Archive | August, 2011

One of the millions…

31 Aug

It’s hard to stay upbeat and positive today when so many Americans – and especially Floridians – are losing their homes, are unemployed (including highly qualified professionals), foraging for work, and finding that the sense of belonging (along the lines of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) is no longer important.Maslow Hierarchy of Needs More and more people are on the bottom rung of the Maslow’s pyramid (at left) – barely able to support the basic essentials of life for themselves and their families.

At this point in my life (over 40), I never thought I’d be where I am today – nor have many of my friends.  In today’s economic downturned times, it seems that single females over 40 are “foraging” more and more to find bits of work, pay their bills, find “decent” supportive friends, and survive!  Hardly the future we had envisioned as youngsters…

I don’t know about you, but when millions of people are struggling to make ends meet with the basic physiological needs in life (food, shelter, clothing) – being nice seems to come second.  It is rare these days to meet friendly salespeople, courteous drivers, happy shoppers, upbeat friends – and I believe that when people are scrambling to pay the next month’s rent or mortgage – people are no longer nice.

I’ve written here in the past about friends, family, colleagues, etc. who say things that are downright ugly and insensitive… and the trend seems to be increasing!  And it doesn’t seem to matter how nice I am – it has little relationship with the behavior that emanates from others.

Have you noticed this too or is it just me?

I feel fortunate to have friends and colleagues around the world who I can turn to using the internet/instant messaging – and who are supportive and genuine.  In Tampa, this doesn’t seem to be the case as people say whatever enters their head first and foremost, and seldom apologize for their verbal diarhhea.  Let me give you a few examples – and then please (PLEASE!) let me know if you’ve found any of the same these days:

– a friend of mine is in a relationship with a male from another country who she met in Florida 6 months ago.  They frequently text each other or talk on the phone and both have a positive outlook on what the future might bring.  Unfortunately for my friend, her closest family member (a married sister) chides her daily and forewarns her (the sister’s words) that a long-distance relationship is unlikely to work out.  There is no science or proof behind the statement, but that never stops the sister from spouting.  Aside from not sharing anything with her sister, do you have any advice?

– my home is in a short sale position (not a positive experience – this will be the subject of a future blog and potentially an ABC news story to expose the shoddy treatment by Bank of America over the past 7 months!) — and someone I considered a friend belabored me on Sunday that I should expect a visit from a sheriff to evict me in a one-hour timeframe when my short sale goes through based on a national scare tactics news story.  My realtor and my lawyers tell me that such an assertion is untrue – which leaves me to wonder, why use “warmongering type tactics” to scare me during an already stressful situation?  What would you say?

– other friends are desperately seeking jobs (anything!) to make ends meet and are told that they are too old for waitressing or bartending jobs (in their 40’s) and cannot land decent work. As formerly self-employed people, they are not eligible for unemployment payments and are having a difficult time finding even menial labor positions.  Invariably, these friends are lectured by other friends and family members (who are employed) that they are simply not trying hard enough to find work.  It is amazing to me how others can cast judgment when their situation is secure.

I guess that “we” are simply one of the millions these days in America – land of opportunity – who are foraging to find a financially sound foundation on which to build our futures.  Some of us had our finances stolen or taken from us through divorce or other mishap, while others have had stretches of lean times (with more to come).  It is a travesty to meet wonderful, energy filled women who have been beaten down by the economy and by societal rejection (not finding a job@) or by so-called friends and partners – to the point that they are barely surviving.

Welcome to being one of the millions – whatever happened to being one in a million (not in this economy!)

Wishing you a good week!

Carol

p.s., Time to say thank you again to the wonderful people in my life who truly make a difference:  Dan (my brother), Gerald, Kim, Janet, Alicia, Narmila, Darja, Marion, Mary, Bill, Steve, Bruce (all colleagues and friends) and so many others (sorry if I missed singling you out!)  You all make life worthwhile – thank you for being you!  In this day of unkept promises, self-centeredness and pontification – you all are wonderful exceptions!  You are perfect examples of the friend I hope I am to you.

“Garage sale people”…

19 Aug

I think that garage sales are an American institution and last weekend, I rediscovered just how much I hate them!

Having a garage sale is a LOT of work (arranging, pricing, setting stuff out, putting advertisements in newspapers, placing neighborhood signs, and actually running it!) for little financial return (I realize this is the wrong way to look at it – see the end of this post for my insight!)

The whole Saturday experience gave me insights into human behavior that I’m not sure “enriched” my life! If you are a “garage sale person” I apologize in advance if what I say below offends you.  I am not garage sale people!

Here’s what happened – let me know what you think!

1. There is no such thing as a start or end time!  I set out all my stuff (a lot!) on my driveway the night before because I’d heard that people do not respect the posted times.  I advertised a 9am-1pm sale, and at 7:30am a guy rang my doorbell and greeted my sleepy head with a gruff “how come no one is out here yet?  I have some stuff I want to buy!”  I hurried downstairs… the disrespect continued as he haggled me down to prices “he wanted” to pay.

2. Unexpected behavior. People rummaged through everything (expected) and rearranged it all (also expected) then wanted to pay prices that were 1/2 of what they thought the price should be (also expected) based on the table pricing where they moved the items (unexpected).  In many cases, it was more worth it to have someone pay a dollar for a five dollar item than to argue!

