Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Card

"My father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet." - Rodney Dangerfield

As promised, here is the picture I used of Sandy for my Christmas card. I printed it in sepia so the colors didn't overwhelm the card. I liked it. Hope those who received it did too.

Our Christmas was fun and too quick and filled with pictures. For as long as i can remember, there have been no pictures of me as a baby or toddler around. For years, my sisters teased me about being adopted... as only sisters can do. And my parents claimed they went through a slide phase... all the pictures taken were on slides and we needed a projector to see them, blah blah blah. As the second child, I take every opportunity to show how I was neglected... teasing my parents about my pictures. So, my younger sister pulled out all the slides and we went through all of them. Found some great pictures of our family and trips and proof I was once a baby in their household... pictures of me crawling and Leah holding me as a baby. We're taking them to preserve them digitally so we'll have prints and copies to share soon. I'll share a little timeline when I have the pictures in hand.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 12

Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don't turn up at all. - Sam Ewing

And we're in the midst of the holiday season, I've wrapped so many presents for customers I have papercuts. Which is great - it's actually my favorite job in this busy season. I love to wrap gifts! I really enjoy it and when I give the present, wrapped and ready to go, back to the customer and see their delight, it gives me a sense of satisfaction. It's the small things in life.

Five more days to go! I've worked straight through the holiday season for the past 12 days and I have 5 more to go. I actually think it'll be the most I've ever worked in the holiday season. I usually take a day or two, refuse to work Sunday afternoons, or only help out. This year, I felt like I have something to prove. As if I can impact the bottom line by physically being there. And maybe I have, who knows. We're busy and thank goodness we are, therefore we'll be there for another year. Which is good since I have plans for my salary this year.

As far as my own Christmas to do list... I've got a little more to do.

Today, I mailed my Christmas Cards (minus a few missing addresses) which is the latest date I have ever mailed out my cards. I'm sure there are people who think I've crossed them off my list for this year - not so! Just running behind. I usually do them the Sunday first weekend of December and I will resume that habit next year as I don't like leaving them to last minute and I love receiving cards. But they are mostly done now and I'll knock the rest of them out in the next day or so. As soon as I find my cord to download pictures to my computer (I think it's in my desk drawer), I'll post the picture of Sandy I used for the cards. I think it's pretty dang cute.

My dad's present is here. I have something for my older sister, Leah and my nephew, William. My mom's present should arrive on Dec. 23rd which is cutting it close for me so I might plan a back up. I know what I'm getting Lauren, my younger sister and my brother in law, Will - I just need to remember to buy them. That is one thing about working in retail, sometimes you don't want to shop when you're done. We are approaching the days of no excuses... so I'll make it happen so I can enjoy wrapping my gifts... the best part!

The house is decorated and I'm glad I did that as early as I did because once this ride started, there's been no getting off. I've enjoyed my tree, decorations and coming home to the lights... I think we should keep the decorations up through the winter. It would definitely make the winter more tolerable and a little happier. Just a thought.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The List

"You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare" - Georgia O'Keeffe


Everyone's got a list, their personal bucket list of things they must do before they die. Books have been writted, lists have been made, and even a tv show (MTV) is about crossing items off a life list. Mine's not really about before I die... it's more about where I have to go, what I have to see and experience before I come back to a 'settled' life again. This is just the beginning but I'm off to a good start.


Eventually I'll give it a page or link of it's own and I expect it to grow, ebb and flow as necessary along my journey. But here's my first declaration of places and things I want to see, visit, experience or take in...



The List: Things I Want to See, Taste, Do, Learn, Visit, Experience, or Take In

  1. Visit the world’s only pub inside a tree (South Africa)
  2. Giolitti – one of the oldest, family owned gelaterias in Rome (Italy)
  3. "Fly” through the rainforest (Costa Rica)
  4. Stay in an Ice Hotel (Norway)
  5. Stay on a working Dude Ranch (USA)
  6. Go on an African Safari (Kenya)
  7. Visit the Outback (Australia)
  8. Hike Cinque Terre (Italy)
  9. Go dog sledding (Sweden)
  10. See the Northern Lights (Sweden)
  11. Ice Skate in Rockefeller Center (USA)
  12. Walk the Great Wall (China)
  13. Eat Sushi (Japan)
  14. Deliver postcards from the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)
  15. Ski the Swiss Alps (Switzerland)
  16. Christmas at the Biltmore (USA)
  17. Camp at the Darvaza Gas Crater (Turkmenistan)
  18. Visit the other Georgia (Georgia)
  19. Drink Wine in Bordeaux (France)
  20. Dive off the Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
  21. Watch the Changing of the Guards (England)
  22. See the Running of the Bulls (Spain)
  23. Sail the Strait of Gibraltar (Spain/Morocco)
  24. Ride a Camel (Egypt)
  25. Ride the Orient Express (Eastern Europe)
  26. Celebrate Oktoberfest (Germany)
  27. Celebrate Carnival (Brazil)
  28. See Elephants Paint (Thailand)
  29. Tour the Sewers (France)
  30. Learn Spanish (Spain)
  31. Walk Abbey Road (England)
  32. Hike Brooks Range (Alaska)
  33. Celebrate Easter at St. Peter's (Italy)
  34. Ride the Moscow to St. Petersburg wide gauge railroad
  35. See the Gigantic Carved Heads of Easter Island (Polynesia)
  36. Play Blackjack in Monte Carlo (Monaco)
  37. Float down the Amazon (South America)
  38. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Dublin (Ireland)
  39. Trek through Karakoram (Western Europe/Eastern Asia)
  40. Snowmobile (Finland)
  41. Sit on the Lawn at Wimbledon (England)
  42. Walk the fabled Bund in Shanghai (China)
  43. Cooking Classes in Paris (France)
  44. Shop the market at Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)
  45. Watch the sun set over Machu Picchu (Peru)
  46. Take Surfing Lessons (Australia)
  47. Take the Chunnel from London to Paris (England)
  48. Eat street food in Bangkok (Thailand)
  49. Ride the train down the Malaysian peninsula from Bangleole to Kuala Lumpur (Asia)
  50. Journey along the Sillk Road (China)
  51. See the Acropolis of Athens in the moonlight (Greece)
  52. Tour the ruins of the "rose-red city" (Jordan)
  53. Ride the Chihuahua-Pacifico Railroad (Mexico)
  54. Swim with the Dolphins (New Zealand)
  55. Spend Bastille Day in Paris (France)
  56. See Stonehenge (England)
  57. Attend a Venice Biennale Art Exhibit (Italy)
  58. Fish for wild trout (Scotland)
  59. Shop the yearly sale at Harrod's department sale (England)
  60. Sail into the harbor of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  61. Stand at the Wailing Wall (Jerusalem)
  62. Visit Peace City in Hiroshima (Japan)
  63. Visit the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (Russia)
  64. See the Royal Jewels (England)
  65. Walk Milford Track (New Zealand)
  66. See the Sydney Opera House (Australia)
  67. Taste vintage Port (Portugal)
  68. See Angel Falls (Venezuala)
  69. Snorkel Bora Bora (Polynesia)
  70. Walk the Hall of Mirrors (France)
  71. Climb the Harbor Bridge (Australia)
  72. Tour the Kremlin (Russia)
  73. See the Viking ruins & runes (Greenland)
  74. Watch the sunset from Capitoline Hill (Italy)
  75. Visit the Valley of the Kings (Egypt)
  76. Ride through the Panama Cannal (Panama)
  77. See the remains of the Berlin Wall (Germany)
  78. See the Rosetta Stone (England)
  79. Stand among the Tulips (Holland)
  80. See the fountains of Villd'Este (Italy)
  81. Ride double-decker buses around London (England)
  82. Hike the Grand Canyon (USA)
  83. Visit Lake Baikal (Russia)
  84. Visit the Turtle Sanctuary (Seychelles - Africa)
  85. See the David (Italy)
  86. Tour Jane Austen's country (England)
  87. See the Flamingos at the Lake Ngorongoro Crater (Tanzania)
  88. Float the Sepik River (Papua New Guinea)
  89. See the Hieroglyphic Stairway in Copan (Honduras)
  90. Set foot on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (Vietnam)
  91. Drive on the Autobahn (Germany)
  92. See the Danube (Czech Republic)
  93. See the Great Sphinx (Egypt)
  94. Visit the Blue Mosque (Turkey)
  95. See the Paelolithic art in the Caves of Altamira (Spain)
  96. Eat Limburger cheese in Limburg (Belgium)
  97. Stand on the grounds of the first Olympics (Greece)
  98. Tour the Baja (Mexico)
  99. Take a class at Oxford (England)
  100. Stand at the beaches of Normandy (France)

That seems like a good start... we'll go from there, revise... edit... clarify... delete and experience all the people along the way. Sounds fun, hmmm?


