About Me

Some of you know me from my old blog "Moving to Morocco" where I wrote about meeting my husband and, you guessed it, moving to Morocco. Well, we're back now, and I want to write about other things (but yes, we're still happily married). There's no real subject to this blog. I just want to write. If you have a subject you'd like my opinion on, just let me know. I also plan on doing advice posts. If you have something you'd like an outside opinion on, e-mail me anonymously at nicegirlatl@hotmail.com! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another One, or Two, Opens...

A few posts ago, I wrote about losing my job. Looking forward to finding new opportunities and staying positive. Four weeks after being "let go", things started changing for me.

I sent out what seemed like thousands of resumes. Applying for jobs that were farther than I'd really like to travel, and for jobs I knew people with more experience were also trying to get. I applied through Careerbuilder, Monster, Indeed, Craigslist, and company websites. I filled out dozens of applications and aptitude tests.

One week after becoming unemployed I applied for a job that was just a few miles from my house. I went on the interview and felt like it went GREAT. The next day I found out I didn't get the job. I was pretty sad because I felt like that job was perfect for me, but I didn't let it get me down, I continued with my search. Two weeks later I interviewed for another company about 10 miles from my house I also found through Craigslist. The interview went pretty good and I was called in for a second interview. That afternoon I was offered the job. The job was set to start two weeks later on June 20. I was disappointed at the salary offered, but knew I couldn't hold out for more money in this economy. The company seemed fantastic and all was set to go for me to start on the 20th.

Three days later, I got a call from the first company telling me the person they hired didn't work out and they'd like to offer me the job, starting on June 20th. I quickly accepted because the position seemed to fit me better and I really felt in the interview that this was the job I was meant to have. I turned around and called the other company and regretfully told them I was afraid I would have to rescind my acceptance of the job. They were so nice about it and told me if anything changed with the job offer, to call them, because they'd love to have me on their team. I wished them the best of luck in finding someone that was as excited to work there as I was.

I was flown up to Pennsylvania for training for my new position, and after one day, I knew this was the company that I was meant to work at. I love the actual work, the environment, and the way the company treats their employees. In preparation for training week, many people from corporate called me to thank me for accepting their offer and to welcome me to the company. They were very efficient in making sure all paperwork was sent to me immediately for payroll and benefit purposes, and I truly felt welcomed and wanted. I felt as if they were treating me like I was doing them a favor for working there, as opposed to acting like they were doing me a favor for employing me.

I had such a good time in the office when I was training and the girl showing me the ropes was an absolute delight. I couldn't believe just how lucky I was to get a great job with a great company in a great location. It just seems like I am getting what I deserve because I did the right thing. If I learned anything from this experience, it's that, although I got fired for standing up for Muslims (and I would have done the same for Jews, Hindus, or anyone for that matter), and while it was hard to comprehend that, it is ultimately what led me to a job I'm confident I am going to be happy with.

God is good, and I owe it all to Him.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Things NOT To Say When Someone Dies

Death makes everyone uncomfortable. There is never the perfect thing to say. Some people just don't say anything because they're unable to find the words. Over the years I've heard in person and read on social networking sites, comments people make to friends who've lost loved ones. Brothers, Sisters, Parents, or Children. I think it's in everyones nature to try to ease the pain of the person that is grieving. You want to make them feel better, but we need to realize there is absolutely NOTHING that will make someone stop grieving and say "oh, why didn't I think of that, now I feel better".

The comments I've seen, I know are of the best intentions, but reading from the outside, seem so cold. You cannot say to a mother who has lost their child "God doesn't make mistakes, it was in His plan", "She's in a better place now", "Everything happens for a reason", "At least you can have more children", "You will see this as a blessing one day", etc.

As a mother who has been faced with losing their child, I can assure you that pain and fear was NOTHING in comparison to someone who HAS lost their child. Step back for one second before you write that comment and ask yourself, "Would I be thankful right now if God took my child from me"? If you answered anything other than NO, you're lying to yourself. No one cries when people die because they're happy they're in heaven. They cry because they are sad, and they will miss them, and they realize they'll never be able to talk to that person, hug that person, kiss that person, and in some cases see their children grow up..

