Category Archives: Family

4 Reasons My Thanksgiving Was Non-Traditional

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Usually I tend to develop some major anxiety and irritability (read: flip the f*ck out) if my husband and I don’t partake in at least one traditional Thanksgiving activity.  I don’t know why but I just have this thing about formally acknowledging a holiday, which used to pose a problem because my better half isn’t big on celebrating. When we first started dating,  he once called me on Thanksgiving from a Jack in the Box drive-thru. In my opinion, consuming fast food on a holiday is a complete travesty, but he saw nothing wrong with it.

Fortunately,  since then we’ve created a few of our own traditions, but what I most look forward to is him frying a turkey the evening before Thanksgiving. The entire house smells like Cajun spices and it helps to get me in the holiday spirit.

This year’s Thanksgiving was really non-traditional, at least compared to the stereotypical holiday gatherings of tons of rowdy friends and family, excessive amounts of food and cool, gloomy weather. Who knows what kept my meltdown at bay—perhaps it was the aroma of fried turkey or the near-70 degree sunny weather.

Either way, here’s what made my Thanksgiving surprisingly non-traditional:

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Bypass the Burn: 7 Ways to Avoid Burnout

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Ever find yourself barely limping along with what feels like an infinite to-do list stretched out in front of you? Sometimes the end appears like a mirage in the desert, wavering in the distance. You’re approaching something alright, but unfortunately it’s not the finish line. It’s burnout, which is oftentimes unrecognizable by those whom it afflicts until it arrives in the form of depression, loss of motivation, insomnia, alcohol or substance abuse and a host of additional health-related consequences. If you feel like you’re literally teetering on the brink of sanity, a bout with burnout may be in your near future.

Here are 7 ways to avoid burnout:

Morning rituals: Instead of doing the equivalent of jump-starting your brain by rolling over and checking your email or Twitter feed, consider easing into your day with a morning ritual like meditation or sitting at the table with a cup of coffee, or partake in one of these activities that make mornings less sucky.

Take a break: This might sound obvious, but according to a recent Forbes article that states only 25 percent of Americans take their paid vacation, routinely taking breaks is apparently something a large portion of the population struggles to implement into their lives. In a society that’s all #TeamNoSleep #Grindin’ and other ridiculous hashtag lifestyles that promote excessive work over one’s well-being, it’s easy to fall into that trap of constant work. It’s OK to be motivated to reach a goal, but allowing your mind and body to take a break is less of a hindrance to success than having that body and mind break down in the process. Whether you seek respite from the daily grind by taking a weeklong Caribbean cruise or a brisk 15-minute walk around the block, regularly scheduled breaks are essential to avoiding burnout.

Establish and enforce boundaries: Typically, people who are prone to burnout have an issue with setting limits. Before they realize it they’ve committed themselves to 30 hours of work in one day, which obviously spells disaster. To this I say, exploit the power of saying no. Say no to squeezing in that extra assignment, helping a friend on your only off day or just stretching yourself too thin in general. Prioritize by using a list of wants versus needs and talk it over with someone you trust to make sure you stay on track.

 

Read this rest of this article over at ClutchMagOnline.

Image: Dskley/Flickr

The Benefits of Having an Alter Ego

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Quite often the sheer act of existing feels downright overwhelming. Sometimes I wake up and before my eyes adjust to the morning light, a never-ending to-do list sidles into my mind and sprints off towards a mirage of a finish line. If you ask me, that’s just too much pressure before breakfast. At that point, I want to do nothing more than drift back into a peaceful sleep where deadlines, bills, emotions or any other concern that’s popular amongst the living mean about as much to me as a crack in a sidewalk.

But life beckons, and I eventually roll out of bed, sometimes sliding down the side of it, other times sitting up with an attitude and a curse word forming on my lips. It is then that I realize how badly I need a stunt double. Since Texas is a day’s drive from Hollywood and my house isn’t a movie set, I’ve decided to settle for the next best thing: an alter ego.

Nicki Minaj has Roman Zolanski. Garth Brooks had Chris Gaines. Eminem has the maniacal Slim Shady. And Lady Gaga has Jo Calderone. Now, I’m not sure what in the hell she needs with an alter ego because she seems to be quite the handful all by herself/selves, but that only confirms that having a little spare personality buddy can’t hurt.  And finally, if Beyoncé has an alter ego on her payroll, then goshdarnit, so can I. I’m far from a member of the Beyhive, but there’s no doubting the benefits that the Sasha Fierce transformation hath wrought upon her life.
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Reasons To Smile

 

Me...smiling.

Me…smiling.

