Throwback Thursday - Would you prefer maggots?

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It was during the era of Mandyland described below that I like to believe Polly was born.  I was in a seriously negative place emotionally and it ended up knocking enough sunshine and sparkles off my eternal optimist to make her tolerable.

Mantel clock
Image courtesy of Lynn Kelley Author

Below is a piece I wrote during the struggle.  

"Lately, I’ve been trying really hard to hold onto my positivity.  I’m a born optimist.  I won the Spirit Award at my high school, and was always the member of my team cheering “We can do it!”  Lately, though, I feel that little optimist inside me dying.  A rollercoaster of ups and downs that have left Little-Miss-Optimist reeling and about to wheeze out her final death rattle, and in anticipation of her death, like a vulture, my internal pessimist is circling.  Little-Miss-Pessimist is closing in and boy oh boy is she CRANKY!

You know those people on Facebook whose status updates proclaim, “Love my life”, or “So blessed”?  They feel so happy and  lucky and thankful that they need to share their gratitude with the world.  

Well, Little-Miss-Pessimist HATES them. Seriously, she wants to punch them in the face and then ask,

“How much do you love your life now?”

Recently, I picked up a bit of on-the-side work for my brother-in-law, requiring me to go through 4 ½ years of paperwork and make note of certain transactional details.  He is paying a VERY nice hourly wage, I can work on it from home (thus eliminating the need for childcare) and it’s the extra income we need right now.

Hooray! Maybe a reprieve for Little-Miss-Optimist?  Just the booster shot of happiness she needs?

Nope, Little-Miss-Pessimist is too strong and the details of the job are delicious fuel for the likes of her.  This job has got to be the most mind numbingly boring gig I’ve EVER had.  Permanent blindness is sure to occur from this project.  I’ve worked 14 hours so far and I’m not even a quarter of the way through.  


Little-Miss-Optimist says, “Hooray, you’re going to make some great bank from this job!”  

Little-Miss-Pessimist says, “I’d rather eat glass!”

Taking a break from the stacks of horrible paperwork, I took my little girl to the park, and while chatting with a one of the other moms she told me her cats had ended up bringing fleas into the house, and ever since the battle against the tiny pests started she couldn’t stop itching.  As she finished her story, Little-Miss-Optimist reared up to offer the following consolation.

While living in Guam, everyone I knew battled against the same innocuous pest.  The common House Fly.  W
hile the battle against the pests raged on I heard a horror story that left my skin crawling.  A couple had bought their dog one of those giant chew bones that last forever, and their dog LOVED his new treat.  He carried it around the house everywhere with him, showing off to visitors and pranching around with glee.   

The dog's masters would smile sweetly at their fury little companion, so pleased he loved their gift, and content in the knowledge that they were the best furparents EVER. 

If only they had known there was a stowaway in the dog’s bone.

See, an adult fly had found the bone the perfect safe and cozy place to lay its eggs.  So, as the sweet dog carried his favorite item around the house, he was unwittingly spreading the eggs everywhere, where they settled into the carpets, and being just as safe and cozy as in the bone, eventually hatched. 

The Result?  Every surface in the small home was infested with wriggling dirty disgusting MAGGOTS!!!

An urban legend? Maybe.

Gross? Um, that goes without saying.

Finishing the story, and ignoring the look of horror on the other woman’s face, my Little-Miss-Optimist took a nice deep breath and gave Little-Miss-Pessimist a swift kick in the pants.  The story was a reminder that even if things seem as bad they could get, they could always get worse.

Because which would you prefer?  Fleas or Maggots?

A little ray of sunshine to brighten whatever pile of crap you are currently dealing with,

Mandy:)"

And with that Polly’s tagline was born.

Crap, fleas, maggots and sunshine, because sugar and spice were just so cliche!

My Fetus was an Alien

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Today Miss M turns 4 and I can't believe it! 

I seems like just yesterday I was pregnant  and having regular ultrasounds to check on her health and progress.

Most resulted in the typical perfect baby silhouettes eliciting the requisite baby shower oohs and ahhs, but then we got this one…

An Alien or maybe an Anteater?

Thankfully the technician labeled it.

Although, the labels definitely make it worse.

Happy Birthday Miss M!  You are sweet and curious and were making us laugh even before you were born.

Oh, and thanks for not being an alien. That would of been really messy! (and possibly deadly).


Throw Back Thursday – Yuck it Up

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Time Tunnel
Image courtesy of Lynn Kelley Author
A little over 2 years ago, I was one of about a million people DESPERATELY trying to rejoin the workforce during the worst economic decline since the depression.  As a distraction and challenge (and because Jessica Made Me Do It) I decided to start a blog, and in a fit of EXTREME creativity I called it Mandyland.

Watch out world, I’m a genius.

This is one of the first entries I ever wrote.  My pain, here for your amusement!  ENJOY!

It had been a week since I had last been rejected and I was taking it as confirmation of my worst fears.  I had zero job skills, was completely devoid of personality and was destined to spend the rest of my days as a Wal-Mart Greeter, and to add injury to insult, I was getting sick.  It was while I was laying on the couch feeling seriously sorry for myself, indulging in Kleenex and hot tea, that the phone rang and the proceeding nightmare began.  A firm I had applied to a few days earlier wanted to conduct a quick over-the-phone interview.

Quietly clearing the 50 year old smoker from my throat, and attempting to clear up the river of mucus flowing from my nose, I dragged my butt off the couch, turned on the personality, and proceeded to answer her questions.  Somehow, I pulled it off because she asked me to come in the next day at 4:00 pm for an interview.

Rule #1 in the Job Hunting Handbook: ALWAYS SAY YES!

