Thursday, November 12, 2015

Getting it right

I wanted to tell this story when he first told it to me but decided to wait and let him tell it himself. Moments like this I know I'm doing something right.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

S.U.C.C.E.S.S

Coming at you today with a stream of consciousness post!  Strap in and hold on.  I've had three different occasions in the past few months where the topic of success has come up with relation to working, jobs, school and life.  It got my wheels turning.  I'm definitely one that feels like when a subject keeps coming up, it deserves some attention.

It started when I was asked at what age I got it "figured out."  The question stemmed from a conversation on degrees and working and the only thing I could say was....."I'm not sure I have things figured out."  It felt like such a half assed answer and sat there under my skin and left me wondering....do I?  Later, the same person was writing a paper about whether or not a degree was as important as people thought it was.  Finally, I had lunch with my little sister Frances.  She has been in my life for roughly 13 years.  We were matched up through Big Brothers Big Sisters when she was just a little girl and she will be 23 this month (ouch).  She has had a "goal job" since I first met her and is now starting to wonder if it is actually what she wants to do...leaving her feeling a bit confused and disappointed.  All of this got my head spinning and looking at a younger generation and myself with regards to all of these topics.

My goal for myself career wise at a young age was to teach.  I wanted to teach English to either high school or college students with an emphasis on creative writing.  I loved to write myself and it just seemed like the natural choice and something I would enjoy.  This never happened.  Why?  I never finished college and got a degree.  I started community college right out of high school for financial reasons and when I was 20 years old I moved away to the east coast for a year.  While I loved it, school was still very important to me and felt like something I needed to do in order to succeed with the goal I had set for myself.  I knew it was something I could not do living away from home so I moved back at the age of 21.  Then living at home became not an option and I was out on my own again.  I had to enter the 9-5 world and make enough money to support myself.  So I did that and went to school at night.  I did this for quite some time and realized...it just wasn't something I wanted to do anymore.  I was exhausted.  I was also very happy in the job I had and went on to stay there for 10 years.  Know what I was doing when I left???  Teaching.  Not English, and not in a high school or college but I was teaching.  Still... at times I felt like a failure.  I didn't get a degree and I didn't do what I had set out to do.  My reasoning...life got in the way.  A terrible injury and terrible economy forced me out of that job in 2008 and I got a job in health insurance....which is what I still do today.  Know what I do?  I teach.  I teach people how to understand health insurance and how to make the best decisions for themselves with regards to their person health insurance.  It's not English, it's not in a high school or college but I am still teaching.  I had a moment a couple years ago that I thought I would go back to school and get my degree and become a teacher right around when Leyton started Elementary School.  I tried some night school but stopped because I was exhausted.  There was life getting in the way again of my big goals leaving me feeling like a bit of a failure.

Perhaps, if I took a step back and looked at this life getting in the way I would realize that life has lead me right where I should be.  I have a great job.  Do I love it every day?  Nope.  I have days I don't want to go to work, that I think Health Insurance is the dumbest thing on this planet and I don't want to have to explain it to one more person.  I'm pretty sure any job I could possibly have would have its ups and downs.  Overall my job is great!  I absolutely love who I work for and I do love what I do.  Each time I teach someone to better understand their health insurance I am proud and walk away smiling.  I also have tremendous flexibility in my job which is VERY important in my life right now.  For fun I also teach water aerobics.  The water is something I have always loved and I have a blast doing it.  I've met some wonderful people and laughed like crazy.

It makes me think, maybe I am doing what I thought I wanted to do...I just didn't realize at that young of an age what all the possibilities were.  I loved to write.  I also knew I didn't ever want to write a book, so the next best thing was to teach writing.  It would be a way to continue to be able to write.  I loved to teach.  I loved to lead people and help them discover things about themselves.  I figured the only way to do this was in a classroom setting.  Maybe after all these years instead of feeling disappointed at times I should feel grateful that I ended up where I should be.  I get to teach, I get to write and I get to live a life that I enjoy!!!

Here's the deal, I goof off, I have fun, I like to explore, I like trying new things, I like meeting new people, I'm a hard worker, I have a strong work ethic and I'm very dedicated and reliable in all aspects of my life.  So am I doing what I thought I would be doing at 18.....yes!  I am teaching!  I am living my life to the fullest and trying to enjoy every moment that I can. I am traveling and enjoying time with my family and friends.  My goal was to never have a big 6 figure income or make as much money as possible.  My goal was to ultimately do something that I love.  That to me was success and I was able to achieve that!!!  I think we put so much pressure on ourselves in our late teens.  In some ways it is good because it kept me motivated, but I think it was important for me to realize that I was going to change. I was going to grow up and want different things and that was OK.  I didn't have to have it all figured out, in fact the answer to that is I still don't have it all figured out.  More importantly, I don't want to.  It is what keeps me learning and keeps me wanting to explore..... and there is so much else out there to discover.

If I could teach something to the younger generation, to the Frances's of the world it would be this.  Follow your dreams, but understand that dreams can change and that is OK.  You may go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning realizing that there was a possibility out there you didn't even know existed.  Just make sure you are happy in what you are doing!  Sit back and think more about what makes you happy than what you think would make you successful. If you can find what makes you happy, and you can do that in your life, the success will come.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bang Bang

When I made my list I tried to create a variety of things.  Some of them were things I have always wanted to do, some of them were chores of sorts that I had been putting off and others were things I just thought "damn, I'm almost 40 years old and have never done that?!"

Shooting a gun fell into the last category.  Gun have just never been my thing.  My husband swears that there was a time he remembers that I HATED guns.  I don't quite recall being really against them, I just had no interest.  If you want a gun and you want to shoot it, then knock yourself out.  Just be safe, know what you are doing and don't knock anyone else out.

I figured it was something I should try.  I mean what if all this time I haven't been shooting and I'm secretly Annie Oakley?!  I totally had to just Google that too and make sure I wasn't making the incorrect historical reference.  Phew!

