Monday, March 30, 2015

Stress in the Workplace: Forgetting to Set the Reminder to Remind You of Your Reminder

Got all that?

I have been doing some research on "stress in the workplace". One of the #1 culprits? 

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. On the contrary, now we're expected to read/respond to emails and texts instantaneously. When there's a technology glitch (software locks up/computer crashes/phone dies), we come to a screeching halt in the middle of what is supposed to be a productive work day. But, honestly, while that's part of our technology induced stress, the majority of it is self-induced. We have become a generation of ADD employees. I am one of them.

Case in point:
4:30pm: Start one task with estimated completion time of 30 minutes, which is perfect because you have exactly 30 minutes left until you have to race home to get your kid to practice.
It takes 4 minutes for the program to open, because, well, your computer sucks. You start out 4 minutes behind schedule but still feel confident you can rock it out before 5pm. Work diligently for 2 whole minutes. You got this!
  • *Email notification*
Respond quickly and get back on task.

2 minutes later......
  • *Incoming text* 
It's from your kid. Oh great. Is he sick again? Did he get in trouble at school? Nope, just low on lunch money. Need to make a deposit for the next day. Say to yourself “It isn’t due until tomorrow, but if I don’t do it now, I’ll totally forget about it.
Hop online to put money in his lunch account. Problem is you can't remember your user name and password. Spend 4 minutes typing in every combination you have for every site you've ever used. No luck. Now waiting on an email to reset it. Go back to original task while waiting.

1 minute later......
  • *Email notification* Password Reset Request.
No internet service. Awesome.
Work on task while waiting. Keep refreshing Google Chrome on your second monitor... over and over and over and over and over and ov-SUCCESS!

Text your kid back: "Done! Remember to do your homework!”

12 seconds later.....
  • *Incoming text* 
You ignore it because you assume it's your kid responding with a "thanks". 
Keep working for 2 1/2 minutes as your subconscious nags you to check your phone.
  • *DING* 
There it goes again, taunting you a second time because it knows you haven't read the text yet..... &%*#! Your mind begins to race with anxiety. Let's face it, your kid isn't going to waste his time texting "thank you!". That only happens when he knows you're bringing home Chick-Fil-A for dinner.
You are convinced it's important... "I'll just check it really quick".
  • Staring back at you is a "k" from your kid. (in response to your homework reminder) God forbid he actually write out the entire response. The "o" in "ok" must be exhausting to type. And you aren't even worthy of a capital letter.

Your annoyance level is now heightened as you jump back into your task.

1 minute later....
  • *Email notification*

Ignore it. Ignore it. Ignore it. What if it’s related to what you’re working on? What if it’s your boss? What if…. What if!?!

Convinced, for sure this timethat it's important, you check email. “Thank you for your payment to Kid #4’s lunch account”.

4:48pm: Just as all notifications quiet down and your focus is clear, it happens.....
  • *Microsoft Windows Pop Up*
Frustration ensues. There's no cancelling. It's a certainty, like death and taxes. The Windows Update will get you everytime. Work like a mofo for 3 minutes, 45 seconds, SAVE, and hold your breath that it doesn't shut down and lose all the hard work you've been slaving over for the last, um, 7 total cumulative minutes.

Wait for the reboot.

Check Facebook Newsfeed on phone. When did she become a redhead? 

Still rebooting.

Your turn in Trivia Crack. You're about to lose to your sister-in-law for the 11th straight time. You swear it's because you get these questions:

And she's over there probably getting these....

Is my Windows Update done yet?

Look at clock. 4:59pm. 

The good news? Your computer has rebooted and all your work is saved. The bad news? It's time to go.

Pick up phone to leave. Add Task to your next day To Do List. 

While walking to the car, answer question wrong in Trivia Crack. 

Get to the parking lot. Can't find car. Wander parking lot unable to find car because of:
  • *Trivia Crack notification* "You lost...(again)"
  • *Text notification* Kid: "What's for dinner?"
  • *Weight Watchers App Reminder* "Don't you dare go by Chick-Fil-A again"

And there you have it. 

LOOK, a squirrel!

Monday, January 12, 2015

You are HERE.
I read a great article today about the revelations we have in our 40’s. The writer mentioned that there’s no such thing as a “grownup”. We never really become one. “Everyone is winging it. Some just do it more confidently.” Truer words were never spoken. More days than not, I ask myself “Am I the only one totally overwhelmed? How does so-in-so do it?” How easy it is to compare ourselves to others when all we see is the surface. And what a relief to know that I am not the only one winging life, some days more confidently than others. The 40's bring a welcomed clarity.

