Thursday, September 23, 2010

How does that saying go? "Short term pain, long term gain." URGGG

Recently I read a very inspirational book "The Compassionate Samurai" by Brian Klemmer. Brian Klemmer owns a business "Brian Klemmer and Associates" (very appropriately titled) that sends keynote speakers to different parts of North America to motivate people to create amazing results within their own lives. I am a complete sucker for this type of thing, (it is very hard to turn down the opportunity to interact with someone who claims to have all of life's answers) so as soon as I heard one of Brian Klemmer's associates was coming to Calgary for a 2.5 hour talk I signed myself and entire chiropractic office up for a fun night of personal growth and motivation!

We scheduled the last hour of our day so we were patient free and headed off to hear Mr. Klemmer's associate provide us with insight on how to improve our lives. When the talk first started it seemed like your standard motivational lecture, over fifty percent of the audience was over forty and female, the associate was a peppy, professional, Caucasian male in his late thirties or early forties (I need a prescription update on my contact lenses but I almost thought he may be a "Touch of Grey" consumer, gotta appear young yet credible) and the venue was similar to a hotel conference centre. The associate began  by asking several general questions that he expected verbal replies to in an attempt to generate some excitement and audience participation. As I looked around I noticed most of the forty plus females faces were illuminated with hope and anticipation, I thought some of them were about to either have seizures or stokes, the associate's verbage seemed to touch them as if this were some sort of divine intervention and some of them started to scream and prance around like fifteen year old girls. You know when your up way too early on Sunday morning and there is some priesty looking fellow on TV pounding people on their skulls and healing them of chronic diseases as they pass out on the floor? Kinda like that!

This being said the associate had some great advice on how to set goals and follow through, he suggested that we make goals that are realistic and hold ourselves accountable by involving other people. He also suggested that we create a devastating reprimand (like cleaning a strangers house, SICK!!!) if we don't follow through and that we reward ourselves with something fun (like a 2'6 of premium vodka - or something that is meaningful to oneself) if we hit our target. I thought to myself for a second trying to think of a non pretentious goal and realized that maybe my fiances could use some work!? I was remembering the look on the face of a recent date as I gleefully recounted my last 5 shopping sprees and he casually sipped his whiskey on the rocks  but paused to raise one skeptical eyebrow and demand I restate my source(s) of income. (I think he thought I was smuggling illegal substances across the American boarder or something - if I were with that attitude he sure wouldn't be getting any!!!!!!!)

I got home that evening and studied my bank account, I scribbled  numbers on a sticky and continued to rework them until I had a manageable budget. My reward would be the mental stability incurred from not living paycheck to paycheck (I couldn't think of a non monetary reward, so I did what I do best and generalized), my reprimand would be in a month handing my debit and credit card over to my parents and living off of cash. If it came down to that I'm sure my father would be overjoyed every second time I see the man he utters something like "Melanie ...I wish........more restraint.......your life.....BLA BLA" (the "....." represents the parts I don't remember)

I started my budget last week, every Friday I will dedicate thirty minutes (including a trip to the bank) to get my allowance in order and ensure the money for my fixed expenses is where it should be. 1 week down and so far so good, but I will make note that the words pride and budget are not synonymous with each other.

First off I keep my "allowance" money in a small plastic bag in my purse (I have to segregate it from everything else to keep me mentally on track)  I don't get my daily Starbucks anymore instead I  visit Abdul (seriously his name is Abdul like on the Simpsons!!!!!!!) at the local Huskey for a nice filtered coffee. This week I ran into the Huskey and got a large coffee with one cream and two sugar and sleepily went up to pay, plastic money bag in tote. Abdoul greeted me with a chipper "Good morning sweet young lady that will be $2.50." I looked in my plastic bag and started wearily counting my nickles and dimes. (much to the disapproval of the six construction workers behind me) Abdul started to furrow his brow after two minutes as I have always paid debit in the past "Lose your debit card?" he questioned in a concerned tone. "Nope! Just working on being more of a Frugal Fred!" I responded handing him the change.

In addition to the embarrassing five minutes spent counting my pennies during every purchase I sometimes need to trick myself into not spending. I do this by hiding my plastic bag in various places around the condo and in my car (don't get any ideas the $4.57 isn't worth it) hoping that I'm too lazy to find it and spend my money. I used this tactic on Wednesday of this week but it worked too well - I cannot remember for the life of me where the hell I put my baggy!!!! I have been using dimes from my change dish to supplement until Friday when it's allowance day. I even contemplated joining the squeegee kids on the corner of 14th St. and 17th ave so I could have an extra buck or two but quickly thought of that South Park episode - you know the one with the bums that stumble around asking "Can ya schpare schome chaaaaaaaaaaaangggge." and decided that my pride did not need to hit a new rock bottom this week. AAHHH hopefully next week will be less embarrassing, I'll keep ya'll updated! :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Generation E - "I want to express my gratitude but sometimes I have a bad attitude."

