It’s a Time for Religion… I Mean, Holiday Cheer?

Thanksgiving has come and gone. My family had a quiet feast of delicious Korean food while in front of the television, watching the National Dog Show, then moving into a mini-marathon of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Just in time for the next holiday: Christmas. While our Halloween stuff is still out (don’t judge, we’re busy), I know inevitably this weekend we will be putting up the Christmas tree. Because we’re not insane and wait until December to do that. (Sounds judgey, but I honestly don’t care. People should do what makes them happy. I won’t insult or even comment aside from an eye roll.)

There are 4 types of people who celebrate Christmas: the religious, the crazy Christmas cheer people, the ones who do it out of obligation, or the ones who complain while doing it. Admittedly, I’m in a category between “Celebrating Christmas out of Obligation” and “Hates Christmas and Complains While Doing it Anyways”. I don’t judge people in the other categories, but I definitely know they judge me for being a Grinch. I’m okay with that. I know what I’m about. The sounds of Christmas music makes me want to scratch my ears out. The only Christmas show/movie that I really enjoyed was “The Moodys” Christmas from last year. I may sit down with the boys to “watch” a Christmas movie, but I usually read, write, play on my phone/Switch the entire time. Christmas just isn’t my thing. In fact, I would proudly leave my Halloween stuff up, mostly because busy but because that’s the holiday that brings me joy. If people can have their Christmas stuff up before Halloween or Thanksgiving, I can celebrate Halloween all year long.

This may sound like some War on Christmas, but I promise you that there’s really no such thing. That’s just a lie that media makes up to further push an agenda and divide us. I honestly think that people need to stop caring about what other people do. It doesn’t affect you, why do you care? Why do you care that someone would rather hear “Happy Holidays”/”Merry Christmas”? Just say the thing that makes them happy and move on. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and that’s okay. They have their own religion or honestly don’t care about the holiday. If I could get away with not celebrating it, I would. This year gets to come as close as I can get to that, allowing me a quiet holiday where I don’t have to rush around to different houses with the kids while they are upset that they don’t get to play with their new goods. I think rather than judge someone as a Grinch or a crazy Christmas lady/gentleman, we should focus on what the holiday really is about.

The day is about family. It’s about giving back to those in need, if you can. It’s not about going broke on gifts that they probably only will play with once. Half the time, I think younger kids just like opening up the wrapping paper and don’t care what’s inside. It’s about togetherness, which will look very different for most families. I’m considering doing a Zoom thing where my parents/in-laws can watch their grandchildren open their presents. It’s about spreading joy to others. Don’t let commercialism tell you that it’s about credit card debt or useless crap. Don’t let people tell you that this is only a holiday to celebrate religion. Don’t let people tell you there’s a war on the holiday. Just do you.

That Tiny Little Virus We’re Not to Speak Of

I do tend to shy away from things that I deem too personal or opportunistic. I write about things that I think need to be discussed. I try to offer insight and welcome commentary back. I share to tell a story, not to get sympathy or gain attention. I share a story to show empathy, to let readers know that there are other people out there that have been in their shoes. Especially now, when everything feels so isolating. Now more than ever, people need a voice that let’s them know that they aren’t alone and that while there are situations that are uniquely them, there are other people who can share a similar tale. That’s why I write.

You see stories of battling this virus on social media. You learn that people you knew but don’t really associate with had it. You see stories on the news or viral tales on social media about a tragedy or triumph surrounding this virus. Each time, it has an impact but yet it doesn’t really impact you. It’s a story that you read, like any other story. I stayed safe because I’m at risk. I had a girls’ night where I drank wine with my friends on Zoom because it’s important to take the necessary precautions. I’m not a particularly cautious person, some would say. I take logical approaches to everything, and even as “I throw caution to the wind” there is a calculation and a reason why I do everything I do no matter how impulsive it seems.

During this girls’ night, they told stories of the things they experienced as medical professionals. How, sure the virus won’t kill everyone, but the bigger problem is the after. There are so many unknowns about the long-term effects. That’s the problem with something so new.

