The Guide for Surviving Holiday Season on a Budget and Improving One’s Income by Isabel F. William
We all know what the holiday season means – perfect gifts for our loved ones, enchanting Christmas decorations that will give our homes a magical, wintery appeal and lovely dinner parties imbued with festivity. Overwhelmed by the spirit of Christmas, we easily get carried away with our spending and end up almost completely broke by the end of the season. If this sounds familiar, don’t panic! In just a few easy steps, you can limit your expenses and even boost your income.
I get at least three new Facebook friend requests daily and it’s usually from someone I’ve never met but we share numerous “friends” in common. I used to accept all of them–after all, that’s what social is all about. My social strategy on Facebook has been consistently the same for many years: Post cute kid pics and updates that I find hilarious of the crazy things that say and do. This social channel is the onlyone that most of my family follows me on and I like it that way, which aligns to the reason why I talk about my twins. I’m not a parent that is super scared of the internet and have chronicled their lives since 2008.
I used to also post my professional accomplishments and brag about my team’s efforts but I rarely do this anymore, as my wall tends to be filled with one person after an another talking about a client or a project they’re working on. I quickly realized that maybe we all don’t really care about the conference we’re speaking at or the project you championed internally that got three likes Facebook and retweeted twice. Mostly, I noticed that my “friends” aren’t really friends but people I’ve collected that truly don’t know me but are busy creating opinions of me.
Because of the above, I’ve become super guarded and not the real me. So much that when people meet me IRL, they expect to meet someone else. At what point did I start curating my life so carefully that I started to give off a different vibe and that these so-called friends, started sharing their opinions with me.
There was that one HR professional that people pay to speak at conferences that called me a “loose woman” for standing by Planned Parenthood. Or that other vile recruiter that attacked me (and many others) for making a Glassdoor list. Or the Branding professional, that decided while outing a “bully” she’d include me in the drama. And recently two executive level recruiting professionals who decided to attack me for standing with the #blacklivesmatter movement.
At what point do I say enough is enough?
For me that is today! I will no longer accept invitations on Facebook if we have never met in IRL. I will no longer tolerate hatred, negativity and socially inept people. While we are connected and you likely have a different opinion than me, use your wall to share your viewpoints, don’t throw me in the mix. Trust that I am scrolling on by yours, shaking my head but with nothing to add, mainly because, I don’t know you and don’t care enough to debate your thoughts. Find a REAL friend, pick up the phone and rant but keep that shit off my wall.
I asked Nando if he’d allow me to share my story and he agreed. So here it is, my Journey with Testicular Cancer , which began May, 2011. I started a much needed long weekend in Vegas. I showered after a long drive into town in the hot May weather. I was relaxing on the bed watching TV and I did my semi-regular self-examination of the boys. A few years earlier I found a lump that turned out to be a cyst in the epididymis, so I did the examination every so often. I felt a small nodule on my left testicle and it stopped me cold. It was definitely inside the testicle. Although it was not very big in size, to me, at that moment, it was the only thing I could feel. I felt it over and over, it did feel like a hard lump and not another cyst, but it could be, so I told myself not to worry. There was nothing I could do until Tuesday. I enjoyed myself for the weekend but in the back of my mind I kept coming up with all these scenarios on how my doctor’s appointment would play out. Over the rest of the weekend I even tried to talk myself out of it. I tried to tell myself that I felt it before and it was the same size so I should just ignore it. I came from a long line of men that ignored health issues, my father being the prime example ignoring signs of cancer until it was too late to do anything. I could not ignore it.
I called my doctor on Tuesday, they got me in the same day. He examined it and sent me for an ultrasound. They did the ultrasound and then said I should go back to my doctor and he will have the results. I went back to my doctor’s office. He saw me right away and told me that the lump was definitely confirmed to be a hard mass, not a cyst. So, my next stop is a urologist, they recommended a urologist, made the appointment for me the next day and took some blood tests. My mind was reeling and I had one night to digest what happened already. The next day I went to the urologist, he examined me, looked the images from the ultrasound and got the results from my doctor of the tests they took the day before. He confirmed what I already suspected, I had cancer, it was small, but they will remove the testicle. OK, now – all of that that seems rather fast and radical, and it was. There is a reason for that. 95% of all testicular cancer is malignant. Although it is highly treatable with a very high cure rate, time is always a factor from this point on. I had done my research and thanks to the Internet I was prepared. I had a list of questions. For example, I knew to ask in advance for a prosthetic, i.e. a fake ball. I just could not imagine not having that symmetry. According to my brother-in-law, it was because I didn’t want to walk lopsided. Normally I would have had the surgery the following day (yes, really – fast track, remember?) Because I was on blood thinners we had to wait five days so my blood would clot right for the surgery. So I had five days, which included a weekend to say goodbye to leftie.
