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GEMS I STUMBLED UPON – O YOU!

Since none of my high school girlfriends, nor I, had the opportunity to fly to Chicago to see Oprah’s show before it ended, today my friends (that I’ve known for almost 25 years!) and I attended the next best thing!  Oprah’s O You 2012 in Los Angeles!  I learned many gems and will share them in weeks to come!

O what a great group of women!

There were so many activities throughout the day, but our largest challenge was “You … in six words”
Mine life story in 6 words is: Make lasting impression, love all equally!

What’s yours?

Can you write your history in 6 words or less?
Click on photo for some great ones – Including Oprah’s!
Artwork (C) Harpo

All the experts (including Oprah) got on stage:  Her best friend, Gail, Suze, Dr. Phil, Peter, Dr. Laura B., Martha, Adam, Iyanla!  You too can win a set of Oprah’s amazing Swag Bag (Click on this link!).

I know they’re tiny, but they’re all there!
Lingering idea: It’s ok for women to put themselves 1st!

What a great way to celebrate women!   What a great way to celebrate my 1/2 way point with my first grad school class!

Where the magic happened! WTF: We’re thrilled, fantastic!

#OYou2012

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WEEKLY WRITING CHALLENGE: COFFEE MUGS – From Mundane to Meaningful

My reputation precedes me. Around these parts I’m known as the Most Caffeinated Gal in the West.  Triple lattes in the morning then a Grande booster around 3pm would get me through the day.  Although I’ve lowered my octane, settling for drip coffee, my simple goal remains… to stay awake longer than my kids!

So today, a child-free weekend morning, rather than settle for whatever jet fuel comes in a paper cup, I allowed myself the luxury of a slower start. I foggily shuffled my feet towards the coffee machine, aiming to boost myself enough to swim this afternoon after tackling school financial aid, creating a writing desk, and sifting through the house preparing for a garage sale.  Besides the pool, the rest wasn’t very inspiring but when I’m fully caffeinated, I just jet around til it’s done!

About 12 years into my 13 year marriage, we bought ourselves some beautiful dishes. I’ll admit I pushed the agenda with these. It was a beautiful parting gift.

I opened my cabinet to grab for a mug and lowered my reach from my top-shelf matching jewel-toned mugs, to the more colorful selection of mugs on the well-used every-day shelf.  As the coffee brewed, I glanced through the shelf to see if any could retire to the garage sale box.

Just Grab One, they all hold coffee just as well…

First, I saved my favorites, chosen initially because they hold the most coffee. Today, as I searched the darker parts of my cabinet, my vision grew clearer and I realized the treasures it held.  I picked up each mug, wrapped my hand around the cup, weaved my fingers through the handle, and felt the weight of the memories that each one held.

First couple – elegant but don’t take themselves too seriously while perfectly complementing each other!

Some came from friends and family providing the warmth of snuggling up with them for great conversation – even when they aren’t there.

Best gift from a warm friend, two mugs and hot chocolate! Although the partner shattered long ago, this one connects me to her in between long stretches of actually seeing her!

Others sent a shot of inspiration – far more effective than espresso shots.

This gift from my sister has grown more valuable with every relaxing and reflective read!

A few mugs represented life highlights and unique experiences.

Recalling on my fondest memories playing in Imagineering and my character experience while reading the new Pixar book! For a Diznoid, it doesn’t get any better.

Some reminded me of the joy from favorite adventures.

What a sisterly bonding day was spent at ellen! Visiting Graceland on my first “business trip”! No work trip has matched that fun level yet…

Even my children agree that ice-cold milk, insulated with a heart-warming shot of nostalgia, tastes better out of the glossy mug than out of their child-proof plastic cups.

Lovely reminders of my son’s childhood sporting adventures and my daughter’s sense of fun and adventure – Arrrgh!

I am so grateful this morning for the side of sentiment served with my morning coffee.  I vow to relish more than just the rich blend of coffee, but the rich memories!

