Beware of Becoming the "B-Word"

How to Give Your Mom The Gift She REALLY Wants

Beware of Becoming the "B-Word"

My mother has been calling me the B-word lately. Sometimes behind my back. Sometimes to my face.  But it's okay. I know it's only because she misses me.  
Besides, she is absolutely right.  I am the B-word. I am Busy. Crazy, crazy BUSY!
Picture me spinning frantically in circles, arms outstretched, face to the sky, gasping for breath, a single tear rolling down my cheek—THAT level of busy. 
My situation isn't extraordinary of course—we're all busy working, raising our families, trying to have a life amidst the noise. It's easy to get so caught up in it all that we're blind to what's really important.  But then something happens that forces our eyes open.  Recently my family lost two very special people.  One suddenly. One over time. Both heart wrenching. Suddenly the business of being busy seemed pointless and selfish and just plain stupid. I know I need to spend quality time with family now, while I still have the privilege. 
"You're so busy. I never see you. I miss you" — words from a mother to her absent daughter.  Despite living only minutes apart, we don't spend nearly enough time together. So this Mother's Day, I'm giving my mum the gift she really wants. Sorry mama, no refunds or exchanges. My gift to my mom this year is time spent together doing something we both enjoy—epic or ordinary—it doesn't really matter, just as long as we do it together. 
Here are some things my mum and I have on our list of enjoyable ways to spend time together:
 Take thee to the Cineplex for a mid-week matinee. Taking the afternoon off to sneak to a show with my mum is special. Bonus: Kids are in school so the theatre is nice and quiet (minus the sound of my mom chewing her popcorn). Bonus: Mom probably won't want to see Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2.
 Morning coffee date in my parent's back yard. Reading the paper, listening to the birds sing. Perfectly ordinary, but extraordinarily perfect. Swing by  Starbucks for coffee and some treats. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.
 Make-overs! Seek out a professional (I love the Mac counter) or take turns trying out make-up looks on each other at a store like Sephora. When you can't stop laughing because you both look like circus clown rejects, it's time for lunch. And no washing first; that's part of the fun. Public embarrasement is where it's at this year.
 Grab a Timmies and take a walk together down by the lake. Sipping and chatting and moving and breathing the same air... it's a beautiful thing. Take a camera and capture the two of you in a relaxed environment with natural light.
 A bike ride (flat surface only please) and a picnic. 
 Shopping and a ladies' lunch. Note: try on clothes first, THEN have your fill at the all-you-can-eat sushi bar. Trust me on this. Most bigger malls will have a great selection of restaurants, so maybe head to the closest mega-mall for a mega-lunch. Or, take a "trip around the world" by visiting all the food court vendors.
 Looking for an adventurous way to spend together? Find a "Gift Experience" for you and your mum to share. Samba Days has dozens of cool experiences like ziplining, tandem sky diving, a stunt driving lesson, caving, a helicopter or small plane flight lesson,  a "Zip, Sip & Stay Adventure" (I have this one ear marked for my husband and I for our anniversary) and of course lots of options for relaxing and getting away together. 
 Take an afternoon to help your mum sort through her photo albums or maybe redo her closet. Not exactly a raucous good time, but throw in an order-in lunch and it's good, organized-helping-your-mum-out times. Karma, plus fun. Win/win.
 Explore your city. Choose an attraction in your own town that you've both never visited and go together. Take lots of ridiculous selfies and post them so we can see.
 Sign up for a cooking class and take it together. Maybe vegan cooking or Indian cuisine? Let mom take leftovers home and you've saved her a night of cooking at home, too. Look at you; you're a giver.
Every minute together, no matter how you choose to spent it, matters. xo 

What are some activities you enjoy doing with your mum (or any special lady in your life)? 



Does Your Online Persona Reflect the REAL You?

Why You May Need To Quit Being Such A Sour Susan

Does Your Online Persona Reflect the REAL You?


I fully admit that I like to be liked. If you don't like me, I'll jump through flaming hoops to change your opinion.


But this post isn't about me and my problems. It's about you and your problems. Kidding. You don't have problems. You're perfect just the way you are. See? There I go trying to make you like me. 

RELATED: Why Being P.C. Is Just D.U.M.B.

Good news is, your likability level is within your control. This means if you're a a dink, there are specific habits you can adopt to mold yourself into a more likeable person. Travis Bradberry wrote an article in Forbes magazine about how being likeable is a learned behaviour— it's a matter of developing your "emotional intelligence." He lists 13 key behaviours that emotionally intelligent people engage in consistently. Likeable people do the following:

So if you don't "feel the like," try implicating a few of these habits into your daily doings.

As for you truly unlikeable people, you perplex me. I'm assuming your emotional intelligence has been stunted somewhere along the way. Why else would you feel the need to belittle, bother, and berate? I'm looking at you bullies, narcissists, and mean girls/boys. 

Hey troll, is it as simple as "putting others down makes you feel superior?" Or is disagreeing with others a sport for you? Does leaving an irate comment on a stranger's blog get your blood pumping and make you feel alive? Or maybe you're just bored. Does controversy add a boost to your otherwise humdrum day? Or perhaps you felt unloved as a kid, so you're paying that forward via venomous keystrokes? 

I know this line of questioning might make me unlikeable, but I really want to understand. It makes me sick to know a person doesn't like me. But yet you don't give a flying f*ck if people call you Satan's sister. Why IS that? I'm asking both as a perpetual people pleaser and as a Social Scientist (my university major—a pretty useless, but voyeuristically fascinating degree).