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As a youngster I was always encouraged to attend university or some sort of post secondary institution. Parents tend to put emphasis on what they value. My mother grew up in rural Nova Scotia, she was 1 of 7 children on a single income and as a result she didn`t finish high school (she did eventually go back and finish after I reached adolescence). My father went to university and graduated with two degrees which I think both my parents attribute our comfortable lifestyle towards(combined with a lil blood sweat and tears of course). 

A million or more times I heard "Get good grades or you can't go to post secondary, if you don't go to post secondary do not expect to get a good job if you don not get a good job you WON'T BE WEARING THOSE DESIGNER CLOTHES THAT YOU CURRENTLY SPEND 100% OF YOUR PAY CHEQUES AND ALLOWANCE ON".  (the words in capitals are the words that I actually heard). This really hit home when I was about seventeen and barely had enough credits to graduate. Realizing that not graduating high school would probably result in me working at McDics for the rest of eternity I quickly finished one work experience module (at McDics!!) and graduated with 100 credits on the nose. I headed out to the work force promptly (with the intent of becoming a millionaire) only  to discover that the house, car and fancy wardrobe doesn`t really come with answering phones for eight dollars an hour. Within a year I found myself prancing giddily off to Sait with big dreams of becoming a bean counter and finally owning all the glossy new material possessions that haunted my nightly slumbers.

I`m not one to exhaust myself just for the sake of the education process. To be frank I can think of better ways to humor myself than dropping $20 000 and ripping my hair out through: 4 economics courses, 6 accounting courses, 7 managerial type courses and 3 human resources courses. In my mind there was a direct relationship between the amount of letters behind ones name and the amount of numbers gracing the little piece of paper that emerges from the bank machine and an inverse relationship between the years of education you have and the amount of tedious cleaning you find yourself doing daily. As a result of these thoughts, upon graduation, I found myself with an ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY. ``I deserve`` were words that frequented my mind. 

I deserve - a fancy job, I deserve - nice material possessions, I deserve - not to budget, I deserve - Starbucks everyday.

I perceive that I share this mentality with quite a few new graduates. If it`s not ``I deserve`` it`s ``I already know``. (this does not apply if you are becomming a chartered accountant as you are aware of the years of articling that lie ahead). We  think our twenty thousand dollar education has immediately granted us rights and freedoms almost like some sort of personal constitution. Our degrees and diplomas give us automatic credibility and automatically open doors and windows in our lives right? WRONG. That is why I refer to this posting as ``Generation E`` - Generation Entitled. We feel that putting four plus years of elbow grease into our degrees counts as paying our dues. This is an incorrect assumption, the Ferrari does not come with the degree sadly. It may come at some point following but that is up to you. The real work begins after school ends. When you head out into the corporate world to look for that shining $100 000 a year opportunity you may still end up becomming the office bitch, and your daily tasks will include but not be limited to ordering fancy coffees that you yourself cannot afford from the Starbucks up the street and cleaning up the remains as your experienced counterparts strut out the door to their big wig meetings, leaving you to eat the Kraft dinner you made for $1.50 alone at your desk.

The thoughts alone in the paragraph above make me realize that my value of a good education and what my personal definition of  wealth and success  is not kosher. I worry about a highly educated society if adults and children have the mentality that education leads to a better material life. Who will do the dirty jobs that they feature weekly on Discovery channel? I`m entitled, I don`t, I won`t!``. When we realize we are all far to educated to clean and scrape out sewers, being as smart as we are we will outsource such tasks to India, saving us money; (our labour costs will be far to expensive) but creating a whole new set of challenges for the western world.

This thought was sparked by an interview I saw recently on CBC where Peter Jennings was interviewing Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff regarding the conservative budget. Michael Ignatieff was criticizing Harper saying that instead of investing in corporate tax cuts the federal government should be investing in education as a grass roots solution (education equates to a higher quality of life), which got me thinking about my education and why I actually went to school and how I felt after I completed school. Now not everyone in the world is as greedy as I have come to be (thankfully) but unless the grassroots solution focuses on emphasising to our population that the quest for a higher level of education is about more than a means to a shinier ends and changing our definition of wealth and what creates happiness I think we are in for some interesting future challenges.

By the way I am by no means blaming my parents for my entitlement mentality, it is how our entire society presently views the outcome of education. Education=fancy career=material success=power and status.

