Archive of ‘Sentiments’ category

To Ask or Not to Ask: When Your Friends are Trying to Get Pregnant


To Ask or Not to Ask: When Your Friends Are Trying to Get Pregnant; http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

I am an open book.

Someone: How are you?
Me: Ohmygod, Arden woke up four times in the middle of the night last night, Elle threw up in her car seat on the way to school, when I got to work, my heel got stuck between the elevator and the ground floor, causing my foot to fly out of my shoe in front of a bunch of people, I had a strawberry seed stuck between two teeth all day and I couldn’t find any floss, some lady in a white Volkswagen Jetta cussed me out at the gas station because she thought I stole her pump, and so I got stressed and binge ate a Baby Ruth. How’ve you been?

Someone is sorry they asked.

While the dialogue above is generally light hearted, I’m equally revealing about life’s catastrophes. Little is left to the imagination.

It took me 30 years to realize that not everybody thinks, acts, or processes life the same way I do. Some people don’t want to talk about obstacles.

As my friends and colleagues have started settling down, getting married, and thinking about starting a family- or about extending an existing family- something I’ve struggled with is whether to inquire about their efforts to have a baby.

I know an unsettling number of women who have dealt with infertility. Some of these women have had miscarriages, from very early in their pregnancies before the child had a heartbeat, to very late in their pregnancies when the baby had a name, a nursery, and the parents anticipated a future that would never happen.

It’s heartbreaking.

From a social [and perhaps moral] standpoint, it’s necessary to be interested in- and show an interest about- important things that are happening in other peoples’ lives.

Mama always said that it’s better to be interested than it is to be interesting. 

Notwithstanding, if I suspect, or specifically know, that someone is trying to have a baby, I’m often at a crossroads about whether to ask how it’s going. On one hand, I don’t want to not ask and seem like I’m uninterested in something huge that’s happening [or not happening] in that person’s life. On the other hand, I don’t want to ask and pour salt in the proverbial wound if the person’s childbearing efforts aren’t progressing the way they hoped. Overall, I don’t want to project an inaccurate feeling that I don’t care.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, infertility is common and defined as unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for 12 months or longer. Approximately 10% of women between the ages of 14 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Before writing this post, I undertook a completely non-scientific survey of a bunch of girlfriends, all of whom come from different geographic, age, and educational ranges, to get their views on whether they want their friends to inquire about their attempts to have a baby. Here’s what I learned:

Don’t assume that a woman who already has children is immune from infertility. Anna* [not her real name] has two children with her husband, and has been trying for a third for a year and a half. “What I hate is when acquaintances nonchalantly ask if we are having more children or make comments like ‘so and so has three kids… she must be CRAZY!'” Anna believes people assume she’s finished having children because she already has two, or that if she wanted to have more, getting pregnant wouldn’t be an issue.

Most people aren’t eager to talk about their pregnancy efforts.  After suffering a miscarriage, followed by months of not being able to conceive, Casey finally had her first child a year ago. “We got pregnant so easily the first time that ‘struggling to get pregnant,’ wasn’t a consideration. After I had the miscarriage, I thought I would get pregnant quickly like I did the first time. When it didn’t happen, it was stressful and disappointing. I’ve always been a perfectionist and a workaholic, and discovered quickly that this wasn’t a ‘problem’ I could control or micromanage. That was the hardest pill to swallow. Given how much pressure I was putting on myself and on my marriage, it wasn’t something I was readily willing to talk about with other people. However, when a close friend did ask about it, I did see those chats as more of an escape than dwelling on something I couldn’t fix.”

Know your audience. Elizabeth is currently pregnant with her first child, who was conceived with fertility treatment. She has many friends and colleagues who also experienced infertility and underwent treatment, some unsuccessfully. “Just like our chronically single friends don’t always want to hear about how in love we are, or all the details of the amazing wedding we are planning, our friends who are experiencing infertility may not want to hear about our pregnancy or baby all the time. Hearing about a friend’s baby can be a painful reminder of a life they want but can’t achieve. Now that I’m finally pregnant, I let my friends who are experiencing infertility bring up my pregnancy to me, but I don’t bring it up to them.”

