Friday, March 4, 2016

Canada: Land of the Shiny and New (part 1)

I just got back from Canada. After seeing the falls from the Buffalo side, I had to plan a trip to see it from our neighbor's perspective. It would be my kids' first time out of the country, we could break in our new passports, and according to the Groupon ads, everything is shiny and new on the Canadian side.

In the distance is the promised land!


The last time I had been to the Falls, I had squirmed uncomfortably as I rode through the ghetto that surrounded our national treasure. Instead of feeling like there was a permanent red carpet rolled out for one of Nature's most amazing creations, it looked like someone had tried to tidy up the foyer, but then let the dog in--the one with the muddy feet and weak bladder who was constantly chewing on everything.

There were throngs of tourists walking over the Rainbow Bridge. We watched them, our noses and cheeks pressed against the dirty glass of the observation deck as bodies elbowed us on all sides. But without a passport or enhanced ID, my family could not join them in the promised land of the grass is always greener in Canada.


The NY Falls are beautiful!

Still on the NY side.



Finally, after five years, we loaded up the car for an overnight trip, sure that we'd be there in time for breakfast--waffles and eggs that were fluffier and more delicious than ours because everything is better in Canada!

Eight hours, three pee stops, and some over-salted Roy Rogers chicken later, we rolled into the edge of New York. First, I pissed off Border Patrol by planting myself way over the designated stop line. It was like a pharmacy, where every visitor was given his own private consultation and the rest of us were supposed to keep our distance while they discussed embarrassing things like incontinence and excessive gas.

I was told to back up, and by the time my front tires were behind the white line, I was beckoned impatiently to come forward. I knew I had been bad and that made me nervous, so I forgot to change gears and almost rammed into the person behind me--an elderly couple who I was sure was Canadian and therefore nicer than us Americans. Until they beeped aggressively and gave me the finger.

Finally, I pulled up to the booth and tried to explain myself to a completely uninterested border patrol guard who frowned and demanded that I take off my glasses and roll down the back window--because I obviously was hiding my son--who had passed out with his mouth open and had drool flowing from his new braces like the Niagara River.

When he asked me what I did for a living, I launched into a full job description like I was in the most important interview of my life. Halfway through my second sentence, he waved me off as if saying, I'm done with you, please get out of my face before I punch you in the throat.

We drove over the border, windows still open. Crisp, clean air filled the car, pushing out the stench of stale french fries and hours old coffee. The rush of The Falls greeted us like new neighbors, and we all smiled, lost in our own thoughts:

- Me: I can't wait to see the Buddhist Temple!
- Bella: Maybe there's a place to hike all the way down to the Niagara River!
- Max: I wonder if they use Canadian bacon in the Crunchwraps at their Taco Bells?

Fry Coma


TO BE CONTINUED.....





CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.







Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hawaii Changed My Life

Two Decembers ago, as I read Toby Neal's Christmas newsletter my breathing slowed. I was completely focused on the computer screen in front of me, but I also felt strangely disconnected from my body and somehow that made me feel more alive than ever.


Toby lives in Hawaii and she not only keeps us up to date on life outside the mainland, but she also writes mysteries set on the islands. In this particular newsletter, she had included pictures that reflected the beauty of Maui in such a way that for a moment or two, I was there with her family, smiling up at the sun and breathing in the salty air. My messy life with all of its problems dropped away, and my soul was free to wander through paradise. When I returned to my bedroom in New York, I ignored the howling wind tossing the snow around outside my window. I stared at my laptop screen and thought, It looks so peaceful in Hawaii. I'd really like to go there one day.   
 
It's as beautiful as it seems. Even more so.



And just like that, I let the thought go. I went back to enjoying Toby's pictures and musings, all the while appreciating that she had shared her experience. Two weeks later, when I saw a Facebook post about a timeshare that was available, my heart skipped a beat, but I wasn’t surprised. A quiet ding went off inside of me as if I were checking off a task I had every intention of completing. The timeshare in the post was cheap and close to the beach. In Hawaii.


It belonged to a friend of a friend, so I reached out to my friend and she put us in touch with each other. After hearing the particulars, I jumped on the opportunity and while we worked out the details, I made a new friend. 

This was the view from my room!


But as the vacation approached, life happened. I ran into a few snags and had to cancel my initial plans. I was disappointed on the surface, but strangely, underneath, I was also calm. Sad or not, something told me that I needed to ride this wave wherever it took me.

