Retirement: we can’t wait for it. We count the days, the months, and in my case, the years. I didn’t have a monthly calendar; I wanted a big yearly calendar so I could see each day as it went by. When we are young, we start thinking about retirement when it cuts into our activities at night. It’s hard as hell to go to work after partying into the night. You end up dragging yourself to work, only for the boss to yell, “You have to stay late because you’re late!” The years go by, and retirement is front and center in conversations at the water cooler. Retirement is the reward after spending years having a boss to tell you what to do.
We can’t wait for the retirement party and the well wishers wishing you good luck. Then one day, it’s time. You gather your belongings, and off into the retirement world you go.
We hear all the time about the money aspect of retirement (“you need x amount of money to retire”), but we don’t hear a lot about the mental aspect of retiring. Retirement is great for the extroverted person who has lots of friends beyond work. It’s great if you are a social person who likes to go out on a regular basis. Retirement might not be so good for the introverted person whose only social outlet is work, whose coworkers are their only friends, and who at the end of a work day is going home to a lonely house. That person who can’t wait for the next work day should maybe pump those retirement brakes. The retiree who lines up at the bus stop for that trip to the casino could just be lonely, and that is their only way to be around people. The casino-bound retiree might have never gambled a day in his life, but sitting on a bus surrounded by people is better than sitting at home all alone. You can usually tell these people because they start a conversation with anybody who takes that seat next to him/her. This does have ramifications because gambling can put a retiree on a fixed income in a financial crisis.
The main conversations we have while working are about work; we talk shop. When we retire, that conversation stops; you aren’t in the loop anymore. The people you worked with could have moved on, and there are new people at the job whom you don’t know. One day, you realize the telephone is no longer ringing from the people you worked with, so you call. The conversation is strained; these’s a lot of silence. This is when you realize that your relationship with your work friends is over. For the extroverted person, this is no big deal because they have an outside life, but for introverts, this could be a horrible realization. You think, “What should I do now?” You clean the house on Monday, you clean the house on Tuesday, you clean the house on Wednesday, you clean the house on Thursday, you clean the house Friday, you clean the house on Saturday, and you clean the house on Sunday. The house is white-glove clean, but with nothing else to do, you start the ritual all over again. The next week, you watch every show you had meant to watch but couldn’t because you were working. There are times you wish you never retired because this isn’t all people make it out to be.
Retirement is hard on the introverted person. If you know someone who was a introvert at work, more than likely that’s not going to change with retirement. It’s not some much that the introvert wants to be alone as that the person has to get comfortable in a new setting. If they start to go to the casino, the first time might be awkward, but as he/she goes more often, their comfort level increases, and so do their interactions with other people. The conversations might be casino-related; for introverts, that could be all that’s needed to make themselves comfortable.
I’m just using the casino as a example, but it could be senior groups, YMCA programs, cruises, anything that can that bring about social interaction.
Retirees have enough to worry about, like money (unless you’re rich) and whether Social Security will be around for their entire lifetime. Money is a big issue because it comes monthly instead of biweekly or weekly. You have to stretch the dollar to last for a month, and with the price of food, there’s no room for goodies, just the necessities. Your savings start dwindling because the price of everything keeps going up and your check goes down faster. There are also more health issues as you age, and dealing with those alone is never good. You begin to realize that death is a closer reality than life because the people you know are passing away at an alarming rate. There is an overwhelming sense of loneliness if you’re an introvert.
Retirement is great if you’re an extroverted person who is very sociable, but if you are an introvert, think about it. You should prepare not just financially, but also mentally. You need to think about what you are going to do, and start doing that before you retire. If you don’t have a hobby while working, it doesn’t just come about when you stop working. Start pursuing that hobby while you’re still working. Join a club, or better yet, create a club. Join a group to get the feel of what it’s about. You should visit family, but don’t make yourself a pest. Take care of the grandkids until they get on your nerves. The point is to plan ahead and be honest in your assessment of yourself and what you’re capable of doing. There’s only so much house cleaning to do.