NEURAL PRUNING MERIT BADGE

This past weekend we went camping with my son’s Boy Scout troop.

Doesn’t get any more peaceful than this…

It was one of the few family camping outings since most outings will be for Scouts alone – with adult supervision. We were split up as follows: 2 patrols with 4 new scouts each – my son led one; 2 senior patrol leaders – incredibly patient, straightforward yet humorous teenaged motivators.

Lauren has some motivational skills to sharpen before she could lead a patrol.

One adult oversaw the itinerary. We 10 parents plus 3 siblings made up a 3rd patrol. Each patrol had to operate independently. We could not help the boys, only intervening in case of a safety issue. They (and we) were responsible to set up tents,

Beautiful spot of real estate – we learned rocks are unavoidable and uncomfortable.

plan, buy and cook food,

They bought everything they needed and came in under budget!

clean up dishes,

Lauren compromised patrol boundaries to eagerly help the boys wash dishes.

plus leave the camp sight spotless. Boy Scouts Leave No Trace.

It was a great weekend to meet the other parents, too. One ex-military mom with “intelligence” and “corporate organization” words in her job title caught my attention when she’d step in to redirect the boys, “Don’t cook bacon on the grill without a pan” or “Dishes aren’t rinsed in the creek” then returned to the parent patrol motioning with her two curved fingers brushing past her skull – “Neural Pruning!”

I hear Nat’l Geographics Insight into the Teenage Mind provides great insight!
Image from Brain Brilliance.

Neural Pruning means that young kids collect an avalanche of information and form ridiculous numbers of neural connections to absorb and make sense of it. Eventually, we have to get rid of connections or we’d be wandering around in spirals with glazed-over expression, words flying through our mind without sticking – like my 11-year old (albeit smart) son does. Neural Pruning strengthens strong connections – gun safety,

The highlight, and the most neural pruning – forget what you learned in Modern Warfare…

multiplication tables, reading – and eliminates unnecessary connections – Barney songs, first time you hated broccoli, perhaps it’s even how women “forget” the ordeal of childbirth to eagerly have another one.

My Another One… My favorite girl enjoying her gourmet dessert – while camping!

It was amazing watching the boys alternate between skillful teamwork and not absorbing that there was a nearby fresh-water spigot. Now, our parental goal is continuously encouraging the boys to rise to the occasion and fighting the urge to do things for them.

As long as he had his pasta, he was comfy!

…and it turned out tasty! I want to create patrol boxes for every part of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why, then, can I still remember songs from Sesame Street 40 years ago knowing I don’t need them today – not even after raising 2 kids. What could I do with that valuable neural real estate?

THE CLUTTER CONUNDRUM

For the past few weeks, leading up through this week, school report deadlines loomed over both my kids’ heads. Plus this week piled tournaments for my daughter’s softball team, my son’s mid-week baseball game, and I’m waiting anxiously to hear anything about whether or not my temporary position might convert to a permanent job! While carefully weighing, prioritizing and scheduling each valuable minute, my piles of paper grew into vast mountain ranges.

Work Grand Central Station:
2 school projects, camp paperwork, scout paperwork, etc…

Ask me for anything and I’ll find it for you in surprisingly little time… except tonight. We wasted our evening, designated for writing ¼ of a final draft, searching for my daughter’s project packet from her teacher. In my mind I kept telling myself I’d go “ape shit” (I don’t even know what that means?!) if we didn’t find it. While I didn’t say it out loud, my face must have communicated something similar because my kids kept looking.

It drove me crazy because I know exactly the last spot where I sat when I saw it. We turned over everything, every drawer, pile, backpack and even the recyclable bin trying to find this packet. Finally after my 3rd time through this house, I pulled the plug on the operation and pointed while uttering a few guttural ape sounds to send my child to bed. I then collapsed in the chair where I’d seen it last, and immediately turned around to the built-in shelves to find the packet in the “safe-keeping” spot – just inches past the table!

