It all started with an osprey

I’m a bonafide tree-hugger.  Always have been.  Always will be.

I was first introduced to the world of tree-hugging by my grandfather, Papa, who lived on the water in an octagon-shaped house in Yorktown, Virginia.  He was a brilliant man with a caring heart, and as a life-long teacher, you were bound to learn something in his company.  As a total nerd, I appreciated the extra learning opportunities because I relished in the extra attention my teachers gave me when I knew more than my classmates.

It was Papa that first introduced me to the concept of endangered species – something that has stuck with me my whole life – fortunately or unfortunately (it’s a depressing subject, sometimes).  The fact that there were animals (and plants) out there that were becoming rare, mainly due to human activity was something that my 6-year-old mind just couldn’t comprehend.   Sometimes, my 30-something year–old mind still doesn’t grasp it.

Living on the water, Papa had a huge appreciation for osprey.  Like bald eagles, ospreys were victims of the wide application of DDT – an incredibly effective, potent pesticide that was used in the 1950s-1970s.  Thankfully, for both the environment and human health, the US got their head on straight and banned DDT use in 1972.   Over a decade later, as a lone-man’s effort to keep the population in Southeastern Virginia growing, Papa built an osprey nest platform.   Once the pair of osprey laid claim to their waterfront property, he would then block off his dock so that no one could disturb the osprey.  He wanted to make sure that they laid their eggs, the eggs hatched and that the chicks fledged – all in complete peace and quiet from obnoxious humans.

When I was a young kid, probably no older than six, I went over to Papa’s, with the main goal of playing on the dock – it was my favorite part of his house.  I was disturbed to see that the dock was blocked off, and that my plan of feeding the ducks and playing with snails was completely foiled.  Naturally, I thought that Papa would let me, his only granddaughter, go on the dock to continue with my day’s priorities.  I was utterly mistaken.  Papa then took me upstairs into his octagon house, where he had a high-powered telescope aimed at the nest.  He was keeping a record of when the eggs were laid and when the chicks fledged. Naturally, I was fascinated.  The ducks and the snails could wait – I was nerding out on science and it was awesome!   First, I had never had the opportunity to play with a big, red telescope – the ultimate nerd toy.  Up until that point, I wasn’t allowed anywhere near the telescope, and now I was.  It was a rite of passage – I had grown up and it felt amazing.  On top of that, I never got a chance to see birds in such a relaxed, natural setting – something that had eluded me for years.  I had always thought that I would be like the cartoon princesses who had birds as their friends.  The only problem, I realized, is that when I tried to get close to birds, they flew away from me.  Evidently, they weren’t really interested in being my friend, even if my name was Robin.  So, the opportunity of being able to see what birds were really like and what they did (when they weren’t flying away from me) was a special treat.

From that point on, I was a tree-hugger-in-training.  I took it upon myself to lecture my mother about environmental issues, I won the recycling contest at my Elementary School, I wrote essays about rainforest conservation, I became a vegetarian, and Jane Goodall and John Muir became my heroes.   Later, this interest turned into my career: tree and bunny-hugging specialist/environmental lecturer to the uninformed/champion recycler.

It is moments like these that I focus on when I start to question my chosen career path, or when I question my passion, or when I get frustrated with certain people that appear to be anti-environment (which annoys me immensely).  I realize that my interest in conservation is deeply personal with wonderful memories of Papa and his insightful lessons.  It’s a reminder of a beautiful moment – a grandfather and his granddaughter, spying on some osprey through a telescope, being nerds and getting excited about biology.

Dance-hiking - the only way to truly enjoy nature.

Dance-hiking – the only way to truly enjoy nature.

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Things that annoy me, Part 1

I’m easily annoyed.  I know this.  Obviously, I think things should be done my way, on my time scale.  The world would be a much better place if it were.  At least that’s my humble opinion.

Today’s grievance:  asshats, or people that are so selfish that their head is shoved so far up their own tushy that they do not exist in reality.MrAsshat

To a certain extent, we are all selfish.  It’s human nature – a survival skill, really.  We HAVE to look out for ourselves because no one else really is.  However, there is a fine line between taking care of your needs and being a total, giant, selfish asshat.

Characteristics of asshat-ery:

First and foremost, asshats come in all shapes and sizes, which can be incredibly deceptive.    In my experience, I’ve come across three groups of asshats, though I’m sure more exist.  Generally speaking, I try to avoid these people at all costs, but sometimes they are cleverly disguised.  One must look out for the characteristics before deciding to turn and run.

First, there are the obvious asshats.  Those individuals believe that the world, in fact DOES revolve around them, that their problems are the most noteworthy, that their achievements are incomparable.   They are difficult to miss.  I’m pretty sure the entire Kardashian clan fits in this group.

A less obvious group is the sneak-attack asshat.  These people talk about their big hearts and all the wonderful things they do for humanity.  They practice yoga and feed the homeless.  They don’t raise their voices.  They “listen,” or at least they make you think that they listen.  They aren’t.  They’ve practiced the art of thoughtful deception.   They are anxiously awaiting the proper moment to turn the conversation back to them.   It’s ninja-like asshat trickery at its finest.

Another group is the repeat offenders of asshat-edness.  Yes, sure, it’s known that these people have had selfish behavior in the past, but you decided to look past it because, you are a sucker (like me).  You think the friendship is mutual, but in fact, it is very much one-sided, and regrettably, it is not in your favor.

