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Showing posts from July, 2017

Make Monday Great Again!

Mondays.  Small talk at work on Monday always begins with, “Oh, Monday again!”  We dread Monday, we make jokes about Monday, and we always can’t wait for Monday to be over.
I am here to defend the reputation of Monday.  I don’t hate it.  Monday is a fresh start of a new week.  Much like New Year’s Day and birthdays, Mondays are a day that people sometimes choose to make a change or a fresh start.  Monday is a beginning!  Monday, at least for part of the year, is also the day for Monday Night Football!  There are great reasons to love Monday.
I don’t dislike waking up early on Monday any more than I do on other days.  For me, Monday is a new start of a new school week, new sets of assignments, new things to be learned (and conversely, a close on the assignments of the previous week, and sometimes with a sigh of relief!).  I also tend to be better rested on Mondays due to the weekend.  If anything, Tuesday is worse because my weekend energy is running out!
It’s funny that Monday happen…

The Hypocrisy of Expectations

I made an interesting observation recently.  It has been in the news lately that several musicians have had to cancel or reschedule concert dates due to different issues, and this has been upsetting to their fans.  My sister was telling me that she had seen on social media that some people are becoming irrationally angry and belligerent about having a concert date get rescheduled – often due to circumstances that could not have been prevented.
I totally get people being frustrated that their plans have been altered.  Tickets are often not cheap, and people make arrangements to travel, etc.  It is annoying to have plans changed, and honestly, while I feel that raging about that in social media comment threads is sort of silly, I understand the frustration.
However, these same people – otherwise known as the general public – are the exact same people that suddenly do not understand why other people have expectations of them.  They have this huge expectation of these musicians to be on …

CNN Original Series: The Seventies

Continuing with the CNN Original Series, I just completed The Seventies on Netflix this week.  Again, a very well done series with hours of original footage and commentary.  Based on my opinions of both The Sixties and The Seventies I am excited to move on to The Eighties!
I know many people, my mom included, who speak about the seventies as the decade to be alive.  My mom came of age during that decade and I have heard many stories.  So I fully expected the series to be more fun and upbeat than it was.
The Seventies depicts the ushering in of the age of terrorism, serial killers and the difficult end of the Vietnam War, with vets returning home to a culture entirely different from when they left.  The series highlights the development of several cults from that decade and their tragic conclusions, as well as the notorious Charles Manson murders.
On a less grim note was the progression of the women’s movement, but even that was rife with conflict.  Also, as a woman who very adamantly sup…

Teetotalers Unite!

I don't drink alcohol. In fact, I have never been drunk. And for some reason, most people find this bizarre.
I have many reasons as to why I do not drink, which I am often asked to enumerate. One is that I cannot even stand the smell of it. The second is that I prefer to eat rather than drink my calories. Third, there have been alcohol related deaths in my family, more than one of which was caused by someone else drunk driving. And fourth, I give a lot of credence to what the Bible says, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1 NIV).
All of that being said, I understand that I am in a significant minority in society and I more or less keep my mouth shut about it. I have some friends who rarely drink, but I know of only one person who literally never drinks, and that is one of my sisters. We are the wild and crazy teetotalers at every party.
My husband has the occasional beer, and while I dislike the smell and question the benefi…

The Leadership Vacuum

From my earliest days as a student in elementary school, I remember valuing strong leaders.
People who lead with integrity and passion, who communicate well and share their vision always capture my attention.  I have been fortunate to have been directly influenced by such people.  As I have mentioned before, a few of these have been strong female role leaders, from my mom to coworkers I currently know.  However, I have been blessed to know a few really great male leaders as well, and regardless of gender, leadership in organizations fills a gap that nothing else can.
My husband is a great leader.  He has been in management for over ten years, and he’s a bit of a dark horse from the perspective of his peers.  He is a determined and productive person.  He makes it his business to know every aspect of the business he is in, to not only be proficient but a subject matter expert.  He speaks his mind, he doesn’t kiss anyone’s ass, and he will do the right thing, guaranteed.
More than that,…

