12 March 2012

Shit Friend Syndrome: 21st century dilemma

WHILE having a coffee with friends, the topic of shit friends repeatedly arises. Seems we all are or have all been troubled by shit friends from time to time - the only difference being a) the friend and b) the extent of their shittness.

The worst shit friends are the repeat offenders: those who keep doing shit things to their friends time after time. These are the types of shit friends we are talking about here. Having spent so much time debating shit friends, the term Shit Friend Syndrome (SFS) has been coined. 

Shit friend syndrome is  the state in which your life is plagued by the repeated shitty actions of a shit friend. A shit friend is a friend who does one or more of the following:
a) doesn't treat you the same as you treat them or 
b) who takes, takes, takes but doesn't give or
c) whose actions seem a blatant disregard to the feelings/schedule/lives of others

The annoyance of SFS is that, often,  the shit friend is the one that organises the things they then cancel or ruin. For example, a shit friend may suggest you meet at the gym only to message you after the meeting time saying they will not make it. Or inviting you out for coffee then cancelling because they have somewhere else to be.

Tegan* acknowledges her shit friend  is not the brightest star in the sky. Cathy* once cancelled a meeting with Tegan saying she was at the doctors waiting for an appointment, but posted a message on Facebook (at the same time!) to another friend  asking her to come over and try some of the chocolate cake she had just baked.
Sue* tells the story of how she was looking forward to a visit from her shit friend on Christmas Eve. Sue had been looking forward to the company after a frantic day alone cooking and cleaning. Plus, Karen* (her shit friend) said she had a little present for Sue.  Well Karen* didn't come around - she had too many other friends/family to see. Although Sue has seen Karen multiple times this year, the "little Christmas present" has not surfaced.
Sally's* shit friend Julia* is always bitching and whinging about her other circle of friends. She complains about one eating crap then whinging about her weight, one is bad with money, one is lazy, another self-centred...you name it, Julia has bitched about every possible detail of her other friend's personalities and life. Sally wonders what Julia says about her when she is not around.
Modern society has definitely helped in the prevalence of the shit friend, especially Facebook. Instead of letting people fall out of your life in due course, we stay connected to them, pretending the original reason for the friendship still exists. How many of your Facebook friends would you actually call a friend rather than an acquaintance? Would you even call them an acquaintance without Facebook suggesting you "reconnect" or telling you it's their birthday or enabling easy invitation to their events?

It should be stressed that a shit friend does not just do one thing to upset or trouble their mate. They repeatedly do shit things, therefore making them a shit friend. For example. a shit friend is likely to have done all of the above stories, not just one as a one off event.

In today's ever connected society, with only six degrees of separation between us and every other person on the planet, how do you get rid of a shit friend? Can you get rid of a shit friend? While you can't control the actions of others, you can control your reaction and behaviour. Perhaps ignoring a shit friend will result in them fading away? 

A shit friend, however, is not likely to be a shit friend to all their friends. According to SFS sufferers, their shit friend seems to be an amazingly thoughtful, caring, loving friend to others. This is what makes SFS so frustrating. It would be easier to understand someone being an all round jerk and therefore shit friend.

So how do you ensure you are not being a shit friend to any of your friends? We have composed a Shit Friend Checklist:

1. Do you regularly make plans with your friends but cancel on them? 
2. Do you ignore texts/emails/calls/Facebook posts from your friends until you have something to tell them or need something from them?
3. Would you agree that you receive more than get give in your friendship? 
4. Have you forgotten the last time you hung out with your friend one on one?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions you are at risk of being a shit friend.Maybe you should reconsider if you really want to stay friends with the person you are causing SFS for?

Have you ever suffered from Shit Friend Syndrome or are you a shit friend?

*Names changed to protect the innocent, not the shit friends. All stories are true and accurate.

27 June 2011

Determining your child's relationship with money.

IMAGINE this. A child walks up to the counter of a toy store, mum in tow, to ask the price of his chosen item. The shop attendant replies $24.95. The child's face drops, he swings around to his mum and says, "But I've only got $20." Never fear, supermum to the rescue, she contributes the extra and tells her son, "You can pay me back." What is the lesson this child is learning about money?

This scene happens daily in stores across Australia, and no doubt the rest of the Western world also. While it seems simple and harmless enough, it may be setting your child up for a bad relationship with money.

