Valentine’s Day

It’s really just another regular day.  Why wait until February 14th to show love and friendship?  Wait!  I remember—so the stores can sell flowers and gifts!  For businesses, it’s one more special day of sales.  It’s a bit like living like a devil all week and heading to church on Sunday.  You’re not fooling anyone!  There’s surely nothing wrong with buying a loved one flowers or a card, but one day a year means little compared to the other 364 days.

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When I had a valentine, we showed each other love every day.  It happened with the little things.  A kiss at breakfast, a phone call on break and chatting over coffee before bed.  We had love and respect every day.  How many couples can say that?

Sometimes I hear a woman refer to her partner in a derogatory way.  My take on that?  Well, honey, you chose to be with him!  I remember once in the store, this lady was nearly screaming at her husband in the baby aisle.  My man and I exchanged an incredulous look when we heard that.  The look we shared said it all.  We’d never treat each other that way because we had a foundation of friendship and respect underneath the love we shared.

Why not show your valentine love every day?  You don’t need a special day set aside for love and friendship.  You may be wondering why I add “friendship” to the mix.  In Mexico, Valentine’s Day is referred to as the Day of Love and Friendship (amor y amistad).  Adding friendship is better than forced affection and desperation for lack of a valentine, right?

Dance Etiquette

How many times have our kids heard us say, “Well, in my day X didn’t happen“? I am about to do it again. In my day, friends didn’t ask to dance with a friend’s date. (Girls in my school wouldn’t even consider pairing up with a boy in a lower grade (or two!) like they do nowadays, but that’s another story!) Times sure have changed!

I was taught that you dance with the one who brought you, your friend’s fellow was off-limits and there was a line between being friendly and being flirty. Are mothers not teaching daughters these things anymore? Am I being ridiculously old-fashioned? It feels like there are no boundaries too sacred to cross. If I had a friend who bluntly asked to dance with my date, I would have been so mad! I have seen it happen various times in the last few years. The girls today ask the guy if he’ll save her a dance, but shouldn’t they clear that with their gal pal first? Respect, please!

Missing Mexico

My neighbor in Mexico

My neighbor in Mexico

On cold days like today, I miss Mexico more and more. It’s not just the temperature, you understand; it’s the warmth of hanging out with friends and family that I miss so much—having some bonding time at Oxxo or Italian Coffee, laughing at nothing just because we can, people-watching and enjoying the bartering in the market.

I have friends in Nebraska, but I’ve only been here four years. I still classify people as “work” friends or “people I know.” For me, it takes much longer than four years to form a strong, real friendship. My friends—the ones I really count on—can be numbered on one hand. They have been through hard times with me, and we have come out stronger for it. People who know me in Virginia or Mexico have a much deeper understanding of who I am than people I’ve met here in my adopted town. I’m not saying anything negative about people here; it simply IS. It takes a long time for me to really trust someone. A gal I know said I have trust issues. Not true. I’m just not stupid or easy to know.

I can call my friends, wherever they may be, and we can start our conversation where we left off before no matter how long it’s been since we chatted. My best friend knows how I drink my coffee, what I think about politics, and how I raise my kids. She also knows how to guard a secret and watch my back. The same things make us laugh. Or cry. She knows my deepest regrets, and she still respects me in spite of my failings. THAT is true friendship.

Friendship takes time!   Ysabela and her friend, Gidalty

Friendship takes time!
Ysabela and her friend, Gidalty

Energy Vampires

Are you feeling tired and rundown? Are you in good physical health? Do you “have it together” in your head? Job going well? If you are on a roll in your life, but there’s still “something” wearing you down, you may be the victim of an energy-sucking vampire.

A what? You read it correctly. An energy-sucking vampire. If you have ever been in contact with one of this not-so-rare breed, you know exactly what I mean. Maybe your friend comes to visit, stays a while, leaves, and you feel worn out by the time the visit is over. You close the door after him or her, lock it and sigh. You might even have a headache. You survived, but the price is high. This particular breed of human takes your energy like a vampire takes blood. You have my sympathy if you are a victim. You also will have some advice.

There’s a lock on the door for a reason. Use it, and don’t apologize. You have the right to be comfortable and free from intrusions in your own home. Your home is, after all, your castle. Pull up the drawbridge! (I am considering building a moat!)

Set limits on those who waste your time. It can be awkward, but sometimes you just have to say something. Don’t let anyone run over you, especially when it concerns how you spend your precious free time. Friendship should be a pleasure, not an expectation or a duty. It takes time to develop a real, solid friendship. If you’d rather not visit, just say so. Remember: the energy vampire keeps you from doing things you want to do. Be assertive.

Let me insert here that I am not known for my tact, but when it comes to protecting my free time after a hard day’s work, I can be ferocious. (Think: Mama bear. With a cub.) I do try to be nice, but nice isn’t always effective. I am not the kind of person who enjoys hurting someone’s feelings. I can see you nodding your head! I’m glad you get it.

Do you need some graceful ways of letting the vampire know it’s time to leave or that it’s a bad time to visit? You might want to check with Miss Manners, but I have a few suggestions.
*I have an appointment at (insert time/place), so I need to have time to get ready.
*I’m sorry, but it’s family time right now.
*Oh, I wish you had called first! I have plans already.
*I’m helping with homework right now. Maybe later?
*Can you come back another day? I’m taking care of chores.
*I have to get up early in the morning, so I need to cut this short.

If none of those work, be more direct. It might feel awkward, but you have to protect your energy and your time. Good luck. If you have any suggestions that work for you, let me know. I love reading comments on my blog. Thanks for reading!