Tag Archives: Family

My Personal Celebration of Women’s History

Celebrating the Women Who Made Me

It’s March.  It’s Women’s History Month.  And when we began discussing fabulous historical females here at #AIBC, I kept hitting walls.  I was never that great at historical timelines and dates… I cannot tell you who the 17th President of the United States (or any of the others for that matter) was.  I’m better at recognizing the voice of a singer about 10 seconds into a song.  But I CAN remember the women who have made a difference in my history so far, and today I would like to thank them.

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It is cliche to start with my mother, so I won’t go into great detail, but she is obviously where I began.  She is the source of my kindness, my compassion, my deep rooted desire to give back and help others, my sense of family, and an amazing example of being the glue that holds everything together.  It goes without saying that she should be mentioned, but she deserves an eternity of recognition and celebration all her own.  So I will move on for now.

The single event that will forever shape my life?  As a child, I had cancer.

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Dr. Judy Ochs was my pediatric oncologist when I was a patient at St. Jude.  She is the reason I wanted to enter health care, from a very young age.  She gave me the stethoscope off her neck and told me I could be a doctor when I grew up.  She was brilliant, kind, and loving.  If I could reach out and connect with her today, I would not even begin to know how to thank her.  She was part of the team that fought to give me a future.  You can’t make much more of an investment in someone.  I owe her a great deal.

 

The most formative years for a person are their school years.  The list of amazing females I encountered along the way is long.  Miss Lyle was was the first teacher I ever had.  Kindergarten.  I could read, say the ABC’s – she loved me and I was officially enamoured with being the teacher’s pet.  I may not remember why, or what made me stand out to her, but she always supported me, and throughout my life she would brag about how fantastic I was.  That does wonders for a girl’s self esteem.  Especially when said girl has zero self confidence, and gets picked on quite frequently.  For seeing something great in me, I would like to thank her.

Mrs. Linda Arant kindled my love for music and to this day that carries over into every aspect of my life.  Mrs. Sarah Love encouraged me to excell at everything I could get my hands on.  I still try to do it all.  Sometimes that is hard, but I thrive under pressure and I truly thank her for showing me I could do anything.  Mrs. Pam Shelton taught me how to type fast and blessed me with the invaluable etiquette skills I still reference to this very day.  In addition, she was strong-willed and never took no for an answer.  When she believed in something, by damn it was going to be a success.  Ms. Carrie Boykin was the popular teacher in our high school.  I could never really tell if she liked me, but that kept me on my toes.  She dealt out the tough love with directness.  I definitely wasn’t teacher’s pet, and she helped me develop a thick skin and a sense of independence while somehow influencing my future career path. Carrie taught me to fight for the things I wanted to achieve because they sure as hell were not going to be handed to me.  For that, I am grateful.

Mississippi University for Women.  There were so many influential encounters with fantastic women in college.  I cannot list them all or I would be writing for days.  Classmates, professors, friends…but heads and shoulders above most are the women of the Highlander and BlackList Social Clubs.  These are the sisters I never had, the friends that last the rest of your lifetime, the people that rush to your side when you are in need and when you are celebrating life’s successes, these women are my family.   The connections with all of the incredible women I met along the way are literally still a part of my life every single day – I truly am the person I am today because I was a W Girl.

Female Scientists in the Laboratory.  Lynn Ingram, Jackie Li, and Donna Patterson…  These women have shaped me more than they will ever know.  Tough love, directness, honesty, compassion, and true friendship are the commonalities among the three, but each of them are special to me in very different ways.  Lynn took me under her wing and gave me every opportunity for professional growth and development I could have ever imagined while also becoming like a mother to me.  I can rely on her to call me out when I am getting out of line.  Jackie Li is brilliant, a very hard worker, dedicated to being a good steward and providing quality patient care while also maintaining a very high level of professionalism.  The day she told me that I reminded her of herself, I knew she was invested in helping me be the best I could be, and she has pushed me more than any manager or supervisor ever has before.  I have learned so much from her.  Donna Patterson amazes me daily, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from her and grow as a leader in my profession.  She balances work and life better than anyone I have ever known, but she does not miss a beat in the process.  She knows everything going on in our department every minute while still being willing to take the time to give me advice and answer the smallest quetions.  I can only hope to be like Donna when I grow up.

I have missed many women in this post because there is no way to mention them all.  However, I would like to challenge you to think about the women that have played a role in your life.  How did they each shape you?  How did they help you to succeed?  Did they make you the person you are today?

Happy Women’s History Month!  Try to celebrate the women that are important to you everyday — you don’t need anyone’s permission to do so!

ZenKitty
#ThankYou
#WomensHistory

Take That, Cupid!

