Thursday, February 16, 2017

Did She Really Say That?

Public speaking just isn’t my thing.

Now, I know what you’re going to say – there’s a support group for that. Or – practice makes perfect, you just have to do it more in order to get better! Or – me either, I’m introverted, dadgummit! I hear your eyes rolling.

Sidebar: introversion as a special problem is over. The entire internet is for introverts. It’s not so special. Let’s find something else to discuss.

Anyway, about public speaking: I’m no stranger to it. I’ve had to present information to groups, make speeches, give instructions to a crowd, pray, teach classes, and even act in a play before, and every time it’s just a disaster. I panicked and stuttered during my own wedding vows. Sometimes I’ll even go blank in conversations when I notice that someone is really listening to what I am saying.

When speaking publicly, I sometimes feel nauseated, experience heart palpitations, sweat profusely, and have ringing in my ears, among other pleasant symptoms. Later, I’ll replay the scenario over and over and cry into my pillow because of my cringeworthy uselessness.

For many years I’d balk at speaking in public when asked, and turn people down easily and graciously. It’s just a train wreck, I’d explain ever so nicely. You don’t want me up there. My incompetence will distract from the real message. I’m not your girl.

But then after a while, I noticed that people don’t care how stupid I am in public. I am my own worst enemy; most people don’t notice that I’m ridiculous, and if they do, they're either too embarrassed for me to mention it or else I’m making them feel better about their own inflated yet unquestionably mediocre ability to kill it onstage.

And I also realized that if I speak from the heart, and don’t worry so much about how I’m perceived – even if half the room thinks I’m terrible – who cares? Most people are too polite or don't care enough to tell a person that they stunk up the room, and by the way, I’m not accepting a Nobel prize, and most of the world doesn’t hear those speeches anyway because the people who win those prizes are a bunch of nerds.


So, with that in mind, I’m totally taking public speaking offers. Yes, you heard that right. For an exorbitant fee, of course. I still get the nervous sweats, and I’m not dealing with that for free.

So if you want someone to mess up your event with a lackluster and possibly embarrassing address (because not only do I tend to freeze up, but I may also swear and/or share inappropriately), I’m your girl.

If you need someone around to fill the seat at the table for someone who says wildly inappropriate things that distract everybody from real life, so that they go home and wonder “how drunk was she?” instead of lamenting their own poor choices, I’m there.

If you need someone to stand in front of a crowd and make them feel better about every single vulnerability they own because she is up there making a nincompoop of herself by forgetting what planet she hails from, call me.


Sure, sometimes my heart says weird and improper things, blanks on common words and phrases, forgets how to pronounce my own name, and drops whole storylines and directions of conversation, but hey, it’s my heart talking. I dare you to tell me my heart is wrong.

Seriously. I’m available.


This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #4: Write a blog post inspired by the word: heart.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Eight Perfect Gifts for Anyone

Let it be known that I am not gifted at gifting.

I mean, I purchase things to give at the holidays and on birthdays and other important gift-giving events, but giving and receiving gifts is not really a source of joy for me.

And truthfully, sometimes I’m not that great at giving or receiving gifts on these big gift-giving events.

Exhibit A: The time I didn’t even think about buying a gift for someone and they lavished me with perfect gifts and I felt like Super Jerk.

Exhibits B-Z: All those other times that happened.

Let’s examine some other gift-giving catastrophes, shall we?
àOnce I got a gift for someone – something that they actually asked for – and they never used it.
àOnce I received a gift that I asked for but didn’t use.
àOnce I gave a gift that was too much/too little/inappropriate/and the recipient didn’t get it. 
àOnce I received a gift like that^^
àOnce I told someone I was going to get them a very specific gift and then I bailed out on it and didn’t get them anything and I will never hear the end of it until I die. 
àOnce I got a gift that I loved for an anonymous exchange and everybody in the room made fun of it and it took everything in me not to stomp out of the room crying.