Unfortunately, it didn't take me to anywhere like Hawaii, but I visited a life lesson or two and licked a few ego wounds. In the meantime, my new friend refused to give up. She worked behind the scenes to reschedule my trip, keeping my dream of visiting Hawaii alive, even though neither of us was sure that I could pull it off.

With her in my corner, I learned how much individuals can gain from having a strong support system. I felt like my happiness mattered, and after years of pushing my own wants and needs to the side for my kids, it was nice. I kept slogging along, determined to see the light (and hopefully the beach!) at the end of this dark time.

It was almost a year later, and only a month before we were supposed to go, when finally, and without any effort on my part, everything fell into place. In April, during one of the longest, coldest winters New York has seen in a long time, Max, Bella, and I got on a plane and took the thirteen hour flight to Honolulu.

Max made sure we'd find our bags easily

It wasn't until we were there for a two days that it really hit me. Each morning, I got up at 5 am without an alarm and walked around the corner to Starbucks. I enjoyed the sunrise and my coffee on the outside patio and said a silent thanks to the Universe for making that warm, beautiful vacation possible. But on Day Two, I realized that there was more at play here than a getaway in paradise.

Some of my favorite things

If I had taken the trip when we originally planned, I wouldn't have bonded as much with my new friend. And I don't think I would have appreciated the gift of waking up each morning because I wanted to--not because I had to. At home I was a single mother of three, working multiple jobs to get by. Trips like this were considered impossible. Not having to be tied to a schedule or my usual responsibilities meant more to me, especially after the dark period I had just come out of.

My relaxed face

We made sure to venture outside of the pretty tourist area of Waikiki and hiked through the rural area of Honolulu. We passed small schools and crowded yards with barking dogs. We saw signs pleading with developers to stop destroying the land. And in the urban areas, just outside blocks and blocks of upscale chains like Coach and Cheesecake Factory, there was homelessness and poverty that made me wonder what the locals really thought about us being there.

Someone's bed and belongings
 The contrast was so profound, I'd have to be in a coma not to feel grateful for the opportunity to be spending time with my kids in one of the most beautiful places in the world. And when it was over, I was grateful to return home to a life that wasn't as hard as I had imagined it was before I left.

Fireworks on the beach. Sorry about the flash!
Since the trip, I have relaxed more and worried less. Things have gotten easier for me, and I am more excited about what is in store for me each day. I still have problems, but now they are just another piece of the path I am traveling on--one that always seems to lead to something better.


Paddle boarding in the lagoon


I often look back on my time in Hawaii and the magic that led me to it. I inhale love and exhale gratitude, and look forward to making more memories and seeing what other amazing experiences the Universe has in store for me. And I wish you all the same.


I'd do it again in a minute

CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Raise Your GrAPPtitude

Life is unpredictable. 

It's full of trial and error and good and bad chemistry. Living fully means testing boundaries - like the time you wanted to see if you could eat thirty-five White Castle burgers in five minutes. You cheered when you did it, but as Newton's Law states, for every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Unfortunately, your joy and the joy of those who encouraged you to do it was short lived. 


Caution: Some experiments may cause an explosion

I don't know everything, but there are three things I'm sure of:

1. Most people are addicted to their phones, computers, and/or social media
2. The loudest members of society are crazy oversensitive
3. Our level of gratitude is at an all time low - we complain about everything

If White Castle doesn't get us first...

We're going to stall our own development and progress and eventually kill each other, leaving the cockroaches to feast on all of the wine and fast food we left behind.

CHEERS! *clink*
Train them while they're young.

Let's take the teen who is punished and has his phone taken away from him. Because we are of the mindset that everything should be done in real-time and with the least amount of clicks and keystrokes, the grieving process has changed slightly. This teen will not go through seven stages of grief. Instead, he will go through several abbreviated stages of grief.

1. Denial and Anger - "You can't do this to me! It's my phone! I won't be able to get up on time or do my homework! What? I have no idea how to set the alarm clock, and there is no way you are getting me to use a pencil!"

2. Bargaining - "If you give me another chance, I won't run away. But if you don't, I swear I'm going to take off. If I don't have my phone, then Netflix, X-Box, meals cooked by mom, my own personal chauffeur, and a warm bed with a roof over my head mean nothing to me anyway..."