My friend Tom took me out shooting last week.  He's a hunter and has been around guns his whole life so he was the perfect person to go with.  He brought an arrange of weapons for me to try and was so good about telling me what each one was, what it was for, what kinds of bullets, etc. etc.  I tried the 22 first.  I really liked it and felt good at it.  I was able to hit what I was aiming for, but I guess that is the point of the scope.  It really helps out a ton.  Next up was a 270.  I was still very accurate but damn, it was so loud and the kick back on the shoulder is rough.  I only shot a couple times cause I was a wimp.  I think it's also important to note that the people around us were shooting some big weapons and EVERY TIME a gun would go off I would jump and flinch which does not help accuracy.

Next up we moved onto the handguns.  These were also fun to shoot but I felt very inaccurate (even though I always hit the Target) and very shaky.  It felt like I had to stand there for a couple minutes just trying to line up my shot and then it would always shoot lower...again probably cause I was flinching/jumping. 

Needless to say it was fun!  If I shot again I would definitely lean towards a 22.  At the same time, I'm not entirely sure I need to shoot again.  I'm glad I got the experience but I am definitely not Annie Oakley and in general just not sure that guns are my jam :o) 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reading and Writing

I've been writing for as long as I can remember.  I loved writing little short stories as a kid which then turned into journal keeping the older I got.  Poetry was always a big piece.  A very rhyming style poetry at the beginning which transitioned to something completely different the older I got.  Once the whole blogging thing came about it was a natural transition and I did it for YEARS.  For those just joining this party there is a whole other blog that contains daily posts for years and years.  I believe I started in 2005?  Anyway, I'm not really sure what changed or happened but it started to become a burden.  I tried to write daily and I felt like I was writing more for other people....more for my readers than I was for myself.  The blog was always a great space to clear my head, but trying to do it daily...well my head just wasn't that full.

Since I stopped writing there has been something missing.  My head felt more cluttered.  My thoughts sometimes all over the place.  When I made the list I wanted writing to be a part of it again because I knew it was something I truly missed and in some ways needed to keep my sanity.  I put a restriction on it though.  Write daily for the year.  It was just one more pressure I didn't want to add back in.  I feel like this was the case for me in school.  I loved writing.  I took many writing and English classes.  I wanted to teach English and Creative Writing and in many ways still do feel like this is a dream I never should have given up on.  Give me a deadline though and I'm always sitting there at the last minute throwing it all together.  It was always good, but I would find myself stressed and unable to enjoy the process.

This past week of writing I have enjoyed.  It feels nice to spill things out again.  I also feel no pressure to do so.  If I feel like it, I will write and tell you what I am thinking about.  I'm not setting any deadlines or expectations for myself.  I'm creating when I want to create.

One of the items on my list was to attend and read at an Open Mic event.  I used to go to these all the time in my early 20's.  I couldn't even tell you really why I stopped.  I didn't find myself writing in that style anymore and just moved onto other things.  It was something that I missed though.  Open Mic gave me a voice.  It gave me a way to express myself.  It brought me out of a shell.  I stopped being nervous standing up in front of people to speak.  It made me more outgoing.  Things I am still grateful for today.

I found out about a local event that happens every other Wednesday called Midtown Out Loud from my friend Kay....someone that I have wanted to see perform as well.  We finally were able to go last night and oh man the fire inside me is RAGING.  I'm left counting the days to go back again.  Watching writers and singers perform their pieces was exhilarating and motivating.  It really made me realize how much I missed it.  Now, the other piece was that I was going to read something that I had written....and I haven't written spoken word style pieces in pretty much 17 years.  So, I dragged out the journals and started reading through pieces.  I then proceeded to laugh and cringe at the thought that I used to read all of this stuff in front of people.  Finally, I settled on a piece that felt good to read.  While I was definitely nervous, it felt good to stand up there and use my voice to express my writing.

I used to have a feature on the old blog for a while where I shared some of my old poetry each week.  It started with a piece I wrote my mom and people asked to hear more so each week I would put another piece out there.  Since then, and here I go sounding like the old lady trudging through the snow barefoot both ways to school, we have the ease of making videos that we didn't have back then.  While I don't mind standing in front of people to speak and don't mind taking a ridiculous amount of pictures of myself....I hate being on video.  So, I'm giving myself another challenge.  Certain writings are just meant to be read.  Without further ado, here is the piece I read last night.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Disneyland

I really want to take a bit of time and talk about the trips we have taken this year....they have been PLENTIFUL.  I have always loved traveling and going on "adventures" so being able to do so has been wonderfully exhausting.  "The List" had a big part to do with it, but there were many trips that were happening with or without the list.

First stop.....Disneyland!  We took Leyton to Disneyland for the first time, it was a gift for him for his 5th birthday.  Now let me start by saying, this is NOT my husband's idea of a good time.  In fact, at almost 45 years old he had NEVER been to Disneyland.  He's more of a go camping, fishing, outdoors and small crowds kind of guy.  I was a bit nervous about this trip, but I also knew he really needed to come.  It would be fun for him to see it through Leyton's eyes and fun for me to have both of my guys there.  Since Bill had never been, and likely would never go again, I figured we ought to go big or go home.  I booked us a package so we would stay at the Disneyland Hotel.  We had three day hopper passes so we could see both parks.

Leyton was in awe the moment we arrived.  He was also exhausted and was forced to take a nap when we got to the room.  Once he woke up we headed into Disneyland, getting a rather late start.  The place was PACKED.  I think every high school graduation trip was happening the day we were there.  Thankfully Leyton was super patient with the lines and managed to get in a couple rides.  Then it was time to watch the fireworks.  Only problem.....the fireworks were cancelled due to wind.  There was literally NO WIND.  The chaos that ensued after the cancellation was enough to rattle even my crowd loving self so we found our way out of the park so we could begin again the next day.

