Category Archives: women

Careful What You Wish For… (Working From Home)

I’m very thankful to work remotely for a great company, and there are definite advantages in working from home.  But, it’s just like any relationship.  The advantages can eventually become the disadvantages.

It’s the little things that drive you crazy… like the fact that you can’t control when people mow their lawn, or when a loud truck drives by your house.  It can be disastrous if someone knocks when you are on the phone, so my dogs go in a closed room faaaar from the desk and a sign goes on the door when I have important conference calls.

Working over telephones, it’s hard to tell when the speaker is finished or someone new is going to pipe up, so there is the frequent unintended interruption of your colleagues.  You also have to work a little harder at interpreting meaning since you can’t see facial expressions.

You learn to not have overnight guests during the week since most people don’t really get what it means to ‘work from home’.  They bang kitchen cabinets, get ice from the dispenser, and walk into the room talking all the while risking your professionalism.  They don’t mean to cause trouble; they just haven’t experienced working for a paycheck from home.

The obvious differences are not having to dress professionally and the lack of office socialization.  Working in an office brought some of the best relationships I’ll ever have.  My girlfriends from work have shared many tear-producing laughing spells and gotten me through many crises.  I miss them.  I have to try a little harder to get my regular dose of friends.

It is true that I don’t spend as much money on clothes, shoes, and jewelry as I did when I worked in an office.  The result is that now I never have the right clothes to wear, anywhere.  You see, I hate to shop.  Needing to shop for work clothes got me in the stores, and then I bought all kinds of clothes and shoes.  Now, I just keep putting it off and will eventually be that oddly-dressed lady who generates chuckles.

Wearing comfortable clothes while working brought its own harsh reality when I put on ‘real’ clothes a few weeks after starting the remote job.  It’s harder to notice that you are gaining weight.  I couldn’t believe it until I started realizing that I didn’t walk from the parking garage to the office anymore, from my desk to lunch, to meeting rooms, to the kitchen,…

It’ is great to avoid commuting in rush hour.  But that evening-hour commute gave me opportunities to stop by the grocery store or the drug store.  Now, it seems I’m perpetually out of the basics.  In the old days, I would not venture out of the house without makeup applied and hair done at least a little.  I no longer consider it worth the time to ‘get ready’ just to run to the store.  So, I tend to put off going altogether or pretend I’m invisible and run into the store looking like an embarrassment to my younger self.

In the end, the biggest difference is freedom in where you live.  I’m thankful to the now-friend who offered the original position to me.  It allowed me to move back to the southeast.  Now, I can have a casual weekend dinner with my Mother and Grandmother, and that’s the best advantage.  Now, if I can just figure out what to wear…….

~Lori

Meet Me In St. Louis

My friends are coming back to St. Louis for our 3rd annual girl’s weekend.  This annual convergence is proving to be the necessary kick in the ass to complete my spring cleaning.   This means cleaning out every room, closet, and drawer plus the cabinets and fridge.   Not to mention sprucing up the yard, getting the windows washed, and cleaning out the car for sightseeing trips. 

As the centrally located gal in the group (they come in from Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and California) it makes sense for everyone to come here.  And, I love hosting my friends.  Along with getting my spring cleaning Totally Completed (I’m pretty much done with closet and drawer cleaning until next spring) we get to take in the awesome things there are to do in St. Louis. 

It is so true that you don’t really appreciate what you have in your own city – I was somewhere in Tuscany waiting to go into yet another church when a lady in front of me asked me where I was from.  When I said St. Louis, she immediately started raving about the Cathedral Basilica and how it was one of the most beautiful churches she had ever seen.   At the time, I had never been there even though I’d easily been to more than 100 churches in Italy (seriously – 5 trips = lots of churches!!)  So, the first girl’s weekend we went to the Basilica (and it truly is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever been in) and walked around the park at the St. Louis Arch which I hadn’t been to since I was a kid.  

Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Last year, we went to the Washington University / Forest Park area of town because Michaela had been reading about the 1904 World’s Fair and wanted to see the buildings that were donated to the city after.  The architecture of the buildings was amazing (I beg you to take the virtual tour provided in the link – it takes you building by building and you can see why Michaela wanted us to go).  I used to golf every week at Forest Park and I’m embarrassed to say that I still have never been into one of the museums which are now housed in the World’s Fair buildings.  We also went back to the Arch and toured the Museum of Westward Expansion.  Walking around the area made me appreciate how very pretty the waterfront park is. 

