Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Love of Family

Yesterday I returned from visiting my family in Georgia for the Christmas holiday. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I had a wonderful time. It was actually one of the best times I've had with my family in a very long time. It was very low stress. There were no blow-ups or arguments with anyone. All in all it was very pleasant. There was lots of loving energy in my parents' home. That hasn't always been the case, but there's no need to dwell on it. The most important thing is that we all came together at a time when families are meant to be together and we shared the holiday.

On Tuesday I begin my yoga teacher training. I think my commitment to yoga has shifted my perception and my perspective in the best possible way. It's given me more of an ability to look at the big picture. Don't get me wrong. I've always been a "big picture" kind of person, but I don't think I truly understood how to recognize what was significant and what was insignificant with regard to my big picture. While I was at my parents' house I mentioned something about being poor, and my dad stopped me. He said, "As long as you have a job, a place to live, and food to eat you're not poor." In the past, my dad would've agreed with me and maybe even said that he was poor, too. But when I look at my big picture, I know that my dad is right. I have a good job, and I'm in the process of training for another one. That good job pays decent money, which allows me to provide a roof over my head and food in my stomach. The most important thing of all is that I have a family who loves me and are willing to help me in any way they can. Me, poor? Nah. Just because I'm not rich monetarily doesn't mean that I'm not rich in the way that truly counts.

This is an old picture, but I still like it :-).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ring's Not the Thing

As the holiday season is coming to a close, I know there are a lot of disappointed women out there who were expecting an engagement ring as a Christmas gift. When my ex and I were together any time Valentine's Day, my birthday, or Christmas rolled around there was a woman in my office who would always ask me if I got a ring. She was like "What did Bryan get you? Did you get a diamond?" First of all I don't like diamonds. Second of all getting a ring on one of those three days is such a cliche.

It's amazing that the female mentality has evolved greatly in every aspect except this one. Women have high-powered jobs, buy their own homes, and adopt or have babies on their own. When it comes to a committed relationship with a man, many females revert right back to that 1950s mentality of waiting (im)patiently for that ring. Songs like Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) reinforce that mentality. The diamond industry is constantly touting the fact that a man should spend three months' salary on an engagement right. Say what?

When a man does come up with the ring, it's gotta be the right ring. If it's too small, then she gets all upset. My ex told me that he was once willing to buy a ring for a girl, but it was going to be a small one. He asked her if she'd be willing to accept that ring until he was able to buy her a bigger one, but she said no. Since when is the ring more important that the relationship? Ladies, get your priorities straight. Don't lose the man you love just because your diamond isn't big enough. This isn't some effin' Hollywood movie. This is real life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Instant Gratification Generation

Last week my younger brother and I were talking about love and marriage. He's currently waiting for his divorce to be finalized, and has already started another relationship with someone else he feels he would like to marry. Personally I think that he should take the time to get himself centered and grounded before he decides to jump headlong into another committed relationship. During our conversation I told him that I'm not sure if marriage works for our generation. We are the first of the instant gratification generations. We live in very much of a throw-away society. If it's not working for us, we get rid of it and get another one. Although you should never treat people like that, we do. Of course I mean "we" in the metaphorical sense. I, personally, am someone who will stay until the bitter end as long as I have someone to hang in there with me.

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' 72 day marriage is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. They knew each other for all of two seconds and then decided to make the biggest commitment that two people can make to each other. "I barely know anything about you, yet I'll pledge to spend the rest of my life with you until death do us part. Or at least until we have our first major disagreement." My parents have been married for 44 years and I think there are very few couples from my generation that will be able to say the same years from now. I've said it before and I'll say it again, people don't take marriage vows seriously anymore. They're just the words that people have to say in order to get married. They've lost their meaning. Most people think I'm anti-marriage because I don't rhapsodize about getting married someday. I'm not anti-marriage. I'm anti-bullshit. There's a huge difference.

My younger brother is someone that jumps into a situation with both feet, and sees the situation as being colored with sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. When the clouds, rain, and unicorn shit show up he always tries to find an excuse to bolt. We live a life of duality, and must take the good with the bad because without the bad the good would be nowhere near as good. How boring would it be if things were good all the time? I'm not saying that there should always be tragic or dramatic circumstances in your life, but a little adversity shows us what we're truly made of.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lying Bastard Strikes Again!