Once you reach your 40’s, your eyesight goes in the crapper, but your “vision” is enhanced. Life is put in perspective, priorities shift, the gods shine down on us in a series of AH HA moments. The “big deals” of our twenties and thirties become so miniscule once we’ve dissected them to what they truly are: life’s lessons; the good, the bad, the ugly. The blame games are over. There’s a mirror we once avoided that we now fully accept in an understanding that the only person we can control is the one staring back at us. Accountability is clear. It’s concise. It’s no longer avoided, but embraced even when it means it may sting a bit. We are much more forgiving of other’s mistakes that hurt us directly, because we acknowledge the hurt we have bestowed on others and the forgiveness we once longed for.

Parenting styles also tend to change after the 4 0 mark. For years, the young, na├»ve mom in me thought parents with multiple kids, like myself, were more lenient with their younger kids because they were just worn the hell out. It wasn’t until my 40’s that I realized the truth behind it is an enhanced vision. The "crimes" that required extreme punishment as parents in our 20’s and 30’s, become less punishable. It isn’t because we’re tired or lazy or stopped caring, but simply because, from age, time, and experience, we have the vision to see, clearly, a perspective in parenting that shifts how we prioritize and handle an offense. And patience, although still not plentiful, seems to peek it’s head a bit more often. 

In your 40s there is a deeper reflection of the past along with a more vivid focus on the long term future. In accordance, there’s a harsh realization that “long term” isn’t as long as it used to be, but an acceptance that you are HERE. 

You've reached the point in life where, with the exception of the gray hair and wrinkles, everything begins to change for the better. But there's one catch; you have to allow it to happen. If you waste energy on holding grudges toward others, if you linger on your own mistakes of the past, your vision remains cluttered. Forgiveness is the key to unlocking clarity.

Granted, life is still far from perfect, but acknowledging a perfection that doesn't exist is step one to embracing your wonderfully amazing imperfect life; a life where vision is suddenly your super power.

And "HERE" is exactly where you want to be.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sh*tty Mom Alert!

First I'd like to start this blog off by apologizing in advance. I have had a shitty morning and my mood is less than stellar. Yet somehow I find it's an appropriate time to write in my blog.....probably a decision I will grow to regret later, but what the hell. Here goes.

Warning: 2 curse words in the first paragraph means Parental Guidance is suggested

I suck at this whole parenting thing. Just. Plain. Suck. I spent my entire morning before work yelling (and I don't mean a slight raise of my voice), YELLING at my 11 year old over something that we have discussed time and time again. He'd dropped the ball, yet again, and I lost it. I lost my patience. I lost my temper. I lost my voice. And as luck would have it, I had to leave for work. I, of course, hugged him before I left, but I was still very angry. And he knew it.

I cried the entire commute going through all the typical mom scenarios:
"Where did I go wrong?"
"Why won't he listen?"
"Why did I let myself get so angry?"

And of course, this happened on a day where I fly out of town for 4 days. I am beside myself with frustration and guilt. While I greatly appreciate my job and the opportunities it provides, it oftentimes gets in the way of me being the Mom I'd really like to be, one where I have time to gather myself and come to a calm resolution before parting ways. Some days I have my shit together. Other days I'm flying by the seat of my pants. My boys throw me daily challenges and, for the most part I'm up for the task, but there are days I explode or surrender, because, well, I have to. I am exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically. My supermom cape is bundled in the corner of my room with the rest of the household laundry. I just don't have it in me to find my Mom superpower and well, I lose my marbles.

Today was just one of those days. When I got to work, I grabbed some coffee and logged into Facebook as part of my normal morning routine. I think a part of me was looking for some solace from fellow moms. Instead, happy statuses, happy photos, Happy F*cking Monday, bitches!

Nada. You gave me nada.

So I'm here to give you all something of real life substance.

Parenting blows chunks. 

