Tuesday, January 18, 2011

They call it "poker" because ... someone has to get poked.

As some of you may know, I run a monthly poker game.  It's very small stakes, but generally speaking it's a good time.  I started playing in this particular game back in 2005 when it was hosted by someone else after I broke my arm (crashed my motorcycle - ouch!) and couldn't go to my regular bowling league.  It was made up of mostly Troy's friends (all men) and I have to say that when I started playing I was quite intimidated.  I had never played before and I was the only woman in attendance, but as I said, it was very small stakes, so it was a great way to learn the game.

Over the next few years I became a regular attendee and in late 2008, the host decided to give up the game.  After some discussions about where we might move it, I volunteered to have it at my house.  I really have the perfect "man cave" if I wanted to deck it out (and if I was a man).  It's the back room of my house that has tall ceilings, a big screen TV and a poker table I since made for the game.  Basically the once-a-month poker game is the only time this room gets much use.

Although I inherited the game and its guest list, the attendees have changed a bit in the interim.  You know how it is - people drop out for a bit, others hear about the game and get added to the list, etc etc.  So a little over a year ago, we were going through a transitional period and decided to get some new blood involved. 

One of the new people (we'll call him Mr. A.) was a friend of one of the regulars, but I swear from the moment he walked in, we were like oil and water.  I like to run a tight game (show up on time, don't splash the pot, pay attention to the action if you're in the hand and try to obey some basic poker ettiquite).  It's my house and I didn't feel like I was asking too much.  After all, we'd all been going along fine for a couple of years without any complaints or issues.

Let me interject here for just a moment....an aside, if you will....These are generally great guys, but they are guys and have those "guy" genes....  You know the ones that give them the ability to have selective hearing and an inability to put the seat down.

Anyway... From the moment Mr. A. stepped in, apparently all of my rules were seemingly ridiculous to him.  I would (nicely) remind him REPEATEDLY not to splash the pot and to keep his cards to himself when there were other people still in the hand.  Also, when the "blinds" haven't been put out appropriately, I would gently remind them (ALL the guys at some point - NOT just Mr. A.) to blind up.  The problem it seems when I was NICELY or gently saying something, was that somehow my voice was out of the range of their selective hearing.  Consequently, by the third time I would say something, it seemed like I was yelling.

Among the other things that Mr. A. (who was also a chauvenist) would do that drove me insane would be to completely ignore that I was IN a hand.  Now, it's not like I was hiding my cards, so if he had simply paid attention, this wouldn't have been an issue.

So, finally, after 18 months or so of biting my tongue (sort of - I can be a bit cheeky at the game.  It IS poker, ya know), I had had it and let him have it in December.  After being ignored for the bazillionth time, I got mad and told him so.  It was a great release to me and apparently didn't seem like a big deal to the other guys at the game, but Mr. A. apparently took exception to it.  When I sent out the evite for the January game, his response was clear that he would no longer be in attendance at any of "my" games.  I then heard it through the grapevine that he decided to stop coming because .......wait for it.......

I was MEAN to him.

Seriously?  Wow!  If only I could use my power for good rather than evil.

I could dwell on this and be concerned that I had alienated someone (this is the thing I would generally do in the past) and bend over backward to get him back to the game even though I don't actually want him there.  But no.  That's not part of Heather Version 2011.  After all, as I said in one of my recent posts, I am not responsible for the happiness or unhappiness of others.

Instead, I will try to put out good thoughts into the universe and open up his spot to whoever it is that the universe things should fill it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Madison Monday 1/17/2011

I will probably never  have any children of my own.

Saying this, even virtually, brings a tightness to my chest and a lump in my throat.

I often wonder how many more times I will have to think or say it before I will numb to the notion of it.

I never imagined myself with a brood of children running all around me, but I never pictured myself with no children either.  I guess I just always thought I'd have plenty of time.

Funny thing about time.  It, like an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, goes a lot more quickly than we expect it to.

But instead of thinking of what might have been, I will instead relish what is.  That sweet little niece of mine with that brilliant smile, who, in spite of not coming from me still shares some of my idiosyncrasies.

When she, like me, doesn't want to go to sleep at night because the world is an amazing thing full of wonders to behold, I hold her and rock her and assure her that it will all still be there for her to explore when she wakes in the morning.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Madison Monday

For those of you who were regular readers, I was absent for quite a while towards the end of 2010.  LOTS of things happened and I will go into those at some point when I feel like the time is right, but one of the biggest additions to my life was my niece, Madison!  I know there are TONS of Mommy bloggers out there, but I'm not sure how many Auntie Bloggers there are.  I think it's time for me to become one of the first.  I plan to do this in a little segment I call Madison Mondays!!

I don't live in the same city as the squirt, but because of modern technology I am usually graced with pictures of her via text message several times a week.  Yay!

So, if you don't wanna see all her baby goodness, check back here on Tuesday every week.  In the meantime, here's an array of photos of Miss Sweetness herself from birth to 4 months.


The formula for a new year

It's a New Year!  It's as close to a fresh start as the perfectionist in me feels like I can get!  There something very exciting about a new calendar blank and fresh with possibilities!

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions really.  I feel like they are just a way to set myself up for failure.  The perfectionist in me often uses any slip up when it comes to resolutions as a way of giving up.  In some ways, it's an easy out.  But this year, maybe I'll make an exception.  After all, I can't really become a new me without doing some things differently, can I?

I've been giving this some thought for a little while and I've come up with a few things to start the launch of Heather 2.0.  I'm sure these things will be tweaked throughout the year, but this is what I have to start:

*  I will remember that I am not responsible for the happiness or unhappiness of others.  It is not my intention to bring sadness or pain to other people, but when their need for me to say "Yes" conflicts with my need to say "No", one of us has to be disappointed and for too long, it has been me.  That sounds horrible, but it's actually a way of being kinder.