I think that if we could change our North American values system to equate successful relationships (spiritual, intimate, friendship, work) with material gain we could use education as a means of increasing people`s awareness about the world around them and how they to better communicate with the people they interact with daily effectively decreasing the growing number of 20-30 somethings roaming the concrete jungle snarling ``I DESERVE!``.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Not by the Hair of My Chinny Chin Chin!

It's quite ridiculous the amount of time we spend on looking purdy! Even a more conservative woman who sees the insanity in extreme vanity needs to take time out of her day to moisturize and control her body hair so she can put her best face forward when she ventures out into the world. It's something we as a society have come to expect. When you initially meet someone you categorize that person in your mind based on their level of personal care. I'm sure some of you are thinking "I only judge people by the color of their soul" response..."your full of shit.". It's basic human instinct people. If you meet a person who is more on the "unkept" side of the spectrum (unless you exist there yourself), and you are forced to interact with that person you may have an epiphany "they are a great person"  - on the inside. Yet you still may not invite them down to the pub for drinks with  your friends. Who wants to be the one with the smelly, toothless friends. Not I. I think the man who romps through my dumpster "Fred" is a wonderful character. He makes me feel better about my self when the odd wine bottle or pop can ends up in the trash, because I know its not really going to end up polluting the environment. That being said just because Fred seems decent during our brief interactions doesn't mean I'm going to invite him out for my best friends birthday martini's. Now I know your thinking - that situation is pretty extreme, I'm aware, but sometimes you need to be extreme to get your point across.

     Beauty much similar to farming is subject to "the law of diminishing returns". If you double the seed there is no guarantee you will get twice the yield. If you look like you spend every ounce of your free time on your beauty regiments you will not always get the best reaction from others. Disclaimer: This statement does not apply to you if you are a stripper or work at hooters. (society just assumes you have no outside interests, they don't expect more from you.) People at the "overly kept" side of the spectrum scare of potential mates. The thought of spending hours and hours waiting while your partner preforms their daily routine just so you can walk down the street to grab a cup of joe isn't highly appealing. People may also stereo type you as being vein, they may assume the depths of your run about as deep as a kiddies wading pool.

Both of my examples demonstrate that you need to take care of your personal hygiene but you should probably avoid trying to look like Pamela Anderson (for lack of a better example) if you want to be taken seriously. I was recently attempting to take care of my personal grooming when I had a traumatizing experience. I was on my way to the grocery store to pick up yet another bag of salad and a side for my very undomesticated dinner. When I noticed one of those cheepie nail/hair removal salons. Giving myself a quick glance in the rear view mirror I thought, my eyebrows could use maybe a little grooming so pulled into the nail salons parking lot.

 The salon looked quite standard upon entry, several little nail stations located at the front and about four old style massage chairs at the back where pedicures are preformed. One of the tiny workers glanced up at me asking "What you want" in her sharp broken English. I pointed to my eyebrows. I'm not very good estimating how much English someone who speaks broken English actually knows, so pointing is my preferred method of communication in such situations. The worker nodded and yelled to the back in a foreign dialect. A sweet little lady appeared and walked to the front with a quite happy looking grin on her face. The other lady gestured towards her and barked at me "follow her, she speak no English". Great I thought, she could remove half my eyebrow and I have no way besides making an angry face to show her my displeasure.

 I followed the lady back into a small, bright room with what looked like a doctors examining table against one wall. Now this wasn't my first rodeo, so I hopped up on the table and lied down. The lady cut the waxing strips and started examining my face to plan her method of attack. She very meticulously waxed both of my eyebrows and plucked the strays the strips couldn't remove. Most males out their are probably grimacing, but I assure you having you eyebrows waxed is very minor. She handed me a mirror so I could view the results, I beamed, perfect arches! Mission accomplished. I was about to hop off the table and stride up to the front proudly, to pay and receive compliments from the other workers in the salon. I know they do it just so you'll come back, but I take it where I can get it. Before I could swing both legs over the side of the table, the lady grabed me by the shoulder and moved her face closely to mine to examine something. I wondered if she was looking at a horrific mole that had been growing under my nose that I haven't been able to see all these years. The lady squinted as she leaned her face closer to mine and uttered the word "lip". My immediate reaction was "Do I have something on it" as I clutched my face, visioning the milk moustache commercials of the 90's in my head. She uttered the word "hair" in response. AHHHH hair!!!! So not a milk moustache a real moustache I thought. (I don't even drink milk so I don't know why I keep referencing that) I was so horrified by the thought that I had a real live moustache growing unannounced to me right under my nose that I laid back down on the table without a word and tried to hold back tears. She cut bigger strips this time and proceeded to wax the right side of my upper lip. When she tried to show me the first strip she pulled off my face I looked away in horror. I could not face the quantity of hair, all I could vision was half of Burt Reynolds upper lip in that little strip. She continued on. Since this was my first lip waxing rodeo I had no idea when it would be over. She finished the left and right sides of my face and proceeded to apply some wax under my chin. At this very moment a single tear slid down my cheek. So as well as my moustache I have chin hair. I'm not even close to menopause yet. What the hell! She beamed and offered me a mirror. I took it and examined my face. AHHH I thought as I viewed the red ring circling my mouth. I was horrified. I gave her a courtesy smile and hopped off the table. As I made my way to the front I got the usual compliments from the salon employees. I wanted to throw a fit. My face was bright red why are they complimenting me - oh ya they want repeat customers, DANGIT.

