quiet.  No TV, no radio, no distractions, just me and my work getting done ever so quickly so I can be not-working even sooner!

"No I totally agree that Bob is hotter than Dolvette!"

But lately, that’s not how it’s gone.  Because my husband is “in between jobs” right now.  (He’s in construction and you’ve seen the reports on the economy – it’s going to be a while)  So he’s at home all the time.  Just so you understand that’s like having “Take your husband to work day” every single day!  Think about it.  Would you want your spouse following you around at work all day?  Every day? 

I’m constantly amazed when I visit on-site locations and we close the door to have a meeting and another employee just walks in.  They don’t think the closed door applies to them.  Well guess what?  It can be just me and my husband at home, I close my office door to make some phone calls and in he walks.  There’s only the two of us there.  Who the hell does he think I’m closing the door to?? 

See the difference? One is Closed . . . One is Open! <image via clipartof.com>

Then Tink comes home from school and has a million and one urgent, crucial questions that can’t wait until I’m off the phone like “What’s for dinner?”  “I’m done with my homework can I text now?”  “I want a snack but do you think I should have an apple or a cupcake?”  Seriously???  You don’t care about my opinions or what I have to say at any other time of the day but right now you want me to pick your afternoon snack?  While I’m on the phone with my boss??  (ok – so I don’t exactly get to pick when I talk to my boss, but everyone else I do)

You might as well eat the cupcake and bring me the apple. You aren't going to eat it anyway. <image via earthreport.com>

So lately I have come to appreciate my travel just a little more.  Because when I get to the hotel and close the door, it locks behind me and no one can come ask me if they can have some of my super-secret, private stash of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans that a co-worker gave me for Christmas.  Or if they can have the last cupcake.  Or if they can borrow a paperclip.  It’s just peace and quiet!  Ahhh – it’s like having Mono all over again . . .

Ahhhhh . . .

New Year’s Resolutions Killed the DVD

Even Jillian Michael's posted this on Facebook - I think it's a new trend!

Well Hello!!!  I’ve been MIA from the blogging world for 3 weeks now, but after a week off for the holidays and jumping into my New Year’s Resolutions, there didn’t seem to be any time for blogging.  (No time left for blogging??  Why that’s crazy talk!)  More importantly – not enough time left for reading other’s blogs!  I’ve missed it terribly. 

English: vegetables

Yum!! Doesn't it look delicious? It's no Death by Chocolate, but . . . (Image via Wikipedia)

Of course, like everyone else in the USA, my New Year’s Resolutions include living a healthier lifestyle.  Truly, this is how I try to live most of the time, but during November and December I ate everything that wasn’t nailed down.  Small children were in danger.  I also did not exercise AT ALL!  So now I’m trying to use my common sense and eat more grilled chicken, steamed and grilled vegetables, salads and whole grains.  I feel better when I eat this way too but I swear it takes an effort and a lot of planning.  I just didn’t have that in me the last few months of 2011.  And on the upside cooking this way creates lots of leftovers because Hubby and Tink hardly eat it!

I will miss you Jillian! But my quads - not so much.

I’m also trying to work out 30-45 minutes every day with 1 rest day a week.  One of my favorite DVDs is Jillian Michael’s 30 day Shred, but I popped that DVD in this past Monday and tragedy of all tragedies THE DVD DIED!  Oh woe is me – farewell Jillian.  Getting me back into shape this time proved to be too daunting a task.  I will miss thee.  But thankfully I still have Bob Harper, so I did Biggest Loser Cardio Max.  It has a lot of leg work AND, most importantly, it’s from about 6-7 years ago so Bob is so young and still nice!

How does she look so calm? (image via hundredpushups.com)

English: Robert "Bob" Harper (born A...

Image via Wikipedia "I Love Bob, I Love Bob."

Losing 1 DVD work out is really no big deal.  I have tons of workout DVDs, dumbbells (I mean the hand weights not derogatorily referring to my family), a 10 lb Kettlebell, a treadmill and a stair-stepper.  All I need to do is use all that stuff.  I’m alternating days with weight work and days with cardio only.  Another great thing to do is push ups.  You can find a fantastic push up program at http://www.hundredpushups.com/.  There is a reason they make you do these in the military.  Push ups are hard, they are considered weight work and they are truly a whole body work out.  A combination of push ups, squats and crunches for 30 minutes is a full-fledged weight work out without any “weights”.  So who needs Jillian, right?

