Five Years in Five Months

The last time I wrote a blog post, I was ten days away from moving from Des Moines to Davenport. And finally, nearly 90 days after moving, I have progressed enough with my life’s tasks to be making time to blog once again.

This was a pretty fast move. I had a move to the Quad Cities area in my sites for late 2021 or even 2022, but you know what they say about plans…..

My reason for moving back to the Quad Cities area was family, and specifically my mom. Her Parkinson’s has been progressing more rapidly since the summer of 2019, but with so many things, we always think we have more time.

Me and my mom enjoying an afternoon together, just one week before she was rushed to the ER in Davenport.

Then she aspirated while eating a donut on Friday, August 28, 2020, and ended up in the Genesis ER in Davenport, soon to be transported to the ICU at St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois. It was the closest ICU bed open. (So yeah, those Covid-19 news briefings telling us that we had plenty of open hospital beds in Iowa at that time…..)

I went to Peoria the next day and stayed there for two nights even though I was not allowed into the hospital due to Covid restrictions. I went to support my dad, who was the only one allowed in to see my mom. I was his chauffeur and tour guide, selecting spots for outdoor fresh air relief and good meals.

During that Sunday in Peoria, I attended mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and that is when I was hit with a wave of “You need to move NOW.” OK, God. 10-4. Moving. ASAP.

So the next two months were a blur with rearranging my life and preparing for a move. Things seemed messy, but I knew they would work out. God told me they would. And they did, even better than I could have ever imagined.

While Mom was in Peoria, we were riding a roller coaster. She was better, and then she was sedated. She had g-tube surgery. And then a tracheotomy. She was also on a ventilator for a few weeks.

Mom was finally transferred to Select Specialty Hospital in Davenport and then to acute rehab at St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids. While in Davenport and Cedar Rapids, I was able to visit her once a week. She was released to go home TWO DAYS after I moved to Davenport. Chills.

Pedi time!

Since moving, I have been able to continue to work from home and visit my parents an average of two times per week to help with Mom’s care. She has five g-tube feedings every day that include a combination of Parkinson’s medication and her liquid food, and Mom tells me I am a pro during my feeding shifts. She requires daily and monthly trach maintenance, and I have helped with some of that. I have also helped her shower, given some pretty awesome manis and pedis if I do say so, played solitaire, lost at UNO, colored, and baked with her.

My mom is a fighter. And she shows so much gratitude toward me every time I help her with something. I tell her that it is my privilege to be able to help her. I recently heard the term tragic privilege, and that sums up how I feel on the inside.

I am thankful that my mom is able to safely live at home, and that my dad is such a rockstar with shouldering 99% of the workload to care for her. I have a newfound admiration for caregivers and those living with Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.

I feel like the past five months have actually been five years, based upon the emotional and spiritual journey I have embarked upon. This lady is not the same one who woke up on Friday morning, August 28, 2020.

While I wish my mom did not have a horrible disease that was robbing her of the life she once knew, I am thankful for how this experience has strengthened relationships, humbled me, and begun to transform me into a better person.

And if you are facing a really tough moment in your life, consider going to mass. You may sob the entire time and feel immensely vulnerable like I did, but you might also be quiet long enough to hear God telling you something important. 😉

The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception – August 30, 2020

My journey across the globe to help people see

My journey across the globe to help people see

Three months ago today, I returned from the trip of a lifetime. I was part of a OneSight global clinic in India.

While I journaled regularly while in India, once I started my long journey home, it was difficult to put pen to paper. Thus, it was even more challenging to think about how I would even begin to blog about my trip to India.

I fully intended to blog while I was in India, but alas, the internet and wi-fi there is spotty. So I stuck to my once or twice daily 140 words or less posts on Twitter and Facebook. And thankfully I had a paper journal that my dear friend Beth had given to me specifically for the trip.

So here I am, three months later, finally starting to share everything I saw and felt while experiencing life on the other side of the world. It will take multiple posts to cover everything I want to share. I somehow managed to condense my thoughts and photos down into a twenty minute presentation for the Durant Lioness Club on St. Patrick’s Day just a few days ago, so I will kick off my series of India posts with a small section from that presentation titled “My journey across the globe to help people see.”