When you work online like I do, sharing your life in pictures and words, you open yourself up to opinions—good and bad. This is why I stay clear of most controversial topics. The only pot I stir is the one on my stove. But some of my fellow writers DO share their opinions freely. And as such, some have had their asses handed to them, all ugly like. The most infamous trolls in my circles go above and beyond to procure their unlikeable reputation. They don't listen. They don't concede. They don't think before they speak. They don't give a shit about you (the real flesh and blood person on the other side of the computer screen) or your side of an issue. 

Let's look at a case study, shall we? (Thank you social science degree.)

Susan: 42 year old work-at-home mother of one. Has a cat and a gerbil. Enjoys entering contests online, eating fondue, listening to movie soundtracks, and silk screening t-shirts. Susan has an Etsy store where she sells a variety of crafts. She also has her own blog where she posts on a variety of topics from shopping and cooking to crafting and rafting. Her husband is in sales and travels a lot. She was moderately popular in high school but has lost touch with most of her friends. Susan believes she is creative, funny, and very likeable.

So, Susan is delusional. Not only is she unlikeable, she's kind of a jerk. First of all, she is a hypocrite. She'll make an off-colour remark on her own blog but then post a cutting comment when somebody else makes a similar remark on their Facebook page. She talks behind your back and belittles your successes. She laughs at people, not with people. She loves to broadcast how well she's doing in all aspects of her life. Susan posts more selfies before noon than you might post in a lifetime. She spends hours reading online articles (often just the title) and then vehemently disagreeing with blog posts across the internet. A very Susan-ish comment often starts with something like, "I beg to differ but..." or "Just playing devil's advocate here..." or "This author of this post is an idiot because..." 

RELATED: Are You Stating An Opinion Or Are You A Bully?

Susan, why so nasty and confrontational? What do you get out of it? Do you ever stop to consider how small your comments make you look? Would you feel the least bit uncomfortable to know that your last blog comment made the author cry? Or is that your goal? Oh Susan, even though you've threatened to "cut a bitch," I still feel the need to give you a hug. Clearly you don't like yourself much these days.

Do you know a "Sour Susan?" If so, hug her (if she'll let you). Then suggest she ask herself honestly how many "likeable" habits she implements into her daily life (online and off). We know there's a likeable person underneath Susan's crusty exterior. Now, let's dig her out!

I saw this sign in the office at my kids' school. I'm pretty sure Susan has never seen it...

More on online trolls and why being P.C. has just become D.U.M.B.



How a Simple Playdate Became a Game Changer

Sometimes a playdate is just a playdate, but sometimes it can be so much more.

How a Simple Playdate Became a Game Changer

sad girl

My daughter was born to party. This playful little kid of mine is incredibly social. The crazy thing is, when she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder as an infant, doctors told us that in addition to the possibility that she might not walk or talk, she would almost certainly fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. I found it impossible to believe that my smiley baby would one day recede into herself, possibly preferring solitude over the company of others. 

Eight years later, not only is our daughter talking (albeit with significant delays) and walking, she's very social. To put it into perspective, with ONE being a hermit crab and TEN being the most social person you've ever met, Avery is a FOURTEEN. 

Mention going on a playdate within earshot and she'll drop whatever she's doing, grab her purse, and start putting on her shoes. I adore that she has a purse she brings everywhere with her. And the items she deems worthy enough of toting around make my heart burst. But this isn't about my sappy parental musings. It's about real life— being left out and welcomed in. 

I shared a story about when Avery felt and understood the sting of rejection for the first time—when her best little friend ditched her. When the same friend asked a few weeks later if she could come to our house to play, we welcomed her back with open arms. It would be pretty lame to hold a grudge against an eight year-old. On the day of the playdate, Avery and I hurried home from school to make cookies to serve when her friend arrived. FYI, the last time we arranged for her to come over, her mom didn't let her come at the last minute. 

RELATED: Are You A Chronic Bailer? 

Avery kept checking the door for her friend while she proudly arranged her cookies on a plate. As the time passed, I knew her friend wasn't coming. She didn't come. She didn't call. And when my daughter asked, "why?" all I could do was give her hug and a cookie (or four).

Avery may get hurt, ignored, or left out sometimes, but she's not unique in this regard. This is real life. And real life isn't always sweet and kind or gentle and fair or inclusive. I was left out as a kid. You probably were too. But we survived. And maybe we're stronger and more empathetic because of it?

My child literally does not know how to hate or hurt or exclude. She wants nothing more in life than to interact and play.

I'm not really a fan of the formal "playdate." Remember the days when the doorbell rang and your friend would be standing there asking, "Can you come out?" I wish it was still that way. However, my child isn't able to play independently with the neighbourhood kids unless I'm right there supervising. And she isn't invited to friends' houses very often. So we step in to find other opportunities for her to socialize. In the case of my daughter and other children who are marginalized in some way, arranged playdates are necessary. 

My friend Karma saw an article I posted with tips for having children with special abilities over for playdates and without missing a beat, she invited Avery to come over to play with her daughter. She had no way of knowing how timely this invitation was—the perfect tonic to help heal post "no-show friend." 

My friend prepped her daughter about Avery's speech delay and explained about the heart monitor she would be wearing (turned out Avery was scheduled to wear a 24-hour holter monitor as part of her annual cardiac exam that day). Despite Avery's speech challenges, she and her new friend communicated just fine. And the heart monitor under her shirt went unnoticed. 

As a result of this two hour dose of social interaction and friendship, the sting of her recent disappointment was pretty much erased—or at the very least, Avery felt important and valued. She was happy. Sometimes a playdate is just a playdate. But sometimes, it's much more.