This year the group has already made their list – it will be the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour.  You guessed it.  Never been to the Botanical Garden (can’t wait after looking on the Garden’s internet site) and even though I worked for A-B for years, have never gone on the brewery tour. 

Missouri Botanical Garden

So, again this year during girl’s weekend I will get to visit two more spots that visitors come to St. Louis to do but I’ve never done.  I’m thinking I need to have a lot more girl’s weekends in St. Louis as there is a lot to see and do.  Maybe we need to up the weekends to twice a year.  YIKES – that would mean spring cleaning again in the fall.  I love my friends but spring cleaning once a year is enough for me …….  

 ~ Susan

What Doesn’t Kill You……….

Last week held a personal milestone…the 20th anniversary of my wedding, and I’m single now.  I don’t think I’m a bitter person, but the anniversary made me contemplative.

I was surprised how devastating a divorce is.  Before my own, it seemed a sad, but routine, part of life.  Ours was relatively simple and not unexpected.  And still, divorcing ripped out my core.  I lost a lot of weight, couldn’t think straight, cried until I looked like an alien.  There was such a sense of loss and rejection.  It was the death of a dream.

It is the only time in my life I truly SCREAMED at someone.  Not in anger; I never really got angry at him even though my friends did.  I was questioning the way it unfolded.  He had been emotionally checked out for two years.  I yelled because I wanted to know why he wasted my time when he knew he was over me.

In your forties, two years make a big difference.  I went through the painful, slow death of his Mother followed quickly by that of his Father.  My face and knees got wrinkled, my breasts sagged and other similarly wonderful things happened in those two years.

Most damaging was sharing a home and bed with the husband I knew was slipping away, begging a man to love me while he shunned me.  I prayed, read self-help books, went to counseling, and focused my life on him in a desperate attempt to save our marriage when I should have been moving on with my life, as he already had!

I couldn’t attend church for a while. Waiting for the service routinely left me in tears.  Seeing families made me feel broken, like a failure, and reminded me I was single and would never have a child.  In other public places, I wondered what was so wrong with me that I didn’t deserve someone… like she did… or he did.

My ex had taken my chance to have children, though he promised otherwise before we married.  There were other fundamental promises replaced with excuses.  He thought it was a temporary phase, thought he could change me…  Really?  The awful truth was that what I wanted, what he’d promised, just wasn’t that important to him…. and maybe our 15-year relationship had been based on misconceptions.

Sadly, divorce affects your social network.  My ex made it easier by leaving town; I could even afford to stay in my home.  But some married couples, some even close friends, weren’t so comfortable around me anymore.  I lost the work friends, but that was expected for multiple reasons.

The hardest part was losing family.  I have no full siblings and a small family, but he was close to his two siblings and had a large extended family.  They were my family; and then… nothing.  Most concerning was losing my stepparent relationships.  But, I’m blessed to know my stepson’s family.    For that, I am very thankful to him and his wonderful wife.

The divorce taught me not to be afraid to reach out and not to waste time, eventually made me a better friend and daughter.  I’m healthy and happy, but would like to be married again.  I’m trying to be smarter this time.  I realize it might not happen, and I’m taking steps to make sure I remain okay with that.

~Lori

Potentially Useful Links

After a While (Poem)

Spiritual Divorce (book)

Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay (book)

Drinking the clearance kool-aid

I’ve been packing the last few days for an upcoming vacation.  Since we planned this trip last fall, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder my wardrobe.  Over the past few months I’ve perused clearance racks for summer clothes for both my husband and I thinking they would be great for vacation – and a steal at that.

As I started pulling out things to pack, I quickly realized we both have more new outfits (daytime, nighttime and swim time) than number of days we will be gone.  For some bizarre reason, I feel every vacation requires buying a completely new wardrobe.   Needless to say, I have totally drank the ‘clearance’ kool-aid and feel if there is an $100 dress on clearance for $10, I would simply be an idiot if I didn’t take it home.  Besides, I have a vacation coming up where this dress would be fabulous, right? 

