Say Thank You

thank you
I truly believe that many people these days lack manners. It is relatively rare to hear those under the age of 40 say “thank you” when a gift or favor is bestowed upon them, and utterances such as “please” and “excuse me” also seem to be increasingly rare. Is this new generation of rudeness and self-entitlement here to stay? Failing to show gratitude is, in my humble opinion, a major character flaw. How hard is it to say THANK YOU, when someone does something nice for you? I don’t know how others were raised, but I was raised to say thank you even if I was given a gift I hated. My brain is programmed to say thank you whenever someone gives me something. Yet I have repeatedly witnessed younger individuals accept gestures and gifts without saying those two small words that carry so much positive energy.

Another thing I am hearing with less frequency is “excuse me” or “pardon me” if someone accidentally bumps another person. Some incredibly rude people have almost mowed me over because they weren’t paying attention to where they were walking or pushing their shopping carts. When this occurs, I can’t help but loudly say, “EXCUSE YOU!”, because I want them to at least be aware of how rude they are. This will at times get a “sorry” or “pardon me”, but at other times, the person angrily continues, spreading negative energy and bumping into people and store displays. I think some people honestly don’t know how to be happy, and that they cling to their anger and misery because it is all they know.

If you have a habit of neglecting to use the phrases mentioned above, try using them to see if they reframe how you see the world. Slow down and stop being so angry at the world. Be nice to people and appreciate their efforts when they do something nice. Express gratitude and spread joy. It’s amazing how powerful and healing saying thank you can be.

Nope, I Really Don’t Want Kids

I do not want kids
People are continually amazed when I reveal my utter lack of desire to have children. Though I have found myself pondering the concept of having children while in relationships (including my most recent one), I find that as a single woman, I truly don’t see myself ever pursuing an opportunity to have a child. I have felt this way my entire life, even when I was married, and knew in my heart that unless a man swept me off my feet and somehow convinced me that having a child would be a great idea, that I would never willingly sign up for motherhood. Yes, I have come very close to agreeing to the whole kid thing, and I think I am probably still at risk of being somehow convinced that the idea might fly, but I would never make such a decision on my own. I have NEVER been the kind of woman who has watched children playing, or has seen babies in a nursery, and thought, I want one! I don’t yearn for the mother-child connection, and I don’t feel the need to create a mini-me.

There are a multitude of reasons besides my general lack of interest in the concept of having children which support my decision to remain child-free, but the three main reasons are:

1. KIDS ARE EXPENSIVE: Raising a child is unbelievably expensive. Be prepared to spend $245,000 to raise a child in the United States from birth at 2013 up to age 18. Here is a reference article so you can see the breakdown of costs:

This is insane to me. I can barely get by as it is, and cannot imagine dealing with the financial burden of raising a child. No thank you.

2. TOO MUCH ON MY PLATE: I have so many projects that demand all of my time and focus, and am well aware of the fact that ALL of that would crumble if I were to have a child. Since I have no intention of redirecting my attention, no children will come into the picture. I certainly would never want to be a neglectful mother, and that is why I would relinquish all of the activities (EXCEPT gym time and eating clean!) that consume the bulk of my time and energy. I am not selfish enough to rob a child of all that he or she should experience, and would make every sacrifice to send the child to the best schools and provide everything possible. That would mean the end of all that I have known in my life as an independent woman.

3. I VALUE MY FREEDOM: It is pretty liberating to be able to leave at a moment’s notice (provided it doesn’t conflict with my work schedule) to go out of town, pop over to a store to run an errand, go out with friends from time to time, or just take a rare nap in the middle of the day. If I had a child, I would have to plan EVERYTHING in advance, arrange for child care, or take the child with me, along with diaper bag, formula, etc. I would feel so incredibly encumbered that I know my spirit would suffer.

For those of you who wonder if I feel any sadness over being childless, I can tell you without hesitation that I value my freedom far more, and as a result, couldn’t be happier about the fact that I have no children. People still seem so shocked by that, as if an adult is supposed to feel some type of longing for parenthood. Society often regards people who choose not to have children as somehow inadequate, which is ridiculous, since those of us without children often have schedule flexibility which people with children can usually only fantasize about, and we have just as much value despite the lack of progeny.

I also find it extremely irritating and condescending when a WOMAN asks me if I have any children, and upon my negative reply, says, “Oh, yeah, that’s why you look so good.” This only prompts me to bust out photos of women in the fitness industry who have borne as many as SIX children and who rock washboard abs and fantastic muscularity and conditioning throughout their bodies. The desire to keep my body in its best shape ever has been a minor factor in my decision to avoid having children, but it by no means has been a primary reason. Fit women have proven over and over again that it is possible to bounce back into great shape after having children.

If you’re worried about me being child-free, remember that I love the flexibility and freedom in my life. I have pets whom I love dearly, and I have incredible friends. I don’t perceive any hole in my life because I never bore a child.

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Being Grateful

family_laughingMost of us are bombarded with countless stressors and may grumble regularly in response to the onslaught. Though I wish I could brush off daily frustrations with grace, I frequently find myself grumbling when I have to navigate through a particularly rough day. Our society is running at a lightning pace, so rapidly that it is next to impossible to allow ourselves an opportunity to stop and enjoy the moment. We bitch and moan about traffic, spilled coffee, being late for appointments, our cell phones losing their charges, etc., and in the process stir up anxiety and discontent in our lives, when we should be grateful for the many gifts and blessings that surround us.

It is easy to think that if we stop for a moment, everything will come crashing down, when in reality that is usually NOT the case. I have taken a baby step in my incredibly busy life lately, and have spent the last few weeks making sure to spend a few minutes every morning petting and snuggling with my cats, enjoying their calm and loving energy, and remembering to breathe and pause before the craziness of day to day life hits. I also am keenly aware of the struggles of a couple of dear friends who are dealing with cancer right now, and cannot even imagine how tremendously difficult their lives must be now that circumstances have caused mundane annoyances to come to a screeching halt. When life is stressful but somehow comfortable in its frenetic rhythm, a catastrophic event or illness will obliterate that false comfort. Suddenly leaving the toilet seat up or getting the wrong food order at a restaurant doesn’t have the same impact or importance.

Now that Thanksgiving is approaching, those of us in the United States will get a yearly reminder to be grateful for all the wonderful things we have. However, I hope that people around the entire globe will embrace the approaching holidays with a renewed appreciation for life and the loved ones around them. It is a blessing to live with good health, surrounded by those we love. If you are fortunate enough to have both, allow things to slow down enough for you to take notice of your surroundings. Put the computer aside, enjoy the outdoors, spend time with your pets or children, visit your relatives, laugh with friends. You might not believe it, but you are allowed to put things aside briefly. The world won’t come crashing down if you do.