Valentine’s Day. Every February those two words strike fear and anticipation into the hearts and wallets of people everywhere. No gender, religion or relationship status can quite get us out of the path of this heart-slinging, chocolate inhaling holiday.

Vday chocolate

There’s always been something slightly disturbing to me about a day that celebrates full-figured babies shooting arrows at people, but it’s been a love-hate situation with me and V-day since the beginning.

High school was all about cutesy love notes and “perfect” gifts. Hold your reflux. In college, I embraced the suck of single lady-hood and threw monster anti-Valentine’s Day parties that made even the happily coupled want to slap each other and call things off. Yep. That was me. Married life turned the day to nothing except a flashback pity party. Boo-hoo. Hence, my new incarnation as a soon-to-be divorcee staring down today with a double dare in my eye.

vday watching

I refuse to be that bitter break-up victim today.

We all have our issues with Valentine’s Day past, present and future. It’s a day that makes you look at your life from a very uncomfortable angle. Who am I in relation to those I love? What is love to me? Am I loved or loving? If I don’t have romantic love now, will I ever?

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You know your answers. I know mine, as uncertain and disturbingly honest as they are.

Today, I choose love. I sign my name to a couple of  heart-shaped cards and tape them to cartoon character embossed boxes of chocolates knowing that I’m closer to true love than ever before in my life. This is what it feels like to love without boundaries and without a thought to the consequences of opening my heart so completely to two mini-mes. It may not be the type of love that half-naked cherub was aiming for when he shot, but the effects are permanent.

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I remind myself that I don’t need to be part of a couple to know real love. If that opportunity ever does cross my path again (not probable, but possible), this is my gauge. Those arms that almost squeeze the breath out of me when little voices wish me “Happy Valentine’s Day” today will measure what “twue wuv” can be in my future. God help the hypothetical person who walks into that competition if he exists. This feeling  is a lot to live up to.

It’s enough to celebrate the whole year. Especially with chocolate.

Much love to you all,

Melanie

Hey, Ladies! Don’t Be a Super Bowl Killjoy

Admit it, girls: no one of us is perfect. Don’t worry. The guys aren’t listening, and we’ll never admit you said it later in the interest of blogger/reader confidentiality. This morning we posted a timely tidbit you may have passed on to your significant other about being a gent on gameday. In the interest of fairness, AIBC now offers you the female version of said list.

Yes. This is completely necessary. If you plan to sit in on any Super Bowl festivities when the horn blows tomorrow, be sure to read this first.

1.) Don’t be that girl.

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This is the most important game of the year. The spread is perfect. The friends are gathered. This isn’t the time to suddenly get the urge to talk relationship b.s. (or pretty much anything that doesn’t relate to the game, commercials, halftime show or party). Save it until after the game if you’re feeling insecure about him paying more attention to the TV or his pals today. Football season is over tomorrow anyway. Save the drama for mañana .

2.) Don’t assume. Not every other female at the party is there to talk about daycare and eat cheese dip. Some ladies really do like football without any male influence whatsoever.

football girls

This rule also applies vice versa if you are the football chick in the crowd. If it’s clear the female you sit on the couch next to is more interested in whether Flea will be wearing only a sock at halftime, don’t bother mentioning that wide receiver’s numbers for the year. Just offer her a frosty beverage and smile.

3.) This is not your gym or a Weight Watchers meeting. Unless someone specifically asks you how many calories are in that cheeseburger or is wagering on the number of sit-ups it would take to burn off those chips, keep it to yourself. Not everyone in the room made a New Year’s resolution to go Vegan or lose twenty pounds by swimsuit season, and some of them would probably like to enjoy the party without over-analyzing the deliciousness.

football food

Lighten up! Just pop that pizza roll in your mouth already and indulge for a minute. You can hit the treadmill double time tomorrow or eat half as much gluten. Whatever you need to do. Just can’t let loose? Suck on that celery stick and smile proudly for keeping your willpower/higher standards without guilting everyone else. Have a pat on the back. Go, you!

4.) Stupidity is not cute.

football bieber

Ignorance of the game of football is not a crime, but using it as a reason to bat your eyelashes at someone is just stupid. Learn the difference. If you honestly don’t know much about the game, ask questions around the plays or when a willing tutor is near the food table. Save big questions for after the game, or get an overview from some knowledgeable fan before it starts. Don’t sell yourself short by playing the girl who just doesn’t get it so some person will pay attention. If that’s your only game, you need a new playbook.