“Mrs. Allen, would you be available for a skills test tomorrow at noon?”

“Yes, of course!”

“Mrs. Allen, would you mind running through our company obstacle course, so we can evaluate your problem solving skills?”

“Oh, how fun!  I’d love to!”

“Mrs. Allen, could we please have a sample of your DNA so we can clone you, and get two employees for the price of one?”

“Wow, what a great idea!  Here, let me help you with that cotton swab.”

After assuring the woman on the phone that 4:00 pm would not be a problem, and scrambling for last minute childcare, I felt pretty good, for about a nanosecond.  Then the adrenalin wore off and I started feeling sick.  Actually, I started feeling REALLY sick.  My cold symptoms were rapidly mutating into flu like symptoms.  Nauseous and head pounding my husband sent me to bed.

The next day I felt like death warmed over.  The headache was gone, but my throat felt like sandpaper, my nose was stuffed solid and I was bone tired.  Steering my body toward the couch I tried for a bit of rest before I had to leave.  At about noon I hauled my mouth breathing, hacking, and mucus filled body upstairs to make myself presentable.  Reaching for my hairbrush I glanced in the mirror to find my face was COVERED in a red, raised, hive-like rash!  In horror over my face, I leaned in to get a better look only to find the biggest most disgusting zit of my life growing out of the side of my neck.

I’m NOT exaggerating, this zit was big! Think bug bites, chicken pox, boils!  Seriously, it looked like it was alive!

So, why not just call and reschedule, right?  They would have understood.

ARE YOU CRAZY!?!?

This was a job interview!  An invitation so difficult to obtain in this economy that short of Armageddon, you suck it up and go!

River of blood?  Get a boat.

The sun is blotted out?  Get a flashlight.

Plagues of pocks and boils?  Welcome to my world.  Slap on some makeup and get in the car!

Alright, so off to my interview I go!  Three hours of sleep, breathing through my mouth, sounding like a lifelong smoker, a hideous rash all over my face, and a zit on the side of my neck the size of Jupiter.  Yes siree, I’m feeling confident and ready to rock!

Or maybe someone could just shoot me and put me out of my misery!

I dug deep!  I spent the intervals between questions drinking tea, and discreetly coughing or wiping my nose, while simultaneously trying not to wipe off the makeup covering the pestilence on my face, and in the end my effort was rewarded.  The interviewer loved me and I was invited back Monday to meet with the President and VP of the company.

Yay, a happy ending, right?!  The moral of the story, overcome any obstacle and you will be rewarded!

Well, not really.  All that and I by the end of the next week I’d received another rejection for my troubles.

The butt of an ongoing universal joke,
Mandy:)

Except, in the end the universe actually DID get the last laugh.  Not 3 months later I got a call from this same company.  The position had become available again, and the next day I was hired.  It’s been my Day Job for the last 2 years.

I’m sure the Universe felt the whole incident was character building…

But I’m pretty sure she’s just a vindictive bitch!

Thanksgiving 1.0

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Ooof, it’s been a week full of discouragment, excitment and mucus. The arrival of Fall brought pumpkins in the garden, Mr. Man’s fresh baked bread and the first of the winter colds.

Yet, despite head splitting pressure and a wheezing old man cough I made it through, and today Mr. Man is making a turkey dinner with all the fixings to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving.

My house smells like turkey and fresh baked bread, I’m cuddled under a warm blanket and whether it’s me or the effects of the cold meds I’m on, I’m feel all warm and fuzzy and needing to give thanks.

Here’s the top 10 in no particular order…

A husband who loves to cook. Cause I get to enjoy goodness such as this.


My Garden. I’ve never been a gardener, but I am so enjoying the abundance we are reaping this fall!

  
Sweet unexpected moments like this.


The thrill of a discovering a new creative outlet.


Friends that make me laugh so hard we almost die… TWICE in one day!


Getting dressed up and feeling like a million bucks!


Getting away from it all.


The well-deserved success of my talented friends.


Dandelions on my keyboard.


Creativity. To think outside the box, imagine, take a chance and make it reality. It is who I am, my ultimate passion, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it!


Finally, for a bonus number 11 and in the spirit of “I’m the luckiest Polly ever!” I’m thankful for ROW80. Although this week wasn’t as productive as I’d like (what with officially posting my goals in the middle of the week, and then promptly catching the plague), I can still report the following success,

- I spent approx. 2 hours creating this week.

Despite the lack of concrete success, I can say ROW80 is helping me feel more focused and motivated than I have in a VERY long time and I’m excited to give it another shot this week.

Especially now that I don’t feel like death warmed over.

Goals are Good

Recently, I remembered that goals are good.  Not exactly an earth shattering realization, I know, but it was a major realization for me!

It took several hours of internet procrastination research but finally it I was reminded that ambition and drive without specific attainable goals will get you nowhere, FAST!

In a past life, not that long ago I was a MAJOR planner.

Do this.
Then that.
Then that over there.
And, TA DA… SUCCESS!

It was my natural process until I let myself grow cynical.

Once upon a time, I was young and fresh out of college, with perfect plan firmly in hand, ready to succeed when suddenly…

WHAM!

A major unplanned bump in the road!  Being an eternal optimist, I took the bump in stride, adjusted my course and set out again, bright eyed and full of hope, when….

WHAM! CRASH!

Another bump. Followed by another, and another and another and another….you get the picture.

Again and again the road map to success was ripped, and torn, and crumpled, and trampled, and scribbled on, and mistreated until finally I could hardly remember what the original plan had been and where I’d hoped it to go.

I was devastated and exhausted.

I felt absolutely defeated.

