Thank you for dropping by!

I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.





Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

In 2 minutes or by the time I post this, it will officially be the last day of 2014.

What a crazy year. 

At the end of last year, I blogged about how 2013 looked good on paper but was exhausting I vowed to make changes.

So how did it go?

Eh.

I think I did yoga 5 times.

I went to a great Deepak Chopra conference and that lasted about 6 weeks.

Still fat. 

Evening walks...2 maybe 3...

Traveling- the conference and a nice trip to Yellowstone.

And cooking more... well, this summer we ate out nearly every meal because we were living in mother-in-law's house, we were busy with the new house build, etc. etc.

I did, however, stick to some good ones. 

Tuck ins were rarely missed.

Once we moved into our new house, we started having "Wine O'Clock"- we sit on our front patio and watch the sun slip behind the mountains.  We're pretty good about doing that nearly every night.

So basically, I drank and tucked my kids in.

BUT- my point last year was to start focusing on my life and live in the moment.

That, my friends, I accomplished.

It was completely nuts to sell our house.  I was tired of waiting.  I am patient by nature, but I was sick and tired of waiting for the good stuff.  I save.  I work hard. 

I didn't want to stay another year in a house that was not our happily every after home.  I wanted years of memories before the kids left for college and their own lives.

About 2 days into our new house, it was already home.

I have an AMAZING kitchen and I'm back to cooking. 

We've done more family movie nights.

We even took 2 whole walks.  It's a start.... don't judge.

And my business had its best year ever.  I've been able to work well from home on the days that I needed to be here.  My staff is amazing at the office.

I can feel the balance coming back.

So on paper, 2014 looked pretty amazing and you know what?

It really was.

Because I'm finding my groove.  I'm saying no to the noise and yes to what's important to me.

I'm back to living my life.  On my terms.

Aligning my values with actions.

It's amazing how that works.

So what's the scoop for next year?  More of the same. 

And hopefully more blogging as well- I can feel the funny coming back...

Happy New Year!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Getting Through the Holidays"



I had a friend say we should get together once we "get through" the holidays.


I know what she meant.  There are a ton of kids' activities- concerts, etc.  Parties.  Gifts to get.  Decorations to put up.  Cookies to bake.  For me, business deadlines to meet.


There's a lot going on.


 But I don't like to "get through" anything.


 I hated that our house build this year felt like something we suffered through versus something we enjoyed.  I hated that because of all the hurdles we had to jump through we never got to savor the process until the very, very end.  It was rush to do this.  Rush to pick this out.  Rush to turn in this requirement for the mortgage.  Rush to sign this document.


 Our new neighbors are Indian and they didn't move into their house for a week for the soul purpose of respecting the land and the animals that had lived there before.  They blessed every doorway and praised every god.


 We got the keys, had painters there in 20 minutes and started bringing our crap in.


 We didn't really have time to savor the moment.


 It bothered us.  We are still, in some ways, unwinding from the process.


 So this holiday season we said no more than yes.  Actually, all year, I've been saying no more than yes.  I quit a book group I'd been in for more than 15 years.  I dropped off some committees. I opted to not get too terribly involved in the kids' schools.


 I stopped trying to "get through" life.  Very consciously.


 I understand what my friend meant- completely.  But the holidays are a BEAUTIFUL time.  You get to see people.  The music is hopeful.  The decorations are breathtaking.  You get to dress up.  You get to eat amazing food that you don't eat all year.  For a few days the world sorta stops.  My kids are home.  My daughter has her birthday. 


 It's all good.


 And this year, unfortunately, there are a few people that I adore that won't be here next year. The miracles have sadly played out. That's probably why I'm a little more defensive about quality over quantity this year.


 A few years ago my husband's uncle was diagnosed with cancer right before Christmas.  We dialed down the Christmas celebration.  Two months later it was his father that had died. 


 We looked left.  Life took a right.


Please, this year, don't try to get through the holidays.  Enjoy them.  Enjoy every last stinking drop of them. 


 You never know when it's your last one.


 You have a choice in life- to suffer through or to savor every moment.


 I hope this holiday season you choose to savor the moments. 


 You will never remember the gifts, how the turkey tasted, who came the party and who didn't--


 You will remember the feeling.


 Make it one of love and not stress.





Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from my family to yours.





Saturday, November 29, 2014

$6 on the Ground

Today I had some shopping to do.  Crap I sorta needed to get but didn't need enough to risk my life shopping on Black Friday.

I went to Target, my go to place for all things random.  I have to say I am quite happy that they expanded the grocery section at my local Target.  I actually had a weird list that included replacing some of my spices and nail polish remover (not because I wear nail polish, but because my husband had a super glue incident).

So walking into Target,  I saw a roll of dollars on the ground.  I picked it up and it was $6.  A $5 bill and a $1 bill rolled up.

Six dollars. My lucky day.

I picked it up and thought "hmmm... maybe I'll get a Starbucks with it" because my local Target also has a Starbucks.  I was tired and coffee sounded pretty darn tasty.

I then flashed back to my senior year in college.  I was broke (typical) and was walking to a study group and there was $20 on the ground.

That was a LOT of money to me in 1993. 

There also were 2 girls in front of me, about 30 yards ahead.

I saw that one of the girls backpacks was open.

So I said "Excuse me, did you drop this?"

She said yes and thanked me.  I think it was a lot of money to her, too.  She also commented that it was really nice that I did that because I could have just kept it and no one would have known.

Not true.  I would have known.

Anyhow, I was feeling really proud of myself.  Yeah me.

Then I got to my study group.

I apparently had left my wallet in the room after our meeting the night before.  Fortunately one of my partners grabbed it for me because they didn't want to leave it in the room.

Talk about karma.  That happened within less than 10 minutes apart.  Karma works fast in my life.

When I saw the $6, I thought I should at least pretend to look for someone who may have dropped it.  I was trying to fool Karma.

I figured "it's $6- I'm getting the coffee."

As I was standing in line, however, Karma started to bother me.  She is such a bitch sometime.

Then I thought about the conversation I had with 2 Target workers over the weekend.  We were getting some things for the house.  I asked if they were working on Thanksgiving.  One happily said no, the other sadly said yes.

I said "Well, didn't you volunteer?  They keep saying everyone working volunteered for the extra pay."  Which I knew was complete bullshit.

It was.

She said that her mom was in from Texas and at time and a half, she would only make about $100.  She said sharing the holiday with her mom was worth more than $100 but least she didn't have to go in until 6 pm.

So in my hand I had $6.  Which is the equivalent of a frappucino.

Or an hour of work, after tax, for a Target worker.

An hour of their life.

Or to me, loose change on the ground and a ridiculously overpriced, caloric caffeine bomb.

I went over to the Customer Service counter and said "Hey I found this outside."  She looked at me like I was crazy.

After all, it was only $6.

I think she set it aside.  Or maybe she kept it.

And I don't care.

I didn't need it.

I went back to the Starbucks counter and got a black coffee- which I prefer anyhow.  I paid with it with the loose change in my purse.  $2.

I went on my way and bought the stuff on my list.  The store looked looted after Black Friday and the workers were there, working incredibly hard, restocking the shelves.

And if you didn't know, the workers at Target make the same as Wal-Mart.  And the same as most retail stores.

Which is squat.

Because somewhere we decided their hard work wasn't worth it.  Even though, as a society, we certainly shop a lot.

But an hour of someone's life was worth the equivalent of loose change on the ground.  Or a cup of coffee.

No matter your politics, that just doesn't seem right to me.

I don't really know where I'm going with this- I apologize.  I guess had one of those "Wow" moments and wanted to share it.

I wondered if one of the workers had dropped the money one their way home.  And if they had, I really wanted them to be compensated for the hour of the life that had given up so that I could buy a new pan.

I hope my $6 found its way into the right hands. 

So Karma, if you're reading this, please make sure that it does.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankfulness

Last Thanksgiving I had no idea it would be the last Thanksgiving we would celebrate in our old house.  Just like the Thanksgiving before we didn't know it would the last one we shared with my husband's grandmother.

I love to look through old pictures from the past and see how the people around the table have changed over the years.  In my 20s, it was always friends.  In my 30s, my husband's and now my family.  In my 40s, the family is changing with new people joining us, others moving on, some passing away and friends joining us back at the table.

I've always believed that's what made life so interesting- you never know.  It ebbs and flows. 

This holiday season our family has had some pretty bad news.  While we moved into our new, beautiful home. 

The yin and the yang.

I didn't know how festive we would really feel like being.  When I had some friends ask if they could join us, I said yes.  It lightened the mood and kept us focused on all the good things.