I also track calories at http://www.livestrong.com/.  You can set up a free account and log every thing you put into your mouth on there.  This website can calculate how many calories you can eat each day to reach a goal or just to maintain your current weight.  I wasn’t going to count any calories this year.  I made a huge declaration to one of my close friends that I was only going to focus on being healthy and forget writing down every bite I put in my mouth because that was excessive.  But the day, immediately after I made that declaration, Dr. Nancy Schneiderman on the Today Show said that the ONLY way for a woman over 40 to truly maintain her weight was to write down what they ate.  She even said the words, “every bite you put in your mouth.”  Really??  I mean really??  After recovering from a brief bout of depression over that fact, I began re-logging my calories. 

Another resolution was going to be no more cursing, but then Tink brought home a D in Algebra, the whole DVD death thing and working out pretty much ended any hope of keeping that resolution before I even got started.  I’ll save that one for February.

 Anyway – I’m done with trying to hit a certain weight or look a certain way.  I want to be healthy and I want to be able to button and zip my jeans without requiring outside assistance.  That’s enough for me.  Maybe that will leave me with a little bit of time to blog!

It’s All Relatives – Christmas Edition

English: Photo of Dr.Oz at the Time 100 Gala.

Image via Wikipedia

This was originally my Thanksgiving post from November 23, 2011.  I haven’t been blogging long enough to truly “re-post” anything but for those of you who might be on the edge of pulling your hair out or those of you who might have missed this early post, here’s a slightly updated version:

In a recent Facebook post, Dr. Oz cautioned readers to beware of the sodium in your holiday foods because they could raise your blood pressure and “negatively affect your health.”  Well, Dr. Oz, it ain’t just Aunt Edna’s Mac n Cheese that’s raising blood pressures at all these family gatherings.  Often times it’s Aunt Edna!  Or Uncle John or Mother-in-law or Sister-in-law . . . come to think of it most of the time it is “Someone-in-law”.

Have you ever heard that verse, “It’s the most, wonderful time of the year” and thought “yeah buddy, you don’t have to spend it with my family!”  If you haven’t then yea for you.  Probably time for you to leave this blog and go find one about how to turn the simple act of wrapping a present into a 4 hour ordeal which includes weaving your own ribbon.  This ain’t that blog.

When you Google “Families and Holidays” the first several results are along the lines of tips to reduce family “burdens” and “stress” around the holidays.  Doesn’t something about that seem off?  Aren’t these supposed to be the people you hold most dear?  Then why do they irritate the living fool out of us?  I remember reading an interesting article 20-25 years ago either in Seventeen or Cosmopolitan magazine.  It was geared more towards romantic relationships but the part that stuck with me was that the reason someone could exasperate you to the point of insanity was simply because they mattered so much to you.  You don’t spend as much time annoyed at someone you don’t care about.   This person (or these people) are so important to you and you love them so very much that every little annoying thing they do can infuriate you.  That explains a lot, but doesn’t exactly warm the heart.

Back when “Home Improvement” with Tim Allen was on, I didn’t watch it regularly but I did see a Christmas episode when one of the kids wanted to go on a ski trip instead of spending the holiday with his family.  Tim Taylor, the Dad, comes home to find him sneaking out while the rest of the family was at church.  Tim says, “Christmas is not about being with people you like, it’s about being with your family!” 

I love that line!  Because the truth is we don’t often like all the members of our family (or our spouse’s family), but they are important to us.  And truthfully, more important than a lot of people we call friends.  It’s hard because most of us spend much more of our time at work with co-workers and bosses and people who “need” us than we do our families these days.  But if I die tomorrow, while I’m sure several people at work will miss me, within a few weeks they will hire someone else to take my place.  My family isn’t going to hire another Mom, Wife, Daughter, Niece or Aunt. 

So, if you are headed home for Christmas, Google all those helpful hints about dealing with family stress and take deep breaths when Aunt Edna comments that your turkey is extra dry this year, or when Uncle John has a little too much holiday wine and starts snoring in front of the TV, or when your mother-in-law corrects your children’s table manners then makes a comment not completely under her breath about “blame it on their mother”.  Put on your rose-colored glasses and maybe invest in a good pair of ear-plugs.  Relax and enjoy the family drama – heck maybe even blog about it.  There are people throughout our country who are all alone this Christmas and they would give anything to be where you are.  There are soldiers in Afghanistan, and places we don’t even know about, who would love to experience the holiday with their irritating, overbearing family.  We have the distinct honor and privilege of being with ours.  And it’s not all bad, there’s Aunt Edna’s Mac n Cheese after all.