Another similar scene in stores that cater for children goes like this: child wants to buy item they like.  The parent suggests the child to resist the purchase and instead save their money so they can afford a better, more expensive item. Child declines. Parent pleads with child to not buy item/s but to save up for bigger, better item. Child declines. Parent then tells child they are not spending their money today, they will instead save it for a bigger, better item. Whinging, whining, crying, screaming ensues. Then either:
a) parent buys item/s for child so child can save their money or 
b) child leaves with parent only to return and purchase original item/s or 
c) child buys item  but parent continues to tell child they  made the wrong choice and should have saved for a bigger, better item. 
What do  these scenarios teaches a child about money? 

When I was a child we were broke. So broke we couldn't afford a car. Instead my dad would ride a bike to the supermarket and complete multiple trips to get all the goods home. His carrying capacity was limited to  filling a  basket on the front of the bike and milk carton on the back. 

As a child I remember mum would get incredibly excited on pay day. Dad would get home with a little yellow envelope and hand it to mum, who would then pull out her "bills" book. She would put aside whatever money needed to go towards due (or overdue) bills, put aside some money for the groceries, and the either: 
1. Do a little dance and sing a song because there were leftovers to spend (waste)
2. Yell at dad for not earning enough (if the bills amounted to more than dad's pay). Then cry.
Option 2 was the most common. Option 1 only happened around tax return time.

What did this teach me about money? Until just a few years ago, on pay day I would pay any bills due immediately and then go to an ATM and withdraw the rest. I would then put aside my share of the shopping budget and then spend the rest. If I didn't have enough money to cover bills AND waste on luxuries, I would get angry at myself for not earning enough. Sound familiar?

So if you "chip in the rest" for a purchase your child can't afford, stop to consider what you may be setting yourself and your child up for: your child lending money from you (frequently) or your child racking up debts by buying things he/she cannot afford. 

As for making your child save for something bigger and better? There is definitely merit in this, but pre-planning will ensure success. Throwing the idea at them on the day they have chosen something else (especially if they are in the store holding it) is not great planning. Also, if your children see you saving for bigger, better things then they may be more likely to copy. Don't preach to them a "do as I say not as I do." 

Four quick tips for teaching your child about money (adapted from a money-savvy eight year old):
1. Buy only when they have enough money.
Don't chip in on the spot - make them save for it. 
2. To help them save for the fun things they really want, make sure they can see the money.
Let them save the money in cash or write their balance on a whiteboard or piece of paper on the fridge. Make sure it is something THEY want or else they will have no real desire to save.
3. If they need more money, find a way for them to earn it.
Of course it is age dependant what they can do for more money but naturally they should not receive money for things they should do, like "brushing their teeth" or "eating their greens." If you pay them for doing these sorts of things, what motivation do they have to do them without pay?
4. Find ways to have fun without spending money.
Yes money is great and brings convenience but it is not everything.

What lessons about money are your children learning from you?

24 June 2011

My next fancy dress party theme: Hipster

WHEN something is said to have jumped the shark, it means it has declined in quality beyond recovery - something (or someone) has reached their peak and are now heading downhill. Just because we love using the phrase so much, each week Word Chic will detail a situation/object/tv show/idea/etc that we believe has jumped the shark (JTS). Introducing week one's JTS topic: Hipsters.

hipster, n. (slang)

1. A person who markets a facade of originality for social standing, when in fact they are not original; attention seeking and fake.

2. People who, despite following the hipster style trends, music, and culture, deny being a hipster.

Synonym: pretentious

Once upon a time you could count on one hand the amount of hipsters you knew (or would see one out and about). Except, they weren't always called hipsters. In fact, I can't for the life of me put my finger on a past name for hipsters.

Once upon a time a "hipster" was someone who dressed eclectically - fashioned from finds at Vinnies, Salvos and the like. They listened to music you had never heard of and kept to their own little crew because that is who understood them.  Now, hipsters are a farce.

Once upon a time I envied hipsters. I tried to find similar clothes in op-shops, to no avail. I never "got" their music. I wasn't "ironic" in the right sort of way. I was a hipster wannabe - the people hipsters hate. 

There is no fear of abuse from hipsters about arguing they have jumped the shark because no hipsters read this blog. This blog isn't cool enough for hipsters. This blog is not ironic. Most of the postings are mainstream. Photos uploaded are not taken on old school Polaroids or the like.

So why have hipsters jumped the shark?
- Hipsters are meant to be dressed originally, in their own unique fashion. Instead, hipsters are carbon copies of each other.Their clothes are now mainly purchased through chain stores (like the rest of us!) not vintage stores.