3. Noisy, Angry Acceptance - "Fine. Don't give me my phone. You all hate me anyway. My life sucks and this family is totally dysfunctional, but fine. Nothing goes right for me, so why should this be any different?" *slams door to bedroom where he stays, isolated, and in a teen induced coma until the punishment is over*


You can't escape your demons

He learns to sleep away his problems, still unable to form a sentence without a hashtag or emoji to get his point across. His anger at how unfair the world is never dissipates, and after he gets his phone back he spends the next twenty minutes Instagramming and Snap Chatting unhappy selfies--so his friends can really feel his pain. Black and white filters and skeleton face apps are his minions and his mission to spread negativity is successful.

 I don't claim to have all of the answers.

But I do remember a time when gratitude was that feeling I got any time my brother hid the wooden spoon. Because of him, all disciplining would be postponed till my mom figured out where I stashed the belt. And the feeling grew, because I knew that if she suspected either of us, we'd alibi for each other all day long. #FamilyBondingDoneOldSchool

No matter how we used to do it, I stand by my ability to ebb and flow with the times, and I'm a problem solver. Plus, after a few drinks, some consider me creative.

One evening, I spiraled when I was home, surfing the internet. It was clear after reading just a few posts, that if negativity was a vaccine, no one would ever get sick again. Instead, the reality is that negativity is a disease - a quick acting, contagious disease that spreads to the masses, like those viral videos of cats. Or people walking into glass doors.

My brain went right into grab that carafe and fix-it mode. Three cocktails later, I knew that the GrAPPtitude was the answer.

It came to me when I realized that even though my insides were soaked with alcohol from at least three different countries, I was breathing, thinking, and typing away - I was alive and functioning.

My kids were downstairs, and I could barely hear their screams as they ripped the hair from each other's heads.

I called out to them, "Stop licking each other's faces and shut the hell up! Mommy's working!", completely aware that the tingly feeling in my chest was not the vodka repeating on me. I was filled with an appreciation for my kids. They're such a blessing.

And with miraculous epiphanies like these, GrAPPtitude was born. As I downed the last drop of liquid in my glass, I stopped myself from slipping into the abyss with everyone else. For I knew that eventually, one survivor would climb the stairs and appear. That child would be the one to get me the bottle that now seemed so far away, and all would be right again.

In the zone

Lost in my positivity, I began to outline the terms of GrAPPtitude:

This app will use keywords to identify negative posts. Then your phone will physically shock you so that you stop typing. At that point, a message will be created, one that will be unique and appropriate to whatever you were trying to put out into the world.

For example:

You were going to complain publicly about no one liking your last Facebook post. After you regain feeling in your legs, Siri, or whatever you've named your phone voice will yell:
"You feel ignored?! You want to talk about being ignored? Let's call your mother. I know you've forgotten her number, but I've got it right here!"

or

You start to tweet about how horrible your cramps are. Once you're able to bend your fingers again, the app screams at you:
"It's just your period! You think you know pain? That slipped disc in Aunt Jessie's back doesn't know what a day off is! Now click on the coupon for free chocolate and shut the hell up!"

Caution: Excessive Negativity Is Bad For Your Health

And so much more:

OMG it's Monday: "Are you complaining about having to put down the wine so you can go to the job that pays for your blackouts every weekend?"

I'm so broke. I never have money: "I'm sure that Netflix, your service provider, manicurist, and latte dealer will be very disappointed."

There are worse things than Starbucks taking the snowflakes off of their red holiday cups, or Christmas trees missing from the Santa backdrop at the mall.

When you consider what others gave up to give you the life you so freely complain about, stop to ponder where you'd be if George Washington had decided that he couldn't lead this nation because dentures really didn't reflect his brand. Or if he and his men felt it was only fair that they should be off on Christmas Day. And besides, it was just too cold to cross the Delaware River with no shoes on anyway....

#OMGICantFeelMyFeet


Tonight I will make a gratitude list before bed. I'll make sure to include how grateful I am that I had three kids instead of only two. Someone's gotta get me the TV remote and paint my nails while the other two fix me something to eat....




CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Terrorists: They're Just Like Us

When I grow up, I wanna be just like....

As kids, we were read fairy tales and watched Disney movies. Heroes were worshiped and children were told that they should grow up and "be just like the good guys" - brave, kind, of service to others, and talented enough to spontaneously break out into song. No matter their struggles, the heroes always won in the end, and the message was that love triumphs over evil.

