BACKGROUND

Monday, December 30, 2013

Coping with Job Loss Both Financially and Emotionally

Job loss is difficult, both financially and emotionally. In my latest article, find out how to survive it and the well-meaning "help" from friends and family that sometimes makes it worse.

Coping with Job Loss Both Financially and Emotionally



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mental health resources

DEPRESSION:
  • Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (2433) – Can use in US, U.K., Canada and Singapore
  • Suicide Crisis Line: 1-800-999-9999
  • National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-TALK (8245)
  • National Adolescent Suicide Helpline: 1-800-621-4000
  • Depression & Bipolar Alliances: 1-800-826-3632
  • Postpartum Depression: 1-800-PPD-MOMS
  • NDMDA Depression Hotline – Support Group: 1-800-826-3632
  • Veterans: 1-877-VET2VET
  • Crisis Help Line – For Any Kind of Crisis: 1-800-233-4357
  • Suicide & Depression Crisis Line – Covenant House: 1-800-999-9999
  • Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide: (UK only) 0844-561-6855
  • Beyondblue info line: (Australia only) 1300-22-4636
  • 24/7 Crisis Line:(Canada only) 905-522-1477
  • Lifeline Australia: 13-11-14
DOMESTIC ABUSE

  • National Child Abuse Helpline: 1-800-422-4453
  • National Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline (TDD): 1-800-787-32324
  • National Sexual Assaut Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • Center for the Prevention of School Violence: 1-800-299-6504
  • Child Abuse Helpline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
  • Domestic Violence Helpline: 1-800-548-2722
  • Healing Woman Foundation (Abuse): 1-800-477-4111
  • Child Abuse Hotline Support & Information: 1-800-792-5200
  • Women’s Aid National Domestic Violence Helpline: (UK Only) 0345 023 468
  • Sexual Abuse Centre: (UK Only) 0117 935 1707
  • Sexual Assault Support (24/7, English & Spanish): 1-800-223-5001
  • Domestic & Teen Dating Violence (English & Spanish: 1-800-992-2600
  • Relationships Australia: 1300-364-277
ALCOHOL & DRUG ABUSE
  • National Association for Children of Alcoholics: 1-888-55-4COAS (1-888-554-2627)
  • National Drug Abuse: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • Al-Anon/Alateen Hope & Help for young people who are the relatives & friends of a problem drinker): 1-800-344-2666
  • Alcohol/Drug Abuse Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • Be Sober Hotline: 1-800-BE-SOBER (1-800-237-6237)
  • Cocaine Help Line: 1-800-COCAINE (1-800-262-2463)
  • 24 Hour Cocaine Support Line: 1-800-992-9239
  • Ecstasy Addiction: 1-800-468-6933
  • Marijuana Anonymous: 1-800-766-6779

YOUTH & TEEN HOTLINES

  • National Youth Crisis Support: 1-800-448-4663
  • Youth America Hotline: 1-877-YOUTHLINE (1-877-968-8454)
  • Covenant House Nine-Line (Teens): 1-800-999-9999
  • Boys Town National: 1-800-448-3000
  • Teen Helpline: 1-800-400-0900
  • TeenLine: 1-800-522-8336
  • Youth Crisis Support: 1-800-448-4663 or 1-800-422-0009
  • Runaway Support (All Calls are Confidential): 800-231-694
  • National Runaway Hotline: (US only) 1800-231-6946
  • Child Helpline: (UK Only) 0800-111
  • Kids Helpline: (Australia) 1800-55-1800
  • Youth to Youth: (UK only) 020-8896-3675
  • Kids Help Phone Canada:1 (800) 668 - 6868
  • National Youth Crisis Hotline:(US only) 800-442-442-4673 

PREGNANCY HOTLINES

  • AAA Crisis Pregnancy Center: 1-800-560-0717
  • Pregnancy Support: 1-800-4-OPTIONS (1-800-467-8466)
  • Pregnancy National Helpline: 1-800-356-5761
  • Young Pregnant Support: 1-800 550-4900

GAY & LESBIAN HOTLINES

  • The Trevor Helpline (For homosexuality questions or problems): 1-800-850-8078
  • Gay & Lesbian National Support: 1-888-THE-GLNH (1-888-843-4564)
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Youth Support Line: 1-800-850-8078
  • Lesbian & Gay Switchboard: (UK Only) 0121 622 6589
  • Lothian Gay & Lesbian Switchboard – Scotland: (Scotland Only) 0131 556 4049
OTHER HOTLINES
  • Self-Injury Support: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288) (www.selfinjury.com)
  • Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention: 1-800-931-2237 (Hours: 8am-noon daily, PST)
  • Eating Disorders Center: 1-888-236-1188
  • Help Finding a Therapist: 1-800-THERAPIST (1-800-843-7274)
  • Mental Health America: For a referral to specific mental health service or support program in your community. Phone: 800-969-NMHA (6642
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness: Provides support, information, and referrals. Phone: 800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Panic Disorder Information and Support: 1-800-64-PANIC (1-800-647-2642)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: 1-802-296-6300 (not toll-free)
  • TalkZone (Peer Counselors): 1-800-475-TALK (1-800-475-2855)
  • Victims of Crime: Multi-language service available. 1-800-FYI-CALL (394-2255)
  • Parental Stress Hotline: 1-800-632-8188
  • Parent Help Line (Australia only): 1300-364-100
  • National AIDS Helpline: (UK Only) 0800 567 123
  • Mensline Australia: 1300-789-978
Want a country by country list? Here are some more resources: helplines
The following sites also provides a country by country list of helplines available: 