The thing is though, that those are stories. You’re not the one who gets the news that a loved one is in the hospital with it. You just watch the story happen online and send your thoughts and prayers or whatever else feels right and socially acceptable to do. It’s completely different when you’re living as a spectator to it at a more personal level. It’s different when you’re the one mentally preparing for the worst to be ready while hoping for the best. It’s a tricky thing to navigate, watching your own family become statistics to something that could be avoided if people just did simple things like wearing a mask so that we could’ve been done with this months ago. If people were more cautious about sanitizing and cleaning everything. If people didn’t resist science and just say “it’s only a flu, no big”.

The reason that my family members will make it through is because of science. Because there are better medicines and treatments now. Not everyone was/is that fortunate. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t concerns for the damage this virus could do to their bodies after their recovery. It just means that they aren’t in the statistics that had the worst possible outcome.

So while people may laugh about how this virus is a joke, I won’t. While people may laugh because I’m afraid of some imagined political ploy, I’ll know that I did everything that I could to stay safe so that I could be around to watch my sons get married or hold my future grandchildren. I’m not afraid of a virus; I’m doing my part to ensure that my kids have their mother at their wedding and to hold my future grandchildren. So that others can live their lives.

Remote Learning Will Never End

I feel like every day since remote learning started, I’m the fail mom. The one who has no idea what she’s doing because she is awful at technology. The mom who seems like the worst parent, because every day I get messages about how my child isn’t doing work. How he struggles with focus. It’s a rough journey that was supposed to end a few weeks ago but due to a spike in cases in the area, was postponed. The phase-in process for my youngest was supposed to take place on October 26 and was postponed indefinitely. My oldest was likely not going to school until the second semester. Again, who knows since his school was completely shut down due to a potential outbreak in the school (not cases contracted within the school, but people who attended parties outside of school, which led to potential exposure and quarantine of a portion of staff and students).

I wasn’t thrilled about sending them back, as I’ve mentioned several times here. I signed them up for in-person because I predicted that they weren’t going to go back for a while. I also did it because my youngest does need extra help because he struggles with focus. He needs to be at school with a teacher who knows how to accommodate his 504 plan. Sending him back does make it even more important to stay in my bubble. Not just to keep myself safe but to make contact tracing easier. Because my husband already spends a lot of time at various places throughout his work day that it makes it even more important to stay safe in a bubble.

I’m running out of ideas on how to make remote learning easier for us. I’m running out of ideas trying to play teacher while managing my workload. I don’t want to respond to the teacher, snapping “I’m doing my best here”, because I know that won’t help. She’s doing the best she can too. She probably doesn’t mean to come off judgey. Or maybe she does but doesn’t get to see that I am active in their education. I do ask to see if they did their work. I’m trying to do everything right and I fall short just like every other parent who is at home by themselves, trying to wear more hats than fit on their head.

I want this all to be over. I want this virus to just vanish as everyone tries to convince us it will. (In fact, I heard a rumor it was going to vanish after the election.) I want people to do their part so that the ones who’ve been doing the right things all along can finally get back to enjoying things. I want my kids to be safely at school. Maybe soon, I tell myself. Maybe soon.

We Have a Winner? Maybe?

Last week, Americans voted. Some did. No judgement if you didn’t. It was expected that we wouldn’t get results until the weekend, at best. It was officially called on Saturday: there’s a new president in town and he’s Joe Biden. Depending on who you ask, anyways. I’m for logical, and logically speaking there is no question that President Trump lost. But, that obviously doesn’t stop people from drumming up conspiracies. Like it or not, that’s how the election went.

I remember when Hilary lost, something that did make me cringe because I envisioned an unleashed man with the temperament of a toddler in the White House. Not that I was fond of Hilary. I voted for the Libertarian ticket because if nothing else, former Governor Weld would have done a good job and that helped make Johnson seem more appealing. I had the belief, and honestly I stand by this, that they were both criminals that had no business holding an office of dignity. Of the 2, at least we knew what to expect with Hilary Clinton. President Trump was going to be a wild card that would spend the whole time pretending he was still on television, vying for ratings. It was going to be a shit show either way.