Day two started with a character breakfast.  Leyton was all about the characters.  In fact, overall we spent more time getting character signatures than we did riding rides.  He was just so dang excited about it so we went with it.  After the breakfast we headed back into the park, running into the Biebs on the way.  The swarm of 17-18 year old hormone filled teenage girls was a site to be seen!!!  We spent the afternoon in the park and then Leyton really wanted to go to the pool.  Leyton is NOT a swimmer, but again I went with it and hoped for the best.  Him and swimming has been one of the most frustrating things for me.  I have always loved the water and had hoped he would too, but up until this trip he was always afraid.  While at the pool he befriended a boy that was just slightly younger than him but very water comfortable.  That was all it took!  By the end of the time at the pool Leyton was going down the biggest waterslide at the hotel!  We never managed to make it back into Disneyland that day, he just wanted to swim and go on the waterslides.

Day three we spent in California Adventure.  We finally figured out the early entry this day and took advantage of the crowdless morning.  It was amazing how much we were able to get done in that short time, including riding the Tower of Terror.  My boy is SO INTO rides, much like myself at his age and I was so proud of him for braving even the scariest ride.  We hit almost every ride in California Adventure and I dare say it was my favorite park.  I love Disneyland but California Adventure was so much more chill and that new Cars Land area is pretty spectacular.

Overall this trip was a hit!  While he won't go again, even Bill got into it and enjoyed seeing it with Leyton.  You just can't help but become a kid yourself when you are there.  I'm sure Leyton and I will go back, but I'd like to do it in 3-5 years when he is a little older and I'm not so scared about losing him.  I have to say the best decision was just letting Leyton dictate the trip.  We went where he wanted to go, on what he wanted to ride and stopped when he wanted to stop.  The lack of structure made it so much more enjoyable!!! 

This picture is my favorite from the whole trip.  We were checking out of the hotel and Leyton was sitting in this TV area and without even knowing Goofy came up and sat with him and started watching TV.  It was MAGICAL.  It was everything Disneyland should be.  My son was smitten and just sat there with his new best friend watching some cartoons.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Raising a Man

Having a boy was something I always wanted.  I really think it has a lot to do with losing my twin brother.  Even though I grew up an only child that void was there and I always thought of myself with a boy instead of a girl.  That said, once I had a boy I had many moments of wondering if I was going to do this all right.  I'm sure I would do this with any gender child, but there is this factor of being a female and wanting to raise a good man.

Here's the thing, I am a female.  While I met my husband at the wee age of 22, there were boys and relationships before him.  I dated my fare share of assholes and cheaters.  I remember being told once that when each relationship ended, instead of dwelling on the sadness of the break up, celebrate the things that person taught me about the man I would ultimately end up with.  So, the guy may have been a douche bag.....but maybe he was really funny and I would learn that the next guy would need to have a sense of humor, etc. etc.

Now though, I'm not looking for my companion and instead am raising a boy who will become a man and a companion to someone else.  I want him to be kind, generous, compassionate while also standing up for his rights and what he believes in.  As I write this all out though I think that those are the same qualities I would want a little girl to have!!!

I know that Leyton will pick up a lot of these wonderful traits from his Dad.  His Dad is a great man and such an incredible role model to our child.  I just want to make sure that I'm a good role model too and am helping him to become a good man down the road.

I feel like I look at younger boys and girls right now and it scares the shit out of me.  The connections are different and a little less personal.  They have grown up with technology that was never available to me and are living in a world of screens and text messages.  Now, don't get me wrong though, I use the heck out of technology and think it's great....however I do think that there's a personal side that is missing now compared to when I was that age.  A sense of awareness to the surroundings perhaps?  What ends up happening is I see a lot of rudeness.  I live right by a Target and boy oh boy do I HATE going in there when school has just let out for the day.  The 15-18 year old crowd that is running around that place makes me crawl in my skin.  There is such a distinct lack of respect for anything else going on besides what they are doing.

I don't think that it is impossible, and when I do meet someone that is younger and has qualities I hope my son will have later I feel like I am drawn to them.  There are two lovely ladies in my life that are in their early twenties and I am absolutely in love with them...yes I'm talking about you Kay and Kendra.  These women are so responsible, kind and helpful to others.  The love they also have for each other is something to be admired and something even I aspire to in my own relationship.  They make me feel younger just being with them and I love watching Leyton interact with them and know that the impression they make on him is something he will keep with him always.  There's also a guy that works at the pool where I teach, I call him Mr. Red Shorts.  I don't know him really well, just in our interactions these past few months at the pool.  He blows me away though.  He has to be the most polite, courteous and friendly 19 year old I have met in my life.  He's very much aware of those around him and always looking out for people, which thank goodness really seeing how he's a lifeguard and all!  Here's the thing, he's also cute as hell.  I may sound like an asshole saying this but the cute ones are many times the not as nice ones.  They can be charming and suave and blind you with their good looks but it's not as genuine because they can get away with it.  When you find  kindness like that, and when it seems truly genuine I find myself wondering how I can help my son become a 19 year old that people will look at and think "wow, this is a really great guy!"

Overall, I know there is no trick.  There's no perfect recipe of things I can do to raise a good man down the road.  All I can do is try to lead by example.  I can let him be himself while also trying to help him make smart choices.  I'm not going to smother or helicopter parent him, but instead be there when he needs me and hope that those that are in his life are good models and influences to whom he becomes down the road.  I want to give him a sense of adventure. I want him to feel like he can do anything and be anything he wants in his life and at the same time not be an entitled spoiled brat.  I want him to know that he can be kind and he can love with all his heart and it doesn't make him any less of a man....in fact it only makes him a stronger one.

I love you buddy and can't wait to watch you grow into the wonderful person I know you will be!

Friday, October 30, 2015

By golly, she's writing!

This week a lovely woman from my water aerobics class told me she found my blog and that I should write more.  I've been wanting to write more and just not making the time to do so.  There's been SO MUCH fun activity going on in my life this past year and I wish I was doing a better job at documenting it, but sadly I have not.

