Years ago people used to have children at an earlier age and usually, they had many of them. While I had six aunts and uncles, my children only have one uncle, who is also childless, so no cousins on my side. My parents, like most of their friends and siblings, had only two children. My generation also has mostly one or two children and usually at a later age. We were told it would be probably better if we finished our education first, had a job, and bought a house. So, even though we often wanted to have children earlier, we were told to wait until we were “established” enough to be able to provide a good life for our off-springs.
When I was younger, I never had extra money. Everything I earned was spent on bills and pleasures. Since my circle of friends lived the same exact way, I was convinced I just didn’t make enough. The word saving was just not being used by us – we were young, fabulous and invincible.
And when an emergency happened, we scrambled and hustled to cover the expense. Thanks to having a few good friends, I somehow always managed to get by, but each of these unexpected bills took a toll on me – I always worried one time it would just be something really huge and I feared I’d be crushed by it. Unfortunately, this reckless behavior continued well into my married years. Even though we both made quite a good salary, we never had money left over in our account. Typical paycheck to paycheck lifestyle . And it was devastating to my marriage. I worried the car would break down, or the furnace would go, or the roof would leak …
When our older son started to approach college age and we realized he would need a car plus tuition money, something broke in me. I sat down with an old fashioned pen and paper and listed all my expenses, indulgences, and hobbies versus our income and I almost passed out! We actually made great money and we blew it each month on stuff we didn’t need at all!
The flu season is upon us!
The four times that I did have the flu and I felt I definitely was going to die, made me just a bit paranoid. When October comes and people around us start sneezing and coughing and looking like they about to have the flu, I wish we could pack up and go somewhere nice and warm where the word Influenza does not even exist.
The are three types of the influenza viruses that can affect people: Type A, Type B, and Type C. The virus is spread by droplets traveling through the air, quite short distances up to 3 feet – enough to spread it by coughing or sneezing. Touching surfaces that have been contaminated by the virus and then touching the eyes and the mouth can also spread the disease. Yearly flu vaccinations are recommended, unfortunately, very often the predicted virus is not the one that is prevalent, thus the vaccine may be ineffective. Washing hands and wearing a surgical mask helps, but is not always convenient.
What else can we do to protect ourselves from this nasty disease?
Guess what I found tucked away in the back of my closet – a vision board I created in 2008. That year I decided to change my life and I involved myself in a multi-level marketing business selling skin care with the hopes of becoming rich and financially independent. My vision board was filled with magazine cut-outs representing the things I wanted as a result of my new career and success: a dream home, a luxury car, exotic vacations and leisure time spent sipping cocktails surrounded by my friends and family. I smiled at each image and then thought to myself: “So, what happened? Why am I not there?” We are still at the same house, NOT driving a luxurious car, still heavily relying on my nursing job to meet our financial obligations, still dreaming of a better life …
The vision board did not help much, obviously. The new business, well, I know I did not treat it as such, it was more of a hobby, I did have a real job, after all … Who knows what could have and would have happened had I really invested all my effort and time in it …
As the years went by, I learned a lot, though. I realized that no vision board or New Year’s resolutions, or list of goals would guarantee this new life. The only thing that matters is ACTION.
A lot of what I did was pretending I was working towards a change. I bought yet another book on a start-up business, I watched motivational videos, I read blog posts and articles – all with the intent of preparing myself to take action and start working on my goals.
I finally realized it was all excuses.
I needed to stop pretending to be working on my dreams.
I needed to make a commitment and show up for myself.
I started to take action. Some of the steps I took were spontaneous, some had to be schedule. And out of new respect for myself, I’d show up at the scheduled appointment with myself and perform a planned task. It took time and effort. It was painful at times. I sacrificed watching some of my Netflix shows or going out with my girlfriends. But, a new habit of doing was created in me, and I just kept on going. Today, my mindset is different. I still read motivational books and watch videos, but I immediately put in action what I learned and it amazes me how many of new ideas and strategies I learned.
