Busier than thou

Sometimes I mention something offhanded like, “Oh, sorry, I got busy this weekend with yard work and forgot.” Or “I work full time during the day so I don’t have time to check Facebook or email until the evening after kids are in bed.” My comments spoken with the intent of informing people of when they can expect me to respond to them or complete a task are all too often met with a response something like: “I’m busy too!” or “I work full time too and have 2 small children at home!” or “Must be nice!”

While I’m sure all of us are convinced we would win the busy war if put head to head, I am not sure where this keeping up with the Joneses style busy battle started.

I am a school liasion. I am a room mom. I work. I am working on my dissertation for completion of my Ph.D. I operate a non-profit pet rescue I started. I have two kids, one of whom is on a competitive dance team, gifted, and plays guitar and cello, and the other is a defiant toddler. I am on committees at work. I volunteer with three professional organizations, of which I am a member. I have pets, chickens, and a house. I like to workout and shower daily…but none of that really matters to you. These are my commitments and my schedule and while it is impactful to others, it ultimately only matters to me. And that’s ok.

When I use my commitments to explain something, I am not expecting a “busier than thou” response. I don’t disagree with you that you’re busy too!

Elizabeth Kolbert writes in her article “No Time” for the New Yorker:

One theory she entertains early on is that busyness has acquired social status. The busier you are the more important you seem; thus, people compete to be—or, at least, to appear to be—harried. A researcher she consults at the University of North Dakota, Ann Burnett, has collected five decades’ worth of holiday letters and found that they’ve come to dwell less and less on the blessings of the season and more and more on how jam-packed the previous year has been. Based on this archive, Burnett has concluded that keeping up with the Joneses now means trying to outschedule them. (In one recent letter, a mother boasts of schlepping her kids to so many activities that she drives “a hundred miles a day.”) “There’s a real ‘busier than thou’ attitude,” Burnett says.

How do you respond to the busier than thou responses? Next time you hear from someone about how busy they are, respond with something new. Respond with empathy.

Racism is ‘punk ass bullshit’

I am so tired too. Tired that this sort of “punk ass bullshit” is happening in our country. We’re better than this. What a waste that someone decides to spend their life hating! What an absolutely worthless choice of how to spend time!

Beyond that, they take up our mental space and attention that we could be diverting to new issues in society. They just want attention and decide hating and bullying others is how to get it. How selfish!

We are fighting with each other when we all just want to live and be free and move forward in society.

I am so disappointed this has happened even on my own campus. We’re better than this. Billikens are for others – for the greater good. So many students, faculty, graduates, and staff are wonderful people with such giving hearts. What a shame this is how these particular students chose to repay their fellow Billikens!

Don’t stop talking about these issues – we shut up, they win. We shut up, it keeps happening, nothing changes.

Read more
Racist text messages lead to SLU investigation

St. Louis Post Dispatch: SLU officials promise ‘justice’

Vice Provost at University of Wisconsin Madison, Patrick Sims: Enough is Enough


You already belong.

I have no right to feel like I don’t belong, because in all aspects because of my privilege, I should belong. I am white, heterosexual, relatively gender conforming, so what do I have to say I don’t belong about?

This morning Chris and I were talking about Kari. She’s smart, funny, and an all around great kid, but this is why she has trouble fitting in. She won’t alienate the other kids who want to play. She doesn’t like games where kids have to do dares to be allowed to play. I worry for her.

I worry for her for a very real reason. I too didn’t fit in. I moved to St. Louis in the fourth grade. I was gifted, but not Star-Trek-quoting gifted, just regular gifted, so I didn’t fit in with them either. I was quickly the butt of every joke of the classroom bully and received loads of sneers from the popular girls, year after year. I didn’t have any friends, then I did in sixth and seventh grade, then a new bully arrived, and my friends left me for her since I “couldn’t get along with her.” I was so hurt I swore of trying to make friends and closed myself in, dedicating myself to academics. I graduated in the top 10 of my high school class of over 400. But I was lonely. I started college early at 15, and it was there I found friends, but those were fleeting. I think I was more of a novelty to them than anything. Even at work I wouldn’t fit in sometimes, and I read that as more my fault than the fault of others not being comfortable with me (always trying to do my best, ambition, integrity). I found I fit in the best when I was so burned out at my last job, which is sad to think about. I’m learning though. And sadly it’s taken me until my 30s to realize that not all social “situations” are caused by something I did. :)

I am really trying to not sound like a pity party here, but I’m stumped. I am struggling to find the solution to this, for Kari’s sake, so I can save my mini-me, our ‘Sheldon’ (read: The Big Bang Theory) from the heartbreak I so painfully experienced.

I am honest. I don’t gossip. I’m trustworthy, a hard worker, smart. I believe in true equality. I am a feminist. All these things alienate me, but why? I won’t change the good in me to be accepted by those who want less.

What I really feel: Be the good in you. Don’t change. Although it might not be where you are right now, and it can feel pretty damn lonely sometimes, somewhere you already belong. But to a pre-teen, that’s hard. I think it’s hard at any age.