And our house- wow- it is turning into everything we dreamed it would be.  A place for our friends and family to gather.  A place to make memories.

Last night, very appropriately, our new neighbors invited us to join in their house blessing.  They are Indian and we had no idea what to expect.  It was amazing.  Their families and friends all joined as the priest blessed every part of their home.  As a Catholic, when the priests blesses your house, they sprinkle a little holy water, you say a pray and that's it.  This was about 2 hours.  We were the only non-Indians there.  One of their cousins commented that it was really fun to watch it through our eyes- we were mesmerized.  He said they attended these things so often that they forgot how special it truly was.  And it was.  Our new neighbors were starting their new life.  They celebrated it. 

And that's what we did today.  Our first holiday in our home.  Our first party.  Family & friends coming together to give thanks. 

Because while our house is great,without the people in it, it wouldn't be a home. 

So today, I am most thankful for my home- the people who fill it-- the dreams it holds- the memories it will create- the laughter it's already held.  Today I am thankful for the wonderful life I've been given.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Favorite Things- Just in Time for the Holiday Season!

Yes, it's that time of year!  Oprah just announced her list, the websites are starting their must-haves and I don't want to be left out.

So, as you begin your holiday spending spree, here are my Top Ten Things I Can't Live Without.

1) Bubble Baths in Candlelight with Cool Music Playing

Nothing is better than kicking back on a Friday night, lighting a few candles and chilling to some cool tunes in the tub.  I usually prefer ambient music.  My daughter calls them "peace baths" because after barging in one time I said, "Sweetie, Mommy just needs a little peace and quiet."

Cost: $1-$2

2) Sunsets

I first started "sunsetting" in college.  There is a hill called Libe Slope (by the library) that looked out over Cayuga Lake.  At sunset, a group of us would sit silently and watch the sunset.  I try to catch as many sunsets as possible.  I love the deep blue the sky turns, as the stars pop out.  The mountain range line is perfect.  I have been known to make my family stop whatever they are doing to partake in "my favorite time of day."

Cost: $0

3) Eating Dinner at a Table

Even as a single gal, I have eaten nearly every meal at a table.  For some reason people thought this was weird.  We try to have every family meal around the table together almost every night.  I can't imagine life without that little stop in the day to regroup.  I also feel that way about breakfast, but I do tend to skimp on that one and lunch is at my desk which is technically a table...

Cost: $0- assuming you have a table and were planning on eating anyhow

4) Reading

I read anything and everything.  It's the best way to spend an afternoon.

Cost: $0 at the Public Library

5) Campfires

Everything is better by the campfire.  I look better in firelight.  My family gets along better around a campfire.  It just makes life better.

Cost: $0-$25 depending on if you live somewhere that requires you to go somewhere to camp or start a fire

6) Music

I sing pretty much constantly.  I also like to dance.  I miss playing in an ensemble.  I think everyone would get along better if we sang to each other rather than spoke.  Music can change a mood.  It calms me.  It inspires me.  It can make me cry.  It can make me smile.  It can make me remember.

Cost: $0- just open your mouth and sing.

7) Making Out with My Husband

Hopefully, not everyone has access to this gift.  However, feel free to insert your own kissable person.  Kissing is highly underrated in the oversexualized world.  No one is too old to make out to some great hair band ballads.   At least that's what works for me.

Cost:  Well... that's debatable.

8)  My Children's Laughter

Listening to my kids laugh makes me smile from the inside.  There is nothing better in the world.  In fact, listening to any children laugh immediately makes me smile.

Cost: Sometimes my dignity, but if it gets a laugh, it's worth it.

9) Perfectly Cooked Eggs

I recently started having eggs fried lightly in olive oil and seasoned with rosemary, thyme, kosher salt and pepper for breakfast.  It takes 5 minutes and just starts the day in the best way ever.

Cost: $2-a high end item

10) Friends

One of the very best parts of my life is that I surround myself with great people.  I don't have a lot of tolerance for people who are negative, continually in distress, treat others poorly-- so by not including those people in my life-- even ones I'm related to-- it makes my life so much easier.  I'm there when my friends need me and I don't expect them to be happy constantly.  But the ones that drain me-- I stop calling.  Fortunately, they are usually too absorbed in themselves to notice.  Life is too short to spend on people who are energy suckers.  Do yourself a favor this year for the holidays, choose your friends wisely.  Thin the rolodex.  Spend your time with those whose time you enjoy.  Because time is not unlimited.

Cost: $0


While I can appreciate that some of these items are hard to fit under the tree or in a stocking (especially the eggs), I highly encourage you to try out a few on the list or consider giving them as gifts this holiday season.

Merry Everything!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

One of the Best Things of the Week

Sorry I've been lax all year in writing-- it's been crazy, busy, frustrating, happy-- and if I can't write something nice, why write anything at all, right?

Anyhow, something life changing happened this week that I had to share with my interwebz family.

I learned how to cook perfect bacon.

And by perfect, I mean PERFECT.

If you are a bacon person, bookmark this now (or you can search for the site where I got this amazing revelation).

If you are not a bacon person, I question your existence.

I am a fan of the website kitchn.com and America's Test Kitchen.  So when Kitchn.com posts something from America's Test Kitchen, I bite.

I am also a cooking snob- I've been cooking for a very, very long time.  It's very natural.  I make good bacon, so how much better could it be?

You have no idea.  Just do this.  Immediately.  I will wait while you go out and buy bacon.

Are you back now?

Okay.  Put the bacon in a pan.

Easy enough.

Now here's where you must trust me-- cover the bacon in water.

Yes.  Water.  The crap that if you add it to the pain will shoot out like little fireballs and burn you (that whole oil and water not mixing thing).

Just. Do. It.

Then, turn the heat to medium-medium low, place either a grease screen or a lid half on and let the water cook away.

This will render the fat.  Once the water is gone (about 15 minutes?), you will hear the delicious bacon start to sizzle.  Turn the heat up slightly, turn the bacon once.  And no worries about the grease fireballs- little to no splatter.  No joke.

Magically, it will turn into photoshopped perfection.

I kid you not.

It will be perfectly crisp, not burned.  It will be juicy, not greasy. 

My son, a lover of bacon, was blown away.  I mean, even bad bacon is good.  But this was PERFECT. 

The extra (which I hid for salad toppings), crumbled perfectly.

So there you have it.  On my new stove in my beautiful home, I learned to make the most perfect bacon.

It is a sign of all the good things to come- I'm sure of it.

Now some of you may question this method or think you have a better one-- like baking it.  I do that, too, and probably will continue to bake it for large parties (like brunches), but this... I'm telling you... try it.

Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Marrying the Nice Guy

I read an article recently- I think on Maria Shriver's website (great site if you haven't checked it out) about how if you really want to find "the one" you need to throw out your checklist.

It was well timed because today is my anniversary.

So you might be wondering, if I have such a great marriage, why I am blogging instead of being at a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant and then having crazy, off the chart sex?

Simple.

It's Monday night.

We both worked.

We had a Girl Scout field trip.

We are moving next week.

We are tired.

And who really likes getting busy after a big meal?

Sexy, huh?

But that's kinda what the article was about.

If you just got to know me recently, you may simply see me as a dowdy middle aged mommy with a fairly wicked sense of humor.  However, if you knew me awhile ago, you can testify that while I was never the hot chick, I was, for some bizarre reason, the gal everyone proposed to.

No joke.

For some reason, everyone wanted to marry me.  And not just the folks that officially proposed- I had quite a few more mention it "When we get married...." which usually caused me to choke.  I even got one proposal on a first date.  He was sorta kinda kidding but a few months into it... well...

And I never really saw myself married.  I never did relationships well.  I get bored.  Very easily. 

One of my favorite date memories is going to a wedding, ironically.  I was dating a colleague (last time I did that) and some department head's daughter was getting married and we went together.  No one really knew we were dating, so it was a bit of a big deal to be out.  He was one of those "Some day when we're married" guys and I was "Um... I'm not getting married."  But, like every guy he seemed to think every girl dreamed of a wedding and eventually I would come around to it.

So it came time for the bouquet toss.

Every single woman who does not want to get married's nightmare.

And I initially said "Oh... no... I'll sit this one out..."  and of course because I'm nice, people think they can push me around, so there I was, on the dance floor with the flower girl and the bridesmaids. 

Up goes the bouquet.

And as it came hurtling straight at me, I did what any normal, single girl would do...

I shrieked and whacked it out of the way.

As if it were a bag of poo.

