You Should Lighten the F*** Up

Yes. I am talking to YOU.

Do I have your attention? Good!

Have I offended you already? Fantastic!

Now, get your bunched up panties out of your butt crack and read my words because I am probably going to save the world with this blog post.

But first a word about my sponsor who doesn’t KNOW they are my sponsor so they are not PAYING me anything (yet). It’s also possible they might sue me. I’m not really sure. It could go either way.

Anyhoo, two days ago my second born son’s girlfriend Maggie tagged me via Facebook on a funny video commercial created by Organic Valley :

See? Your welcome Organic Valley people! You will now probably get two or three more clicks on your website. The commercial has gone viral on Facebook with over a million views. It sarcastically depicts what women really have time for in the morning which doesn’t include washing our hair and making our beds or doing yoga in our underwear but DOES include drinking an organic protein drink.

Now. The video was funny. (Seriously, check it out.) It made me giggle. I’m a mother of six with a full time career and have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else, which sometimes doesn’t feel like enough. So yes, some days I’m a lazy hag, no wait, I mean “less than perfect” woman, especially in the morning when it’s GO TIME and I just don’t wanna ‘go’. And yeah. I swear. A lot. Even when I’m NOT in a bad mood or having a hard day. Swearing is fun.

But the humorous content of the commercial is not why I intend to buy ‘Organic Balance’ as soon as I get to the store. Nor does any alliance I may or may not have toward healthy living or eating organic foods have anything to do with my new found love for a drink that for all I know may not even taste good. (TBD) Because quite frankly I could (on any given day) be a spokesperson for consuming processed foods (I am a Cheez-It whore), eating once living creatures* for my own personal enjoyment/sustenance, drinking waaay too much wine and being a couch potato. It really depends on the day which way I’m gonna roll.   

The real reason I’m going to buy this drink is because the commercial created a WHOLE bunch of entertaining and thought provoking controversy on Facebook over something that was supposed to be FUNNY but instead, as is our AMERICAN way, allowed for a bunch of idiots to once again shine their anger on one more goddamn thing that just isn’t all that important. Which is spectacular to witness. And BRILLIANT marketing. And for freaks like me: FUN. And I feel it is my responsibility and duty to support anything that so brilliantly fuels my fun. (Anything that is legal of course.)

And there is only one thing funner** to me than reading comments from idiots who love having something to be angry about and a place to voice it and that’s being an idiot myself and succumbing  to the conversation. It turns out that several women took total offense to the commercial, saying it shined a negative light on women by focusing on their dirty hair and unmade beds…blah blah blah… instead of on all the positive things that women do. Now, what I wanted to write was “Oh for fuck’s sake ladies. Go spend your time getting a manicure or feeding a hungry person or ANYTHING more important than this conversation.” But I didn’t because 1) I would never write something that vulgar and judgmental and 2) clearly the conversation WAS somewhat important to me because I could NOT resist putting my two idiot cents in:

“People need to lighten up. That was funny!”

And this one simple comment put me in the mix of even more angry and frustrated comments, which to me was hilariously entertaining but also thought provoking.

See, here’s the thing. WE ARE SO BLESSED to be able to say whatever the hell we want in these United States of America. And LORD have mercy do we take advantage of this.

But the reality is all people are fucking idiots at some point and time in their lives (at least from someone else’s perspective), especially when we are championing or defending a cause that makes our pulse rates go up. It is one thing we ALL have in common. I’m willing to bet that even Mother Teresa*** probably acted like an idiot once or twice in her life.  And with the power of social media, we now have the opportunity to spread our idiocy to whoever wants to pay attention to whatever idiot thing we feel the need to say. And this is our RIGHT.

BUT when we lose the ability to make FUN of shit, mainly ourselves and whatever label we give ourselves or platform we place ourselves upon (there are just too many labels and platforms to list) we run the risk of going from idiot to asshole.

And THIS my good people is what hurts the world more than anything else.

The moment we lose our sense of humor and take our cause or belief so seriously that anything anyone says that is contrary to our own thinking offends us to the point that we turn a funny little protein shake commercial into a damn battle, we ourselves become part of the problem.

Now, there are a lot of very serious problems in this world that should be dealt with. But the reality is SOMETIMES the very act of discussing them makes the problem bigger and uglier

And at what point does freedom of speech not only overshadow the actual cause but outright harm it and the people who champion it?

This is a very subjective question.

It makes me think about the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty**** on the football field. Part of the hype and fun of football is the ramped up, testosterone loaded trash talk and posturing of some of the players. And this is accepted up to a certain point but yellow flagged by the referees when it goes beyond what is subjectively deemed reasonable. Players are often willing to suffer a fine or two and a bit of fan booing in order to “play their game” and be “who they are” as people and competitors. But when the line is crossed too many times it leads to consequences beyond smack talk and, like in some infamous moments, can spiral into mayhem that completely overshadows the actual game of FOOTBALL, along with the players who just want to play the game without a bunch of drama. See?