Not always...not even half the time, but once in a while. Occasionally it absolutely sucks you to the depths of your own personal hell making you face the fact that you're not doing that great of a job. But don't lose sight that your kids need you, imperfections and all. These moments of dispair are actually the ones that define us. It's what takes us from shitty mom status, to I-Think-I'm-Doing-OK mom status. And the way in which we handle the big picture often outweighs the momentary lapse of level-headedness. Kids need to understand our limitations. They need to understand consequences to their actions. And most importantly, it's imperative they understand and feel our unconditional love. Before catching my flight I drove 40 minutes home, pulled him out of lunch and gave him the biggest, most loving hug a mom could give. And I apologized for losing my temper. I'm not sorry for reprimanding him for something he should have done, but I am sorry in the manner in which I handled it.

And I feel a bit less shitty.

Alternatively, I can't help but wonder if my hug outside the middle school cafeteria will now weigh heavy on his mind the next time he decides to slack off at school. In my attempt to do something sweet, I may have figured out that instead of taking away XBox, I can threaten future acts of public affection at school to keep him in line. Damn, I'm a genius.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll find my cape upon my return.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cosmo! Simmer Down Now.

Finishing up my most dreaded weekly Walmart grocery shopping trip, I found myself in a gaze into space while waiting for the slowest cashier on the planet. I was daydreaming of being anywhere but there, when out of no where something caught my eye. That something?


And not the Walmart "I wore my best tank top that shows off side boobs and back fat" kind.
Hot boobies.

For a second I thought I'd gazed myself into a Hudson News at the airport staring at a cover of Maxim...or worse. But no. I wasn't at one of "those" places and it wasn't Maxim (or worse). It was Cosmo-freakin-politan. Over the course of the last several years, I have noticed the covers have gotten a bit more revealing, but for whatever reason, this particular one sent me over the edge. It could be the fact that I have 5 impressional boys at home ages 11 and older. This particular issue was displayed front and center at the end of the checkout aisle, perfectly eye level to an 8-9 year old kid standing in line with mom or dad. On top of boobies, the word SEX was displayed prominantly in 3 different places with a bonus article on the ultimate guide to oral. Thanks, Cosmo. (insert sarcasm, not a geniune appreciation)

Obviously, Cosmopolitan is going with the adage "Sex sells"....and, apparently it really does. Cosmo is the most read women's magazine in the world according to with the age demographic aimed for 18-34. At 41, I feel Cosmo is secretly suggesting the likes of me advance on over to Living Better 50 or Readers Digest. Newsflash Cosmo, I too would love some insight on "Sweatproof makeup" and how not to kill my husband "When he makes me crazy" so don't throw me in a retirement facility just yet. But now I'm more likely to Google the answers to those two things, because I'm mad at you for stressing me the hell out in Walmart.

And now I have a few questions for you, the editors of CosmoCoverYourKidsEyespolitan:

1. Are you a parent? Can your kids read?

2. Please explain why it is appropriate for your magazine to be prominently placed perfectly at kid-eye level in a store that sells PlaySkool, Fisher Price, Lego, Thomas the Tank Engine, Elmo, Scooby Doo and Barbie type items?

Now in detail, please answer the following questions for our kids:

3. "What is sex? And how do you give or get the best ever?"

4. "Daddy, what is oral? Is it the gross flouride swishy stuff from the dentist office?"

5. "Does it hurt your head when you blow your mind?"

6. "If there's a chance you could end up in the ER, why would you do sex, Mommy?"

And lastly,

7. "Why can we see that girl's boobies? Isn't she cold?"
Cosmopolitan, these aren't questions we are prepared to answer in the line at Walmart. We just want to get the eff out of there with some patience in tact and now you're totally throwing us a curve ball with these covers loading our children with curiosity. I realize this is the content that sells your magazine, but would it kill ya to spend an additional few cents per issue to cover that shiznit like those "other" magazines? Especially in establishments where toys are sold.

Granted, it's probably way too late for my teenagers who have purposely clicked on accidentally stumbled upon images on the net, but please, for the love of God, don't give us parents any more reason to hate Walmart. Or YOU for that matter. I don't think a little discretion will lower the number of your readers. As a matter of fact, I'd be more apt to buy it......

For the sweatproof makeup articles, of course!

Monday, September 8, 2014

When High School Athletes Aspire to Be College Athletes

A Sports-mom's unofficial guide to saving your sanity during the recruiting process.

Do you have a student athlete? Do they have hopes and dreams of playing in college? Trying to figure out how to get them the best exposure? Overwhelmed? 

You certainly aren’t alone.