CNN Original Series: The Sixties

Based on the recommendation of my sister, I checked out the CNN Original Series:The Sixties on Netflix over the past week.  I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend.
Over the course of about ten episodes, the series goes into many of the topics and changes that occurred during that decade.  Spanning the cultural, political and technological changes, they touch on subjects like the JFK assignation, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, the space race, the British invasion, and the tragic events that spanned the year of 1968.
While I am a self-declared history buff, I admit that I have not been that educated about the modern decades of American history.  My head is usually stuck much further into history than that.  And while the topics I listed above are not unfamiliar, I learned something new and interesting in every episode.
The series’ footage is original to its time.  It was stunning to me, not to mention hilarious, to watch news anchors and talk show hosts…

Apps and Ads and Push Notifications, Oh My!

I read this article yesterday as I was scanning through my Google cards, and I couldn’t agree more!
It occurred to me a few weeks ago that my phone seemed to be alerting me to a lot of things I don’t care about.  New e-books for sale on Kindle that I am not interested in, new products on Amazon that I have never searched for, new music I don’t care about, and more.  And this is without any social media apps on my phone!
I finally figured out how to turn most of them off.  I prefer when my phone is quiet.
I tend not to ignore text messages.  Most of my texts come from family members and while most of it is our normal hilarious jibber jabber, I like to make sure I am available to stay in tune with them if I am needed.  Most of my friends message me on a separate app that I always keep silent.  And I am overjoyed if my phone goes a week without ever ringing (even though I have the wonderful Toccata and Fugue in D minor as my ring tone!).
What this article says is true.  The person who w…

Old School Communication

I quit social media earlier this year.  I had quit in the past as well, but got lured back at some point and definitely wasn’t finding it satisfying or worth the time I was spending on it.  So earlier this year, one by one, I began cutting myself off of all of my social media. 
The first benefit I have found is that my phone has fewer issues and I can get through the entire day without charging it.  This is no doubt partly due to not being on my phone as often, but also the lack of apps running in the background.  I often listen to audiobooks throughout the day and my phone is still usually over 40% battery life when I get home at the end of the day.
The second benefit, of course, is my free time has increased and has been reinvested into things that are more important to me.  I spend that time writing, reading or pursuing other goals on my Day Zero Project list.  I am less distracted by my phone when working, exercising or reading.  It is way better especially at bed time, when I d…

Better Sleep, Better Life

Everyone has their own methods of winding down or relaxing.  In fact, some people seem to be experts at relaxation!  I have never really put a high level of priority on down time.  My husband has often joked that I never sit still.  I’m always doing something, keeping busy.
However, I do aim to get 7 hours of sleep every day, which is probably high for adults.  But when my alarm rings in the morning, I bounce out of bed, ready to go.  I am rarely sedentary for more than 20 minutes at a time all day.  I am not a napper (unless I’m sick) and I almost never just sit and watch TV.  I arrive to work 25 minutes early to go for a walk before I clock in for the day, and my free moments on break times are spent walking as well.  If anything, I find sitting still rather agitating if done for too long.  Moving around relaxes me probably more than anything else.
Because of all of this, my sleep time is important to me.  I have found some tricks that have helped me to get the most of those 7 hour…

A Night to Remember

I grew up listening to Neil Diamond.  In fact, probably since I was an infant that music has been familiar to me.  He must have the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard, and his poetic style is no doubt part of what influenced me to begin writing poetry myself.  Listening to “September Morn” or “Play Me” just make my entire poetic spidey senses tingle.
“Forever in Blue Jeans” has long been one of my favorite songs as well, and often once I begin, it plays on repeat over and over again.  Between his voice and the lyrics, it just fulfills everything that I believe music should be.
I had purchased tickets earlier this year for a night to see Neil Diamond in concert, now celebrating his 50th-anniversary tour.  He is now 76 years old, and I didn’t want to miss my chance.  I paid a hefty sum to get a seat in the nosebleed section, but couldn’t have been more excited than to be in the same arena as Neil Diamond!
Arriving at the venue early, my mom and sister and I began doing laps around th…