If you’re close friends, then it’s always ok to ask.  With regard to specifically asking about childbearing efforts, 100% of the women I spoke with agreed: if you are close enough to the person to know they are trying to have a baby, then you are also close enough to either ask them how they are doing or let them know you are thinking about them. On the same token, all of these women agreed they wouldn’t be offended if a close friend didn’t ask. “I know it’s an awkward subject that most people don’t want to broach, mainly out of fear of a potentially bad reaction from the person they’re asking,” said Amanda, who has been trying to get pregnant for two years.

They also provided valuable information on things people should definitely not say to a person going through infertility:

Be patient and it will happen. “I knew I would eventually get pregnant, but living in the moment, you feel like it won’t,” said Kate (who now has a two year old daughter). “I hated when people told me to be patient.”

Just have a lot of sex. “This is probably the most infuriating thing to hear,” said Lauren, who has been trying to get pregnant for almost a year, who added, “it’s not that easy.”

You’re probably not getting pregnant because you took birth control for so long. “Well thank you for that outstanding observation… please let me jump in my time machine and rewind the clock,” added Lauren.

How old are you? Oh yeah, you’re getting up there! “Thank you Captain Obvious,” said Lauren.

I had such an easy time getting pregnant, I didn’t even have to try. “People who make comments like these look like socially inept jerks,” said Ashley, who has been trying to get pregnant for four years and three failed attempts at IVF.

I wish I could experience “trying” to get pregnant. See the comment to the statement above.

Would you consider adopting? “People who are trying to get pregnant want to have a biological child. If and when adoption becomes their path, they will let you know,” said Elizabeth.

If you’re at a loss for the right approach, sometimes the easiest way to show someone you care is by sending a text or an email that says, “Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking about you and am here if you want to talk or need anything.” This lets the person know you care without the potential difficulty of a face to face reaction.

Special thanks to all the women who candidly shared their stories with me.

Cheers!

    6 Things I Don’t Understand: It’s Not Just You


    FUNNY- People are Jerks! http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/05/6-things-i-dont-understand-its-not-just-you/

    Life can be confusing. The following are, in my opinion, the top 6 doozies.

    Acrylic Toenails. Apparently this is a thing. I didn’t know about it until I was at a “salon” around a year ago and witnessed one of the employees hacking away at an old acrylic nail so he could glue a new one to some lady’s big toe.

    It was like Tampa Chainsaw Massacre. Toenail style.

    I was really confused.

    Failed, Awkward Sarcasm. Sarcasm is an art. If not executed properly, it’s completely awkward and, at a minimum, rude. Example:

    Me: Excuse me, sir, will you please tell me where I can find a restroom?
    Sir: No.
    Me: Standing there, confused, not sure what to say, unaware of whether this dude is trying to be funny or if he’s just a jerk. 
    Sir: Laughing. It’s across the hall.

    I hate when this happens. Then I have to let out some insincere, fake laugh and I just want to ask the person why he can’t answer the flipping question like a normal human being in the first place.

    I was confused.

    Social Media Love Sonnets. “To [my husband]: I love you so much and am thrilled to have spent the last [x] years with you. I can’t wait to have our baby tomorrow, you’re the best person, I love sharing this journey with you, and I thank God for you daily.” 

    Huh?

    Isn’t this lady’s husband sitting next to her, watching reruns of The Family Guy, while they ignore each other because they are both on their phones? Doesn’t she live with him? Why can’t she text, email, call, or better yet, tell her husband these things? Face to face. Why’s it gotta be all over the internet?

    I’m so confused. While we’re on the topic of social media…

    Twitter. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t figure out how to make my “tweets” include a picture or how to tweet something in the first place and then make a lot of people discover my tweet so they can “re-tweet” it. [How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck…]

    This must be how my grandma feels when she tries to use an iPhone. Or send a text message.

    I’m so confused.

    Extreme Couponers. You know, those people who spend fifty hours locating and cutting coupons, only to end up with seven hundred rolls of toilet paper and nineteen jars of peanut butter after saving $15. Do the math. That was slave labor.

    The only way they will benefit from this is if North Korea drops a bomb and all the peanut butter comes in handy.

    You want to murder these people if you get stuck behind them in the grocery line.

    I’m so confused.

    People Who Spend Tons of Money on Weight Loss Pills/Shakes/Magic Ingredients and are Still Overweight. Get ready for it ‘cuz I’m about to save you some money. Pills, shakes, and magic ingredients won’t make you skinny. They will just make you angry and give you a feeling like you’re “riding in a Chevy and you feel something heavy.”