By the numbers:

360 days of counting down

40 people from 8 countries on our clinic team

20 of those people flying from the United States

2 – 15 hour flights, in addition to the domestic connecting flights

11.5 hour time difference

1 broken exit sign on the departing plane

1 – 24 hour delay due to cancelled flight after broken sign

10 clinic days

432 near accidents while riding to and from anywhere (animals, other vehicles, you name it)

23 photos taken with random Indians because they asked me to pose with them

7 compliments on my nose ring from Indian women

1 almost glorious meal at McDonalds in Jodhpur (no beef and no ice!)

956 times I told myself how thankful I am to live in the United States

5,000 patients seen, with most receiving Rx eyewear

5,000+ pairs of sunglasses donated and distributed

7 offers to refill my plate each time the villagers fed us lunch

321 “namaste” greetings

3: the number of people we were required to have in groups when exploring the city of Jodhpur solo – and my native New Yorker friend Helen actually counted as 2 people 😉

36 hours spent traveling to get home

5 days to fully recover from jet lag

1 redhead whose life has been changed forever

indian girl

I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you!

iLove

I am in love. I knew I would be. I waited patiently for over a year, spending money on the responsible things like bills, work clothes, and tires for Smurfette. And then I was tired of waiting. I needed to treat myself, just like Donna and Tom on Parks and Rec

So I did it. I finally bought myself an iPad! I don’t consider myself to be materialistic. This is the most excited I have been about buying something in a long time. Concert tickets are probably the next closest thing I have been excited about throwing cash at.

I was practical with my timing, as Target was running a fabulous sale when I purchased. Since I purchased my new toy only four days before Election Day and had lots of tasks on my list that didn’t include the iPad, it has taken me a little bit of time to fully come to realize how much I use this thing.

There’s something about not having to open a contraption or wait for the laptop to turn on that makes this machine so much more approachable. I used to come home at night and justify not doing work because I didn’t want to fire up the HP Mini. We are probably talking about a whole three minutes, yet that is a three minute window when I can lose my ambition.

I knew I would love the iPad. During the past year, I listened and watched while iPad users made the case for it. So many people who know me said I would love it.

Today I discovered Evernote. Wow. My quest to go paperless is easier than I ever thought it would be! To me, less clutter is less distraction. I am always busy with one project or another, and Evernote makes me feel like I really can do it all seamlessly.

Each day I gradually transition from my old way of completing tasks and storing information with the netbook, flash drives, battered up folders, and scraps of paper into a new world of cool apps and the cloud. This is a major technological step, my generation’s telephone.

The organizing fool in me loves it!

20121111-163758.jpg

Fridays with G: Enjoying the Moment

Routine activities become so much better when G is a part of them.  He forces me to slow down and notice things as I attempt to take him in the direction I want to go.

Scenario #1: Starbucks

G and I made our first non-drive thru visit to Starbucks together this past Friday, and he loved it.  He walked through the store, taking in the smells, products, decorations, and people.  We bought him some fruit snacks and oatmeal and found a table near the window.  Soon he was admiring the big comfy chair, perusing the Wall Street Journal, and smiling at the cars going through the drive thru.  He also enjoyed flirting with the baristas, who thought he was the cutest thing ever.

Scenario #2: Target

G and I have been to Target many times.  And since I work there, I often don’t pay attention to much when I am shopping.  G always points out the cool signs hanging from the ceiling and finds a One Spot toy to purchase.  And he will pick out his favorite foods from a mile away: Wheat Thins, cookies, and bananas.

Scenario #3: Mojo’s

I love the RME building in downtown Davenport and appreciate being close to free live music, especially after having lived in a small town for nearly four years.  But this isn’t something I’d necessarily expect G to appreciate.  G might like it as much as I do though.  My 20-month-old nephew can sit still for nearly an hour listening to the local musician play during the lunch hour, and he even does a little jig while sitting in his seat and munching on his sandwich.  He points out the guitar pictures on the wall, gazes up at the open ceiling, and keeps an eye on the traffic outside the big windows.  This past week, he even found interest in the floor.