Upon looking closely at these repeat offenders in my life, there seems to be a trend – they happen to be actual friends that exist in my inner circle.  How is that possible?  They tend to seek out help, advice, and praise more than most.  In the same vein, they seem to be incredibly thankful for the time and energy that I’ve wasted on their miniscule problems, but I do it because I have a big heart (=sucker).  Because they are overtly appreciative, I don’t actually realize that it’s a trap – that they will not return the same energy to me should I need it.  In my own opinion, it’s almost the worst kind of selfishness because it’s entirely deceptive.

My problem is that 99% of the time I’m a perfectly composed, yet irritable individual (that in itself is not the problem).  I don’t need extra praise or advice.  I can figure it out on my own (or I call my mother, as mothers know everything).  It’s not often that I have a moment where I need friendly advice.  When that moment does happen, for some reason I tend to go to the same asshat repeat offenders.  I know better, yet I apparently love the torture of it.

2013: a personal retrospective

pig_roadThe end of one year is always the time that I take a moment to reflect on me, who I’ve become, and of course, what is it that I want to be.  I know that I’m not the only person who does this.   I’m also pretty sure that’s why people set New Year’s Resolutions – to make those changes about themselves that they didn’t like in the previous year.  Of course, the majority of us then quickly forget those resolutions before the month of January is over.   On a side note, that is why February is the BEST month to go to the gym.  Everyone that set a goal to either go to the gym more, or get in shape, has already burned out by February.  True story.

I digress….

For me, 2013 was about setting realistic goals for myself and trying to change behaviors that I know are more or less changeable.  2012 was a hard year for me, and when I say that it’s because I’m a Type-A perfectionist who sets really high standards for myself.   In the grand scheme of it, 2012 was totally fine and I had no real reason to complain.  But let’s face the facts; it is way more gratifying to complain about things, especially small issues, then just sucking it up and NOT complaining.  It’s just human nature.   For that reason, I mentally went into 2013 with a different mindset – I wanted to set marginally high standards with the caveat that some events are totally beyond our control, and to a certain extent we need to learn how to ‘go with the flow’ and ‘not sweat the small stuff.’  As a kid, my mom always told me that things happen for a reason.  Now, in my 30’s, it was time to actually believe it and embrace it.  Alternately, one could look at my resolution at aiming to be mediocre, at best.  I prefer the former…

My fearless sidekick, Binnie, also contemplates her life in 2013

My fearless sidekick, Binnie, also contemplates her life in 2013

If I had to grade myself over the course of the past year, I would give myself a B/B-.  I’m a perfectionist, remember?!  I had a solid performance in determining what makes me exceptionally happy, and to make sure those things happen daily.   Apparently, I’m not fun to be around when I’m cranky.   As nerdy as it sounds, I made a list of the things that make me happy.  Such things include spending time outside, reading a good book, playing with the dog, cooking with my spousal equivalent and skating (a huge passion of mine since childhood).  I made a point to make sure that I accomplished at least one of those each day.  Cheesy I know, but whatever, my wacky plan worked and I’m totally happy, and everyone around me is happy because I’m not cranky.  Success!

Another one of my 2013 resolutions was to figure out my career goals and make serious strides to achieve them.   I have been less successful with achieving this one. As a side note, I’ve been in what I call the “early-mid year career slump.”  I’ve been mentally beating myself up trying to figure out what it is that I want to do with my life.   Subsequently, I have been asking myself what did I THINK I would be doing at this stage in my life.  Clearly, I never quite thought ahead as to what I BELIEVED I would be or should be doing.  Perhaps, that’s my first mistake.  Lesson learned – think ahead, set goals = career slump avoided.

I have a job, and some would say it’s a good job, but I’ve been feeling less than fulfilled.  I’ve always had the poetic notion that a job shouldn’t be a job; it should be something that you are passionate about doing.  I thought my first step would be to establish what my goals are and what makes me happy.  I thought that doing this would help me see my path a lot clearer.  Turns out that was a tall order that couldn’t be accomplished this year.  So, this particular resolution will be rolled over into 2014 with hopes of more success.

Perhaps, figuring out my career goals was not meant to be this year.  Maybe there is some bigger lesson or opportunity that is meant to happen in 2014.  And, isn’t accepting that fact what I wanted to accomplish this year, after all?

Is he my boyfriend? A brutally honest roadmap to happiness

One of my best girl friends found herself in a sticky situation where she was unsure about her relationship status.  Because this was an issue that came up repeatedly (=daily), and my advice was not taken, I decided to make a visual aid.  Perhaps, that would help her better understand reality – a good swift visual kick in the ass.  It worked, eventually – but not because the chart was faulty (she has faulty wiring).

Maybe you are also perplexed about your relationship and question if it ACTUALLY is a relationship?  The chart doesn’t lie.
Is he my boyfriend

Good ideas stem from ambien

Awesomely old school journal, and home for random stickers

Awesomely old school journal, and home for random stickers

I’m pretty sure I made the decision to have a blog while I was under the influence of ambien last night.  I distinctly remember thinking that this was definitely a good idea and that I have a lot of thoughts, albeit random, that should be put out in some sort of public forum.  That surely, I’ve outgrown my old school composition notebook where I’ve been keeping my innermost thoughts to myself.  It should be noted that some of these innermost thoughts include:

  • Why are pop tarts so freggin’ good?
  • Who the hell was my 6th grade teacher?
  • How many babies have been conceived by listening to Sade?

Groundbreaking stuff, I tell you.

Sometimes, but not often, I ponder the bigger issues.  Because let’s face it, I’m in my early 30’s, so I’m facing the idea of finally growing up and figuring out what I want to do with the rest of life to make sure that its fulfilled with purpose, compassion and enthusiasm.