Productivity Tools for Everyday Life

I would characterize myself as a highly productive person.  I am a morning person, I have never hit the snooze button in my whole life, and I bounce out of bed ready to go each day.  I am productive almost as a detriment to myself; with a Fitbit step goal each day of 15,000 it is sort of self-defeating in how easily and quickly I can do many things at the same time.
I’d been perusing another blog discussing tools and behaviors that could make our lives easier and more productive.  Some I have also used, and while not all work for everyone, almost anyone can benefit from at least one of them.  One article I found mirrors some of my own ideas.
1. My calendar app – I used the calendar app on my cell phone almost every day.  I log every appointment and set myself reminders, from “remember to mail package” to “remember not to take usual route home” when I know there will be construction.  I use it to remember to give my dogs their monthly Heartguard pills, it notifies me of paydays, hair …

Fear of Commitment

Most people who know me well would be surprised to discover that I have a fear of commitment.
Whether it has been commitments to finishing my bachelor's degree, working on my master's degree, sticking to my fitness routine, finding and attending a church, or most of all, being married for over a decade, I tend to stick with the things that I decide to do.
That is precisely why commitment is hard. Because I know once I commit to something, I'm in for the long haul.
I hate leaving projects or pursuits unfinished.  And because of that, I'm hesitant about embarking on new ones. It can be mentally exhausting to speculate the effort it will take to complete it. Similarly, as I felt inclined to attend a church, I hesitated even once I'd chosen one to go to because once I start something I'm rarely only half way committed to it.
In high school, I served on our version of the student union committee. I hated every minute of it and swore I'd never do anything like i…

Rude People!

I recently read an article announcing that Melissa Rauch, an actress from The Big Bang Theory, is expecting a child with her husband after suffering a miscarriage.
Through my own struggles with infertility, I appreciated a comment that she made in her announcement.  I am a woman in my mid-thirties and have been married for quite a while now, so people frequently ask me the “when are you going to have kids” question.
I am not a sensitive person.  And my struggle with infertility and the ability to come through that struggle stronger are all topics for a different blog post.  However, some people are very sensitive about it and it just strikes me as an incredibly rude, personal question for anyone to ask about someone else’s plans to have children.
For example, a friend of mine has been married nearly ten years and they don’t want children.  But if she’s asked and answers honestly, people are shocked and look at her a bit disdainfully.  You don’t want children?!?  But what business is …

Home! Sweet Home!

I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!
This is a sentiment commonly expressed by transplanted people that currently reside in Texas but were born in other states.  It applies to me as well, and in a most literal way!
During my parents' Great Adventure, one of our most prominent destinations in my memory was west Texas.  We celebrated Christmas one year in Del Rio, on the banks of the Rio Grande river.  Living in a motorhome forced my parents to be creative about Christmas presents, and I still have no idea how they pulled it off, but on Christmas morning that year I woke up to my very first two-wheeler bicycle!  I was thrilled!  I was tooling all over Del Rio before long with my little training wheels wobbling around behind me.
After this, I grew up dreaming of living in the American southwest, especially Texas, and was convinced that someday I would end up here.  In the tenth grade, I told two of my classmates that before I turned 22 years old, my goal was to…