It fell to the floor and some poor bridesmaid desperately dove for it.

The reception fell quiet.

I, very embarrassed, walked back to my date.

He very politely said "You know, the scream... that was something..."

We broke up the next week. 

And there were others.  Not that I was a big slut or anything, just to clarify.

Marriage terrified me.  Every. Single. Day. With. The. Same. Person.

But here's the thing- I met my husband.  Who truly is nothing whatsoever that I ever imagined I would date, let alone marry.

My friend Gigi thought otherwise.

Because my husband is a nice guy. 

That's it.  Really.  A nice guy. 

And while all the other guys would try to impress me or try to play games, my husband just really liked me, let me know and was completely and utterly himself.

No games.

Just his awkward, uncomfortable, inexperienced nice guy self.

How stinking adorable is that?

He doesn't try to be cool or hip.

He doesn't try to be anyone else.

He gets pissed and let's it all out.

He still loves me even though I got really, really fat because why wouldn't he?

He's not perfect.  He knows it.

And he let's me be all those things, too- unhip, awkward, emotional, unguarded and imperfect.  Not me playing the role of "cool chick" or "smart chick" or "funny chick" or whatever chickadee someone imagined I was and then would be shocked when it turned out that sometimes I'm not funny, I screw up and I really DID enjoy staying in on Friday nights in my 20s watching "Sabrina the Teenage Witch "in my pjs after a bubble bath.

That feels good to finally admit.

So 13 years later, my husband and I can sorta kinda blow off our anniversary (we went to dinner last night) and say "You know what... it's 13... no biggie... we'll celebrate once we're in the new house..."

Because I can just be me.  And he can just be him.  And no one is going anywhere. 

And it's really not terrifying at all.

In fact, it's quite nice.

In fact, we are much better together than separate and I have a strange feeling maybe that's what marriage really is all about after all.




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Assessing the Alpha and the Beta of My Life

I'm a stockbroker- well really a financial planner who is a stockbroker.

What I really do, however, is manage risk.  The what-ifs of life- if you die prematurely, if you become disabled, if you lose your job, if you live to 100, if your kids get into Harvard, if your kids sleep on your couch, if your parents need your help as they age, if the market goes up, if the market goes down.

If you're a blog reader, you probably didn't pick up on my hyper analytical personality.  I'm a numbers gal.  With a sense of humor.  We do exist.

Anyhow, needless to say, this past month has just been a barrel of laughs.

Not.

Anyhow without getting technical or crossing the line into financial advice, two of the many factors of reviewing an investment portfolio and it's risk are alpha and beta.

Beta, is the easiest to understand.  In very layman's terms, beta is how risky something is compared to it's peer groups. 

For example, if you compared the risk factors of playing chess to sky diving, that's really not a fair comparison.  If you compared the risk factors of sky diving with hang gliding, that would be closer.  Which one is riskier? Make sense?

Alpha is how are you rewarded for taking that additional risk.  In other words, is it worth it?  Starting a business, for example, is extremely risky.  Most fail.  But those that survive tend to make the owners far wealthier than if they had been working for someone else. Bill Gates has done well.  Your buddy who thought it would be great to buy a bar because they like to drink... probably not. 

See how I explained those concepts without discussing finance?  That's for any supervisory person reading this...

This is how I've been trying to look at my life.

As I've blogged before, I'm a risk taker at heart. Absolutely.  At 18, I got on a plane to go live with a family I had never met in a country where I didn't speak the language.  I applied to a college that was way out of my scope of reality and got in.  I quit a fancy Fortune 500 job and moved to Vegas.  I accepted a job that was 100% commission when I was 25 years old.  My husband and I were married 2 months when we decided to have kids.

But I also assessed the risks of each- the Rotary Club had sponsored millions of students.  If I wanted to come home, I could.  My Plan B for college was a full scholarship to an honors program that was actually more difficult to get into than my preferred college.  I moved to Vegas with a job in a field for which I was well trained.  If the commission job didn't work out, I knew I could easily get a job.  The kid, well, my mother-in-law is great with them if I sucked as a mother.

And if it worked out, I would learn a second language, have an Ivy League degree, not have to deal with winter, have unlimited income potential, be my own boss and have an awesome kid.

Huge potential outcomes.  With risk. 

A high beta, but an unknown alpha.

Looking back, all of it was worth the risk.  Very high alpha outcome.

But things change when you have people who are dependent upon you in your life.  A few years into my career, I realized the role I really did play in my clients' lives.  An elderly client once introduced me to her girlfriends as her "friend and trusted adviser."  Wow.  That's important.  I should be careful.

And I have kids.  I was in a car accident when my son was 4 months old and I remember as the car came careening towards me "I can't die... I'm a mother."  I'm a VERY defensive driver.  I drive like an old lady.

And my husband is VERY cautious.  Very.  I say he's the squirrel and I'm the magic bean buyer.

But I'm really not like that any more.

My threshold for a high beta life, stopped. 

But then we sold our house.

Seriously.  That's a big deal.  We didn't have to move.  It was a want.  It was a "Hey, it's time for a change." 

It was me, the magic bean buyer, convincing my husband to jump off the cliff.  That everything was going to be okay.  The timing was perfect.  If we were going to jump, we needed to do it.  Right then.

The old me shining through.

And on paper, it looks so great.  Sold our house quickly.  Found the perfect house.  Got in before prices started to escalate.  Sold before prices in our neighborhood started to drop once everyone else started to list their house.

Awesome potential alpha.

But it DIDN'T really go like that.  There were problems with the appraisal on the sale.  We had to rush to move when everything did go through.  Then we had squatters.  Then it wasn't recorded correctly.  Our mail hasn't been forwarded consistently (I'm assuming we've had more than 5 pieces in 4 months).  We have a great place to live but we packed and stored the wrong stuff.  My daughter's school enrollment got screwed up (not just the class assignment).  She cried every day for 2 weeks because she missed her friends.  We've given the mortgage company 112 documents and still, one week out, don't have a final approval for our loan.  Our tax returns apparently didn't post correctly which could have completely screwed up our closing date.  And still could.

So this was supposed to be our last week sharecropping at my mother-in-laws and I'm still not sure when we are moving.

And there are three other people that are depending on me to make this work.  It was my idea.  And my mother-in-law is awesome but at some point, she would like her house back.

Assuming we eventually move into our new home, it will be hopefully worth it.  My son can walk to school.  My daughter's new school has completely changed her academic experience- she is thriving beyond anything I could have imagined.  And my new kitchen... sweet.

However, I would be LYING if I said I was fine.  Or good. 

I am a train wreck.  What the hell was I thinking?!?! 

I was complaining to my friend Julie today that I have not had a chance to truly enjoy any of it.  Every time I get excited it seems like something little or silly or serious sucks the fun right out of building a house. 

But then I have to step back and remember that it was a high beta choice to begin with.  Life is easier without change.  To play it safe.  To never make a jump or take a risk.

Which is why, when people die, they always regret what they didn't do-- rarely what they did.

So we jumped.  Or rather I pushed the entire Bean Team off the cliff.

And it has not been smooth.

And the reward is still theoretical at this point.

I am bouncing along in chaos.

The alpha unknown.

The most stable, wonderful part of my life- my family-- thrown into utter chaos because of my wanderlust.

Well, we are only moving a mile....

Was it the right choice?  Will it work out?

I don't know. 

I am hopeful.

Stay tuned.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thoughts on the eve of 9/11

I don't remember what I was thinking when I went to bed on September 10, 2001.  Probably about the stock market that was not looking so good or maybe my wedding that was 5 weeks later or maybe how was I going to pay for a wedding with the stock market not looking so good.  Probably that last one.

Then, as many people on the West Coast, I awoke to a new world.  I was terrified for my friends in New York- were they okay?  Were their families okay?  What had happened?  Was it widespread?  What do I do?  Do I go to work?  Do I stay home and watch the news?  Are my clients okay?  Who did this?  Why did they do it?

Fear.  Panic. Love.  Anger.

Every emotion.

I didn't know anyone who died.  I had friends in the towers that got out- more like acquaintances- people from classes in college that were nice.  In fact, I didn't even know people who knew people who died.

My cousin who worked in the Pentagon had had his office moved the day before-- otherwise---  well...  But to be honest, we weren't nearly as close as we are now.  I hadn't met his wife yet-- she's now one of my all time favorite people.  In a flash, they can both go back to that moment and you can see how terrifying it was.  I cannot pretend to understand.

I watched it from a couch in Las Vegas, NV.  Then I went to work numb.  No one knew what to do. 