So, I'm going to write now and give you a little list update.  I'm still working on my 40 Before 40 List and officially have less than 3 months to do so.  Which, holy moley I'm going to be 40 in less than 3 months!!!!  Oh well, 40 is the new 20 and I've never been more comfortable with who I am and where I want to be in my life so I'd say bring it 40!!!

Now onto the list.  Let's start by talking about the items that are not going to happen.  Yes, I already know that the list will not be completed, but that's OK.  Here we go:

 - Swim the Donner Lake Open Water event.  That didn't happen, it was in August and I hadn't gotten back into swimming and was in no way ready to swim that distance.  However, I'm back in the pool and there's always next year!
- Visit Humboldt area.  Yeah I just don't see this getting done.  It's a pretty decent drive and I'd like an extra day to stay there.  This "could" still happen but I'm just not counting on it.
-Go Whitewater rafting.  California drought (nuff said).
-Get SUP certified.  They didn't offer it this year so next time around.  Either way I'm still trying to go out when I can and take people out to introduce them to the sport that I LOVE!
-Keep a daily journal or blog.  Yeah no.
-One no buy month.  Just didn't make it and with the holidays it's def not happening now.

Here are the things on my list that are completed.

-Visit Yosemite.  Beautiful, amazing...I will be back sooner than later.
-Skinny Dip.  My boobs were never more buoyant and perky!
-Take an Improv Class.  Challenging and hilarious.
-Go to New York with Bill.  I dare say the best vacation we have had together!  No one got lost and nothing got broken.
-Organize Leyton's Artwork/Crafts
-Get a tattoo for my Dad. She's the most beautiful girl on my body.
-Have a Halloween Party
-Take Leyton to Disneyland.
-Go dancing with the girls.
-Join a book club.  Well it started, but then it ended.  Need to get this going again.
-Pay it forward at least 5 times.  I still do this all the time.
-Volunteer at Alzheimer's Association.  I submitted an app.
-Sit by a campfire on a beach. 
-Ride in a helicopter.

Here are the things that will be completed but are still "pending"
-Fire a gun...happening next week!!!!
-Take a Hip Hop class.  Who is coming along??
-Write a letter to 5 influential people.
-Go wine tasting
-Cook a 5 course meal for friends.
-Knit 10 items.  Merry Christmas y'all!  You're all getting scarves and hats.
-Travel overnight by myself.
-Put $100 on a hand of blackjack
-Bake Christmas goodies.
-Write Bill a love letter.
-Put Grandpa's Recipes in a Cookbook
-Take Leyton to a live concert.  This has really kind of happened on a small scale.  I'd still like to take him to a bigger show.
-Go ice skating.  Lord help me.
-Organize a Christmas program at Elder Community.
-Read at Stand up Poetry event....next Wednesday!
-Celebrate my 40th with my friends.  This is happening, just not in Vegas.  I've decided to do something closer to home so more can be included.

Lastly here are a couple things that may or may not happen.
-Read Hamlet.  Oh lord have a tried!  This was my FAV book in highschool but damn I don't have an English Teacher in my back pocket now to help me understand the dialog.
-Take a guitar lesson.  I signed up twice and the lessons got cancelled.  Anyone want to just meet up with me and teach me how to tune it and give me the basics? Anyone??
-Take Leyton to Modoc County.  Still going to try but if the weather gets snowy anytime soon it's not happening.


So, out of 40 things...if I don't do the maybe items I will have still completed 31 out of 40 which is AMAZING!  It has taken me out of my comfort zone a time or two.  Pushed me to think about things I've always wanted to do.  Overall I feel like I will create some sort of list each year.  Maybe 10 items a year with a goal to finish it 100%.  I encourage you all to do the same.  What would be on your list????  I know I am also going to make an effort to finish off the year better and update you on some of the things that got completed that I'd like to elaborate about.  I mean, who doesn't want to read a whole blog post about skinny dipping???

Monday, June 15, 2015

Little Musician

Leyton loves music.  He always has.  It's something I have always loved, but for me it was always the lyrics and singing along.  I had absolutely no interest in the instruments that went along with playing that music.  Leyton on the other hand loves what it takes to make the music.  When he listens to songs he hears the instruments.  He talks about the guitar playing, he picks out the drum rhythm, he counts along with beats.  We bought him a drum set when he was about 2 years old.  When he would play it, it was never "Animal" style.  It was always a beat of 2 on each drum.

Over the years the interests have changed.  Sometimes it's the drums, sometimes it's guitar, sometimes air guitar and sometimes piano.  For his 5th birthday we got him an electric guitar and he absolutely LOVES playing it.  He also still loves the drums though and his ability to find the beat in a song blows me away.

One of his favorite places to go is the "music store."  The staff is starting to know him there and he gets to go in and try out all sorts of instruments.  Last week they even let him use the real drums.  Typically kids his age are only allowed to practice on the electric drums.  The main reason, he is not crazy on them.  He sits down and he finds beats.  Sure his drum stick sometimes hits the edge of the drum, but on most sessions someone talks about how well he does for a kid his age.

This weekend we went to a farmer's market and the Sacramento Philharmonic was there with instruments for kids to try.  He got to try the stand up base (which he is very drawn to), a violin, a recorder (which he hated) and a trumpet.  When he picked up the trumpet the guy at the booth gave him one instruction on how to blow and just let Leyton do his thing.  He made the sound on the first try and then started adding in his fingers to change the sound coming out.  He wasn't playing anything you'd want to dance to, but he was instantly figuring out on his own and from all the things he watches how to play this instrument.  The guy casually told me, "your kid is a natural.  I'm not sure how old he is, but keep an instrument in his hands.  Rent items and let him play them until he gets old enough for proper lessons, he will find his instrument and he will be good."  It warmed my soul.