Anytime I put something somewhere for safety’s sake it gets LOST! I just told someone last Friday about how I used to keep my Social Security card in my wallet when I last temped for work. Someone lectured me on identity theft and scared me enough to put it away for “safe-keeping.” When I got a permanent job, I then had to order a replacement because I couldn’t find it!

I may not utilize the best system, or any system at all some days, which can drive me crazy! I know how to be organized. At work I’ve created systems and operations manuals, but at home, we have less time to do more. What about you?

SON KEPT LOSING THINGS SO MOMMY LOST IT

My son lost or forgot things 5 out of 7 days in the past weeks. My son is smart, too! I forgave him at first diagnosing him with “absent-minded professor” syndrome that can’t fit mundane tasks in the idea-filled brain.  I instilled mindless habits like a “Boy Scout drawer” or “Putting cleats in your bag first thing.” My reminders fall on deaf ears. I must speak an undecipherable English dialect: Momglish.

My daughter – whose hazardly messy room frightens me – meticulously makes a “flat person” accounting for all uniform components.  My son – a neat freak – tosses stuff in his bag haphazardly.  I open my mouth but my Dad’s voice asks, “What are you forgetting?”

I know it’s dark, keep looking!

My son and I aren’t compatible searchers.  He doesn’t find things even after I suggest places. He debates he’s looked and keeps roaming, or hides in the Panic Room. Then, I go directly to where I suggested and find the item within 5 seconds.

This week we’ve been on a tight schedule with school testing. Today he wasted 20 minutes searching for one cleat when he should’ve been fueling his brain. I suggested twice that he return to where he found the first cleat. So when I got there, moved one pillow and found it, I lost it.

LOST IT!

I’m sure my neighbors heard the booming announcement when I found it.  My son advanced in disbelief and I hurled it. I have great aim and could hit him if I wanted to. I just wanted to snap sense into him. I hoped the sound of a shoe whizzing by his knees then hitting the wall might  make them quiver some.

Ironically, a friend’s stressed out Facebok status got me breathing again.  Newly relaxed, I announced we would learn and change. We all did 2 deep cleansing breaths and shook the morning off. We departed feeling happy for humpday.

Driving home this afternoon with renewed optimism, my son calls, “Mom, something horrible happened.”  Knowing he carpooled to baseball I immediately rearranged the evening to visit the ER. “While I looked for my cleats today, my pants fell out of my bag.”  No, I knew within 5 seconds exactly where they were on the couch.

Shoot, they were there the whole time?!

NO TRASH TUESDAY

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” –Lao Tzu

After placing my mouth over the corner of the sandwich bag, closing my lips gently, inhaling deeply and removing the air from my daughter’s lunch, therefore creating a perfect freshness vacuum in her various snack bags, she politely informed me that it was No Trash Tuesday! In her universe, that means lunches must be brought in plastic trays, re-usable water bottles, and a really cute assortment of teeny Tupperware with the goal of making less trash at school and in the landfills. Besides the fact that we were already 2 minutes late when she told me this, we simply didn’t own all of the above, so I promised we’d have our act together by next Tuesday.

While shopping for the above, my mind wandered beyond the stinky, sticky school lunch yard contemplating just how far we could go with reusing, reducing, and recycling on No Trash Tuesdays! After spending the morning telling my son to carefully choose his words directed towards his sister, I thought repackaging this mantra, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!” to reduce trash talk and taunting might help them choose their words more consciously and would benefit our morning commute.

Posted to my employee board at work, was the following article: 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy by purposefairy.com. It focuses on all of the things that we accumulate and carry with us – aka: Baggage. They quoted one of my favorites, Wayne Dyer, “Would I rather be right or would I rather be kind?” I’m told we don’t actually get an Olympic podium at the end of our lives where we receive awards for being right all of the time, earning the gold medal, some of the time, earning the silver, and so on. I like the idea of incorporating letting go of these 15 things go into No Trash Tuesday.

As with any of the above efforts, focusing on it for a day makes us conscious of our habits and behavior and then the goal to increase the habit to make it an ingrained behavior is the long-term goal. What can you do to reduce the trash in your personal dancing space? 