Except really, my life was not nearly so tragic as I make it sound.  I had food in my belly, clothes on my back, a roof over my head and an army of people at my beck and call who loved and supported me 100%.  I had zero to feel defeated about. Looking back I know that my depression was my own making. I wanted to SUCCEED, ACHIEVE and SHAKE THE WORLD! When I didn’t, no matter how many other good things came my way I still felt like a failure.

I still struggle with that, but that's another post.

The final nail in my inner planner's coffin was when I read this…

"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." ~Joseph Campbell

Immediately, I made the decision to toss planning my future out the window. Instead I’d embrace one step at a time, one project at a time, one success or failure at a time. I’d fly by the seat of my pants and roll with the punches.

No plan meant nothing to be disappointed about when life took a u-turn.

Perfection!

Except, now I find myself flitting about, no plan, no path, no production and most importantly NO GOALS!

And remember... GOALS ARE GOOD!

Cue, A Round of Words in 80 Days. Kait Nolan's blogged words of wisdom are very “Pollyesque”, and so it didn’t take long before I was 100% on board with the challenge! (Here is one of my recent favorites)

This is a challenge primarily designed for writers, but the principles could be easily applied to ANYTHING.

Step 1: Set realistic measurable goals.
Step 2: Share goals with others.
Step 3: Check in twice a week to remain focused and accountable.

So here goes,
Goal 1: I will spend 1 hour, three times a week, dedicated to creating. Whether I write, take pictures, design, or craft, I will allow myself time to indulge in my passions without worrying about an end product to show for it.

Goal 2: I will take time to connect to the online community. I will spend 30 minutes every day connecting to brands and bloggers who I relate to, so that we can swim around in our liked minded awesomeness together.

Goal 3: I will write 500 words a week for the “top secret” Jessica and Mandy project. Every project has to start before it can be finished. I hear by pledge to GET THINGS STARTED!

Well, that’s it.

I’m a little late to the party… but better late than never RIGHT?

Wanna dip your toe in the pool too? Visit the Polly Facebook Page and declare to Pollyland your own personal goal.

Hurry before I bust open the #failureismybitch pinata without you! 

It's a Joy-ish Life

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The other day Jessica and I were diligently working away on our plans for global domination new business opportunities, when across from me, I heard a stifled giggle.

Dude, you seriously need to read this!

Coming around our partner desk to see what new source of procrastination inspiration she had discovered, I found what I’m sure was intended as a self-help article written by a by person claiming to be a Joyologist.

*Insert gaging noise* Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Honestly, I applaud those trying to spread positivity and encourage others to live a healthier and more fulfilled life, and I also think that outside-the-box job titles are rad, but seriously???? A JOYOLOGIST?!?!?

THE MADNESS HAS GOT TO STOP!!!!!

Listen closely people. Life is not, nor should it be, all about JOY!

It’s not a joyfest. There is no joy on tap. It is not a 24/7 joy buffet!

This great big thing we call the human experience is filled with a million more interesting, and considerably more useful emotions besides joy.

For example, what about anger?

Obviously, being angry all the time is not useful, but what about when anger motivates? What about the anger motivated by injustice, waste or plain stupidity that churns in your belly until you can’t stand it any longer. It’s this anger that leads to ACTION! Whether you scream, yell, or complete an entire Kevin Bacon in Footloose, dancing your way through an empty warehouse montage; when you are through your anger will thrust you forward, helping you to fight for your cause.

Non-stop joy does not inspire action, it breeds contentment.

Then, what about fear?

“The call is coming from inside the house!” produces blood-curdling fear, but what about the other type of fear that produces more than the basic flight response. You know that squirming tickle in your gut when you are taking a risk? That’s the type of fear that reminds you that what you are attempting is important, and going to help you achieve greatness. It’s the squirm that propels you to prepare and practice. This fear psychs you up and gets you ready for your next big opportunity.

Non-stop joy does not provide challenge, it maintains the status quo.

Finally, what about sadness?

For just as there is yin and yang, good and evil, and life and death, without sadness there can never be joy. Just as the saying goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”, sadness reminds us to cherish the things in our lives we love most. As we move through times of sadness and grief, we come out the other side with a deeper sense of gratitude and renewed life purpose.

Without the bad, there can be no good and thus, no joy.

In the long run seeking never ending joy has nothing to do with seeking happiness.  Killing yourself in order to achieve Non-Stop Joy is about seeking perfection.  The perfect, drama-free, everyone-loves-everyone and nothing bad ever happens life.

Um, in case you missed the memo, a perfect life does not exist.

Life can be unfair.  Life can be exhilarating. Life can be a bitch, but no matter what, it's better than the alternative.

So, to all the Joy Junkies out there trying to achieve the impossible Polly says,

STOP!  ARRETEZ!  HALT!

Instead of wasting your time trying to find a legal, non-narcotic way to be blissed out all the time, how about accepting the value of a Joy-ish life.

A glimpse into MY Joyish Life


Believe me, by embracing a Joy-ish existence, you'll actually end up with a life filled with more joy in the long run.

Heh, what can I say, sometimes life can be a little weird like that.

The Door Exists!

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So, a few days ago I posted Ponderings.  An illustration of all the bizarre and defeating shit that runs through my head on a regular basis.

After reading it, Jessica (business partner, best friend and previously stated biggest fan) loved the "What the Hell!" message, but also felt the need to smack some serious sense into me.

Deciding physically harming her business partner might hurt business, she created this for me instead.


 DUDE, IT'S THE DOOR!
And guess, what?
  

There was no handle!  All I had to do was reach out and rip,
and what was waiting for me on the other side?
 

Yup, Polly now officially has her own pom-poms!
 