We are not cans of vegetables in a store that require a label to be stacked in the same area. We are people, so why do we need so many labels? There are so many labels that seem to define people that I’m starting to think that it’s made up. I’m black, female, gay, and married, but none of those define me just like those words or similar words don’t define you. One of the reasons you label vegetables is so that when you open them, you know what’s inside. Labeling people tells you nothing about the person inside. Labeling is very broad way of saying “This is me”, but why do you need to say that? It would be so nice if we could pull off the labels and people were just that, a person with a name for identification, and that’s it. “I am Anita” – that’s my identification, and that has nothing to do with who I am inside. We have got too hung up on these labels without knowing the person who is assigned a label. When you meet someone, you should look at the person, not if he is gay, straight, transgender, or anything else, just the person. We have a superficial world that looks too much at looks before seeing the person inside the body. It doesn’t matter if you are beautiful or ugly as hell if what’s inside should count more than what you look like and what label should be attached to your person. Why is it so important that you give yourself a label or a label is given to you? Does that label tell the person about you? I hope not because this world is worse off than I thought if all we are is a bunch of people trying to fit in a label like string beans in a can. When I was a kid, I saw these two people walking down the street. They were gay, I assumed. I wondered why people can’t just love who they wanted, as they were not hurting anyone. I learned as I got older that labels are used as a way to hurt people, and labels are used to define people as a certain sexual being. Again, why do you need a label to describe your sexuality? If you’re transgender, great but I rather know the person inside that transgender body. I don’t care if you’re transgender because that’s not what drew you to me. It’s that person inside that body that I want to get to know and love. I’m just saying I would rather just know your name. This doesn’t just apply to gay people but straight people as well. I don’t care if you’re straight, I just want to know your name and get to know that person inside. We are all different inside, and that is what makes us special. If you were to put all the Anita’s in the world together, we would still be different because of the person inside: there is no need to label that Anita as straight or that Anita as gay, what is the point? I really hope one day that people will stop with the labeling because it’s a false way to define someone. It would be so much better if we pulled off the labels and just looked at the person. Maybe that would make the world a better place. It might help with all this divisiveness that is going on. It might help people to truly understand the next person without making assumptions. It could put love in the world and get rid of some of the hatred we have for certain groups of labeled people. Please take the time to pull the label off and look at the person inside before you judge. The next time someone says I’m pansexual, ask them who are they really inside without the label.
Cheating, similar to a painting, needs all of the pieces to come together to create the perfect picture. There are three people involved in cheating: the cheater, the person being cheated on, and last but not least, the person being cheated with. That basically sums up the triangle of cheating. I would guess that most of us have been in one part of the triangle or another at some point. The person being cheated on and the person being cheated are just like an isosceles triangle in that they are equal in the hurt that can come from a cheater.
There are signs; however, it’s a matter of whether you, the person being cheated on, wants to acknowledge the signs or not. There are always very subtle signs. It’s a sign that if you blink too fast, it will be gone. Cheaters very seldom in the beginning of a new relationship do obvious things that are easy for you to pick up on, but they do unobvious things that are small, so you have to be observant. If you have been in a long-term relationship that is meaningful to you, then you know your other half. You know if the person stops kissing you when he/she leaves the room or comes home from work. There may be times when that kiss that usually comes every day starts becoming every other day or every two days. You understand now what I mean by subtle?
I know it may be hard to think of the person who is being cheated with as a causality in this triangle as much as the person who is being cheated on, but I believe he or she is also a victim. There are a lot of people who feel that the person who is being cheated with should bear the brunt of this triangle because that person should have just said no to the relationship. That person is looked upon as a third wheel for entering into a relationship that was solid. Actually, I guess it wasn’t as solid as it was thought to be. I argue that this person could not have infiltrated your relationship without there being some kind of hint that said it was “OK”. Again, the hint is usually very subtle. It doesn’t matter who puts out the hint – the cheater or the person being cheated with – it takes only that small acknowledgment of acceptance to start cheating.
The cheater is the big fish because both of the other parties of the triangle are being held together by this person. The cheater is not only cheating on the person that he/she has the direct relationship with but also the person he/she is cheating with. Yes, the person being cheated with has as much invested in this triangle as the cheater and his/her partner. The cheater is a bandit who is stealing feelings and emotions from the other two people in the triangle. Have you ever noticed that the drama that comes with cheating becomes stronger once it’s out in the open. The cheater and the side person’s relationship becomes closer, and this is because they have a common denominator, which is the dislike for or uncertainty of the person being cheated on. That common denominator pushes the cheater and the person being cheated with closer and closer until they are so close that they truly believe they are in love. I often wonder, without that common denominator, could that side relationship work?
The triangle doesn’t care if you are straight, gay, or a martian; its all about you and how you treat someone. The person being cheated on has to dig down deep in their emotions to confront the cheater. I know it is easier said than done. I really believe that confronting the cheater as soon as the hint is in view is what should be done. No, don’t blink and hope it goes away. No, don’t try to do more until actions from the cheater match the words that come out of his/her mouth. The longer it takes to confront the cheater, the harder it will be. That’s a fact. You need to get the information, resources and finances together and just put all of that away somewhere for when you need it. The person being cheated with, it would be very easy to say just say no, but I know it’s not always that easy, especially as you get closer and closer to the cheater. I think you already know it’s wrong to get in between any sort of relationship, but there are times when the cheater presents such a good view of why this is ok that it’s like being hit by a Mack Truck. It happens before you know you’ve been hit. I’m definitely not saying that it’s ok to be the third wheel in the triangle. What I’m saying is that there could be a good reason why that person is involved in a relationship. For the cheater, there are so many reasons why he/she cheats, from you can’t cook to you can’t satisfy him/her. These things get ballooned in the creator’s mind once the cheater feels that there is no way to fix the relationship. Or it could just be that the person finds the need to have more than one person, like a polygamist. Even if the cheater comes back, it will never be like it was before, when you laughed at the same things or snuggled in bed watching a movie. The trust is gone, and, once gone, trust is hard to get back. It’s hard to forget that all of that occurred when the relationship grew from two to three people.