The worst part of my clearance rack purchasing sprees is that I would never wear these clothes during normal life.  So everything I’ve purchased will be for a one-time (or no time as some of my finds aren’t even making it to my suitcase) wearing as I will most likely buy new clothes for the next vacation. 

So the next time I am pulling items from my closet for the local charity clothing drive, there will be a fabulous $100 dress, and many other special summer items (many with the tag still on) that will be filling the boxes I set out on my porch. 

When will I learn that I’m blowing hard earned cash for clearance items that I simply must purchase only to donate to charity?  Hopefully, someone will benefit from my inability to refrain from bringing these steals home.  BTW — Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Chico’s,  I know you were waiting for a chump like me to come in and take a lot of clearance items off your hands and you’re welcome.

Oh, and this is the third time we’ve gone to the Dominican to an all-inclusive.  I know (absolutely am positive) that I’ll wear the same flip-flops, shorts and t-shirt to breakfast every morning, quickly change into a bathing suit and may or may not dress up for dinner.  I could travel with a carryon that has sunscreen, a bathing suit and visor and be all set.  Anything else I need I could pick up at the local Wal-Mart.

– Susan

Cutting the cord

I’m 30. I’m single. I live in the same general area that I grew up in, about 30 minutes from my parents. 

My family is very close. My brother and sister are two of my best friends.  I love my parents to death and I love spending time with them.

Here it comes…

BUT

During the holidays, my parents still expect me to stay at their house on “the eve” – Thanksgiving Eve and Christmas Eve – especially Christmas Eve.  And here’s the BUT – I really, really, REALLY don’t want to.  I haven’t wanted to for the past few years, but I continue to just do it because, I don’t feel like I have a good excuse not to – aside from the fact that I am a college graduate with a mortgage.  Plus I know my parents would be sad/disappointed.

I don’t like sleeping on the couch (well, not when it’s on purpose), and that’s where I sleep when I stay at my parents.  I like my house and  my bed (both that I BOUGHT); I like waking up and having (a lot) of coffee before interacting with people, and I like my own shower and not having to pack a bag to go a half an hour away. 

Don’t get me wrong – I love spending the holidays with my family, and wouldn’t want it any other way. But I wonder, how much longer can this go on?  Will I have to sleep there on the eve for the rest of my life if I decide not to get married and/or have kids? Will I be leaving my dentures in a cup on the table next to the couch?  The majority of my friends are married, and most with kids at this point, so they aren’t expected to stay at home on “the eve.”  But I’m the same age as them.

So I think this might be the year.  I’m going to take a stand!!

Who am I kidding – I’m going to drink 12 gimlets on Christmas Eve and pass out on the couch and end up having to stay anyway.

But really – this doesn’t just apply to Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve – there are tons of examples of situations where, if I was married, would have totally different expectations.  When does that change?

– Erin

Andy Rooney on Women Over Forty

Andy Rooney says: As I grow in age, I value women who are over forty most of all. Here are just a few reasons why: A woman over forty will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, “What are you thinking?” She doesn’t care what you think.

If a woman over forty doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And, it’s usually something more interesting.

A woman over forty knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants and from whom. Few women past the age of forty give a hoot what you might think about her or what she’s doing.

Women over forty are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you, if they think they can get away with it. Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated.

A woman over forty has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn’t trust the guy with other women. Women over forty couldn’t care less if you’re attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won’t betray her.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over forty. They always know. A woman over forty looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over forty is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright and honest. They’ll tell you right off if you are a jerk, if you are acting like one! You don’t ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over forty for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of forty-plus, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some twenty-two-year-old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” here’s an update for you. Now 80 percent of women are against marriage, why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig, just to get a little sausage.

via www.divinvecaroline.com

Our “Dirty Little Secrets”…

I am sure I have a normal, healthy amount of dirty little secrets – no more than the average non-serial killer. When forced consider one to share, I decided to go with the first one to pop in my head. I, Jennifer Zarcone – no-reality-show-watching, master’s degree-holding, public radio-listening, New Yorker subscribing, grown-ass woman never miss an episode of Days of Our Lives.

It started innocently enough. Co-workers wanted to watch in a conference room during lunch. I refused for a while. Soap Operas?! Don’t we have more important things to discuss?! Deep down I knew why I didn’t want to watch. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to quit. You see, I come from a long line of addictive soap watchers. We are ABC watchers – the Quartermaines and the Webers – these were my people.  And I knew if I started watching, I wouldn’t be able to stop.  