Last week I was contemplating calling my scale something else besides lying bastard because of its two weeks of accuracy with regard to my weigh-in, but apparently it likes the name because it was off by a whole two pounds this week. Luckily that only meant that I was up 0.2. I can just imagine him laughing to himself as he gives me the false hope of a big loss. He will indeed be getting a name change, but not in his favor. From now on he will be known as my lying ass bastard scale. Next week I'll be leaving to visit my mom, who has the sweetest scale ever. That girl is always right on the money when it comes to my weight :-).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrifty Gifty Thursday

Since Christmas is a week from Sunday, this is my last Thrifty Gifty Thursday post for 2011. I think it would be helpful to do Thrifty Gifty Thursday posts for every holiday, so I'll start again at the end of January so you can have some gift ideas for Valentine's Day :-). Today I'd like to focus on websites with a charitable slant. The first one I'd like to talk about is the Great Good Network: It links you to different advocacy sites for different causes such as breast cancer, animal rescue, literacy, and hunger. A portion of the proceeds from the products that are sold on these sites benefit the causes that they advocate.

Another great organization is the Nothing but Nets program: For a donation of $10 you can provide a family in Africa and other malaria-stricken areas with a bed net to protect them from mosquitoes. My boy Gavin DeGraw is an ambassador and has travelled to Africa to personally deliver bed nets. For those who don't want a physical Christmas gift, a donation in their name is the perfect gift.

I hope I've given you some good ideas over the past few weeks. Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Satisfying Curiosity

Yesterday's blog post elicited a question or two about my French II teacher. Although she's from Germany she was in Georgia teaching French. She also taught English. Unlike us lazy Americans, many Europeans are not only fluent in their own language, but in English, as well as one or two others. I think they start learning foreign languages at a very young age. Studies have shown that it's easier to learn and become fluent in a foreign language as a child than it is as an adolescent or an adult. Madame Teaver spoke French with a perfect French accent. She could've taught us so much more than Madame Turner did if the other students had been willing to learn from her. I heard that in one of her other classes a student asked her if her grandfather was a Nazi. Rude little bastard!

As far as her teaching English, she once told me about a student of hers (a black student) that did really well in her class until she got pregnant. When Madame Teaver approached another teacher in the English department about it, the teacher told her that it's impossible for black students to do well in English because proper English isn't spoken in their homes. Well ain't that a load of bullshit?! Depending on my surroundings I may occasionally lapse into the vernacular, but English was one of my best subjects in school, and I still do well with it as an adult, hence my certificate in copyediting. That was just one more example of the racist thinking that pervaded the institution where I received my secondary education.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Junior Year, Time for Something New

My junior year in high school means that I'm almost at the finish line. The previous year I had started my required foreign language study by taking French. I did pretty well and was looking forward to advancing my knowledge. Unfortunately I was in a classroom of lazy asses! That year we had a new French teacher, Madame Teaver. The previous teacher, Madame Turner didn't come back that year. Madame Teaver was from Germany. What she was doing in Georgia is beyond me! Anyway, because she was A. a new teacher, and B. from Germany, the majority of the class decided to act like we didn't learn the basics in French I. Because of that fact, French II was just a rehash of French I. Of course it was an easy A for me, but I didn't want an easy A. I wanted to continue to add to my knowledge base, but that's just another example of the substandard education I had to deal with.

That was also the year that I decided what college I wanted to go to. Because of its music program, I wanted to go to DePaul University. I figured I'd major in Music Business so that someday I could have my own record label. My best friend in high school was an artist and she decided that she wanted to go to the Art Institute in Chicago. It would've been the perfect set-up. We could've been in Chicago together. Also, she has family that lives right by the Indiana/Illinois border, near Chicago. As luck would have it, I got to go with her to visit them during spring break of junior year. Her mom and her mom's boyfriend drove us from Georgia to Indiana and we all stayed with her grandparents. They were the nicest people. I really enjoyed my time there. We went to Chicago twice while I was there and that cemented my desire to want to attend college at DePaul. Ever since I was a small child I always knew that I would leave rural Georgia to see what another part of the US had to offer.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Make Up Your Mind!

Yesterday was my weigh-in and I knew that I'd be up because I was feeling bloated and I also overindulged over the past week. When I stepped on my lying bastard scale yesterday morning I was indeed up. After work when I went to WW, I was mentally prepared to find out my weight. Funnily enough, my lying bastard scale was right on the money with regard to my weight. That has actually happened for two weeks in a row. I was up, but I didn't let it bother me because WW introduced a new phase of its plan and I know that it'll help me get back on track. Also, I got on my scale this morning and I was more than 2lbs lighter than I was yesterday. Since my belly doesn't feel as bloated I know the scale is somewhere in the realm of correctness. Now if my scale is right for three weeks in a row, I'll have to come up with a new name for it. Lying bastard would no longer be appropriate ;-).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thrifty Gifty Thursday

Once again it's time for me to recommend another lovely affordable site for your holiday gift-giving needs. Many of my Twitter friends have their own products or crafts that they sell. Last week I told you about @haileysgarden's site and today I'd like to talk about a site associated with @BustertheBeagle. Buster is a therapy dog for a young lady named Abby, who has autism. Abby and her mother, Bonnie have an Etsy shop where they sell handmade crafts: Abby and Bonnie make them together. Many of them are simple, but very beautiful. There are notecards, paintings, and collages. Below is a picture of a Christmas card available in her shop.

