Friday, May 20, 2016

Life Without Karma (Or Why the Notion of Karma Is Pure BS)

What do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Karma all have in common?  (No, this is not a riddle.  Just shout it out when you know the answer.) That’s right, folks.  They don’t exist. 

However, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have pleasant physical forms that usually bring smiles to the faces of children who believe. On the other hand, the personification of Karma, well…that’s a mystery to me. But I’ve heard she’s a bitch.

Thanks to The Karate Kid, I totally understand the idea behind the “what-goes-around-comes-around” mentality.  I mean, Johnny totally deserved the hose in the bathroom treatment from Daniel, right? Of course, The Karate Kid got his ass kicked, but that’s not the point. The point is that he didn’t wait for Karma to show up at some undetermined time in the future to do his dirty work for him. He took matters into his own hands, and for that, Daniel has my respect.

In my opinion, Karma is nothing more than a scapegoat for unresolved issues. And that is why I can’t really relate to people who believe in Karma. They crave revenge, sometimes for years, but are waiting on a mystical being to perform the task for them?  I don’t get it.

Here’s something to ponder.  What if Karma never shows up?  What if she’s got her period or has a headache?  What if she quits because she’s tired of fighting your fights? If you truly cannot get over whatever situation caused a wrong in your life, do you really think waiting around for something bad to happen to whoever it is you’re pissed at is the way to go?  Will hearing a tragic story about someone who wronged you five years ago make you feel better?  And if the answer to that question is yes, what kind of person does that make you?

And what about poor Karma?  I’m pretty sure if I were her, I’d tell everyone to stop whining and get on with their lives.  Not to mention that if Karma really did exist, wouldn’t she be focusing on bigger problems like murder, espionage or cleaning up the environment?   And if she really had any time left over to start a personal war on assholes, wouldn’t she most likely skip your mundane requests and start with…oh, I don’t know…Kanye West?

Due to mutual dislike, there are people who are no longer a part of my life. And regardless of what kind of assholes we were to each other in the past, I hold no ill will towards them now. I don’t secretly wish that Karma attacks them with Alfred Hitchcock’s birds.  

You see, I don’t believe in Karma.  I just believe in life’s ups and downs. 

And no one lives a perfect life.

I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve fucked people over.  I’ve been an asshole when I could’ve chosen to be nice.  And yes, shitty things have happened to me that will make anyone who doesn’t like me very happy. But I’m certain that when crap lands in my lap, it’s not because Karma is doing my haters a favor. It’s simply because shit happens…to everyone…all of the time.  The difference between Karma believers and me is that I am not waiting for the storm to strike my opponents. 

Instead, I am living.

And I urge the Karma believers to join me. Not in two months, or five years after Karma has avenged the wrongs in your life, but now. The only way to truly live life is to stop hoping that this Karma bitch has your back.  Because she doesn’t. 

Karma doesn’t happen.  Life does. 

*This piece was published on Sammiches and Psych Meds on May 20, 2016.

Five Things I Wish People Wouldn't Do While I'm Running

As a runner, I am a sucker for articles on anything running related.  From marathon advice to shoe advice to injury advice, I never tire of the endless top 5 lists that appear in my newsfeed.  So if you are a runner, I’m sure the annoyances in my Top 5 “things-I-wish-people-wouldn’t-do-while-I’m running” list are recognizable to you. Enjoy!

  • Don’t ignore stop signs. If you are driving and notice a stop sign accompanied by a pretty painted white line, my tip is to stop your car.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit because drivers seem to have forgotten that rolling past the stop sign into the crosswalk can actually kill someone.  I get it.  We’re all getting old and may have overlooked this part of the driver’s education manual.  But seriously people, a stop sign is not a suggestion, so…STOP.
  • Don’t stop a runner mid-run unless you are dying.  I once had a dude stop me to tell me about all of the medical ailments that his friend had due to running.  Recently, another guy stopped me to make a joke about running.  This doesn’t annoy me as much if my run is leisurely, but when a runner is in training mode and trying to maintain a certain pace, don’t be surprised if you get a punch in the nuts for making us stop and listen to your ridiculous banter.
  • Don’t hog the sidewalk.  Whether you are taking your dog for a walk or simply out for a morning stroll, be mindful that there just might be other people like yourself who wouldn’t mind a sliver of the sidewalk.  Also keep in mind that some of these people might even be coming up behind you. So, when in doubt, move to your right side and share the pavement.
  • Don’t honk your horn at me.  Look, I’m almost forty, so I’m not going to lie-I love when people think I’m hot.  I’m not usually one to complain about compliments, even in the form of a beeping car horn.  But for goodness sake, when I’m running, I’m usually in a zone, and honking your horn can quite literally scare the crap out of me or give me a heart attack.  So, while I appreciate the sentiment, a quiet wave or smile will do just fine, thanks.
  •  Don’t run in the bike lanes.  Just to show that I’m not biased, this one goes out to the runners.  Having dabbled in cycling, the speed that I traveled while trying to “hold my line” scared me to death and eventually drew me back to running.  However, I can now empathize with cyclists, and realize that competing with a runner for twelve inches of space is not ideal.  Not to mention, if you are a runner in a bike lane, the only options cyclists have are to either swerve out into traffic while going upwards of 25 mph to avoid you, or to stay the course and pray that you move first.  Both scenarios suck, so please remember that bike lanes are for bicycles.