Back Off

So today, I'm going to ask all my friends to do one thing - BACK OFF. Back off on the self-recriminations, the guilt, the regret, the judgment of others, re-living past pain, feeling less than. Back off and breathe. Know that you are human and fallible and that is OK. Sit with yourself quietly and breathe in all the amazing things about yourself - your incredible generosity, your courage, your kind spirit, your discipline, your love for others, your ability to rise from the ashes and make life better today than it was yesterday. BACK OFF AND BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND OTHERS TODAY. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiday To Do List


Things to think about doing this holiday season if you're able. I'd love for people to add suggestions in the comments!! 

1. Pay off a stranger's lay-away (Click here for instructions on how to do that).

2. Pay for the meal of someone behind you in line at a drive-through.

3. Anonymously give gift cards to people you know are struggling.

4. Take an unemployed friend out for a nice dinner at their favorite restaurant. When you're unemployed or underemployed, you don't treat yourself to fun things like that so it's a nice gift.

5. Don't bother with a gift exchange among friends. Instead, plan an evening in (in January after the holiday craziness has settled) with a potluck and some movies or music. Put away the phone and iPad. Instead of adding to the list of people to buy for, give the gift of your time and attention to your friends.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Understanding How to Survive Workplace Bullying and Abuse

We always hear about workplace violence and shootings in the media, but every day people are silently suffering harassment, abuse, and bullying in the workplace. The effects of that are just as tragic as the violence we hear about. Learn more in my article:

Understanding How to Survive Workplace Bullying and Abuse



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bath Time!

Incredible bath soaks and scrubs!! I think it's important to support small businesses. I grew up with Atlantis who owns and operates Mermaid Bliss out of her home and can honestly say she is amazing, smart, funny, and makes incredible products. I will never tell anyone that I like a product if I don't just because I know the person who makes it. But with Atlantis's products, I cannot say enough good things about them!! Give them a try, you won't be sorry!! And, gift them this Christmas season. Everyone will love you, I promise.

You can find Mermaid Bliss on Facebook and Pinterest. You can also order directly via email. Prices vary based on what you order, but nothing is overly expensive. Email her for a price list. Check it out!!

Mermaid Bliss on Facebook
Mermaid Bliss on Pinterest

Order directly via email:
atlantiscoral@yahoo.com
mermaid_bliss_byatlantis@yahoo.com










Saturday, November 23, 2013

Don't Just Survive...THRIVE During the Holiday Season

Sometimes we're just thankful the holidays are a once-a-year thing. How can you make it easier for yourself when the turkey on the table isn't the only turkey in the room? Find out in my latest article:

Don't Just Survive, THRIVE During the Holiday Season


Friday, November 22, 2013

Forgotten Bookmarks

I admit to using Monopoly money as a bookmark, but never an oil stock certificate or a marriage license. Amazing the things people leave in books. A life can be better understood by what people have placed in their books. This bookseller in Otego, New York has collected the items found in books and displays them on his website:

Forgotten Bookmarks



Sunday, November 17, 2013

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, but How Do You Leave a Friend?

In my latest article, I discuss how to end a friendship. There is a ton of information around on how to end a romantic relationship, but disentangling yourself from a friendship is uncharted territory. This week, my article gives you a map. 

How To End a Friendship



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Three Rules About Pancakes and Life

This video has been circulating on Facebook recently. I shared it myself there and now I want to share it here. Take 10 minutes and listen to this video. It is life changing, not just for the LGBT community, but for everyone. Every single person on the planet will get something out of this video. Watch it, love it, share it!

"Here’s the thing – hard is not relative. Hard is hard… There is no harder, there is just hard. We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else’s hard to make us feel better or worse about our closets, and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard."


Three rules about pancakes and life



Friday, November 8, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Down the Aisle

So in August, I started a new job teaching community college students, which I absolutely love! I also started working as the lead facilitator for counseling groups, which I also love. Oh and also...I GOT MARRIED! My wonderful, amazing, incredible husband and I decided to take the plunge. It's the best snap decision I've ever made. We've been married for two months now and it's been pure bliss. We fit together so well it's like two puzzle pieces. We can finally share it with the world at large since we've now told the people in person who needed to be told (because some people are important enough that they should not learn such news on the Internet. It's rude).