I can say that my life wasn’t any better under President Trump. I honestly don’t know anyone who could say that his presidency made their lives better. Even worse, I felt scared every day. Would today be the day he just goes off the deep end and start a war to prove a point? What embarrassing thing would he say today that would make us weaker and more divided as a nation? I don’t care whether or not you think this division was started by President Obama; President Trump didn’t make it better and arguably made things so much worse. He loved to inflame the masses because children love any attention, even if it’s negative.

I cringed when I filled out my ballot to drop-off. I thought Vice President (President-Elect) Biden was too old. I felt like sometimes he had the same level of senility as President Trump did. Unlike in the past, I voted for the 3rd party because I wanted to raise awareness for 3rd parties and increase their chances of becoming a contender. I took a deep breath and filled in my circle for Joe Biden. My first time voting for a major party candidate. And the only reason I did is because I didn’t think that we’d survive another 4 years of President Trump. (I hesitate telling this, because people are so divisive in this country that me voting for Biden automatically makes me an enemy. A snowflake. A dumb libtard. This makes people ignore my reasoning.)

I don’t regret my decision. I believe at his core, he’s a good human being. At his core, I feel like he’s a good role model to have up there for the future generations. I feel hopeful when he’s around. I feel like things are going to be okay. Does that mean it will be? Who knows. But we can hope, can’t we?

When it was announced that he won, I went to social media. Some of my friends mourned and complained about how this meant illegals were going to take over. How people were going to get free rides and crime would win. They complained that the election was stolen. Other friends celebrated. I saw people in the streets on television having joyous celebrations. I’m just going to say this: you don’t have that many people happy about you leaving the White House if you did a good job.

I am rooting for President-Elect Biden as I would root for President Trump if he won. Because by not rooting for them, by wishing them failure, we are wishing ourselves to fail. We need to root for America to win, no matter who’s in charge. As I said on social media, “If the only thing that Joe Biden accomplishes is that our nation starts to grow together instead of growing further apart, than I’d be happy.” I stand by that. I don’t have high hopes that he’s going to wave a magic wand and suddenly we regain civility. I don’t know if he’s going to make any major changes that will improve my life. But, I do know that for once, I feel calmer knowing that there’s an adult in charge.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Like This

Today is Election Day. A day that was once pretty uneventful, considering that the president we choose and the other people we put in office have such a massive impact on our lives. This presidential election is different. This election we are led to believe that this is a battle for the soul of the nation. In a way, that campaign slogan is 100% correct. But I don’t necessarily buy into the fact that a single party cares enough about the people to care about the soul of the nation. I’m convinced they’d rather the soul of the nation be squashed because they like the anarchy. They like us divided because they can better control us.

My great state of Massachusetts announced that they have called up the National Guard for Election Day. How absurd? Not that the governor made this call, but rather that this was the right call. No matter which side wins tonight or whenever the election is officially called by election officials, there’s going to be trouble. Either side will argue that this was an illegitimate election. Not all the votes were counted. There was armed people at the polling stations intimidating voters. There’s going to be some reason for trouble, and the sad fact is that people are okay with that. They welcome the chaos, including our own elected officials.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. It really doesn’t. I’m sad for today. I do view today as a doomsday. Not because of the outcome of who gets elected into office. Because of the aftermath. Our country will burn and I’m so sad thinking that nobody cares about that fact.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope people can learn to be adults about this. I hope that people can say “Well, you voted for that person because you have your reasons and that’s okay.” I admit that I struggled voting. I have never voted for a major party candidate for president. The closest I came, admittedly, was considering a vote for Romney. I ended up deciding against it because I didn’t feel right about it. This year, I did vote a major party candidate. Not because I felt strongly about them. Not because of any other reason than I just didn’t want the other guy. Because I feel like one person wants to bring people together and the other loves the division. That was the deciding factor.