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Behaving Badly

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” - Emily Post



I've been 'that' person lately... the one who's a little snarkier, snippier, and a little ruder than necessary. Not proud of that. The last time I felt this way, I quit my job and moved to Chicago for a new start. It took me three months to calm down, be nice and have fun again. I miss having fun... I feel like I've forgotten how. Annoying.


So, I have a new plan and it excites me. Motivates me to make the time work for me and spend my energy working toward my new goal. But it doesn't make my fuse any longer. Sigh. How do I fix that? Learn to take a deep breath and remain patient and be positive. Channel my inner Emily Post, stay on top of my game, think before I speak and remain polite. I know better and I don't know that person (or like her).


So, moving on to better things. Continuing to work on myself. Making progress on my new dream... that's what I can do and those are positive things.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Connections

"The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love." - William Sloan Coffin

Kind of exciting progress on my trip idea... all I've done is start saving some money, mention it to some friends, recruit some advice, and write some posts. People have been coming out of the woodwork with connections, suggestions, places to go and people to visit. I love it. Makes me so excited to make it even more of a reality.

So Far, I have people in the following countries:

  1. Peru
  2. Ireland
  3. New Zealand
  4. Australia
  5. Japan
  6. England
  7. Germany
  8. The Philippines
  9. South Africa

Nine Countries... and without much effort, how cool is that? I'm sure when I contact my friends and explain what I'm doing and why, more will come. Just wanted to share my enthusiasm. And express my surprise about how many people read my blog when I had no idea. Nice.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Adding it to the List

"Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today - James Dean

One thing I'm going to do while preparing for my trip is find places I want to visit, cities I want to explore, things I want to do and put them all in one list. I'll continue to update it as I go along and check things off my list.

Here's something I stumbled upon today, TheFunTheory.com and I'm adding it to list. I need to check out this place in Sweden. It's another example of a different way of life and a different way of living. I love it. Share it with others.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Plotting My Escape

Maybe you don't like your job, maybe you didn't get enough sleep, well nobody likes their job, nobody got enough sleep. Maybe you just had the worst day of your life, but you know, there's no escape, there's no excuse, so just suck up and be nice. - Ani DiFranco


I've been thinking, almost constantly, about changing my life. Again. Trying something different to find my place in the world. And I need the change. I do. Because I'm not nice anymore. And I don't care if I am either. Which is a whole different level of scratchiness in my life. And I agree with Ani, I believe I should be nice to others and I try but when a constant simmer is under the surface, I'm less able to remain patient, kind and understanding. I don't like who I become or how I behave. I remember it from being in Chicago, it took me about 3 months of living there before I didn't react to everything with anger.


I'm in Gulfport, Mississippi* to babysit my nephew for a couple of days while my sister and brother in law play in the state USTA tennis league championships in Jackson. (Yes, I realize how that sounds but it's fun for me to spend time with William and they always need a couple days off.) As I drove down here, I realized I had everything in my car I needed to start my journey... car, computer, camera, clothes and my dog. Too bad I left behind a lot of obligations. This time, when I leave, I have a lot more to do than just quit my job and pack up my stuff.

So I'll go back instead of heading another direction like I was dreaming to do, sell my stuff, make arrangements, save some money, and plan my escape. Even though I call it my 'escape' - I'm not running from anything. I'm looking for a way to live my life which makes me happy and allows me to cross some places off my list. It may not be everyone's way of living or everyone's idea of a life but it appeals to me and I think it will give me a greater level of satisfaction than my current work hard, please everyone but myself situation.

We'll see. One step at a time.


*I always spell out Mississippi, mainly cause I like to sing, "crooked letter, crooked letter, i, humpback, humpback, i" outloud to myself.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Financing my Dream

Faith is forward motion. –Karen Maezen Miller

Money is always a part of reality... unfortunate, but true. To make my dream a reality, I have to revise my personal lifestyle and daily budget to make it happen. I've been looking at other travelers, talking to friends and crunching numbers. I'm great at research and ideas but not so good at the follow through. I'm not good or used to telling myself "no".

Living the Dream decided on a budget of $30,000 for a little over a year (415 days). It's a flexible plan and it allows for cheaper countries to make up for more expensive countries. I want to travel for a longer time, at a slower pace and experience more of living like the locals. I plan more home stays, work for board, jobs as I move around the world so I can limit my expenses and continue my income. Plus I'm hoping to have another source of income (more on that later) besides whatever I'm earning at my work/stay job.

I need to do more research on:


1. Costs of Visas


2. Transfer Taxes


3. Shipping Charges (Gifts, Souvenirs, Holidays, etc - sending packages home)


4. Health Insurance (Cobra? Travelers? Job Provided?)


5. Pre-Trip Purchases (what do I need?)



How much do these cost? What's my personal needs? What's my comfort level? What am I forgetting?

One thing I've learned is I need an international bank, with partnerships around the world, and offering a 4 digit PIN (I didn't even know PINs came in larger numbers). The most highly recommended bank was HSBC so I've looked into their account choices - I'll be able to link my international account with my current local bank through a money market account. Maintaining my local bank account will allow my parents to have emergency access - I'll have to set that up before I leave - they don't currently have access but it's a small town with a small town bank and they know we're related but if I make it official, it could save some time and make it easier on everyone.

GOAL #1
  • $1500 in travel savings to open checking account
  • $1500 for Money Market account to meet free account minimums.

TOTAL = $3000

I have over $3000 in savings but I don't want to pull any of that money for travel (yet). My savings are for home or pet or human or car emergencies* and I want to leave them for those purposes until those responsibilities are no longer mine.

So that's my first task - Save $3000 to open my new accounts and begin earning money on my money (every penny helps!). Of course I decide to do this in the worst economy, after my salary has been cut and right before the holiday season. But if I can save money with all this going on, then it'll just get easier from here.

Spending cuts (how I'm going to start living a more frugal life)

  1. No high speed Internet at Home - I have a Sprint card and DSL at my office so it was over kill to begin with and easy to let go.
  2. Cable TV - This one is going to hurt more but I'll get over it. I can watch at my parents' house or at the gym (it may help me get there more!).
  3. Eating Out - I eat out a lot for networking purposes and a lot for convenience as well. Breakfast @ $5/day = $25/week = $1300/year. I don't eat out breakfast every day but pretty often so that will be a huge savings. I'm going to limit my lunches and dinners - those will be harder but necessary.
  4. Shopping in my pantry - I love to cook so I'm fine with cutting out my expensive restaurant meals but I'm not much better at the grocery store. I'm the queen of standing in my kitchen, looking at my full refrigerator, saying "there's nothing here to eat". I'm sure I'll be telling stories about my progress in this area.
  5. Non-Necessity Spending - shoes, purses, clothing, home decor, etc. I've got a lot of stuff around here... I need to trade, sell, give away or barter some of it to help me achieve my dream. I've already been selling some old clothes at a local consignment store so I'll continue, maybe add some ebay selling, and continue to declutter my life.**

*Such as my car not cranking this morning, keep your fingers crossed that it's just a need for a new battery as we think.

**Some of it will be hard to part with, as I decorated my Christmas Tree this weekend, I loved pulling out my decorations plus I have some nice things (ie. china, crystal, etc.) which were gifts and will have to be stored. That may be another cost I need to factor in my budget.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Daily Inspiration

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. - Henry David Thoreau

I haven't listed my favorite websites lately, so I thought I'd share what's motivating, inspiring, and pushing me to be more. Check them out.