To be honest, until I became a runner, I was not considerate enough to make myself aware of my surroundings. But I’ve spent over ten years on my running journey, and I have no plans of stopping…unless, of course, I see a stop sign.

*This piece was published on Lose the Cape on May 20, 2016.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lessons From a Protest

A few weeks ago, our family attended our first animal rights protest. While nothing beats standing outside for hours in the scorching Florida sun, attending a protest usually isn’t my first choice of things to do with my children on a Saturday afternoon. However, my older daughter has had a passion for animals since she could pronounce the word “dog”, so supporting a cause that was important to her felt like the right thing to do.

As we marched up to the park gates with our signs, the protesters immediately fell in love with my daughters, greeting them warmly and telling them how important it was to have support from the next generation. As the minutes ticked by, I was expecting a shouting, angry mob to lay down in front of the park, denying access to the entrance. But this didn’t happen. It was surprisingly peaceful, friendly and educational. The real shock came about twenty minutes later, when the drivers of the cars entering the park began demonstrations of their own, mostly incorporating their middle fingers, yelling obscenities out of their windows, and, in one case, spitting at a protester. Luckily, none of it was directed at my girls, but everyone else was fair game.

And this is where my confusion lies. 

I found some irony in the fact that while my daughters were able to protest without any vulgar interruptions, I was the target of some pretty interesting hand gestures, despite my lack of a “PETA” t-shirt. And I guess my question is – why are the hostile people of the world more offended by adults than they are of children, even if the message we are trying to convey is the same?

Not that I want my eleven and eight year old daughters to be attacked, but as a mom, I want to know when I should expect people to stop looking at my children as cute, good natured and passionate, and start looking at them as losers or scumbag activists with too much time on their hands. At what age willthey be the ones getting spit on? I mean, if I knew the answer to this question, I could at least try to be a good parent and provide them with a raincoat and goggles to save them from an asshole’s saliva, right?

My reality is that until they are old enough to drive, chauffeuring my girls to protests may be the norm. And despite the judgmental stares, and the loogies in my eye courtesy of the angry bird flippers, I will proudly stand next to them. I will ignore the ideas that my girls aren’t old enough or smart enough to form their own opinions, and I will silently hope that there is a mishap in the park that involves these idiots falling into a tank with the captive animals.

But the mom in me knows that my girls will eventually fall victim to these people, and I would love to be able to decipher the jerkoff code so that I can protect my girls from their impending invasion. But at the same time, I don’t want to be the one to stick a pin in their balloons. Because even though the protest reminded me that intolerance exists in our world, my daughters walked away with a completely different perspective. 

Despite the amount of spitting and cursing coming from the park goers, my girls were successful in getting a total of five cars to turn away from the park that day. The naysayers may have tried to silence them, but ultimately, the experience provided my daughters with the knowledge that the power of their voices mattered. And because my girls simply ignored the negativity, the mama bear in me is confident that, as adults, they will be able to identify and dismiss the assholes that they are certain to encounter while on their journeys. But before they leave me, I may sneak raincoats and goggles into their bags…just in case.

*This piece was published on BLUNTmoms on May 13, 2016.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My Invisible Crutch

As an only child, I always had a flair for independence.  Even so, accepting help as a kid seemed natural and uncomplicated. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, my comfort level in allowing others to lighten my load has drastically changed. As an adult, accomplishment and the joy that follows is important to me.  So when it comes to asking someone for help, I always think to myself, “If I have a problem that I am capable of fixing, then why would I involve anyone else?”
This question is my downfall, and the reason why I rarely take advantage of the support that surrounds me. 

If there were a Best Family in the World award, my family would win, hands down.  And I am not the only one who notices my tribe’s loveliness. At my wedding, one of my guests said, “When I get married, can I rent your family?”  After celebrating Christmas Eve with my family, a friend commented, “You guys are like the Puerto Rican Brady Bunch.”  