I had a lot longer than most to digest all of this prior to the surgery. OK, at this point I am scared. Given my experience I already had, I imagined scenarios where cancer was spread all throughout my body. My partner, the ever practical one, refused to be concerned (at least on the surface) or even consider the more dire possibilities until there was proof of such. This would frustrate me, at first I thought he was in denial, but then I realized, as he said, he’s not going to worry about something until there is something to worry about. I actually found that a good point of view once I let it settle a bit. I was deprived of my rightful melodramatic freak out, but in the long run it was better and helped me to be more stable and prepared mentally. One of the worst parts was the next step, telling my family. I come from a large family and we had a messaging system in place. I knew I only had to call a couple siblings, the ones that would not freak out and exaggerate my news and pass it on from there. Despite that I still ended up fielding calls from two siblings that were freaked out and crying. Oddly enough, these were the siblings I heard from the least and they call ME to freak out about MY cancer? We all have family like that I guess. I had to reassure them of what I had read, i.e. that it was highly treatable, the odds are it was caught early, etc, etc. I think reassuring them helped me to believe it a little. The surgery happened, and a couple weeks went by.
I went back for a follow up with the Urologist, there was still no final biopsy. I had another follow-up a couple weeks later and got the final news. It was a very rare tumor that was “most likely benign”. It was great news, I was happy. I beat the 95 percentile, but of course that caveat (“most likely benign”) stuck in the back of my mind. The Urologist then asked if I wanted an Oncologist to review it. I was lucky in that my Hematologist is also one of the top Oncologists for testicular cancer. So I asked the Urologist to send all the information to my Hematologist, I had an appointment with him in a couple weeks and we could discuss. My Oncologist is now on the case to make sure nothing else crops up. My tumor was so rare and there is so little information on it that even though they expect it not to return, my doctor will do annual CAT scans to make sure. I was VERY lucky from the physical point of view. Mentally, cancer does a number on you. Anyone who has been through this either personally or with a family member knows what I mean. I was at my father’s side for the last 18 months of his life so I already had that experience. Now I had to deal with it firsthand. I made the decision to post the progress of everything on Facebook. I struggled with that, my first instinct was to keep it private. After some thought I decided that if anyone else was encouraged to check themselves and catch it early, then it was worth it. There were friends that saw it and were supportive all the way, there were some who said nothing the whole time, but would ask me abou it later. And of course there were those never saw the posts, so I had friends months later who said “You had what?” I’m very open about my cancer and even joke with friends and family about my fake ball, my remaining ball, etc. It throws people a curve ball sometimes, especially guys,, when they realize what we are talking about. I think it helps to demystify the whole thing for everyone. I’m certainly not making light of it, two of my friends that I joke with the most work in the cancer field in one form or another, and they know how this can play out all too well. Regardless, even though I had a very good outcome and prognosis for the future, I still worry sometimes.
Will the cancer come back in some form? I do wonder if I ever became single how exactly do I tell someone I’m going to be intimate with that what they feel down there isn’t real before they freak out. Would they freak out? I don’t know. Imagine feeling a potential partner in the heat of passion and finding one sack filled with a little round ball. Do I think about my lost testicle? Every time I shower or handle my business. Would I do anything differently? No. Should you examine your boys regularly? Yes. Testicular cancer itself is still very rare but don’t ignore something that is very easy to do.
Have I learned anything from it? I think the whole situation just drove home what I already learned with my Dad. Don’t take advantage of anything or anyone. Don’t take life for granted. These are all clichés, pretty trite stuff, but it all takes on a reality when you experience it firsthand. If there is anything you want to do, as the add says, just do it. As for me, I’m taking steps to do more writing, including a creative writing course to see where that goes.