- Hipsters want to convey the perception that they  put absolutely zero effort into their respective scenes, that they are just naturally quirky like that. And everybody already fucking knows that all hipsters do is obsess over how to pull their scene. They fail at everything else — like working — because they spend all their time hunting for mustache wax and authentic leg warmers.

- When people hold a theme party in your style, you have jumped the shark (hipster themed parties are all the rage on the States I have been told)

- Children think dressing like hipsters is cool (I gathered this information from a very reliable source - my nieces), especially the glasses

- Comedians LOVE to mock hipsters. My favourite is the Bedroom Philosopher's song Northcote (So  Hungover) below.

- Hipsters will hate something just because you like it. Hipsters are the type of people who immediately hate Triple J's Hottest 100 because it's "so commercialised and mainstream."Popular things are popular for a reason. Trying to be "progressive" but really just being a anti- establishment tool is not cool.

If you are not convinced that hipsters have jumped the shark then I leave you with this Honda Jazz ad.

Just like hippies, emos and goths before them, hipsters have jumped the shark - they have declined in quality (are no longer original, quirky, enviable and cool), and are heading downhill.

Do you agree hipsters have jumped the shark?

23 June 2011

Your Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak,
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone,

from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth,
and spoke the following date with tears.
But he said what mattered most of all,

was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth;
and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we won; the cars...the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard, 
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, 

that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real,
and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more;
and love the people in our lives like we've never done before.

If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile.
Remembering that this special dash might only last a while.

So, when your eulogy's being read,
with your life's actions to rehash;
would you be proud of the things they said,

about how you spent your dash? 

By Linda Ellis

20 June 2011

Your choice or already chosen?

LATELY I’ve been doubting the existence of “destiny” or “fate.” While I’m not religious (much to my parents dismay) I still always felt there has to be more to life than just plodding along for the sake of it and hoping for the best. So the idea that my destiny/fate was pre-ordained gave me great solace, and has left me without any real life regrets.
Crappy day at work – must be for a reason.
Flat tyre on the highway – valuable lesson learnt.
Overspending on  outfit then starving the rest of the week – not my fault, it was destiny!
Lately though I’ve have some obstacles smash me in the face, with no resolution or lesson to be found or learnt. Just smash after crash after bump. Then I found out some news that, although upsetting, made me smile a little (more about this later).
Destiny is defined as a predetermined, inevitable and unchangeable course of events. Destiny is the path paved for you through life whereas fate is the end result, the finality of the destiny path. The problem many people have with destiny (and fate) is that it seems you must accept the notion that freewill is an illusion. This never worried me. As far as I was concerned, it felt like my decisions were based on freewill, so who cares if the answer was predetermined anyway?  
So how much do people believe in or rely on destiny in their lives? 

Does a belief in destiny and fate also require a belief in karma or the notion of soul mates?

Believers in destiny/fate are those most likely to have had the Reason, Season, Lifetime poem strike a chord with them (which I wrote about here). Are they also the same people who go to see psychics? 
When a psychic tells you whats in the future, it must be because it is already set, surely? Otherwise how would they know? Or is it that psychics tell you about a path and you then ensure you pave and follow that path, therefore making the psychics observations accurate and real? Anyone who has been to a good psychic knows the answer to this.  But is seeing a psychic cheating on destiny? Or is it just that psychics are the new psychologists?

While I've been struggling with the mountain of s&%^ life has thrown at me, my first instinct was to go and see a psychic. Why? So they could speak their wisdom and shed some light (and hope) on the current situations and the future. I didn't (only because the best psychic I know of has a six week waiting list). I imagine many people go to see psychics for the same reason, when they are in similar predicaments.
Whatever your belief, as mentioned above something happened recently that refreshed my belief a little.  Just as I was giving up hope, hating the world and wanting to hide under my doona forever, I received the news that made me express a little smile.  Earlier this year I applied for a writing position within a major media outlet. It was for a new project they thought would be revolutionary and highly profitable. I didn't get the job,, but more importantly after just a few months the project was exposed to be neither revolutionary nor profitable so it was cancelled.  Seems it was not within my destiny to be stuffed around in a position that would not last. Faith renewed, at least enough so I can focus my energy on dealing with life;s s%$# a little more clearer and easier. If I am just living out my destiny, then I will come out the other side stronger. 

Do you believe in destiny and/or fate?

14 June 2011

Do you have a bucket list?

NOT so long ago, bucket lists were all the rage with people of all ages. By "all the rage" I mean topic of conversation. Circa 2007 who wasn't discussing bucket lists with their nearest and dearest? 