5.) Treat his friends as you would treat your own. This may sound like “Good Hostess 101” stuff, but it’s a common discourtesy. Just because his buds sometimes vaguely resemble animals doesn’t mean you should treat them like dogs. Sure. They are mostly scruffier, messier and less hospitable guests than your peeps; but they’re his, and he’s yours. It’s a package deal, sweetheart. Feed them. Football them. Find a way to love them yourself. Their wolf pack mentality may just rub off on you if you actually join them. You might just find you like being the Alpha female.

football Wolf-Pack-Only

If you stick to these rules, you’re sure to have a catty-free Super Bowl Sunday this year. Game on, and may the best team win!

Melanie

RAACK of the Day: The List that Keeps Giving

The gauntlet has been thrown.

Can you make it through our 25 Random Acts of Anti-Catty Kindness?

The first five deeds went up December 5. From here on out, we’ll post one new RAACK of the Day here (in descending order for ease of use). Come back and see if you can make it to Santa’s nice list after all…and don’t try to cheat by skipping numbers. That jolly old elf has eyes everywhere!

24.) Memorialize.
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Today’s random act of kindness focuses on you and your family. Christmas holidays are about a lot of things, but one of the biggest is memories. We spend a lot of time remembering things that have come and gone: last Christmas, the Christmas when all the cousins were under the age of 10, the Christmas where you were alone and couldn’t make it home to be with the rest of your family. But we should also take the time to remember those who are no longer with us.

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Life is actually a whole bunch of memories strung together. Revisit those that are important to you, but do not get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays that you forget to make new memories this year. This RAACK will ensure your holiday is great one: make it be just the way you want to remember!

I’m glad you read this, now put down your cell phone and go make some memories!!

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23.) Spread some holiday cheer. There’s a town or city full of people around you every day who could use a little boost for the season. You can make it happen easily on the cheap.

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Attain one pack of holiday cards from any store. Take a break to fill them out as needed, and deliver in person. No need for a middle man, stamps or even the name of your addressee.

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The recipients are yours to choose. You could take some to the local NICU or children’s hospital specifically signed as get well cards. They could become festive thank you notes to volunteers of a local charitable organization. You could pass some out to random people on the street or people in your neighborhood.

Just be ready to cut yourself off!

stop me

The possibilities for this easy RAACK are endless enough that you may find yourself buying another pack of cards (or two or three) to keep going. Know your limits.

22.) Deliver some warmth. Take a meal to someone who needs it.

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Your recipient can be the homeless man under the bridge, the lone retiree next door or the new mom still recovering from the maternity ward.

This doesn’t have to be a Top Chef challenge. If you feel the need to go all Martha Stewart and break out the casserole dish, knock yourself out. Just know there’s no shame in a nice bag of take out.

yum

A warm, already prepared meal with little to no clean up  tastes like heaven no matter if it came from your oven or the restaurant down the street.

21.) Gift the givers and the needy. Preheat the oven or break out the credit card, today you get to play Keebler elf.

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Make up your mind now. It’s time to either break out that June Cleaver apron or find the cookie aisle quickly. There are people out there in desperate need of a Christmas cookie fix to make the chaos and stress of the season disappear in a blur of sugar induced holiday cheer.

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Find your favorite recipe. Snickerdoodles. Fruit cake cookies. Gingerbread men. Whatever your brand of deliciousness, multiply the ingredients by at least two and find some cute-sy goodie bags or boxes to hold them.

More of an Oreo or Chips Ahoy kind of baker? Grab three or four bags and prepare for delivery.

Take your sleigh to the nearest fire department, police station, E911 headquarters or emergency room and pass around the love to the overworked and underappreciated staff.

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Deliver a batch to the local homeless shelter or haven for domestic abuse victims and share some homemade (or close enough) sweets and a few happy tidings for the holiday. If you’re feeling particularly generous, grab a couple of quarts of milk and some red solo cups to pair with the yum.

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And yes, you may have one or two cookies solely in the name of testing while you’re packing everything in the car. Playing guinea pig is part of your job as a do-gooder.

Come on! You can’t save all of the tasty stuff for the head elf.

20.) Give the gift of fun.

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Schedule an “all you” night with the family or your besties tonight. Gather their favorite things together for a surprise, or you can let them choose it all from the munchies to the place and the activity.

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No grunts or groans from you, either. If you’d rather have Tex-Mex than Chinese food or prefer going out to a movie instead of staying in for a Just Dance video game marathon, keep it to yourself. It’s all about them tonight.

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19.) Say “thank you.” There’s no telling how many people are owed this phrase every day who just don’t get it. How many actual random acts of kindness (instead of the meticulously planned out ones) pass through our little lives every day without a nod, wink or word of gratitude?

How funny that we never think of ourselves as spoiled children. Guess what, ladies? The world doesn’t owe us a thing. The second we forget that and take the little things that make the day not suck so much for granted, that’s exactly the role we’re playing.

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Today is make up day.