Shutter Sisters - A collection of gifted photographers, storytellers and artists. These ladies inspire me daily to create, explore and make more of myself.

More is Better - This is one funny chick, her antics crack me up but she's also exploring the world at 24 in way which I envy. She's got a list and she's traveling around the country/world (so far just the US) to accomplish her bucket list.

Sara France - As you know, my love of photography is growing daily. This is just one of the photography blogs/websites I check frequently to see what they're doing and receive inspiration. On the west coast, she's got amazing coastal shots.

Chookooloonks - I found her through Shutter Sisters, she inspires me, makes me laugh and is utterly relatable. I love her post about finding what you love - it's nice to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this.

Jurgen Nation - A new find: crazy humor, great stories and a reality you can't deny. She's crazy smart (getting her PhD in Neuroscience) and it comes across in her writing. I love how she'll refer to herself in third person b/c she's just saying...

The Nichols Blog - A husband & wife team out of Austin, Texas who are unbelievably talented. Peoples... Places... all beautiful. I can spend hours looking at their pictures, getting inspiration and admiring their talent.

Nomadic Matt - My new favorite blog, Matt's got his MBA and he's given up the corporate life to be a nomad. He's completely one 18 month, round the world trip and he's living in Thailand, running his blog and supporting his traveling lifestyle. He believes in slow travel and he's motivating me everyday to make my trip happen.

Almost Fearless - Found Christine through Nomadic Matt and I love her stories, insights & suggestions just as much. She and her husband have traveled around the world after cashing it all in and inspiring me to do the same.


So that's it, a bit of what I'm reading, you can see where my head is: travel & photography. Working on a way to make both of them more of my life. Stay Tuned!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gratitude

"Gratitude is noticing the extraordinary in the ordinary. And then taking the nanosecond to feel it." - Karen Krakoer Kaplan

Over the past couple of days, I participated in Tweetsgiving, a round the world effort through twitter to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was a great reminder to me of how great my life is, how much I have to be thankful for, and why I should remember this and be happy everyday. On the afternoon I started, I was in a funk, tired of work and the daily drama - after my 5th or 6th twitter, I was smiling, feeling better and more optimistic about my life. I know people who pray daily, others who meditate, and after completing this exercise, I KNOW I need a way to remind myself of this daily.

Here's some of my list... Enjoy & Be Grateful.

6 of 100: Thankful for the love given to me

7 of 100: Thankful for the ability to dream, it keeps me going

8 of 100: Thankful for being a woman - strong, smart & feminine

17 of 100: Thankful for my ability to think & act, ignorance is not bliss

18 of 100: Thankful for my ability to always ask why?

32 of 100: Thankful for all the blessing I've received & haven't desearved

38 of 100: Thankful for the people go about their day, silently kicking ass & not needing recognition, my heroes

50 of 100: Thankful for my mom who should be woman of the year

51 of 100: Thankful for this beautiful day

54 of 100: Thankful for an interesting & engaging family, never dull here

60 of 100: Thankful to have been taught to value who a person is vs what they are

68 of 100: Thankful for new blessings

72 of 100: Thankful for those who challenge the status quo

73 of 100: Thankful for the bacon, it makes everything better

74 of 100: Thankful for the possibility of what's to come & finding my 'thang'

76 of 100: Thankful to always be learning

83 of 100: Thankful for the realization that stuff is just stuff

86 of 100: Thankful for my room full of cousins sharing stories & glasses of wine

88 of 100: Thankful for the humor of family stories

89 of 100: Thankful for a full belly

98 of 100: Thankful for the holiday season & the potential of the new year

99 of 100: Thankful for my friends, new & far, who've sent wishes to me today

100 of 100: Thankful I have 100 things to be thankful for & a place to share my gratitude

Monday, November 23, 2009

Not Me

"Depression is nourished by a lifetime of ungrieved and unforgiven hurts." - Penelope Sweet

I took my laptop home this past weekend and had plans upon lists of things to accomplish. And I couldn't make it happen. I got the bare minimum done. I was in one of my funks last week - it grew and grew until I couldn't stand myself. One of my poor friends had to put up with my on Saturday night and she's been where I am now, so she got it. Even so, it still makes me want to stand up and scream, this isn't me. Not the me I know or who I want to be.

So it's time for change. I've been analyzing for a looooooooooong time now. Time for action. This post about traveling was a good start. Now, I have to really buckle done, create and define specific goals. Work hard and make it happen. Otherwise, in a year, I'll still be sitting here. Whining to the internets only because I won't have any friends left.

edited:
Just saw this on a friend's facebook post, hitting so close to home today
"When I was going through a similar situation, someone told me, "everything will be different in a year". He didn't say everything would be fixed in a year, but I felt very assured by that fact that in a year I wouldn't be going through what I was going through that day. So I leave you with that same advice. Next year will be different, probably better." He was right.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who I Aspire to Be

*I've mentioned Jennifer Lancaster's books before: here. She's a funny lady and I rarely visit her blog without taking away a good giggle.



Today's post about her obsession with Twilight's New Moon release this weekend does me in, I thought I was going to loose all control of my bladder (somehow, saying pee my pants in writing makes me feel ridiculous). Her action figure play by play of the movie and accessories for the characters are hysterical!

Just had to pass it along... Everyone needs a good giggle every now and again. Just wish I were that funny...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Planning, Wishing, Hoping

'For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again." - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button



So, I'm going to lay something out there. Put it in writing to make it a little more real. Give a thought that's running around my brain a little more room to stretch it's legs. As I've mentioned a million times, I love to travel and I want to do more, see more and explore more of the world. Lately all I've been reading are travel blogs and websites (I'll list them later). I escape my world of budgets, decisions, markets, target accounts, and deadlines by becoming absorbed in their adventures.



And I want more. Instead of reading about koalas, I want to see one myself. Instead of researching work/stay vacations, I want to have one. Instead of being green with envy everytime I hear of a friends' trip, I want to be the one creating the jealousy. And I'm not just talking about a trip to Panama City Beach (nothing against the Redneck Riveria, but I want to see the original one). I want to go on my own gap year.

When I started this blog, I was living in Chicago because I had wanted something different in my life. I still do. I loved Chicago and I'm glad I was there but a part of me looks back on the money I spent and time I wasted which could have been spent seeing the world. Instead of thinking: "that's what I should have done" - I'm going to take this desire and turn it into that's what I'm going to do. And actually make it happen. Here's what I'm thinking about:

Timing:
I just bought a house and I have several remodeling projects going there. I need at least a year for multiple reasons before I'll be ready to leave so that will allow me to complete those projects. At this point, I think I'd want to rent the house but selling it would give me a little more money to travel with... Decision to be made. If I rent, then I have to arrange for property management and designate money for those costs. If I decide to sell, then I have to wait until March 2011 to avoid any capital gains taxes. Either way requires a little research and planning. I love my house, hate to let it go but I'm not going to let it prevent me from taking this trip.

I'm sure the timing for my departure will have more to do with work and finances than capital gains. However, my house is an obligation I can't ignore. Plus in today's climate, it's hard to expect any return on an investment in real estate. By holding it longer, I'll get a better return but it will also delay my trip... things to consider.

Finances:
I have a couple of other financial goals to accomplish before I can devote all extra money to a travel savings. Nothing huge so I'm currently going to add an additional line item in my savings spread sheet until it become necessary to seperate the money. Currently, I keep it all in the same account for a greater percentage return but I know how much is designated to each priority. Since I now have another looming priority, I will be sticking to a more strict budget and pushing through these nagging debts to increase my savings potential.

Everything I've read about how much money I'll need basically boils down to one question - how do I like to travel? If I can rough it and share space, then I'll be able to stay on the road longer. I know myself well enough that I'll want to spoil myself every once in while and I also know that missing an experience because of the price tag will be frustrating for me.

