A fried egg on top and Spam

The other day I got to thinking, I have never tried SPAM. I mean really, why would that have ever been a staple in my diet or would I have any reason to try it. That all changed last night. I had kids make Spam sculptures at Young Life and decided to try some of the spam at the end. Let’s just say it does taste like meat, its bright pink, kinda peels in layers, and looks like playdoh. All that being said, I didn’t swallow very much and spit the rest of it out in chunks. Then I learned much more about Spam that I will share…

-Spam was developed by George A. Hormel & Co. and first marketed in 1937. When real meat was hard to come by why not eat chopped pork shoulder.
-Residents of Hawaii eat an average of four cans of SPAM per person per year, more than in any other place on Earth. Probably in the galaxy too.
-SPAM is sold in over 99% of U.S. grocery stores. Want to find it, look on the Peanut Butter/canned drink aisle (next to the canned sardines)
-Over 60 million people in the U.S. eat SPAM. Most of them shop out of 7-11 where they play elevator music.
-SPAM is made in two U.S. locations – Austin, Minnesota, and Fremont, Nebraska (typical) – and seven other countries: England, Australia, Denmark, Phillipines, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.
-The 1 billionth can of spam was sold in 1959. That means that they have sold more than McDonalds.
-Who knew that Spam had a mascot? His name (they’re creative) Spammy, the miniature pig.
-Richard LeFevre holds the world record for eating SPAM by eating 6 pounds in 12 minutes. And he probably ralphed it all up about 2 minutes later.

So what’s in it? Ingredients:

Chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added.
Salt (for binding, flavor, and firmness)
Water (aid in mixing)
Sugar (flavor)
Sodium Nitrite (color and as a preservative so it can sit on shelves for years at a time)

13 Reasons Why, why?

As an educator, counselor and a cheerleader for mental health, I’m disheartened at the momentum of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why.” I know it’s based on the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and he meant no harm in writing the book just as Netflix as intended no harm in picking up the popular book and turning it into a series. I was so curious what the buzz was about I spent 13 hours of the past week watching the series to see what exactly teenagers are latching onto. What I saw was vindictive, graphic, and an inaccurate portrayal of depression as an illness. I had to cover my eyes at parts because it was too gut wrenching to watch.

The issues in this series, suicide, sexual assault, and mental illness are worth discussing and opening up dialog about, but not in this way. What I saw was the glamorized Hollywood version that sensationalizes these topics. It doesn’t bring the awareness component (I think/hope) Netflix may have been striving for. It missed the mark. It doesn’t discuss what to do when sexual assault occurs. Or when you have a friend who you think may have an alcohol problem. Or, maybe most important, how to help a friend who may be in danger of harming themselves. 13 Reasons Why simply masked it all.

Pain is something we are meant to feel. However, there are points when it seems to be too much and there are always other alternatives. Talk to someone, write, listen to music, get outside, volunteer….if you have tried everything, you still have options. Below are some resources:

Table for 1, please…

Single. Just one. On your own. It can be a scary thought. Especially when you feel like couples are all around you. Maybe you are one of those couples and you think staying together unhappy is better than being single. Or dating someone who is lackluster is better than dating no one at all. Happiness and singleness can’t go together, BUT they do.

So you’re single; there is power in being single. Think about it. Your time belongs to you. If you don’t want to go home after work, you don’t have to. If you want to make a last minute decision, you can. If you want to go to dinner with a group of friends, go for it. You make your schedule. You control what you do, who you see, what you spend your money on, and you get to go on all sorts of dates. It either goes well or it doesn’t and now you have a good story. Being single offers you freedom.

Maybe you’re in a relationship with someone you know you’ve got one (or two or three) up on. But being with him seems to make more sense because at least you still have someone to bring when you have that +1 option. You’re probably less than satisfied and leaving your happiness in this dudes control. Sure, getting out means you’ve got to start over somewhere new, but at some point you’re going to have to do it. Why not now before the water gets any deeper?

I had a talk with a friend recently who has been having trouble in her relationship and she felt alone. Being alone on an island by yourself is one thing, but when you feel alone on an island with someone, that is worse. Don’t be afraid of what singleness means, it’s opportunity for growth and your own self discovery.

Rejection. YUCK.

Rejection is real. When it happens most often “What is wrong with me?” passes through your mind at one point or another. It may feel like that is the only thing you can think about—like a broken record, it plays over and over again in your head. You want answers you may never get. And there you are, abandoned by someone who you thought loved you. Next move, how do you even begin to get yourself back in the game when you believe so deep down that you will be rejected again?

Take your time: There is no race to start dating again. You need to take your time to heal and become whole. You’ve lost a best friend who essentially told you “Thanks but no thanks.” People we love and who are supposed to love us aren’t supposed to do that, but they do. From this you can learn how strong you are, even though you feel weak. But take the time to heal, without healing, you can’t give back to someone else when you do feel ready.