Here is a list of things you can do to make changes that do not require a major effort, but will start a new thinking and a shift in your perception of yourself and your future.
I think beautifully manicured nails are very chic and elegant. The array of colors of nail polish and designs are just great and exciting. Depending on your lifestyle, the age of your children (we do not want long nails around newborns and little ones – not only we can accidentally scratch their delicate skin, long nails can also harbor nasty yeasts and bacteria), we might choose longer or shorter nails. I personally like them short, but I also play the guitar and longer nails would affect my music. I try to always keep my nail polish fresh, fix the chipped areas, if it’s not salvageable, I remove the nail polish – nothing less elegant that chipped color! As for colors I like the light pastels and reds, but I truly admire the beautiful designs women enjoy, some of them are just pure art!
Unfortunately, the joy is tinted. Nail polish in itself, regardless of how beautiful and appealing the colors are, may be toxic to our nails. There are often chemicals in it called the “toxic trio” – toluene, a toxin that may cause birth defects and developmental problems in children of pregnant women who have had extended exposure; dibutyl phthalate, which has been linked to birth defects in studies involving lab animals, and formaldehyde, a carcinogen.
The manufacturers are trying, though. Some of them remove the toxic chemicals and label their products “Toxin-free”. Some continue to use the offenders and purely don’t care. Well, we must care – it can affect us and our children. As consumers, we can choose products that are cleaner and safer for us and demand changes by promoting the healthier brands.
I have always been very conscious about my teeth. As a child I developed an overbite, and, despite frequent brushing, mandatory fluoride treatments and having a good diet rich in protein, vitamins an minerals, I quite often visited our local dentist, just to find out I had another cavity. I ended up with several “silver” fillings by early adulthood! I endured braces, added a few more “silver” fillings, and altogether I was very dissatisfied with my teeth and, honestly, I though that I might even end up with implants. I had great hair, great skin and nails – lousy teeth, go figure …
By sheer accident I stumbled upon a video that showed – lo and behold – a “silver” filling seeping a mercury vapor into an isolated chamber at a steady rate and at even faster rate after brushing or chewing, (I recently saw a similar presentation on Dr. Oz). The same amalgam fillings I eagerly let my dentist place in my mouth because they “will last longer” were exuding toxic vapors and I was not told by my dentist to expect that!
Mercury, if I remembered correctly from school, is very dangerous and toxic to anything alive and has to be handled with extreme caution when cleaned up or disposed. Hazmat suits and all. And now the same Mercury that is also fifty percent of my amalgam filling is evaporating into my mouth, so close to my brain and it can stay in my body as a toxin for a very long time?
I freaked out.
Whether you are a newlywed or married for a few or many years, I hope you’ll find this post interesting and useful. I myself have been married for over fifteen years and, if asked if happily, I’d have said YES without hesitation. Our marriage is strong and good. Reliable. Fun. Inspiring. The longer I think of it, the fewer adjectives I can come up with, though …
We work hard on our marriage. We read guides to a better relationship, we go to married couples retreats organized by our church. We attend classes and seminars, we watch videos intended to improve our bond. We go on dates. We try to keep the spark fresh and alive, but life has its way of sneaking in and making it all about the bills, home repairs, chores, kids and work. If, like myself, you are blessed with growing children and aging parents, then congratulations, you are the Sandwich Generation. I get to attend to ever growing needs of my teenage and young adult children, and run to doctors and hospitals with my ailing parents. And I am not a spring chick myself, so my own health issues are surfacing more and more.
So the stress is definitely present and if we, as wives, are not vigilant, it may overtake our lives and destroy not only peace and joy, but, most importantly, the Romance!
And that is just not acceptable! I refuse to be one of those wives who read romantic novels instead of living my own steamy scenes in my own bedroom with my own lovely husband. I want to be anxious to see my husband after work. I want to have a great time on our dates, I want … LOVE!