You, the person being cheated on, has to be honest and open with yourself. Can you look past the hurt? Can you believe his/her words that come out of his/her mouth? Can you release the heartache that comes with having a third person in the relationship? The person being cheated with thinks that once the cheater is out of the relationship, they can be together. That’s a bunch of poop. You might lose out just like the person being cheated on because you will, in fact, get that title. I don’t get it. Just because the cheater is out of a relationship doesn’t mean you will be the chosen one. It just means you were there and were used to break up a relationship, and that’s all it means, nothing more or nothing less.
Honest communication is the only way to stop the train wreck that will come from cheating. This honest communication has to occur before the third person is brought into the relationship; otherwise, honest communication becomes lying communication. There will be times when honest communication will lead to a relationship breaking up because you may find that you two have grown apart or maybe one of you has fallen out of love. It might happen that breaking the bond between the two of you is the best thing and maybe neither of you can see it at that very moment, but down the line you both will wish that you could say to the other person, “Thank you for being honest with me.”
I hope that anyone who is currently in a relationship and is not happy, that you stop and talk to your partner/spouse before things get sloppy from involving a third person.
I have two Shih Tzus, GG and Mason. While Mason is a pooping machine, GG hates to poop. I realized when GG was a puppy that she is a very stubborn dog. I had to leave the house at 3am and would put food and water down for her, and when I returned home—usually around 6pm—her food and water looked just as I left it. When I came in the house, she would look at me with her big eyes and turn her head. I knew she was mad, but I had no choice; I had to work. I did work at home at lot of the time, but when I came home that was my punishment: she ignored me. Once, I had to go to Boston for a conference. I had to board her, and after inspecting and checking the credentials, I settled on Best Friends for boarding. I loved that place. I paid for her to go on a shopping spree in their store, ice cream, one-on-one playtime and bedtime stories. I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible for the 5 days she would be there. I would call every day to find out she would eat but wouldn’t poop. I was scared if she didn’t poop soon she might get sick, so I cut my trip short. When I picked her up I felt so guilty that I cooked her a steak which she gobbled up. Who wouldn’t? She still wouldn’t poop. The next day I was ready to take her to the vet when, while walking, she stepped down on her leash to let me know that was as much walking as she was going to do, and so we turned around to come home when she finally pooped. It was big dog poop. I mean German Shepherd amount. I felt like jumping for joy. I noticed that pooping for GG is a matter of how she feels. GG is 17 years old and she is defiant in some things—and pooping is one of those things. When I take her out, I have to give her some sense of privacy. She squats and I look up into the sky. If I don’t, she squats and just looks at me with those big eyes of hers and nothing comes out. I learned this after many years of trying to figure out why she would poop sometimes and not others; it was a long process it get to that point. With GG being an old girl now, I am fanatic about her pooping because it is harder for her to smell and the amount of food she eats varies. I have tried Metamucil, but getting that in her was not working at all. I would find the Metamucil on the floor when I thought she had swallowed it. The next thing I tried was pumpkin. I mixed it with her boiled chicken, and for a while it worked, but then she got smart. She would smell Mason’s food and, because it didn’t have any pumpkin, she would try to eat his food. The next thing I tried (and still do) is smearing pumpkin all around Mason’s plate so his plate would smell the same as hers. This worked for a while, but she got wise again. She now smells his plate and goes back to her plate and only eats the boiled chicken pieces that have no pumpkin; the rest she throws on the floor next to her plate. It’s frustrating that on a daily basis I have to figure out what will and won’t work. I keep a WeeWee pad on the floor so when the weather is bad or I can’t take her out, she could go; however, she doesn’t like going in the house and would rather hold it until she can go out.
Mason on the other hand poops like a caulking gun; what goes in comes out in the next hour. It’s unbelievable that a 17lb dog could have so much poop or pee in him. I mean, he can pee outside until nothing comes out and come in the house and pee again. It’s ridiculous. When Mason finishes eating, he heads straight to the WeeWee pad and poops. I wonder how the food can digest so fast that it comes out after the last bite. I don’t know whether the fact he eats like a vacuum cleaner has anything to do with it. Mason does not chew his food, he just sucks it down. While GG hates going in the house, Mason will go anywhere at any time, sometimes three or four times a day. We, after 3 couches, have had to wrap him up before we go broke with our peeing fountain of a dog.