My goal is to travel indefinitely for an extended time. Work my way around the world and experience different cultures for extended time periods - this is going to take some crafty budgeting. One thing, I've already read about and think is a good idea, having fly home money in a CD. Place a designated amount in a different account, earning interest so that it's there when you're ready to come home.

So I think I'll set my goal at $25,000. That's a lot of money and I know it'll take me a while to achieve that goal outside of my other financial goals. But I think it'll be money well spent.

Logistics:
Since the only place I've been outside of North American is New Zealand, I know I want to start my trip in Europe and go around the world from there. I have friends living in England, France, Germany, Japan, Argentina, and Australia. I need to refresh all of these connections and see if I can find make some new ones:) Anyone know of safe places to sleep?

I'd prefer to leave in either September or January; either way I'd avoid the crowds of the summer. If I depart in the fall, then I can enjoy traveling for a while before finding a job for the winter season and if I leave in the new year, I can travel before finding a job for the summer tourist season. Or I can go straight to a work destination. I'm open to suggestion. I'd hate to feel trapped somewhere but working vacations knock out your biggest expense: lodging.

Gear:
I have an awesome backpack which my parents gave me for my trip to New Zealand. It worked perfect before and I know I didn't fully utilize it then so I'm confident it will work.

I have a bad ass camera and a point & shoot little camera. That would be a tough choice. A friend who has traveled extensively said electronic equipment makes you a target. But I couldn't image not taking one.

I have clothing for every situation and I'm a pretty good packer when limited with space. Shoes will be my biggest obstacle - I like to have options.

I think I'd like to be able to take a computer with me so I'll be on the market for a new laptop for traveling. I need/want a new computer anyway so I'll just make sure it fits the needs of my trip as well.

Passport is burning to be used so no worries there:)

Those are my thoughts for now... I'll keep you posted on achieving my dream. Cross your fingers for me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Being Human

As usual, the best parts of my blog are steals... I don't have any references with this so I'm not certain where it came from but I love it. I remind myself that I learn the most from my mistakes so enjoy and continue to make some mistakes...

"Have you made any big errors lately?

If so, congratulations! You're human!

And chances are you are not a wimp, afraid to make a wrong decision that just might not work out perfectly. You see, the people in our world that become famous in anything are not those who do things perfectly, but those who do things well after screwing up a bunch of times. The difference between the top performers and the average, however, is that the averages are often frozen by fear of not doing something perfectly. So they don't try it, don't make the big decision, don't ask for the sale, don't take that business risk, or don't reach out to that long lost friend.

Because the fear of "what if" and the paralysis that it brings can bring about a harmful stagnation in our lives. Life is about movement, either up and down, and if you aren't moving down from making errors or moving up from learning from them, than you aren't moving at all. And if you're not moving, the world is just passing you by.

So this week, think of that big decision that is scaring the heck out of you and go for it. It might not work out perfectly, but even that less than perfect decision will be better than no decision at all."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Traveling Pet Peeves

"Why don't they make the whole plane out of that black box stuff?" - Stephen Wright

I flew to Minnesota yesterday for work, in and out in the same day. Traveling like that, for work, having to think and be "on" is not for the lighthearted. I applaud people who do it everyday and I'm thankful I'm not one of them. I am, however, a pretty savy traveler and I thought of some suggestions to help those who seem to bumble through to make the whole process a little easier for all of us.

1. Wear easy shoes to remove - Ladies, I love my shoes. I understand the delima. They must be cute, fashionable and complete my outfit. Unless I'm traveling. Then there are only two options: my danskos or merrels. Both are easy to slip on and off and I can walk easily in them. High Boots that must be wrestled off and on are a NO-NO sista friend.

2. Have your boarding pass and ID out and ready - they tell you this 15 times before you get to the little security dude. You hear it ad naseum.... and why is that? Because there's always some one too important to be considerate of others' time. When you arrive at the airport, take it out of your wallet/purse/money clip and keep it in your hands. Pack so that you don't have 8 things to carry in your hand to prevent this.

3. Pack smarter people - smaller bags and no tolietries. I don't know home many people are on an average flight but I DO KNOW that no all of us can carry a rollerboard on the plane. I agree the airlines are cheap bastards for charging for bags in an effort to encourage less baggage in the cargo hold only to require you to check at the gate but if we all packed smaller bags, less is more here people. Backpacks, duffle bags and messanger bags will all fit under the seat in front of you. Briefcases too. Don't put them in the over head bins unless it's absolutely necessary.

4. Take a chill pill. I have to do this alot myself, take a deep breath and remind myself to chill as I travel. Remind myself to be patient and let the line or person move at their pace. Especially when it comes to traveling, me pushing my way through a line or crowd generally makes no difference. If you have made it to your gate area and are certain to board the plane, then your pushiness will not save any more time. (Notice I said pushiness - I appreciate people who move conservatively and don't cause delay but rudeness isn't necessary).

5. Push off your seat - Don't PULL ON MINE. This is quite easy and it AMAZES me other people haven't figured it out. When getting up for whatever reason, push off your seat instead of pulling up on the seat in front of you. I know most people don't mean to disturb others but plane seats aren't stable so grabbing them moves the seat and those around it. Little kids kicking your seat is one thing but a grown adult pulling my chair drives me nuts.

6. Be NICE. Smile and treat the airport employees with courtesy. They have thankless jobs and they are not trying to prevent you from getting where you need to be. Weather, traffic and other unpreventable problems are NOT their fault. Be polite, yet firm when trying to get their help. Yelling, Being Rude and/or Insulting the customer service representatives will get you no where fast.

Just my thoughts... if everyone just takes a deep breathe and smiles, all will be better.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sharing Ava's Story

"God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons we could not learn in any other way. The way we learn those lessons is not to deny the feelings but to find the meanings underlying them." - Stanley Lindquist


Everyone who reads my blog knows how much I love my nephew, William. I have been overwhelmed and surprised at how easy and complete these feelings are.


I, along with the rest of my family, delight at his ever achievement and exploration. We laugh at his language and enjoy playing with him. He is in love with trains, bulldozers, planes, and trucks. He stops playing when outside and a big truck drives by. If you pull into the driveway, he gets in the car with you and plays with the steering wheel.


So when I read stories like this and I think of how easily it could be him or one of my friends' children and how lucky we've been so far and how lucky we'll be if none of them have to face a child's death. It makes me think. And say a word of thanks.

Spread the word of this story (if you can't read it, click here) and let others learn from her life.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Getting Better?

"I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma." ~Eartha Kitt

I'm new to my hobby of photography and I'm trying really hard to get it. To see what I want and to make it happen - lenses, lighting, fstops, ISO, wide angle, aparature... a whole new language to learn in between everything else I have to do. I get discouraged, I think I don't have the talent, the eye or the passion. I put down my camera for days at a time because life takes over.


Then, then I'll take a shot like this one. Everything works. I got the image I was trying to capture. And I'm hopefull again. I can do it. And I keep taking more really bad pictures hoping to get another shot like this:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

"Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans" - John Lennon

And we're moving full steam ahead, Halloween came and went before I realized it and now I'm thinking about Christmas gifts and travel plans for NYE. It's a little nuts. So, again I apologize for my tardiness even thought there have been small benefits for my schedule - 1/2 off pumpkins on the day of Halloween appealled to the bargain shopper inside me. October was a flash of planning ahead, living in the moment, examining some of my beliefs, travels, houseguests, and lots of work. My pace is good, my head is clear, and my heart is full - I love my life when I feel like this.

Working in a retail based business, I'm always amazed at how much we do and how little time we seem to have this time of the year. We approach fourth quarter with a different energy level - it's a great adrenaline rush as we start the final marathon of the year.

There's not anything quite like working retail - selling products, solving problems, and hearing the cash register clang. It's in my blood and as much as I complain about it, I love this time of year. The energy, the constant pace and the delight of wrapping gifts.

