Wednesday, November 24, 2010


My deepest apologies for the delay in part two of the series, Social Experiment - Josh Style. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to deliver part two in a timely manner. But now, the wait is over.

To refresh your memory, I set the goals for myself to reach out to five people. I wanted those connections to go beyond the casual weather and traffic conversation. To my disappointment, I was not able to do that AND follow all the rules with five people. However, I did meet all the qualifications with at least two or three people. Let me tell you about my encounters.

#1 This sweet little lady was a clerk in Walmart. I didn't get her name which is why my talk with her does not qualify. However, we had a great conversation about Black Friday. Now keep in mind, this November 18th. Black Friday was just about a week away. She was very nervous. She still was not clear on what time they were opening, what was going to happen, and the thing I found most amusing was she had reservations about how many lanes they would have open. Now if you shop at our East Town Walmart, you know we all have those same concerns every time we go, much less on the busiest shopping day of the year. That was too funny. She shared with me that since she worked in a secured area, the jewelry department, that she was not allowed to go to store meetings. You would think that the least they would do was keep her up to date. Anyway, she was not looking forward to all of the crazy people that came out on that day. I shared with her that I am normally one of those crazy people. I promised her that if I made it out this year, that I would behave! Sweet little lady! Remember you Black Friday shoppers, these people are trying to do their jobs the best they can. Show some holiday spirit during your shopping and mind your manners. Take a moment to tell them thanks for their hard work!

#2 I am on the fence about whether this next one counts or not. Apparently, I went to high school with this person and his sister. He was a couple of years younger than me. He recognized me, but for the life of me, I do not remember him. I remember his sister's name vaguely. But anyway, we had a brief conversation. He worked at the repair shop where I took my car and spent way too much money. Isn't that always the case? Anyway, he told me about his home and how his sister got a divorce. She moved in with him. He said she was a hoarder and pretty much trashed his house. He couldn't deal with it anymore, so he gave her the house and moved out. I wish I could share some pleasant things I learned, but it was really all kind of sad. They can't all be winners.

#3 My #3 was a sweet lady named Patricia. She was the owner of the shop. I really enjoyed my time with her. She shared with me how the shop was operated by her husband and father-in-law and how they had both passed. Everyone was telling her that the shop would not last without them. Boy has she proved them wrong. It has lasted and is doing very well. In the face of loss and adversity, she overcame. What a strong spirited lady. Being a mom myself, it wasn't long before our talk turned to her kids and her grand babies. We talked about how scary some of the challenges are that kids faced today. She shared with me that her biggest disappointment was when she found her son's marijuana when he was in high school. If that was the scariest thing today her grand babies were going to face she wouldn't worry so much. She told me about a Friday night tradition she shares with her girlfriends. She said every Friday night, they get together and go have Mexican food together. She said they each have one margarita and share a great meal together. Then they go next door to the dollar theater and watch a movie. They said they have that routine for several reasons. Both the Mexican food and the dollar movie are inexpensive. They can responsibly enjoy a drink and because the movie is next door, the effects of the alcohol are worn off by the time they leave the theater. Also, whether there are three or four or five or six, that time is precious to all of them. I thought that was pretty amazing. It was a pleasure to meet and learn about you, Patricia.

#4 My #4 was the stylist that cut my hair. Now I know some of you ladies are dedicated and very loyal to your stylist. Some women I know have used the same stylist for years. I pick my stylist based on convenience and price. Normally, anytime I get my hair cut, the conversation is about my hair and past experiences. I do all the talking. This time, I shut my mouth, for the most part, and listened. Her name is Denise. She is a really cool person. She is a mother of two, six and eight. She has been a stylist for 16 years. She has been with her current employer for three years. She was a little aggravated because they have a very strict policy about them working only 5 hours and 59 minutes before they take a break. They are so strict in fact, that the employees can lose their job for violations. Anyway, Denise also helps in an elementary school as a tutor under the no child left behind act. You could tell from her tone that she is very passionate about the kids she helps. She also shared with me her about her love of turtles after I noticed the turtle on top of her squirt bottle. She said she loves them so much. She has a turtle tattoo on the top of each foot, one a terrapin and the other a sea turtle. She also said that the little rubber turtle has been with her since she was in cosmetology school. She is very protective of that little turtle. She was very open and sweet and I do plan to visit her next time. Maybe she will by "my stylist."

#5 - didn't happen, sorry. I did my best.

So what did I learn from this experience? I learned that people are so willing to open up and share if you give them the opportunity. I learned that because I usually have my mouth in overdrive that I am missing out on meeting some really cool people. I also learned that as much as we think we are alone in our little worlds, that the people "out there" are not so very different from us.

I can't say that I am be able to reach out like this to so many people every day. But I can say that I will try to do it much more often than I have in the past. I challenge you to try it. You never know who you will meet or whose life you can touch by just listening. This may be especially true when so many people find themselves saddened by this upcoming holiday season. As always, thanks for reading and spending your time with me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Reserved, guarded, timid are not words that most people use to describe me. That is only because they know me. We have a relationship. Once we know each other, the descriptions do a complete 180 degree turn. They become words like talkative, candid, and outspoken. So why is there such a difference?

