Things We Forget

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There was a time, before we got all jaded and grumpy, that our main purpose was to have fun. As kids, we jumped out of bed every morning, eager to find the best ways to a) get candy, b) meet friends, c) watch cartoons and d) avoid chores at all costs.

We had it all figured out. Why did grown-ups make everything so difficult? Politics, manipulation and sociopathic behaviors were things we didn’t understand. (I still don’t understand.)

After life punches us in the face for several decades, we get out of bed a little slower and rarely find time for cartoons or candy. Friends become precious. Chores increase exponentially.

But maybe those 10-year-old versions of ourselves were right all along. Maybe we need to remember some basic rules about life that were totally obvious to us before we finished elementary school. These things are truths at any age.

  • Going to the bank is boring—unless there are those chain-attached pens you can play with
  • If you’re good at the store, you might get a Butterfinger
  • Going to the zoo sounds like a good idea, but it’s actually exhausting
  • Visiting grandma gets you spoiled
  • Sometimes you need to stay in bed all day reading a good book
  • Making friends is easy
  • Going to bed early is a punishment
  • It’s okay to cry when your feelings are hurt
  • Saturday morning cartoons are awesome
  • Spending an afternoon in the park is the best use of your time
  • A $20 bill makes you rich
  • When your friend is mean, it’s okay to tell them that wasn’t nice
  • It’s fun to be excited for birthdays and Christmas
  • Eating cold cereal for dinner is the best
  • Throwing a water balloon at your sister is thrilling
  • You never have to watch your carbs
  • Shoes aren’t always necessary
  • Cloud watching is not a waste of time

So how did we go from being fun-loving kidlets to cranky adults? When did we decide it was better to be busy than to have fun?

As with most terrible things, I blame the teenage years. Being 13 years old can be devastating. If you watch the movie Eighth Grade, be prepared for some serious junior high PTSD as a beautiful young girl destroys her own self-esteem with anxiety, junior high romance and pool parties. Seriously triggering.

Once we drag ourselves out of the primordial swamp of high school, we’ve become a little less trusting and optimistic. Then we double-down on our cynicism as we enter the workforce.

When you were in elementary school, dreaming about the time you’d be a grown up with your own car and the ability to eat ice cream after midnight, you never considered the possibility that working sucks. Sure, we saw our parents come home from work, down a bottle of gin and collapse on the couch like a bag of old pudding, but that was because they’d had SO MUCH FUN at work!

Something needs to change.

If you find yourself scowling at happiness, it’s time to check back with your inner fourth-grader and do something fun. Skip work and go hiking. Have an ice-cream sundae, without promising to jog later (because 10-year-olds don’t jog). Start a conversation with a stranger. Spend $20 on something entirely useless. Have Lucky Charms for dinner.

We need to remember, it’s fun to a) get candy, b) meet friends, c) watch cartoons and d) avoid chores at all costs. Life’s too short to grow old.

Originally published in Iron County Today–http://ironcountytoday.com/columns/life-laughter/things-we-forget/

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Top 5 Ways To Simplify Your Life

Simplifying is all the rage. It’s the “in” thing to do. Clear out the clutter, physical and emotional, and enjoy a new, laid-back approach to life.

Okey dokey.

(I’ve had much less for a long time. I must be very simple.)

But where do I start? Here are some simple ideas to put you on the right path.

Simplify daily chores. Do dishes need to be done EVERY day? If I just throw dirty clothes away, isn’t that simplifying? And as for work: Commute less. Take longer breaks. Call in sick and take a “me” day. Work fewer hours. Skip non-essential meetings.  In no time at all, you’ll be fired. Simple as that.

Downsize your life. As a journalist, this isn’t a problem. Reporters around the world are having their lives downsized on a daily basis. This leads to buying smaller homes and cars, eating out less often, living with less, appreciating what you have. Yada, yada, yada. Heeeeeyyy. Wait a minute . . . Simplifying sounds a LOT like poverty.

(Former Pulitzer prize-winning journalist.)

Simplify your communications. Must you be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube ALL the time? Do you have to text, instant message, ping, pong, email, snail mail, Morse code, Bluetooth and any other new-fangled way of communicating. How about just TALKING?

Simplify meals. Only stock your pantry or fridge with ingredients you’ll use. All that expired hummus, coconut milk and edamame? Throw it out and replace it with Hostess treats, Lay’s potato chips and other foods you’ll actually eat. Also, eliminate unnecessary appliances. That cotton candy maker, stainless steel pasta machine, bread maker, tortilla warmer and the jerky gun you’ve never used? Toss.

(The jerky gun. Wrong on so many levels.)

Simplify your relationships. Learn to say no. Don’t keep enabling dysfunctional behavior. Don’t let people manipulate you. Instead of a loving dog, how about a Chia pet or a pet rock? And do you REALLY need that boyfriend/girlfriend? Break up with your significant other and think of all the money you’ll save on counseling!

Sooooo. Basically, this new trend is a form of hermitage. Which I already approve of. Top 5 Reasons To Become a Hermit

Romance 101

(When saying “No” just isn’t enough.)

Ah, yes. It’s time for another round of “How much do you love me?” a.k.a. Valentine’s Day. This day is the true test of timeless love, eternal heartshapes and air kisses. And if you FAIL? (Sad, slow shake of the head.) (To celebrate, I’ve found some AWESOME V-Day cards that I will sprinkle throughout my blog.)

(This comes with pepper-spray.)

My husband and I have varying opinions about this Hallmark-hyped holiday. He is a sweet man who regularly adores me–despite the date on the calendar, and despite my snarky attitude. I, on the other hand, don’t have a single romantic bone, muscle or fat cell in my body. Rom-coms make me vomit, love songs induce eye-rolling and smarmy poetry makes my upper arms itch.

(This also doubles as divorce papers.)

So I decided to take a crash course in romance. I turned to my all-knowing resource (Wikipedia) to find ways to become romantic

The first idea was Make It Personal: So I told my husband my lack of romantic ability was all his fault.

The next suggestion, Break the Monotony: At first I thought it said “Monogamy” and that didn’t go over so well. (My bad.) But then I realized my mistake. So, when my husband got home from a meeting, I jumped out of a closet and scared the s*** out of him. Don’t call ME monotonous.

Then, Focus on the Little Things: Hahahahahahahahaha!!! I’m just going to skip this one.

Finally, Be Sincere: I sincerely don’t have any clue how to be romantic. I looked for cards depicting koala bears vomiting rainbows or Cupids slinging arrows into people’s still-beating hearts, but no luck.  I learned anything cute, red, lacy, sunsety, chocolatey, furry, violinish or feathered is deemed “romantic.” So I got my husband a garishly-painted red bunny wearing a lace collar and a feather boa sitting on a Hershey’s bar. And I gave it to him at sunset while we were sitting on the couch. (I’m pretty sure it was sunset.)

(I wouldn’t be NEARLY as tasty without those extra 15 pounds.)

I hope these V-Day tips will help make your holiday special. If all else fails, fake a debilitating illness for 24 hours with a quick recovery on Feb. 15.

(Just plain messed up.)