Scenario #4: Cupcakes, Muffins and More

Of course G appreciates the cupcake shop.  He also plays with the big stuffed bear in the window and attempts to find a way to open the front of the glass display case that holds all of the goodies.  And once again, he really listens to the music, often jazz, in the background.  When G hears music he likes, he gets a very sweet smile on his face and does a bit of head bopping.

Scenario #5: Rides in the Car

G points to lots of stuff as we drive by in my car.  I find myself commenting on the things we see, and he talks back in his own baby language.  He rarely fusses in the car, but instead enjoys the scenery and even takes a nap every now and then.

Scenario #6: Walking Outside

G notices every vehicle and person when walking down the street.  He likes to point and laugh at bicyclists, maybe because they look humorous in their helmets and gear.  He adds sound effects to the big trucks, busses, and emergency vehicles.  And he will get sidetracked by a flower or a weed.  It’s amazing.  If there’s an animal in sight, hang on tight, because G will go for it.

G really pays attention to things around him.  He soaks it all in and has fun with it.  His carefree nature and inquisitiveness can wear me out, but it’s good for me nonetheless.

As you plod through your workday today, try to take a lesson from G and tune into the things around you while following this simple message:

Fridays with G: Baby Networking

G was actually still sleeping when I arrived at his house on Friday morning.  But by the time his dad left for work at 7:30 a.m., he was awake.  There was no mistaking it, as he was making siren noises from his crib.  He visited a Davenport fire station the week before and has a new obsession with fire trucks.

G also has a new room now, to make room for Baby #2, ETA May 18th.  I flipped on the light, said good morning, and he smiled and bounced up and down.  Then I received the biggest hug as I picked him up out of his crib.  And he snuggled for about 20 minutes.  After that, he was ready for breakfast and ready to take a ride in Smurfette.  He even put my shoes on for me!

putting on flip flops

G ready to go
Come on, Aunt Mel! I'm waiting!

This week’s new adventure was toddler story time at the Fairmount branch of the Davenport Public Library.  We arrived early and had time to play first.  I was so proud of myself – until I saw we had a leaking diaper, and of course I left the diaper bag in the car.  So we rushed to get changed and made it back just in time for story time.

story time
Kicking back with the Wells Fargo horse after story time. The name tag is still on!

Just take a moment now to imagine 20 toddlers with their parents and a few siblings, all together in a big room.  It would have been even more entertaining had I not been responsible for keeping one of them in line.  G actually did pretty well.  He kept the sticker name tag on his shirt.  He was just a bit clingy and wanted to take this session to observe before he just jumped in.  We had all sorts of toddlers there – from G’s age of not quite two years old, to four year olds who still haven’t mastered how to behave better than a toddler.  Not judging, just saying….

You had the immaculate kids with their prissy parents, the kids who obviously dressed themselves, the kids whose parents must obviously want them to be nerds their entire lives, and then the seemingly average kids.

I felt the other parents pass judgment on me as soon as the song time began and G didn’t want to stand up.  After song time was story time, and that’s when the real fun began.  A few of the kids had to wander, and the one kid who has to sit as close as possible to the reader was present and accounted for.  We also had the two brothers fighting over whether one could sit next to the other.

When the two stories were done, it was open play time, and the librarian opened up a cabinet of toys.  Of course G went for the Melissa & Doug buildable trucks toy – not only because of his fascination with trucks, but also because Aunt Mel couldn’t figure out what pieces went where.  (By the way, they have directions on the bottom of the truck bases – good to know.)

G befriended a boy named Jacob, whose dad seemed to be somewhat judgmental of me, given his looks in my direction.  I finally told him I was the aunt and this was our first story time.  That helped, a little bit.

Then we played with toddler Matilda and her grandmother, who insisted on calling Gabriel “Gabe”.  His name tag clearly stated Gabriel, and my sister secretly wants to deck anyone who calls him anything else.  This desire was building up in me also.  The grandmother continued to call Gabriel “Gabe” and me “Gabe’s mommy”.  I had corrected enough people on my relation to Gabriel by that point, and it would be tough to correct her on the mommy thing and not the Gabe thing.  So I let it all slide.  After all, Gabriel does call me Mommy.  We are diligently working on saying Aunt Mel.