We need someone who brings everyone together. I hope that whoever wins decides to put their party aside and works to heal the divide in the country. It’s optimism that our elected officials don’t deserve. But we need it or, and I’m not a particularly religious person at all, God help us all. It will be a doomsday if we don’t get our (pardon my language) collective shit together.

It doesn’t have to be like this. It doesn’t have to be a Democrat vs. Republican thing. We don’t have to let a political decision divide us so much. It doesn’t matter who you voted for, as long as you truly believe in your vote for whatever reason you have. I hope that tomorrow, our country isn’t on fire and we can come out of our hangover feeling less terrible about how the world is going. Because we can change it, not in who we vote for, but in how we act and behave towards each other.

Tomorrow, if there are definitive results I will post a follow-up blog. But today, let’s try kindness and remember to vote.

It’s Okay to Admit You’re Drowning Sometimes

Fun fact: I don’t know how to swim. I’m not entirely sure if this has to do with me having just one more irrational fear when it comes to it or if my problem lies more in the sun. More exactly, a family history of skin cancer and what some refer to as an obscenely pale complexion. This doesn’t bother me and my oldest is actually a talented competitive swimmer, primarily thanks to my mother giving him a solid core to work with. That type of drowning, definitely do not recommend.

With everything going on right now, and I don’t just mean the pandemic complicating life, it’s okay to admit that you’re drowning. It’s okay to admit that you’re drowning under the stress of working from home, remote learning, doing everything that’s expected of you on a daily basis without you having a breather to yourself. (Maybe that’s just me.) I admit it. Some days, I barely feel as though my head is over the water. I’m still standing every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It just means my parents taught me to go down flailing.

It sucks right now. I really does. There’s no place for solace, because everyone is arguing about everything. It’s politics this or racism that. It’s insulting people because they want to err on the side of caution while there’s an ongoing pandemic going on. It’s people who have other inner struggles going on that are just being worsened by the constant load of crap being piled on them by people hiding behind keyboards like they are some type of superior human being. So, it’s okay to admit that everything is crap right now. There’s no weakness in that. There’s no shame in saying it. If people want to be jerks about your complaints or declarations, don’t worry, they are probably even bigger jerks in reality. It’s not you; it’s them.

It’s because of what everyone expects of us. We lose jobs and income, but we’re supposed to just magically find something else. Spoiler: that’s not always easy depending on your career history or education or core skills. Or, if you have to be home with kids who are remote learning. We have family that spends more time obsessing over your failures than praising your accomplishments. There are people who just like belittling people for whatever reason. There are so many things that are out of our control right now, it’s no wonder so many of us feel like we’re floundering.

Normally, I end with some lesson or words of positivity. Some days, finding that positivity is harder than others. Today, I think the comfort can be found in the fact that you’re not the only one who feels like you’re drowning. We all have our moments, especially lately, where it’s hard to catch your breath. What matters is that you find that bit of courage and strength that’s hidden away to help yourself through the day, whether it’s inspiration from the stunning foliage or a chocolate bar sitting on your desk or just having that perfectly made iced coffee. I can’t guarantee that any of this is going to get better anytime soon. But I can say that you’re awesome and that you got this.

I’d Rather Be Honest Than Impressive

The daily yoga program I use is 3 Week Yoga Retreat on Beachbody on Demand. Until I can successfully do the entire program without doing child’s pose or regretting my life’s decisions, I refuse to move onto a more advanced program, if there is one. During the “Expansion Week”, the instructor kept emphasizing the point of foundation and not risking injury to look more impressive. And every time she says “I saw a quote the other day that said ‘I’d rather be honest than impressive’ and I think that’s a really great quote for out yoga practice on and off the mat.”