    They only way you will lose weight and keep it off is by eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep. Shortcuts won’t work. Weight loss products and pyramid schemes are a gimmick unless they help you lose weight the old fashioned way [e.g.- by doing the three things I referenced above].

    Please don’t try to sell me a product by showing me a “before” picture that was taken with you pushing your gut out, and then another “after” picture that is essentially identical to your “before” picture, except you got spray tanned, sucked in your gut, and stood up straight.

    I’m so confused.

    Cheers!

      Liebster Award: Oh Goody, I Get to Talk About Myself!


      I started this little ole’ blog in January of 2015 and can’t believe how much my writing has improved since then. I laugh when I read some of the first few posts because of how formal and crap-ola they sound. I’ve grown as a blogger, mainly because I stopped caring what people would think and, instead, started caring solely about what I think. Working full time and being married with young kids has its own challenges, and I wish I had more time for blogging. One of my blogging buddies, Michelle of Grammie Time, recently nominated me for a Liebster Award and I was stoked! Thank you Michelle! And then I thought “Huh? What is a Liebster award?” You can find out more about it here.

      liebster

       

      First, 11 random facts about me: I went to law school (and hated it); studied abroad in the Netherlands at the same university where Einstein used to teach; recently went to Italy with my Dad (oh just wait… there will be a post about it!); have run three marathons; can do a goat impression; am an amateur photographer (read: wannabe professional); have a Barbie collection of nearly 100 dolls that I started collecting when I was 7 or 8 years old, all of them are still in their original boxes; speak-a a little-a bitt-a of Espanola; enjoy taking over juke boxes anywhere there is a juke box (I will injure anyone who puts their quarter in ahead of mine); grew up wanting to be a plastic surgeon until I realized that I suck at math; and sneakily hand my infant off to my husband every time I catch wind of a dirty diaper (because the last person who touches the child, cleans the child!)

      Michelle’s questions for me to answer: 

      How long have you been blogging and what made you start? I launched my blog five months ago and started because I didn’t have any meaningful hobbies and wanted a creative outlet to fulfill my passion for writing, connecting with others, and laughing.

      What is the best and worst thing about blogging? Best: Making new contacts and meeting awesome people from all over the world. Worst: Finding time to do it, battling writer’s block, and trying to create posts on topics that haven’t already been written about ad nauseam. 

      How long have you been married and where did you go on your honeymoon? Six years next month. We went to Kauai, the smallest, northernmost Hawaiian island. There was wine. Lots of wine.

      What was your career before you became a parent? A full time litigator. And now, aside from being a baby booty wiper, snot wiper-upper, and drowner-preventer, I’m still a full time litigator. Shoot me.

      If you could only wear one makeup item, what would it be? Fuchsia lipstick.

      Would you go out to dinner or a movie on your date night? Dinner. And I’d order a steak and drink lots of wine (see Answer to Number 3).

      Advice you would give to your younger self? Do what you authentically want to be doing, hang out only with people who will make you better, don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t take any crap along the way.

      What is one household chore you dislike doing? ALL of them. The absolute worst: folding laundry and putting it away. Second worst: unloading the dishwasher. Third worst: cleaning up the floor after my geriatric labrador has an accident.

      Your best Disney movie? The Little Mermaid. When I was a kid, I wanted to marry prince Eric and live in his family’s castle with Sebastian and Flounder.

      Coffee, tea, or cola drinker? Coffee. It’s liquid personality for me.

      Describe “YOU” in one word. Spitfire.

      This was fun! I list the following nominees for the Liebster award:

      Julie Borm of Everyday Happiness

      Casey McMillan of Fly Away with Me

      Julie Bedford of The Bedford Wife

      Julie Tingley of A New Happy Hour

      My questions for my nominees are (in addition to providing 11 random facts about yourselves):

      1. If you could take three people (dead or alive, famous or normal) on a trip around the world for a month, who would you choose?
      2. Would you rather have a leg growing out of your forehead or still be connected to your mother via umbilical cord?
      3. What are the things you love and dislike most about yourself?
      4. What is your biggest pet peeve in others?
      5. What do you think is the difference between serving others with an attitude of selflessness and love verses having people take advantage of you? (oh man, that’s a deep one!).
      6. Who is your favorite Disney villain?
      7. What song epitomizes your childhood?
      8. If your first name wasn’t already ______, what would you choose for it to be?
      9. What is the best and worst part about blogging?
      10. Have you received any negative blogging feedback and how have you dealt with it?
      11. What was your first car?

