Thursday, December 31, 2009

I am a Kool-Aidaholic

My name is Tiffany. And I drank the Kool Aid.

Most recently it was the social media Kool Aid. But it goes back a lot further, starting with a junior high discovery of the Sex Pistols. I bought every album. I covered my walls in posters. I died my hair purple, bought combat boots, safety pinned my torn t-shirts and memorized every word of Sid & Nancy. I was punk drunk.

I can't remember all of the flavors and varieties that have since sent me reeling. (Which is probably for the best) This isn't to say that I am fickle, floating about from one shiny object to the next. I've been hooked on some for years. In fact, as a professional bartender, Hubby's is a particularly intoxicating blend that I plan to imbibe in copious amounts for years to come. Because not all Kool Aid is bad. So, how can you tell? That's a question I have been pondering a lot lately.

I am admittedly overzealous by nature, but I think that there a few factors that propel me into dizzy sugary gluttony:

- Peer pressure. I am a glutton for approval.
- The urge to belong. Who doesn't want to find a community of like-minded people?
- An innate passion and enthusiasm for the Kool Aid at hand. This is where it gets tricky.

I am a passionate and enthusiastic person. I get caught up. I get excited. But for every Hubby there are a thousand Sex Pistols. Don't follow? For every good flavor that will sustain you for years to come, there is another that will ultimately leave you with a bad case of heartburn.

I've decided on a few rules of thumb to keep myself in check and avoid sleepless nights.

1. Read the Ingredients
On the back of that Punk Rock Kool Aid package are a bunch of ingredients that still appeal to me. Non-conformity, rebellious spirit, questioning authority, propensity toward profanity, etc... But there are even more that don't. Anarchy, nihilism, loud noise, disdain for yuppie middle America. Turns out that while I will always identify with a certain counter culture ideology, those aren't the traits that define me. My high concentration ingredients don't match up.

2. Sip. Don't Gulp.
Oh, moderation, you cruel beast. I am more of the "Gimme more! Gimme more! Nom, nom, nom." excessive type. Screw the sample cup, I'll take a gallon. But, if you gulp, you miss the nuances of each individual ingredients, both good and bad. And I find myself asking, what's the rush? Slow down. Savor the flavor.

3. Step Away from the Spokesmodel.
Who doesn't love the Kool Aid Man? He's smiley. He's friendly and fun. And...he has no depth. He's a mascot. Over the past 75 years he's changed dramatically to suit the current trends. He shifts based on popular consumer opinion-likely sourced from shopping mall focus groups. Basically, he is a cleverly crafted character created to manipulate you into buying what he is selling. Think used car salesman, but with cartoon charisma. Ah, charisma. I am a sucker for charisma. Flash me grin, give me a compliment and I will gladly buy your neon orange Pinto. Did I say "will?" I meant "would." The jig is up. Go sell crazy elsewhere.

4. Serve to Friends.
Best case scenario, your BFF loves it, asks for a crate and you blissfully discover yet another common interest. But, if BFF takes one sip and spits it out, take note. Now, defend away. To each her own. By no means succumb to peer pressure. It's true that some things are worth fighting for. But, if you find yourself regularly fighting your trusted circle, you have to think that maybe they have a point. Step outside of the fishbowl and get some feedback. It will help you hone in on the faults in your arguments and potential save you from hazardous allergic reactions.

5. Create Your Own Ratio
I love me some social media Kool Aid. Bring on the pitcher! But lately, I've noticed that high concentration leads to negative side effects, so I am tweaking the formula. One part professional, one part personal, then dilute. Don't be afraid to mix. A dash of Sex Pistols here, a dash of Community there. Variety is the spice of life and you might stumble upon an incredible new combination.

So, there you have it. My shopper beware Kool Aid guidelines. Posted mostly entirely to keep Yours Truly from making poor decisions. Added Bonus: I am now comfortable knowing that I have triumphantly beat a metaphor into submission.


*Gulp* (Damn. Baby steps.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yes, I Shaved My Daughter's Head

This year has been a whirlwind. That's my excuse for completely neglecting my blog. When I came across Gwen Bell's challenge, I signed right up to reflect on the year with daily posts. Which I then immediately neglected. Hey, I got busy.

"I got busy."

When did that become my daily mantra, sprinkled with the occasional "I'm so tired" and "Meh?"

When I saw today's topic was this year's biggest challenge, it made me think. About how I started a new job and created a new department and the daily challenges of staying on top of the ongoing chaos that is social media. About keeping focused on the important things like friends and family and husbands. About the daunting pile of laundry that is forever building force to wage battle against the dust bunny armies in on-going domestic warfare. Meh. I'm tired.

Well, boo-effing-hoo.

Today Danger (my 2 year old daughter) got a new cast on her right foot. One of so many casts that I have lost count. But that hasn't stopped her from tearing through the house, dodging dust bunnies and laundry piles with unabandoned glee, her little bald head bobbing.Yes. That's right, her bald head.

I shaved my daughter's head.

Actually, Hubby shaved her head while I sobbed in the background. And that one act is the greatest challenge that has taught me the most this year.

It started innocently enough. She twirled her hair for comfort as she fell asleep. No biggie. Then she started pulling a little harder. Tiny bald patches appeared. No problem, we put gloves on. She pulled them off. Bald patches spread. We try hats, fuzzy stuffed animals, even a swim cap. Bald "patch" turned to bald "half of head."

At this point I am furiously searching Google for answers and discover that ingesting hair can cause serious intestinal damages. Crap. See, Danger has kind of a history of stomach issues that include three surgeries by the time she was two. But, that's all resolved now and I'll be damned if a little hair twirling is going to compromise that. Enter the clippers.

If I thought the act of shaving her head was hard, I was totally unprepared for how hard it would be afterward. She looks different. People stare. My closest family members have questioned my choice. And, by question I mean calling me a terrible mother and threatening to report me to child services. (I'm pretty sure they were bluffing since the doorbell never rang) Someone asked if she had cancer. Another if she'd had surgery. But, instead of being embarrassed or shamed, I stand strong by the decision. She isn't pulling her hair and now loves the fuzzy blanket that is her new nightly comfort.

And guess what, she doesn't have cancer. How great is that? She also doesn't have stomach problems. She is healthy and more importantly happy. I'd be lying if I didn't get sad that her beautiful curls are gone. In fact I've been reluctant to take Santa photos. But, in the grand scheme, it's just hair. And she will take Santa photos regardless of who stares. And I will show it to her first boyfriend at which point she will probably glare and twirl her fabulous beautiful hair (which if she's anything like her mother she will have dyed about stares).

But, back to the challenge and what I learned from it. First, I will never doubt the choices I've made as a parent in the best interest of my child. But, I kind of knew that already.

The biggest revelation was how much my self worth depends on the judgment of others. Am I doing a good job at work? Is my house clean enough? Am I good mom? Watching people instantly judge Danger based on her physical appearance has opened my eyes to how much control I give to other people's opinions.

I think everyone seeks affirmation and validation from outside sources. But, it took a toddler's happy smile and ease at overcoming any challenge to teach me that strength and joy come from within. She's too young to care what other people think or to know that she should be hindered by a cast. She's unstoppable. And I owe it to her to encourage that. To embody that.

OK, I am not going to shave my head in solidarity or anything. I'm probably not even going to fold that laundry tonight either. But not because I am too busy. Or too tired. Because that's my choice. And I'm confident in that choice.

Unless, of course, you are planning on coming over. In which case give me 20 minutes to sweep away the dust bunnies. And fix my hair. Meh.

Baby steps. After all, I need challenges to overcome for my December 2010 post.