If you need a good Tupperware lady, I know one - not me!

I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU!

Earlier, I redirected my focus towards personal growth rather than being quick to dismiss challenges. I am making myself accountable to wordpress to challenge myself for 30 days then report back. After 30 days, it forms a habit (although, I didn’t start falling behind with blogging until 90+ days). As with any change in habits, it’s always more fun with friends. If you want to support each other, post which of the 30 you’ll do and we’ll all check in with each other along the way!

I already do these regularly:

7. Treat everyone nicely, even those that are rude to me. I’m a huge believer in treating people how you want to be treated. Simple and golden!

Simple!

9. Acknowledge the lesson in awkward situations. Ever since reading childhood fairy tales, I learned stories have morals. In my family, with every awkward situation, we identify the lesson we learned because of our mistakes.

Understanding that blogging takes a large daily chunk of time, I dove into these areas:

11. Get rid of one thing a day for 30 days. By the end, more breathing room will feel huge! Aligning with my long-term goals, I won’t toss my kids’ toys but may challenge them to join in.

18. Read one chapter of a good book a day. I am determined to read through my bookshelf so committing to 1 chapter a day will get me through 1 and maybe into my 2nd book in 30 days.

25. Spend 10 min. a day reflecting on what went well. Last night my daughter expressed that it was her best day ever. She listed the great things that happened and we all smiled! Not only was she appreciating the day’s gifts, but she ended the day on a high note.

27. Pay down debt and don’t create any new debt for 30 days. I have a small credit card that I didn’t carry a balance on until working temporary jobs. I have two summer camps I’m paying in installments. It’d be a healthy habit to take my lunch more and enjoy coffee free at work.

What are your challenges going to be? I can’t wait to celebrate our highights!

So many people have shared this - finally sinking in!

WANDER WITH US MORE:
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Get distracted by fun things! FOLLOW me on PINTEREST

Thanks all!

27. DO YOU REMEMBER THAT TIME 5 YEARS AGO WHEN YOU WERE EXTREMELY UPSET? DOES IT REALLY MATTER NOW?

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Back then, I prepared to downsize homes for the 2nd time in 2 years. I LOVED moving a lot when younger – exploring new neighborhoods and setting up a new home.  While married, I accumulated a household and dragged around our baggage. Feeling the divorce “forced” the downsize, I stubbornly held onto stuff thinking when I’d proved that I survived, I’d have a full house to show it.  Hindsight reminds me that sending volumes of negativity into the universe, attracts negativity.

I’d hired movers that I used before (different franchise), scheduled for an afternoon start.  The hours-late movers were not starving, nor students, and debated putting it off until morning. I had to be out that day and I’d made it clear how much stuff on how many floors when I called. They asked if I’d be paying cash or credit card (shady) then conferred and began.  I calculated a few hours to load, drive 2 miles and a few more to unload.

7 hours later at 11pm – 2 hours after my ex calmed me down due to damage they caused to the place and my furniture – they finished loading.  They offered to store my furniture in their “warehouse” overnight to start fresh.  “Hell no, Continue!”

Flash-forward to 1am, I was in my new yard talking the police out of ticketing me because the truck parked on the wrong side of the road. Recognizing my un-neighborly first impression, I pleaded, “Single lady…don’t feel comfortable…” They relented, “Ma’am. Please put on the flashing blinkers.”

Looking back, the movers took the insult I felt from moving and added injury to everything I owned, even my independence prize – the first non-hand-me-down NEW couch I bought.  It sucked the wind from my sails.  Fortunately healing began with saint of an old landlord. Since he planned large fix-ups to prep for sale, the mover’s butt busted through his drywall became a minor patch job.  Starbucks cards to my neighbors allowed us to earn a new first impression.

Looking back, things don’t matter.  Sometimes it bothers me that the couch isn’t perfect on one arm.  It pleases me more how many “Big bed nights” the kids enjoyed with friends.  Those are invaluable!