We're thrilled and so happy to be Mr. and Mrs.!







Friday, October 25, 2013

Psychological States and Their Effect on Everyday Life

Learn about dysphoria, gender dysphoria, and depersonalization in my latest ModVive article:

Psychological States and Their Effect on Everyday Life.


Learn something new and please share the article. Thanks :) Also, don't forget to like my writing page on Facebook: The Write Stuff.




Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Write Stuff

I've recently decided to return to my roots a bit and resume writing for publication. Early in my career I was a newspaper reporter and enjoyed the job. Now, I'm a therapist and college instructor, but I still enjoy writing so I've taken on the task of producing articles for a website called ModVive. I've had two articles published there this month. Please take a look, leave comments, and share the articles. 

You can also like my Facebook page, The Write Stuff. I'll be sharing my articles there as well as items I find of interest. Thanks for your support friends!


The Write Stuff

Click here to like The Write Stuff: https://www.facebook.com/shelleywrites


My ModVive articles:



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

After-Death Employment

I really hope evil spirits aren't real. It's bad enough we have to deal with jerks among the living, we shouldn't also have to contend with dead jerks. There's also something unsettling about thinking that earth is not the last stop on this Amtrak waiting to crash ride called life. I believe in God and heaven and I'm hoping heaven will be the last stop, but what I mean is that there's something unsettling about thinking that you might be trapped on earth forever in some state of ghostliness and have to either bother others (evil spirits) or help others (good spirits).

Now, the latter I could probably get with. I don't think that would be such a bad after-death job. I might be happy to come back here as a spirit guide and help others to better their lives. But even that doesn't hold a lot of appeal. Being on earth is exhausting what with the whole trying to get a job to survive, being laid off, getting another job, loved ones getting sick and dying thing, etc. I must admit I'm kind of getting tired of that whole merry-go-round. 

Now, this is not to say there are not good things here on the third rock from the sun because there totally are. There's true love, good food, friendship, dogs. All good. But I'm just saying that if, even in death, we are forced to stay here and either do jerk things (evil spirits) or good things (good spirits), I'm just a little peeved because I was really looking forward to the whole lounging in heaven deal.

And those are my random Tuesday thoughts. Thanks for joining me, stay tuned for more random randomness.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Homicide 101 with Professor Murder

I asked this question on my Facebook page today and I am sharing it with those of you in the blogging world to comment on as well:

In the case below, this guy killed both parents and his sister 46 years ago, was judged not guilty by reason of insanity and spent 6 years in a mental hospital. He later became a psychology professor at a university. When you've committed a crime such as murdering your entire family, how long before people need to forget it and move on (so to speak)? And, how exactly should you be allowed to rebuild your life? Is it OK for you to be a professor, lawyer, therapist, doctor, etc. when you've committed this kind of crime? If not, why not? And what is the threshold in terms of crime where we say "no, you cannot be a doctor, etc.?" In other words, what crimes make it OK to be in certain professions and what crimes do not?

(Warning, video starts to play automatically with this link)


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wondering Wednesday

Three of my recent wondering thoughts:

In my head, I have a sort of age limit that I've set where, if I reach that age, I'm giving up on healthy living
40 more years and it's you and me M&Ms! 
and good decisions and instead doing whatever the hell I want to. I'm eating junk food every day. That's my goal in life right there folks, to live long enough to start eating junk food every day and not caring. Right now, that age is set around 75. Depending on how things go in the next few years, I may move it to 60. Anyone else have a "I'm giving up and doing whatever the hell I want" age in their heads?

I am amazed sometimes at how often we all repeat poor choices. Almost everyone knows that famous Einstein quote "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." We all need to start internalizing that. If someone continually rebuffs your efforts, stop making the effort! This is true in family relationships, friendships, work, etc. Just stop. I know people who not only won't stop, but will complain about how their efforts aren't being returned or received well. Seriously? YOU are the problem here, not the other person. When someone has shown you who/what they are, believe them. (Paraphrasing the amazing Maya Angelou there). If someone has shown they are not open to your efforts, quit continuing those efforts and for God's sake, don't ramp up the effort because at some point, you just look like a harassing stalker. Let go and move on.

If someone you know is a job seeker, it is not at all helpful to tell that person to get a job at McDonald's or some other fast food restaurant. I was having this discussion the other day with some friends and we've all been in the position of searching for jobs and been told to just "flip burgers" because a paycheck is better than no paycheck. 

So yeah, here's the thing...have you recently tried to get a job at McDonald's? If not, you wouldn't realize that McDonald's doesn't just hire everyone who comes in off the street. They frequently hire teenagers and college students or people who have worked in food service in the last few years. Teens and college students have much more flexible schedules in general and can often afford the lower wage because they have a second income source (parents or student loans in many cases). Come in there with an application that says you have a degree or you previously have office/desk job experience and you are much less likely to get a job there. Many people offer the solution of removing that degree or experience. OK, but then how to explain the massive gap that creates in your employment history? 