It felt hopeless.

It felt terrifying.

I vowed to be a better person. I vowed to be more grateful.  I vowed to be engaged in the world more- to make a difference.

Thirteen years later... well... two kids... we're building a house... I just seem so tired...

And the world is even angrier it seems.

For awhile, I thought we might have healed.  Then it was gone.

Us against Them became Us against Us.

On 9/11 I try to go back to that place in my heart- the place of sheer despair that made me want to be a better person- make a better world.

I try to be grateful for the amazing life I have.

And it is amazing.

I have a beautiful, healthy family.  I am absolutely in love with my husband.  I have a career that is fulfilling.

There is nothing that I want or need.

There's a part of me that gets angry that people seem to have forgotten 9/11.  But there's also this part of me that is somewhat glad-- it means the terrorists didn't win.  They didn't destroy us.  They didn't ruin us.

We move forward.

That's the only option.

And we take a part of it with us.  And it becomes part of us.

Tomorrow I will pause and remember.  I will be grateful. 

And then I will go to work.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Politics, Government and what is Right with the World

Last night I attended a fundraiser for a political club with which I am fairly active. 

And this isn't a blog on my political beliefs.

The very cool thing about the event was the diversity of the people who were in the room.  And I don't mean racially.

Economically.

There were wealthy donors.  There were poor activists.  There were teachers. There were lawyers.  There were judges.  There were doctors.  There were administrative assistants.  There were congressmen.  There was a future congresswoman.  There were students. There were commissioners.  There were bartenders. 

In one room there were all kinds of people, together, celebrating the lives of some amazing woman who have changed the world.

The friends that I invited had fun meeting people, talking with people.  It really was a fantastic night.

But what I hope my friends left with-- because I always do-- is how completely accessible our government is to us.

You don't have to be rich to have an impact in our country.

You really don't.

The last election, a bunch of people tried to buy it.  They truly did.  It didn't work.  Because at the end of the day, the vote of the bartender counts as much as the trust fund recipient.

I think people forget how amazing that really is.

I hate when people bitch out "the government."  We are the government.

You don't like something?  Write a letter. If that doesn't work, schedule a meeting.  If that doesn't work, go to a public meeting.  If that doesn't work, schedule a protest.

Your voice can be heard.

It really doesn't take a lot of effort, either.

The women that were honored weren't born with silver spoons in their mouths.  Some had more advantages than others, but they all have made an impact.

I have a very good friend who at 19 fought to change the face and opinion of immigration in this country.  She has some very important people who know her name.  She is shy but she had had enough.  Now in her 20s, she gets things done.

Last night people spoke of an amazing woman who unexpectedly passed away who was a mover and a shaker.  She leaves a big hole.  Her voice will be missed.  She was kind but she never let up.

There was a quiet, softspoken teacher in the back who worked with a louder, assertive teacher in the front to integrate Las Vegas schools.  They have schools named for them.  You would never know looking at them what a huge difference they made in the world.

None of these people were or are  obscenely wealthy on a balance sheet.  But clearly, their lives had a major impact on the lives of others.

So say what you want about our broken government. 

I don't think it is as broken as people say.

I think people need to be more engaged.  More informed.  Understand the issues- all sides.

Have you been to a school board meeting?  A commission meeting?  A council meeting?  Have you taken the time to get involved?

If you haven't, then shut up.

You don't have a right to complain.

If our government is broken, it is because as a society we have become broken.  We expect others-- including elected officials-to do it for us.  For other people.

I lost it with some parents on the playground last spring.  They changed how they were doing the 5th grade culmination at my kids' school.  I listened to these parents bitch and moan about it.  Then I said:

"You know they had a meeting about it, right?  They asked for volunteers?"  They nodded.  "You know who showed up?  Me and Mrs. Bailey.  That was it."  Silence.  "So when they explained that they were doing it differently and how much work it took to do it the old way, I knew I didn't have time to do it.  Mrs. Bailey didn't.  So we said 'Okay.'  If you really cared so much you should have shown up and offered to help."

Because I'm tired of listening to people complain about everyone else-- especially when they can make a difference and be involved.


The government, the schools- they are a reflection of our society.

They are a reflection of us.

They are a reflection of you.

If you think the world is broken, then do something about it.

Write your own verse.

Because the world needs you.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Trying to Write in a World that Knots my Stomach

I haven't been blogging much.

Well, I have.  I just haven't published them.

I'm angry at the no do nothing Congress.

I'm angry that my country is so divided when the world clearly needs us to be united.

I'm angry that we had meth heads in our bath tub.

I'm angry that there are meth heads.

I'm angry that the meth heads are in such a bad place that to be honest, I don't know how they get out of it.

I'm angry that large corporations treat their employees like shit.

I'm angry that our local school system appears to be completely insane.

I'm angry that people fight over which religion is the best religion.

I'm angry that people mistake religion for morality.

I'm angry that we had a crap appraisal on our house.

I'm angry that because other people didn't pay their mortgages, now I am being treated like a lying thief in applying for a mortgage.

I'm angry that when people try to do something amazing like the Ice Bucket Challenge which raised over $50 MILLION, people bitch about it.

I'm angry that 99% of the things people write in comment sections are pure vitriol.

I'm angry that every time I try to watch the news, I want to yell.

I'm angry that the news doesn't seem to care about sources or journalistic integrity and I don't even know if what I watch or read is even remotely true.

I remember watching the global celebration as the year 2000 rolled in.  The fireworks.  The festivals.  The amazing unity that we all felt.  We were all on the same sphere spinning through the universe as one.

And then 9/11 happened. 

And then the financial markets collapsed.  Twice.

And people became bitter and angry.

And I tried to make the world a little lighter by writing funny things.

But honestly, I give.  At least in the US people seem committed to their misery.  God forbid that you point out that life really isn't as bad as it seems.

People won't budge in their misery and hatred.

Rather than me bringing people up, it just brought me down.

When I watched the global video of the song "Happy" I smiled.  Because we all are far more alike than different.  Because we are human. 

Yet people bitched about how annoying the song is.  A sweet song written for a cartoon about love and joy with a catchy beat.

People bitch about their kids.

People bitch about their husbands.

People bitch about their jobs.

And slowly but surely, I have been getting pulled into the quagmire of negativity.

The more I wrote, the nastier I sounded.  I was adding to the drone of hate.

So I stopped.  I tried to be funny.  And when I wasn't, I just stopped.

I was out.

Empty.


Drained.


You've heard the saying "Not my monkeys. Not my circus."

Well, I felt like getting a sign that says "I'm not the monkey in your circus."

Because there were actually people who were mad at me for not being my normally perky self.  In a "What's up her ass?" way. 

It. Was. Exhausting.

With Robin Williams passing, I rewatched a number of his movies- "Dead Poets Society" being one. I originally watched it when I was 19 and heading off to college, after I had gotten back from a year in Ecuador.  It stuck with me.

I also love poetry.  It started with Dr. Seuss grew to Shel Silverstein and then many others.

We read a little Walt Whitman in high school- I didn't understand him.

But during my junior year I did an internship in Atlantic City.  I took a humanities class at the community college and we read "Leaves of Grass."  At 22, I was the youngest person in the class.  To hear welfare recipients who were on grants to get degrees, retirees who were auditing the class for free, recovering addicts trying to change their lives-- to hear them discuss Whitman... well, that was better than any Ivy League poetry class every could have been.  Truly.

It was phenomenal.

It was perfect.

I sat and I listened.  To people who had lived life and sucked the marrow from its bones.

Whitman suddenly sounded very different.

So when I rewatched "Dead Poets Society" and he gave the speech about how poetry is about the essence of being human and quoted Whitman-- it hit me that I wasn't appreciating the beauty in my life. I was letting life suck the marrow out of me (For those unfamiliar with the movie or the poem, it's used in the Apple commercial)

But with the anger and stress I've been feeling lately- the out of controlness of life- it helped me to refocus a bit.

I control my life.  It is a privilege. 


Most of the items on my list were and are completely out of my control.

There will always be angry people out there. 

I am choosing to not be one of them.

I know this is all over the place- but it's because so is my mind. 

I'm tired of all the hate.  I'm tired of worrying about things that I can't control. 

I shared with a friend recently that I really try NOT to worry about things because I want to make sure my bucket is full when the shit really hits the fan and I do need to worry.

I need to refill the bucket with hope.  With optimism.  With appreciation for the amazing, beautiful life and the funny, wonderful friends and family that fill it.

And no one explains that better than Walt Whitman.

O Me! O Life!