She’s right. The quote is 100% right. I see moms on my social media or across the internet who write notes to their kids when they make up a snack bag or on holidays make these elaborate crafts or food items with their kids. And I’m just like “They woke up, probably had clean clothes, and were fed. And they went to bed alive.” I’m excited when I can do the bare minimum of “momming” without wanting to drink a bottle of wine at the end of the day. I’m not an impressive mom. I’m not winning any Martha Stewart awards for a perfectly clean house. Heck, some days I consider it an accomplishment and a successful day if I made it through without wanting to cry in the shower.

But I’m okay that I’m not impressive. I’m okay that I’m a mediocre mom who tries to do more than what I think is the bare minimum, despite rarely even making that bar. I’m okay that I may not have an impressive career that people are interested in more than “wow, freelancer… huh.” Maybe it’s because I’m too apathetic to care about what other people think. I assure you it isn’t my self-confidence that makes me not care. I am what I am and I’m in okay with that, even if other people aren’t.

There are just so many expectations for us, whether we put them on ourselves or let others dictate it. I wake up at 6 every morning, assuming I’m not already up for 3-4 hours before that because insomnia (as is the case now, while writing this). Then I either start my day of getting the husband out the door, kids on remote learning, making sure everyone is set for lunch, including making lunch for my husband to take to work. Fit in workouts, cooking supper, my own work, and if I’m lucky I can at least do the dishes. Housecleaning is my last priority because honestly, there’s just not enough time in the day to do everything else that needs to be done. My house is constantly in disarray during this remote learning time. It’s certainly not impressive.

The point here is that it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to be impressive. You don’t need validation. You don’t need to compare yourself to other moms because your kids just want you to be happy, to love them, and be there for them when they need you. My kid may run around with a dirty shirt that was clean in the morning but covered in hot sauce throughout the course of the day due to his eating habits. That’s okay. I’m not putting him into a clean shirt because neighbors might think poorly of me just so he can run around and dirty a second shirt in a day. I guarantee, you’ll be a lot happier if you stop trying to be perfectly impressive and start just being present.

The Joys of Scrolling on Past

Remote learning and the daily onslaught of news of the dumpster fire we are living through today impacts my regular blogging schedule. I really try to stick to it. Sometimes I just say “eff it” and let it be. Other times, I get last minute inspiration and decide to write about it. Posting late is better than not, right? Maybe.

Social media is a way to connect each other. A way where we can connect with people from our past. Share with our loved ones that we don’t get to see nearly as much as we’d like to, whether due to physical distance or just too busy with the daily grind. Meet new people and grow relationships. We can share interesting information with each other. Writers and other artists can share their work. Social media can be such a blessing when used properly.

But, with everything else, people are the problem not the principles. People, as adults, have a choice in how they act in every aspect of their lives. They can choose to act proper, or they can choose to turn social media into a tool of drama. They can choose to scroll past things they don’t agree with, or they can pick fights out of boredom, superiority complex, or some other reason that honestly makes no sense at all to me. Arguing on the internet… is an interesting adventure to watch happen before your eyes. People fight to the death as if it matters whether or not they are right. (Spoiler: it doesn’t matter.)

When I see something I don’t like, I just scroll on by. That’s the joy of the internet. If I see a meme of half-truths that someone is passing off as facts, I don’t bother correcting it. Why? Because what good will that do? Being right doesn’t matter in the world of social media. Being the loudest does. Being the bully matters. Being right is inconsequential. You could show off all the facts you want. You could have the moral high ground on a specific topic. But you can’t change who the other person is. If you have that much of a problem with them, quietly unfriend them and move on with your life. I promise, in the grand scheme of the dumpster fire we are living through, it doesn’t matter.

Someone wants to vent about something, even if you think they are irrational to do so? Scroll past. Someone wants to post a meme from their preferred political party, even if you disagree with or think it’s inaccurate? Scroll past. The joy of the internet is that you can just scroll past it. (Key point, which really needs to be emphasized here.) You don’t have to engage. There’s no need for anything other than being kind and supportive. Especially in these days when everyone is so stressed and divided. The world needs more people to pull together right now, not to grow further apart. We are supposed to be a community that helps each other out. That helps each other through these difficult times. And if you can’t contribute to that, why even bother?