I know people who have tried to get a job in food service just to have a paycheck coming in and they were rebuffed. This is not an issue of "I'm too good for that kind of work" for a lot of people. This is an issue of "I can't get that job because I'm massively overqualified and they refuse to hire me." It's also an issue of the number of people applying for those jobs. As with other employment, there are 100s of people applying for a relatively small number of jobs.

My point being that it's important to realize that "just work at McDonald's" is not the answer for everyone who is unemployed and spouting that is supremely annoying. I've been in the position of taking work anywhere and everywhere and I've done it. Not a sense of entitlement here, just a sense of the reality that McDonald's is not the answer to the job hunter's prayer. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Musings

1. TMI warning. I drink tea every morning and I always have to pee 100 times when I drink tea. Sunday morning, I was drinking a lot of water because I was going to donate blood at noon. So at one point, I was peeing and drinking a glass of water at the same time. I wonder if my body was like "What the hell?"

2. Missy Franklin is an 18-year-old competitive swimmer. Last year, she won four gold medals and a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. As a member of the U.S. National Team, she also holds the world record in the 4 x 100 meter medley relay. And she swam competitively for her high school team after winning the Olympic medals. Can you imagine getting off the bus for the meet against Franklin's school? "Hey, you'll be swimming today against literally the best swimmer in the world. You have no chance, but have fun out there!" So demoralizing. I tend to lean toward it being unfair that she's allowed to swim for a high school team, but would love to hear other viewpoints on this.

3. It's totally OK not to hijack someone's Facebook post. It's amazing to me how rude some people can be without even realizing it. In other words, it's not their intent to be jerks, but that is what they look like anyway. Example: A friend posts about the difficulty of being out of diapers for her kid. Someone comes along and posts about how spoiled she is because "in my day" we had to use cloth diapers and wash them out and blah, blah, blah..." 

Really? You can't just have some sympathy for someone? You have to talk about your own experience and how much harder it was? You have to call someone spoiled? How about you take the focus off yourself for five seconds and just have some sympathy for the person's plight. That's all that's required.

And also, just because you had it so rough doesn't mean everyone should suffer with that level of pain. We have modern conveniences now, it's OK to make use of them and it's OK to feel upset when they aren't there. Your suffering from 20 years ago doesn't mean my friend's issue is any less an inconvenience to her.

And that concludes Monday's Musings this week.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two Eyes (PDC June 22, 2013)

SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2013
This was our last full day in Playa Del Carmen and we started it off with breakfast at the Mayan Bistro before heading to the dive shop at 8:30. This would be our last two dives and we decided to do them in the Dos Ojos (Spanish for Two Eyes) Cenote. My Dad and I had both been to this cenote before, but it was Thomas's first cenote dive. It's a great first cenote experience.

Cenotes are beautiful. They are caverns that are dark and you need a flashlight to dive in them, but throughout the cenote, you can see shafts of light shining through the water. It's incredible and no diver should miss it. 

After the dive, we headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation before going to dinner. We had a great dinner at La Vagabunda, one of our favorite places in Playa. I had the filet mignon, Dad had the chili and Thomas had fish and chips. Everyone was happy with the food. Afterwards, Thomas and I headed down 5th Avenue in search of last minute souvenirs. We walked a lot, but found what we were looking for. We went back to the hotel and spent the last night in paradise laying out by the pool, enjoying the evening. 

I couldn't have asked for a better time with the two most important men in my life - my Dad and my wonderful boyfriend. Adios Mexico! We'll be back! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Horses, ATVs, and Jet Skis...OH MY! (PDC, June 20/21, 2013)


THURSDAY, JUNE 20, 2013
We had a leisurely breakfast at the Mayan Bistro before heading down the road to the Gran Porto Real Hotel where the horseback riding crew picked us up and took us to Maroma Adventures. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Playa. We waited for awhile and then were led to the horseback riding area where we mounted our horses for the trail ride to the beach. My horse was named Apache.

About 10 minutes into the ride, one of the horses fell over on its side and knocked the rider off. I am unsure of what happened. I think the horse tripped on something. Horse and rider were OK though and one of the tour guides traded horses with the rider and we were underway again. The ride was very nice, we meandered through a jungle trail and then near the beach and back again. It was a good way to spend a morning.

Manne's Biergarten. Delicious!
We returned to the hotel and got ready to head out to dinner. We had decided once again on Manne’s Biergarten. It has great food and we all enjoyed it earlier in the week. We walked over and were seated in the back outside. It was just us out there so it was like having our own private dining area. The food was great! Thomas and I had pork roast and my Dad had the schnitzel. We all enjoyed it.

After dinner we headed over to the bus station where we had ice cream cones from McDonald’s. Then we did some shopping as we walked back to our hotel  up 5th Avenue.