By Walt Whitman
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

                                       Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.






Friday, August 22, 2014

Yes, My Husband is Just a Teacher

My husband is a teacher.

That often garners responses that range as wide as "He's a Super Hero" to "Oh."

In fact,  I like to tell the many stories of times the Mommy Mafia would accost me on the playground and say "Oh... you work?" as if I were a leper.  I would usually say "Yes.  My husband is a teacher."  And then they would nod and go "Oh... I get it."

As if we were close to starving to death on his meager wages.

More on that in a minute.

So yes, my husband is a just a teacher.  He's not an administrator.  He might go that route at some point, but honestly, right now, he loves what he does.

He's one of THOSE teachers.  The kind that kids remember for years to come.  The one that gets an obscene amount of treats and notes during Teacher Appreciation Week.

He cares about his students.  He cares about his classes. 

He is frequently frustrated.  He's had over 50 kids in his class.  In fact, his school even was used in example by President Obama during the last presidential debates.  He has had kids sit on the floor the first few weeks until Count Day-- when they see who is really showing up and who is simply in the database- and they can reschedule the students.  Then he will have often have 40+.  But at least they will have desks.  Unless everyone shows up.

He sits through training classes on whatever the latest and greatest system is developed by people who maybe taught a year or two.  Every year, it seems, there is some new method on how to teach.

He hears about test scores and their importance.  Of course, he doesn't teach a core class, so no one really cares. 

He stays up at night making interesting lesson plans.  He makes notes when he finds something that might be useful to use at some point.  He has some fantastic colleagues that share information and experiences.

He stays up inputting grades because he has very little time during the day to do the paperwork.

His classroom is where students and teachers come for lunch.  To hang out.  To chat.

I usually have the opportunity to watch him teach once or twice a year (I get to be a guest speaker on economics or money management sometimes).  It's amazing to watch him work.  He keeps the kids captivated.  They love him.  He makes it fun.  I have a crush on him all over again.

I've had a few of his students work for me over the years.  Today, my intern was sharing with another intern how great a teacher he was-- I was beaming.


And yes, I make a few dollars more than he does.  But honestly, by the time you throw in his time off, his pension, his health insurance- it's a better gig than most corporate jobs.  Seriously.

Plus, he gets to pick his kids up every day after school.  They have their own little routines.  He spends the summers with them.  How many dads get to do that?  As they've gotten older, he's really gotten attached to his time with them. 

He works in a career that most people think they can do-- and when they try, most fail (like the attorney who refused to accept any help from anyone and then walked out during the work day... or the retired military officer who never came back after Thanksgiving...).

So to sum up, yes, my husband is just a teacher.

He changes young people's lives.  He has time for our family.  He loves what he does.

And that's pretty darn cool from where I'm sitting.

Have a great school year, Papa Bean!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Comment Sections Online

I wish so very much that online newspapers and news websites would get rid of the reader comment sections below the articles.

It may end up being the saving grace of print materials because quite honestly, the comment sections make me sick to my stomach.

There is Facebook.  There is Twitter.  Comment all you want.  Be as hateful as your little evil soul can muster if you choose.

But why does CNN, CNBC, Yahoo- any online "news" source - feel compelled to open the forum up to Joe Moron from Idiotville, USA? 

What purpose does it serve the universe?

Joe Moron has nothing useful to contribute.  If he did, he would have gone to journalism school and learned to write.  Or perhaps even picked up basic sentence structure in the third grade.

I read the news to get information.  I read editorials to get opinions.

The comment sections have no purpose other than to destroy my faith in humanity.

Nearly everyone I know has gotten into an online pissing match with some jackass they don't know.  It's a time waster.

And here's the thing-- on social media sites, it's fine.  It's what they are for- to chat, discuss, etc.  But when every online magazine started opening up every article to every jackass with a log in, it ruined it.

If I read even the most basic article on something like the best way to pluck your eyebrows into a perfect arch, the comment section will start with a few comments on "Hey, I tried this...." or "One thing I learned..." or "Be careful of..."

But then JzzyGirl497 will make a nasty comment like "You dumbass..."

Then Mom2Sara will respond with "That's inappropriate."

And JzzyGirl497 will say "F*CK YOU STUPID MOM@SERRA ..YOU SHOULDA BEEN ABROTED YOU B*TCH"

And so on and so on.  And Mom2Sara is probably in tears.  Her husband is pissed. 

The point of the article long lost.

I would say I was exaggerating, but I'm not.

And here I sit in Nevada, getting angry at JzzyGirl497 who is probably the baby mama to Joe Moron and I've wasted my valuable time on this planet giving this a thought.

All I wanted to know was how to pluck my eyebrows.

If I elect to comment on a post on a social media site, like Facebook, I accept the possibility that I ca be attack by any fool with access to the Interwebz.

If I'm reading an article from a major publication, my input isn't necessary to the world  If they had wanted my opinion, they would have contacted me for a quote.

Online comment sections have become the adult forum for bullying.  It's annoying. It's disruptive.  It's rude.

It brings out the worst in people.

Remember when AOL first started?  You could go into chat rooms with like minded fools and say whatever you wanted.  They even would block or kick the big morons out.  Now, comments seem to be overwhelming sites.

I completely stopped reading my hometown paper online.  There are people who viciously attack others in what seems to be a side profession for them.  I would mistakenly make a comment from time to time on an article and a few days later would see that apparently my silly comment had started a war.

They talk about how divided the world is.

I blame the comment sections.  They are full of vitriol and hatespeak.

We don't need it as a society.  There are enough wars going on.  We don't need to fuel them with our alleged "intellectual" debates of uneducated, opinionated fools.

Again, what is their purpose?

I just want a news source. 

So please, if you are a major news publication, will you do me a favor and delete your comment sections?  If people want to comment, they can write a letter to the editor with their name and address- just like in the old days.  You know 10 years ago.  Feel free to set up a chat forum for members (you need $$, so charge a fee) and the bobbleheads can fight it out in the back room, away from the rest of us.

I have more important things to do.

Like pluck my eyebrows.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Minimum Wage and the Meth Heads in my Bath Tub

So last night as I was cleaning out the pubic hair that was stuck in the dirt film left in the tub by the meth heads, it hit me, what other options did they really have?

Oh wait-- I should back up a bit.

You're probably wondering why I had meth heads in the bath tub.

I wondered that as well.

We recently sold our home.  We moved out about a week before closing due to schedules and such.  We spent the past week going back and forth getting all the crap that you leave behind thinking "it's not much" but it really is more than a trunk full.

On Saturday night, we had a cleaning crew come through and clean the cabinets, the refrigerator, the baseboards- just a nice courtesy clean for the new owners.  The cleaning crew was there until 7 pm.

The new owners, a super nice family from Wisconsin, had their walk through at 12:30 on Sunday morning.

We have an alarm but we didn't set it up because we weren't sure, with the phone disconnected, if it would work or not.  We also thought it was more of an inconvenience to the cleaning crew and the realtor to do it.

It was one night.

At no point did we expect what happened next.

We decided after our quick move and all the stress that comes with selling a house, to kick back on Sunday.  We went to this awesome used book store and then took the kiddos to see "How to Train Your Dragon 2" at this fantastic luxury theater.  It had been crazy the past few weeks and we just wanted some family time.  We were going to go by the house that Sunday night, say goodbye to the neighbors, take some pictures and go out to dinner.

After the movie, however, my husband and I both noticed that we had numerous texts and messages.  What the heck?

When I came out of the restroom, his face was white as a ghost.  Normally, he's a pretty white guy to start with, but this was his "someone is dead" face.

Luckily, no one was dead- we hoped- but apparently squatters had moved into our beautiful home.

In the 12 hours it was vacant.

Squatters, if you are not family with the term, are people-- usually meth heads- that break into foreclosed and vacant homes and live.  It has been a HUGE problem in my neighborhood.  My neighborhood of very nice homes.  In fact, it's one of the reasons we are leaving our neighborhood.

So imagine the nice surprise the new owners got when they walked in and heard the showers running.  They knew we had planned on stopping by, so they assumed, as a normal person would, that it was us.  To be honest, they thought we might be having a quickie in the shower.  They were a little curious though, because the house reaked of cigarette smoke.  No one has ever smoked in my home.  Ever.  I would kill them.  I hate the smell.  Take your death sticks down the street and puff until your heart is content, but not in my home.

Much to their surprise, a man came out.  In his boxers.  Followed by a woman and another man.  They were in such shock, they didn't know what to do.  Which is a good thing.  Had we been there, my husband would have gone nuts.  I would have chased them down the street.  You should have seen me when someone threw a beer can on Halloween...