Vulnerability is scary. That’s what made the rejection hurt so badly because you were able to drop walls with that person you weren’t able to with others. It was real. But in doing that you learned what it was like to admit your faults, weaknesses, and fear of judgment, which takes courage. Through those things, you were able to experience what a relationship is about and without those, you can’t love someone. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable with the next man. In those moments is where you find the real connections that have value.

Enjoy dating for what it is, an opportunity to spend some time with a new person with no strings attached. It may go somewhere, it may not, but no need to put pressure on yourself for it to go to the next level. Use it as a chance to begin to open those doors again. It will be a little uncomfortable and unfamiliar at first, but the more you do it the easier it becomes and you may find you even enjoy it.

If you don’t risk, then you have no chance is being hurt, but you also lose the opportunity to find something worth keeping.

 

Brain Hacking: What is it?

Where is your phone? It is in your hand because that’s what you’re reading this on? Or is it next to you on your desk? Maybe in your purse. But probably where you can see it. This clip on Brain Hacking , with Anderson Cooper from 60 minutes, gives us a look inside how our phone is actually controlling us. It will make you stop and think before you pick up your phone and log into one of your social media accounts. It actually made me turn off notifications so I have a little bit more control back. It takes about 15 minutes to watch but it is well worth the time.

 

First Date: Dos and Don’ts

I used to L.O.V.E.  first dates. Sometimes I think I had more fun of those than what followed (until Forrest, of course). I also realize I’m the exception to this and most people would rather skip all the initial steps and move on to the real deal. But as far as first dates go, there are a lot of guidelines I would suggest. Some seem obvious, others maybe not, but due to my former hobby of dating I have seen the good, bad, and really, really ugly. Here are my tips for making a favorable first impression:

Do:

  • Clean up. This is similar to an interview, and even if you don’t like them back you still want to leave a nice impression. Dress for the occasion, brush your teeth, fluff your hair, you know, maintenance.
  • Bring your manners with you. If you’re the guy open the door, pay, offer the car door, stand when she leaves the table. There is nothing more charming than a guy who knows how to treat a lady. And ladies, you’re not off the hook. Say thank you, offer to pay (he might not take you up on it–and shouldn’t–but offer), say thank you. Be appreciative.
  • Even if you aren’t having a great time. It’s one date and it doesn’t mean you have to go on another one.
  • SAY YES if you are asked out. End of discussion.

 

Don’t:

  • Use profanity. General rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother, don’t say it on a date. Come on.
  • Share your sexual history. There will be time for that on future dates if you play your cards right.
  • Harp on ex’s. That’s definitely not what the person across the table wants to hear from you. Womp womp womp.
  • Talk business. BORING. Unless they specifically ask and you can keep it simple and brief. They probably do want to know but not about any terms they would need a dictionary for.
  • Stay off your devices. You want to show the person you are with you are more interested in “here and now” than “there and when.”

 

Dating can be daunting, but remember it’s casual and Date 1 in no way guarantees Date 2. Just enjoy, be yourself, and if nothing else you walk away with a good story.

Zero to 6000

So it’s the end of Date #1 and you’re pretty sure you’ve found the man you’re going to marry. Women can go from 0 to 6000mph in a matter of seconds and before we know it, we have fallen hard for a man. It happens so fast, we hardly even realize we’ve gone from sane to close to insane (but of course you can only see that as an outsider looking into someone else, because we all like to think we don’t do that). Well here’s the deal, we do it, and that alter ego we will refer to as “Crazy Lady”. We need to be sure we are protecting ourselves, and, as cheesy as it sounds, “guarding our hearts” (I promise I won’t say that again…ever).

So, how do you keep Crazy Lady from sabotaging your relationship? First, hold off on the physical intimacy (keep the clothes on). Our bodies say “YES, go there, lets DO THIS”, it’s what we were made to do. Problem, as soon as we’ve gone too far too fast, our emotions start getting warped and the emotions are in charge–not our better judgment. From there, Crazy Lady has taken over your body and you start doing things that are totally unreasonable. And it’s because we aren’t secure in the relationship with the man. We have lost total control and started down a road we never wanted to head down. You’re in over your head.

Second, take things day by day. Enjoy where you are each day with him and don’t get anxious about what’s ahead. Things will progress naturally if it’s a good thing…and if it’s not a good thing, it will become evident real fast and you can bow out.

Last, be secure in who you are and what’s going on in the relationship. If you start getting jealous or second guessing him when he says he is really busy at work but you think he’s taking someone else out, Crazy Lady is about to come back and take over. And we can all relate to Crazy Lady because we’ve all got her hidden somewhere inside us.

Just relax, enjoy, and don’t be in a rush for the next step.