My life depends on you

Sometimes when I’m driving and there is an open stretch of road ahead, I always feel like I’m on a motorcycle. Then I realize I’m in my SUV and my heart sinks. 😛

I do miss riding. I sold my bike a year ago in December, and it’s been 2 years since I’ve ridden. It was the first nice day of spring in 2014. My favorite days to ride are the days that are just slightly cool and overcast. Today is a day just like that, so it made me nostalgic.

Sadly, I don’t know if I’ll ride again. I love riding and I’m a good rider (or I was as of 2 years ago). What zaps my confidence is the inattention of other drivers on the road. Too often I see motorcyclists have to maneuver around drivers cutting into their lane, oblivious to their existence. Drivers may view this as the cyclist “losing control” or “horsing around.” Nope. They probably had to swerve to avoid a road hazard, or another motorist.

I too have had to do this. Once I was very glad my bike was equipped with ABS. I had to brake so hard I am sure if I didn’t have ABS, I would have thrown myself or had to have gone down to the right if I were on any other bike. Someone cut in front of me in an intersection to make their right turn. Never mind the safest move would have been for them to turn around at the next block.

My bike had a huge horn, and it saved my hide at least once each ride. It’s terrible I even had to use it, since my bike itself was pretty loud, and all my gear white and bright blue.

Please put down your distractions. Do not wear earbuds while driving. Do not text and drive. No selfies. No Facebook. No tweets. Look before you brake, turn, or change lanes. You can give driving 100% of your attention. Lives depend on it.

I shop at Goodwill. You should too.

I thrift and I’m proud of it. Now, I’m not talking about the “overpriced” vintage or antique shops. I shop Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, and the like, and I’m better for it. My whole family is. We spend money on what is important: house, education, quality food, savings.

Recently I was at a conference and attended a session for new professionals about mentors and sponsors. The person presenting said you “can’t buy outfits at Goodwill and look nice.” Never mind that I was sitting in her session in my sweater, which had received no less than 5 compliments that day, that I procured a few weeks prior at a Goodwill Outlet for 50 cents.

I love yard sales too. Some are a bust, just like some thrift store trips, but others are a hit. For example, I scored one of my favorite designer’s bags (retail $500, and TJMaxx for $175) at Goodwill Outlet for $2. I have never seen the bags for less than $125 on clearance anywhere else. This bag, also, gets many compliments.

I’m going to tell you how you can shop at Goodwill, and other thrift shops, and have you and your house look awesome!

Potential! Potential! Potential!
I love remaking something into something new. I have several “retro” lamps I sprayed with metallic spray paint, rewired with a lamp kit from Lowe’s for $5, and dressed with a new shade from Target. Total cost for an awesome lamp: $15-$35 depending on the shade you pick. You can redo picture frames and furniture too! There are so many new paint options available.

Stains Be Gone
Did you find something and it has a little stain? If it’s cheap enough, take it home and try getting the spot out. I have found Dawn dish soap will get out oily stains and a Fels-Naptha bar works well on the rest. Some, of course, won’t come out, but at least you tried!

Do you sew?
If you sew, you’re in better luck. I have spotted some items that are just a bit too big or a dress that would look so much better as a skirt. Clothes look loads better on with a little bit of tailoring anyhow!

Have kids?
Shop not just for their size, but the next size up. I always have a “next size up” box in the basement where I’ll keep clothes I found on a good deal. I will wash the clothes and put them in this Rubbermaid bin for safe keeping until they’re needed – sometimes surprisingly quickly! You have no idea how many brand new with tags items I have found for the girls. They both have overflowing closets and we still have cash in the bank.

Let the Smart Phone do the Shopping
I always price compare or check out items I’m curious about using the Amazon app on my iPhone. It helps me check reviews on the product, make sure it’s a good deal, and also check to see if I should look around for missing parts, or skip because the missing parts would be too costly to replace.

Keep an Open Mind
You can’t go to the thrift store and reliably find something you’re looking for. If you’re looking for only picture frames, you might not find any nice ones on a particular trip, but may really hit the jackpot the next time. You just never know. I recommend too, if it’s a good deal, jump on it. Still kicking myself over not picking up that amazing condition InStep 2 bike trailer for $10!

Make a List
I am a big fan of keeping a list on my phone of things I might like. For example, I may say, a new lamp in the hall would be nice, or I want to check for this new book that’s coming out, etc. Make a list to keep so you can check it over before going into the thrift shop. This way, you don’t forget to check those certain sections of the store and miss a good deal.

Dress Up
If you need an outfit for a costume party or you have kiddos who love to play dress up, you can find lots of fun things! Kari has loved playing dress up with all the sparkly sequined dresses I have found over the years for her dress up dresser.

Ignore the junk
Sometimes you’ll find some things you wonder what the donor was thinking! I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I see some things I wish I wouldn’t. Like someone’s sad, worn out sneakers, or ripped and stained shirts. No one wants that stuff! Please, if you generally donate everything, stop. Some things eventually need to be tossed. No one wants your funky yard shorts.

Read more…

7 Things you Should Always Look for at Goodwill

12 Goodwill Shopping Secrets Revealed