Leyton is not the greatest athlete.  He's also only 5.  We let him try things but he is definitely the goof off kid when it comes to sports.  He'd rather play in the net and put the cone on his head than figure out or even pay attention to the rules of the game.  However, he will stand and watch a band play music for hours.  He doesn't bounce around and go crazy dancing and running all over the place.  He stands there and watches.  He pays attention to their moves, he pays attention to their instruments and he comes away with such a glimmer in his eyes it is magical.

If there was ever a time that I wished his Grandma Joan was still around it is now.  She loved him so dearly and she would be so happy to see his love for music and instruments.  I feel like this is the part of her that lives deeply in him and I hope his life continues to be full of musical magic!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Eff Your Beauty Standards

I know my posts are completely random but I've decided really to just post when something is on my mind.  I've talked a lot about my body on this blog and the last blog when I used to blog regularly.  Tons of discussions on where I was with my body, changing my body, losing weight, celebrating my body and then going quiet when the pounds came back on.

Right now there is a movement, created by a woman named Tess Holliday, who just so happens to be the first plus size model signed to a major contract.  Tess is a big girl, she does not deny that.  What she does say though is she is happy, she finds herself beautiful and wants to encourage others to find that beauty in themselves no matter their size or shape.  I admire her for that.  I also find her beautiful.  Then there are the commenters, a rabbit hole that on most issues I wish I would avoid with a 100 foot pole.  Damn people are mean.  They slander her and try to take her down for "promoting obesity."  People who are just completely missing the message.

Here's the deal.  I have been ALL shapes and sizes.  I've been 5'10 and 133lbs.  I've also been 5'10 and over 250lbs.  I have had HUGE boobs, I have had small boobs.  I have been able to shop at normal stores and I have had to struggle to find in style clothing that fit my body.  At any of those moments and any of those sizes I still ALWAYS HATED MY BODY.  I never celebrated it.  There was always something wrong with it.  Let's be honest, 5'10 and 133lbs is waaaay too thin.  However, if you had asked then what I thought of my body I would have told you that my boobs were a terrible shape, that my thighs had cellulite, etc. etc.  Here is what I have ALWAYS been no matter my size....athletic.

It has taken me 39 years to finally have an appreciation and love for my body.  Are there things I'd like to change?  FOR SURE!  I'd be lying to myself if I said that there weren't.  However, I'm not going to beat myself up for it.  I grew tired of crying in my kale and realized that there is so much that I have done and so much that I can do and my weight and size should not determine how I feel about myself.  It tells absolutely nothing about who I am.  For the first time in my life I think I see myself smaller than probably most other people see me.


I also brought my son to work with me yesterday and was online and there was a photo of a woman that was overweight.  He started laughing, pointed at her and said...."she's fat!!!"  Now, he is only 5 but I could tell it was in a tone that indicated he was making fun of her.

I turned to him and point blank asked him: "Leyton, do you think Mommy is fat?"  He replied, "Yes."  I said, "Yes, that is true...I am fat.  I'm fat just like that lady in that picture.  What do you think about that?  Is it bad that I am fat?"  He replied, "No.  I think you are pretty."  We then had a quick discussion about how it's not fun to tease people for how they look.  Some people are fat, some people are skinny and on and on, but every one of those people has feelings.

That is what I hope Tess is able to accomplish with her movement.  We need to teach our kids not to judge.  We need to teach our kids to LOVE THEMSELVES.  We have enough challenges in this world and things to be sad about then to sit around and tear ourselves down for what we may or may not look like.  Life is TOO HARD for that.  Find the beauty in yourself and celebrate that beauty and that strength.  Take pictures of yourself and instead of picking apart all of the bad things....celebrate the stuff that is great.  I did this last year in a boudoir shoot for my husband.  Something that I always thought I would do later when I was whatever it was I thought would be more perfect.  I'm glad I chose to do it at this point in my life because I am able to look at myself and see a woman who has gained and lost hundreds of pounds in her life, who has had surgeries and injuries that left her unable to walk and can now swim miles and chase after her child.  Find that, celebrate it and tell yourself how wonderful you are now.  Not how wonderful you will be when you get to a certain place because trust me, you will get there and find something else to be unhappy about if you don't start with finding your beauty now.





Thursday, May 7, 2015

Checking them off and taking names.

I am making SUCH GREAT PROGRESS on my list!  I seriously am pretty damn proud of myself that I made the list but also that I am actually sticking with it.  I feel like most of it will get marked off.  I do have my concerns about a couple items, but for the most part it's going well.  It is making for a crazy busy calendar but I kinda thrive off of that stuff.

So, without further ado, here are the items that are scheduled or completed.
1.  Reread Hamlet - Book is purchased, reading will start on my plane trip to NY.
2. Visit Yosemite - Booked for October!!!!
3.  Skinny Dip - CHECK!  Boobs are amazingly buoyant.
4.  Take a guitar lesson - Start on June 24th for 6 sessions
5.  Go wine tasting in Napa - Trip purchased and needs to be scheduled.
6.  Go to NY with Bill - Happening in July and CAN'T WAIT for this one.  Foo Fighters here we come!
7.  Take a solo trip overnight - Might combine this with wine tasting since sleeping over somewhere seems like a good idea.
8.  Keep a blog/journal for a  year - WIP but doing it.  Not as good as I wanted but I have a handwritten journal that is going better than the blog.
9.  Take Leyton to Modoc - August during fair time.
10.  Put $100 on blackjack hand - January in Vegas.
11.  Bake Christmas Goodies - December and I decided I'm doing it for the firehouse down the street.
12.  Have a Halloween costume party - October
13.  Participate in a fun run - September!  Just signed up for the Wipe Out Run!
14.  Take Leyton to Disneyland - We leave in less than a month!
15.  Swim Donner Lake open water event - August 15th, I sign up on June 1st.
16. Join a book club - Done.  We have only met once but have another meeting in a couple weeks.
17.  Pay it forward at least 5 times - Done and continue doing.
18.  Go ice skating - December with Leyton
19.  Organize a Christmas program at Elder Community - Contact started will happen in December.
20.  Volunteer for Alzheimer's Assoc - Application submitted!
21. One no buy month - Trying again in September
22. Ride in a helicopter - July in New York!  Paid for and booked!!!
23. Vegas for my 40th - January!
24. Take an Improv Class - Done! 
25.  Get a tattoo for my Dad - WIP, get most of it finished today!

