Embarrassed By Your Accomplishments?

THAT’S your new house??I find myself in a strange dilemma these days. I often get asked how I like the new house and to tell them all about it. I consider getting the new home to be a huge accomplishment for us. It took effort, sacrifice, and hard work to manage to “move up”.

But with many significant accomplishments – like getting a nice home, a hefty promotion at work, or an upscale item – you have to figure out how to handle it gracefully with others.

How do you remain humble about your accomplishments without others thinking you are dissatisfied, embarrassed, or even rude?

Here are two scenarios I have encountered recently:

Does she even like the house?

I’m a humble person by nature. I just don’t want to “toot my own horn” around others. When people ask me about the house I usually reply that I really like it and that it works well for us. Recently, some friends thought my lack of exuberance on the subject meant that I must be unhappy with it for some reason. They asked Eric if I even liked the home. They couldn’t have been more wrong.

I absolutely love my new home. It’s perfect. I simply feel uncomfortable gushing on and on about how awesome my new house is to other people. I feel like its bragging.

I suppose they were looking forward to me telling them all about my house and were disappointed when I spoke in general terms and not of specifics. If someone asks me questions about the home (how big is it, what kind of countertops, etc) I’m happy to answer them but I’m not inclined to spend a lot of time talking about all the upgrades without being prompted. It feels like showing off to me.

Nobody likes that guy at the party who talks about how cool his brand new yacht is and how it has the best of everything. I don’t really want to listen to that guy and I certainly don’t want to become that guy. I feel a discreet reply is the appropriate way to show my happiness with the home without shoving my accomplishment in everyone’s faces.

When can we come over?

Our last house was in a modest neighborhood and we have a friendly relationship with one of our neighbors there. We talk and help each other out but we never have dinner together or anything like that. You can say that we’re cordial but not close.

When we run into them while at the old house they say that they want to come see the new home. We say we will invite them when we are more settled. Just yesterday, I got a phone call from her saying she was driving around in our new neighborhood trying to find our home. She wanted to stop by unannounced. Thank goodness I had plans already because I have been avoiding this situation.

The neighbors are wonderful people but I’m reluctant to ask them over. We don’t know them very well so I wonder if they will view us differently or if it could make them feel bad in some way. Let me explain.

When we talked this week she told me that the cable guy had just stopped by their house because they were so late on their payments. She had to write them a check right then to keep service going. She explained how terrible they were with money and how they just never figured it all out. She even said: “I’m 20 years older than you; you would think we would have learned this by now.”

Bringing her to this house, which is considered an upgrade from our old neighborhood, makes me feel immodest and a little insensitive - especially after she told me of their money issues this week. I know we worked hard and sacrificed a lot for our new home, and that their financial problems aren’t my fault, but it still doesn’t make me feel better about the situation.

In the same way that people may hesitate having “rich” friends in their home due to embarrassment or fear of judgment, I’m having the same sort of concerns. I think it goes both ways. To me, it’s kind of like talking about having a fully funded emergency fund to your friends who are living paycheck to paycheck.

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I know many people would say that I’m crazy to feel funny in these situations. I should be proud to show off my successes to everyone, right? It isn’t that I’m not proud of how far we have come – I absolutely am. Maybe part of it is because I understand how it can feel being on the other side.

I can admit that I’ve seen my friend’s new Lexus or Sub-Zero fridge and felt that pang of jealousy. Hell, I’ve been jealous of my sister’s gorgeous kitchen for a long time now. Now that I finally have a kitchen I’m proud of, I just can’t help but be humble about it to others.

Have you ever felt embarrassed to talk about an accomplishment to others? How did you deal with it? Leave a comment and let us know!

It Gets Even Awesomer

Yesterday I was forwarded a video I’ve seen a before and loved. I crack up every time I watch it. Watch the SNL short “Taco Town” below.

(If you are reading the RSS feed, click through to the site to watch the video so the rest of the post makes sense.)

Isn’t that great? “The new pizza-crepe-taco-pancake-chili bag at Taco Town”! I think this came out when Taco Bell started wrapping tacos with multiple layers in order to make them “exciting”. Personally, I like good old fashioned tacos. Sometimes less is definitely more.

This skit reminded me of how we often equate “more” with “better”. Sometimes it’s true, like when I’m getting a bottle of ketchup that has 50% more as a bonus. More miles per gallon, more life per bulb, more …. In these examples more is definitely better for my money.