You don’t have to write a note or send an e-card to make things official unless you feel the need. Just spend 24 hours being openly thankful.

Every time someone holds a door for you, offers you a pen when yours is at the bottom of your purse or just smiles when you walk by, acknowledge them.

Tell your co-worker how your morning mood lifts when she’s made that pot of coffee before everyone gets to the office. Give your significant other an extra kiss for letting the dog out. Praise your kids for getting ready without the sibling version of WWE smackdown this morning. Let your friend know how much you appreciate her sitting through the gripe-fest about your boss last night.

There’s plenty to be thankful for if we take time to see it and say it in some way.

Oh. By the way, thanks for reading and RAACKing from the AIBC team.

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18.) Tell your mama you love her. There’s not a woman among us who doesn’t have some form of mother issues.

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Is she too clingy? Too distant? Too open with her (mostly negative) opinions? Too up in your business? Too uninterested in your daily drama? Join the club and suck it up, Buttercup.

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Whatever your excuse is for never calling or visiting, put it aside for a day. Nobody’s perfect. And we do mean nobody. Hint, hint.

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Remember how blessed you are to have a mother to roll your eyes at or share your happiest moments. Not everyone is so lucky.

Life is too short to let things that are minor in the long run ruin a perfectly normal dysfunctional relationship. Whether you’re a gushy girl or more of the punch-her-in-the-arm-and-grunt-ditto kind, say it and show it while you can.

17.) Shut the pie-hole. Remember when Mom told you that if you can’t say anything nice, not to say anything at all? Try that Yoda-ism out for a while.

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Initiate a No Nag/No Complaining Day with your family. That means if your significant other forgets to take the trash out or or leaves the toilet seat up you have to let it go. Just for today. You can do it! Bite that lip.

When the dog eats half your shoe and your child writes on the wall with crayons, give yourself a timeout and tame that tongue. Practice with me: “Man, I hated those heels,” and “That’s very creative, Johnny. I was planning on painting that wall anyway.” You can still politely pass the time-out corner to Monet, by the way.

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BUT this RAACK also means the family has to try to follow the rules, too. When you put that broccoli on their plates, the kids should say, “Yum, Mother. Thanks for preparing such nutritious food.” When you wash your hubby’s work pants with the pen still in the pocket, the correct response should be, “Those khakis needed a little more color, honey. Thanks!”

It could happen.

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The challenge might not be easy, but the end result should be a more B.S. filled and relaxed atmosphere for the whole family.

*If you’re single and fabulous, apply this RAACK to your work environment. Co-workers are just as likely to reciprocate as children and spouses.*

Happy holidays! Enjoy the un-sassy while it lasts.

16.) Volunteer. You know you’ve had this on your list of New Year’s resolutions at least once in the past five years. Make it happen.

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You may not be able to go help out today, but at least find a place to do so. Find an organization that can use the skills you have. Whether it’s showing people how to interview for jobs properly, registering runners at a charitable 5k or the making kids laugh at an orphanage, find a cause that touches you heart (for whatever reason) and commit.

smarty volunteer

You can  start with a short-term gig raising money for a charity or set aside time each week to volunteer for however long you can. It doesn’t matter if you’re there 30 minutes or two hours. Even if you’re a one-shot volunteer, your donation of time and self could be the donation that helps some group out there help someone else.

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15.) Embrace a grandma. It’s totally up to you how literal you want to get with this one, but the AIBC team is willing to bet you know an awesome senior lady who could use that hug.


You know who she is. The mother-of-all at your synagogue or church. The old head that takes everyone under her wing at work. An elderly neighbor who lives alone. The lonely lady who never has visitors at the old folks’ home. It could even be your actual grandmother. Do something to show one of these ladies she’s appreciated today.

Not a touchy-feely person?

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Show that gratitude with a simple gift: A soft set of jammies for Grammie, a nice devotional for the spiritual Mother Hen or a warm throw for the forgotten at the home.

But the most important part of this RAACK is not to run from it. Take your coat off. Have a cocoa and some conversation. Stay a while. Sometimes a little companionship is the best gift of all.

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14.) Clear Your Closet for Good. If you’re anything like the AIBC team, there’s very little room for the skeletons in your closet because of all of the junk you’ve accumulated over the years.

Why not let someone who needs it put some of that stuff to good use? This is just one Saturday, so we’re not expecting miracles. Let’s try for one closet cleared; not all of them. You can work through the others later.

Pick your closet and make room for three piles: “Keep,” “Give” and “Throw Away.” Go through your belonging with an honest eye. If you haven’t worn or used it in a year, get rid of it. If you haven’t worn a size six since college, donate those “one day” skinny jeans to someone who can wear them right now. If you think it’s too out of style to wear, don’t trash it. Someone out there will love it and hug it and call it vintage.