As a Mom who has been there, done that, I am not here to sugar coat the process. The college recruiting/exposure process is a lot of work, but there are ways to make it easier on yourself by cutting out some unnecessary stress and financial strain. If your teenaged athlete has the talent and the heart, being a college athlete is within reach. Step one in the process is understanding your son or daughter’s true capabilities. Everyone thinks their kid is the best, but do yourself a favor and look at your athlete from outside your Mom and Dad bubble. Most likely, their high school or club coaches will have clued you in if they see a high level of talent in your child. Take the time to ask the right questions to the coaches if you are unsure. They work with your son or daughter day in and day out. They know their potential and have observed their work ethic, leadership, and technical abilities. A coach isn’t going to tell you your kid is NCAA Division I worthy, if they aren’t. If it is communicated that the end goal is to be playing that sport at a college level, their coach will be up front with that reality and will, typically, do what they can to help them achieve that….if it’s achievable.

As parents, we have to do our research on the right fit for our son or daughter. There are tons of recruiting websites, sports columns, message boards, etc. out there to give us direction, but because there are SO many, it can be overwhelming not knowing where to start. I received guidance from a fellow mom of a college student athlete. She helped point me in the right direction for my son who aspired to play college basketball. So I decided to give my personal advice after gaining knowledge from my own experience with getting my oldest recruited as a college student athlete.

Here are the key points to getting on the right track with the recruiting process:   

1. Know the difference between NCAA Divisions and the academic requirements. 
Divison I: the big league schools for college athletics with the highest level of competition. There is more of an emphasis on “athlete” than “student”. Practice times, games, and travel take up most of an athlete’s time during season. Athletes are the best of the best. Academically, a 16 core-course requirement (4 years of English, minimum 2.3 GPA in core courses) has to be met. 
Division II: Slightly less competitive, typically smaller that Divison I schools with more of a balance between “student” and “athlete”. Competition is still very strong. Academically, a 16 core-course requirement (3 years of English, 820 minimum SAT) has to be met. 
Division III: Great option for athletes who want to play their sport at a college level, but have more time to focus on their education. Practice times are limited, travel isn’t as intense. There are no academic requirements set by NCAA. 
A great source for more information on each of these NCAA Divisions is here:

2. Know the four year time line. Courtesy of
FRESHMEN: Read the NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete. Download the free PDF. Plan your high school schedule around it so that all requirements are met. You have to have the right mix of courses to meet the NCAA standards.

SOPHOMORES: It’s time to get serious. Learning about recruiting and the rules around sports scholarships will put you ahead of the game when it counts. Start raising your visibility. Sophomore year is about development. This means both your sport skills along with leadership abilities. You will be more a more valuable recruit if you have built a reputation for teamwork, sportsmanship and maturity. This reputation is a long process and requires consistency. College coaches need motivated athletes who contribute to the team and stay clear of trouble.

JUNIORS: The most important year of recruiting. The accomplishments of your junior year we bring in the recruiting phone calls. The earlier you get on the coaches radar, the better.  Boost visibility by making phone calls, sending emails, and visiting schools. Remember coaches have to abide by NCAA rules and are unable to reach out to you until late in your junior year. You can contact the coaches and meet with them, showing interest as long as you follow the rules.

SENIORS: Time is in short supply. Fill in any holes in your transcript. Show continued development. You may start receiving calls and have requests for visits. How should you handle home visits? If you get an early scholarship offer, how should you handle that? Decisions, decisions!

** Don’t panic if you just realized you may be behind since your son or daughter just started their junior or senior year. Yes, early prep is best, but it doesn’t mean you’ve missed your window to get them exposure. I didn’t get my son’s name out there until just before his senior year.
3. Realistically understand which level of talent your kid falls into: Check out sites such as,,, Don’t fall into the trap of paying for the subscriptions for these sites unless you absolutely feel the need. I, personally, use them primarily as a gage for where my son is in comparison to others his age, size, playing his sport, his position, etc. Most sites have free profiles that you can set up and I encourage you do so. You can pay extra to see who is looking at your kids profile and for additional profile features. Here’s the deal; while coaches and recruiters will look at these sites for information, if your kid is THAT good, create the free profile, but save your money on subscriptions and invest in a good video camera. (see number 4)