Later, after the sunset, Thomas and I went for a romantic walk on the beach. It was a beautiful day and evening.

FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2013
We had breakfast with Dad before we once again headed out to the Gran Porto Real Hotel to be picked up for our trip to Maroma Adventures. Dad decided on diving in the afternoon while Thomas and I went with ATV and Jet Ski riding. We arrived at Maroma and were taken to the jet skis first. Both the jet and ATV were shared, which meant Thomas and I would both be riding on the same one. I let Thomas have the jet ski for himself since he'd never been on one and I was on one last year in Cozumel. It's really hard to ride those with two people so I took pictures while he was on it. 

We both rode the ATV with Thomas driving. I had been on the ATV before as well, but again Thomas had never been. He loved both the jet ski and the ATV. We both had a lot of fun!!

Postcard comes to life!
After the activities were over, we had about a two-hour wait before the shuttle would take us back to the pick-up point so we had the free chips and salsa they offered then we found some lounge chairs on the hut in the picture to the left. Is that a postcard photo or what?? Thomas took that picture and I think it's just amazing. I would love to stay right there on the beach chair forever. Unfortunately, we did have to leave when our shuttles came. 

We made our way back to the hotel and we met up with Dad who had a good reef dive while we were gone. Then we all went to Las Delicias where Thomas and I had dinner. Dad had eaten earlier at Subway so he came along to keep us company. It was a nice dinner with all of us together. Thomas and I opted for some frozen yogurt at a shop I had seen as we were going to Maroma earlier in the day. The yogurt was expensive and not very good. Lesson learned - stick with the McDonald's cones at the bus station!

After dinner, Thomas and I went to the beach once again for a beautiful moonlight walk. We spent some time on the pier and listened to the waves. Such a nice way to end the evening. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Under Da Sea in Mexico (PDC, June 18/19, 2013)

TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 2013
We started the day with breakfast at Mayan Bistro. I ate way too much, which was a mistake. I had two sausages, several pieces of toast, and a couple of pieces of banana bread, plus some tea and juice. I should have known better than to eat that way when I’m diving in the morning, but live and learn.

We headed to the dive shop and got ready for our first dive of the day. This was Thomas’s first dive in the ocean. I was so excited to be diving with him. He had to do some exercises for his scuba certification while we were in the water. Our first dive was at a reef where we saw some eels and beautiful fish and coral. Then, during the break before the second dive, my stomach was feeling mutinous. This is what happens when I eat too much before diving. But I was OK with some rest.

Thomas makes his first descension
to the bottom of the sea
The second dive was very interesting. We descended to the bottom and Thomas completed some of the exercises he had to do as part of his certification. Then, we started swimming. And swimming. And swimming. The current was rough and we were swimming against it. We made very little progress and we couldn’t see a reef anywhere. Our dive master ascended twice to the top of the water. We later found out she was looking for our boat. The second time she ascended, she gave us the signal to stay where we were. 

Usually, when the dive master ascends, the rest of us do as well. But we stayed on the bottom and we held hands to try to stay in place because the current was so strong. Finally, the dive master gave us the signal to ascend and we did so. We floated for awhile on the top of the water waiting for our boat to come get us. Usually, the boat is very nearby our ascension spot, but the strong current had caused us to drift way off our course so the boat was across the water where we should have been. It was a good exercise for us in that we know we can handle some difficult circumstances under water. That is a very valuable thing for a scuba diver.

We got back to the hotel and Thomas and I decided to have a snack at the hotel restaurant. It turned out to be way more food than I thought it would be. Thomas had the Mayan cheeseburger and I had the beef burrito. It was a lot more food than I needed since I just wanted a snack, but it was OK.

Later, I had a nap and then Thomas and I headed to Las Delicias, which is my favorite place in Playa for fajitas. I had fajitas and Thomas had the tampiquena. We finished the evening walking down 5th Avenue, buying some post cards and taking photos. It was a nice evening with my amazing Thomas!!

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013
We were up early again this morning. We had a leisurely breakfast before heading to the dive shop. I had two granola bars and some tea. I learned from yesterday’s mistake of eating too much before hitting the water. We walked over to the dive shop and got ready to head out to the dive site.

Here Fishie, Fishie
Today, we dove two reefs and it was amazing!! We saw sting rays, amazing schools of fish, a lion fish, and a huge turtle. The turtle was amazing, so incredible to see it under the water. Thomas finished his open water exercises and was certified as a scuba diver today! I am so proud of him!!

We returned to the hotel and I took a shower and then a nap. We headed to Karen’s Restaurant with my Dad where we all had great food. Thomas and I had the filet mignon and my Dad had the chicken. We talked for awhile at the restaurant and then headed to the Mega store where we got some water and M&Ms. OK, and also a Snickers Bar. And a couple of ice cream cones. But that’s all, I swear. Oh wait, we also bought a coconut.