Although I formed a close bond with my cousins, aunts and uncles as a child, I didn’t truly value them until I was old enough to experience the families of friends, boyfriends and husbands.  I can now appreciate the friendship, loyalty and support that we have always selflessly offered to each other.  My family is like an internal whisper pulsating through my mind, confirming that our blood is our bond, and regardless of the circumstances in any given situation, we will be there for each other. 

I now live thousands of miles away from the bulk of my family.  The modernized support we offer has taken form via social media.  If I need advice, they are all a Facebook message away.  Being that writing is my preferred method of communication, this works out well for me…most of the time.

But when life gets harder than what the contents of a Facebook message could possibly provide, this is where I struggle.  Being a contemplative introvert, thinking and overthinking can feel like a full-time job sometimes.  I usually take to my laptop, write a blog, or I go “old-school” and write my thoughts down on paper.  If this method of internalization doesn’t settle me, that is usually when the uncomfortable, “oh-no-I’m-going-to-have-to-ask-someone-for-help” doom sets in.

Although I have a strong support system in my husband and my parents, I still find it hard to use what is available to me.  While expressing my opinion has never been difficult, vocalizing the need for anything that, in my mind, should only belong to me, has always been a challenge, regardless of the amount of support waiting in the wings.  My husband gets upset sometimes because I don’t allow him to do simple tasks like taking my girls to school if I don’t feel well or changing a light bulb.  So, you can probably guess that when there is something more serious sprinting through my mind, asking for any kind of assistance from him is a rarity.

Some people have used the word “strong” to describe me.  I’m not sure this is accurate, as there are times when I need more than what I can offer myself, yet I fear asking for it.  In times like these, I do not seek refuge in the amazing family structure I just described.  I, instead, choose to find support in a place where it is not readily offered, but there nonetheless. 

I find support in the gifts that are my daughters. Because they are eight and eleven, I don’t approach them and lay out my problems, hoping they will dissect them with me or give me their shoulders to cry on.  I don’t expect answers.

I find encouragement when my girls let me hug them a little longer, when they help me without my having to ask, when they randomly tell me they love me without me saying it first, when they sense something is off and include me in a game or a story or whatever it is they are doing, when they look at me and offer a simple, yet beautiful smile.  Although it may not fix everything that needs fixing, this is the type of support that I can readily accept.  Their unconditional love for me lets me focus on what is important, leaving whatever is left over easier to tackle. Whether they know it or not, they are the support system I treasure most.

Through my girls, I’ve learned that support doesn’t just come in the form of actions like helping with a task or lending someone money or giving a friend advice.  It doesn’t only come from people who are willing to give it.  For me, the support I’ve found most useful has come from the invisible crutch that my daughters unknowingly, yet lovingly provide.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Spring Cleaning and Streak Free Windows

It’s that time of year when hordes of women charge their way up the grocery store cleaning aisles with purpose and determination, in an attempt to create a seasonally sparkling home.  I’m not sure who came up with the idea that spring cleaning should be a thing, but here we are, buying into the hype.

Now, I’m no cleaning expert, but over the years, I have had some unfortunate reactions to products that just weren’t up to snuff, one of which included me screaming at a broken spray handle.   For whatever reason, most of my springtime frustrations come from window or mirror cleaning. 

Have you ever walked away from your clean bathroom mirror, only to come back and notice an enormous smudge?  Or after cleaning, have you ever looked at your glass from a different angle, only to find that there are streaks in the shape of the motion you used to clean the glass in the first place?  

Yeah…this is my life story.

Being that I’m almost forty, you would think I would have found a tried and true window product before now.  But up until about a month ago, this was not the case.  I tried everything from Windex to Method to Invisible Glass and just about everything in between, and was disappointed when none of the “streak free” products seemed to work on the glass in my home.  I started to think it had something to do with the way I was cleaning.  Have I been doing it wrong all of these years?

The answer is no, and I know this because I finally found Pella Glass and Window Cleaner.  After years of searching, discovering a glass cleaner that doesn’t allow me to waste four paper towels on one small mirror makes me want to burst out into song.  

In addition, I don’t have to scrub my glass so hard that the veins in my muscles start exploding.  I simply spray, swipe and move onto my next cleaning adventure without the fear of seeing a random smudge out of the corner of my eye.

Cleaning with the Pella product has made spring cleaning more tolerable and less time-consuming.  And I am proud to say that since the Pella Glass and Window cleaner has been a part of my cleaning routine, I have transferred my shouting matches with bottles to my aging steam mop.  

And so the quest begins…