Again, I know people say these things to be supportive, but in speaking with a mom who lost her child, I realized that the way I feel about it, others feel about it too. That mom told me when people said things like that to her, she just said thanks, but it honestly just offended her. I assure you, if I ever lose a child, I WOULD let you know just how rude you were being if you told me that he's better off dead, which is essentially what your saying when you say "he's in a better place". To a mother, the best place a child can be is here, now, and with me. No two ways about it. Eventually, you can come to terms with death, and accept that your baby, sibling, or parents have died and may be in heaven, but hold off on those comments until the grieving person mentions it first.

So you're probably wondering, since I keep talking about what not to say, what I think is acceptable. I am by no means an authority on this. I personally feel like there is absolutely nothing you can say to change how someone is feeling. The first step in dealing with someone who is grieving, is to validate what they are feeling. Show that you care. Show you are there for them. Show them that they are NOT alone, no matter how alone they may feel. For instance you can say "I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. I cannot imagine the amount of pain that you're in right now. I want you to know that you don't have to be strong right now. Take time to grieve and please know that I am here for you and praying for you and your family. If you ever need to talk to, or cry to, someone, please call me any time of the day or night."

Let's just learn to be more caring and less cliche...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Extreme Couponing

I'm always looking for ways to save money. I've toyed with couponing before but when Extreme Couponing came on on TLC, I got a renewed interest in really doing it. Seeing that first episode I was shocked at just how much money these people saved. Seriously? Getting $800 worth of groceries for $3? Hell yeah I'm in!

I started getting the Sunday paper and clipping coupons. I started visiting websites that would show you what coupons to use when. Tricks to save the most money. My first trip I saved $45 dollars, and spent around $80. Not bad. The second week of my couponing adventures is when reality started setting in. There were items that I wanted to get, but couldn't because all of the extreme hoarders couponers had been there before me. They were taking every last one of an item, leaving none for those of us that wanted a measly one of them. This wasn't on one item, it was on several. The fun of saving money started to become a fight to get there before the people that needed 78 bottles of mustard, simply because it was free or close to it.

I came home and after a little questioning on the internet, I realized I wasn't alone in my frustration of not finding any of an item that was on sale. The popularity of this show on TLC is starting to ruin it for us that don't coupon just to get a stockpile of 32 years worth of tampons, and more bbq sauce than an average town could use in a lifetime. 57 bags of croutons? Really? How many different ways can you possibly use a crouton? Buying diapers simply because you *might* have a kid one day? Could you please leave a few of an item on the shelf so that others may partake in the enjoyment of saving a buck or two?

I asked the cashier at the register just how many people have started extreme couponing in the past few weeks. She shook her head and said "you wouldn't believe the people that come in and get four carts overflowing with only 6 different items". It led me to wonder why there aren't limits set to how many of an item you can buy, or why these extreme couponers aren't calling the store ahead of time to let them know they intend on purchasing every.single. roll of toilet paper in the joint. I'm sure the store could arrange to get an extra truckload in for them.

I've also asked around to my friends that are couponing about just how much they're saving on things they actually use. One rule I've set with couponing is to not purchase anything I wouldn't normally purchase. Most coupons are for junky food that I normally don't bring into my home. On occasion I will buy snacks I wouldn't normally buy, just because they end up being the same price as things I would get, but generally speaking I have only been able to save around $30 - $40 per week. I'm not complaining about that, because that's a large amount of money I've basically been throwing away all of the weeks I didn't clip coupons.

I think that this show just sets a tone that the normal average family could save like they do, but unless the normal average family has an extra bedroom to turn into a small grocery store, and are willing to stop eating meat (meat rarely, if ever, has coupons) fresh fruits and fresh veggies (same as the meat), then this wouldn't work. And to the people committing coupon fraud and even flaunting it on the show....you're stealing. Plain and simple, stealing. Not saving - STEALING! And now the grocery stores across the country are starting to change their coupon policies which negatively effects those of us that are just trying to get what we need, not what we can stuff under our kids beds or in our attics.