I walked away from toddler story time feeling pretty good about our baby networking.  I was annoyed by the presence of politics in baby activities – there were definite status structures and relationships built there – but politics is everywhere, they say.  And I was proud of G for being open to something outside of his comfort zone.  He never ran away, screamed, or misbehaved.  He even shared toys with others.

We rewarded ourselves with some Culver’s fish, fries, and chocolate frozen custard.

Culver's frozen custard

Later that afternoon it appeared I had used up G’s allotment of behaving for the day.  He laid in his crib for over 30 minutes without taking a nap.  I’ll give you one guess what sound I heard during that entire time.

When Enough is Enough

New Year’s Resolution #6:

Continue to seek out positive people while eliminating unnecessary contact with those who are negative and drag me down.

When do I make the determination that enough is enough with someone?  Other than a base gut feeling, it is tough to place in quantitative form.

Family

Blood relatives are perhaps the trickiest.  At the end of the day, they are family, and we have all heard the preachings on tolerating family.  But what if the family member is literally dragging you down?

Physical abuse requires drastic action and is black and white once help is sought.  Outright verbal abuse should never be tolerated either.

But what about the random snide comments, the tone of voice, the favoritism or hostility?  Definitely say something and make it clear what is and is not acceptable for you.  Choose a one-on-one setting and stick to the point.  Don’t let anyone get you sidetracked with a random side issue.

In an ideal world, it would stop there.  That’s not my world though.  In my world, the behavior has changed for a few weeks and then reverts back.  Or the conversation becomes pointless because the other person doesn’t get my point.

Depending upon the type of family member and your history, you have two options:

1.  Limit interaction to a minimum.

2.  End regular contact.

I have opted for #1, and it’s a tough balancing act.  I constantly do a self check to ensure I am not letting the person in too much.  I worry that I will unintentionally vent to another family member who will then feel caught in the middle.  But it’s a small price to pay for my sanity by not having the bad family member meddling in my life and making me feel less than adequate.

The Guy

Whether it’s been a full-blown relationship or a fling that keeps re-surfacing, one or two guys have made me doubt myself.

If you think something is wrong, it probably is.  And then when you break up and he hops into bed with that girl you suspected he had a thing for, you know you were right.  But he made you think you were crazy.  The nerve.

That one was easy to cut off – until after I moved away when he would call me with his problems and send me a birthday gift.  Yes, I kept the plant alive.  It’s a money tree and good luck, after all.

Time cures all things, and this was no exception.  Eventually it reverted back to making me feel bad about being me.  So I cut off the contact completely.  He is now married, and all is well in the world.

And there’s always a guy who doesn’t give up, even if he’s clearly not mature or available.  Rather than tell them off, which only makes them more persistent, I ignored them.  And ignored, and ignored.  And, a few months later, they got the hint.  Yes, I had two issues at the same time – from different points of time in my past.  We have occasional relapses when they text me, but I refuse to acknowledge these lapses.

That Friend

The saying goes, “You can choose your friends, but you are stuck with your family.”  Then why do so many of us tolerate negative, life-sucking friends at one point or another during our lives?

It’s simple.  He or she was likely fun at one point, whether it lasted for that few hours you were drinking, or a few months, or during the first year or two you knew each other.

Before you do anything else, seek to understand where the friend is coming from and have a heart to heart.  After all, you chose this person in the beginning and you need to determine if those good traits are just dormant or buried by the bad stuff.

As with everyone else, if the behavior doesn’t change, you must end the relationship.  Do it with as little drama as possible.  Tailor the response to the person.  Determine if it’s better to be unavailable, have a final conversation to end it all, or something else.

If the friend is part of a group of friends you hang out with often, find a solution you can accept without placing others in the group in the middle.  Chances are, if you take a step back, you will see that either others likely feel the same way as you, or you will discover that you are the odd man out.  In that case, you are dealing with a swarm of negativity.  Regardless, step away from it all, and those who really want to spend time with you will find a way to do it removed from the group.  Do not issue ultimatums with the group.  Do what you need to do for yourself and move along.