When you get your piles ready, pack up the “Give” stack to donate to a local charity. Whether you go to the Salvation Army, a veteran’s organization or a battered women’s shelter, your unwanted things can make a very big difference for somebody in your community.
13.) Donate a date. Have a favorite couple? Give them an easy date night in. They don’t even have to squabble over what to do. It’s movie night!

Even your work as an instigator is a no brain-er.

duh

Rent a movie from the Redbox. When in doubt about movie choice, go for the funny or a holiday classic. Package up some popcorn, sodas and candy. Attach a nice card with sweet sentiments and info on when to get the movie back the next day. Ding-dong ditch, and you’re done!

12.) Wrangle some kids. Offer a mom a few hours off. This is one of the most overwhelming times of year to be a parent. On top of job expectations, family commitments and holiday add-ons, they have to compete with someone who magically flies around the world in one night leaving a trail of gifts for everyone.

Parents put so much pressure on themselves to make the holidays “perfect” for their kids. Finding the perfect gift. Attending the most fun holiday events. Including the extended family. Making new traditions that matter. There’s this misconception that the whole thing should look like the front of a Hallmark card.

Dashing Through The No. . ifa

It just never works out that way. Nothing including human family is ever perfect, and getting over that takes some getting used to.

Give some mom you know a few hours to herself to embrace the imperfect beauty of knowing teens will roll their eyes at anything Christmas related, and the little ones will play with the boxes while their new toys cover the floor. It’s okay. Enjoy your break, Zen Mama.

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Or if she isn’t there yet, let her spend the whole time playing chicken with the other carts in the local toy store while she scrambles to grab the last Skylanders game.
Just give her an opportunity to do whatever on her own for more than a minute. The “free babysitter for an afternoon” coupon is a gift even the man in the big red suit can’t upstage.

11.) Be a flatterer. You don’t have to be a kiss-up for the rest of the year, but today you are the Queen of Kindness. So, pucker up!

courtesy of designsbyck.blogspot.com
courtesy of designsbyck.blogspot.com

You need to hand out three compliments today. You read that right. Just three compliments.

That doesn’t sound that hard, right? The only kicker is they have to all be sincere. That means no “Kelly, I LOVE your new hair cut” as you roll your eyes when she leaves. Find someone doing something worth a word of praise, and give it up.

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Is your child quick to help his/her sibling put on a coat before you leave for school? Recognize what a sweet gesture that is. Does someone in your office always refill the copier before the paper disappears? Call them on their efficient generosity. Did your friend call up just to see if you having a good day? What a thoughtful person she is!

You don’t have to hand out empty kudos to mark this RAACK off your nice list. It’s as simple as paying a compliment where one is truly due.

Get out there and kiss some tail today for all the right reasons! You may find that once you start looking for positives to endorse you notice more real reasons to say something nice than you would have believed.

10.) Adopt a single. Nobody wants to feel alone at this time of year. While you gush over your significant other watching Miracle on 34th Street with you for the hundredth time or the fabulous scarf he/she couldn’t wait until Christmas morning to give you, pay attention. You could unwittingly be making a single person want to vomit or hurt you. Or both.

Catfight

Today’s RAACK isn’t about pitying those who chose single life; it’s about pausing to think about those we love who are free of the choke hold of the cliched better half.

beary single

But that freedom sometimes means none of the pluses that come from that connection, too. The holiday hype tends to rub that salt in a little.

Be that one awesome friend (or family member) to serve as a reminder that the ho-ho-holiday doesn’t equate to lonely or less than. She is loved and appreciated and wonderful just as herself. No arm candy required.

single

Fill an inappropriately funny card with an iTunes or mani/pedi  gift card as a happy. Invite her to do amateur mani/pedis at your house while watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and drinking eggnog. Bring her to the local Nutcracker production. Sing her a spontaneous Christmas carol. And fa-la-la-la-la, the list goes on.

Just find a way to be that red-nosed  light pointing the way to the end of these touchy- feely holidays. This, too, shall pass in a couple of weeks.

9.) Be a delivery girl (a.k.a., some random co-worker’s deliverance).

In honor of another fabulous Monday to start the work week, AIBC is taking it easy on the RAACK today. It’s hard enough to roll out of bed after the weekend, much less trudge back to that time clock.

Overworked

Number nine is a saintly job you can perform while on the job. Two birds and one stone? That’s a winner. Your new position is now officially Office Angel for the day. Wield your power wisely, Grasshopper.

As a Guardian of the Overworked, it shouldn’t be hard to find a deserving recipient .