Can’t we all just buy ourselves what we want? Or only give anonymously to people we don’t know so that we don’t have to watch them open the gifts we give and stress out about their reactions?

You guys, gifting stresses me out. There are so many variables, and only one precarious set provides a small sliver of positive outcome. You know, that perfect gift for that perfect person in your life who absolutely without a doubt will love whatever it is you’ve come up with.

It doesn’t happen very often.

So I made a gift guide to help you with this problem of gifting. And when I say you I really mean me.

Perfect gift #1: Cash.

Cash is a gift, people. IT IS A GIFT. No one receives cash and goes home and says “Now what on earth am I going to do with this?”

Perfect gift #2: Gift Cards.

Gift cards are a non-cash way of giving cash as a gift for those people who think that giving cash as a gift is tacky. Some people also think that giving gift cards is tacky. I am not friends with those people.

Perfect gift #3: Something that a person sent you a link to and said “I want you to buy this for me.”

No guesswork at all is the way to go with gift-giving. This is my absolute favorite way to shop for someone if cash and gift cards are off the table, and the next type of perfect gift is a close runner-up.

Perfect gift #4: Something that someone buys for him- or herself and says “I’m buying this for myself, but you can give it to me.”

You sort of feel like a shlub for not doing any work whatsoever, but it’s worth it if they also wrap that gift up for themselves or don’t require it to be wrapped at all because they’re using it right away.

Perfect gift #5: Registered gifts.

There is something just so satisfactory about a gift list that someone has made public, so that when you shop for this person, all the things they want are right there. General gift lists are okay, but give me a printed out store registry list of specific stuff that a person wants and I’m a happy gift-buyer. Bonus if shipping is free and I don’t even have to handle the item.

Perfect gift #6: Everyday items.

This is a little more work, but I love giving and receiving basic items that everyone uses but runs out of on a regular basis.  Things like aluminum foil, sandwich bags, condiments, dried spices and even shampoo and soap are great gifts, and best of all you can throw them into your grocery cart when you stop at the store on your way out to pick up the milk.

Perfect gift #7: Time together.

I love it when you can get together with people and call it a gift. “No gifts; let’s just go out to dinner!” is music to my ears, and the person who shows up with a wrapped gift even after hearing (or ::whispers hatefully:: uttering) those words is dead to me.

Perfect gift #8: Nothing at all.

Sometimes giving gifts takes away from the real gift, which is living life together. I personally have everything I need and want, and I’d rather enjoy life than take time to open a bunch of stuff that I’m going to be paying a bill for later anyway. I know this seems a mite insincere since I will always have my hand out for jewelry and diamonds, but I’d rather enjoy my friends and family than open gifts any day of the year.

Especially if they’re handing out jewelry and diamonds.

See all those gifts in the back? So stressful.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Ten Things I Love About Motherhood

If you told me twenty years ago that I’d become a mother, I would have laughed in your face.

Because I was rude, but also because twenty years ago, I didn’t want kids.

I didn’t even like kids all that much.

Like every woman, as a teenager I was a pro babysitter. Watching kids is the thing to do when you’re too young for a side hustle like slinging cocktails. I had a kid brother and kid cousins and family friends with kids that were always looking for a babysitter, so I obliged for some cold hard cash in return for watching their TV kids whine eat junk food pound on each other while the parents escaped for a few hours on the odd Saturday night. But it wasn’t my favorite activity.

But twenty years ago, when I was a single gal, footloose and fancy free, I had long conversations with friends about how much I didn’t want kids because kids are terrible.

Yeah. That’s about as far as my reasoning went for not wanting kids. It’s fair to say that because I didn’t have kids, it was easy enough to say I didn’t want kids.

Then my husband and I had kids.

I was for it, of course. I mean, the timing of our kids wasn’t planned, but we agreed that we’d try them out for a while.