Far too often we focus on the things that make us upset or piss us off. Thanks to a SITS writing prompt recommended by my fabulous pitch partner and fellow blogger, this post is dedicated to the things that made me smile this week. I must admit that I had to give significant thought to this question as I’m accustomed to having a dreadful glass half-empty viewpoint on most situations. Sadly, I can fire off a list of stuff that angers me with little to no contemplation. But the good thing is I’m in the process of changing that, starting with this post! That said, here are a few things that happened this week to turn my frown upside down:

1. Making progress at a new writing gig: Twice a week, I’m responsible for posting at least three entertainment related articles. Usually, I pitch to my editor, then post, lather, rinse and repeat until I have three write-ups. But this week, I finally managed to simultaneously pitch all three article ideas and have them accepted at once. Sounds like a small feat, but hey, it made me smile and relieved some pressure. Also, yesterday was the first time since I started this gig that I felt completely in a groove where my writing is concerned. I feel like I’m recognizing and developing my unique writer’s voice and constantly creating is a true testament to the mantra, “Practice makes perfect.” Continue reading

Dear Commercial Christmas, We’re Done

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Over the years, the meaning of Christmas has changed drastically for me. I went from a wide-eyed, excited child who couldn’t sleep Christmas Eve night in feverish anticipation of the gifts that awaited me beneath the tree, to a grownup who spent way too much money on gifts, that in my own misguided way, were intended to show loved ones how much they meant to me. After a few painful lessons in money management, I realized how un-cute it is to spend the first half of a new year paying off sizable debts incurred by splurging on expensive Christmas gifts.

Don’t get me wrong–it was fun while it lasted. Among the Commercial Christmas gifts I bought (and received) were the latest and greatest electronic gadgets, expensive jewelry, computers and more. My purchases grew bigger with time, until the spending took a toll on my bank account, while battling aggressive crowds and trying to outdo last year’s gift took a toll on my spirit. Continue reading

My Husband Makes Me Lazy

Since my first job at the age of 16, I’ve always maintained a pretty solid work reputation as someone who excels and is extremely reliable.  At home, on the other hand, I’m ashamed to confess that I suffer from a semi-permanent damsel-in-distress status.  Hours of deep thought went into finding the cause of this phenomenon and I finally found the answer: My husband makes me lazy.

Seriously, he’s to blame. At work, I know the answers. People ask me stuff. But somehow, when I cross that threshold and see him standing there, my brain silently packs its bags and vacates the premises. I suddenly have no clue how to do anything and the tiniest problems plague my empty head until I resort to wailing his name from the opposite end of the house, perfecting the sound of distress like only a wife could. Aside from lifting heavy stuff, killing scary bugs and giving me advice on everyday dilemmas, I’m ashamed to admit these are some of the other things I ask him to help me with:

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Burpees or Babies?

During a short MegaBus commute between Dallas and Austin today, I listened to a baby’s throaty, gurgling laughter and thought ‘Awww, how cute!’–until an hour and a half (and several frayed nerves) later passed and she was still guffawing. Oh, the joys of babyhood, a time in life in which one finds humor in a freezing cold double-decker bus instead of sharing my annoyance with the lady behind me for mindlessly breaking the silence by screaming into her cell phone in Spanish.

As both the baby and the loud-mouthed lady continued to blabber, I recalled running around the block with my trainer early this morning as we approached a park filled with the sound of excited children.

“Kids,” she muttered, “they scare me.” At the moment, I was trying hard to convince myself that the cramp in my side wasn’t a burst appendix, so all I managed was a breathy, “Yeah.”

Translation: The thought of having kids scares me more than any horror film ever could, for a number of reasons:

What about life?

Work + Marriage + Side Hustle + Friends + Family + Personal Interests + Sleep + Endless List of Other Important Stuff = Where the hail am I supposed to fit a kid in this equation? The answer must be linked to one of those imaginary numbers I heard about in algebra class.

What about what pregnancy/childbirth does to a woman’s bawdy, specifically those who are 30 and up?

Before someone else mentions it, I know Halle Berry just did it (again), but so what?!? Yeah she’s 40+, but she’s been physical perfection for quite some time. I’ve just now become dedicated enough to regular exercising to develop some visible muscle definition and get through several 30-second sets of nonstop burpees without seeing spots. Vain as it is, I’m afraid that if I have a kid, my not-so-youthful body won’t soon recover from the trauma of giving birth. Continue reading

Calming Your Inner Tornado

Keep this away from the homefront.

Keep this away from the home front.

For me, a day at the office ends in quite the typical manner. I log off my computer, gather my things and say my goodbyes. All official duties stop once I hit that stretch of pavement between the building and my car. Or at least that’s my intention. Sometimes, I don’t realize I’ve subconsciously lugged home after-hours assignments until I’m in my living room, meticulously rehashing the day’s challenges to my husband. One day, in the middle of a particularly feverish rant, I stopped waving my arms around long enough to actually notice him. Even though I probably looked like I was about to take flight, his facial expression still puzzled me.

“What?” I asked him, clueless.

“Sometimes when you come home, you’re like a tornado,” he huffed, now clearly annoyed by my theatrics. “You just unleash all this stress and drama and it brings me down.”

Gulp.

For a split second, I almost took a defensive stance. I came thisclose to telling him how he was an insensitive jerk and to just shut up and support me and UGH!!! Instead, his blunt declaration stopped me dead in my tracks, forcing me to consider his words.

Realizing the accuracy of his assessment, I instantly felt draped in a shroud of shame. I had allowed my experiences on the job to infiltrate our personal space in a negative way.  I’d come to rely on him to allow me to vent and express my frustrations with no filter.  Suddenly, I worried that without an open-ear policy, my sanity would become a distant memory. Then, I recognized that in this moment, he chose to stop enabling me. I had to find a way to manage my frustrations without sacrificing a healthy home.  As a result, I came up with a list of remedies to stormproof the home atmosphere from the withering elements of life at the office:
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