3. Blatant disrespect runs rampant.  One guy picked up a chainsaw I was selling and expected me to start it.  I told him that I was not a chainsaw kind of gal, at which point he pulled the starter and filled my yard with piercing chainsaw sounds – frightening other buyers near him.  When he stopped it, he remarked that something was wrong with it and he’d only pay a fraction of the cost.  At that point, I just wanted him out of my face and out of my yard.

4. Nothing is surprising with people.  One woman begged me to sell my used bicycle to her and when I agreed (I thought that I might fix it to ride myself) – she told me she would only pay $10. of the $15. asking price.  I anticipated that new inner tubes would make it road worthy and she wheeled it out of my driveway.  The following day she called me to try to return it based on her “bike shop” assertion that the frame had been run over by a truck (it hadn’t been!) She felt that I had ripped her off.  After listening to her lament about the “principle of the transaction” – I finally told her that the negative energy she was generating was too much and if she really wanted her $10 back to bring the bike by.  So far she hasn’t.

5. People will happily pay $5.00 for a beer at a local pub but will argue about paying $2. for a $30. item at a garage sale.  One guy chose a 50 cent item and then whined that he only had 31 cents on him…I wondered how he paid for the gas to drive his car down the street.  Another woman scoffed when I would not accept a dollar for an item marked two dollars – it was a $40 brand new blanket from overseas!

I guess I will never understand the mentality of those who purport to make a “game” out of garage sales – to me it is disrespectful to sift through another’s property and then offer a pittance for their wares.  Yet there are many people for whom garage sales are a Saturday staple.

My daughter has it right when she says “Mom, consider that

a garage sale is a way of having other people pay to take away the stuff you don’t want and no longer need!

She’s right, and I will try to remember that in a couple of weeks when I have another garage sale (more people can come and pay me to take away even more stuff!)

Have a good weekend!

Carol

“To have a friend you have to be a friend” – hogwash!

11 Aug

Did you grow up with this “momily” like I did?  I didn’t realize how invasive this hogwash was until recently – in fact until others pointed out to me that people I allowed into my life were not “friends” at all.

I’ve spent time in past posts talking about how damaging toxic relationships can be to our psyche, but just last night a true friend reminded me that I was giving “friend” status to people who had chosen me – not that I had chosen for myself.  I didn’t screen them  before allowing them into my life, and that’s when the “momily” hit me!

Allow me to explain…

Growing up (long ago!) I was taught that friendship had to be earned and that “to have a friend, you have to be a friend (first)”.  At the time, I never questioned this – and not only have I allowed people into my life because THEY consider me a friend (without consideration of my own needs), they abused that privilege!  Friendship should be a two-way street… just because one party drives into the traffic (as if it is a one way!) does not change the two-way rule.  “Friends” who insist on one-way traffic… well, are they really friends?  (Think about what usually happens to drivers when this happens!)

Recognition and termination of relationships devoid of mutual respect is THE RIGHT THING TO DO!

Many of the acquaintances (today I realize they were not “friends”) I tolerated during my marriage could be classified, by clinical standards, as verbally abusive.  With my divorce came a new awareness about friendships and relationships: “friendship” should be mutually beneficially to both parties!  Today I know I deserve better and I hope you do too!

There is a reason that some people don’t make it into our future, it’s to make room for new people who WE mutually choose – not just those who choose us!

Have a great week, and thank you for reading!

Carol

Let’s stop being wasteful – in consumerism and in life!

9 Aug

I’ve had a great summer with more beach time than I can recall in recent years. It’s funny how peaceful and contemplative we can become when we sit still and listen to the repetitive lull of the waves lapping at the shore.

Times at the beach lead my mind to wander and wonder – about all sorts of mundane things… like what’s the point of so much consumption of “new” products when yesterday’s products still work?

Last week when I was in New York City, my daughter and I visited a few clothing consignment shops (formerly called second-hand stores) and I realized just how much greener our society could become if we all decided to reuse, recycle, and restore.  It was amazing how good were the clothes as the shops showcased next-to-new clothing, gently worn, at a fraction of the original price!  Some of the pieces still had the tags on them!  Why do we keep churning out miles and miles of new textiles when the ones already fashioned are still wearable?

As I was thinking, it occurred to me that another “wasteland” is in our heads… Have you noticed lately how people love to plant “waste” in your psyche with negativity the minute you mention something good has happened?  I have “friends” who chide me about wearing fashionable black nail polish that I love (“you’re not really wearing that color to work are you? That’s not professional!”) or who project jealousy through my clothing choices (“I don’t think your shirt really looks all that good with that skirt”) or who can’t wait to disparage a new interesting person in my life (“why would he like YOU?”).  When you stop to consider what  a waste of time and energy it is to: 1. listen to them at all; and 2. to allow their negative waste to invade your good day!

My new “recycling campaign” is to repeat and reinforce positive ideas in my head so that I can spread GOOD cheer and not “fertilizer” (aka waste).  I would be ashamed to say the things some people say to me!

Today, more than ever, we need to sustain and nurture our spirits with environmentally friendly thoughts and actions – why not plant seeds of positivism and recycle good words to others today?

Have a great week!

Carol

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