Screenshot 2016-04-16 at 8.37.23 PM
This is the signal for unsportsmanlike conduct found on the NFL Website below

Sometimes I wish we could create unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for our communication with each other.  But how do we do this without eroding our freedom of speech rights?  It’s too bad there isn’t some kind of internal mechanism within each of us that literally makes us unable to communicate with anyone in anyway for a period of time if we say or write too many idiot things that are harmful to the general well being of the world. A penalty box of sorts, for being an idiot. NO! A “Shut the Fuck Up Box”! Just THINK how quiet it would be until people figured it out. And no one would have to be in charge of the punishment because it would just be automatic, like a self imposed shock collar or a conscience on steroids, with a whip.  

And here are the three simple rules I wish we would all stick to for all forms of communication, but namely on social media, that if broken more than three times within any three day period would automatically get you three days in the “shut the fuck up box”:

  1. You do not need to publicly announce at every opportunity that you are ____________ (insert in the blank any label you have given for yourself or platform that you stand on). Most people are going to surmise the kind of person you are from your actions and more times than not, don’t really care that you are _______ unless you get in their face about it.  Just live your best life: dramatic declarations at every turn are not needed or necessary.
  2. Don’t make EVERYTHING an argument. Choose your battles carefully. Most of the world is not out to harm you (putting aside psychopathic killers and other such types) unless you bitch and complain and protest about EVERYTHING, in which case you are pretty much BEGGING for ridicule and are going to be spending a lot of time in the “STFU Box”. And when you do choose to argue, at least be relevant so that you aren’t FOREVER labeled as a hopeless idiot. For instance if a cute video of a sweet little boy holding his new baby brother has gone viral on Facebook, it more than likely has nothing to do with your platform of beliefs. It is more than likely just a cute video of two brothers that a lot of people thought was cute. So for fuck’s sake, don’t say something stupid like “This is a classic case of over population.” or “This is a clear case of child abandonment, they are both going to have issues.” Either push the “like” button or don’t and move the hell on!
  3. When you feel the need to say or write something publicly, count to at least three and ask yourself: “is what I am about to say kind, humble, funny, smart and/or important to someone else’s well being?” If it is not at LEAST one of these things, don’t say or write it. (Swearing is always optional because this is my blog post and MY rules of engagement.)

But all kidding aside, these are simple rules based on love, compassion, mutual respect, humble living and common courtesy.  Nothing new. But the fact is, we have been breaking these rules since day one of our existence. And there isn’t a STFU Penalty Box inside each of us (though I really, really wish I had one).  We only have our own moral compass (our conscience) that generally has good intentions but often lacks self discipline and common sense which can turn us all into idiots from time to time.

So when a funny commercial designed for the pure purpose of selling an organic protein shake turns into a woman’s rights discussion because one or two women think you SHOULD wash your hair every day and that using dry shampoo is a sign of laziness and should NOT be encouraged or laughed about, well, I’m gonna laugh about it, loud and clear for the world to hear.

Then I’m gonna go buy the goddamn protein shake.

And you should too.

So I don’t get sued.

Screenshot 2016-04-16 at 8.43.15 PM
This screen shot is from the Organic Valley web site. 

*I don’t eat people or pets you moron. Just chicken, fish, cows, pigs and once I ate snails.

**Funner is so TOO a word. Wiktionary SAYS so:

***I am probably going to hell for saying the word ‘fuck’ and Mother Teresa in the same paragraph but I was trying to prove a fucking point.  

****I find it amusing that the team I cheer for, the Steelers, received the highest number of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the league during the 2015 season. This clearly says how big of an idiot I am and I’m probably gonna have to turn the other cheek to quite a bit of idiot smack talk on this now that I have brought it up or I’m gonna have to go to the STFU Box.  

How to Survive and Perhaps Enjoy the Holidays without Taking Speed, Owning a Time Machine or Robbing a Bank

Christmas blog post picture

Alright, so you (my ten or so readers) may have been deceitfully hooked by the title to this post, thinking that I have the answers on how to be some kind of angelic, high energy, ‘joyfully get it all done before December 25th without the use of narcotics’ parent. Well, don’t bother to take notes. This is not a “how too” lesson.This is instead a few festive thoughts from a well-seasoned maniac. You can judge me without walking in my shoes. I’m okay with that. I don’t even walk in my own shoes most of the time. I prefer either sprinting or going barefoot, which brings me to my first holiday survival tip…denial…

…it is very important to get yourself into full denial as early in November as possible, like when you are looking at your bank statement and it is clear that perhaps the $42.32 that you have managed to save for the Christmas season is not going to be enough to buy presents for six children (or, even more realistically, for you saner people, TWO children). Simply be cheerful that you have made progress and hum a lot (but don’t hum Christmas songs, it’s much too early for that… hum something like “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC, or maybe a bible song, or any Johnny Cash stuff… “Ring of Fire” comes to mind) and think: “Wow! Progress! $42.32 is SOMETHING after all!”