If you have any questions about my journey or about my online references – feel free to find me on facebook.com/tazz602 or Twitter.com/Tazz602. I’ll talk about what I learned, what I know, and give you the resources that I found very helpful.
This is a guest post is written by Jimmy Jacob (@Personalsfacts) author of personalfacts.com whom I just tweeted with earlier this week for the first time which immediately resulted in creative collaborative efforts. Ladies, you have to visit his site for great dating insights (from a straight man’s perspective) with an honesty, humor and spark! (Really!)
It’s the beginning of November, which means hibernation mode will kick in soon for many men out there. And how do men hibernate you may be wondering? We find a girl to stay in for the next few months, of course.
According to the Urban Dictionary, the definition for hibernation is: When a guy keeps a significant other throughout the winter only to dump them once spring arrives to be single for the summer months, they are said to be in hibernation.
I have had many of my platonic female friends ask me why men do this and the answer is simple: It’s way too cold to go to the bar to pick up. (Sad, but true) By the end of November, every girl is covered up from head to toe and temptation is gone making it harder to hook up with ready, willing and able ladies.
If you’re a single guy in November, you can pretty much guarantee you will spend most of the winter having threesomes with “Palm-ela” and “Keri.” (Keri Hand Lotion, that is.)
On the other hand, if you can find yourself a hibernation girlfriend, you won’t have to worry when you are guaranteed sex every time you hook.
So fellas, if you’re looking for your new “snow bitch,” here are some guidelines you should follow:
1. Avoid Your Neighborhood Bar
From personal experience, I have found that although there are many opportunities to find your new “winter girlfriend” at your local watering hole. Unfortunately, you don’t want to sh*t where you eat and when Spring eventually arrives; you may have to sacrifice your beloved hangout to avoid drama after you breakup. Stick to other bars and pubs you are not familiar with to better your chances.
2. Avoid Gyms
The last place you want to find your hibernation partner is at a gym. The whole point of finding a winter girlfriend is to find someone who you can be lazy with. Getting with a woman who works out is counterproductive, since she will probably want you to look your best at all times.
3. Make Sure She Lives Further Away From You
I know what you’re thinking: Why would I want a hibernation girlfriend that lives far away from me? Having your winter gal live far away from you gives you the perfect excuse to end things in the springtime. You can give her the whole “long-distance doesn’t work me” speech. It’s also good to have her live far away because it gives you enough space from each other so you don’t get attached to her. She should be your weekend getaway. Plain and simple.
4. Avoid Drop Dead Gorgeous Gals
This is an extension of number two. You want a winter gal who doesn’t care about appearances and is fairly low maintenance. If she is drop dead gorgeous, you run the risk of falling for her and being lured into a formal relationship.
5. Go For Taurus Gals
I’m not one for astrology, but I have noticed that Taurus women are laid back, lazy, sensual and homebodies. All the qualities you need in a woman for your hibernation period.
6. Make Sure She Has The Same Tastes In Movies And Television as you
During your hibernating romance, you will most likely be watching a lot of television and movies, which is why it is essential to pick a girl that has the same tastes as you. If you’re more of a David Lynch fan and she is only interested in watching Jersey Shore reruns, then it won’t work out.
7. Bonafide Stoner
DVD box sets and ganja go hand in hand during your hibernation period and you know it. If your girl is straightedge, it probably won’t work.
8. Hook Up With Her After The Holidays
You don’t want to worry about buying your winter girlfriend a present or introducing her to your family around Thanksgiving, which is why you should hold off on dating until after Christmas. Sure, you may have to spend New Year’s with her, but at least you will save a ton of money by staying in for the night.
9. She Has To Have A Sexual Appetite That Matches Her Appetite For Food
Let’s face it: the next three to four months will require three essential things to get through the winter together. Those things are TV, FOOD and SEX. One does not go without the other. You will need to burn those calories and you don’t want her to blame you for packing on the pounds after you break up with her in the spring.
10. Don’t Fall in Love
The winter is no time to fall in love. This relationship should be comfortable and easy. When you’re in a genuine relationship, you do fun and productive things with each other outside of the bedroom. Falling for her during a hibernation relationship will only set you up for failure and possible heartbreak. You’ve been warned.
Here’s hoping you can find your hibernation girlfriend this winter!