Underneath the opinionated person that my friends and family know, I am someone who is less confident than I would like to be. It is kind of scary to reach out and talk to strangers. What if they don't like me? What if I use my strange sense of humor and they don't get it? What if....? All of those what ifs keep me from becoming the person I would truly like to become. Now don't get me wrong, I am not someone who stares at the floor and never speaks to anyone. I overcame that years ago, LOL. However, I don't ever too far past a pleasant smile or the idle chit chat with a cashier.

When my son was much younger, probably around 12 or 13, he used to do what he called social experiments. We always shopped for groceries as a family. In the grocery stores, he would walk up to random people, put his hand out to shake their hand and say "Hi, my name is Fish!" I have to admit, I was both intrigued and embarrassed just a little by his forwardness. It just was not something that people do. I never told him how much I actually admired him. I will today. So I am going learn to do today what my very intelligent son knew at such an early age.

So today I am challenging myself! I have several things to get done today. I have to go have my brakes checked, get my haircut, and meet a friend for dinner. Today, I pledge to reach out and talk to at least five people. Here are the rules I am setting for myself.

1. These people must be total strangers
2. I must introduce myself
3. I must engage with this person, not just get an introduction

When the day is done, I will report back to you my experiences. Today, I am not going to go through the motions. Today, I will interact with the world around me. Today I will grow.

As always, thanks for reading! Please tune in tomorrow for the update!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Christmas is just around the corner. Usually by this time of year, I have at least written my shopping list. I have some idea of who I am buying for and an idea of what I would like to get them. The past couple of years have been different.

One of the best things that changed for me during the crash of the economy, was a change in priorities. I used to have to buy gifts for everyone. I felt it was the way I showed my love for them. It wasn't always a lot of money, but it was just enough to make me worry about money during the holidays. There has been a fundamental shift in my thinking.

About this time last year, we were moving to our new home after losing our home in foreclosure. Christmas was REALLY small last year. But the year before, we had already made some changes. We switched to drawing names instead of buying for every family member. That was a major change, especially since I was the one that fought that decision for years. But the big change was about how we spent the holidays. We focused on being together instead of "stuff."

It was the best Christmas ever! We had about 17 people most of the time. We always had friends dropping in for a bit. We had every bed, couch, and spot on the floor filled. My house was only 1500 sq. ft so you could imagine how cramped it was. We set up a makeshift ping pong table in the garage, hung a dartboard and everyone brought games. We started about 11:00 am Christmas Eve. We baked desserts and cookies together. We prepared our snacks for Christmas Eve. We played games and laughed so much. We opened our gifts, one each, and had a blast. Everyone got what they wanted because we had put our requests on the back of our names when we drew at Thanksgiving. Christmas morning Mamaw (my mom) made biscuits and gravy for everyone! It was awesome! Then later we prepared Christmas dinner together. Since we were all together, it took away the stress and pressure of traveling between homes and trying to see everyone, not to mention the gas money we saved!

It was chaos, but it was beautiful chaos. Our Christmas was about being together. It was about family. It was about love. It was the first Christmas that I had ever experienced that kicked "stuff" and "What did you get me?" out to the curb where I think it belongs.

I know we are raised in a society where we are bombarded with commercialism. We have become a society where it is all about what do I own. However, I believe that I am not the only one who has changed. Maybe you were not affected too bad by the economy. Maybe your whole world was shaken like mine. Either way, I challenge you to think about how commercial your Christmas has become. I am not asking you to change years of tradition. I am asking you to think for just a moment, how it could be different. How could you change the focus of your Christmas?

I would love to hear your thoughts on your special traditions that have nothing to do with money! As always, thanks for sharing your time with me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


In general, people look forward to the weekend. I guess that is why everyone knows what TGIF means. Friday comes and it is like all of the responsibilities and burdens of the week melt away and we are free. The weekends are filled with laughs, good times with friends and family, and just plain old down time. Monday is only thought about with dread.

For some, including me, sometimes the weekends are the worst thing that can happen. I am not saying that there are not some weekends that are so fun filled that you can't help but enjoy them. But for me, sometimes the weekend means alone time. Most people dream of stealing a few hours of alone time where their every waking moment is not being demanded by someone or something. I was so looking forward to that myself for Saturday morning.

We have had a couple of weeks of what has felt like non-stop activity. As much as I enjoyed all of the go, go, do, do, it wears thin eventually. It leaves me in utter exhaustion. I then find myself dreaming of a few hours alone. But for me, that is probably the worst possible "therapy". I have not left the house for 48 hours. Now I find myself dreaming about Monday. When Monday comes, I have responsibility. When Monday comes, I have accountability. When Monday comes, I don't have to be alone in my head.