Side note: this is one example of when a time machine would really come in handy. I could zip back in time and reverse a few ‘poor choice’ purchases. Take for instance the $300 that Grant and I spent at the health food store on a cleanse/weight loss system that was supposed to work miracles (because we were both feeling a little more than chubby and summer was approaching and we thought it would be cool to have hot bods). It actually made us both feel kind of sick and head-spinny on the very  first day, causing us to abandon the plan immediately and head to the Swinging Doors for a chicken fried steak breakfast and two double Bloody Mary’s each to get our systems feeling normal again, thereby spending another $52.00 (including tip) and then $20.00 on pull tabs with the idea that we could win it all back and erase the memory of having been so stupid when we know full well that that shit doesn’t work when you are not willing to FULLY commit. I would dial the time machine to the day before this particular poor choice day and write a note to Grant: “Do not listen to Heather when she suggests going to the health food store tomorrow. Go instead directly to the Swinging Doors, spend $72 on mood leveling food and drink, then secretly stash $228 for Christmas, which will STILL not be enough to buy presents for six kids but will be better than $42.32).

So yes…huge digression…back to the denial idea…practice early on in November staying “PollyAnna Positive” that you will come across a big wad of cash before December 24, otherwise you will go in to a panicky tail spin that is very, very unproductive and bad for your health. It’s important to blissfully remain in full blown denial because this helps you to be your best self as you roll into to Thanksgiving…

…which leads me to the important role of Thanksgiving in preparing for holiday mania…Thanksgiving is the MECCA of all holidays…it is a charge your batteries, four day feel good weekend, beginning with that blessed day when you get to eat yummy food full of tryptophan (a mood leveling chemical that helps with denial), drink a bunch of booze (further promoting denial), watch football (excessive denial, especially with the Steelers playing this Thanksgiving) and generally sit on your ass in sweats and chillax…UNLESS YOU ARE IN CHARGE OF COOKING THE MEAL. Way back, twenty years ago, Thanksgiving used to stress me out, big time. Mainly because I am a crap cook and the pressure of putting on a full holiday spread was just too much for me. I thought this was woman’s work, and fought for that role for several years of my early married life, because I was a cranky, stubborn moron.

Enter (after several years of a lot of bad, bitterly performed cooking on my part) “The Weber” (pause here for dramatic magical background music…maybe something from one of the “Lord of the Rings” movies) and witness a husband whose real life work is about making the world a better place with his amazing ability to cook any kind of meat on said Weber, especially the glorious Thanksgiving-Day Turkey, full of special, yumilicious “Grant Stuffing”. (Pause for more music here: maybe “Magic Man” by Heart). This is when I realized that I could make the world a better place by just being the “Mashed Potato/Pumpkin Pie Side Kick”. Any moron can make mashed potatoes (I have only screwed it up two or three times in the last twenty years) and you can BUY pumpkin pies at the store. This was a huge moment for me, realizing that not being in charge of this meal did not devalue me as a woman, in fact it made me better, stronger, and more able to CHILLAX and watch football and let the master-baster do what he does best: joyfully (mostly) put on an incredible holiday spread. So for many years now, I have looked at Thanksgiving as my time to store up energy, rally my creative mojo, and pray for wads of cash to show up…super soon.

Which brings me to the subject of Black Friday and all the other potential shopping days up until the Saturday before Christmas…here are my thoughts on these days: IGNORE THEM. Carry on with your life, business as usual. Maybe throw up a little garland and let the kids tape snowflakes made from coffee filters on the windows to let them know you KNOW it’s almost Christmas and that you will probably not let them down. But other than that, just hum a lot (Christmas songs are okay at this time, it adds to the festive mirage), ignore the calendar and shun all your friends who have their shopping done by December 1st. They are not real friends; they are braggers who just want to make themselves feel superior to you. Do not let them put even a teeny chink in your armor of denial.