We then headed back to the hotel where we will rest for the evening because tomorrow, we ride! Horses that is!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hola! Chilling in Mexico (PDC June 16/17, 2013)

SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2013
My wonderful boyfriend, Thomas, and I were up early so we could get to the airport and fly to Cancun. We stopped at Shipley's Doughnuts for a morning pick-me-up before heading to the parking lot and taking the shuttle to the airport. Once inside, we saw a Nestle's Cookie kiosk and we bought a couple of cookies and some Icees. Definitely on the vacation diet already. We headed to the gate to wait for my Dad who was flying in from San Antonio and then joining us on the flight from Houston to Cancun.

This would be the first time Thomas met my Dad. They are Facebook friends and communicate some that way, but this was the first time they would be meeting. The meeting went well, which I knew it would. My parents are very good that way - they like our significant others unless and until they give a reason not to like them. My Dad also lived in Germany for 9 years total when he was in the Army (4 years one stint and 5 the next) so he knows the culture and the country and has traveled extensively throughout Europe. So he and Thomas had a lot in common. 

Since it was Father's Day, I gave my Dad his gift - a box of Caramel deLites Girl Scout cookies. He loves them and, as all real Americans know because real Americans eat these cookies every year, you can only buy them between January and March. I had bought a box and back in March and saved them for Father's Day. My Dad loved them!

So, finally we all got on the plane and I slept for most of the flight. I was tired. We arrived in Cancun and took the bus to Playa Del Carmen. There is no direct flight to Playa, but it's only 45 minutes from the airport via bus. The trip was easy and quick and we were in Playa in no time. We exchanged some money at the bus station because they give a good rate for dollars to Pesos and then we headed to our hotel, Aventura Mexicana, via taxi.

We checked into the hotel and then trekked over to Subway, where we always eat the first day. It's nearby and quick. We're always tired that first day so we have a simple meal. Afterwards, we bought some water at the Oxxo store and brought it back to the hotel before heading down 5th Avenue, the main tourist street, to scoop out some restaurants for the rest of the week and to go to Dairy Queen, another treat we allow ourselves while we're here. But, we were aghast upon discovering that DQ wasn't where we left it last time we were here in January. It had closed. The disappointment...it was great. But have no fear, we soldiered on because we are adept travelers and our mission for ice cream had a happy ending. More on that later.

We trekked the streets for a short time looking for a restaurant called Grillmeister, a German place my Dad had read about on Trip Advisor. The menu looked great so we wanted to try it. We didn't find it, but we decided to try again on Monday.

We came back to our rooms and headed to bed early because Monday was going to be our first Scuba Diving Day! While my Dad and I are certified divers, Thomas had never been diving, but he was getting certified here in Playa on this trip. He had done the academic study online before coming here and now he was going to do the practical work. I was very excited for him to get in the ocean with us and see all there is to see. But first, he had to get in the pool.

MONDAY, JUNE 17, 2013
My Dad headed to the dive shop early to take care of the scheduling and payment stuff (the non-fun items), while Thomas and I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. They offer a free continental breakfast at the Mayan Bistro and it's good. 

Around noon, we headed over to Dive Mexico, which is the best dive shop ever anywhere. EVER!! We always dive with them when we come to Playa and it's always a great time no matter what. They are safety conscious, friendly, and always make sure you have a great time. 

Thomas had to complete some paperwork and a quick refresher for the academic portion of the dive instruction. He only missed two of the 18 questions. I am so proud of him! He's very smart, which is one of the many things I love about him. Dad and I then suited up in our wet suits and headed to the beach while Thomas spent the afternoon in the pool at the shop. The first day of dive instruction is in the pool so he can get familiar with the equipment and basic dive procedures. He enjoyed it and the instructor said he did everything right the first try. Again, very smart man! 

Dad and I had two reef dives in the ocean and we enjoyed them both. I always have trouble clearing my ears on dives and today was no exception. The pain was immense, but I got my ears cleared and really enjoyed our dives. We went out with a dive master named "Machete." Not his real name of course, but everyone calls him that. He was very nice and we both liked him a lot. He's from Spain as is our favorite dive master, Andrea. But Andrea was out on another dive so we had Machete. Nice guy and he was very understanding that I would need a lot of time to descend so my ears could clear. 

The reef dives were great, we saw a lot of eels, a lot of beautiful fish, we swam through an arch that had a lot of fish. It is so incredible to be underwater. I just can't explain it. Scuba diving is almost like a cult in a way. Once you get involved with it, it's hard to explain to others unless they too are involved, and you want to recruit everyone you know to get involved. It's just so amazing.

We finished our dives and returned to the shop where we met Thomas. We got our equipment rinsed off and we returned to the hotel where we showered and then began our trek to Grillmeister. We had gotten a good address from one of the dive shop women so we headed that direction. We didn't find Grillmeister, but we did find another German restaurant in the same area. They told us Grillmeister had closed so we opted to eat at Manne's Biergarten. The food was good. I had chicken cordon bleu, Thomas had schnitzel, and my Dad had the pork roast. It was all delicious and we will definitely return there for another meal this week. 