I know of one girl who spent relentless hours researching must dos, must sees and bucket lists in order to compile her own. She researched at home, at work, and by speaking to family, friends and strangers. She even dusted off her primary school diaries to see if there were any ideas of substance hidden within. She complied 26 things and decided she would complete them all by the end of the year. By December, she had completed half, but was happy enough with the outcome. That was three years ago and as you may have guessed, that girl was me.

For those who are unawares, a bucket list is traditionally a list of things you wish to do or see before you kick the bucket (die). However people often tweak the concept to suit their needs eg. travel bucket list or my one year bucket list. 

Compiling a bucket list is very inspiring. Completing some of the activities on the list unfortunately are not. The problem with bucket lists is that sometimes the items on the list just aren't as feasible as hoped, or aren't anywhere near as empowering, special, awe inspiring, or fun as expected. For example, gambling in Vegas is sadly no better than gambling in Brisbane - it still hurts to lose it all on red. Learning another language is fruitless when foreign locals reply to your question in English, not the language you painstakingly studied. And I'm told visiting the Eiffel Tower is sadly unromantic for many, due to being harassed by beggars, waiting hours for entry (because you didn't prebook) and being surrounded by hoards of other tourists when you FINALLY get to the upper levels. 

The worst possible outcome of writing a bucket list is the possibility that you may become upset about all the things you have wanted to do since forever and sadly still have not. 

So what if you haven't traveled yet, or written that novel, or rode a horse, or volunteered? You are not dead yet. And therein lies one of the greatest joys of the bucket list - realizing it is not too late and giving your life some (or some more) direction.

The best thing about a bucket list though is that even if you complete just one item on the list, haven't you won? If you hadn't done the list in the first place there is the chance you may not have finally got your butt into gear and given it a go. Or, while compiling your list, you might uncover a deep seated dream or desire you didn't even realize you had, which may in turn push your life into a whole new direction.

Worst case scenario, in writing a bucket list you get to dream, and who doesn't love to dream? I think it's time I try to compile a new one so I'm off to start thinking. Dreaming. Wishing. Hoping. Praying, even. 

What are your thoughts on compiling a "bucket list"?

28 May 2011

The silent competition of the children's birthday cake

YOU don’t have to speak to many mothers to realise that motherhood is a competitive sport. Whether it be whose munchkin walks first, says the cutest phrase, gets the best grades at school or scores the most goals in their chosen sport, war is waged from birth. Never has the extremities of the competition been more obvious than children’s birthdays.   
I was thrown some pretty spectacular birthdays as a kid. I also endured some very lame chicken dinners and Woolies sponge cake birthdays too. But there were presents, and a token friend or two either way so I loved each celebration. I know of kids who are yet to experience a lame birthday and that’s fine – I’m not judging – I’m just pondering the stress parents go through in the competition, mainly the birthday cake.
Arguably the most competitive part of the birthday party is the cake. While I am sure there are still Woolies sponges with mock cream making appearances at birthday parties, fancy schmancy designer cakes or cupcakes are gaining popularity.
The following picture was bought into the child’s kindergarten for all to share. Normally parents take simple cakes or cupcakes into kindy/prep/school and reserve the best cake for the real party or birthday (so I am told). If this is true for this kid, imagine the cake on the big day!   
I read a story recently about how in one family, a month before each child's birthday, the birthday child got to flick through The Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book and choose the birthday cake they wanted their mum to bake. Little did they know but their mum had glued some pages together, leaving only the cakes she believed she could have success with. While the mother recalls how some cakes she attempted were embarrassing to produce as they just did not work out, all the children remember is how every year they had an awesome cake thanks to their loving mum. Awww...
Some people just don't have the baking prowess to successfully produce an awesome themed cake. I wonder how the mum felt who produced the "shark" cake below? A decent effort I think, and I'm sure the child loved it but... well...And herein lies the truth behind the competition. We can't help but judge!

Then there are other mothers that could make even the most complex cake look easy, telling only their nearest and dearest friends or family of the ordeal they faced to be able to produce ANYTHING in time. Note: I say mothers because I am yet to meet (or hear about) a father who baked an extravagant birthday cake for there child. I am sure there are dads  out there that have and/or will but again, I do not personally know of any. But just to prove there are men who do the cake baking, check out this Angry Birds cake - it is epic!

Having no children myself, I have never had the stress of attempting to bake the perfect themed birthday cake. However, I have a niece in love with Paris (and all things Parisienne) so I am contemplating baking her the following. It will be easy, right? Fun maybe? Bring on the stress!

Have you fallen victim to the birthday cake competition?