Now, those co-workers are long gone and the Brady’s and the Horton’s – their lives and the absolutely ridiculous situations they get themselves in and out of are just the brain candy I need at the end of the day (in my defense – with DVR, you can watch a Soap in about 15 minutes). It is their ability to bounce back after any set-back – to be up and walking around and running for mayor weeks after being shot in the head at point black range; or having your heart taken out and put back in and then dating casually two weeks later. These lessons of resilience just can’t be found in the real world – or on PBS.

– Jen

____________________

I record more hours of television per week than most people work.

This is not an exaggeration. 

And yes, I have a full time job.

I knew before starting to write this post that I recorded a lot of TV.  The only thing I can stand to watch ‘live’ is sports, so anything else that I have an interest in seeing goes straight to the DVR.  I’m a chronic multi-tasker, and the thought of wasting my time on commercials just about sends me over the edge. 

Anyway, I made a list of the shows I’m recording right now.  Keep in mind, its fall and my “TV busy season,” but I’m averaging about 35 hours of recording per week.  I also realized through this little exercise that I watch a lot of TV on-demand because I literally can’t fit it into the schedule of my DVR.  It *might* be getting a little excessive.  Then again, maybe its not as abnormal as I think.

 The funny thing is, 5 years ago, I was watching almost zero TV.  I had a different job, was working crazy hours, and had more of a “live to work” than “work to live” lifestyle.  When I wasn’t working I was thinking about work, regardless of the time of day or day of the week. 

When I switched jobs and could relax enough to sit down at the end of the day to watch something mindless, I quickly got addicted.  I love it all – reality, drama, crime scene shows, cooking, travel… the list goes on. HGTV is a serious problem for me – I find myself watching re-runs of House Hunters International – already knowing the house they will pick but watching it anyway, dreaming that one day I will be buying a house in those exactly locations. 

Maybe I will try to watch a little less TV now that I see the magnitude of my “little secret” but really, I couldn’t be more content than when I’m sitting on my couch, watching these ridiculous shows with Ellie on my lap. 

– Erin

____________________

I’m in bed before your children

Yes that is right, i go to bed early. Very early. Wicked early. Unbelievably early…You get the idea.

I usually follow that up immediately with, “but i get up very early too,” hoping for a smidgen of understanding or forgiveness I guess.
I know it is lame. My husband knows it is lame. My sisters and brothers know it is lame… and yes I beat my parents to bed most nights (they are in their 70’s) and they know it is lame.

Urban Dictionary defines me as a closer. Good ole’ Ben Franklin has made it easier with his famous quote about how I’m going to be “healthy, wealthy and wise” all because I’m early to bed. Then of course the Canadians go and test the theory experimentally and disprove good Ben (seriously).

But here is the deal. I can’t help it…I love going to bed more than most things (except my husband and dog). My bed is my sanctuary and sometimes, when I wrap up the day, my biggest indulgence is to get in bed before 8pm. It is decadent, wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable!

Dirty little secret or not – I have been ridiculed and yelled at for being an early sleeper and through all of it, I just don’t care because ‘I yam what i yam.’

I enjoy morning, I enjoy going to bed early, and I love my life. Do with that what you will!

– Michaela

____________________

I love going to the movie theater to watch movies.  Not rock’m sock’m action movies or gory thrillers. Oh no, not for me.  I demand chick flicks that always end the way you’ll know they’ll end.  I want no surprises.  I want to know going in that the guy gets the girl or the girl gets the guy.  No worries, no stress, perfect ending every time. 

My little secret is I don’t want any company when I go to the theater.  I want to sit alone with no one around me.  I don’t want the chatter and I don’t want to share my large tub of popcorn.  I want a couple of hours where I can mindlessly shove popcorn in my mouth and drink my soda. 

I pick the first movie of the day on Saturday or Sunday and head off to oblivion.  This is me time and I love it – it’s not better than a massage but relaxing in a different kind of way.  When I’m sitting fat and happy in a theater with a huge grin on my face because of some mushy, romantic or funny scene on the big screen, well, I’m in heaven.  Mindless, chick flick enjoyment all by myself.   

– Susan

What’s your dirty little secret??