About a minute after we grew out of cartoon hunks and sass talking damsels riding in on white horses to save their betrothed, we set our sights on movie stars. Who wouldn't want to be like them? They wore fancy clothes and painted smiles for the cameras. As tweens, fun loving, photoshopped poses were enough to make us to wish, When I grow up, I want to be rich and famous. Their lives are perfect!


Thanks Google Images and Disney
Then Reality TV and Social Media arrived to the party, and they grabbed our attention in one fell swoop, inviting us to come play, like those twins in The Shining. Suddenly, we got a glimpse into what goes on when "there's no script", and the battle of the hot messes began.

All sense of self respect went out the window with the idea that wearing underwear for the camera was good form. Beating each other up, both physically and verbally, became a hashtag - #fightgoals - and like verbal diarrhea, every badly spelled thought, feeling, and opinion we had was let loose on the internet.

No matter which phase we were in, fingers were wagged and behavior was insisted upon: Be nice! No bullying allowed! If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!

The message was certainly loud, but was it really clear??

There's a reason why The Housewives reality franchise is so popular, but (Spoiler Alert!) it's not because anyone kisses, makes up, and means it. Audiences love the drama. And the fights. Especially the ones that involve hair pulling and secret telling. Viewers root for their favorites and judge how strong or weak the players are.

At home, when kids are shushed because Bethany and Kristen are about to throw down at a fancy restaurant in Tribeca, I have to wonder what kind of life lessons they are learning.

Twitter, Twitter, post on my wall, who's the toughest one of all?

A few weeks ago, the NY Times posted an article on the front page of the Saturday paper. The headline read: Supporters of Al Qaeda and ISIS Tangle Over Who Is The Deadliest


Find the NY Times article here: http://nytimes.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx


The piece described how followers of each group were tweeting at each other about who was more righteous and prominent. The Times reported that one outspoken supporter's profile suggested that he could be a fighter affiliated with one of the groups, and it got me thinking about reality TV and how these shows gain momentum.


*  As soon as a show makes its debut, alliances, rivalries, and branding abound. - "Once united under the Qaeda brand, they (Al Qaeda and ISIS) split over differing strategies in Syria."

 Lines are drawn quickly, and the drama begins. - "... it was also clear that the hostage-taking played into the growing rivalry between the two groups."

*  Favorites are decided upon and we create opinions based on what is shown to us, rather than what really is. And along the way, images become more distorted as even the characters have to live up to the brand they've created for themselves. - "The Islamic State has since emerged as the most dynamic , popular force among radicalized Muslims, fueling a competition for recruits, cash, and bragging rights among extremists who see bloodletting as the best way to advance an Islamist agenda."

*Quotes are taken from the NY Times article



"Those who live in glass houses..."

We all have opinions and we are lucky enough to live in a country where we have the freedom to express them, but how it's done is what marry us regular folk to the terrorists and reality TV.

Social Media is full of posts, pictures, and memes that bully, shame, and criticize others for almost everything they say, do, and are. We rally supporters while retweeting, reposting, and sharing negativity in alarming numbers.

Because you never make a mistake behind the wheel


How sad that we all don't blindly follow you.

http://mashable.com/2015/11/30/overweight-haters-ltd-cards-tube/#F7nmdd30nPqr #fatshamingisuncool 

And so many times, mothers, like Kim Kardashian-West - who are creating tiny humans - are targeted. How disappointing it must be for the parents of the cruelly outspoken - having children that are so unkind that they forget that their own mothers gained some weight and ate a little more while pregnant.

So oblivious are some that for those who have breastfed publicly, like Ashley Kaidel, the statement that goes unsaid is, Her body is so amazing that it instinctively makes enough nourishing, life sustaining food so that our generation and future ones can live on - even if the rest of us kill each other via disrespect, hatred, and a disregard for the contrasts that brought enough change to get us to where we are in terms of knowledge, technology, finance, medicine, etc.

"What is an adult? A child puffed with age." Simone de Beauvoir

Despite all of the development and awareness that has brought us iPhones, Netflix, and 3D Organ Bioprinting, so many are still stuck in the past. They behave as immature individuals fighting over things (like land and money), refusing to listen to or to respect the perspectives of others, and needing to be heard over everyone else. They can be food service workers, teachers, CEO's, or organized groups with self serving agendas - acting like children who have still not grown up enough to realize that it is not in our best interest to always agree, but it is in our best interest to stop fighting long enough to listen and consider other's ideas and feelings.