I will continue to coupon probably for the rest of my life now, but I'd never spend 60 hours a week on it. And on some level, I feel like the people depicted on this show are no different than the people depicted on the other TLC show about hoarders. I believe its some form of mental illness. Not one person I've ever talked to would consider keeping that much stuff in their house, no matter how cheap or free it was. And I sure haven't met anyone who'd consider dumpster diving for coupons acceptable!

Couponing is a great way to save some cash, and it can definitely be done, but just be realistic and don't expect to save 98% off your grocery bill.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Morocco Featured on US TV

The first show I remember featuring Morocco was Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Especially after living there it was fun to see what locations and what foods would be featured. That show was aired shortly after I returned to the US. I figured it'd be one of the last times I'd see a show about Morocco, but I was wrong.

In 2010, Jessica Simpson had a show on VH1 called "The Price of Beauty" where she traveled to different countries to see what women do to be beautiful. It is always intriguing to me to see how other people see Morocco, and how the Moroccan people are portrayed on TV. I was surprisingly impressed with this episode, other than Jessica showing up to a conservative Muslims house in booty shorts and high heels, but I'm sure that she wasn't trying to be rude, just an oversight.

Then Americas Next Top Model visited Morocco for their final four episodes of this past season. I actually got to see a different side of Morocco through this show, because obviously, I wasn't really into the fashion scene when I was there, so it was really cool to see how the fashion industry is in Morocco, and the photo shoot in the desert on the camels was just beautiful.

Most recently, The Real Housewives of NY went to Marrakesh, Morocco. I never watch that show, just because it's too much drama for my taste, but if something is on about Morocco, I can't NOT watch it! I loved seeing them walk through the Jmaa El Fna. And the one girls description of walking through the souk and having "sensory overload" is so true. There is really no other way to describe it. When you walk through and you see all of these vibrant colors, and you smell all of the different aromas coming from the grills in the middle of the square, and you feel all of the silks and the woven rugs - it's just a lot to take in at once. Then you see the monkeys and the snake charmer and you feel excited and then scared when the monkey jumps on your head! You hear the men playing their drums and the whole experience just takes over you! The two episodes of RHONY that I watched actually made me miss Morocco the most. I assume because they were seeing it as tourists and were there for a vacation. But one thing I want to make clear to anyone who read my old blog about Morocco. The hammam they visited is more spa-like than the REAL hammam. A hammam like they went to is luxurious and more than likely very expensive. It's geared toward tourists, as very few, if any, actual Moroccans visit hammams like that.

Coming in June there is a new show on ABC called Expedition Impossible: Kingdom of Morocco. I am very excited about this show. Mostly because it's going to highlight some of Morocco's different terrain. From the commercial I know they'll be in the Sahara, but I'm also assuming they'll be doing some activities in the Atlas Mountains as well. I'm sure I will see parts of Morocco I've never seen and it's going to be exciting!!

I'm so happy that Morocco is becoming a go-to place for TV. There have been a lot of Movies filmed in Morocco, but now that TV is starting to focus on the country, I'm sure more people will be intrigued and inclined to visit there. The more tourists, the more money, and the better for the country's economy. Anything that's bringing a positive light to the country I fell in love with 4 years ago, and now consider my second home, is OK with me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

When One Door Closes.....

I recently lost my job. In this economy and the small pool of jobs available, most people would not be taking it as good as I am. I lost my job due to no fault of my own. I went in everyday, often times putting work ahead of my family. I've always felt a real responsibility to do a great job at whatever task is at hand. Whether I'm enjoying it or not. I've always made a great effort to have a smile on my face and push through the day positively regardless of what may be going on in my personal life. I've proven myself time and time again as a loyal, committed, conscientious, and hardworking employee, so when I lost my job for standing up for my family (respectfully) when disparaging remarks were made about them (Muslims), I was shocked.

When I came home and told my husband, he was so supportive of me. He told me other opportunities would present themselves to me and that while the job was paying the bills, the environment in which I worked was eating away at my soul for two and half years. He said that I deserved better, and that I would receive better. I realized that he was right. And somewhere inside I already knew that, but it was so comforting coming home and hearing him tell me that everything is going to be OK.