Lately, it's been about reflecting personal attacks for lack of poor planning and/or lack of money. Last year it was all about the money (too much to buy with too little funds) for our customers and I'm sure we'll see that issue come up again this season. It definitely bothers me. I don't know anyone who hasn't been affected (I don't run in 'those' circles) and people who are working retail generally are feeling it worse than anyone. Generally, hourly employees who weren't making enough money to begin with to deal with the crap that gets heaped on them daily. And now, their hours are cut, people are ruder and money is tighter. Show the shop keepers and sales associates some love this season and realize they aren't as lazy, stupid or as uncaring as you might assume.

I love dealing with the public, delighting customers with the 'perfect' idea or gift or invitation, instilling confidence in their decisions. I love to shop for gifts and I love helping other with theirs - I'd make a great personal shopper for someone who could keep me in the lifestyle I've become accustomed too - until then, there's this. And the rush that comes with it. I love it.

A local radio station does a retail vent line every holiday season and I get a great deal of pleasure listening to it. I can't wait to hear it this year. Because laughter is my new therapy and my cocktail of choice. People who have never expereinced it, just don't get it. And when you hear the stories of retail clerks, how they're treated, the ridiculous demands of the public and the unreasonable expectations, you have to laugh. Otherwise, you'd pull your hair out.

So, as we approach the retail maddness of the gift season, look for stories, forgive my sparatic posting, and enjoy the holidays. I know I will.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm a Thief

"We don't want to re-invent the wheel" - my father

I have often posted or linked to things which inspire me, motivate me, provoke me or make me giggle...

This does a little of all those things:

16 Things it took me over 50+ years to learn
By: Dave Barry, Nationally Syndicated Columnist

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

5. You should not confuse your career with your life.

6. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. (This one is very important.)

7. Never lick a steak knife.

8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

9. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.

10. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

11. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age 11.*

12. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.

13. A person, who is nice to you, but rude to a waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

14. Your friends love you anyway.

15. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.

16. Thought for the day: Men are like fine wine. They start out as grapes; and it's up to the women to stomp the crap out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.

*I'm still working on this one

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Things I Enjoy Way More than I Should

I love my ability to be amused by the little things. To find delight in the everyday and ordinary. I'm like everyone else, I have to be reminded to stop and find them but when I do, I always have a giggle. Here's a list of things that have gotten me lately:

1. Halloween Oreo Cookies - Random, I know. But it's my favorite holiday and when these cookies show up, I know we're getting close. Plus there kind of a gross color combination and for those of us that still play with our food, it's fun.

2. New Shoes - I have every shoe I could ever need but I love updating my wardrobe. I recently wore a new pair of animal print shoes and I love them. They are different and fun without being obnoxious. I get a thrill out of a pair of new shoes.

3. Real World/Road Rules Challenges - "The Ruins" just started and I love it. I know I should be out of their demographic but the drama is unreal and extremely entertaining. Plus they are in cool places and do crazy challenges.

4. Finding Money - I went through my guest room closet and sorted the clothes. I found money in the pocket of a jacket. Such a small thrill and such a great thing. Found money means I get to treat myself.

5. My dog, Sandy - I've written about her before but it always warms my heart that she's waiting for me in the driveway at the end of the day. It's nice to have 'someone' to come to.

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Thang

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
~Maya Angelou


I had the opportunity to attend an inspiring and creative presentation about PictureHOPE project last night - I was overwhelmed with the energy and images presented by Jen & Stephanie, as well as the story told by Odetta. I can't wait to see what they do next, what comes of their travels, and the final project. It's such an awe inspiring opportunity.

I was so envious. I'm jealous of their passion, talent, knowledge and the respect given by the audience there. The buzz about the program, their impact on our little town, as well as the greater world out there. Plus whoever they touch with the personal stories they discover and share. Now, I don't mean that I want what they have. I want my own thing... "my thang" to do well.

And during their presentation, Jen revealed something about her life which probably meant more to me than anything else. Before this situation, in her 40 years of life, she had been searching for her thing. "Her childhood moment of clarity" she called it as she expected something to become obvious as meant for her. I know that feeling of expectation and desire to feel a part of something. She found herself and her people (as she proudly referred to them) in a village in Rwanda after years of looking, waiting and preparing. I know those feelings. I'm dealing with them each day. And as each image came on the screen of a world I've never seen, I felt more and more called to "do something".

Driving away from the event, full of hope, inspiration and some really good food from a true African chef, I talked with my mom about my feelings. I am content and happy with where I am and the choices I have made BUT (and it's a big but) I feel as though I'm preparing for something more. Learning some lessons (always the hard way) and defining my thoughts and opinions of the world and wanting more than a husband, 2.5 kids, a golden retriever and a volvo stationwagon. Not that I think anything is wrong with those aspirations either. And you can have those and still touch the world, or at least your local world. But I have always had the call to travel and move, not a need to run but a need to explore and see for myself. I'm never afraid of the unknown or scared of where the next road may lead.

So, now I know my task. To take my abilities, experiences, and motivation. Turn it into something that works for me. Something giving me more than monetary rewards. Something allowing me to make a mark (however small) which is undeniably mine. Something allowing me to fly on my own. And now, even with my goal still ambiguous, I am promising to take pleasure and find beauty in the process of my change.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!

I know, I know.

It's been too long... life's been too crazy: work, food poisoning, classes, friends, traveling, soccer games, breakups and new goals. All has happened in the past 28 days which has eaten up my personal computer time. But I'm working on my schedule, taking control, gaining some perspective, getting my positive attitude back, and focusing on a healthier lifestyle. So bare with me.

Plus I have pictures. Of babies, friends, William, rivers, oceans, skies, etc. I promise to post some of them soon. But here's a tease:









Oh! And for those concerned, I didn't have food poisoning but my bosses AKA my parents did so I was doing some triple duty there for about a week. They had some bad oysters while at the coast and all has not been well since. They are slowly getting better but I was treading water there for a while just making sure major things were falling through the cracks. I know my parents do alot on a daily basis but I forget just how much until I have to cover or explain to that many people what's going on.

So life it busy but fun. I definitely had a funk last week but I'm over the hump and I'm gaining some perspective. Here are some reasons why I am happy:

1. I'm Healthy - I have several friends who are ill and/or have very ill family members.

2. I'm Employed - In the worst recession/depression of my lifetime, I have a job I love.

3. I'm Independent - Sometimes I'm lonely but I'm always free to make choices for myself. I don't have any obligations other than to make myself happy & fulfilled.

4. I'm Excited - Life interests me and I'm still learning about myself in a completely different way than I was 10 years ago in college.

5. I'm Challenged - I have a business which can go as far as I want to take it, anything I want to accomplish, I can. All I have to do is work for it.

6. I'm Engaged - Not with a finance but engaged in life. I've gained some new hobbies and I'm learning new skills.

7. I'm Maturing - Owning responsbility, making hard choices, doing what's 'right' is getting easier and easier... and it feels good. Weird but good.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dusting off the Cobwebs...

For this past Christmas, my parents gave me a new Camera - yes... a capital "C" Camera, a Nikon D90. It kicks ass. I take it everywhere with me. I take lots of bad pictures. I love it.


But the camera? This camera....


It is smarter than me. And I hate that feeling.

I meet a professional photographer earlier this year and when I told her about my new camera, she kind of looked me up and down, then said, "That's what I use..."

So after playing around on my own, reading the manual, reading online tutorials, and asking others how to do things, I've signed up for a photography class.

Fortunately for me, I live near a major university town and they have a great continuing education center. Retired professors who love to teach continue to teach after retiring from a life of committee meetings, department politics and research requirements. They love to teach. I've taken several classes there and that's the common theme - it's obvious.

Last night was my first class... we have a project and a field trip! So fun. Plus he knows what he's talking about and he speaks in layman's terms (problem 1 with this manual). I'm excited to hear what he has to say about my shots and how much it will help me improve. I know it will.