After years of coaching from my husband, a.k.a. “The Procrastinator”, I finally accepted the fact that it’s silly to shop early. First of all: kids change their minds…a lot. Sometimes that super cool “Presto Magico Turn Old Broken Crayons into Cool New Crayons shaped Like Cars, Animals or Aliens Machine” that you bought in June for $44.00 (because a certain couple of little boys decided that this cool potential money making machine was going to be number one on their Christmas Wish List) gets crossed off said list in December when something cooler comes along. Unless you intend to cut out cable and the newspaper so that your kids don’t see any commercials/ads touting the latest have-to-HAVE-to-go-on-living thing, ignore everything they say about Christmas gifts until about December 10th. Second, it is standard (at least in my household) that the wads of cash have mostly not shown up yet.

The last Saturday before Christmas is the day that Grant and I do ALL of our shopping. I know. I just heard a couple of you gasp. But we have it all very carefully choreographed. By December 15th the kids have written their carefully crafted letters to Santa (Mitchel even once taped a St Christopher medal to his ‘plea for football cards and not coal letter’ because he knew bribery was his only hope that year) and they KNOW there is no going back on those letters. We do request that they let us read them so that we know exactly what NOT to buy for them, since Santa has our back on these items. It also gives us time to draft counter-attack letters to Santa and send them priority mail should there be any requests for pets, drum sets, or a $600 X-Box One. It’s all about redirecting those kinds of requests with something more suitable to the recent behaviors and/or attention span of said child/teenager (though most of the teenagers in our household have learned early on to NOT take advantage of Santa’s generosity).

We then carefully compile our own list, checking it twice, or ten times (that’s my job) and gather all of our cash from various places: my “found it in the laundry so it’s mine” stash; Grant’s spare change cup-holder in his work truck; my giant jar of pennies I have been saving for the Penny Drive at the school;  a little bit of Plasma donation; a couple trips to the pawn shop and a small loan from our “we really need to save for a new dryer” envelope and we are just-that-quickly armed with what is not exactly wads of cash, but as always, enough for some thoughtful gifts and a couple of “I need to rest every two hours during this ‘why in the shit did we wait until the last minute’ shopping trip from hell ” toddies, which definitely help with denying the fact that we are morons…

…and we head out, the Saturday before Christmas (it is never allowed to be on Christmas Eve-that’s pushing it even for the “King of Procrastination”, plus Christmas Eve is ear-marked for our traditional McDonalds dinner and Christmas Eve Mass, which helps us get into the spirit of the real reason for the season: the proud owner of the BIGGEST BIRTHDAY of ALL TIME: JESUS, plus French fries are fun too)… and we leave the house all positive and giddy and this is without having consumed any kind of narcotic (just a bunch of coffee laced with bourbon (AND!)  NOT having had to rob a bank (though one year we actually wrote out a plan, and may have gone through with it had it not been for a miracle last minute Christmas bonus that saved us from potential jail time) and we just go get it done, laughing all the way…about what morons we are.

Sometimes we don’t find everything on the list (on account of the fact that everyone else got all the good stuff because they are goodie-two-shoes smarty pants early bird people who don’t know how to take RISKS). This is where creative gift certificates made from printed internet pictures (showing what you WOULD have had under the tree if your parents had it all together, but it will for sure be here by at least your birthday) come in handy. We also have been known to wrap up last minute items like cans of green beans, cases of top ramen and old tennis shoes when the number of packages is not equal per kid under the tree. Our children are pretty well-schooled to only expect one or two really good things and a few really weird and/or possibly icky items. Duncan once got an old ham bone wrapped in a deceitfully beautiful box with a bow. (We have an envelope marked ‘therapy money for our children for when they are adults and can’t figure out why they have trust issues” but we are probably going to have to borrow from it this year.) Anyway, it’s really all about (well besides Jesus) the initial presentation under the tree, which is easy to make quite stunning when you have six kids and large imaginations. And I guarantee that our kids will remember with great fondness the quirky gifts (one mystery kid is going to get a half-eaten box of chocolates  this year which I am currently working on, so don’t call ME a procrastinator!) and talk about these gifts with their therapists, more than they would if they got an X-Box One which actually works out great for everyone.

So you see, good people, we have learned through the years the art of denial, the value in the healing power of Thanksgiving and all its lovely role reversing, tryptophan glory, and have the adventuresome ability to condense all our holiday worry into one tradition filled Saturday. We drink, we eat, we come together in merry solidarity (that kind of rhymes) which is helpful during the holiday season, and we get that shopping shit done! This leaves a bit of of extra time after our shopping date to procrastinate a few things, like putting up the Christmas Tree and sending out our annual holiday letter full of exaggerated tales of how great we all are and (more importantly) make plans, should that really big wad of cash come our way (which by then would thankfully be too late to go into “spoil our kids a bunch more mode” and completely (not just kind of) wreck them for all of humanity”) to apply the money to more important things like feeding the poor, putting a bit away for college (insert silly snort here) and maybe having a little left over for investing in a nice January Detox at the health food store. Ha!