Thomas thought the ADO Bus Station might have a Dairy Queen. He thought he saw a DQ sign there when we arrived so we went to check it out. They did not have a DQ, but they did have a McDonald's ice cream shop so Dad got a couple of cones there. We hung out at the bus station for awhile because the rain was coming down hard, but it finally let up a bit so we headed back to our hotel and to see if we could find an ice cream shop that the folks at Manne's had told us about.

We stopped by a couple of places including the ice cream shop we'd been told about, but they were very expensive so we decided to head to the Mega (supermarket) to buy some ice cream there. As we walked into the Mega, we saw an ice cream shop on the ground floor with good prices and great prices. YES! SUCCESS!! Dad and I had banana splits and Thomas had a coconut drink. He also shared some of my banana split. It was all so good. 

We bought a coconut at the Mega because Thomas had heard fresh coconut in Mexico was very good. We got back to the hotel and broke the coconut holes with some scissors (we are a resourceful group) so we could drain the juice. Thomas will break the actual coconut Tuesday evening to begin eating it. 

We headed to bed early because Tuesday was going to be our first dive together. I couldn't wait for Thomas to see everything. Stay tuned for a recap of Tuesday's dive!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Feeling Blue

Last Friday, my sweet Thomas and I had a wonderful evening! We went to Outback Steakhouse and I introduced Thomas to A-1 Steak Sauce. He'd never had it and he loves it. We bought some at the store this last week. We both enjoyed our meals at Outback and then we headed to downtown Houston for Blue Man Group!

When I was in Germany in October, we planned to go to Berlin to see Blue Man Group, but the travel costs to Berlin were prohibitive. So, we scrapped that plan. But I decided to see if maybe, just maybe Blue Man Group might have a show in Houston at some point. I did the research online and found that they did indeed have a traveling show that was in Houston the first part of June! I purchased the tickets back in March and decided to surprise Thomas when he arrived here in May. 

He was thrilled! We drove to Jones Hall in downtown Houston and sat in great seats waiting for the show to begin. It did not disappoint!! The show has no dialogue. It is full of music, colors, and a ton of fun. It doesn't matter what language you speak or where you're from, everyone can enjoy it. And everyone did! The hall was full and every person there had a great time! Laughter, clapping, standing ovations. It was amazing!!

Blue Man Group is in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York, and Orlando as well as traveling throughout the US for the rest of this year. It is also in Berlin, Australia, Brazil, and on the Norwegian Epic cruise ship. 

It's absolutely worth seeing and it's something all ages from kids to the elderly can enjoy. So much fun! GO BLUE!

Friday, May 31, 2013

May Days

May has always been a good month for me. So many great things have happened to me in May. I stopped to reflect on this earlier in the month and I realized just how awesome this month has been historically:

1. I found out I was accepted to my first choice law school in May (2002).

2. I took my very first trip to Cozumel in May (2004).

3. I found out I passed the bar exam on the first try in May (2005).

4. I graduated law school in May. (2005).

5. I graduated with my M.A. in May (2011).

6. I took my second trip to Cozumel in May (2011).

7. My wonderful, amazing, incredible boyfriend has arrived from Germany to visit me! (2013). 

I am so excited to have Thomas here with me! I picked him up from the airport this afternoon and took him to Golden Corral for his very first dinner in Texas. He has been to America before, but never to Texas, and his last trip to the states was over 15 years ago. We have some great things planned, but for now my sweet, wonderful, love of my life is sleeping. He's been up for over 24 hours now with the travel time to the airport in Germany and the flight itself. 

I know from my own trips to Germany that a good night's rest on the first evening can really help the jet lag. So tomorrow he will be feeling better. Our first full day will be an easy one. We're going food shopping and we may lay out by the pool at the apartment. Nothing major planned, but we do have some fun things coming up so stay tuned!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cheerio!

I always thought I should have been British. I was born in Germany to American parents, but I've always felt a connection with all things British. I love rainy days, I love the accents, I love tea. I've never been a coffee drinker, it's always been tea. I adore mysteries, Agatha Christie topping the list, and I love British literature (hello there, Charles Dickens).

Recently, I've started watching some British television shows on Netflix and they are so great, I have to share.

The first series I watched was Doc Martin. The show centers around a top-notch London surgeon who develops hemophobia, a fear of blood. He retreats to Port Wenn, a tiny village in Cornwall where he becomes the General Practitioner (GP) for the little town, which is plagued by all manner of viruses, bacteria, and odd diseases. It's also plagued by all manner of interesting characters.

Doc Martin is a fish out of water in the fishing village, with his brusque and rude attitude. And yet, the town
comes to like, if not love, the GP who seems able to diagnose any disease on the spot and fix any and all maladies. The Doc takes a liking to Louisa Glasson, the resident girl next door and head teacher of the primary school in Port Wenn. Their relationship is fraught with more peril than seems possible, mostly due to the Doc's inability to express his true feelings.