Plus, I'm such a nerd. Sitting attentively and taking notes last night, it felt good to be back in a classroom. I love to learn. I'm not a routine person and I definitely don't get excited about doing the same thing in my job over and over again. But a classroom? With information I don't already have? That turns me on.
Sad. But so True...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunset

"Happiness is a Swedish sunset; it is there for all, but most of us look the other way and lose it." - Mark Twain




The sun going down on the river last night. Sigh.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mental Break

I'm going away for a little bit... physically. Just for a few days. And since I've been slacking so badly here recently, I thought I might need to alert the presses of my continued absence. I'm headed south to a small piece of paradise with a tin roof and dirt road. My (and other's) favorite place to relax and renew while doing nothing.

I expect good food, conversations, lots of sun, good wine, little work and few phone calls. Maybe I'll get rid of the stress tension running through my neck and shoulders right now.

So, if you're looking for me. This is where I'll be... (well, until Tuesday).


Thursday, August 13, 2009

I don't DO quiet

If you know me, you know I'm loud...

I talk loud, laugh loud, listen to music loudly, and the list goes on and on. My mom always tells me I walk loudly... it's just who I am. I've accepted it and we all can move on now.

I was the kid that got in trouble for talking too loud, then for whispering when I wasn't supposed to, them humming when I finally would remember to stay quiet and then for exclaiming loudly when I should have kept the answer/comment/etc to myself. It's just who I am.

There are people that are quiet... they balance me out. So in this big, ole world, all is as it should be.

So I had a "minor" meltdown earlier this week when my computer itunes program started skipping everytime I touched my mouse or keyboard or anywhere else on my computer for that matter. Do you know how often during a normal workday you touch your computer? THINK about it. It's ALOT!!! All caps, three exclaimation points ALOT!!! And people, I don't do quiet. I can't stand silence... not even in nature - bring on the crickets, birds, wind blowing through the trees, etc. Quiet makes me nervous so just shutting down itunes and going on about my day was NOT an option. Not with all the work I had to do...

But taking the time to fix it wasn't something I wanted to tackle either - my whole technological world is breaking on me... computer, phone, printer, etc... they're all dying a slow and painfully annoying death. Nothing works as it should and I'm tired of coaxing them, promising sexual favors and such to get them to work. It's a daily battle and I was not prepared for battle with itunes on Monday morning. I was barely prepared to sit and stare at my screen while my brain decided if it was coming to work.

I need to consistent, soft stream of music coming from my computer to keep me focused... I know it sounds contradictary but I'm not actually listening to the music. But it keeps me from hearing the conversations around me and the random noises which occur here on a daily basis. It's another one of those weird things that make me, Me.

So I walked around our business for a while to simultaneously warm up (let's not discuss the temperature of my office) and cool down and I was muttering to myself*, "I don't DO quiet" over and over again. Several of my coworkers found this hysterical... and I answered several questions through out the day with the phrase. So I decided it should be my new motto.

I don't DO quiet.

Just in case you were wondering:)

On a side not, my Netflix was "The Duchess" and I loved it. Had no expectations of the movie, knew little to nothing about the story and I loved it. I'm interested enough to look up the Duchess of Devonshire and learn more of her story. Kiera Knightly did an excellent job.

And the costumes were amazing!!! A well deserved Oscar if I must say so myself.






*Another part of my quiet avoidance, if there isn't anyone to speak with or to hear me, I just talk to myself.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Progress

"Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress." - Nicholas Murray Butler


I know you don't see it... probably can't even tell the difference but I can smell the paint drying and I know there is a difference. My forearms and shoulders ache from painting, I have paint in places that one shouldn't have paint, and I'm having weird dreams from the fumes. But I have (finally) painted my kitchen cabinets.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I can see the cute room that will be. The room that lives in my head, in my imagination - heavily influenced by House Beautiful magazine and HGTV.
I hear the negativity out there... the "how's the house going?" and "how long ago did you move in?" or "you're still painting..."
I know there are some doubters out there... some haters, if you will, who never thought I'd get it done. Who know how short my attention span is, how easily I move from one project to another, who have identified my lack of follow through as my biggest problem. Followed closely by procrastination.
But after a brief pause (cue summertime, 2 weddings, other people's illnesses and vacations, plus trying to have a life of my own) I am BACK! And better than ever!!! I spent my weekend working on the kitchen cabinets...
sanding...
tearing down unneeded shelves (thanks Chad!)...
repairing damages and holes...
learning how to use wood filler...
shopping for hinges...
replacing light fixtures....
and of course, PAINTING.
I finished the priming and started the actual painting which made me feel oh so accomplished. I'm about half way through with the painting... I think I'll be able to finish them tonight or at the latest tomorrow (Putting that insomnia to good use). Which means, I'll be able to hang the cabinet doors this weekend!!! Whoot! Whoot!
Up Next: Floors, Countertops, and Back-splash.
Girlfriend is going to learn how to tile.

Monday, August 3, 2009

So Me...

“I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.” — E.B. White

I know I said I wouldn't cop out on entries with just quotes anymore but I saw this, I love it and I needed to put it somewhere I wouldn't lose it. So the blog wins. It's perfect.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,

- Shakespeare


I've spent July helping at our local playhouse and the children's workshops that have gone on there for at least 25 years. I spent many a night as a child, pretending to belong to the worlds of "Peter Pan", "Scrooge", and "Br'er Rabbit". It was great to help formulate those memories for the next generation of actors and stage lovers.
This is a shot from backstage during our dress rehersal... to avoid any upset parents, I don't want to post identifiable pictures but these little guys (k-5 through 2nd) worked hard that week and put on a great show. I had a blast... they couldn't sit still and I couldn't stop giggling. My small town has a little bit of culture mixed in with all the country and beautiful land.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Wedding Dance

This is great...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0&feature=player_embedded

I don't know if I could have done it... especially when I think of the long aisles that I have walked down at weddings but it's a great thing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Amazing

"Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though t'were his own." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


My nephew is here again. He's a handful. Nonstop and full of giggles. I take such delight, such joy and feel so much love around him. I was amazed at how much I loved him before he was born, how much I enjoy him and how much more I love him now.*

He's starting to talk and each day we've tried to teach him a new word: "Tree", "Door", "Keys", etc. I'm working on bulldozer right now... he loves trucks, cars, and airplanes so one of his new toys is a bulldozer so I'm trying to teach him to say it as well, it comes out sounding, "ull -oze". We'll keep at it.

He's leaving tomorrow which is no fun but I'll see him in about 6 weeks - it's just enough to note the changes which happen in between the visits. This was the first visit that he recognized me... when he saw me, he ran to me and hugged me. It's a great feeling to have that unconditional and simple love directed at you.

*However, this does NOT mean I won't my own... if anything, it's confirmed that I'm not cut out to be a mom.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My bad... My bad

"There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure the truth." - Maya Angelou.

Often, I talk my dog, Sandy for a walk around the neighborhood at twilight. It's cooler and after we've eaten and it's a great way for me to unwind before going to bed. Rarely, do we run into anyone else. And certainly no other animals so while she has a lease clipped to her collar, I'm usually not holding it. She behaves.... for the most part.

I realize this is wrong and irresponsible.

Tonight, we were coming down the last stretch and she took off after something and got ahead of me. The street lights are not bright and I couldn't see into the shadows. But I heard dogs barking so I started to walk faster. Then I heard a man yelling and I could see Sandy approaching an older gentleman with two large white dogs (not certain of the breed) at full force. I'm not certain who growled first but at that point I started running and yelling for my dog which illicted no response. The man was able to make Sandy back down and she came to me when I was closer. He was fussing at his dogs when I got there and after I secured Sandy, I turned to apologize. My dog was off leash and I was at fault and I wanted to make sure all was okay.

He glared at me and then sniffed and then walked past me.

It was like a scene from the movies. I was sincerely apologizing and he didn't even stop to accept it. I wasn't certain what to do but I finished my apology, getting louder as he walked away and then continued on my walk, Sandy's lease tight in hand.

I don't know what this means for our future walks...
Do I need to change the way I walk Sandy? I've lived here since March and I haven't run into anyone at this time of night so there haven't been any problems.