Not too shabby for being less than 4 months in!  Now, here are the items that are still up in the air.
1.  Fire a handgun.
2. Take a hip hop dance class.
3. Write a letter to 5 people that have influenced me.
4.  Cook a 5 course meal for friends.
5.  Knit 10 items.
6.  Organize Leyton's crafts.
7. Visit Humboldt.
8.  Go dancing with girlfriends.
9.  Go whitewater rafting.
10.  Get SUP certified.
11.  Write Bill a love letter.
12.  Put my Grandpa's recipes in a cookbook.
13.  Take Leyton to a live concert.
14.  Sit by a campfire on the beach.
15.  Read at stand up poetry event.

Now the good thing about what is left is most of them are pretty easy.  I left a lot of generic to do items on the list that I knew I could finish quickly and didn't require money or scheduling....just doing them.  There are a few I have concerns about though.  One is the white water rafting.  This has been a shitty rainy season and there's not much water right now.  I need to do some research and find a good place to do this.  The second is getting SUP certified.  This is dependent on if the guys who run the SUP group do certification courses this year.  That's it though!  Only two items!!!

All I can say is I highly encourage people to do this.  I love the whole bucket list idea but that seems so broad.  I needed items and a time frame in which to do them.  I think I will do something like this each year even if it's only 5 items and then I'll do another big one before I hit 50!

Yes, I might be naked in that photo.  Here's to skinny dipping and buoyant boobs!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Improv

I know, I know...it's been a while.  Getting back into the blogging routine is turning out to be one of the hardest things on my list.  The crazy part is a I LOVE writing....I just don't make the time for it like I used to.  However, I do have a big update for one of the items on my list.

I am now three weeks deep into my improv class!  This was definitely an item on my list that scared the shit out of me.  I have no fear of public speaking and am outgoing and am at times funny, but to have something where I felt the pressure to actually do all those things simultaniously??  Frightening.  I also felt like it was going to be hard to find a place that taught improv, but luckily that turned out to be the easiest portion.

The Sacramento Comedy Spot is located in downtown Sacramento in the Marrs building and they hold regular improv and comedy classes.  They also happened to be running a deal on Living Social at the time I signed up so it was a win win.  I wanted to put in a little time before I started talking about it on here and feel like three weeks in I know a bit more about it then I did when I walked in.  Here are the good things:

1.  It's hilarious.  Last night I didn't feel like going AT ALL but I am determined not to miss a class.  After 30 minutes I was so happy to be there.  It completely transforms my mood just walking in the door.  "Balloon Animal Brian" our instructor is the best.  He has the most comfortable quirky personality and his patience blows me away.
2.  Improv is nothing like I thought it was going to be.  To me it was "Who's Line Is It Anyway."  The fact that it is not structured like that actually puts me at ease because I feel like I'm not ready for that kind of improv (and maybe never will be.)  There is a whole structure to improv, a way in which to do things.  I'm still learning this but I find it fascinating.
3.  No matter how good someone is, everyone fucks up.  There are just times that it doesn't work and that's OK.  I think it is what makes improv improv.  If it just worked all the time it would feel staged.  The other good part about this is I feel like when you do kill it you KILL IT.  When shit comes together and works it can be epic.  Now, I'm not even on stage doing scenes yet, but just knowing that it is OK if I don't do well is a comfort.

Of course, we have to talk a bit about the bad things.  Thankfully there is just one....some of the people in class.  We've gone through this our whole lives, but being almost 40 you kind of forget what it is like to be in class and are reminded there are always those people that just won't shut the fuck up.  Those people that just don't get it.  Everyone is very nice, but man oh man there are times I want to knock someone aside the head.  There is one person in class who I literally can rarely understand what comes out of their mouth.  To me it just sounds like a gobbling turkey and most of the time I feel like a gobbling turkey would actually make more sense.  This is where I am blown away by Brian's patience.  This guy has to see some VERY INTERESTING characters and I'm not sure how he does it, although I can see where it does probably help him in his own comedy.

Needless to say, I love it so far.  It scares me, which I kind of love.  I'm not sure if I will do more beyond this session, but I'm so glad I put this item on my list and that I'm getting it accomplished.  I think everyone could benefit from taking an improv class!  If you are in the Sacramento area check out The Sacramento Comedy Spot.  If participating isn't your thing they have a TON of great show and you should go out and support them.  Being in Sacramento my whole life I am amazed at how wonderful this city has become and how much opportunity there is right outside our door.

Monday, March 2, 2015

My friend Alex.....

This weekend was a pretty great time for me.  Back in 2007 I heard a song that became one of my all time favorites.  I can still listen to it and get that little feeling inside.  It came on Pandora one day and I immediately had to find it and buy it.  That song is called "I Will Keep The Bad Things From You" by The Damnwells.  You can check it out yourself here: http://youtu.be/y0t4mJCn-Ho

Years later through a random chain of events the lead singer, Alex Dezen released an album for the Getty Owl Foundation and I got a chance to meet him.  Since then I have seen him in concert a couple times including last year in New York.

Recently Alex posted online that he wanted to do some house concerts and would any West Coast people be interested.  I think I responded in 10 seconds and a couple weeks later Alex and his girlfriend Amber were staying at my house.

The performance, amazing.  It was a night that will go down for me as one of the best memories of my life.  I spent time with friends listening to someone that I greatly admire as a musician and also genuinely like as a person.  It doesn't end there though.  Later that evening, when I went to pick Leyton up and bring him home, he discovered that Alex had a guitar and wanted him to play for him.  When we got home Alex was on board to play Leyton a couple songs and even jumped on the offer to play them while sitting on Peanut's lap.  Leyton was enthralled.  So much so that between a song us crazy adults got the idea that we were going to talk about something and Leyton chimed in with "Can you just play another song already!"