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HISTORIC TREASURE HUNT

As a girl, I loved venturing into my grandparent’s huge east coast basement. Newspapers exposed me to current events, I shopped amongst the canned goods, invented new uses for broken machines, or read years of Good Housekeeping! I knew my grandmother and mother in the roles they fulfilled for me, but the basement gave me insight on what their lives entailed. I felt well prepared reading the monthly GH column “My Problem and How I Solved It.”

Knowing how hungrily I sifted through the past inspired me to save some things to share with my children.  I limit myself to one hope chest (not counting photos – stored elsewhere) and there’s room for more.  One of my 101 goals in 1,001 days involved sharing my treasure chest with my children.

As the chest opened, my kids gasped at the colorful possibilities!  We started with publications from significant events that have happened since I started my collection.

From a San Diego paper detailing the LA Riots, 9-11, Elvis, epic college football, to the Man on the moon...

Some events affected me more than others.

The elegant people's princess. When she died, shortly before her fairy tale finally came true, our fairy tales got shaken too.

For the most part I’ve collected items since the late 80’s.  Every now and then at used bookstores or libraries I’ll find old magazines to put aside, or some life events warrant anniversary editions. Not only do the articles provide amazing information, the advertisements provide great laughs!

I include some mementos from previous employers – I’ve sold off or given away anything collectable.  I used to hope my kids would become rich by eBaying it all, then I decided I should handle it rather than burden them.

This shows just a small sampling of the fun things I accumulated along the way!

Then we got into some of my childhood memories.  For the first time I looked at my baby doll like the ancient relic that my children saw her as – or perhaps saw me as.

A simple doll (named Beanie Baby - original, I know), a bridle and ballet shoes - none of which I stuck with that long.

I shared obituaries of my grandparents, whom they never met.  I displayed college diplomas to “I climbed the Great Wall of China” certificates. My son salivated, commandeering my Checkpoint Charlie tee-shirt.  My daughter tried figuring out which old yearbook photos showed my sisters and I.  I wracked my brain for anything unacceptable inscribed in its pages.

I can't get her to become a Girl Scout but she loved wearing my sash from my three years as a Scout!

I loved seeing them enjoy open access to my childhood and they loved seeing that I did more with my life before I went to Mommy University.

LEAPING INTO THE UNKNOWN!

I boldly committed to writing 365 words a day for 365 days, and leapt onto the page, typing enthusiastically until the screeching realization about 10 days into it, that 2012 actually has 366 days! Dang it!

I could write 366 words for 366 days, or write 366 words every 4th posting. Perhaps I should blaze through the first 365 days of the year and take New Year’s Eve off. Then it dawned on me that Leap Year threw me for a loop, so for Leap Year, I would leap into something new!

Grab my hand and let's leap!

I cruised through the blogosphere enjoying the scenery and feeling for some inspiration and found it on Smile, kiddo. The blog introduced this 101 in 1001 project, shared their list and experiences. In a nutshell, the goal stands to complete 101 goals in 1001 days. Smile, kiddo referred to Day Zero Project for a pile of ideas and suggestions for one’s lists. The fact that it was called Day Zero meant that really, I could still call it 365 days of 365 words since a zero doesn’t count.  I’m a little OCD like that.  Even if you don’t do a list, it’s a fun site to browse to see what occupies other people’s wish lists.

It took longer than expected, but I finally compiled my list of 101 things:

I’ve always wanted to do but never made time for
I loved as a child and couldn’t wait to share with my own children
That made me sweat a little because they test my usual comfort zone
To allow me some time for introspection and growth
To allow me to connect with others That are completely random and wacky
That I’m leaving up to YOU! Leave a comment on the list page to suggest what you’d have me do and when we get a bunch, I’ll do a random drawing to pick out the activity!

I will indicate on the list as things are completed, or link to the blog posting about my experience.  I hope some of you will come along and consider making your own lists as well, and wander off with me for some exciting adventures!

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