      Cheers to all the Liebsters out there!

        Stuff My Three Year Old Says: From the Mouths of Babes


        http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

        The Honey Badger herself, when she was almost 2.

        Arden turned three in March of 2015, but has run the roost since she was just a couple months old. We knew that she’d be a spitfire but, given the choice, I still would have preferred a spitfire over a wallflower.

        I’ll likely be eating those words when she’s a teenager.

        As parents, part of our jobs is embarrassing our kids, usually not on purpose, when they get older. This entails showing up at school drop-off in our pajamas, answering the phone when their friends call, and generally just breathing and being alive.

        On the other hand, when our kids are young, we pray they won’t say anything in public that is mortifying or likely to get us shot. Like loudly commenting about the overweight lady eating a hot dog in her bikini at the beach. Or the stinky European guy at Disney with the long armpit hair. The list goes on.

        So far, in her first three years, Arden’s managed so say some hilarious things. Luckily, none have gotten us shot. Here are some of the gems:

        Arden: Mommy, what’s that mole doing on your chin?

        Me: It’s not a mole. It’s a beauty mark.

        Arden: No. Pretty sure it’s a mole.
        _____

        Arden: Mommy, can I wear this princess dress to school?

        Me: No. It’s a 5t and you wear a 3t. You can wear it when you get bigger.

        Arden: Okay. And when I get bigger, I can drink beer and wine and coffee.
        _____

        Arden: Mommy, put Elle’s hand on the stove.

        Eat Clean $30.00 Off
        _____

        Background: Arden and her girlfriend, Emerson, are each enjoying their own brownie sundaes.

        Husband: Arden, can I have some of your brownie?

        Arden: Hey Emerson, wanna give my Daddy a bite of your brownie?
        _____

        Arden [pointing at food that dropped on the floor]: Don’t eat that- it’s a casualty.
        _____

        Me, trying to diffuse a temper tantrum: Arden, stop the drama.

        Arden [dramatically]: This isn’t drama. It’s real life.
        _____

        My sister: Arden, what noise does a pig make?

        Arden: Oink, oink.

        My sister: What noise does a cow make?

        Arden: Moo.

        My sister: What noise does Kuma [our geriatric labrador, who practically has one paw on the plank of the rainbow bridge] make?

        Arden: pants heavily with tongue out.
        _____

        Background: Arden is in the car seat returning home from a trip to the grocery store with my mom.

        Arden: Grammy, I have to go potty.

        Grammy: You need to hold it for a little while.

        Arden [confused]: Do I hold it in my hands?

        Man, I can’t get enough of this kid.

        What are some of your favorite things your kids have said?

        Cheers!

          The No-Show Birthday Party: How Our Seemingly Harmless Actions Can Hurt Others


          I was recently killing time on Facebook when I came across a girlfriend’s status update that stopped me in my tracks:

          photo-2

          One of the comments in the thread revealed that fourteen of the little boy’s classmates RSVP’d that they would attend the birthday party, but only one of them actually showed up. I blame this on the parents. It’s doubtful that the parents of the thirteen kids who failed to attend had legitimate emergencies that would warrant not showing up for an event that they already committed to. And what about texting or emailing the birthday boy’s parents ahead of time to let them know they had to cancel?

          Until I had children, I never fully understood the amount of time and money involved in throwing a party. I imagined the situation where the little boy was probably counting down the minutes until his friends came to his birthday party, only to have one person show up. (And thank God for that one person!) Sure, it was gorgeous in Florida last weekend and there were likely other things these parents would have rather been doing than sitting at some kid’s birthday party, but couldn’t they have just sucked it up for two hours and honored their commitment? My heart goes out to the birthday boy and his parents, which my girlfriend described as “devastated.” I hope I never have to see my children experience that type of heartbreak and disappointment, even though it’s probably inevitable. Anybody who thinks that the birthday boy should “get over it” because disappointment is a part of life needs to consider how they would feel if the birthday boy was their child and they were the ones who had to see the pain in his eyes.