 

 
The cookies were even warm!!! 

Perfection! 
 
Just the perfect kick in the pants reminding me to practice what I preach,
ignore the Doubt Demons and just, 
 
BELIEVE!
 
Happy Friday!  Remember to do something this weekend to remind yourself of your own unique AWESOMENESS!
 
 

Ponderings

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In January I took a writing class. 

Not aimed at teaching style or structure, this class helped me overcome writer’s block, accept less than perfection and most importantly, enjoy writing again.

On the first day of class, our instructor handed each of us a piece of paper with a door on it. The first line on the page read,

“This is the door to a new writing life, waiting to be opened by you.”

Our instructor said, describe the door.

I wrote,

“This door is boring! My door is not brown! It doesn’t look anything like an average door. My door is exciting. My door has polka dots and glitter. Behind my door, Achievement, Accomplishment and Success are enjoying Mocha Lattes and fresh chocolate chip cookies. My door is begging me to open it!”

I know with 100% certainty that this reaction was Polly’s. My alter ego has always believed I am sassy, creative and unique. Polly is the force deep down inside me, who throws caution to the wind.


Sometimes Polly's ideas take over and ooze to the surface:)
She whispers,

“How about lime green eye shadow!” 

and

“You could totally pull off Fire engine red highlights!”

and

“I think it’s time you got something pierced!”

Polly believes I'm an edgy, unique, badass artist. Polly can’t wait to open the door and RUN through to the other side with a bottle of wine and screaming, “Let’s get this party started!”

I often wish Polly was in charge.

If Polly was in charge, the door would never be closed in the first place. The door is occasionally closed because sometimes I’m scared.  

I’m scared if I open the door reality might sneak in. My dream bubble might burst. Achievement, Accomplishment and Success might tell me to get lost because only cool badass artists get to have Mocha Lattes and eat fresh chocolate chip cookies, and I am clearly an uncool boring poser.  

Sometimes, I think we all live too much under the fear of the "What Ifs", instead of listening to the inner voice screaming "What the Hell!"

Sometimes, I get up the nerve to throw the door wide open, but I think the handle might be stuck.

Or maybe, Polly has the key.

Failure is my Bitch

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So far, in my young life I have failed A LOT.

I’ve failed tests, I’ve failed classes, I’ve failed diets, I’ve failed interviews, I’ve failed business attempts and I’ve failed personal challenges.   

Sometimes I’ve failed by just a little bit. 

Other times I have fallen on my face so spectacularly that it took almost a full 10 count before I could get back up.

That is, when I did get back up. 

Unfortunately, there have been lots of times when I just gave up.

With many an excuse and justification, I convinced myself it wasn’t worth the effort to try again.

Do any of these sound familiar?

“I haven’t trained in a week, it’s too late to start again now, maybe next year.”

“I haven’t updated my blog in 2 weeks, I guess I’m not cut out to be a writer after all.”

“I cheated on my diet 4 times today, I might as well just give up and order a pizza. Maybe I’ll try and start again next month.”


Knowing we won’t have to face Failure again, isn't it so much easier to just give up? 

I’ve been thinking about Failure a lot lately. As I inch ever closer to beginning the 32nd year of my life, I’ve got A LOT going on.

I’ve started Polly, I’ve partnered in business with my best friend, and I’ve committed to a few really big projects.

I’ve got lots of big plans, even bigger goals, and almost astronomical dreams and as I plot and plan and set goals for my success, I can see Failure just around the corner.

With a  face full of smug satisfaction, he’s waiting for me. Knowing we will rendezvous very soon, in situations both big and small. With our history firmly in mind, he can’t wait to assert his mastery over me. Sure that I am his slave, he can’t wait to disrupt my momentum, destroy my dreams and drink in my self-loathing.

Failure is a sadist and he knows I am the perfect mark.

There is no way to avoid Failure. I know as I work towards achieving my goals we will meet again and again, but this time he will not have his way.

This time around I WILL succeed. I’ve got my Big Girl Panties on, and I’m not playing around!

Forget “Try, Try Again”, it’s time to GET SHIT DONE!

This time I'm going to punch Failure in his arrogant face and step on his neck as I hurdle towards success.

No whining. No excuses. Think big and make it happen.

This time is different.

This time,

Failure is my bitch!


Join me? #failureismybitch

Desperate Measures

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I am a wife and mother.

Miss M is almost 4.

Mr. Man sometimes acts like he is almost 4.

Difficult doesn’t even begin to describe the challenges of finding time to work or create.

I know I am not alone in my struggle.

Lucky for us all Polly is all about problem solving.

For each and every one of you who are like me and just need a little time to yourself I present the “Do Not F-ing Disturb” sign.



Found in an Italian hotel room on my first trip to Europe in ‘97, I’ve been holding onto this little beauty knowing that someday it would come in handy.

Unlike your average “Do Not Disturb Sign” this one is sure to get the message across.

If your loved ones cannot understand any of the 4 languages politely asking them to get lost and give you some space, the little white man is sure to drive the message home with his non-so-subtle universal gesture of,

“Please F@#K Off!”

Worried this sign will mortally offend your visiting Mother-in-Law? No need!

Explanations that the little man is politely asking for quiet, with a shushing finger to his lips are easily believable.

Which was most likely the original designer’s intention…

But really?!?!?!?

You see it too right?

Live and Learn: A Must Read

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Being a completely addicted bibliophile, very rarely can I walk into a book store and leave with ONLY the book I went in to buy.

On my last shopping trip I found this little beauty in the bargain pile, though I can't for the life of me understand why!

The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, JR.