4. If your son or daughter has their sights set on specific schools, email the coaches directly. Don’t bog down their inboxes with gigabytes of video. Instead, create a free YouTube account with video clips of your athlete and send out the link. Try to keep it within reason; between 2-4 minutes. Go to their school webpage/athletics/coaching staff, and the assistant/recruiting coach’s email is almost always listed. Keep your email short and sweet. Address that particular coach by name in your opening remarks. Send individual emails and not one bulk. It takes more time, but a coach isn’t interested in the desperation email with 25 other schools CC’ed. With my oldest son, I included his high school, graduation year, height, weight, position, average points per game, average rebounds, and anything else that would make him stand out from others. For instance, he led his team in charges; a stat that doesn’t necessarily make the stat sheet, but it distinguished him as a strong defensive player on top of offensive stats. Be sure to list their contact information; email and phone number. Stats and contact info is important, but let the video do most of the “talking”. And don't worry if you aren't a professional videographer. I asked for footage from my son's high school games and trimmed them in Windows Movie Maker, a very user friendly program that publishes right to YouTube.

5. Remember that only NCAA Division I and II colleges can offer athletic scholarships in addition to merit based scholarships. It doesn’t mean that you can’t get money from Division III schools. If they want your athlete, they will find scholarship money to offer you. My son was offered quite a bit of merit based scholarship money from Division III schools. But before you lock in to anything, ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!!!

  • What is the best way to update the coach on your athlete’s progress? 
  • What does it take to earn a scholarship (merit or athletic) with that particular school’s program?
  • Does an athlete lose their athletic scholarship if they get hurt and are unable to play out the season? Typically, awarded merit based scholarship stays in place through their stay unless they drop below a certain GPA. Each school has a different policy for injured players with athletic scholarships. Know that policy!
  • Always, always, always ask about grants and other financial aid. If they want your child enough, they will find additional money.
  • Can scholarship monies increase/decrease each year?
  • How many players are being recruited for the same position?
  • What type of off-season commitment/activities are expected?
  • What are the admission requirements for an athlete? 
  • What is the housing situation for athletes?
  • When is a good time to visit the campus and meet with a coach?
  • During a campus visit, ask to meet a current student athlete.  This is an opportunity to ask someone “living it” about college life, the real-life commitment, how they juggle projects/assignments/exams and workouts/practices/travel/games.

Do your research on their athletic program. Ask specific questions. The more genuine interest you show as a parent and your child shows as an athlete, the better impression you leave the coach.

Lastly, if you do nothing else, familiarize yourself with this website: This website lists equirements for all 3 NCAA Divisions. It also outlines the rules with coaches being able to contact your player. Coaches are bound by NCAA rules that prohibit them from reaching out to athletes and their families during certain times. However, you, the parent, can contact the coach at any time.

I am no way an expert on college recruiting, but I am a mom who has lived it and is living it with 3 others on the horizon. As a sports parent, we dream that the endless schlepping to practices, freezing our buns off at games, getting rained on, snowed on, puked on, yelled at…. there’s some reward in the end. Ultimately, I see sports as a means to help my sons, financially, with their college education. Let’s face it; I am not raising the next Tom Brady or Michael Jordan. However, if by chance I am (and no one has clued me in on this talent as of yet), disregard this entire blog. Mama’s going house shopping!

Happy recruiting!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gaining Your Smarts Back From Your Smartphone.

Tonight, it happened. Out of the blue, unexpectedly. I was taking the trash to the curb. To my complete horror, my iPhone slipped out of my hand and, like a scene out of a horror film, crashed face first on the driveway beneath me. I made a slow-mo recovery move, screaming "Noooooooooooooooooooo" as I fumbled to catch it to no avail.

There it was. Naked with no cover, face down. I was scared to look. But I looked anyway.

Shattered, broken; my heart AND my iPhone.

And then panic began to set in.

I immediately put myself in check over my reaction. I was, frankly, appalled that I was so distraught over a device. My Common Sense Angel began the great debate with the Convenience Devil, each perched on a shoulder whispering in my ear:

Ruh Roh.
Angel: "It's just a stupid phone. What is WRONG with you?" 

Devil: "You are going out of the country in less than 3 days. You can't even see your screen. All of your contacts, texting your kids, your Currency Exchange App, your map of the city! You complete dumbass. Now what???"

Angel: Seriously? Get a grip. It's a phone. You survived 20 years without one. You'll be ok.

Devil: It's a SMARTphone. And you're stupid, because all of your intelligence is in that device. You can't live without it. 