          What made reading this status update more difficult is that I’ve been guilty of RSVPing to events and subsequently being unable to attend. This happens rarely and usually only involves weekday girls’ nights where the event seemed like a great idea when I initially received the invitation and RSVP’d. Then, by the time it rolled around a couple weeks later, I was exhausted from working and traveling all day, had a screaming (and sometimes sick) child to feed, bathe, and put to bed, and the last thing I felt like doing was getting dolled up and driving to a place where I had to be social. And when I sent that horrible text to the host(ess) “Hey, I’m so sorry but I had a crazy day today and am not going to be able to make it tonight,” I am usually thinking, “It won’t matter if I don’t go because I saw on the E-Vite that twenty other girls will be there.” Well… what would happen if the rest of those twenty girls did the same thing? Or even ten of them? In reality, during these scenarios I’m thinking about myself and not the person it might be negatively impacting: the host!

          Let’s put the RSVP issue aside and move onto attending events that aren’t necessarily appealing (or convenient) to us, but are important to the person of honor. Like the bachelorette party in New York City for the girl who attended all of your events when you were the bride-to-be? Or the baby shower for the girl who hosted your baby shower when it was your turn to be celebrated? Or the awards luncheon (all the away across town when you only have an hour lunch break) for the friend who worked her tail off toward the accomplishment that she’s now being honored? It’s impossible to attend everything we are invited to, and sometimes there are genuine conflicts but, overall, who are we considering when we accept or decline? Ourselves, or the person being celebrated? Shouldn’t we want to make other people feel special, the same way other people have made us feel special?

          We live in a world that teaches us to think solely about ourselves: “What do I want to do today?” “What feels like the best decision for me?” “I have to put myself first.” Me, me, me. To a large degree, it’s important to consider our own best interests when making decisions, but where do we draw the line? I don’t know the answer to this question. We can be so absorbed with ourselves that we don’t think about how our seemingly harmless choices can hurt somebody else. What would happen if the world taught us to base our decisions on love and service for others? What would happen if we universally had that attitude?

          Perhaps the only good thing to come out of this horrible birthday party story is that anybody who hears about it might second guess the next time they consider blowing off a commitment. I know I will.

          (Linking up with Annie and Natalie on Thoughts for Thursday). Photo credit by Can Stock Photo/ Vishnena.

            The Second Child: How Pregnancy and Parenting Differ Among Children


            Elle1

            When I was pregnant with my first child, I routinely stayed hydrated with water, anxiously awaited doctor’s appointments so I could stay apprised of the baby’s development, was terrified of taking anti-nausea medication because of the child born with lobster claws in the Daubert case (lawyers, you know what I’m talking about), and diligently avoided tuna and shellfish.

            With my second child, I was downing five cups of coffee per day, “forgetting” about doctor’s appointments, popping Zofran with reckless abandon and, in desperate times of starvation, eating Cuban sandwiches straight off convenience store shelves. (Putting the sandwich in the microwave will kill the Listeria, won’t it?).

            With my second child, the five-second rule became the five-minute rule. I breastfed my first child for three days. My poor second child didn’t receive even a drop of colostrum. Hey, it wasn’t for me.

            My first child had a closet full of haute couture that would impress even Joan Rivers. My second child received a closet full of our first child’s stained hand-me-downs.

            With my first child, I was terrified to leave the house and risk exposure to germs. I took my second child to a zoo with my then-toddler in the dead of summer when she was ten days old. (Maybe if I expose her to lots of monkeys, she’ll be immune from the Ebola virus when she joins the Peace Corps in 2032).

            $30 off Sun Basket

            When I was pregnant with my first child, I was consumed with the “newness” of the entire experience. I found myself saying things like, “Oh my God, I just felt her kick!” and “Jason, get the camera, it’s time to take the 9-week belly picture for her album!”

            When I was pregnant with my second child, the conversation became, “I can’t freaking sleep because she’s kicking my ribs!” and “If I rub my skirt really hard with a Shout Wipe, do you think anybody will notice the vomit residue? I’m too huge to bend over and change.” When I was pregnant with my first child, my baby bump became a photographed shrine. With my second child, it became my first child’s pillow and, occasionally, chair.

            When I was pregnant with my first child, I loved when strangers stopped me on the streets and asked when I was due and whether I was having a boy or girl. When I was pregnant with my second child, I became homicidal when somebody asked me about being pregnant. Or gave me dirty looks when I was downing that fifth cup of coffee.