Sandy is aggressive to other large dogs... if they are female... sometimes. They have her file marked at the vet's as an "aggressive dog" yet the workers love her. I've had her play well with others and I've had it go horribly wrong. She's a sweet and lovable dog who I trust completely with my innocent nephew but I have to be really careful around other dogs. But it's not predictable. And everything I've done as far as training her goes has had no affect upon her or her reactive behavior.

I know I shouldn't let her walk free if I can't rely upon her to obey me. I know that I'm responsible for anything my dog does to harm another person and/or their property. And I wouldn't shirk from that but I also don't want anything to happen.

I guess it's back to obediance training for us again. Oh joy.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Break

"Deep Summer is when laziness finds respectability." - Sam Keen

Life has been busy - the other day I had to call my cell phone from my desk phone so I could find it under all the papers piled up on my desk but my lack of posting has been pure laziness. I can admit. And I'll also say that it's not likely to change while BBQs, pool parties, outdoor movies, evening concerts, and trips to the lake are taking up my evenings, weekends and thoughts.


But it's summertime... when the sun is shining, the air is heavy and laying around, doing nothing is perfectly acceptable.
So I hope to increase my posting but I'm not making any promises, to myself or anyone else. Sometimes, to write about life, you have to know it and I'm always going to choose an experience over work, any day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sigh

"See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence... we need silence to be able to touch souls." - Mother Teresa




Here is the sun setting over Lake Lanier in north Georgia. I took this from my uncle's boat on Sunday evening as my family gathered to celebrate my grandfather's 82nd birthday.

The warmth of the moment and the love of my family made for a great evening. My life is very busy and this week is especially choatic - yet some version of being still keeps coming back to me in different areas of my life. Reminding me to be patient. Be calm. And remain still to find my footing before moving again. It's a constant for me lately.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Theme Song

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." - Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Stuff I Love

"People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like." - Abraham Lincoln

In an effort to focus on the positive, I want to share a few of my favorite things...

1. Brownie Batter Blizzards at Dairy Queen - they're back for a limited time and I'm enjoying this delicious frozen treat.

2. The silliness of kids - I'm helping with the local theater children's group this week and the wiggling amazes me. They can't stay still and I can't stop laughing.

3. The coolness of clean sheets - nothing is better than a great night's sleep on clean and cool sheets, it's like a whole night of flipping over the pillow to the cool side.

4. Curling up with a good book and no time limit - I love to read, I love getting to know the characters, and escaping my reality. Pure heaven.

5.Diving head first into the pool - it's summertime and there's nothing quite like that refreshing first touch of the cool water. I have a love/hate relationship with summer but this is one of the things I love.

6. Making progress - I have a short attention span so big, time-consuming projects sometimes overwhelm me. But projects with visible results make me feel like I'm actually doing something. It's a nice feeling.

7. The moment of the first kiss - I'm single again and I'm eager to have that moment again. The excitement, the butterflies, and the sweetness... I can't wait.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Whoa

"Growing up is never easy. You hold on to thing that were. You wonder what's to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to waht would be. Other days. New days. Days to come. The thing is, we didn't hate each other for getting older. We just had to forgive ourselves... for growing up." - The Wonder Years.


I've been home sick for the past couple of days. And you know what that means. Bad T.V. And lots of it. Fortunately, my tivo was pretty full since my schedule had been full for the last couple of weeks so I was doing ok in between my fever induced naps. Then I stumbled upon a marathon of "16 and Pregnant" on MTV. And I was fascinated.



Captivated. It's like watching a train wreck. The fear, the 'plans', the immaturity, the idealism, the realities, the concessions, the heartbreak.


I was amazed. All of it blew me away. Several of the girls were hardworking and goal oriented acheivers who lives would be forever changed. One of them transfered to an accelerated school so she would graduate before the baby came and then started college the next semester, all while working and taking care of the child (and without much help from the father of her child).


The other thing that I saw coming but was touched by the innocent heartbreak of each of the young mothers: the unfortunate but inevitable moment when the "father" would let the girl down. He'd be late to pick up the baby, choose to leave her and the child at home while he went out with friends, keep her from graduating so that he could, etc. You could see it happening and each episode had the girl saying, in some form or another, "He doesn't want to grow up... I didn't want/wasn't ready to either... but I didn't have a choice".

My mom has always told my sisters and I that it's a double standard, that girls pay more for an accidental pregnancy, how guys are always allowed the option of walking away. But this show, this MTV documentary shows it in a way that undeniable.


If I was a teacher or a health worker or somehow involved with middle school children, I would require them to watch this, early high schoolers too. In my county, and I believe in the state, our health/sex education doesn't teach anything but abstinence. They give less information about birth control and contraceptives than they did when I went through in 1992. And yet, the law makers and leaders of our state complain about the pregnancy rates and the cycles of generations of dependency upon welfare. Without getting on my soapbox, surely you can make the connection? Education + Information + Accessability = Protected Sexually Active Teenagers = Less Pregnant Teenagers.




On one of the shows, a counselor pulls in other teen moms to speak to one of the pregnant girls, about how childcare, school, making it work, etc. And her comment after the session, "this was supposed to make me feel better".

At that school alone, there were 10 other teenage mothers who showed up to the session... out of how many invited? How many had dropped out and couldn't be found by the counselor? Out of how many who had abortions? Out of how many who lost their babies through miscarriage? Out of how many who accidentially became pregnant? Out of how many who are having sex and haven't gotten caught?

Because that's the only thing seperating the girls who are pregnant and those who aren't... who has gotten 'caught'.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

60 Years Young

"Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." - Jack Benny


Today is my Dad's 60th Birthday and I spent several hours yesterday getting together photographs from his life for a photo montage to show at the store for today. We're doing a celebration here with cake, balloons, and specials. Our customers are loving it. It's like he's their mascot, they look at the pictures and say they remember when. Everyone loves a little nostalgia.

I poured over pictures and remembered stories I'd heard and ones I experienced. And I became really thankful. For the life my father has lived, for his parents (especially his mother) who pushed him to be successful, for his love of life, his good humor, his sense of generosity and his respect for others.
I laughed at his silliness, his gestures, clothing choices, and his poses. I remembered special moments and the fun we always seem to have as a family, with my dad always right in the middle.

I think of all that he's taught me. All he's encouraged to be. The example he's set for me and my sisters. Of not only how to love but how we should be loved. How to be generous and loving and understanding and accepting of others.
And for accepting me for who I am and loving me for it. For seeing my potential and respecting the differences between myself and my sisters. For loving us all equally and differently at the same time. For finding that balance and maintaining it.

I love my dad (and my mom) for their generosity. Their inclusiveness. Their desire to make our lives complete, challenging, and exciting. My parents have a tremendous amount of energy and are always on the go. When they work, they work hard. When they play, they play hard. And when they relax, they relax all the way.


My dad has been many things to me: a teacher, a friend, a business partner, a cheerleader, a supporter, a mentor, and most of all, a father. One who lead by example and expected the best from me at all times, in all things.



So today, as we should, we're celebrating my dad and all that he is and has done. He's all I've said and more. To many people. Generous and Caring. Fun and Easy-Going. Loving and Gentle.
Happy Birthday Dad!

Friday, June 26, 2009

HiStory

All day long, I've listened to Michael Jackson's music... not really by choice (although I'm not complaining) but more because every station is playing his music. And I'm actually overwhelmed by the number of songs that I know. Know by heart. I can't say that I own any of his music (although that will change soon).

I found this grid online and I think it's pretty cool portrayal of the Jackson influence:


And I have to admit... When I think of Michael Jackson, I think of the innocent little boy with the big voice dancing with his brothers. That's how I want to remember him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Giveaways

Alright, listen up peeps!

I like this scarf, and I like free stuff, and I like The Pink Chick.

So I'm posting about her giveaway today. Not to get started in this cycle for my blog. But I like this scarf:


So check it out and enter. Maybe you'll win. And then you can give me the scarf. Did I mention I like the scarf?

Inspiration

"To find what you seek in the road of life, the best proverb of all is that which says: "Leave no stone unturned"." - Edward Bulwer Lytton

For the past couple of years, I've been looking for something. If you asked me what, at different times I'd give you different answers. Purpose. Meaning. Challenge. Motivation. Interest. Excitement.