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Bring coffee to that co-worker who came in before the crack of dawn to handle loose ends. Grab an extra to-go order at noon for the colleague who gave up her lunch hour to keep the office from getting behind. Score a soda or some snack machine gold for that newbie who looks like her head might explode by day’s end.

courtesy allwomenstalk.com
courtesy allwomenstalk.com

Serve whichever up with a smile, and your RAACK may just be the talk of the office today…IF you care about that kind of thing.

We guarantee your colleague will thank you, and you may have a new work buddy for life. If not, at least you can dodge a bullet when that newbie goes postal later.

8.) Reconnect if you dare. We all have list of family and friends who’ve fallen by the wayside over the years. We’re not suggesting a reunion with anyone you’ve un-friended on FaceBook or disowned; just try one of the few you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

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Pick one of those long-lost links, and get to it. Send an email or chat online today. Dial that cell phone. Write a letter if you want to go old school. Just reach out and try to make a real connection. It doesn’t matter if you only find out how they’re doing or take it further by setting a time to meet for coffee, you won’t know what you’re missing until you mark this one off the list.

And if the reunion only reminds you why you haven’t hung out in so long, you know what to do.

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7.) Thank a sister-in-arms. This is one of the hardest times of year for our military to be away from home, so send a card or happy box to a soldier deployed for the holidays. It’s funny how much you miss your grandma’s overcooked Christmas ham and the kids waking you up at 3 a.m. for presents when there’s no option to be there.

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Online organizations such as AnySoldier.com make it simple to get the name and address of a deployed soldier from any branch with a list of items he/she really needs to make that separation a little easier. It typically takes about two weeks for a package to make it to the Middle East, so there’s still time to play Santa to someone who’s working hard to keep you safe year-round. Don’t have time to make a package? You can donate funds at give2thetroops.org or shop for last minute gifts through their online mall for your purchases to give even more.

6.) Be that surrogate sister, daughter, etc.

dysfunctional family

Reach out to that co-worker, neighbor or random acquaintance who doesn’t have family in the area and set up a play date. Invite them to dinner, take in a movie or attend one of your local holiday festivities together. Even if you just grab a cup of coffee on the run, take a minute to show you care.

5.)    Be the office fairy. Dole out some anonymous treats when no one is looking: homemade goodies, a small gift card to a local shop or even seasonal swag are enough to bring a smile. Watch for people who need a holiday pick-me-up or the ones you know have worked their duffs off with little to no recognition.  How about the intern that makes everyone copies or the tech girl whose hair has started going gray since she started trying to explain Windows 8 to the boss?

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Deploy your gift, stand back and watch the magic. A little happy can go a long way in keeping the co-worker cats purring.

4.)    Get Star Student Status. Send a treat to your child’s teacher. You don’t have to wait until the last day of school before the holiday. It can be a handmade happy or something swankier. Just say thank you. This person isn’t just dealing with your kid’s version of silly; there’s a whole class full of it. And they aren’t allowed to hand out coal and switches at school anymore. Don’t have kids? Send something to one of your former teachers. You remember how much lip you used to give Mrs. King…

thank teacher

3.)    Say, “Cut This!” Let that exasperated mom wrangling two screaming kids through the checkout line at Walmart in front of you.

courtesy chicagocounseling.org

courtesy chicagocounseling.org

It’s a just few more minutes of your time, and you may have just saved her from an aneurism.

2.)    Make a Cross Town Treaty. You know that lady with her car hanging half out of the parking lot into traffic who obviously needs to get somewhere fast? Let her out. If she already cut you off, wrestle down that rising middle finger and replace it with a smile. It really won’t kill you. We promise. Turn up the radio and jam out afterward to shake off the angst.

funny-Gotye-cut-me-off-driving

1.)    Act Like a Girl Scout.

girl scout

Offer that senior citizen in the grocery store a hand reaching for the bread on the top shelf or assist in finding her brand of ketchup. Want to be extra nice? See if she needs any help getting her goods to the car later. Just be sure to offer your services in a way that isn’t too creepy.

Reader Submission: Hormonal for the Holidays

Overly Sensitive writes:
In my current situation, I would classify myself as the mouse, but with the upcoming holidays approaching, I’m sure I can easily become the cat! Let me explain…. I often try to let things go. With saying that, I am also a woman, and tend to hold a grudge. I did say “try”!
I recently had our third addition to the family, a beautiful baby girl! Here is where the problem is…my sister-in-law has not contacted me one time since I have had the baby! Not a visit, call, card, or even a text! Not a big deal, right?! Our girl was born in September!! Wait, I did receive one text 3 days after our baby was born, our first day home from the hospital, it was a picture of her daughter and a boy going to a school dance. I replied how pretty she looked, then never got a response. When our baby turned 7 weeks old, I contacted my sister-in-law to let her know how hurt I was. She said she was not proud of herself, but has been too busy. Really?!
Did I mention that we have been family for over 15 years now and she only lives an hour and a half our house? Am I over reacting, or is this how families are? And how do I get through the upcoming holidays, when we will be forced to see each other, without displaying my hurt and/or catty tendencies?