            On the same token, when I was pregnant with my first child, I was a panicked, uncertain mess. With the second child, I had an idea of what to expect and didn’t have time to stress about the pregnancy because I was so busy chasing a toddler while juggling a career and marriage and attempting to reach Domestic Goddess status. (Never made it to the latter).

            With my second child, I knew that most of what I thought mattered during my first pregnancy didn’t really matter at all.

            What does matter is that she is loved, nurtured, and raised to feel a sense of validation and belonging in our family and the world. What does matter is that she, like our first daughter, is raised to treat people kindly and to understand her purpose and work hard at fulfilling it.

            What won’t matter, dangit, is whether I ate and enjoyed a giant slice of brie during my pregnancy.

            How did your first and second pregnancies and child rearing differ and do you think it made a difference?

            Cheers!

              The Nine Most Annoying People: I Just Need to Vent


              Annoying I’m not perfect. I think I’m funny when I’m probably not. I tell stupid jokes and inappropriate anecdotes. I generally suck at being places on time. However, there’s a breed of people who I find difficult to tolerate. Ladies and gentlemen, the list of the nine most annoying people: The Know-it-Alls. We’ve been encountered by know-it-alls all our lives, but these people become more prevalent during the childbearing years. You MUST purchase this car seat… it’s the best. You aren’t breastfeeding or vaccinating? The horror! Oh my God… little Mumsy must see this specific pediatrician, but only after she consumes her organic peas that were grown from the richest Peruvian soil in my backyard while Daddy plays his harp that was manufactured by handicapped monks in a [third world country] as Spot sits whimpering nearby in the comfort of his fair trade, cashmere blanket. I want to shoot this person. Unless specifically asked, I don’t want your opinions. Namedroppers. I worked with a dude who was the World’s.Worst.Namedropper. He would routinely show up at work on Monday and spout off a list of local people who he hung out with over the weekend. Nobody knew any of these people he was talking about and they were irrelevant for purposes of the conversation. Unless it’s the President or somebody legitimately significant, nobody cares who you and your spouse ate dinner with last night. We get it. You’re a cool dude(ette). Your weekend was probably cooler than mine. Now cut it out. Big Leaguers. You know these people. They are the ones you have met literally ten times and they act like they have no clue who you are as you are biting your lip and introducing yourself for the eleventh. These people are one of two things: 1) mentally deficient, or 2) trying to make themselves feel important by acting like you are unimportant. Move on. Elevator Gunners. People need to become versed in elevator etiquette. I work in a large office building with 41 floors and have been “elevator roadkill” to someone who couldn’t wait for me to get off the elevator before they attempted to get on. It goes like this: push the button, when the elevator arrives, wait until the people inside the elevator get off the elevator before getting on the elevator yourself. Got it? Thanks.

              Street Snails. These are pedestrians who take their sweet time crossing the street, even though they know you are waiting for them to completely cross before you can move your vehicle. I get it- they have the right of way. But, every time I know someone is waiting for me, I put a little “pep in my step” out of courtesy. Can’t everyone else do the same? Scary Sneezers. I can’t stand people who do not control the loudness of their bodily functions. There’s a vendor in my building at work who is the loudest freaking sneezer I’ve heard in my life. So loud, that when I was pregnant, my daughter would jump IN UTERO every time she sneezed. It’s rude, unnecessary, and obnoxious. If you wouldn’t sneeze that loudly in church or at an important meeting, then give everyone else the courtesy. El Cheapos. If someone buys a round of drinks and you are a recipient, then eventually it will be your turn to buy a round. I don’t know how I can make this more clear. We aren’t in college anymore. If you can’t afford to go out and you have to mooch, then stay home. If you borrow money from someone or if someone “covers” you for something, then reimburse them before they have to feel awkward by asking you for the money. (See also: if you owe someone money, then don’t let them see you running around town wearing fancy new clothes and dining at expensive places). You are putting a bulls eye on your back for people to secretly hate you. I-Don’t-Know-My-Audiencers. These are the people who brag to public servants about their country club memberships, luxury vehicles, champagne wishes and caviar dreams. They are the people who discuss their valuable stocks, 401k plans, and prenuptial agreements to people who are struggling to make ends meet. Aside from the fact that it’s rude and tacky, it makes you look like a schmuck. My-Social-Media-Life-is-Perfecters. These people have been written about ad nauseam, but I couldn’t resist. Use your imaginations. There you have it, the nine types of people who drive me bananas. Did I leave anybody out? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.    