Written and Compiled by H. Jackson Brown, J.R., this book contains life lessons from people of every age.  Here are a few of my many favorites,

"I've learned that you'll never see a U-Haul trailer behind a hearse." - Age 59

 

"I've learned that if you throw ten socks in the laundry, only nine will come out." - Age 27

 

"I've learned that little boys cannot move about the house without making car sounds." - Age 36

 

"I've learned that a woman who can potty-rain triplets can do anythng." - Age 29

 

"I've learned that there should be an Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not whine." - Age 62


H. Jackson Brown is amazing and has written many great books containing simple daily reminders of life lessons.  Remarking on his books, Jackson has said,

"Most of us know what we need to do to make our lives more fulfilled and useful, but sometimes we forget. My little books are gentle reminders of those simple things which, if done well and in a spirit of love, can significantly change our lives."

Well ain't that the truth!

What little life lessons have you learned so far?







Parenting Shortcuts

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This past winter our house went through a cycle of illness that never seemed like it was going to end.  Miss M would get sick, then I would, then Mr. Man, then the cycle would start all over again.
After what seemed like the 100th go-around, enough was enough and Mr. Man and I decided it was time to disinfect the house. 

At the end of our long day of cleaning, we climbed into our freshly cleaned bed and Mr. Man shared the following parenting brilliance…
Me: Ahhhhh, I love the feel of clean sheets!

Mr. Man:  It’s so nice to know the sick has all been washed away.
ME:  Definitely!  Between washing all the sheets, and Lysoling everything nailed down, we have got to be officially germ free!

Mr. Man:  Ya, that’s why I Lysoled Miss M. Just to be on the safe side.
ME:  Um, huh?  You mean you sprayed her toys and stuff right?  You didn’t actually spray Lysol on our child?

Mr. Man and Miss M approx. a million Parenting Shortcuts ago
Mr. Man:  No, I meant what I said.   I told her to close her eyes, and then I sprayed her right in the face.  That’s where the sick was coming from, with the never ending running nose and constant coughing so it seemed like the best way to get rid of it.  Besides it says right on the bottle that it kills 99.9% of germs.  

Well, how can you argue with logic like that?

What are your favorite Parenting Shortcuts?

P.S.  Mr. Man was just pulling my chain, he didn’t actually spray Miss M in the face with Lysol… but knowing him, I’m sure he thought about it!

"Crazy" Inspiration!

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As mentioned in “Not Actually Polly”, Polly manifested when I finally realized most of what I was taught as a child was true.  My Mom, featured in “My Mom Hates Whistlers”, is an eternal optimist.  My Dad, equally optimistic, is also the main source of “crazy” in my life.  The majority of the bizarre sayings and outside-the-box philosophies taking up space in my psyche come from my Dad.

{I’m also lucky enough to have an amazing Stepdad and super positive Stepmom, who are also huge influences on my life.  You’ll get to meet them too eventually.  Yes, I know. I’m a spoiled brat.}
Anyway, today is my Dad’s birthday.

So, in honor of “Mine Papa”, I wrote this poem.  About who I am, and where I come from.
A little bit silly, a little bit sappy…. Just like Dad.
I am from the North.  From the land of Tim Horton’s and Labatts.
I am from a military base.  Ever shifting.  Changing and unknown.  Yet grounded in a foundation of belly laughs and dancing during the dishes.
I am from a tribe stretching beyond genetics and DNA.  Whose commonalities long ago overshadowed their differences.
From “Busier than a one armed paper hanger” to “Herds of And-Or, roaming the Polyester Fields of Upper Canada”, I was raised on lessons both true and ridiculous. Often, and best of all, lessons that were both.
I am from Alberta and Ontario. Europe and the U.S.  Sure in the truth that home is where your heart is, where you sip tea after dinner with those who love you best, and where you always say “I love you” before going to bed.
I am from wherever the kitchen party’s in full swing, where the spoons are cracking and the laughter’s flowing.
Wherever my tribe gathers, that’s where I’m from.
HAPPY, HAPPY Dad!  Thanks for helping inspire me everyday!

What, about you guys?  What's a source of inspiration in your life?

Introducing Mr. Man

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When I was a mere slip of a girl, contemplating the man I would someday marry, I knew there was only one quality that would be 100% non-negotiable in my husband-to-be.
He had to be able to make me laugh.  If he didn’t have a great sense of humor, all bets were off!
It didn’t take long after meeting Mr. Man before I knew he was a keeper.

Mr. Man and his little pink gun.... okay it's actually mine... that story coming soon!

Seriously, the things taking up space in my husband’s head are so random and bizarre, that I couldn’t even begin to make them up.  I’m regularly left laughing so hard I can hardly breathe, or shaking my head wondering if medication might be a good idea.
I got a preview to the fun to come one night while we were still dating.  He had come to visit me at my University in Ottawa, Canada.  It was November, and as is normal for Ottawa that time of year, it was hand-of-death-gripping-your-very-soul cold.  So, having a handy mr-man-heater in my bed, I was cuddled up extra close taking advantage of the welcomed warmth.  
It was sometime around the crack of dawn when something jolted me out of a deep sleep.  Blinking in the dark, I realized my back was cold, meaning my mr-man-heater had moved.  I rolled over so I could cuddled up next to him again, but instead of finding Mr. Man snoring peacefully beside me, I found him sitting up facing my wall.
Blinking and squinting some more I reached out to ask him what was up, when I noticed I had somehow entered into the middle of a horror movie.
See, Mr. Man wasn’t just sleep-staring at the wall acting out some sort of crazy dream.  Nope, my Sweetie, was sleep WRITING on the wall.  As I stared in horror, Mr. Man moved his arm back and forth over the wall with an imaginary pencil in hand, while mumbling something to himself.
To this day Mr. Man can’t believe I didn’t put an actual pencil in his hand to see what he was writing.
I guess I’m just a little crazy that I didn’t actually want to KNOW what might be POSSESSING my then boyfriend!
Again and again before this creepy occurrence, and after, Mr. Man has played out his vivid dreams in real life.
Whether hysterically urging me to hurry because the bedroom window is broken and the room is flooding.
Or
Pointing at the ceiling screaming “NO NOT YOU… YOU!  YA YOU!”, to later inform he had the all important task of choosing who would go on the spaceship to Mars.
Or
Vehemently stressing to me at 3 am, while I pleaded with him to “Shut the Hell Up and go to sleep”, that I “just don’t understand”, whatever weird situation is ACTUALLY going on.
Even while sleeping, living with Mr. Man is always a laugh.
So, being that Pep Talk Polly is always looking for new Sources of the Ridiculous to bring you that laugh when you need it most, I’d like to present,