And then it hit me. They were both right. It was just a phone. Yet all of my intelligence was stuck behind a shattered screen I could barely see. Thankfully, I had the sense to acknowledge this, because I once lived a life without cell phones...An awesome life.

When I was young I knew ALL of my friend’s phone numbers by heart. I could walk deep in the woods and never worry about not finding my way out. Math was my favorite subject because I loved problem solving in my head. Sometimes I would go for days without talking to my friends outside of school. And it was no big deal. Phone communication was by house phone and sometimes it may be a day before I would get a return call. And it was OK.

"Smart" phones are crippling our world by making us all idiots. Idiot #1 is typing this blog. I know very few phone numbers by heart anymore. Why? Because they are all in my contacts. I don't need to have a sense of direction. Why? Because I have Google Maps. I don't need to solve complicated math problems nor do currency exchange in my head. Why? Because there's an App for that. And I don't call my friends on their house phones. Why? Well, most people don't have them anymore and if I'm calling or texting you on your mobile, I expect a reasonable response time. Immediately is preferred. Isn’t that what these phones are for? Instant gratification?

We no longer have the patience to wait for anything or think about anything, because we don't have to. It's all there at our fingertips. I am so mad at myself because I have fallen for it. “Convenience is best”, because, well… it’s so damn convenient. 

But at what cost?

At 41, I am fully entangled in this web of technology. My job revolves around the advancement and evolution of technology. There is no going backward, because this is the way in which our world is heading. This is the only way our children have ever lived. The rest of us who once lived without it are fully on board until one night we are taking out the trash, and BAM, our intelligence hits the driveway face first. It’s eye opening, but not the end of the world.

For us.

However, it is, quite possibly, the end of the world for those who have never had to use their sense of direction, do challenging math problems in their head, or memorize things such as phone numbers. When you think about it, it’s scary. Smart phones are making humans stupid. And we are happily (ignorantly?) letting them. We live in world where you ask a friend a question and their answer:

"Google it".

In less than 24 hours I leave to go out of the country. My iPhone screen is still shattered and it’s ok. I am going on my trip with no intention of depending on a device for things that I should be able to handle with my own common sense. I will get a paper map of the metro and surrounding areas, I will figure out the currency exchange in my head, and I will pay attention to a city in which I’ve never been and enjoy it for all its beauty without staring at 4.8” screen. Yes, the phone will travel with me and will be used for the “convenience” of touching base with my family while I am away, but things that I can do on my own, I will do…on my own. Will it be less convenient? You bet, but I plan to come back a few IQ points higher.

The irony; the entire reason for my trip is to attend work meetings in which we will discuss technology, how it’s advancing and how we, as a company, can stay ahead of the curve. How can our company use the technologies to produce better quality, faster schedules, and stand out among others…… Be better, be faster, be SMARTER?

2 days post incident, I am still distraught. Not because I have a shattered screen, but because I have lived a shattered sense of reality justifying the convenience, not just for myself but also for my teenage boys. I, ignorantly, handed them these devices so I could get in touch with them whenever I needed. All the while, I handed them the device that strips them of what our brains are intended to do; THINK. I feel like I have done something I cannot undo. Or can I? I guess I have 2 very long plane rides to figure that out.

Funny…. Seems to me the smartest thing I ever did was drop my smartphone.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's Your Story?

Last night I had the luxury of doing something after work that I rarely get a chance to do, have dinner out by myself. When I was young (and stupid) I used to think “Only losers go out to eat alone”. The older I have gotten, the more I realize “Only winners go out to eat alone.” The hubs and kids were gone for the evening and I didn’t have a sporting event to rush to, so I had the whole evening to myself. While I seriously fought the urge to make a beeline home to get in my PJs, fold laundry, and catch up on DVR, I decided I wanted to feel like a winner instead. I was even considering going a bit buck wild and catching a movie solo.

“One, please” to the hostess, who looked around me to make sure I wasn’t kidding and there was not someone else with me. “Would you like to sit at the bar?” she asked. I thought to myself “Does a bear sh*t in the woods?” but instead said out loud, “Yes, thank you.”I scoped out possible seating options. There was a group of ladies having a drink after work who seemed to be having a great time. And there were other random people sitting solo, grabbing a bite after a hard day of whatever it is they do from 8 to 5. I found my spot just on the corner, close enough to the ladies so I could eavesdrop and laugh too, far enough away from the single men who were probably harmless, but I was there for Kung Pao Chicken, not a man.