The next day, after Alex and Amber had headed off on their next adventure, Leyton and I were driving in the car.  We frequently put on Spotify and listen to our favorite songs shuffle.  One of the songs that Alex sang, The Great Unknown, came on.  Leyton's eyes got huge and the conversation went like this:

Leyton: Mommy, this is Alex!  How did my song get on the radio?
Me: well bud, Alex is a musician.  He has albums and plays concerts for people.
Leyton: Whooooaaaaa!  Can you put his songs on my playlist?

It was such an incredible moment where I really got to see how special this single moment became for him.  A memory for him that will also last a lifetime.  He listened to that song at least 10 times yesterday and if anyone was in ear shot of it he would say to them, "This is my friend Alex!  He sang this song for me last night!"

Thanks again Alex, you are by far Leyton's new best friend.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Paying it Forward

Today I completed paying it forward 5 times.  Guess I should have picked a higher number, but here's the thing...it's pretty easy for me to do.  Paying it forward can be done in soo many ways.  Sometimes it's enough to just make someone smile, other times you can pay it forward and literally change someone's life.  Paying it forward doesn't even have to have anything to do with paying.  I try to do whatever feels right at the time.

I had to go to the mall today to have a watch sized.  While I was there a woman in an electric wheelchair was in the line in front of me.  After she paid she just hung out at the register area for a while and no one seemed to say a word to her.  I finally asked if she needed something.  She asked if I could put her shopping bag in the bag attached to the back of her wheel chair.  Simple enough.

On my way out I went into Nordstrom to check out the sale shoe rack.  I ran into the lady again.  She jokingly asked if I was following her and then we started to chat about shoes in general.  Wearing flats, how much heels hurt and especially for her how expensive shoes are now compared to when she was my age.  We were chatting so much the lady that worked there thought we were together.  I happened upon some Halogen shoes that were marked down to $24 and I knew she liked them.  All the other Halogens were over $50 and she mentioned how much I scored on finding the one really marked down pair.

At that point we parted ways and I sat waiting for the sales attendant to bring the match to the shoe.  Once I had both shoes I tried them on, they were perfect.  I kept thinking though about this lady as I watched her not find another pair she liked.  So, I walked over to her and handed the box to her and told her I thought she should have them.  You know what?  It made her day.  I didn't have to buy her anything, but in some small way I gave her a gift.  It felt so good and see, that's the thing about paying it forward.  It makes the day of everyone involved.

Try it sometime, you just might find that it becomes a regular occurrence for you too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Time for an update!

Getting back into blogging has been hard.  The one problem is, part of my 40 list was to write/journal during the year.  So I have come up with an alternative option.  The blog I will write on when I have something to say or some update to give.  I don't want to do it if it feels forced.  Each week though I am keeping a little journal for Leyton.  I found this book at a store a little over a month ago.

I have been writing in it every Saturday.  My goal is to do this until he moves out of the house.  The nice part is they are just short little paragraphs to sum up the day and so far it is fun and feels easy enough.

That said I thought it was time for a list update!  You can see my updates in blue.  When I finish I will highlight in red.

1. Fire a gun. Handgun style in a shooting range.
2. Take a hip hop dance class.
3.  Reread Hamlet. - Purchased on Kindle. 4.  Visit Yosemite.
5. Skinny dip. - Planned for Palm Springs!6. Take a guitar lesson. - Have guitar, lesson book and online course.  Now just need to schedule time to practice.7.  Write a letter to five people that have influenced me.
8.  Go wine tasting in Napa.
9.  Cook a 5 course meal for friends.
10.  Take an improv class. - Eight week course starts on March 24th.11.  Knit 10 items.
12.  Go to New York with Bill. - Scheduled in July13.  Take a solo overnight trip.
14.  Keep a blog for the year. - working on it.15.  Take Leyton to Modoc County. - planned for August during fair time.16.  Put $100 on one hand of blackjack.  - planned for Vegas birthday.17.  Bake Christmas goodies.
18.  Organize Leyton's crafts.
19.  Get a tattoo for my Dad. - first session complete, next session March 3rd.20.  Have a Halloween costume party.
21.  Participate in a fun run.
22.  Take Leyton to Disneyland. - scheduled in June.23.  Swim the Donner Lake open water event.
24.  Visit Humboldt.
25.  Go dancing with girlfriends.
26.  Join a book club. - First meeting is tomorrow night!27.  Go whitewater rafting.
28.  Get SUP certified.
29.  Write Bill a love letter.
30.  Pay it forward at least 5 times. - I have completed 4.  I know I will hit more than 4 on this one.  I will write more on this when 5 complete.31.  Put my Grandpa's recipes in a cookbook.
32.  Take Leyton to a live concert.
33.  Go ice skating.
34.  Organize a Christmas program at elder community.
35.  Volunteer for Alzheimer's Association. - Application filled out, will submit this week.36.  Sit by campfire on the beach.
37.  Read at a stand up poetry event.
38. One no buy month. - Tried in February and failed, will try again another month.39.  Ride in a helicopter. - Passes purchased while in New York in July!40. Celebrate my 40th in Vegas with friends!!!

I figure 15 out of 40 are at least started which isn't bad at all!  My plan is by April to have 5 more started and at least 5 finished!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Progress!!!

I know it has been over a week since the last post. We've had some illness run through the Ball house and at various times we were all down for the count. At the start of February I'm so happy to say I've made some GREAT progress on my list. Organizing helped me out a TON. It has made it very easy to keep track of what is happening when and steps needed to get to the finish line. 

When I created the list there were a couple items I already knew were happening and are already booked and scheduled. Those items are: go to New York with Bill (July), Take Leyton to Disneyland (June). Then there are just other things that happen around a certain time, ie: Christmas, Birthday, etc. 