Recipe for Mac N Cheese

I’ll be gone for a few days for Christmas but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to blog about when I return.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Merry Christmas, and Season’s Greetings

I’ve seen several postings on Facebook this holiday season adamantly opposing using the phrase “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”.  These same folks are usually angrily declaring that they are Christians and will from here forth refer to this season as Christmas!  This is usually followed with the phrase of “Put Christ back in Christmas” or “He’s the Reason for the Season.”  Of course then you are told that if you are a Christian you will copy and post to your status.  Doesn’t it seem as though these people who are fervently trying to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas might have lost a little bit of it?

I would like to heartily wish every single one of you reading this post a Very Merry Christmas.  If you do not celebrate Christmas, I doubt my wish offends you.  I believe you take my wish in the spirit in which it was intended as any reasonable person would. 

courtesy of some of my angry facebook friends

I apologize for not publishing the best posts lately, I’ve been a little distracted getting ready to celebrate with my family.  I hope wherever you are and whatever you are celebrating you have a wonderful, safe time.  I will be taking a few days off to spend with family – hubby, Tink and the extended members of it – and I’m sure I’ll be good and angry and ready to post more ramblings after the holidays.  Until then, Merry Christmas AND Season’s Greetings and thank you so very, very much for taking the time to read my goofy little blog.

Thank you Maxine.com (I very well may be considered one of those dim bulbs!)

Distractions – A Post About . . . Wait, What?

A Green Planet water bottle, made from vegetab...

It all starts with the water bottle (Image via Wikipedia)

I am easily distracted.  I most often notice this when I am sitting on the couch and realize my water bottle is empty so I get up to refill my water bottle.  As I walk to the kitchen I think, I might as well go to the bathroom while I’m up.  On the way to the bathroom I see the light on in the laundry room and fold a load of laundry I had forgotten about earlier in the day.  I take Tink’s clothes to her room. 

Tink’s sitting on her bed and I ask if she has everything ready for school tomorrow.  She replies “Yes and oh by the way I need you to sign my Algebra test”.  I see the grade and we have a 10 minute discussion about paying more attention in class and avoiding distractions.  (ironic right?)  Finishing our conversation I go to leave her room and then she reminds me I need to sign the test. 

This remind me, I need to pray for these kinds of grades (image by graphicsfactory.com)

So I go to my office to get a pen.  While I’m in my office I see the message light blinking on my phone.  I go ahead and listen to the voicemail.  It’s my mom telling me when my sister and her kids are coming in for a visit and she’s not begging or anything but it sure would be great if we could make it too.  So I leave my office and go check the calendar on the refrigerator.  That date should work.  I ask my husband if we have anything to do that afternoon.  He says no.  I type an email to my mom telling her we’ll be there, then I sit down on the couch and reach for my water bottle.  <sigh>  I get up and start the process all over again.

My friend Sandy mentioned the other day that she’s recently been practicing yoga and meditating and she asked me if I’d ever tried it.  Well, I do some yoga but I don’t really try to meditate.  When I meditate it turns into a to-do list in my brain and then I just start feeling anxious to get all the things on my to-do list ta-done.  Then I wind up more agitated than I was before I tried to relax.

Yoga postures halasana

I need to go to the bank, iron my pants, make Christmas cookies, call Mom . . . (Image via Wikipedia)

My Aunt Mary Alice, God rest her soul, used to say she did the same thing when she prayed.  These days I find myself doing that too.  “Dear Lord, forgive me for my sins, help Tink continue to grow strong and smart . . .”  Then . . . “What am I going to have for dinner tomorrow night?  Maybe chicken and rice.  Wait, do I have rice?  I have wild rice but do I have regular white rice?  Oh yeah, we need to eat that broccoli I bought last week.  Why didn’t we eat that?  Oh, because we had hot dogs and . . . wait . . .”  I pause just a moment, “Dear Lord forgive me for my sins and maybe help me concentrate just a little bit more?”

"Heaven Help Me" (image by graphicsfactory.com)

For another view on distractions that are more productive than mine, check out “Thieves and Poachers!” by littlesundog!