Those Three Little Things We’re Never Supposed to Discuss

They say that there are 3 things that you shouldn’t talk about: religion, politics, and money. They cause rifts between families. These should never be discussed at family gatherings. This is a principle that many of us grew up with. They didn’t go into too much detail why these were forbidden topics, but they were. Today, not so much.

Should these be forbidden topics? No. I think that by keeping these topics so bottled up inside is how we ended up where we are today. Think about it. Growing up with this idea means that you’re not talking to other people about it. You’re not learning about new perspectives on how you see things because you don’t talk about these things. Then you grow up believing that your opinion is the only opinion, ignoring the fact that there’s another point of view that is just as valid to consider. The fact is that there’s always some middle ground people can come to, even if it’s just a mutual respect of someone else’s opinion. This can be done through a rational and calm debate. Through polite discourse.

Today, everyone has the “right” opinion. They don’t want to open their mind to other possibilities because they didn’t grow up learning to properly discuss topics. They didn’t learn about coming up with a logical reason for their beliefs or ever get challenged for them. Because they never had to talk about it. They didn’t grow up learning to ask questions or to keep an open-mind. Because nobody talked about these things. These were too taboo to discuss openly and now look where we are today.

Growing up in my household, there was always open debate about these topics. We didn’t always agree, but we did always rationally discuss any of these topics. That’s probably how I grew up to say my piece, consider others, and if I didn’t agree I wouldn’t really fight back. Because you can tell whether or not you can change someone’s mind. You usually can’t, especially in divisive times like these where everyone seems to stick to their convictions.

Making the Best of a Situation

I think one of the best things about children is that they are resilient. They always heal quick. They are fighters, not letting tiny things like us saying “No” stand in the way of anything that they do. They don’t let a scraped knee keep them from running around a playground. This resilience is what will help them overcome what’s going on in the world… but only if we teach them.

I see people upset about canceling trick or treating and Thanksgiving dinner, and potentially Christmas. Imagine the kids! But the thing is… kids will get over it if we teach them to. They aren’t going to be 40 years old and remember that one year that they didn’t have a birthday party or get to wear a costume and get free candy. They aren’t going to remember that one year that they didn’t go everywhere to eat food for the holidays. They will remember the pandemic, but they will remember how YOU taught them to handle it. Those experiences that you gave them in place of the ones that they would normally have. You could choose to mope about this crap… or you could teach your children to overcome it.

I choose to teach my kids new experiences to replace the old. I choose to not let things that I can’t control determine my happiness. If we can’t go out trick or treating, why not have an outdoor movie night by the illegal open fire in our backyard? They can run around with the dogs and glow sticks and enjoy the quiet night. Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner where we go to 3 different houses or invite people over, why not do something fun like a traditional Korean “small plates” (banchan) dinner? I for one, am thankful to not have to slave over a Thanksgiving dinner or have to run around to 5 different places or even spend money on an overpriced Halloween costume. I’m choosing to teach my children to adapt, take things in stride, and find something good while everything else around them is blowing up into a huge pile of crap.

If we dwell on the things that we are missing out on, we are teaching our kids not to be resilient. We are teaching them that they have to be miserable rather than choosing to find the positive in any situation. If we teach them that they shouldn’t be resilient and adaptable, how will that affect them as adults? Well, I imagine you’ll teach children that they have to sit down and take it rather than make the best of a situation. They will tell their bosses “No, I don’t like this so I’m going to act like a brat about it”, then they get fired. Instead, when you teach them resilience, they won’t let things bother them. They’ll be less stressed. They’ll find the best in the situation and use that to overcome whatever challenges that they face.

… Or you could teach them that the world revolves around them and they shouldn’t adapt. Why should they adapt? They are used to one thing and that’s all they know and they shouldn’t change. Right? That’s something that makes a lot of sense and won’t contribute to raising another entitled generation….