They are definitely two different personalities of dogs. GG is more independent, and Mason is more of a baby. There is a 6 year difference in their age, and Mason seems like most boys: slow to learn. I think by me not being home, she learned to deal with things like thunderstorms. They don’t bother her at all, and we’re in Florida where some of the thunderstorms are very loud. Mason has great anxiety from thunderstorms; he shakes, poops and runs around chasing his tail. We tried everything like turning up the television and closing the blinds; nothing works because Mason can tell bad weather from miles away. He’s our weather dog. When we see him starting to get anxious, we know there is bad weather someplace because he picked up on it. I would check my phone when he started getting anxious and, sure enough, there was a lightening strike 5 miles away. He never fails in his weather forecasting.
I’ll keep trying ways to keep GG going, and it is not easy. She has started something new recently of pooping only when I let her wake up on her own. If I wake her up, she is grouchy and she just walks around outside and steps down on her leash meaning, “That’s it, take me back home.” She’s an old girl now, and I let her do whatever she wants because I don’t know how much time we have left together. She’s in good health except she can’t hear so I’m grateful for that. If anyone has any more ideas of things I can try, please let me know.
Think back to when you were a child, I bet there is a fair amount of people who were bullied. We seem to forget that bullying is nothing new. Bullying is about power, it’s about making the bully feel good as much as it’s about making the bullied child feel hopeless and worthless. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that in this age of technology bullying has so much power that it could make a child commit suicide. The computer is not the problem, the problem is that people hide behind a screen and feel entitled and empowered by this sort of protection to say whatever they will – their words are the real issue. I’m one of those who don’t believe it’s guns that kill people, rather it’s the person behind the gun that’s the problem. Growing up, when you were bullied you told your parents, you had a fight or you just hid behind the other children to stay out of sight. Now though, virtual words typed on a keyboard have so much strength that they make a child feel there is nothing else they can do but tie something around their neck and hang from the highest point they can get to. Have we birthed children that have no backbone? Have we neglected our duties as parents so much that we can’t see the signs? Are we not able to hear our children calling us for help? I believe that technology takes away the ability for children to learn how to socialize. These days, when you look at kids, even when they are in a group, their eyes are constantly on their phones so they don’t really socialize anymore. This new generation of kids take it as the norm to be isolated rather than to socialize and make friends with their peers.
There must be signs that parents don’t see when their child gets to the point where they feel hopeless and alone in their fight. I imagine the signs are there but they are hidden behind a façade of happiness. Maybe they try to be happy. If they are introverted within their family circle, they all of a sudden become extroverted outside of it. A child who doesn’t talk much becomes loquacious, whereas a talker becomes suddenly quiet. There are always signs, but we are missing them because we are so wrapped up in our own lives. No-one can accept the fact that an adult has contributed to the death of their child. Nevertheless, it’s time us parents take some responsibility for sticking a phone or a tablet into our children’s hands as soon as they can hold them. It seems like phones and tablets have become the new pacifier, one that takes away some of the parental duties that kids need the most and which should come in the form of interaction. Interaction is very, very important for a child’s growth as it gives them the confidence to deal with all types of situations. Interaction is a confidence booster that the new generations lack more and more and this lack means that parents see their children but they do not really know them. The distance between parents and children is wide and when parents realize what is going on with their children it is too late. The children have buried themselves into so much grief that pulling them back out would require a miracle. Miracles do happen, but how often? Not too often.
I truly believe it’s our duty as parents to ensure that in the future technology loses some of the power it has gained so far. We must teach our children exactly what the power of words is. Children must be told of experiences that parents have had, so they know their folks can relate. Parents must find the time to interact with their children on a regularly basis and tell them they understand their challenges and are open to discussing them together. Is that going to be easy? No, it won’t be a simple task, but you have to keep trying. Children have to know their parents won’t be judgmental, but understanding, so they can try to find a solution together. It’s easy to take away their computers or monitor the time they spend online, but that doesn’t mean they will get enough attention from you. Where is the interaction? Parents, you must be ready to bare your soul to your child and keep trying over and over again. A child needs to feel all the attention they feel they aren’t getting from you. A example of what I’m talking about is when your child comes home from school and you ask “How was school?”. You don’t just settle for “Okay”, that is not good enough because what does that tell you? Nothing at all. It will take time and you will get frustrated, but you have to keep trying, without pushing too hard. Don’t give up. I just don’t want to read about another child taking their life over some words they found on a computer screen. Remember that bullying can only go as far as your child lets it and it’s really up to you to equip them with the tools to fight back.