But sometimes “more” means “complex” and complexity doesn’t always equal better, as you can see with our Taco Town example. This happens a lot with electronics. The item with more options and buttons and functions must be the superior product, right? We get the complicated one thinking it might be more useful than the basic one but then don’t end up using much of the enhanced functionality it has to offer. Having the extras are nice, but seems like such a waste in the end.

Take my dishwasher for instance (I didn’t choose this dishwasher specifically, it came with the house). It has so many options that I’m a little overwhelmed by it. I always end up using the simple “normal wash” cycle. The foreman even had trouble figuring out the thing so we had to break out the manual to test it during the house walk-through. After reading the manual I learned that the dishwasher somehow senses how dirty my plates are and adjusts the wash time to optimize cleaning. I have no idea how it does that but I’m sure my dishes would get just as clean without that fancy “sensing” mode.

Do I really need 20 different washing cycles and 10 additional options on my washer to get my clothes clean? I’ve only used 5 different cycles and 2 extra option choices on the 30 loads I’ve done so far. And the extra cycles were tried out to experiment. I tend to find a few cycles that work well and stick with them. Don’t get me wrong, I love my washer but I’d probably love it just as much even if it didn’t have so many options.

It’s strange, but I feel a little guilty when I don’t use all the complicated features. It’s like I’m not using the machine to its full potential and the extras are wasting away. I know that I’m using the machine for what *I* bought it for but it still bothers me a little to know I paid for features I’ll never use.

Perhaps, when shopping for a product, we should think about what would accomplish the task at hand instead of getting dazzled by the extra cool features we aren’t likely to use very often. Gosh, I know that’s hard to do with all the temptations out there. Do I need complexity or simplicity to get the job done? Do I need my taco to have “15 great flavors” to satisfy my hunger?

6 Ways To Help Your Pets Adjust To Change

It’s my cat in a box!As we busily pack and prepare for the big move (the movers come this afternoon), we have started noticing that we aren’t the only ones feeling the stress.  Our kitties have been showing signs of being affected as well.  They seem on edge and out of sorts.  Every time we move a piece of furniture or place more stuff into boxes they seem to react.  One is acting out, another is acting withdrawn, and yet another is becoming unusually clingy and desperate for attention.  We are noticing they are even getting into little spats right now.

Moving brings about a change in your schedule (not to mention your physical home) that can really affect your pets.  That home is their sanctuary, their territory, and their world.  No longer having that predictability and normalcy can be even harder on your pets than it is on you.  When the hectic pace of moving becomes a blur of activity, remember to think of your pets.

Here are some ways we are trying to ease the transition for our kitty brood:

1.  Don’t pack everything.  Leave their favorite beds and toys out and save them for packing last.  Mark this box as an “open on arrival” box.  We are packing a special box of their favorite things to open as soon as the kitties move to the new house.  Our “kitty comfort pack” includes their favorite treats, wet food, tuna, beds, and toys.  We have already moved a few well worn scratching posts over to allow them to take out their frustrations if need be.  This will help them associate the familiar items and the yummy treats with the new place and help them realize that maybe the new house isn’t so bad after all.

2.  Consider calming agents.  There are all sorts of pheromone and homeopathic remedies out there to help ease the tension in stressful situations for pets.  One of the first things we did at the new house was plug in several Feliway diffuser units all around the home.  We figure this will saturate the air with feel good scents prior to their arrival and will help calm everyone down during the transition.  Remember to use something specifically meant for pets – many of the treatments humans use for stress relief can be poisonous for your pets.

3.  Use a room to transition.  Big new places can be scary, especially for cats.  Start them in a small room and once they have explored that area and feel comfortable slowly introduce them to the rest of the house.  The first night in the new house the kitties will be spending the night in a single room so they can acclimate.  This will help them avoid feeling overwhelmed and frightened by the strange new house.  Baby steps are best.

4.  Keep them safe.  Lock the pets in a room that you cleared out while the move is underway.  I have heard many horror stories of pets being lost, injured, or even killed while furniture and belongings are being transported out of the home.  Keep them in a secure room with food/water/litter and put a sign on the door instructing everyone to stay out.  It is better for them to be safe even if they are a bit lonely for a few hours.

5.  Reassure them.  When you are at home give them extra attention.  With their world being turned upside down they need you more now than ever.  Show them that even though change is in progress you are still there for them.  This will go a long way in calming fears. 

