Everyone struggles with this conflict

500 Words | Writing Prompt

No conflict = no story. What conflicts have you survived, what conflicts are you gearing up for? Or what are you battling as we speak?

How will these conflicts lend meaning to your story?


Work-life balance. Or perhaps more appropriately, work-family balance.  This is the biggest struggle in my life and I suspect that I am not alone.

When I was young I dreamed of a professional career as a business executive leading a company or a public speaker changing people’s views of the world.  Everything I did set me up to succeed in the corporate ladder where I could lead an organization.  It wasn’t until I discovered I was pregnant on a business trip halfway around the world from my husband that I realized that this wasn’t the life I wanted.

They say that women don’t think straight during pregnancy because a lot of the resources that fuel the brain are going towards growing the child.  Well the first decision I made when I was pregnant was to shake things up and change my life.  The seed was actually planted before the pregnancy when I read the 4-Hour Work Week.  At the time I was becoming bored of climbing the corporate ladder and I was tired of working 40 hours a week.  Sometimes there wasn’t enough work to do for 40 hours but I was required to serve my time.

When I realized that I was suddenly going to be responsible for the development of another human being my perspective on life changed.  I didn’t want to be stuck traveling across the world while my little one waited for me at home.  I wanted to experience every moment of his growth.  I didn’t want to miss a moment.  I also began to evaluate the time value of money (not the investing kind, the life kind).  How much could someone pay me to miss out on my child’s first steps or first words?  How much could someone pay me to outsource the raising of my child to some nanny?  The answer was simple.  There wasn’t enough money in the world to convince me that it was a good idea to miss out on my son’s youth.

I gave up my professional engineering career of climbing the corporate ladder to move back to my hometown where I would have the support of my family and my husband’s family business.  This was the toughest decision ever.  How do you throw away everything you ever worked for and not feel some amount of regret?  It really makes you wonder why you invested all of those sleepless nights in studying and cramming for exams.

Now that my son is in preschool I wonder if I made the right decision.  I wonder if I should go back to the corporate world where I have been conditioned to succeed.  But every time I entertain the idea I recognize that there are other less conventional career paths that could set me up for a more family-centered lifestyle.  A lifestyle that isn’t dictated by the 40 hour work week.  A lifestyle that allows me to sleep in or take off to visit with friends that just so happen to be in town.  Ultimately, this is my goal, to cultivate a life that is centered around my family, my friends, and my self.  

 

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How a Shirt Defines You

500 Words | Writing Prompt

If you could design any shirt, what would YOU put on it?

And what would happen when you wore it out in public? Would people stare? Would it start a conversation? Write about a t-shirt you would love to create. Or see.


My favorite shirt’s have no words, only illustrations.  Preferably an illustration that I can identify with.  After all, what we wear portrays who we are.  Usually I would buy the cheapest solid shirt option that I can find.  A shirt with a print often costs significantly more.  I never understood the value of paying so much for a shirt when there were so many cheaper options.  The fact that I am now willing to pay $20+ for a shirt is a testament to my growth in valuing the message that my shirt conveys.

One of my favorite shirt’s is from Disney.  The seagulls from Finding Nemo are lined up in a grid covering the front of the shirt and in the corner it says, “Mine, Mine, Mine”.  I love it!

I also once splurged on a shirt from our visit to Kennedy Space Center because it had a nice space shuttle on the front.  It made me feel geeky (in a good way).

The majority of my other shirts are from the various marathons, half marathons, or other runs that I have participated in.

My favorite freebie shirt says, “Get Shift Done” with an emphasis on “Shit” (as opposed to “Shift”); the F is grayed out.  I like to wear it when I am trying to be productive.  Every time I look down I remember that I should not be procrastinating by scrolling through my facebook feed, I should be getting shit done.

My shirt collection reflects who I am.  So if I were designing a shirt I would probably put a bird or a robot on it.  Or maybe it would be a bird robot.

Alternatively, family shirt collections can be a lot of fun.  For father’s day I made a collection of truck shirts inspired by my son’s love for trucks.  My son’s shirt said, “Plays with trucks.”  My husband’s shirt said, “Drives big trucks.”  My shirt said, “Rides in trucks.”  I love it because it truly captures who we were as a family in that point of time.

If I did design a shirt, I wouldn’t want it to result in staring when worn in public.  Generally, I like being invisible.  Solid shirts allow me to blend in.  My shirt design would be a subtle declaration of some part of my identity.  If it resulted in a conversation with a like-minded person then that would be fine.  But I definitely wouldn’t want someone gawking at my shirt while I am walking down the street.

All of this rambling has led to my conclusion that shirt’s are really important for spreading a message.  I like uplifting messages or funny messages or motivating messages.  If there is one message that defines my life that I wouldn’t mind wearing or discussing, it is:

Love never fails.

This could be depicted with the silhouette of a couple embracing, or a family frolicking, or a pair of birds feeding their young in the nest, or the never ending attraction of a proton and an electron.  The possibilities are endless since everyone experiences love differently.

What If I Never Experienced Bells Palsy

 

500 Words | Writing Prompt

We face choices every day. Near misses. She gets off the train just seconds before you hop on.

Take a chance to play a scenario differently. Make a different choice, or hear a different answer, and see what happens.


 

It was a Sunday morning and I slept in late (sixth grader’s need a lot of sleep).  I woke up because I was baking in the afternoon sun shining through my window.  It was hot.  My hair was disheveled and stuck to my face and my eye felt swollen.  I went to the bathroom to get washed up and I heard my family assembling in the backyard for a game of badminton.  I could heard my Dad hollering, “Everybody come out and play!”