The redness on my face did eventually dissipate, so that evening I ventured out to a friends house warming party, where I shared my experience with the other women there. My mind was immediately put at ease as when the twenty somethings readily dished about the curly hairs they have found protruding from their chin and other inappropriate areas on their face. (much to the horror of their husbands, fiancees and boyfriends ahhh ahaha) Moral of the story is if your in your twenties and you are offered a chin or lip wax. Take it! As Dr. Phil says can't change what you don't acknowledge. Words to live by my friends.

P.S. - You may notice my impeccable spelling! I found the spell check button!!!!!!!! :-)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

To blog or not to blog, that is the question!

Welcome family, friends, neighbours, coworkers and the random stranger(s) out there to my blog!!!!!! - "The Contorted Lenz" - Beta version 1.0. When I first thought about writing a blog (about a day ago) I questioned myself  "do I really have that much to say about the world and  life that people would be interested enough to actually read" ......I pondered for a few minutes while sipping my venti vanilla soy americano misto....hmming and hawing out loud, much to the dismay of the random stranger(s) (yes shout out to the ones reading this) in Starbucks and then it hit me like a ton of bricks...or a tonn of caffeine; which could be entirely possible since I did accept the barristas offer of that fourth shot in my americano. IT DON'T MATTER. It don't matter! My blog ain't here to impress nor is it here to entertain. It is in existance so I can say what I want, when I want, to whoever is willing to read it.

Now a couple quick disclaimers and general notes before we get to the meat and potatoes (of course)

1. My posts may not always be very well written and half the time they may not even make that much sense!! Just to throw it out there - I pretty much almost failed grade 12 english, I definitly failed the poetry module and the english I was taking wasn't even the smart english, it was the english for the people still figuring out the difference between nouns and verbs. Yup.

2. I have never won or even entered a spelling bee. This blog does not have spell check, so I don't want any haters being critical of my poor spelling. I was raised (as many of you were) in the word processor generation. I am definitly not responsible for the details of spelling all the words in the english language. That is why computers were invented, who wants to waste their time with pesky details such as spelling. Now to be fair I don't  really know what the capabilities of the site are, but unless there is spell check on this baby don't expect the bigger words and even the smaller words to be spelled correctly.

 3. English is quite challenging with all the different versions of words that mean the same thing - homophones I think they are called. (I was paying attention!!!!!!!!) Such as pair, pear and pare. Waist and waste.  Too, too and two. Don't expect me to contextulize those words correctly. I ain't no Robert Munsch.

4. While I do believe there is a time and a place to ensure you are politically correct, it is not the top priority of this blog. When you are in a professional environment or at an intellectual event of some kind it is wise to try to be sensitive towards others and maintain your reputation by watching your tongue. If you currently are or have future ambitions to become a politician you should probably refrain from using phrases or words that have negative conotations for certain groups on your blog. Watch yo'self! That shiat could come back and bite you in the ass like Paris Hilton's sex tape. I however do not ever desire to be a politican and will use the words in my vocabulary as I see fit.

5. The facts and topics discussed by yours truly in this blog may not always be accurate. I try my best but everything I write on this screen is all based on my interpretation of what I've read. I don't have a great attention span so sometimes I develop my own opinions before I've fully read material. Don't argue with me or correct my facts! This isn't your blog, it's mine. Get your own!! Or how about writing someone who cares such as the good folks at Wikipedia. That's where I get the majority of the fuel for this fire anyways.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way. I know you are all dying to know why this blog is called "The Contorted Lenz Beta Version 1.0" and not just "The Contorted Lenz" - allow me to enlighten you! While I have interest in blogging and expressing my creativitly through written material I do not know if it's really a long term interest. I tend to get really excited about new ventures and expell all my energy quickly having none left for regular maintenance. So enjoy this while it lasts! So with that I look forward to either posting or not posting more random/eclectic thoughts, feelings and expressions of self.

Don't let the door hit you on the way out now!