Maybe it’s not about the baby?

Well, Overly Sensitive…
To answer your questions: yes. This is how some families are and yes, you might be over reacting just a little. But you did just have a baby. You said you were overly sensitive, and hey we get it. Hormones are evil, evil things — you let things go but you tend to hold grudges… sounds about right to us. But to address the bigger issue of how to get through the holidays without staying hidden under the bed or lunging – claws out – for your SIL like a threatened feral mama cat, we do have a few insights to offer you.

 

1. First and foremost: Great job being honest and telling your SIL that your feelings were hurt. Passive aggressive is definitely the wrong way to go, and you seem to be comfortable being upfront with her about how she has made you feel. This is good. Especially if you arrive to the family Thanksgiving and feel like the distance between you is growing even larger.

 

2. The AIBC Team tossed around the idea that some of us are just better at juggling and acknowledging life events, both those of others and our own. In our catty circle, we range from having the time to say goodmorning to each other every single day to barely finding a minute once a week to make sure the rest of the crew is still breathing. Are you measuring your SIL against yourself? She might not be as well versed at time management, or she might not be as good as you are at expressing/communicating her feelings.

 

3. Or there is the possibility that she could be jealous. You have baby number three, and it sounds like her kids might be teens. Maybe she is dreading the attention that you and baby girl will draw at the family festivities. Maybe she is a seasoned member of the AMA Club (advanced maternal age) and she currently finds herself pining for another bundle of joy that she realistically cannot have.

 

4. And that leads us to our next point. The two of you have been family for 15 years. Does your SIL normally acknowledge big life events with flourish (gift boxes and ponies) or is she usually more low key (email or Facebook message)? We all agreed that her behavior warrants more of your concern if this is out of the ordinary. Something more could be going on.

 

5. Which leads us to say that we completely understand why your feelings were hurt (no one likes to feel forgotten), but you have already talked to your SIL and whether or not you are happy with her reasons for not calling or visiting, she did admit that she was not proud of how she had handled the situation. It might just be time for you to let go of the insult because you will only be hurting yourself if you hold a grudge.

 

 

OS, only you can control how you act toward your SIL during the holidays. If you are still feeling a little hurt then you should absolutely take her aside and have another chat. Face-to-face communication gives you the chance to read her body language. Get all Crucial Conversations on her, and start out by letting her know that something is weighing on you and you want to clear the air. Tell her again that your feelings were hurt, but stress that you have been wondering if there could be more going on that you have been missing. If it isn’t like her to barely acknowledge that she has a new neice, you will be encouraging her to open up by showing concern for her and what is going on in her life. It will start things out on a more comfortable note and give her the opportunity to explain why she has been so busy. There is a pretty good chance she has a reason for not being proud of how she has behaved. Maybe you will learn there are things going on in her family/work/home life that have prevented her from being the type of family member that you wanted/needed her to be the past few months. Listen with an open mind and an open heart. You may both get a huge return on the investment. But there is always the possibility that you may not get anything more from her than you did the first time you talked. You have to be prepared to accept that and know that you tried. You will enjoy the family holiday a whole lot more if you can make peace with yourself and treat your SIL the way that you want to be treated. That’s really all you can do. Let us know how everything goes.
Happy Thanksgiving, and good luck!
The AIBC Team

What’s your ideal Thanksgiving scenario?

As much as you may want to run and hide… there is no more putting it off.   Ready or not, Thanksgiving is this week.  It is time for plans to be finalized.

Funny Thanksgiving Ecard: This year, I'm secretly stuffing the turkey with Prozac . . . so we can finally have a stress-free holiday!

All of us here at AIBC have been discussing what we will be doing for the holidays.  The myriad of events range from cooking an extravagant dinner at home with no extra guests invited, to traveling across multiple state lines for a meal with family only to turn around and make the return trip the next day, to a rag-tag group of friends and neighbors gathered around a table with beer and board games.

So we want to know:  What is your favorite way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday weekend?  (Participate in our poll below.)


And if you end up having a catty encounter during the holiday weekend while you endure racist dinner conversation and a Black Friday shopping beatdown — please send us your stories!  We would love to feature your holiday nightmare for the entertainment of our other readers.

Happy Thanksgiving from ‘ZenKitty2’ and the AIBC Team!

#amibeingcatty
#prozacstuffedturkey
#piewhiskeyfamily

Tom Catt’s Perusing for No Bruisin’ from Wifey

All Hail the Catty Queens!