We pulled up about 20 minutes later and there were police helicopters overhead.  Their realtor said the cops were down the street.  They thought we had called the police.  We hadn't.

Apparently, they caught the well cleaned trio going into the "main" house- a house that has been vacant for more than 5 years and has become a regular squatters paradise.  They were taking a hose from the house next door into the squatter house.

They probably needed to rinse since their baths were ended quite abruptly.

So when I showed up with the stuff they had left, the police looked a little surprised.  How often do you have a soccer mom approach a meth head saying "Is this your bag with your Ragu and panties in it?"

I could understand his surprise.  I wasn't very nice. I can be viciously sarcastic when I am pissed.  And. I. Was. Pissed.

I was pissed because they had broken in.  I was pissed because the left a mess.  I was pissed because they had smoked. I was pissed that because of them my house value SUCKS.

Pissed.  Pissed.  Pissed.  The last few weeks have been insane and this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I said "Well at least you got cleaned up before going to jail!"

But after I got my pissy out, it really started to hit me that it was kinda funny.  Especially when the new owner was able to identify the one bather by his boxers.

And if you think about it, it IS a little hilarious.   There was minimal damage.  It could have been far worse.  The house could have burned to the ground.

The squatter house was full of all kinds of things.  Largely the things that they had been stealing with the rash of break ins we've had in our neighborhood.  Another reason we wanted to move.

I told the new owners that they are the neighborhood heroes-- they were able to solve the burglaries!!

Various police agencies arrived to fight over who got to take them to which jail-- would it be North Las Vegas?  County?  City?  So many warrants, so many choices!

But last night as I very seriously tried not to vomit as I made my best effort to clean up-- and wow- they really NEEDED to bathe- I started to think about what kinds of options were really available to them.  They were felons.  That limits your future career options.  And even if they could get a job, how on earth could anyone survive on $8.35/hour?  $17,000 a year?  For real?

And even without the felonies, based on the fact that they couldn't figure out how the security bar worked on the back door once they were inside, they weren't the sharpest knives to begin with.  They had some skills- they knew how to disable the garage door and remove my under counter radio without stripping the cabinets.  But what types of jobs were available to them that could actually allow them to have a decent life? A life in their own home.  Not mine.

And as I gagged, I felt a little compassion.

Not that I was happy that they had bathed in my house.

But what options are available to those people who maybe don't have basic life skills?  The bagger at the grocery store used to be able to have a car and a small apartment.  There's no way that's even a viable lifestyle any longer.  When I waited tables, every other waitress had a family to support and could do it somewhat.  Not extravagantly, but decently.

Maybe that's what happened to these folks.  They tried and couldn't do it and a life living in my house certainly seemed a lot better than what they faced.

Now they are in jail.

And they should be- without a doubt- but what's next for them?  There's nothing out there. Their lives won't ever be more than this.

And it made me kinda sad.

I just really wished they hadn't shaved.




Saturday, June 14, 2014

Days 6-??? What Day is it Again? House moves, kids, fathers, robots and friends

I don't have all my daily specifics but here's what's been going on...

I have moisturized and flossed every day.

I've meditated twice since my last post.

You may see this as failure-- I see this as I've moisturized and flossed every day.  The easiest ones, of course, but it's really easy to just fall into bed because...

We've had this house sale/house build thing going on.  It all looked great.  Until the appraisal fell apart.  Not because of the quality of the house-- in fact, if we lived a few blocks away our house would be worth about $50-$100,000 more.  A few blocks.

Anyhow, without sounding too crazy, it was an emotional week.  We assumed the deal was off.  As was our new home build.  So we were a little surprised when it went through with some adjustments.

Shocked.

And the movers, that we hadn't scheduled assuming it was off or would be delayed, were only available today.  Saturday.  We found out it was a go on Thursday.

Less than 48 hours.

To our credit, we had purged a few weeks ago when we put in new flooring and listed the house.  We had about a third already packed.  We also are staying at my mother-in-law's, so we did have to figure out what we needed and what we didn't.  We are going to be here until late October. 

But we got it done.  Almost.  We still have more than a week to get everything out and tomorrow we will spend Father's Day, moving the rest of the stuff to my MILs or throwing stuff out.  It always looks like it's not a lot, but it is always more than you think.   And next week I have 14 client meetings.  That's a lot, by the way.  We were planning on moving next weekend.  It had all looked good... then it got crazy.

Honestly, I'm grateful.  We would have procrastinated this whole week- I would have been too busy to do anything, so we got through it a week earlier and now we have some time to spend doing the last little bit.

It worked out for the best.

The whole experience also made us rethink how much we wanted this new home.  I had said that I really was fine staying in our current house.  That I love.  But when the option wasn't there, we were really sad.  Which was a great indicator that we really DID want to move.

Even the kids.  Yep, that's right.  My daughter was a little happy that we were staying at first, but then she said "What about the reading area we were going to put in...."  and she was bummed.

It reaffirmed that we were doing the right thing.

We needed it, too.  We were on the fence and it's scary to move forward when you're on the fence.

We're not scared any more.

We are really excited, in fact.

And all the while that we were going through this, my son had robotics camp.  I worked.  I had a client event even.  My husband was a nervous wreck.  We spent all of Monday picking out options on a house we didn't really think was going to work out.  Up and down.  Regular life went on while we were in limbo.

I usually do well with limbo- I work in a field that is perpetual in motion.  I am paid on commissions.  The majority of my professional life is uncertain- and I love it.  I am a risk taker by nature.  But my family... my family is my rock.  My home is my rock.  To not know was really stressful.  I can take risks, because home is my safe haven. 

Right before we found out that the buyers still wanted our house, my daughter was accepted at her new school on a zone variance- since we were moving, she could start the year there.  We went to register her thinking "oh well... at least she's in a better school."  We even told them it might be falling through.  Then it all came together an hour later.  And on Friday, my son and his partner won his division at robotics camp. 

And we moved.

So no, I did not meditate. I did not walk at night.  I did not make healthy meals.

I stress ate.

We went out a lot.


I couldn't sleep.

When I tried to meditate, I couldn't.  Just couldn't.  I was angry.  I was sad.  I was frustrated.

It was that bad.

So all I did was floss and moisturize.  And after EVERYTHING that happened this week, I'm good with that.

What really kept me grounded was the fact that I have amazing friends.  They cheered me on both virtually and personally.  My friend Ellen called at the perfect moment because she has been going through a similar situation with her house.  My friend Hadar sent me great links with information.  My friends Melissa and Anna Marie don't really want me to move, but listened to me bitch and made sure I was okay.  Kimberly, Doug and another Melissa who went out with me Friday night because I needed a break.  Julie who is my assistant and my friend knew what to keep off my desk this week.  Angela the sales agent on the new home called me back after I called to tell her what happened, simply to tell me that she actually broke down and cried after we spoke because it didn't seem fair (and before you say it's for her commission, it wasn't.  There's a HUGE waiting list for the development).  My mother-in-law who is simply the greatest person I know, kept checking in on me because I could tell she was sensing that I was very much on the edge. 

And then my poor, poor husband.  This Father's Day he gets to move the rest of the crap.  It's not as bad as the year I had a breast reduction and he had to drain the tubes... and we all had lice. 

But through the stress of the uncertainty, we had a few good arguments and it made our marriage even better.  We confirmed that we are both on the same page with what we want for the future and for now.

And our kids.  Holy crap, they are the most amazing people.  They are excited and using this as an adventure.  They both have cried (my son teared up to clarify).  But suddenly we are excited.  We are moving into a great house in October.  They were hilarious today.  They helped.  They were good.

There's still a little bit up in the air....

The mortgage process... the appraisal of the new house... who knows?

Because something has to be uncertain.

I would actually be stunned if it didn't work out- absolutely stunned.  But it might not...

A little uncertainty is okay.  It keeps me going.

Maybe it's because the movers were cheerful and had fun.  Maybe it's because it cost way less than what we thought it would because we didn't have nearly the stuff that they thought we would. 

That certainly helped.

But honestly, tonight I am happy not because we are getting a new home, I am happy because my family is happy.  Because we resolved a lot of issues. Because I know I have friends that I can count on for support. Because every roadblock that came up this month had a purpose to it.  Because while the meditation didn't happen for extend periods, it certainly helped me cope. 

And it was NEVER about the house or the money.  The stress was about not knowing.  110%. 

When the movers commented that "You really don't have much stuff"- I wanted to say "I do.  I have way more than I will ever need or deserve and none of it is any of those crates."