The past few weeks I was able to start or schedule a couple more!!!  Skinny Dipping will happen in Palm Springs. Get ready Stagecoach ladies!!  The tattoo for my Dad is beginning on Feb 12th. I will share more info on that later. Take an Improv class was one I thought would be tough, but I found a Groupon and a friend and I are signed up starting in March. It's an 8 week course and I'm soo excited! I took joining a book club up a notch and started one myself! There are 10 of us and I have already started reading the first book and we are set to meet at the end of the month. Last week I had the opportunity to pay it forward twice, but I will also talk more about that later. Through a friend I also found out about a local open mic event that happens each month in Sac and I hope to finish that by the end of this month. Another that I thought might be tough was a guitar lesson, seeing how I had no guitar....until now!

Introducing "Randy." He's a magical glittery hand me down a friend was getting rid of. Next step, find a lesson!

Finally, February starts no buy month. This means no buying anything for myself or family for the entire month. No clothes, toys, makeup, accessories, magazines, books, etc etc. I can only purchase things we need. I'm also taking this opportunity to try and clean out our fridge and cabinets so I'm not frivolously buying groceries either. I have a friend participating with me so we can check in daily and see how we are doing. 

Overall I feel like I'm off to a great start and enjoying it all along the way!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Organization

When I decided to create the 40 Before 40 List, I knew that the key was going to be being organized about it.  Organization is not always one of my strong points and sometimes I can be a little fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to life outside of the office.

I figured the easiest way to do this was a create a book, a book that is just for my 40 before 40 items.  I wrote the main list in this book and then have assigned each number to its own page.  On those pages I can write in the details.  This could be the research that I'm doing for a particular item or the date something is scheduled.  I thought this would keep me organized and would be almost a journal of this journey.  I'm happy to say that I already have about 5-10 items that are in the works.

I also got an awesome response from friends who wanted to do certain items with me.  So, if someone said they wanted to join I wrote down their name on the page for that item.  It was the easiest way to know I wouldn't forget someone and perhaps help them do something on their wish list. 

One that got a lot of response was a book club.  I've wanted to be part of a book club for a long time but the hardest part has been finding a club.  When so many local women said that they wanted to do a book club too I figured I would take it a step further....start a club!  I'm happy to say that there are about 10 people who are going to join in the book club and we should have our first book picked this week and our first meeting at the end of February!

Happy reading!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My family

Sometimes there is a picture that is just so fantastic I can't stop looking at it. I was lucky enough to capture one today. 
This photo slays me to the deepest part of my heart and soul. It is so filled with happiness it's impossible not to smile when you look at it. 

I fell in love with that man when I was just a 23 year old girl. It's crazy to think how young I was and yet for the first time I really knew this was the man I would spend my life with. Now, almost 17 years later I could not feel any more certain about that. 

Then there's that little boy we made. I dreamt about him before he even existed. Although, he didn't make me quite as crazy in those dreams!!  When he smiles and laughs and tells me he loves me, well no dream was ever as good as that feels. 

I'm so happy to be the Belle of these Balls. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The List

I decided that I really wanted to make a list of 40 things to do by the time I'm 40. Some are things I've never done, some are things I haven't done in a long time, others are just to do list lingerers. 

Here's the list in no particular order. If there's anything you want to help with or participate in let me know. 

1. Fire a gun. Handgun style in a shooting range. 
2. Take a hip hop dance class. 
3.  Reread Hamlet. 
4.  Visit Yosemite. 
5. Skinny dip. 
6. Take a guitar lesson. 
7.  Write a letter to five people that have influenced me. 
8.  Go wine tasting in Napa. 
9.  Cook a 5 course meal for friends. 
10.  Take an improv class. 
11.  Knit 10 items. 
12.  Go to New York with Bill. 
13.  Take a solo overnight trip. 
14.  Keep a blog for the year. 
15.  Take Leyton to Modoc County. 
16.  Put $100 on one hand of blackjack. 
17.  Bake Christmas goodies. 
18.  Organize Leyton's crafts. 
19.  Get a tattoo for my Dad. 
20.  Have a Halloween costume party. 
21.  Participate in a fun run. 
22.  Take Leyton to Disneyland. 
23.  Swim the Donner Lake open water event. 
24.  Visit Humboldt. 
25.  Go dancing with girlfriends. 
26.  Join a book club. 
27.  Go whitewater rafting. 
28.  Get SUP certified. 
29.  Write Bill a love letter. 
30.  Pay it forward at least 5 times. 
31.  Put my Grandpa's recipes in a cookbook. 
32.  Take Leyton to a live concert. 
33.  Go ice skating. 
34.  Organize a Christmas program at elder community. 
35.  Volunteer for Alzheimer's Association. 
36.  Sit by campfire on the beach. 
37.  Read at a stand up poetry event. 
38. One no buy month. 
39.  Ride in a helicopter. 
40. Celebrate my 40th in Vegas with friends!!!

Ready, set, GO! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Back

Tonight I sit in a cabin in Kingvale. It's a small cozy a-frame that you have to walk into through the snow. 

My son has a cold and a cough but I'm trying my best not to let it get me down. I also forgot nighttime diapers and jerry rigged some pads in a shower cap which either makes me MacGyver or means I should put more money in the "therapy" bucket. 

Tomorrow I turn 39, my last year in my 30's. I'm excited. Turning 40 in a year doesn't bother me at all, in fact I look forward to it. I feel like with each passing year I embrace myself more and appreciate life in a different way. 

I took over a year break from writing and just LIVED. I didn't worry about what I was writing next. I didn't worry about sugar coating my failures or celebrating the good. On the same token though, I missed it. There was a big space there that I knew could only be filled by writing again. So, I'm back. I'm going to celebrate this next year with a bang and want to document it along the way. 

Here's to 39 being the best year yet!