*  Every day I will do things that show and reinforce that I love myself.  These things includes, but are not limited to:
     *  Getting enough sleep.
     *  Getting enough exercise.
     *  Eating the things that will keep me healthy and energized.
     *  Taking my medication(s) daily as prescribed.
     *  Saying "No" when "Yes" would detrimental to my well-being.
     *  Forgiving myself when I inevitably fail to do any of these things.

It probably doesn't seem like very many resolutions right now, but they, as I am also, are a work in progress.  Besides it doesn't do any good to give away all my secrets right away, does it?

Ever have one of those days?

I know I can't be the only one.  I know we all have THOSE days.  Here is a brief look into my day:

*)  I take a look at my checking account online and there's a lot less money in there than I remember having.
*)  I remember that it's the time of year when I get my annual review, so there is a glimmer of hope.
*)  I remember that last year I didn't get a raise because "times were tough", so another beam of light shines hopeful for me.
*)  The boss calls me in for the review and explains that, once again, I won't be getting a raise because I didn't have enough billable hours to warrent one.
*)  I explain to him that throughout last year I continually went to him during my down time to explain that I didn't have a lot to do.  After all, he's responsible for bringing in business.  I'm simply responsible for getting the work done.
*)  He says, "Yeah.  Still can't do anything for you."

Let me just interject here.  I am SOOO thankful to have a job at a time when so many do not.  I am just miffed that the actuary profession as a whole is not very good at keeping equality of the sexes in mind when paying their employees.  I also don't have all of the letters behind my name that I want.  As a result, I am seriously underpaid.

*)  Luckily for me, there are people out there who are willing to help me out during these time.  (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
*)  The old me would have stewed about this for a couple of days.  The new me is starting to study and spending every possible moment doing billable work.

Now if only I can avoid feeling like a loser because I had to ask my parents to help me financially.

On the bright side, this is a new year and there's always tomorrow.

....Now back to that billable time!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Polar Bear Ride 2011

So many things have changed in my life since last year (more on that later, I swear!).  For 2011, I want to shake off the old and create a whole new.  New what?  Me?  Life?  Outlook?  YES!  I want to redefine who I am, what I want from life and how I can make the places I inhabit better every day.  It's a tall order, I know, but I think I'm up to the challenge!

So, how do I kick off the new year if I want a new me?  I step out of my comfort zone!  In this case, I stepped WAAY out of my comfort zone!  And I have to say, I was richly rewarded by the experience!

When I started riding my motorcycle 6 years ago, I participated in a "Hangover Rally" with Troy on January 1st, 2005.  It was my first rally ever and quite an experience.  It was a balmy 50 degrees that year (balmy for January in Indiana, anyway!) and the group of riders that were on the poker run and at the rally were definitely not the type of riders I hang with now, but it was a great time anyway.

This year, I decided to up the ante.  A local group of riders that I've sort of been stalking on Meetup.com was planning a Polar Bear ride starting at Monument Circle in downtown Indy.  This sounded like an interesting event and although I'd never met any of the group and didn't have anyone who was going to ride with me, I decided to give it a go!  All week long before the January 1st ride, the weathermen kept calling for great weather (in the 50s) on Saturday, January 1st.  The more they forecasted, the more excited I got about the possibility of an off-season ride!  So, after a gorgeous day near 60 on Friday, December 31st, I prepped my bike for the ride the next afternoon.

Cut to Saturday, January 1st.  Ahem....the 50 degree temps?  No sign of them!  At about 10:30 on Saturday morning I checked the forecast and it was a bit bleak to say the least.  The high for the day was going to be about 39 and it would be dropping to near freezing around 5 PM.  My first instinct was to scrap the whole thing.  After all, it would be a much nicer day all warm and cozy in my house, right?

But wait!  No!  2011 is about a new me and trying new things!  How could I start that off right if I just stayed home?  After all the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, right?  I may be crazy, but I'm not insane YET!  So I threw caution to the wind and piled on another layer of clothing as I set out on my motorcycle headed for downtown Indy.

Now, I only live about 6 miles from the circle, but I have to say it's a LONG 6 miles when the temps are low enough to see your breath.

Upon my arrival, I spotted my riding partners and they were a motley looking crew!  I was younger than them by a good 20 years and, oh yeah, I was a girl!

After a few moments of some awkward glances (you'd think these middle aged men clad in black leather had never seen a girl dressed in pink ride a motorcycle!), I introduced myself to the group and was instantly accepted as one of their own.

The goal for the day was to ride 1 mile for each degree of temperature.  It was assumed that each rider traveled about 10 miles to get there and 10 miles to get home (lucked out on that one!), so we rode a little less than 10 miles to a small pub near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where we ate, drank loads of hot coffee to warm ourselves up and enjoyed some great conversation getting to know one another.  After a few hours, we departed company and headed home.

The riders I spent the afternoon with were not people I would have necessarily been inclined to talk to, but that made the day all the better.  I had a wonderful time getting to know them and I was proud of myself that I stepped out of my comfort zone and hopefully made steps toward a new me in 2011.

A Happy New Year!

Despite my apparent (2 1/2 month) absence (eek!), I'm not really gone. My house has been a crazy place and I've been feeling beyond overwhelmed, so I checked out for a bit.

But now I'm back and energized to start fresh. After all, if 1/1/11 isn't a great day to begin anew, I don't know when is. So stay tuned in the next couple of days for my plans to tackle the new year as a new woman with a new outlook!

I promise there will be excitement, intrigue, colossal screw-ups and maybe even some web-camming (if I can get that silly thing figured out!).

For those of you who have stuck with me, thanks so much!


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