Hi. Smile. Thank.

I saw these three words taped to all of the cash registers in my local supermarket, as a reminder to the cashiers. And, it made me feel weird. I didn't really know what it made me feel at first, but it definitely shocked me, initially, for a couple reasons.

1) Why do people need to be reminded to say 'hi' and 'thank you' to customers?

 Shove it.

Shove it.

2) SMILE? Really? I cannot stand it. I absolutely loathe being told to smile. When I worked for a supermarket in high school, in the 90s, I was never told I had to smile. I was told I had to be polite. Period. Good customer service. Period. When I worked for hospitals and medical practices, I was often told by older male patients whose surgery I was scheduling that I "should smile more." I'd be like, I'm sorry. I'm busy focusing on scheduling your cardiac clearance and making sure you understand you cannot take aspirin/ibufprofen within two weeks of your surgery date and YES THAT INCLUDES ALEVE COME ON but hold on let me pause and give you a smile like I'm trying to sell you a new suit. *eyeroll*

Back to the signs.

I have to be honest and tell you I couldn't care less if the cashier at a supermarket is smiling at me. I appreciate a 'hello, how are you?' but I truly care more that they don't squish my bread/eggs if I'm not bagging myself. I don't think you have to be smiling in order to provide good, efficient customer service. AND - I also know that if I worked there and found those annoying, degrading reminders staring me in the face during my shift, I'd smile a helluva lot less.

In fact, I'm thinking of reaching out to the store to let them know that as a customer, I find those signs ridiculous. Thoughts?

Forgive and forget?

And I bury hatchets, but I keep maps of where I put โ€˜em...
— Taylor Swift

Yes, I just quoted Taylor Swift. It's time for me to be honest about who I am. I'm currently obsessed with Taylor Swift's latest album - mostly because she's such a great songwriter, so there are some great, thought-provoking one-liners.

As I let TS's latest album play in my earbuds while I enjoy an hour of mommy time at the pool, that line sticks out to me, and immediately reminds me of a time I was encouraged (ordered?) to "forgive and forget" by someone who had wronged me. When I saw those words - sent via text message - I felt every tiny hair on my body stand up and my blood begin to simmer. First, the obvious - who is anyone to tell anyone to forgive? Forgiveness is a personal choice, and usually done when one is ready to forgive. And, I think forgiveness is mostly beneficial to the person who was wronged, NOT the wrongdoer. Wrongdoers can ask for forgiveness, but cannot demand it.

thomas szasz.jpg

Secondly, what is this "forget" bullshit? Honestly. And, why should they even try?! So the wrongdoer can have a clean slate to mess up again? No way, I say. If someone is ballsy enough to tell you to 'forgive and forget' something they did - they're ballsy enough to do it (or worse) again. Does that mean you have to walk around angry with them forever? Again, no way, I say. That's the forgiveness part. But, I think what comes next is taking the necessary steps to ensure you're completely satisfied with moving forward in whatever capacity you're comfortable with. But, it does not mean you have to ever truly forget what they're capable of. You also don't have to forgive them if you don't want to, obvs. Up to you.

As I reapply my sunblock, I'm wondering if my thoughts on this topic make me sound guarded, paranoid and cold, holding everything against everyone. I'm not, and don't do, any of those things. But, I do think it's somewhat instinctual to not 100% trust someone again once they've revealed what their bad side looks like. And, that could mean limiting your relationship with them, the time you spend together, the lengths you're willing to go for them, how much you want to accommodate them, etc. How much do they deserve is a good question to ask yourself, in my opinion. It doesn't mean you have to be negative or let it/them continue to affect you. There's power in positivity.

Anyway. I'm talking too much about justifying why you don't need to forget after forgiving, when I should be focusing on the ridiculousness of why that's even a saying in the first place. I've always had the belief that no one has a right to treat anyone poorly, no matter what their relationship to you is - not even if they're family or youโ€™ve known them for 20 years. So, while people make mistakes and words get said and yes - life goes on - if it's something big enough you need to forgive, it doesn't mean you have to try to forget it. You don't have the burden - they do. They just don't want it...

*puts sunglasses back on*

...and ain't that just too damn bad.

A trip down Instagram Lane

IMG_4063.jpg

For the past few nights, I've had trouble getting to sleep. So, I either watch a true crime documentary (sweet dreams!) or surf social media until my eyes feel heavy. Yes, I know neither of these methods are recommended/good/smart/healthy, but it's usually the only time in the day I have 100% to myself so dammit I'm gonna do what I want.

Anyway, I used to have a separate Instagram account for VandenVogue, but it was annoying to try and keep two accounts going, so I deleted it and decided to just use my original IG. I figured 11 p.m. was a good time to go through and archive older posts I may not want public, and as a result - I relived my life for the past 5+ years.

What.A.Trip.

IMG_4066.jpg

My very first Instagram photo was of our dog, Moxie. In fact, when I joined Instagram, my posts reflect that my life consisted of my dog, boyfriend (now husband), what food we ate, cocktails we drank and places we traveled to. I took note of how, for a while, it seemed my days consisted of working from home for a popular dating site, doing Pilates 2x a day, wearing a bikini, high heels (not together), and making martinis. Then came the photos of our engagement, moving to Chicago, home decor and sightseeing. Then, of course, our wedding back in Upstate NY and peacefully fun honeymoon in the Finger Lakes region - Seneca Lake, to be exact. Shortly thereafter, posts about moving to California showed up. Our drive across the country - Nebraska, Colorado, Utah - and more home decor, as well as the inevitable beach shots and my knees on a lounge chair at the pool. In October.

At this point, I sat up in bed, not even realizing I had tears in my eyes. I had covered just two years of my life in photos and I couldn't believe how much we'd done. And, I wasn't even pregnant, yet.

IMG_4064.jpg

Of course, the posts went on from there - announcing my pregnancy, chronicling the growing baby bump, sharing it would be a boy and his very first day in the world. Baby O flooded my IG after that, and I couldn't help but notice Moxie posts were scarce. So, I looked over at her, called her up to the bed and snuggled her for a few minutes until she fell back asleep.

My tears dropped from my eyes as I realized how fast time goes. Owen was 9 months old when we moved back to the east coast. As I kept some photos up and archived others, I watched him grow all over again. I also saw how I had changed - my priorities and life in general. As I scrolled, I sort of relived the isolation I felt after he was born, and then gloriously witnessed my confidence as a mom blossom and my sense of self come back, remembering how I felt when I posted certain photos.

When I was done, about a little more than an hour later, I set the phone down and sighed. I felt a strange clarity wash over me and bigger excitement for the future, as well as an even deeper appreciation for my partner in life - my husband.

Also, fun fact: I had been looking at little baby photos for so long, that when Owen got up this morning, I almost didn't recognize the giant child smiling at me from his crib.

Honestly, I recommend everyone going through their Instagram for a walk down memory lane - to see where you've been and what you've done and how you've evolved and all that good stuff. Just remember to have some tissues nearby, though.