The bartender politely asked me if I wanted a water or sweet tea. I smiled and gently declined countering with a vodka tonic, extra lime. “Wellllll, it’s been one of those days, huh?” he said, jokingly. Unbeknownst to him, if I had an after work cocktail after every stressful day, I probably wouldn’t be gainfully employed and I’d be in rehab somewhere. I smiled with no response as it wasn’t even worth the breath to explain my situation which was nothing more than just “I felt like a having drink”. I placed my dinner order and found myself immediately enthralled in a rerun of Monday Night Football on the bar television. A gentleman came up and grabbed a seat next to me, there to pick up his take out order. “I’ll have a Mai Tai, too please”. His order was ready, yet he sat sipping his drink diligently, his food getting cold in the bag, staring at his iPhone like it was about to reveal the answer to end world peace. I was curious.

The hubby and I have this game we play when we travel together. It’s called “What’s their story?” Basically we people watch, mostly in airports, and come up with stories about the travelers around us. It’s actually pretty entertaining as we’re probably making their lives so much more exciting than they really are or we’re not giving them enough credit and they are international spies. Either way, it’s always fun to wonder “What’s their story?” I mean, I could’ve simply asked the gentleman sitting beside me, but he was intent on his phone, kind of like that person at the gym who puts in their earbuds as you jump on the treadmill right next to them. That’s the international sign for “Don’t bother me”. So I didn’t bug the guy. Instead I just started working on his story in my mind. Then it hit me, wonder what people think when they see me? I am sitting at a bar solo in capris, a blouse, and flats with my hair in a ponytail. I am fairly certain, by my attire, they would never guess I work in construction.  I am equally as certain that most would guess I am a mom due to the fact that a sucked down my cocktail in less than a minute. That, plus if they were stalking me in the parking lot, I pulled up in a minivan.

The gentleman next to me finished his Mai Tai, grabbed his cold take out, and hit the road. The group of ladies next to me disassembled, each going their own way except for one who decided to order dinner to go at the bar. She was chatty with the bartenders, dressed to the nines, not a hair out of place, manicured nails, and heels that made my feet hurt just looking at them. She was very put together, in her late 40’s/early 50’s, friendly and well spoken. I conjured up the story that she was in marketing, frequented this restaurant often (as they knew her by name), and has grown children. I had no grounds for the “children” assumption. I was merely hoping she was a mom and there was hope for me that I could be that put together and well-spoken in another decade. Let’s face it, I’m not even that put together and well-spoken at 41, but whatever. I came to a few conclusions after playing “What’s their story?” Bartenders have the best vantage point for this game. It is more fun paying attention to your surroundings than your smartphone. And people are amazing, in a good way. We all need to pay more attention.

I sat at the bar for an hour, taking it all in. I had nothing but all the time in the world to sit back and forget about my own piddly life, chatting it up with the bartenders, exchanging friendly banter with the patrons sitting nearby. It was nice not to have to be anywhere. It was nice having a night out by myself. Without urgency (a rarity), I paid my bill and headed home to an empty and quiet house, opting out of the movie, because I wasn’t quite in the mood for taking my wild night to the next level.

In the hour and a half I was away from home, I could’ve easily finished my laundry, emptied the dishwasher, or paid some bills in peace and quiet. I could have been so productive at home, but, for once, I chose not to. And I chose wisely. I can’t say that anything spectacular happened last night while I sat at the bar. No one handed me a winning lottery ticket. I didn’t run into a long lost childhood best friend, nor did I meet a huge celebrity. What did happen was I took a much-needed night for me. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I began to decompress and take a look around. We all rush through life so caught up in ourselves we forget to stop and appreciate the simplicity of life’s perspectives. Many people may still think eating alone is for losers. I consider it a mini-vacation; an hour long hiatus from chaos, from demands, from work, from stress, from kids, from spouses, from reality. It isn’t something I would ever care to do on a regular basis because I much prefer the company of my family and friends. Not to mention, I would lose the appreciation I have for it being such a rare treat. Once in a blue moon is refreshing and a reminder that people are amazing with their own stories, real and make believe. As boring as mine is to type out loud, I cherish it, because it’s mine. And for those strangers who happened to see me out last night, I really hope you did me proud in your own game of “What’s her story?” Because what a serious let down if you knew I was just a tired working mama, who wanted a drink and some Kung Pao Chicken.