And I've been looking for something to come along and motivate me. As a teenager, I was always motivated by the possibilities. As an adult, I've come to have more realistic expectations of life and I've lost some of my motivation. Which sucks. And I don't feel good about it.
Fortunately, I have people in my life who care about me and who are willing to listen to me whine (as I call it) and discuss what I can do for myself. Over dinner the other night, my dad said to me and it home, "Don't wait for happiness, don't expect for your life to get better than it is now and if you aren't happy with now, change it. You aren't promised tomorrow and you should enjoy today".
My dad's not one for advice or great speeches so his words hit home. And I'm striving to make it work for me, happiness today. Everyday. In the ordinary and the unique. So I'm making that choice. To challenge myself and look inside for purpose, meaning and fulfillment.

Ina Mar Art Credit

Monday, June 22, 2009

Remodeling

Since I'm frustrated with my progress on the house (yes, it's still going s...l....o...w...), I decided to move some stuff around on my blog.

I changed out my quotes, changed the order of my sidebar, and added the Follower feature (and I'll just keep my fingers crossed that I'll actually gain some followers... if not, that one won't last very long in the public's eye).
On to more fun topics...

I promised a tomato pie experience a while back and I finally made one over the weekend with my mom (who is a great cook). A neighbor gave us some homegrown tomatoes (does anyone else get nervous about publicly spelling tomato/tomatoes since Dan Quayle's spelling bee? Or is it just me? I know his was potato but still).
And then we sliced them to put them in the pie. How Gorgeous are they? The oven was set at 350 degrees F. We use a pastry shell (bought in the freezer section) and it was spread out on the pan. Then a layer of tomatoes, topped with mozzarella and monterey jack cheeses, and topped with fresh basil.
Next we use Vidalia Onions, layered on top of the tomatoes, sliced and then covered again with cheese and tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste and cover again with cheese. Combine some more of the cheese with mayonnaise and top the layers of vegetables and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly brown. We also top it with grated Parmesan cheese before putting it in the oven.

It was yummy. Perfect dinner. Although I think it works better in a pie pan making it thicker. My mom wanted it this way to avoid it being too juicy... too juicy? Not a problem in my eyes. So when I make it on my own, it'll be in a pie pan.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday


This is the view from my old house... I love this porch, it goes across the front of the house and all around one side. As a friend of mine said the first time she came to my house, "this is a party porch". It aches to have generations sitting on the swing, steps and railings... footballs being tossed across the walk, sweet tea and cold beers being shared... you can hear the footsteps of the people who came before you when you walk across the 10 feet of original heart of pine boards. I love this porch and I loved sitting on the stoop watching my street.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thank You

If you don't think every day is a good one, just try missing one. - Cavette Robert

Just getting my "woe is me" attitude off my chest yesterday made the rest of my day better. Venting is usually a positive experience for me unless I turn to whining. I was able to say just enough yesterday in my post to get it all off my chest and move on.

I finished the week off and thought to myself, "I'll be able to start again fresh Monday" without dread so that was a good thing. And today I'm working around the house and making some more progress. Which will be shared with you as well. I just finished organizing my dresser drawers which is a gratifying activity if there ever was one. And now I'm about to start on my bookshelves in the living room.

I remember reading a book about happiness years ago and it ended with this sentiment: a counselor was talking to his patient and she said that she had discovered the meaning of life. And he asked her what that would be, and she said the meaning of life was to LIVE. So today I remind myself (and all of you) not to forget to live...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Impressive, that's what you are*

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill

I'm lacking motivation this week. I haven't picked my camera or a paintbrush or hung a picture or organized anything or finished any projects. At home or at work. I've just been going through the motions and I'm tired.

The only thing I've done this week consistently is exercise. Which for me is something.

I get like this every once in a while. I feel alone and unmotivated and lost. Thoughts go through my head, "where is my life going?" and "why does any of this matter?" or "why did I think I wanted to do this?"

These are all new feelings for me... I've always been a go-go-go person with plans and goals and something new around the corner. But here in the last year or two, my life has felt very stagnant and I feel as though I'm watching everyone else live while I waste my days. It seems to be especially hard for me around the school year ending and beginning, mainly because I think it's the time of year when a lot used to change for me and now, not so much.

When I started this post, it was to be recognition to all of you who seem to persevere and continue to strive everyday... my stream of consciousness has taken it somewhere a little darker but I do want to offer a salute. To those who keep putting one foot in front of another. Who pursue their goals, desires, and dreams. Who remain upbeat and positive in face of the everyday. Who see the beauty in the ordinary. And who don't take each day for granted.

Because those are the people who motivate and inspire me, the ones who never seem to quit. Who always work hard. And think that the impossible can be accomplished. Thank you. It's what motivates me and keeps me going when it seems impossible.

*My shout out to cheerleaders.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Technical Difficulities

"Technology has made it possible for people to gain control over everything, except over technology" - John Tudor

I left my computer at work on Friday afternoon. My afternoon snowballed and it was 7pm before I was ready to start home and I just couldn't make myself to come back and get it. "I'll get it tomorrow" I told myself.

Then Saturday rolls around and I avoid the trip to my office. "Later," I said.

Sunday and I'm up to my elbows in primer as I attacked my kitchen cabinets. I forgot about Small Town Snapshot Sunday and my promise to myself to participate EVERY Sunday. "I'll get it tomorrow before I hit the road," since I got to another location over an hour away on Mondays. Then it was, "I'll pick it up tonight on my way back," but I didn't even turn this direction last night. I gunned it straight for home.

So I needed a break. I use my computer (as we all do) way too much for every aspect of my life. Coincidentally my phone's email application also stopped working this weekend. Whether fate or someone's greater plan... it was nice to have a forced break away from technology and communication.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Welcome

There are many reasons I bought my home... location, age, style, and hardwood floors. But the very first thing I feel in love with was the dramatic and stylish doorknocker original to the house. I was afraid to ask if it would stay and become mine because I didn't want the previous owner to know how much I coveted the knocker.

And here he is... I've promised pictures and now I am delivering:



I think he needs a name... Lionel immediately comes to mind but that's a little too obvious. Too expected. So I need to think on this for a while, try some out. It would be great to say hello every night when I walk in, like a butler. Maybe James? Or Oscar?

Oooooooooooh. I like Oscar... that might work. I'll test it out and see if it works. But I'm still open to suggestions so feel free to leave a name in the comments.

Other parts of my weekend include:

Following this guys around my yard, trying to figure out the best settings to get the best pictures... this one isn't too bad considering my attention span. I was looking for things to take pictures of, to practice and see how the settings changed the outcome but it was so hot and I was very unmotivated this weekend... I went out a lot (Thursday, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday nights - it's a lot for me) and I lazed around during the days. Therefor, not much progress on the house but I made some design and material decisions so that's actually progress in my book.

And then a wonderful dinner party at a friends' home. Perfect weather, great wine & food, and fabulous company... it was a great way to wind down the weekend. The menu included vidalia onion pie which is my favorite - if you aren't from the south or haven't visited the south and tried this deliciousness, I beg you to treat yourself some day. I'll see if I can dig up the recipe and give you some step by steps on creating the magic in your mouth. This is one of the tables after the party... the votive candles were shaped and painted like bulbs, so perfect for the hostess. I loved every moment and was honored to be included.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Small Town...

I like that combination between creativity and the creative process and the organization needed to make a business like this successful. - Bernard Arnault.


My small town has tons of small businesses which continue to keep us thriving... we have our McDonalds and BPs of the world too. But when you want something to happen, when we need something for the town or schools, it's the small businesses coming together, raising the money, organizing the efforts and labor which make it happen here.

I'm anti-big box retailers for many reasons, some big picture and some long term and some personal (my family owns a small business). So I'm using this Small Town Snapshot Sunday to take be a little political and remind everyone to think about how their purchases affects the world around them. How a dollar spent here might be used again and again in the community whereas a dollar spent there might never be spent in the US again, much less in our state, much less in our town.