And it's not just on social media. Bullying happens on the roads, in the stores, and in the workplace. Just this morning, I saw two middle aged men fighting over a handicap parking spot at Walmart. Although there were two empty spots about twenty feet from the one they were arguing over, as I watched them climb out of their cars to get in each other's faces, it became clear that the fight was not really about where to park. It was about dominance, being right, and winning. And since it was 7:30 on a Saturday morning in December, how much do you want to bet that at least one of them was there to shop for gifts for the holidays? #holidayspiritfails

The only thing that separates us from the terrorists is our firepower, although some may argue that words hurt more than guns do.

Who are you?

Are you the person who will attack my opinions in the comments, or are you the person who discusses things in the name of progress and/or understanding? Can you be the one who will bring your thoughts to the table without anger or the expectation that we should all agree with you?

It may sound crazy, but a girl can dream, right?





CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE.  

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor.  


FOLLOW me on TwitterFacebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

CUT THE CRAPISMS









 
I consider myself a good mom and an effective parent.

I've never gotten a call from the school or police department that started off like, "Please say that you are the parent of because we really need you to come and pick up your kid. We would appreciate it if you would speed, and on the way home, start considering where else you might want to live...that is if you are not anything like what you spit out of your body and actually have a heart."

iMOM should love me.

I think it might be my parenting technique. I'm perfectly comfortable with children experiencing the natural consequences that follow certain actions - I call it Karma. I'm a tough love kinda girl... and not at all above getting back at the little monster that took the last ice cream sandwich without asking first.

Ever since my kids were little, I have spoken to them like the selfish ego maniacs they were eventually destined to become after being exposed to society and reality TV. 

I believe that my tactics served us all well, and have decided to share my wealth of knowledge with anyone else who is interested in claiming to have raised a young adult that prefers to wear underwear in public.

These little nuggets of wisdom that I bestowed on my kids were not only life changing for them, but also provided entertainment for me on days when it seemed like my only friends were a shot of Kamikaze and earplugs.

1. Kid (screaming): "No! I don't want to!"
Mom: "I understand. That's how I feel when I wake up in the morning and have to go to work to put a roof over your head and food in your mouth. But right now I'm thinking that we could save so much energy if instead of carrying on like that, you just tell me, 'Mom, please punish me now.'"

2. Kid (screaming): "I hate you!"
Mom: "Nope. I asked ten of my closest friends and they said that it is impossible to hate me. So I'm thinking that when you go to your room to think all of the things you've done, you can add lying to the list."

3. Kid: "Mom you have to let me grow up. Soon I'll even be driving."
Mom: "Let me get this straight.You want me to let you be in charge of thousands of  pounds of steel on the same streets where innocents walk, yet your answer when I complain that you aren't even responsible enough to put your empty glass in the dishwasher is, 'But Mom, you didn't tell me to put it in there?'"

4. Kid (texting on her cell phone and not getting ready to leave the house): "Mom! Stop rushing me!"
Mom (speaking into an imaginary TV monitor): "And for the folks at home, this is why kids should not do drugs. They dull the brain so much that they can't focus and they slow them down. Cell phones are a much cheaper option."

5. Mom: "Do you know kids that send people nude pictures of themselves?"
Kid (rolling her eyes): "Yes Mom, so many people do that."
Mom: "Really? So that's what we're doing now? Well hey. That could really work out for some of them. Since employers use the internet to check up on potential new hires, Nude Middle School Selfie on their resume might be the most appealing thing about them..."

6. Kid: "Mom! You think you know everything, but you don't! Times have changed since you were a kid, so shut up already!"
Mom: "I'm sorry. I could not understand one word you just said because I don't speak Rude. However, if I did, my response would be something like, 'You'd better get fluent in the language of Parental Respect in about five seconds or I'm going to knock your ass right into a place the natives like to call Haven't Seen The Light Of Day Since I Stupidly Sassed My Awesomely Perfect Mother.'"

Please share your most effective Cut The Crapisms with me. I'm totally open to finding new ways of instilling life lessons and fear in the ones I love.





CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States. 


You can now order SUKI in paperback at http://hopress-shorehousebooks.com/cf-winn/  or at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at info@bookrevue.com Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE. 

Her blogs have been syndicated on multiple sites including The Masquerade Crew. More posts like these can be found at Humor Outcasts and The Patch where she is a regular contributor. 


FOLLOW me on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and CF_Winn on Instagram.