Because insurance doesn't cover Abby's care, and she wasn't approved for Medicaid, her mom, who is physically disabled, set up this shop to help pay for Abby's care. By making a purchase here, you're not only supporting an artist, you're also contributing to that artist's well-being. Through my many conversations with her mother on Twitter, I've learned that Abby is a sweet girl, who is doing her best to play the hand that life has dealt her. Her mom is a very nice lady, and I'm glad we became friends on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Moving on to 10th Grade

In my previous autobiographical entry I told you about the whole frog dissection debacle in biology class, and how because of that my biology teacher tried to keep me out of the advanced chemistry class. Well, there were lots of people that considered that chemistry class a joke because so many people cheated. Apparently, they didn't cheat very well because I ended up receiving the chemistry award at the end of the school year. For me, chemistry was very easy. I have a good memory, so that if I see something a few times, I tend to remember it. The periodic chart was a breeze because of that. Also, if you demonstrate something for me once, I'm usually able to get the hang of it. Anyone that's ever taken a chemistry class knows that it's all about formulas. As long as you know how to plug the numbers in, you can't go wrong.

My chemistry teacher was not a native Georgian. She was actually from Pennsylvania. I think that's why she didn't buy into a lot of the bullshit that went on in my high school. One day I was discussing the dissection debacle with her. Her reponse was "No wonder, Mrs. Kent doesn't like you." And I was like "What do you mean?" She said, "You're the reason why we had to come up with the alternate assignment." I wasn't even aware until that moment that an alternative to dissection was being offered by the science department. It makes me feel good to know that in that regard I was a force for change.

That was also the year that I started studying a foreign language, if you could call it studying...Anyway, I decided to take French because of its connections to North Africa. I know that the North Africans learning French was a result of oppression more than anything else, but it's still a part of the African experience. To say that my French class was a joke is understating quite a bit. Hearing French spoken with a Southern accent is horrible! I can actually speak with a decent French accent because I have a good ear. Singing in choirs helped me to be able to mimic the sounds that I hear. I did very well in my first year French class, but there's no way I would've been able to converse with anyone. I was very much looking forward to the following year, so that I could broaden my knowledge of the French language. Little did I know that it would be somewhat of a retread of the first year's class.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Take That, Thanksgiving Holiday!

Last Thursday it was Thanksgiving here in the United States. Of course Thanksgiving is a lot like Christmas in that there's lots of food to be eaten on that day, which produces lots of leftovers. It's also usually a time spent with family. Because my family lives out-of-state, I spent Thanksgiving on my own with my cat, Topaz. The great thing about spending Thanksgiving alone when you're on the Weight Watchers plan is that you have complete and total control over the food that enters your orbit. You don't have to worry about someone pushing Grandma's sweet potato pie or Aunt Mary's green bean casserole on you. For the record, it amazes me how French's has single-handedly made green bean casserole an annual Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition.

Well that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that I made my own food that day, following my own timetable. Normally Thanksgiving dinner is served around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, but I ate dinner during my regular mealtime, which I think helped tremendously. As for leftovers, I only ate them for one meal for the next two days. One day I had them for lunch and then I had them for dinner. Then I skipped a day of leftovers and had the last of my turkey the following day. Today I will be having the last of my baked mac 'n' cheese, which I baked in individual ramekins to facilitate portion control. Thanks to that careful planning and execution, I was down a pound when I weighed in. The fact that I got in a good deal of exercise helped, too. I'm proud of myself for having a loss for the second week in a row. For a while now I've been alternating my weeks with a loss and a gain. Here's hoping I'm starting a new trend! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thrifty, Gifty Thursday

Since today is the first day of December and I know that many of us need to do our Chritmas shopping, I will dedicate Thursdays of this month to blogging about websites where you can get handcrafted gifts for a reasonable price. First up I'd like to talk about one of my all-time favorites. I've mentioned this site several times in my blog because I really love the products. Of course I'm talking about Hailey's Dragonfly Garden. You can check it out here: This site offers all natural bath and body care at an affordable price. I especially like the clear body washes. Because they're all natural, they smell heavenly and the scent lasts all day. There are also many different types of soaps, and even products for babies. In these tough economic times when all big businesses are doing is taking our money and giving us subpar products, wouldn't you rather support a small business that not only has heart, but great products, too?