The show is fantastic and just one of those fun mixes of lighthearted humor and serious storylines. Definitely worth watching! The first five seasons are on Netflix with the sixth slated to premiere in Fall 2013.

The second show I started watching this weekend is Call the Midwife. Based on the life of Jennifer Worth, a London nurse and midwife in the late 1950s, this series follows four nurse/midwives and the nuns they board with. The nuns are also midwives and nurses and the convent is located in London's East End, in a city called Poplar. The city is very poor and the nurse/midwives serve the people of the city who otherwise could not access medical care.

This show will make you laugh, cry, and realize that life is truly a gift. The nurse/midwives help bring people into this world, ease them out of it, and take care of all the needs of life between birth and death. These women worked behind the scenes, making life just that little bit easier for those around them. When the hospital was too far, when the night was long, they labored along with their patients, helping to bring new life into the world and easing the departure out of it.

And the patients were heroes too - women living in the poorest of conditions who soldiered on, raising their children, who sometimes numbered into the 20s because birth control was not yet invented, condoms being the only option with the women at the mercy of men who refused to wear them. And yet...they kept on going, making the best life for themselves and their families in sometimes deplorable conditions.

This series shows us that our preconceptions about the poor are really misconceptions in a lot of cases, that love is not an easy concept to understand or to live, and that life is never black and white. The rules are not simple, life is not simple, but if you have your health and you have someone there for you to hold your hand when you come into this world and when you leave it, you are truly blessed. And that is what these nurse/midwives did for their fellow human beings - they were there. And that is a true gift.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Musings

1. Sometimes I get mail for people who lived in my apartment before me and I wonder what their lives are like, where they are now and so on. 

2. There is something very comforting about the fact that my precious dog likes to sleep so close to me. Before lights out, she's usually on the bed with me, but when the light goes out, she snuggles as close as she can. It's very sweet and I feel so loved!

3. Today, I finally dumped five frozen dinners I had in the refrigerator. I don't like three of them and the other two have been in there forever. I feel bad when I do that because it's a waste of money, but at the same time I feel good because I'm letting it go and then I have room in there for the stuff I really will eat.

4. Frozen green grapes are awesome! I buy the grapes and freeze them overnight. Perfect snack for the hot days that are soon to come in Houston. Do not do this with the purple grapes though. They are not good frozen.

5. There is something very satisfying about getting small things done like finally sifting through all the paperwork that piles up on the nightstand or folding a load of laundry that has been sitting there for a couple of days.

6. Sometimes I miss the days when we didn't have Internet (or cell phones) and we were forced to go outside, ride bikes, go to the library to check out books (as opposed to downloading them) and so on. I love the Internet, don't get me wrong, but I do yearn for the days when you didn't spend half your time at a restaurant having to listen to someone on the cell phone. I also miss the days when you went to a party and actually interacted with people instead of seeing them on their phones "checking in" on Facebook. I think we've lost a lot with the advent of technology sometimes.

7. There's a real beauty in letting go of things and accepting them as they are. So many people get riled up and wonder why such and such a person won't do this or that or whatever. You know what? For better or for worse, they are who they are. If it bothers you, stop interacting with them and definitely stop expecting them to do whatever it is you want them to do. History shows it's not going to happen. Move on and make peace with it.

8. I totally stole this musings idea from Karen over at A Peek at Karen's World. Go read her blog. It's worth it!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

VOTE TODAY PLEASE!!!

Kimberly with one of her creations.
She's an artist folks!!
Short and sweet (in more ways than one). I am asking all of you to vote for my friend, Kimberly, in this small business contest. Voting is easy - no sign-up involved, no personal information, it's literally one click and done. 

You can vote from multiple devices every day. There are only two days left so please vote and please ask your friends to do so. 

About Kimberly, which you can also read on the voting page:

"I own a small bakery. At first, it was just for fun and "play" money. Well, my husband was recently diagnosed with Neurosarcoidosis at the age of 39. He is now paralyzed and blind. He was also a small business owner and we lost the business due to his illness. He is living in a rehab/nursing home trying to get more function back. I am the "family" breadwinner now. I would love more marketing material as well as more equipment. I have never advertised yet stay very busy. It would be nice to hire some help as well as have more pans, mixers, and other baking supplies."



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Viva La Fiesta - Photo Edition!

The fish protecting The Alamo

Flowers at The Alamo

Dad at an Alamo Memorial

Flags at the Fiesta Gartenfest

Dad under the archway of Market Square

One of the floats we saw in the street heading for the parade

Dad and Peanut in front of the Brackenridge Eagle train

Brackenridge Park river.

The family at Brackenridge Park

Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden

Waterfalls at the Japanese Tea Garden

Beautiful flowers in front of the Japanese Tea Garden