Mr. Man Mondays!

Every Monday, on the day when most of the population needs a giggle almost more than they need coffee (relax… I said ALMOST), Polly will bring you a little taste of the Madness of Mr. Man.
Believe me when I say, his kind of delightful crazy covers a broad range of topics and will be just the ray of sunshine your Monday needs!
And because Polly LOVES sharing, she wants to know if any of you have a Mr. Man or Ms. Woman of your own.  Someone whose bizarre Shenanigans leave you laugh so hard you pee a little.
C’mon, share the wealth!  Polly’s Monday was a rough one and she could use a chuckle!

Tactical Retreat

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“She generally gave herself good advice (though she very seldom followed it).”

--Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 2
Just like Alice in Wonderland, thanks to Polly, I regularly give myself very good advice…

But like my 3 ½ year old I need to work on my listening skills.

In March I wrote an article for the SKORCH Network entitled Super Woman Syndrome. In retrospect I think it was actually a letter from Polly, begging me to PLEASE slow down and stop trying to do it all. A smack-up-the-side-of-my-own-head to remind me that I am NOT Super Woman, I do NOT have super powers, and that I should stop being so ridiculous!

Ummmm ya, again see lack of listening skills mentioned above.

By the end of May my list of regular obligations looked like this…

1. Bring home the bacon 9-4 at the day job.

2. Strive to be a good Mother by not warping Miss M too drastically.

3. Give Mr. Man enough attention to assure he’d stick around long enough to continue funding my addiction to somewhat questionable literature.

4. Connect with friends often enough to assure they’d continue to support my dependence on wine of questionable quality.

5. Write witty and thought provoking pieces for Taboo Talk column at SKORCH Network.

6. Eat, bathe, sleep, repeat.

7. Remember to connect with parents, brothers and sisters to occasionally enquire “What’s up?”

8. Create amazing content for new baby “Pep Talk Polly”.

9. Promote aforementioned “new baby”.

10. Achieve Global Domination.

So, when my partner in crime Jessica Kane mentioned partnering to build an agency specializing in web design and social media strategy, I should have said NO.

I should have said HELL NO!

(Full Disclosure: It was actually my suggestion, so I should have said HELL NO to myself, even as the idea formed in my brain!)

Except, for a second I forgot I wasn’t Super Woman, and Polly cheered “WE CAN DO IT!”, and I got super excited about working with my best friend and the thought of working the day job forever made me want to cry….

So....

I said “YAY, let’s do it”.

After which the full implications of the situation hit Polly smack in her “We can do it” face, and she stopped cheering and began cursing like a sailor. Polly knew the implications of my commitment way before I did.

I tried to keep all the balls going for about a week, with Polly’s curses getting louder and louder in my head. Then, finally, with white flag flying, I ordered an immediate tactical retreat.

Some things got ignored.

Projects were put on the back burner.

I wasn’t everything for everyone.

And guess what? The world didn’t end.

In fact by stepping back and slowing down I finally got a crystal clear picture of exactly where my efforts should be placed. I am now 100% laser focused on what I need to do to achieve my goals.

Sometimes, you just need to step back to see the big picture.

Refreshed, refocused and ready to spread her rays of sunshine to the furthest corners of crap, Polly’s back!

Are you ready for some fun?

This Rant Brought to You Today by the Letter “Y”

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Polly believes a good rant is healthy and productive. Helping to purge and focus the mind on the solution instead of the problem. Cathartically cleansing, venting your frustrations is like cleaning out your closet. Once all the negative thoughts and feelings have been thrown out, you’re left feeling refreshed and reminded that some things are not as annoying as they seem in the moment.

Today’s Pep Talk Polly rant is brought to you by the letter “Y”.

As in WHY!

Why “Microsoft Hourglass”, why must you endlessly trickling your digital grains of sand when I haven’t asked you to do anything?
There has been no action executed.

I have not clicked anything!

I have not opened or played or saved or printed or ANYTHING!

I simply moved my mouse, and there you were.

Seemingly innocent, and yet annoyingly disruptive.

Want to know a secret “Microsoft Hourglass”?

I can’t get anything done when you appear!

Taking your sweet virtual time.

Loitering on my computer screen.

Processing.

Pondering.

Producing NOTHING of worth!

YOU ARE THE PRODUCT OF A MACHINE "MICROSOFT HOURGLASS"! THERE SHOULD BE NOTHING FOR YOU TO PONDER!

Each time you appear, when I have done nothing to summon you, you make me wait for NOTHING to happen.

This has happened 7 times today “Microsoft Hourglass” (yes, I counted).

This is your final warning.

Buzz off!