Cut Your Losses!

Giving up on negative people is tough because we feel like we are failing.  If we could only make them understand…..  But that’s the point.  If we could make them understand, we wouldn’t have an issue.

We have the opportunity to meet so many people every day.  I’m not going to waste another minute on the negative people, because they keep me from getting to know those who will enrich my life.

The (R)Evolution of Mel

My mind has been racing since I last posted on my New Year’s resolutions, and it has been frustrating about 90% of the time.  I surrender to my crazy thoughts during the other 10%, and that’s when I really reach conclusions.  I have been in the midst of an evolution, a reinvention of sorts.

The word reinvention makes me think of Madonna over the years – from her “Like a Virgin” album cover, to the short haircut in the “Papa Don’t Preach” video (back in the glory days of MTV), the interesting wardrobe choice and long ponytail during the Blonde Ambition tour, and finally the amazing-looking middle-aged woman.  Is she really the same age as my mom?!

I am in the midst of transition, reinvention, evolution, and every other synonym you can imagine with it.  My new year began on January14 this year.  I thought I had turned a corner on January 1, but alas, the true realizations became apparent a few days later than I thought.  That’s the fun thing with evolving and moving through life: just when you think you are there, you have just a bit further to go.

My journey is nowhere near complete, but I do think I have reached the peak for at least a few months.  A lot has happened to build up to this point.  I wonder if Madonna had these moments as she was approaching a new album, look, or tour.  Hopefully I am cool and famous enough to get to ask her that in person one day.  Say what you want about her, but she is a force of nature.  And I love fascinating people.  I seek to be fascinating by simply being true to myself and doing good in the world – or maybe just my little corner of the world.

My new career path that started on October 1 was just a starting point, as was this blog.  I began to prioritize differently, only to find myself slipping back into old habits of saying yes too often and feeling stretched too thin.  When first coming to this realization, I thought my additional ventures, added on since November, were to blame.  Not so.  It was my initial plan that needed some tweaking.

I took a part-time church lady job to supplement my SendOutCards business.  A few red flags presented themselves early on, and while I did not ignore them, they have built up to a present discontent with the situation.  What began as a 20-hour-a-week-stress-free-part-time job has turned into playing a management and human resources role in which I have no authority……and has limits on pay rate and hours.  It’s quite an interesting situation, really.  And I will definitely work it into one of my future novels.

Side note: I have no regrets with the decision to take this job, as it has guided me to where I am today.  And I have made a couple of great friends, on which I can place no price tag.

By the end of November, I was back at Target, working part-time at Target Optical.  When presented with the opportunity I nearly dismissed it without a thought.  Luckily I did not and had a good heart-to-heart chat with the team leader.  And I love working at Optical!  It’s that “happy medium” job I was looking for.  I can say that today with total confidence, but if you would have asked me a month ago, I would have struggled with how I felt.  I briefly wondered if this job was going one step too far in stretching myself too thin.  Actually though, it’s the church stuff that is truly wearing on me.

So, what does a girl do?  No drastic action is underway, but a daily methodical  and persistent approach to the church job is a key to survival.  This comes during a time when our church is approaching its annual meeting, along with its standard one or two controversial decisions to be made.  And like most things in life, it all tends to work itself out in the end.

And then all of the other extras made me think more.  My political involvement is now mostly limited to Republican women meetings, events, and duties.  Here again, I have two parts: the state and the county.  One is functioning beautifully and the other is not.  Since I have responsibilities in the good and the bad, I can’t simply walk away from the one I don’t like.  But here again, I can identify the issues, persevere, and then make a note to make some changes down the road when appropriate.

I also took on a committee assignment with the Red Cross, but that is very limited in scope and beneficial.  So no agonizing over how that plays into my reinvention.

My entrepreneurial endeavors need some tweaking.  I am doing the right things with SendOutCards but have more services I can provide in conjunction with the theme of adding value to others’ lives by making things easier.  I love to organize, write, and plan.  So I need to integrate these into a business and work toward filling my time with fun things that also make me money.