The Ole Break-up

So things aren’t going quite as you envisioned at the beginning of the relationship? You’ve gone from thinking about monogrammed towels and sheets to the idea of burning the towels and sheets after he touches them sometimes. Well, no need to burn anything, it just sounds like it might be time to move on from this suitor. Where do you even begin?

First, it may seem easier to stay in the relationship because change is hard! Thoughts may be running through your mind like, “I don’t want to have to date again”, “It’s not always bad…just most of the time”, or “Maybe I should give it a little more time and things will get better”. When in fact things have probably been this way for quite some time and you just weren’t quite ready to face the music. If you are staying in it because it’s “easier” than breaking up, you need to be a big girl and break up.

What are your motives? Are you pissed because he forgot to call while he was watching the football game? You’re thinking this is the last time and I don’t want to deal with it anymore. Let your emotions settle down and reevaluate. Making hurried decisions like that is usually not the best and you’re reacting out of emotion instead of logic. If it’s because of something that compromises your value system, still take some time and evaluate what is best and approach him coolly with your concerns and how you feel like this might not be best for both of you.

What about the baggage? Maybe you live together (officially or unofficially) and you will actually have some physical baggage. That’s daunting especially if you have a dog together. It might sound silly but these are real things to consider and may be a reason preventing you from breaking up. If it’s not right, these logistics will work themselves out in time, but don’t let that be the reason to stay together.

Breaking up may mean the end, but it will mean the beginning of something new. You have no idea what could be in store for you and what you take with you from one relationship to the next. Life will move on like it always does, but take it in stride and know that something else is in store for you.

Emotional Intimacy

When you think of intimacy, what do you think first? Romp in the bedroom? Being physically intimate with someone can be relatively easy because it is what our bodies naturally want to do (in most cases). We feel the drive and our bodies begin the natural reactions to prepare for sexual intimacy. We don’t even have to think about it. Easy, cavemen were doing it.

Lets talk about a different kind of intimacy, emotional intimacy. What I have discovered is the emotional intimacy is the more challenging of the two. Emotional intimacy requires work. It’s letting your guard down and having those difficult conversations that no one really wants to have but are necessary for the connection you really desire.

  1. Finding the right time to talk: A time when the two of you are alone and not distracted is ideal. A car ride can be a good place because you’ve got the time and no one can really go anywhere until you get to the destination. You’re stuck. WARNING: it can also get uncomfortable…
  2. Be ready to get uncomfortable: You’re not talking about the weather and baseball. You are talking about things you value and are important to you. Your heart may be racing and your palms are sweaty but that means it’s important. These topics will be the foundation of a relationship with open communication. Long periods of silence aren’t a bad thing and don’t feel like you have to fill it if he isn’t saying anything. He is probably just collecting his thoughts.
  3. Find time to continue conversation: Being vulnerable and letting your guard down is important in fostering any relationship. This is the way you grow deeper. It can be terrifying to start some of these conversations, but it’s easier to take care of them on the early end than damage control on the later end.

Conversations may not go as planned but as you engage in more and more of them they become more natural and you begin to learn who you are through them and how to navigate your relationship. Emotional intimacy is necessary in a relationship so don’t be afraid to develop yours with your boyfriend (or anyone else)!

The DTR (defining the relationship)

The anticipated, yet dreaded, “Defining the Relationship” talk, better known in the shorthand form, THE DTR. Just thinking about it is enough to kinda make my stomach do a few flips. Yes, you want to move this relationship forward, but Mister over there doesn’t seem to be making the moves towards talking about it yet. There are a few things to consider before you decide to breach the topic, and if you are ready for what the potential outcomes could be…

How long do I wait?  Well ladies, there is no magic number of dates or months of dating that need to be met (that would make this question much easier to answer). Think about these questions:

How often do you talk?

If you’re talking nearly everyday and throughout the day in some capacity with both sides initiating, that is a good indicator that things are moving in a DTR direction. If it’s sporadically throughout the week, you probably want to hold off until it is a little more regular.

How much time are you spending together?

If you are hanging out when schedules permit and it’s been increasing over the course of the last several weeks, that’s a good sign. Again, consider DTRing it. If it’s still fairly casual, no need to rush and enjoy the period of casual dating you’re in.

Who are you spending time with as a couple?

If you both know each others friends and have done several group outings this is also a great indicator of moving things forward. However, if you’re still uncertain about who is friends are and your friends aren’t too familiar yet, maybe hold out a little bit longer.

So the time is right, how do I bring it up? Of course it will be easier after a couple drinks but that might not help you be clear. Hopefully if it’s the right time it will be something that happens easily and naturally. If things are as good as you have them envisioned, he is probably on the same page as you and will be excited to have this conversation and move things forward. However, if it happens that he doesn’t know what direction he wants this to go or somehow you aren’t on the same page, remember it’s better to know these things on the earlier end than later.