I quickly washed up and rushed downstairs to join my three siblings and parents in whacking the birdie back and forth in the yard.  During the game, my eye continued to tear and my sister commented that it looked red.  I shrugged and reasoned that it might have been pink eye or some kind of allergy.  I made it through the badminton game and dinner and went right back to bed.

My Mom woke me early to prepare for school.  My eye still felt swollen and there was a lot of tingling on the side of my face.  I figured I was still waking up so I got dressed and ate breakfast.  I was sitting on the stairs putting my socks on when my Dad said, “What’s wrong with your face?!?”  I felt a moment of dread before I asked, “I don’t know. My eye feels swollen. Is there something else?”  My Dad began frantically telling my Mom to take me to the doctor because something didn’t look right.

My Mom calmly assured my Dad that she would take me in.  She called for an urgent appointment and my normal pediatrician was not available so I was scheduled to see the pediatrician that shared the office.  After dropping off all of my siblings to school we went to the see the doctor.  He took one look at me and said, “You have Bell’s Palsy.”  He immediately referred me to a neurologist for my half-paralyzed face.

The neurologist had a booked schedule.  It took a few days to get an appointment and receive treatment.  The best part is that they told me there wasn’t much that could be done.  They prescribed me some steroids and sent me home.  They suggested that if I had come sooner there would have been more hope that the steroids would be effective but since I had been paralyzed for a few days we would have to wait and see if the steroids had any positive effect at all.

As a child, this was quite traumatic.
How could my face stop working?
What will the other kids say when I go to school?
Is this paralysis permanent?
How can I live like this?

It’s been decades and my life has been changed for the better due to this pivotal moment.   While the other kids forced me to hide in the bathroom to avoid the hurtful words, I learned that self-worth comes from within.

Who cares what other people think?
All that matters is that I love myself.

What if I didn’t choose to love myself?
What if I didn’t choose to live?
What if I allowed this moment to be the final moment?

I never would have received my miracle of healing.  It was only after I attended a healing mass that my face began to show signs of improvement.  Everyday I would try the salt test.  I would put a few grains of salt on the paralyzed side of my tongue to see if there was any flavor.  I often had to sprinkle a few grains on both sides just so I could remember the taste.  I’ll never forget the day that there was a hint of flavor.  God must have heard my prayers and helped me to choose life.

I never would have learned to deal with stress.  I have had a few Bell’s Palsy relapse scares.  Every day I look in the mirror and wrinkle my forehead, wink my eye, smile and frown, just to be sure that everything is still working.  When there are a lot of things going on I can sometimes feel the tingling starting.  The first time this happened my husband thought I was lying.  The doctor confirmed that there was some swelling on one side of my face (so I wasn’t going crazy).  But they wouldn’t prescribe anything unless there was actual paralysis.  So I went home and turned off the stress.  I would get lost in a book or make lists of things to do.  The fear of facial paralysis prevents me from succumbing to stress.

I never would have experienced and overcome depression.
The kind of depression that is triggered by childhood resentment and is shadowed by the love of a bird.  A depression that only grows deeper when the bird dies an untimely death due to fatty liver disease.  A depression that translates into hoarding.  Hoarding that is overcome by love.

I never would have known love;
the love from a husband and the love from a child.
The love of a family.

App Review: Spotify

My Samsung Galaxy (Vibrant and now S3) is an extension of me. When I first got it a few years ago I was really skeptical that it would be worthwhile to have a smartphone. But from the day that I got it I was constantly finding a new use for it. I can’t possibly imagine life without it anymore.

So modeling after The Happiness Project blog I’m making Tuesdays my app review day. I had over 100 apps on my old Vibrant and now I’m a little more selective with the S3 but I’ll just keep at it until I run out of apps to review. Maybe if I get close you’ll leave some ideas on apps I should review.

Alright so the app that I’m currently raving about is Spotify.

Spotify can be used on a variety of platforms like your computer (PC or Mac) or smart phone (iAnything or Android).
Regardless of what device you use you have to download the Spotify app.

I love Spotify because it’s cost-effective, has nearly everything I’d want to listen to, and has an offline option.

I can listen to music offline if I pay $9.99/mo for Spotify Premium.  If I buy music outright I might pay about $1/song.  So if I can find at least 10 new songs per month then it makes sense.  So far I’ve used Spotify to explore new artists and new albums.  Usually music is available on Spotify when the album is released to the public.

Even if you don’t want to pay for Spotify Premium, just try out the basic Spotify.  I have been using Spotify (no premium) for almost a year now.  I only switched to premium because they launched their Android mobile app and now it makes perfect sense to have premium so that I don’t have to worry about needing to stream music.  If there’s a song you hear on the radio that you just can’t get enough of, Spotify is your answer.  Check it out and you won’t be disappointed.

Mission: Inspiration and Motivation

One of the important things about this blog that I’ve failed to address is what’s the point? At first I thought the purpose was simply to document the everyday happenings in my life but now I’m realizing that there needs to be something more.
At this point in time I think the purpose is simply to find my voice. I’ve always liked the idea of blogging and sharing my thoughts with the world but I often find myself questioning if anyone will find anything that I write worth reading.
But the next issue of writing is always to find a topic to write about. I guess right now my main goal is to create a place that I can go to for inspiration and motivation.
I found my first bunch of entries to be okay and it looks like I got quite a bit of page views. Probably moreso because I was reviewing popular movies.  I digress … which I tend to do a lot.
So the goal here is motivation and inspiration.