I preach prioritization left and right, but it turns out I have a tough time practicing what I preach.  I have become better at prioritizing people.  It’s the things/jobs/organizations/situations that have been more of a struggle.  I get so wrapped up in the day-to-day task list that I forget to look at the big picture.

And, speaking of people…..  Those have played an integral part of reaching my peak during these past weeks.  I had a rather nasty revelation with a couple of members in my immediate family on Christmas Day, of all days.  The occasion caused me to do something very out of character – swallow my words, bite my lip, drink some wine, and bury it inside.  (OK, so drinking wine is actually very much in my normal character.)  But you can bet I made up for that bottling up of emotion during the weeks ahead.  As with the other yucky stuff in this post, I’m refraining from airing the dirty laundry with specifics and names – more material for the novel or a separate post.  The main point is sometimes it takes a while, but people can hit you with a blow to the gut.  What I thought was a paranoia on my part was an undercurrent of lack of support and respect from family.  So now that it’s out in the open, I can decide how much time and energy to give to those people.  And I can stop worrying about it and move along.

And then my Grandma Gesing went into the hospital on December 27 – two years to the day of my Grandpa Fosaaen’s funeral.  And during my mom and dad’s divorce many years ago, those two parents were on opposing sides of a big battle.  I was always close to Grandpa Fosaaen as a child, but was only close to Grandma Gesing for a short while.  And while everyone in the Fosaaen family rushed to the hospital, the Gesing family is fractured and chaos has ensued.

I finally went to see my grandma on Tuesday.  I had not seen her in at least 20 years.  It’s terrible that it took her being in the hospital for me to go see her, but I did it and I’m glad.  Few people understand, but that is OK.  My stepmom, who went with me, understands.  And my dad, who can’t bring himself to go see her, also gets it.

I had a breakthrough with one part of my nuclear family on Christmas Day, and then, out of the blue, I had a breakthrough with the second part last week.  They cannot be more different, and my feelings toward the two halves have always been a yin and yang, a balancing of the scales of justice.  Sometimes one is way up while the other is down.

Yes, it’s been quite a couple of weeks.  My writing notebook is full of great thoughts and ideas.  I have managed to work through my daily tasks, pay bills, and stay social in the midst of all of this.  I guess that proves I am still sane.

These may be pretty trivial realizations in the grand scheme of everything going on in this world: political strife, poverty, disease, shootings, etc.  In my world though, I have entered a new phase in my life.  The name of it is yet to be determined, but I am certain of one thing.  I do not anticipate needing a cone brassiere for this one.

Must Allow for a Little Messiness

‘Tis the season for a lot of things – especially messiness.  For this Type A gal, the messiness drives me a bit crazy.  What to do?  Embrace it!  After all, life itself is a bit messy at times.

Disclaimer: This is not a free pass to let your dishes pile up disgustingly high or bathe only once a week.

I have a tough time resting if even one thing is out of place, but I must let some of it go.  Some tidying up is good, but I tend to take it to a new level of organization.  Guidelines are a must.

Take 15 minutes per day to just pick up.  Put things away, or at the very least, in piles.  Immediately toss trash.  Then, when you have free time after the holidays, tackle one area of the house/apartment at a time.  I typically start with my home office, since lots of clutter gravitates there.

Floors need to be clutter free but during busy times, mopping them regularly can be optional.  When vacuuming, hit the highlights and come back to the nooks and crannies later.  Dusting is unnecessary.  If you must, swiffer the most visible areas or just blow the dust off.  The one non-negotiable area to clean is the bathroom.  Just clean it.  Use Clorox wipes (may be purchased at my favorite store, Target!) and the strong toilet cleaner and call it good.  Clean, but no sweat required.

Next, the on-the-go busyness: We could double the day to 48 hours, and I still wouldn’t have enough time to do everything.  And I don’t even have kids!  Remind yourself that being busy is a good thing.  I’d rather be busy than bored.  Of course, less busy is desirable.  During this time of the year, being less busy is often not optional.  Accept that you are only one person, prioritize, and hang on tight.