                What to do When You have the Boss from Hell: Quit!


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                When you have the boss from hell, don’t stick around hoping things will get better with some perseverance. Don’t stick around hoping, by some miracle, the boss from hell will leave you alone and turn his negative attention on somebody else. Instead, find another job. You don’t deserve to put up with that garbage.

                I’ve experienced the boss from hell. Let’s call him Lucifer. He tried to make my life [read: everyone’s life] a nightmare and he temporarily succeeded. I once worked at the dysfunctional law firm of Satan & Hitler, LLP, where Lucifer was a young partner notorious for preying on newbie associates (like me!), berating them, making them feel insecure about their legal abilities, and running them off. Lucifer must not have gotten a lot of hugs from his mom when he was growing up because he was a hateful, ugly person, who had no life or friends outside of the office. Heck, he had no friends inside the office, as his colleagues- whom he considered to be friends- frequently gossiped behind his back. There was an instance where Lucifer called me into his office to explain a Memorandum of Law that I prepared, which he believed was pure crapola. To demonstrate how I was a “baby attorney” who was metamorphosing into an “adult attorney,” Lucifer literally got down on his hands and knees and crawled around the room like an infant. It was the Twilight Zone. In the three years I was an associate at Satan & Hitler, LLP, I would walk around the office looking for hidden cameras, thinking I was on some crazy reality show because SURELY a professional work environment could not truly be this nutty. It was.

                I stayed at Satan & Hitler, LLP, too long because of paralyzation of the lie that I wasn’t good enough or smart enough to go anywhere else and be successful. At the time, the economy was in shambles, major “silk-stocking” firms were having historical layoffs, and I was worried that I would have to take a pay cut (and still be unhappy) somewhere else. I was a battered work wife.

                According to a 2013 article posted in the LinkedIn Influencer program, two-thirds of employees aren’t fully engaged in their careers. The number one reason for the disengagement? Their boss sucks. In other words, if you have a bad boss, you are in good company. However, you can do something about it by taking control of your life and peacing out.

                It was probably the tenth time that I came home after work crying because of something horrible that Lucifer did when my husband grabbed me, looked me in the face, and said “What are you doing? Find another job. Your misery isn’t worth it.” He was right. I finally left Satan & Hitler, LLP. Not because I had the chutzpah to leave on my own volition, but because a major client had left the firm, leaving me and several other associates with no work and no job. Fortunately, I secured another position in a couple days, where I have been for the last four years. It’s a great work environment. Maybe this is God paying me back for the three years of hell that I endured at the other firm, but it’s refreshing to be at a place where I am valued, appreciated, and respected, and the only workplace politics involve getting your work done.

                When I reflect on the abuse I put up with from Lucifer, it makes me feel sickened that I’d allow someone to treat me that way. Maybe I have a different perspective because I’m older, more experienced, have kids, and a different outlook about life and myself, but I’d never let someone treat me that way again. Ever.

                The bottom line? When you have a horrible boss, it will never get better. Leave. Run out the door as fast as you can. You will find another job. You are good enough, you are smart enough, and, dangit, you deserve better.

                Cheers to that!

                  Mothers: Go to the Dark Side with your Daughters


                  Back Alone

                  Teenage girls can be cruel, but pre-school age girls can be pretty darn cruel as well. I recently took my two year old, Arden, for a play date at a park with three other moms who all have four year old daughters. The four year old girls were friends since birth, regularly spent time together, and their moms considered them to be best friends. When I arrived at the park, I was appalled by what I saw. The girls were acting plain evil, saying things to each other like “I hate you,” “you’re ugly,” and I even witnessed one girl spit on another. Yes, spit. It’s critical to mention that these girls’ mothers are kind, religious, educated women- not the type that I ordinarily would have stereotyped as raising children who behave this way. The mothers were frustrated and intolerant of this behavior, routinely separating their daughters and threatening to leave the park if it continued.