And, guess what, we all can have it!
Is it true? Are words just words? Isn’t that what we tell ourselves and our children when someone’s comments hurt us?
Words are powerful. Either spoken or written, they help us communicate and express ourselves. Unfortunately, words can be negatively charged, and as such, can affect our lives. Our perceptions, attitudes and interpersonal relations can become depressing and pessimistic. WE are responsible for whatever we speak, write or text. We must, therefore, be careful about the words we use, and always remember that impulse texting or emailing in a near-conflict situation might result in misunderstanding, miscommunication, or even and argument. If you feel yourself getting upset, maybe wait a bit, cool down, and then respond. It’s more difficult to keep your composure when speaking in person, as very often our body language and facial expressions will tell what we really want to say. At least when you are on the phone, you can say you have another call and will call back to finish the unpleasant conversation. When faced with negativity in person, practice a smile, no matter how fake at that moment, and try to speak slowly to create some time for your brain to formulate the right answer. Unfortunately, words, once spoken, cannot be erased…
But it’s not only words themselves that carry weight. Sometimes, the way we combine them in a sentence will result in not quite the message we meant to convey …
Take the word “but”, for example.
“I love my new baby, but he keeps me up at night.”
When I was young, I was very adventurous. I lived for the day, spending my money, time and energy as I pleased. Sometimes my decisions were frugal, sometimes they were carefree. And that was fine for then.
But, thankfully, we go through seasons in our lives. Our perceptions, values and attitudes towards life change with time. And that’s fine too, otherwise life would have been so boring and so predictable!
Sometime around my early forties I started to cherish a slower pace. A quiet evening with my husband, a delicious meal we prepared together, a memory we created playing as a family – it all became more important than running after new things, new activities, new life experiences somehow validating that we are living the best version (social media approved) of our life. That new way of thinking and living continued to evolve with each year that passed. I now started to crave a change in my life that would reflect my new attitude. I felt I have matured – maybe even got wiser?
And I noticed that I started to look for more luxury in my world. For more sophistication, elegance and poise. I asked myself a simple question: What is it that felt luxurious to me? Was it clothes, jewelry, exotic vacations or a new spacious and modern house? So I searched the net, the movies, the magazines, the books. I studied people, cultures and trends.
And I found it. I realized that what I craved was already deeply rooted in me, in my European descent. Being raised in Poland, I traveled through Europe frequently. I lived in Rome, I lived in Vienna. I admired the architecture, the culture, the art and the feel of history and tradition in places I visited. I loved watching people from different backgrounds, all breathing and living the European lifestyle. And I noticed that the “mature” women were mostly very well put together, very chic and elegant and that they had charm. And somehow the essence of of elegance and chic has been forever captured by the French women – Catherine Deneuve, anybody?
Are you a yeller when it comes to your kids? Do you find yourself screaming at them almost all the time? You only told them to clean after themselves fifty times, but who’s counting … So you scream, because when you use your normal, human voice, they seem to somehow be immune to it and not hear you at all? Do you feel like a failure every time you raise your voice? Why don’t they just listen?
It’s a million dollar question. You’ve explained the rules, you’ve shown them what to do, how to make the bed, how to put the dirty clothes away in the hamper. You’ve repeated the instructions again and again. They are smart. They speak English. They make appropriate eye contact and nod as if they understand. And then something happens, and things go wrong again.
So you scream. And they don’t even care, it seems. They got used to it. The screaming now is the new “normal” voice. And you got conditioned, like the Pavlov’s dog – you see your children and you start raising your voice.
I stopped screaming when I got a glimpse of my face in the living room’s mirror. I was in the process of explaining for the hundredth time why the cat litter had to be changed regularly. I looked like a possessed person in need of immediate exorcism. I scared myself. And I thought: “This is how they going to remember me – looking like a monster!”