6.  Be understanding.  Now is the time that those less than desirable behaviors might occur.  Change is one of the most upsetting things to happen to a kitty so don’t be surprised or upset if they act out during the move.  One of our kitties is taking the move pretty hard and decided to pee on a box today to show his displeasure with the process.  He has never done that before.  We feel confident that he is acting out against us boxing up his environment and he felt the need to claim that property as his own.  We didn’t get mad.  We just cleaned it up and gave him extra love.  Getting mad does nothing – we need to help him during this time so he feels secure enough to stop marking his territory.

The Good Feeling Doesn’t Last

Who doesn’t need a solid gold A/C knob?  C’mon!I heard this great quote the other day. It really spoke to me and describes how I’ve felt about new cars and many other purchases.

The quote is from Professor Barry Schwartz. He’s talking about the feelings we get when we purchase something we’ve desired for a long time. You know, the stuff we believe is the “absolute best”. In this case, it’s a Mercedes convertible:

The good feeling doesn’t last. We get used to having the Mercedes.
It’s spectacular. It’s better than sex the first week.
It’s better than a meal at a great restaurant the second week.
It’s pretty damn good the third week.
And after that it’s just your car.

To me, this spoke volumes. This quote has to do with a lot more than just cars!

Imagine, if you will, how much more you could save if you had just bought a car instead of a fancy car with all the trimmings, especially when the good feeling usually fades. Is spending thousands of dollars more to get that car you’ve been dreaming about worth it when, in the end, it’s really just going to become “a car”?

To some folks, it may very well be, and I see no problem with that. If it’s been your dream to own a Mercedes, and you honestly feel it’s a smart financial decision, then it’s important to try and realize your dreams. I know Melissa still loves the knives she has even though she could have gotten cheaper versions for the same job. Perhaps they aren’t as exciting now as they were at one point, but she still loves her knives, babies them, and they are critically important for her cooking.

I think the moral of the story here has more to do with keeping in mind that something that may seem exotic or unattainable, or something you’ve attached a lot of desire to, can become mundane after a short time. Personally, I’ve had this feeling with regards to things other than cars. My first DVD player I went all out and got a very expensive model that could take two DVDs at once and had a lot of features that I thought would make for a crisper picture. In the end, I’d probably have been just as happy with a plain jane model. I would have saved a lot of money, too. It didn’t really play movies any better than the cheaper DVD players.

You have to do what’s right for you, but I think the next time I consider an expensive purchase that I’ll think whether or not it’s worth the money to get the bells and whistles (or prestige) in the long term, not just the short term. That will come in handy as we continue to find more things we need for the new house.

Image Source: Mike Babcock

Moving Is Helping Us Simplify

Definitely GoodwillWe’re excited about moving and have been packing in anticipation. It’s a lot of work, but it’s actually been pretty enjoyable. We’re being very critical of what we decide to keep.

Melissa and I have been part “pack rat” in the past. I think some of this is just part of being human. It’s not like humans always had easy access to whatever we needed historically. That’s a much more modern invention. For centuries, we’ve had to make do with what we had and reuse and store literally everything. You never knew when you might need something, and it’s not as though you could go to the convenient 24-hour Walgreens down the street when that time came. Those who were prepared fared better than those that didn’t. It’s just a leftover ancient human survival mechanism.

So now we’ve been going through each item, and talking about it. We have 4 piles we’re using:

We’re definitely leaning more toward the “donate” pile. We do intend to write our donations off, but it’s more about giving than it is about the benefit to us. I’d really like to think that some of the items we’re donating will improve someone’s life.

Each time we talk about an item, we go through a little list :

A big key for us was to not let ourselves get too stuck on the “what ifs” or the “well ifs”. Well, I might need that USB hub. No, I don’t. I have 4 USB ports, and only 2 items that need USB. There will never be a critical need for a USB hub. That goes directly to Goodwill.

Another thing we’ve noticed about ourselves is that we don’t really rewatch many movies now. In the past, when we watched more TV, we might consider rewatching a movie. Now, we hardly ever have the TV on, and the movies sit and collect dust. We’d rather donate, give those away, or sell them. They just take up room.

It’s a great feeling. I think the whole concept of simplifying your life needs more coverage, but maybe in another post. Right now we’re happy to just be reducing what we have, and hopefully helping other people in the process.

Picture by janetmck

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