And it just so happened that I am a pretty good mom. And my kids are pretty amazing because of me. Hey, you think I’m going to give them all the credit for being awesome? Okay, my husband had something to do with it, too. But still. I’m a kick-ass mom.

Might as well say it myself, because they sure won’t.

So, yeah. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy being a mom. Take THAT, twenty years ago me! IN YOUR FACE! HA HAHA HAHAHA HA!

I guess some things don’t change.

Here are the top ten things I love about motherhood:

1. I can do this.

A person needs no special training or skill to be a mother. It’s scary how utterly unprepared people really are for parenthood. It’s on-the-job training every second of every day. It’s flying by the seat of your pants and making it up as you go along. When people say “We’re not ready to have kids yet” I love to squash their spirits and inform them that there is no planning for this. You’re never ready, and you either do it or you don’t. And when you do it, it’s the best feeling ever.

2. These nerds.

Yeah. I pretty much love the spit out of them. Seriously – they can spit on the ground and I would love that spit. BUT THEY BETTER NOT EVER DO THAT BECAUSE SPITTING ON THE GROUND IS GROTESQUE AND I DID NOT RAISE DISGUSTING ANIMALS WHO SPIT ON THE GROUND.

3. It’s a challenge.

One of the weirdest things I love about motherhood is how difficult it is. Once you are in it you can’t escape it, and even though I totally look for the easy way out of nearly everything, I do not cut corners at being a mom. I love all the difficult conversations and the teen years and defusing tantrums because this stuff is important. I will work tirelessly to help my kids do or learn something, and it’s because their lives are worth my best.

4. The food.

Having kids around all the time means that you eat chicken nuggets and candy and pudding and cupcakes as part of a regular diet and not feel like you have to justify your preferences. Kraft mac and cheese has had our number for years, and I am more than okay with this.

5. The TV.

Cartoons make anybody feel like a kid again. Not too many adults will watch Spongebob on a random Thursday afternoon on their own without kids around, and this is too bad. I believe that Spongebob can be better than therapy.

6. You are always teaching.

When I was in grad school I wanted to be a professor, and as luck would have it I got to teach undergrads. This was a terrible experience. Those cats knew they were smarter than me and weren’t afraid to let me know how low my effectiveness ranked on the list of educators they had known. They didn’t give me a chance, and I knew then that I was no teacher. But with my kids? I’m the first teacher they knew and they STILL look to me to teach them. Getting your students early is where it’s at.

7. You are always learning.

I’ve learned more being a mother than all the years I spent in school, which is a bold statement and one that I dare you to try to quantify. Being a mother has taught me practical wisdom, like how long a person needs to transition from sitting on the couch playing video games to getting in the car to go somewhere (two minutes), but also problem-solving skills, like if you have a kid who zones out while playing video games, revving up the car engine while honking the horn to get them moving works pretty darn well.

8. Personal improvement.

I was a jerk before I had kids, and I’m marginally less of a jerk now. Having kids made me want to be a better person, because now I have people who I am casting into the world who watch me like the spongy little hawk-eyed humans they are. Do I want them to be jerks on top of them being horribly disfigured? No, I don’t. I shaped up when I had kids, and everybody is happier. Especially me.

9. The surprise factor.

When my kids walk in the door after school with a cool story, or talk about something they learned, or sing along to an old song that I love but didn’t know they also loved, or share their opinions about anything, I am surprised at their sense of humor, what they know, what they think, and what they can do – as if they are new people every day. Literally, I say “Who are you? I don’t know you – go away, stranger, or I’m calling the cops!” because I love to mess with my kids. Which brings us to the last point I’d like to make.

10. Having kids is fun.

SO MUCH FUN. Having fun is my deal, and they are my favorite people to joke with, to laugh with, and to play with. My kids are fun people. They get my sense of humor, and I love theirs. I know it’s because they learned from me, and I’m in love with this.

You’re welcome, world.

This post inspired by:

Mama Kat's Writing Workshop

Prompt #1: List 10 things you love about motherhood.