Don’t make me hit ctrl+alt+delete!

How about you guys? Can you relate? Got a completely pointless rant? Polly wants to hear it!
I just hope the “Microsoft Hourglass” will let her read it!

The Exorcism of Jessica Kane

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With the exception of my family who are either bound by blood or the legal system to love me and remind me how cool I am, my bestie Jessica Kane is hands down my biggest fan. It was Jessica who harassed encouraged me until I finally started my first blog, and then commented and ooh and awed and cheered every word I wrote until the doubt demons shut the hell up and left me alone!

Well, most of the time anyway. What can I say, it’s not always easy to practice what you preach, and maybe that’s why she is always so supportive, because no one knows how hard it is to walk the walk better than my partner in crime Jessica.

A marketing, social media and design genius, she has built a million websites and brands for a million different people (including this one, she created this website!). She is also a confidence crusader, encouraging women to love themselves and believe that they CAN be the most confident girl in the room, on her personal blog Life & Style of Jessica Kane.

Yet, even though she strives everyday to follow her own amazing advice, she often needs a serious smack gentle reminder from Pep Talk Polly to help her focus and get back on the road to world domination.

Recently Mrs. Jessica Kane was honored by the Portland Business Journal with a 2012 Women of Influence Award. A huge honor for someone so young, who has already accomplished and achieved so much. My honor was that I got to be her plus one, and thank goodness for that. As the day of the big event dawned every doubt demon inside Jessica’s head came out to play, and I got a phone call from my panicked best friend where she fretted and focused on every tiny little thing she could except…

The amazing part about her being honored with an award!

Faced with a raving lunatic person in need Pep Talk Polly came to the rescue and reminded Jessica again and again to stop stressing out and remember everything was going to be awesome because , SHE WAS GETTING AN AWARD!!!!

Here she is with her award.  So you’d think that would be it right? With honor in hand, Jessica would finally realize her own genius and the doubt demons would be banished for good. That’s how it happens in the movies right?

Except, doubt demons are sneaky! They surfaced again while we were having coffee after the banquet. Sitting across from her discussing our upcoming new business venture, he doubts began to resurface. She questioned her abilities, her expertise, her own marketability with clients.

She didn’t have a degree, or a book… or obviously A CLUE!

Trying desperately to talk some sense into her I found myself picking up her award and sort of waving it at her, trying to get her to focus on it. Trying to get her to recognize what she had just accomplished.

My theory for what happened next was that the positivity of the award and my words began to burn the doubt demons, because in the middle of my diatribe Jessica yelped,

“Jeez, Mandy! Stop waving that thing in my face. I feel like it’s a crucifix or something!”

Seizing the opportunity I thrust the plaque further into her face and shouted,

“Out Self Doubt Demon! Out! I will exorcise you from this amazingly accomplished woman so that she might recognize her greatness! Out in the name of Pep Talk Polly!”

Overkill, I know, but the resultant burst of laughter was perfection, and got her to stop stressing about the "what ifs" and instead enjoy her amazing day!

Sometimes we get so hung up on the little things, and the what ifs, and the things we haven’t done yet, that we forget to acknowledge the amazing things we HAVE done!

I'm as guilty of this as anyone!

It's imporatant to have someone who can give you a smack when you need it and remind you to enjoy your successes instead of always focussing on the things not yet accomplished.

Afterall, what are best friends for?

Can you relate? Are you familiar with the Doubt Demons? Need an exorcism?

I think Jessica's next treatment will involve a chain to hang her plaque around her neck.

Hey, if Flava Flav can rock it, so can Jessica!!


The Tale of the Magic Hair Dryer

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It’s Friday. A perfect day for a perfectly random, and slightly pointless story.

When I was a kid my Dad had a T.V. in his living room that I think might have originally been owned by The Flinstones.  It had a dial for the channels, and an on/off button that clicked in and out, and doubled as the volume control.  It was white with a 19 inch screen and had an honest to goodness rabbit ears antenna attached to the top.  Generally the only thing modern about it was that the picture was in color.

My sister Myriam, who was 6, didn’t care how old the tiny T.V. was.  All she cared about was that she could watch her cartoons in peace, while the rest of us sat in the other room and enjoyed our questionably more mature programming on the big modern T.V.

On the surface it seemed like the perfect arrangement, but there was one problem.  Some vital piece inside the tiny white dinosaur was broken, and no one was brave enough to open it up and find out what the problem was.   All we knew was that the T.V. would randomly shut off, and could only be coaxed back on by clicking the on/off switch in just the right way.
Usually with your tongue stuck between your teeth and your eyes squinched just right.

One day when the T.V. randomly clicked off while I was watching it, I got up to go through the motions, and I found an area on the back where the plastic appeared to be melted.  Could it be the T.V. was overheating, and that’s why it was turning off?

Well, remember, this is “The Tale of the Magic Hair Dryer”…

The thing is, and don’t ask me how, but someone in our family figured out that if you took our old Hair Dryer and aimed it into the vent on the back of the T.V. it would somehow fix whatever the problem was, and just like that you could flip the T.V. back on.
No joke, the Magic Hair Dryer looked just like this!
Incredibly, the Hair Dryer also worked on my Dad’s falling apart, P.O.S., blue car.  If the car wouldn’t start, Dad would run an extension cord outside, plug in the Hair Dryer and aim it at the engine.  After a few minutes, he’d get behind the wheel and viola, the car would start.

Now that I’m an adult I’m sure it probably had something to do with drying out the old car’s sparkplugs, but as a child there seemed only one reasonable explanation.

The Hair Dryer was magic!