I've been looking for a job now for a few weeks. Like I said earlier, the pool of jobs is small, so I don't expect to find something right away. I will continue to send resumes and fill out applications for as long as it takes, but after a week, I realized that what I want to do is write. I have a great story to tell, and I just need to get it on paper. I feel confident that I will find a job. A great job that I will love, but I feel that the real door that is opening for me is the opportunity to work on my book. The last four years of my life have been a rollercoaster. Good and bad, but all of the bad has made me appreciate the good, so I'll take it!  I just haven't had much free time to work on writing. Now I do, and if I don't utilize this time, I will regret it.

For now, I'm loving hanging out with my kids. I get to see my husband more often, I get to cook special meals that take to long on a normal work day to prepare. I get to spend more time at the gym. I get to do things I WANT to do. At the moment, I am looking at this time as a vacation to revitalize myself. So at the end of the day, I guess I am thankful for what happened. Obviously there are negatives to the situation, but if I dwell on those, I will sit at home worried and feeling sorry for myself. The positives are that I can go to sleep at night knowing that I did everything I could to be a great employee, and that without losing my job, I wouldn't find the great job I'm going to get soon, and I wouldn't be able to get my book going.

I once read a post secret (www.postsecret.com) that said something to the effect of "I still think I'm going to accomplish something GREAT in my lifetime.....and I'm already 54". That one secret inspires me. It reminds me that while I may be accomplished as a mom and a wife - career wise, I have so much more to prove and I will never stop striving to accomplish something GREAT in this lifetime, even if it takes me the next 30 years.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Losing a Chubby Toddler

Actually, I didn't really lose a chubby toddler, I've lost the equivalent to one. I've lost just about 40 pounds over the past 5 months, I will know the actual figure on Saturday when I weigh in, but close enough to claim it! I've also lost around 46 inches. That is almost 4 feet of fat gone! I am very very proud of myself because I've been overweight for a long time. Well, I'm still overweight now, but I am still going to the gym regularly and eating a healthy diet, so I'm going to continue moving in the right direction. That direction is my ultimate goal of losing 72 lbs. It seemed almost unattainable in January when I started this path, but now that I only have only 32 pounds to go, I can see the finish line.

I don't have workout buddies. When I go to the gym, I rarely ever talk to anyone. I'm very focused on getting done what I need to do. I have not fallen in love with exercise yet, and it's highly doubtful I ever will, but I do see the necessity in it and I can tell when I've not worked out for a day or two, my body craves the exercise, although my mind hates it! I think it'd be easier if I had a friend to keep me on track, a friend who I could work out with and we could keep each other accountable. I do have a couple of friends online that are going through this journey as well and we like to update each other with where we are. It's so encouraging to see others succeeding in getting healthy with me.

For now my motivation comes not only from within, because honestly, sometimes I need a push. I watch weight loss shows and get motivation. I think about contestants on the biggest loser who are 700 pounds and running on the treadmill. I think about people on Heavy who've lost half of their body weight by being focused and working hard. I've watched Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, and seeing what a transformation these people can make in just a year really inspires me to keep going.

I will never pretend that I have all the answers, because I don't. I have bad days and days I am just sick and tired of working out and eating healthy. Sometimes I want a piece of cake. On those days I have a BITE of cake, and then move on. I've finally come to realize that screwing up once, doesn't blow all of the work I've put in and I can start from the next meal doing it right again. At this point I've put in a lot of effort and I won't give up.

 I love giving tips to people about the things that worked for me. But not all of us are the same, so I can just offer encouragement for what they're doing. And then there are those people that aren't ready to lose weight. Sometimes I find myself holding back from telling them that it's hard but it's doable...the time is NOW!  I know that nagging someone to lose weight is counterproductive. But now that I've finally gotten it together, I want to kick myself for not starting sooner. Because now I know I can do it. I have the willpower to change my habits. I want to share that with everyone. It is inside of all of us to change our lives for the better.