                  This was my first dose of pre-school “Mean Girls” and it was daunting. I realize girls can be mean to each other, but never would have imagined it starting as early as four (and from what I’ve heard, even earlier). When I was in fourth grade, a fifth grade girl named Dana bullied me. My maiden name is Daku (pronounced Day-koo) and when I would walk into the school cafeteria for lunch, Dana would loudly and repeatedly chant in front of all the other kids, “Eeeew, It’s Daku.” It was mortifying. That was 25 years ago, and I still remember the feeling that overcame me when the clock struck “lunchtime” and I knew I’d be ridiculed on my way to the table. We’ve all had a Dana in our life, and at some point, we’ve probably been a Dana. The point is that you don’t easily forget the crappy way our Danas made us feel.

                  Back to the playground. Arden was unaffected by the Mean Girls, and was playing in a sand box with another child who was closer to her age. I watched her as she played and became consumed with her innocence because, at two, she doesn’t know the pain of being hurt or rejected. She only knows that she prefers to sleep with Mommy and Daddy, get goldfish crackers in her lunch, and wear her Minnie Mouse nightgown to bed.

                  Weeks after this play date, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Mean Girls and the reality that my daughters will eventually face the heartbreak of rejection.  I wanted to know the best way to address the pain that they- and I- would feel when they were excluded from the lunch table, didn’t make cuts for a sports team, or weren’t invited to a birthday party. What would I say? What would I do? How would I be able to protect them? I combed over this issue for a solution ad nauseam with girlfriends who have young daughters and nobody could offer an easy answer other than “they’ll grow out of it.”

                  I think somebody else figured out the solution.  A couple years ago, I stumbled upon Brene Brown, Ph.D. while watching a TED Talk about the power of vulnerability. Brene is a research professor at the University of Houston who studies vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. In her recent book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she completely nailed the “what to do when my daughter is rejected” issue. Nailed. It. The solution is to sit with your daughter in the dark.

                  In the book, Brene’s adolescent daughter came home from school feeling hurt after repeatedly being one of the last kids picked for soccer teams at recess. Her daughter advised, “two popular kids are the captains and they pick teams… after all the cool kids are named, the popular kids decide to split the others. I’m always one of the others. I never get to be named.” As her daughter sat in her unlit bedroom crying, Brene resisted the urge to turn on the lights to alleviate her own discomfort and, instead, sat with her in the literal and emotional dark. She put her hand around her daughter’s shoulder and said, “I know what it’s like to be the other.” Brene and her daughter went on to connect about some of Brene’s own experiences in life when otherness was both powerful and painful. Fast forward several pages, Brene’s daughter used Brene’s example of empathy to connect with Brene when she was featured as one of “The Others” on a publicity poster for a speaking engagement. This opportunity for connection would have been lost if Brene wouldn’t have first sat with her daughter in the dark.

                  In our own lives, events like these are critical because they become “teaching moments” for our children to learn about the power of compassion and connection. Brene easily could have done what I likely would have done in a similar situation, which is to dismiss her daughter’s feelings by saying something to the tune of “if so-and-so isn’t picking you for the soccer team, then play tennis with so-and-so instead.” Or maybe I would have said, “it doesn’t matter what they think…” Or perhaps I would have instinctively regurgitated the biggest load of garbage that our parents told us about sticks and stones breaking our bones.

                  It will be easy if my daughters end up being resilient and unfazed by rejection, but if they are not, I don’t want to make them feel wrong or invalidated for caring. I don’t want to make them feel silly for not immediately “getting over it.” I want to help them understand that rejection is something that everybody faces. I hope there never is a “dark” for my daughters, but if and when there is, I dang sure am going to sit with them in it.

                  What are effective ways you’ve dealt with your children facing rejection?

                    Stop Prefacing your Statements and Start Owning Them


                     

                    I cringe when I see it on my social media newsfeed. Awesome, educated, intelligent people who feel the need to preface their status updates about a controversial or potentially unpopular subject with “I don’t usually post about <religion/ politics/ race relations/ gender equality/ my expensive new car/ superstitious chain mail> but…” This little phrase appears most frequently during election seasons, but I’ve seen it in a variety of other situations.

                    I think people use this preface for different reasons. It’s because they think it serves as an advance apology for writing something that others might find offensive. It’s because they think their readers will give more credence to their opinion about the subject because of their usual silence. It’s because they want to lighten the blow of the statements that follow. Or, it’s because they’re unnecessarily verbose.

                    Stop it already. Just stop.

                    If you want to make a statement about something (without being plain unkind), then own that statement! You are entitled to present your complete opinions without an advance caveat. Without the preface. There is nothing more powerful than hearing (or reading) someone speak from the heart.

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