Friday, June 6, 2014

Day 4 and Day 5

Day 4

  • Meditating 30 minutes daily.  Done.
  • Flossing daily. Done.  Twice.
  • Ab Challenge. It was a "rest" day, but I went ahead and did some planks.
  • Not eating out. Told you this would be the hardest....
  • Moisturizing every day.  Done.
  • Minimizing processed foods. Does frozen yogurt count?
  • Take a 30 minute walk every night. Done
  • Not eat after dinner.  Done.
  • Go to bed at 10 pm. Done.

    The eating out is way to easy this time of year.  I don't want to shop because we are moving.  We've had weird schedules with the end of the school year and it's really, really hot. 

    Day 5
  • Meditating 30 minutes daily.  Done.
  • Flossing daily. Done. 
  • Ab Challenge. Done and I'm starting to actually notice a difference!
  • Not eating out. Friend in town.  The good news, we planned for it. 
  • Moisturizing every day.  Done.
  • Minimizing processed foods. Bad.  But delicious.
  • Take a 30 minute walk every night. Probably (it's too early)
  • Not eat after dinner.  Don't foresee a problem... I'm still stuffed from our early dinner.  Also, my appetite is starting to wane in the evenings.
  • Go to bed at 10 pm. Again, since I'm yawning now... probably not going to be an issue!

    We have a lot of friends coming into town this month.  And we're going to enjoy it.  But I am trying.

    Oh- and you should be able to post now without any issues!
  • Thursday, June 5, 2014

    Day 3 Still Going!

  • Meditating 30 minutes daily.  Done.
  • Flossing daily. I completely forgot!  But I flossed first thing in the morning!
  • Ab Challenge. Done.
  • Not eating out.  5th grade graduation- had to party!
  • Moisturizing every day.  Done.
  • Minimizing processed foods. Not too bad, considering.
  • Take a 30 minute walk every night.  I forgot.
  • Not eat after dinner.  Done.
  • Go to bed at 10 pm. Closer.  I only played WWF until 10:15 or so.

    So the whole point is to start new habits and start making time for even the little things that matter.

    Again, haven't had a "perfect" day yet, but they certainly are better than they were.  I'm starting to go to bed earlier.  I'm spending more time getting ready for bed-- winding down the day.  The meditation is feeling more like a part of the routine in the morning, as is the ab challenge (today was a day off, but I still did planks... but that will be in tomorrow's blog).

    I've got to figure a way to get the walking in at night.  It's not a huge thing to do... hmmm... I'll work on it and make sure I can do it tonight.  The heat and my allergies are not helping to inspire me.

    Also, if you're following this on Facebook-- I'm not going to be posting it every day, but I will post it here.  And I would love your comments if you're playing along!


  • Wednesday, June 4, 2014

    Day 2... hmmm... interesting


  • Meditating 30 minutes daily.   15.  I blame the dogs.
  • Flossing daily. Done,
  • Ab Challenge. About that...
  • Not eating out. 1 out of 3??  It's the last week of school... I worked late... I took my assistant out...
  • Moisturizing every day.  Done.
  • Minimizing processed foods. Nope.
  • Take a 30 minute walk every night.  I was too tired.
  • Not eat after dinner.  Done.
  • Go to bed at 10 pm. 10:30... and then I played Words with Friends until 10:45


    Wow- Day 2 and it looks like I'm already bombing BUT.. and here is why I'm doing it this way...  The day went like this:

    I woke up with a horrible allergy induced headache (because I went for a walk in the wind).  I TRIED to meditate. Honestly.  My head was throbbing.  I was stuffy.  When the dogs started World Class Jiu Jitsu at my feet, I bailed.

    Then, even though I packed my lunch, I decided that I wanted to take my assistant out to check out where we are having a client event.  Very last minute.  We are both exhausted with end of year stuff, so it was nice to catch up.  We are actually friends.

    Then my son had an activity after school so the rest of my family ate there and I decided to grab some Baja Fresh.  Fast Food.  But honestly, not the worst choice.  I did fish tacos (grilled).  So it COULD have been worse.

    I got home, stuffed my face and realized I never did do my abs.  And it was too late and I was too tired to walk.

    At 10:30-- I was chatting with a friend who is coming to visit this Friday-- I went upstairs and felt like a total loser.

    But here's what I didn't do- just throw on a t-shirt and go to bed.

    I brushed and flossed, moisturized and then played a little Words with Friends and fell asleep feeling a lot better.

    Because the reason I have all these things on the list is because when I don't do one, I begin a downward spiral into loserdom.  That "Well, I already blew, so who cares?"  I didn't just eat MORE crap and stay up until midnight.

    The little silly things, like flossing (which again, can't tell you how important it is), remind me that I need to take better care of myself.

    So this morning when I got up-- I mediated, did my abs (I jumped ahead a day in the challenge) and rather than beat myself up for what I didn't do-- I gave myself some credit for not throwing in the towel already-- on Day 3.  Sad.  But true.

    This is all about taking care of myself and being consistent.  Grabbing my oxygen mask first.

    So Day 2 was a failure in some ways and a huge success in others.

    Onward....
  • Tuesday, June 3, 2014

    Day 1

    So yesterday, not so bad.  Glad to see others are joining!  And the flossing thing... it's a big deal.  I'll post more on it later.

    Today has not gotten off to a good start.  The downside of the walk last night- the wind.  Which means my allergies are awful.  I have a horrible headache.  I got 15 minutes of "meditating" which was really me sitting there thinking how bad my head hurt.  No abs, but I will tonight.

    And those darn oreos... I don't even LIKE them.  We made 6 cakes for the 5th grade culmination tomorrow and I think the smell of chocolate got to me.  So I blew 6 AND 8.

    I'm also considering adding yoga... just a few salutations to the sun.  Nothing crazy.  It would also give me a nice, even 10. 

    Let me know if you're playing along!!

    1. Meditating 30 minutes daily.   Done.
    2. Flossing daily. Done,
    3. Ab Challenge. Done
    4. Not eating out. Done.
    5. Moisturizing every day.  Done.
    6. Minimizing processed foods.Eh...
    7. Take a 30 minute walk every night.  Done.
    8. Not eat after dinner.  Eh,,,,
    9. Go to bed at 10 pm. Done.  Woke up at 4:30 am. :(

    Monday, June 2, 2014

    Thirty Days...

    As you may know from my previous blogs, we are in the process of moving and building a new home.

    We are supposed to be out of our current home by June 24th- assuming all goes well.  On the surface, it all looks nice, but a big thanks to all the people that have shared their horror stories of the issues they've had with houses falling out of escrow, last minute changes, etc.  Seriously.  Thanks.  It's up there with all the birthing horror stories I heard when I was pregnant.  Nothing soothes a stressed out friend like hearing how much WORSE it could be.

    And yes, that was sarcasm.

    We should be moving into our new home in late October-- assuming all goes well.  Right now, it appears that all those smart financial moves we made over the past years-- including paying our mortgage on time, every month for our entire adult lives-- has absolutely no impact whatsoever on the decision if we are worthy enough to pay another lender on time every month.  Absolutely no impact.  And again, LOVE hearing all those horror stories from people. Thanks.  That is totally helping me relax.

    Again, sarcasm.

    ANYHOW, on a positive note, I am also looking at this as an opportunity to reset.  New environment.  New choices.

    And since I am an expert on all things diet, fitness and lifestyle related, it really seemed like a great opportunity to utilize all that I've learned over the years and put some plans into action.

    Oh- what's that you say?  Aren't I 70 pounds overweight and can't run a mile?

    Yes.  That is true. 

    Don't judge.

    I have tried every diet and read a lot of books.

    I have lost more than 300 pounds in the past 5 years.  I just haven't done it consecutively.

    That is the challenge, apparently. 

    Have you lost 300 pounds?

    See.  Who's the expert now?

    So in August, my kids start new schools.

    In October, we'll be in the house that we will more than likely either die in or sell to pay for our long term care. 

    A new life for everyone.

    So I decided that it is also a great time to change some of my behaviors to have a healthy lifestyle when we begin this new life.

    Please note that I did not say lose weight.

    I would like to lose weight.

    I would like to lose about 50 pounds before the end of the year.

    But you know what- after careful thought, I really think that this plan of mine is going to do a lot more for me than focusing on the scale.

    Here's the scoop- for the next 30 days I will be posting how well I stick to the following items that I feel will, after many years of research, make me feel better.  I'm also playing with assigning a point value to them... so I can track it... because I am competitive. But maybe not.