It may not be normal to feel that way. Or it may be normal and no one admits it because we are all supposed to love the weekends. Who knows? All I know is that for me, when life slows down too much and my responsibilities are too few, I find myself feeling very alone and very sad. If I feel this way after just 48 hours, I can't imagine how people are going to feel this holiday season when they find themselves alone during what is supposed to be a happy, jolly season.

Kind of a dark post, but I am kind of in a dark place tonight. Tomorrow will be Monday and the responsibilities of the week will be upon me. So I suspect that I will be much more enlightened then. Thanks for reading!

They say that there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing." I believe it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


You know that feeling you get when you get off one of those rides at the amusement park that spins you in circles really fast? It's that feeling that your head is spinning and you can't quite stand up straight. Once you stand still, focus, and give your body a chance to readjust, you can regain your balance. You can once again, stand up straight, walk straight, and that spinning sensation in your head stops.

What about when your life is out of balance? For me, the feelings are very similar. The thoughts in my head are going 100 miles an hour. I lose the ability to focus on anything, much less the things that are most important. I can't find my true direction (my true North) so I pretty much end up chasing my own tail. I become irritable, withdrawn and unable to function as the person I want to truly be. So how do I fix it? How do I get my life back in balance?

Here is where you are expecting some insightful comment. Here is where I wish I had one. The truth is I don't know. I do know, however, that it MUST be so much more than just balancing work and home. It must include all of the things above in this handy little picture. But how in the world do you go about achieving that. Do you say "one hour a day is for friends, one for my husband, one for my kids?" It is exhausting just thinking about it. Is there an easier way?

Now don't laugh, but I have an image in my head of what the perfect start to the day looks like. I would love to wake up each and every morning, go sit on my eastward facing deck, watch the sun rise, drink a warm cup of coffee in solitude and read the morning paper. Now there are only two problems with that perfect morning. I don't read the paper and I don't drink coffee. You said you wouldn't laugh. Alright, you can! I do every time I think of that and try to figure out why I still have that fantasy.

Seriously, where do we get the images of what a peaceful, perfect, balanced life looks like? Sometimes it is hard to distinguish what is truly my desires and what has been burned in my head by some movie, some book, your pastor or somebody else. All the lines begin to blur after a while.

So where does that leave me for now. For now all I know to do is when I feel like I can't stand up and my head is spinning, I hurry up and plan to get away. It seems to be the only time I can truly disconnect from all of the noise in my head and life and listen to who I truly am. I long for the day that I can do that right now, right where I sit, at any moment.

I hope that you have your life in balance. I hope you find time for all of the important things in your life. And if you have time to share your comments or suggestions, I truly welcome them and appreciate them. Thanks for sharing your time with me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


We all make mistakes. We have in the past. We probably did today. We definitely will in the future. I understand that. Furthermore, I appreciate that. We grow by making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. What I don't understand is how you can intentionally, purposefully use and hurt other people and be able to lay your head down at night.

Now, please don't misunderstand my words. I am truly coming from a place of confusion and frustration. I do not write these words from some balcony looking down. I make my fair share of mistakes and bad decisions. Actually, I make more than my fair share. But when I settle down at the end of the day, I usually have to come to some kind of reconciliation in my mind about my actions. I know I am over-analytical and spend way too much time thinking things through. Maybe that is why it is so hard for me to understand how someone can spend ZERO time thinking about their choices and actions.

I guess by now you are wondering what in the world I am talking about. I don't want to give details to protect the privacy of the people involved. However, I will say it is a story played out over and over again. Someone is in a relationship for the sole reason of taking advantage of the other person. They walk all over the other persons feelings over and over again. Even worse, they exploit the other person's kind heart and generous spirit. Now I am all about choices and taking responsibility for your own actions. I understand, that somehow that person is also having some kind of payoff for being in the relationship. I also understand that that person should say enough is enough and walk away. But how can anyone look themselves in the mirror after not once not twice but many, many times devastating another human being. I just don't get it.

So now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can move on to more positive thoughts. If there are people in your life that you love, please take the time to tell them. And if you are in relationships where you are not being loved (like every human being deserves), then find the courage to LOVE YOURSELF enough to move on. Life is too short to settle for anything less.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Changes are inevitable. The leaves turn from green to yellow and slowly fall to the ground. We accept these changes because we know that it is part of a process that is necessary for new growth in the spring. I am working to accept changes in my life with the same understanding.

It has been a year since we moved and the changes continue. Careers move in different directions. Relationships are formed and sometimes ended. These changes don't happen because there is some mysterious force in the universe manipulating our lives. These changes happen because of choices we make. Sometimes the role we play in our lives is not obvious. Sometimes we fall into that "victim" mode and we forget how very powerful we are to create our own reality. We forget that we have the opportunity to choose something different.

I am choosing differently in my life. I am choosing relationships that are healthy and strong. I am choosing careers that make me happy, not just give me a paycheck. I am choosing to set boundaries with people in my life. I am doing this not because I love them any less, but because I love myself more. So today, I challenge you to look at your life. Can you see that you are where you are because of the choices you make? Can you see that you have the power to change your reality?

I hope you create a beautiful day for yourself!