Again and again, whenever the car wouldn’t start or the tiny T.V. shut off we’d run to grab the Magic Hair Dryer.  Then my parents got a really nice tax return, and replaced the car and the tiny T.V., but I always wondered what had caused the melting on the back of the T.V.

Recently while visiting my sister, the topic of the Magic Hair Dryer came up, and this is what I found out.

One day Myriam was watching her favorite cartoon when “click” the T.V. turned off.  With a cry of rage, she stomped off to retrieve the Magic Hair Dryer, and for 5, 10, 15 minutes she aimed the hot air into the back of the T.V..  Nothing happened.  The T.V. would not turn on!  Completely frustrated, and yet still sure of the Hair Dryer’s magic, Myriam perched the enchanted appliance on the back of the T.V. and went to find a snack.

Mystery solved.

How about you guys?  Any family mysteries? Any weirdly magic appliances?

Please don’t confirm that my childhood was as weird as I think!

The Bringer of Nightmares

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Being a creative type person I am both blessed and cursed with an overactive imagination.  For instance I am 31 years old, and I am terrified of Zombies.

Yes, I realize Zombies don’t really exist.

Yes, I know that likelihood of a Zombie hiding in my shower, lurking at my bedroom window, or bursting through my front door is pretty much nil.

Yes, I am aware that the really scary, superfast, rip your face off in the blink of an eye type Zombies you see in the movies are 100% fictional.

For goodness sake, I’m a grown adult!  Of course I know these things, but it doesn’t change the fact that any time I am witness to any type of Zombiecentric entertainment what-so-ever, I will spend the remainder of the night jumping and twitching at every shadow and noise in my bedroom.

Like I said, overactive imagination.

So imagine my horror as I was trolling through Etsy, my not-so-secret obsession, and I found this.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/85408605/weird-vintage-rushton-stuffed-animal

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!!!!  Call an exorcist, because I’m about 99.99999% sure that this “toy” is possessed!

Really, who would give this to their child to play with?!?!?

http://www.etsy.com/listing/85408605/weird-vintage-rushton-stuffed-animal

Oh, and in case you simply must own this horror movie waiting to happen, you’ll be happy to know it is currently on sale,  That’s right, now for the low, low price of $8.00.  According the listing that is a savings of THIRTY DOLLARS !

Just think, with the $30 you save, you’ll be able to invest in a metal lock box.  Believe me you will need one to make sure this tiny ambassador of pure evil doesn’t sneak up on you when you are sleeping and…

STEAL YOUR SOUL!!!

What about you guys?  Ever found something like this?  A toy so creepy it needed to be locked in a box and buried at the bottom of a deep dark hole, for the sake of all humanity?

Sweet Dreams my Lovelies!

My Mom Hates Whistlers

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Yes, you read that right. I said Whistlers. 

As in "Those-Who-Purse-Their-Lips-and-Expel-Air-Causing-a-High-Pitched-Birdlike-Noise"

Being a grown woman who has not lived with her mother for many years, this bizarre little factoid had completely slipped my mind, and for very good reason.

My Mom is one of the most positive people I know, and what could be a more positive activity than whistling?

I mean Whistle While you Work, Whistling Dixie, Whistle Your Cares Away...  

So recently when I was reminded of her irritated response to this seemingly benign and joyous expression, I had to seize the opportunity to get to the bottom of the mystery.

First, proof that I am not completely deluded when I say, my Mom is 100% upbeat and positive…

Mom, would you say “glass half full”, or “glass half empty”?

Definitely half full. There’s still liquid in the glass for goodness sake. Drink and enjoy!!

Okay, good. Just what I expected you to say. Next, what is the single most important philosophy you live by?

Enjoy each day as it happens. Don’t worry about the past, there’s nothing you can do about it except learn from your mistakes. Don’t worry about the future as it hasn’t happened yet and you’re wasting the day that you have in front of you.

Yup, I gotcha. Right in line with the woman who raised me. So, in the spirit of Pep Talk Polly, what is the best thing someone can do, in the moment, when they find themselves in a “pile of crap”?  

Laugh!!! It clears your mind and helps you to deal with whatever crap life hands you.

Perfect! Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty. You like music, right?

You bet. I love to sing along with a good melody.

Good so my memories of you singing to Miss M when she was little weren’t just the delusions of a sleep deprived mama! Thank goodness for that! So, if you love music and singing, what gives, what do you have against Whistling?!?!?

There are very few people who do it well and it hurts my ears. It’s like nails on a chalk board.

I see. So you’re sort of a whistling snob.  Only the best for your ears.  Do YOU know how to whistle?

A little, but I’m terrible at it.

Interesting!  Could it be your dislike is a little bit of jealousy?  How about when the Dwarves sing “Whistle While You Work”, in Disney’s Snow White? Feel any urges to duct tape their mouths closed?

Not really. The Dwarves do it well and it’s fun to listen to. It fits the theme of the story and makes you tap your feet to the music.

Ah, I see! So, it’s not that you hate all whistling, just the people who suck at it.   Whenever I whistle I inevitably hear the disapproving, “Amanda, really?!?”, so I guess that's you saying MY whistling sucks.

Ouch, gotta say that stings just a little! Hmmmmmm, how do you feel about humming? Is that okay?

I don’t mind humming unless the person is lousy at it and/or hums the same thing over and over and over again. If that’s the case, they should be shot along with any whistlers!!

Yikes, message received! No more whistling in front of you! I’ve got a child to raise!

Or maybe I’ll get some lessons. Anyone know a Master of Whistling?

In the meantime, in honor of Mother’s Day, what weird pet peeve does your Mom have?

Here’s to you Mom, I promise I will refrain from whistling in your honor today.  LOVE YOU!!!