    I also am WELL aware that during the next 30 days we are moving and starting our vacation.  This is part of the plan-- if I can do it during one of the more stressful times in my life, it should be easy to stick to the rest of the year.

    This was also inspired by the 30 day ab challenge on Facebook.  I miss my abs.  I would like to find them this summer.  It is also inspired by my friend Lisa who lost a bunch of weight and commented that it was weird- the moms at her daughter's new school only know her as the skinny, running yoga mom.  In general, seemed like a good time to start in spite of the chaos.

    Feel free to play along and post.

    So here's what I am going to focus on:
    1. Meditating 30 minutes daily.   Bonus if I get in an evening meditation.  Because this makes me nicer.
    2. Flossing daily.  I know, I should be doing this.  Honestly, I'm not.  You probably aren't either based on statistics.  It's really important.  There is all kinds of weird data that puts flossing on the top 10 lists of ways to extend longevity.
    3. Ab Challenge.  It's fun.  I'm a day off the start date.  I used to do 500 crunch variations a day.  I could barely do 15 this morning.  Gonna be a looooong 30 days.  My son is joining me on this adventure to Abs of Steel.
    4. Not eating out.  This is a big one, but as we are forced to eat through our pantry so as to not pack it, it's important.  I also eat like crap when we go out.  Every day is a celebration in my world.  This needs to stop.  Also, to our credit, with the house up for sale and open houses, realtor visits-- we've been limited in our time at home and also didn't want to make a mess or stink it up.  If I can stick to this 90%, I will be happy.   A nice date here or there.... celebrating my son's elementary school graduation... but the goal is to do this most days.
    5. Moisturizing every day.  I do this fairly often but I need to make sure it's part of the daily routine.  I'm over 40 and live in the desert.  I don't want to look shriveled.  It's gross.
    6. Minimizing processed foods. I was going to put "eliminate" but it's too hard.  I know this.  Everything seems to be processed- I don't have a farm and I'm not killing my own meat.  I really am trying to eliminate sugar, but for the sake of this 30 days-- it's too much. Basically, if I don't eat crap, I'll be happy.
    7. Take a 30 minute walk every night.  Even with the heat.  Because it's fun to pick a kid and go wander the neighborhood.
    8. Not eat after dinner.  This is going to be the hardest, next to not going out for dinner.  I chow down after sunset.  Not good.
    9. Go to bed at 10 pm. Because I need to.  It also reduces my chow down time and sleep is important.
    If I institute a point system, it should 9 points a day.  In 30 days, it should be a percentage of 270 points. 

    It's not to be perfect.

    It's not to focus on just food or exercise.

    It's things I need to do stay healthy.  A strong core.  Eating right.  Getting rest.  Staying focused. Taking care of myself.

    Because this is the only me I've got.

    Every day, I'll post how I did.  And seriously, if you feel the need to add some good habits to your life, join me and post along.

    This is not remotely researched.  I have no idea what will happen at the end of 30 days.  After all my experiences with different programs, these are the things that I want to make sure that I'm doing.  My hope is, I will stick with it for the following 18,250 days.

    We'll see.

    One day at a time.




    Friday, May 16, 2014

    Would the World Be Better if I Stayed a Waitress?

    I spent the large part of my early working life as a waitress.  I worked in a variety of different restaurants- Amish, family style, bars, a Michelin rated high end French restaurant-- and served all types of people.

    I was an excellent waitress.

    Excellent.

    Exceptional, in fact.

    I had people leave notes blessing me, in addition to tips.  I received cards from the regulars.  I received more than my share of date requests and once or twice a marriage proposal from a drunken, heartbroken customer.

    I was the fun waitress who would take pictures of your family events and get "C'mon... you get in here for the next one..." and I would replace the distant cousin who would then snap the picture.  I sang happy birthday 10 different ways and made people smile.

    I also made about 20% more than the other waitresses.  But darn it, I also filled the ketchup bottles, worked late when they had to get their kids, refilled their customers' coffees when they couldn't get to it, helped them hide in the cooler when their exes showed up.  Rather than be jealous, most people wanted to work the same shift.  I made it fun and their work load a lot lighter.

    I could fill in on the line in the kitchen.  I could run the dishwasher when we got backed up.  I cleaned toilets.  I mopped floors.

    I worked my ass off.

    And I was very, very good at it.

    So good that when I started my professional career, I ended up in the hospitality industry.  When we would be firing someone for poor job performance, I could look them in the eye and say "I know EXACTLY how hard it is and I know that there are 20 other people on your shift who do as well and don't appreciate your lack of enthusiasm."

    Now I'm not a waitress.

    I am a financial advisor.

    I make more in a month than I did in a year as a waitress.  And sometimes, I make more in a week.

    I pay more in taxes than what I made as a waitress.

    And I still work my ass off.

    I share this not to brag.

    It's because I absolutely, positively would NEVER have had any of the success that I've had without the investment that society made in me.

    My free, public education was exceptional.  I had amazing teachers.  Amazing teachers. They spent time with me before, during and after school.  My senior year, my English teacher pulled me into the teachers' lounge and asked me if I wanted to be graded against my peers or my abilities.  I said "I guess my abilities..." she whipped out her red pen faster than Zorro and starting DESTROYING my A+ paper. I'm a fairly decent writer thanks to her.

    And it cost me $0.

    I went to a selective university that there was no way I could afford.  Thanks to federal student loans, a nice local credit union that trust my parents, and some very wealthy donors, I graduated and had my choice of jobs.  During a recession.

    Growing up, my dad worked in a payroll office and pumped gas at night.  My mom worked part-time as a receptionist and later a reading instructor.  They both went to college when I was a kid.  My dad utilized the GI bill.  My mom utilized, as did my father, the local state university branch.

    Society invested in my family.

    So why the blog? 

    To illustrate a point.

    My country took a chance on my family and it paid off.  We are contributing members of society.  Not only through the taxes we pay, but through our volunteerism.

    We pay our bills.  We  pay back to the community.

    I definitely worked with a lot of people who were lazy along the way.  Absolutely.  I worked with a lot of people who worked just as hard as me, but  had other burdens to bear.  I was fortunate to have opportunities and the ability to take advantage of them.

    I come from the royal lineage of a coal miner, a garbage man, a housekeeper and a Woolworth's cashier.  They all worked hard.  My parents worked hard.  I worked hard.

    My kids will not only be able to go to college, they will not need student loans. They can take risks and start a business.  Just like I did but without the cloud of debt over their heads.

    And I would NEVER be so arrogant as to imply that I did this on my own.

    Not in the least.

    I received a hand up.

    Would the world be a better place if I had stayed a waitress?

    I'd like to think not. My world would not be.  And I loved waiting tables- it's not a judgment on food servers.  I am one of the biggest tippers you'll ever see because I know it's a hard job.

    But there are some people in this world who think that I didn't deserve that hand up.  I should have just worked harder.  I should have somehow easily been able to pay for what is now a $260,000 tuition bill.

    These same people think I should have stayed right where I was born.  My dad should have been working in a coal mine and my mom doing laundry.  Forget that we were intelligent.  Forget that we worked hard.

    Last year my husband and I paid more in taxes than I received in subsidized student loans.  Which I paid back.  Early.

    I think that was a pretty good trade off for society.

    And it's not just education that pays society back.  Roads provide jobs to workers and better venues of commerce.  Sixty years ago people laughed at the idea of interstates.  Can you imagine if that had been written off as a silly, expensive pipedream?

    Medical miracles happen because of research done on space shuttles.  An investment in our health. And we cut NASA?  Because what else could be out there?  Umm.... a LOT.

    Free and reduced lunches provide children-- the poorest of our society-- with food so they can concentrate and maybe move out of the cycle of poverty.  Maybe.  Not everyone will.  But some will.  They certainly can't get jobs at 7 years old.

    One out of four immigrants will start a business, compared to one of out seven native born citizens.  Immigrants as a whole are job creators.  Local job creators.

    Call me a tree hugger.  Call me a liberal.

    I prefer optimist.

    I prefer risk taker.

    Because this county was founded on the idea that everyone had a right to pursue his dreams (the her part wasn't added until recently...).  Everyone had a right to own property (it took some of us longer to get that right).  That our government represented EVERYONE.  Not corporations.  Not donors.  EveryONE.

    Keeping people in their place is why we don't have a king or ruling class.  We, as a country, thumbed our noses at that ideology.

    Yet here we are.  Disparate wealth worse than monarchies.

    And it breaks my heart.

    If I were 16 today would I have these same opportunities?

    Or would I still be waiting tables?