Be smart with your time.  Use a checklist.  Knock out a few errands on your way out to shop.  Select your holiday recipes during commercials while watching The Office (yes, watching this show IS a priority).  Ditto with wrapping.  And the recipes and wrapping need not be Martha Stewart quality.  It’s also resourceful to let the stores wrap for you, as well as cook for you.  Have fun, but don’t stress yourself out with being perfect.

It’s OK if you are gone all of the time and the house is a semi-disaster area.  Just block out a little bit of time once a week to clean the main areas.  It’s better to have a messy house and lots of friends than to have a sparkling clean house and no friends.  The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive, but if a choice must be made, choose the fun and socializing over the need to clean.

Finally, enjoy the moment.  Stop thinking so much about tomorrow and the next day and your to do list.  Listen to the people around you, drink a glass of wine, and RELAX.  As Lexi, my former roomie for 3+ years, used to remind me, “What cannot be done today can usually be done tomorrow.”

Find and Flaunt Your Fabulousness!

Whenever I hear the word fabulous, I think of Carrie Bradshaw or Samantha Jones strutting down a Manhattan sidewalk in Sex & the City.

fabulous

You don’t need to live in Manhattan and wear designer clothes to be fabulous.  We each are fabulous in our own way.  Fabulousness equals self confidence, class, and yes, style.

Find your strengths and use them, be proud of them, and advertise them!  Your strengths are a gift and are meant to be shared with others.  Instead of just telling people about my strengths, I like to show them and surprise them.  Hopefully you are able to use your strengths often enough that you naturally advertise them without even trying.  If you are unable to do that, think about how you can position yourself to do it sooner rather than later.  I love networking and think I am pretty good at it.  I now have the opportunity to do that often.  I no longer just talk about it; I practice what I preach.

Embrace your uniqueness while surrounding yourself with positive people who share various common interests.  I have Twitter friends, political friends, retail friends, business owner friends, the old bestest friends, and more.  Every group, and each person within the group, adds a new piece of diversity to my life.

Being fabulous also means having the confidence to accept your weaknesses, as long as your weaknesses do not hurt other people and are a natural part of your being.  I am not athletic and embrace that.  I will be the first to tell people looking to find another softball team member that I was a cheerleader in high school, and there’s a reason for that. In addition, I am not very photogenic, but I have learned to embrace the quirky photos.  Anyone can look awesome in the camera, but I am the cool one with the memorable pose…ha ha.

Being classy is a vital part of fabulousness.  In this case, class is not about your place in society, but rather how you handle and portray yourself.  Be sincere and thoughtful.  Follow the Golden Rule.  It is easy to put others down to elevate yourself.  It is tougher to take the high road – without being snooty – and let go of your anger in a positive way.  Take a few deep breaths, sleep on it if necessary, and look at the big picture.  In the large scope of your week, month, or year, how big of a deal is this situation and person?  And my favorite way to cope with restraining myself from diving in the gutter:  karma.  Nine times out of ten, those people who are classless get what is coming to them.  It sometimes takes longer than we want, but it will happen.

Style, while third on the list, is essential to be fabulous.  Whether you like it or not, people judge you based on your outward appearance.  This does not require us all to wear the same neutral-colored Banana Republic clothes or to dress like the ladies on Sex & the City.

We each need to find those things that reflect our sense of personal style and are appropriate for our surroundings.  It can be a delicate balance to maintain at times.  As a political staffer in my 20s, at an age when I liked to experiment with fun clothes, I had to limit my flare when traveling to rural counties and speaking to crowds of mostly 40-somethings and older.  But I did throw in some flare.  When I worked at Target, I was limited to the colors red and khaki.  Then I sought out red shirts with flare and accessorized with fun jewelry.

It seems too many people equate fabulousness with the money one spends on clothing, going out on the town, and just about anything else.  As I mentioned previously, fabulousness is partially confidence.  That includes confidence with your finances and doing what you are able – not what you think you need to do to keep up with everyone else.  While striving to do better financially, follow the Golden Rule, enjoy the steps along the way, and count your blessings.

Remember, you determine your fabulousness – find it and flaunt it.  I’m doing it today in my sweat pants.