Long time reader, first time writer here, and I want to say you make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me spit on my screen in rage! So here’s my issue, I travel often for work.  As of last count I’ve been away from my wife and child for about 1/5th of the year (between 60-70 days so far, with another 10-15 to go probably). So here’s the issue, how do you handle the going and coming transition?  With Mom taking up so many of the duties (homework, bath time, etc.) how does Dad (me) handle that when in town, especially when Mom has trouble letting go?  It’s not fair to me or my wife having issues coming and going.  She is cheating herself of time when she won’t let me help our child do homework or get ready for bed.  And I lose some of the precious hours I would otherwise get because she doesn’t want to let me do for the child. What’s the compromise?  How can we survive?  How can we transition in such a way that we are both happy?

Thanks for your thoughts, catty and constructive, Tom Catt

———————————————————————————————–

Dearest Tom Catt,

First and foremost, you have no idea how happy it makes the AIBC team to hear you say we make you laugh, cry, and spit on your screen in rage.  We are pretty sure more rewarding words have never been spoken. <grin>

First, it is important to point out your acknowledgement that this situation isn’t working for your family is the first step!  Now, let’s hash out some possible reasons WHY this issue is occurring:

1) One possible explanation is that the world’s best wife (see what we did there?) may be trying to be efficient with your time at home by letting you have some down time since you have to take on the burden of being gone from the family.  (However, many of us being mothers and wives, ourselves, we find this unlikely)

2) Additionally, the types of jobs that require lots of travel typically compensate one financially for being away from his/her family a lot.  Is there a chance you are the bread winner and mommy dearest is trying to make up the difference (read balance out her insecurities and justify her purpose) with chores/deeds?  Some of the AIBC team members have experienced these exact feelings!

3) Lastly, this may be a control issue. If Wife Supreme sees what is best because she is around 100% of the time then you need to respect her as a parenting SME (corporate jargon for Subject Matter Expert). She has done that rodeo before and knows what works. There is a chance you may be coming in and unintentionally planting flags, trying to justify your parenting existence at the detriment to everyone’s sanity. THAT BEING SAID, you can likely come in and offer a new perspective that is valuable because we humans are known for getting stuck in ruts and never seeing a better way as a result.

Please note that the three reasons listed above are intended to get your brain gear a-turning, and your situation may not fall under any of these reasons specifically.

So, now that we’ve discussed the potential WHYs, let’s discuss possible next steps:

1)  This all falls back on communication or lack thereof.  We suggest talking t her during a scheduled date night to express your desire to help.
A: You must communicate to her that you want to help
B: You must communicate to her how it makes you feel that she won’t let you help (this can potentially be taken as a stab at your parenting/homework/housework abilities)
C: She must communicate to you why she won’t let you help (is it because of a reason we mentioned or some other reason?)

2)  We think the two of you should sit down together and make a list of things that need to be done daily, weekly, and monthly.  Cliché?  Yes, but honestly it is cliché because it works!  Make a list of the things you would like to take over when you are at home.   Both of you should agree on what and how things should be done (i.e. homework first, 20 minutes of a game or reading, any chores, etc…)  Have an agreement on the front end about expectations and what will happen if they aren’t met.  You take equal responsibility for holding your partner accountable!  For example:  When both parents are in town, Dad cooks dinner and Mom will do the laundry.  Whatever works for the pair, but if Dad drops the dinner duty, well . . .  let’s just say Mom probably has a few aces up her sleeve if Dad’s uncooperative.

3)  The thing is, if you say you want to help out then step up and start helping!   There is nothing sexier than a man that sees dirty clothes on the floor, scratches his head in wonderment musing to himself about why they’d be on the floor instead of in a hamper!

This could be an amazing way for Mom to get some down time when Dad IS in town and helping out.  Encourage her to attend a movie with a girlfriend, shop for herself, or have a glass of wine in the bathtub.   She probably just struggles letting go a little when she’s “on duty” so much of the time.

We can almost guarantee that any man will ALWAYS be able to speak to his wife about wanting to “step up” and take on more house and dad duties. That is the shit we women WISH romance novels were made of.

So, good luck, Tom.  We admire your industry in reaching out to us as the opposite of a Dead-Beat Dad. We’re willing to bet your wife is pretty lucky to have you.

If you think we’ve hit the nail on the head with our response, feel free to have her read it. We’ll happily say it for you, but I can almost guess it will be much better delivered straight from your mouth complete with a box of chocolates, red wine, a spa day, and a dozen red roses.  What?  Too much?

Now please get to work,

The Am I Being Catty Team
AmIBeingCatty.com
#nodeadbeatdadhere
#snowwhitewasafaker
#heymomdadistryingtobeabadasssolethimDUH
#amibeingcatty