Perceptions

Perceptions are a funny thing.  Everyone has them, and everyone is entitled to their perceptions.  But as we all know, they can be incredibly difficult to work through as well.
This has come up for me in various jobs.  The perceptions from coworkers that I am having too much fun and the conversations my managers have had with me about those complaints.  But then I ask, “Am I getting my work done?  Do you have a particular issue with my performance?”  The answer is no, but that there is a perception that I’m just having too much fun.  Well, my sincerest apologies to the rat who is trying to ruin my day, but I am one of the few blessed with the ability to slog away through a work day and make the best of it while I do!
We have all been hamstrung at some point in our lives by the false or unfair perceptions of others.  And we know we do it ourselves, too.  How often do we, based on some very cursory knowledge, make a judgment about someone else before we really know anything about them?…

Life and Liberty

I wanted to share something I wrote several years ago that rings true to my heart to this day, and is the main reason why I am a proud libertarian.  
10/21/2012
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” - Thomas Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence.
These are some of the finest words ever put to paper in this country. They do not say that all men are equal, they do not say that all men will be given equal opportunity, or that they will have an equal measure of success or that they will live and die equally. It says that they are created equally and that by those rights endowed to us by God alone (and not the government) we have the right to a free life where we make our own choices and pursue our own quest for happiness.
People are amazing. People have a huge capacity for courage, strength, and compass…

The Obituary Exercise

One of my favorite episodes of Frasier is the one where they mistakenly report him as being dead, and he is disappointed when he reads his obituary in the paper.  He feels like he didn’t do nearly all of the things he intended to with his life.  Roz, in her characteristically direct way, says, “Well, what’s stopping you?  You’re not actually dead.”
This then leads Frasier to write his obituary as he would like it to be read to help him streamline his vision for his life.  The end result, of course, is hilarious.  He has himself running the Boston marathon and tracing Lewis and Clark’s route, to which his father cannot help but laugh.
The idea for this episode probably came from the real life story of Alfred Nobel, a wealthy inventor in the 19th century, who was mistakenly presumed dead and his scathing obituary made him reflect and take action.  What was first said about him (probably due to his invention of dynamite) was this: “a man who made it possible to kill more people more qui…

Things I Learned as a Kid

It is amazing when I think back on the life lessons I learned as a kid, and how those lessons stick with me today.  Here are five examples of lessons I learned very young and the stories that are behind those lessons!
1. I need to get a decent night’s sleep.  I homeschooled grades 6-9, which allowed for some leniency in my schedule compared to other kids, but I was still expected to be at the desk and ready to learn come 8am.  And the funny thing about having a parent as your teacher is that they aren’t afraid to slap you upside the back of the head (à la Uncle Phil) if you start acting like a fool.  My dad didn’t have to catch me with my face down in a book more than a couple of times before I started getting myself to bed at a decent time.  To this day, I have a set bedtime and I wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed!
2. Teach others how to treat you. I referenced this in another blog post, but I learned very young to set an expectation with others of how to treat me.  It was a long…

Women in Leadership

I have been fortunate enough to have strong female role models in leadership.  It has never occurred to me that women weren’t as strong, competent and skilled in leadership as men are.  It helps that I have grown up with the example of strong female leaders that have been role models to me.
My mom was the first of these and was the reason that I grew up believing leadership is a quality and not a title or position.  It wouldn’t matter if my mom was running a bake sale or an organization, she has a natural ability to lead; she takes accountability, takes responsibility for decisions and gives credit to the team as a whole for success.  She creates a vision and communicates it to others in a way that makes them want to follow her.
My mother is currently a respected leader and manager over many processes.  I believe she encapsulates a lot of what John Quincy Adams said about leadership: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.…

The Lost Art of Conversation

I highly value humor in things. I doubt anyone likes funny and goofy more than I do. Among my husband's many fine qualities, he has a hilarious sense of humor that I just can't do without. While not especially gifted with comedy myself, I am surrounded by people that make my life feel like an old episode of Seinfeld and I love it!
One thing I dislike, however, is how TV shows and movies and pop culture, in general, are so geared to make everything overly funny or, as a friend of mine stated, forcing the “rapid fire” witty one-liners that sound unnatural and scripted. Conversation is definitely becoming a lost art, and now it isn't even being mastered on TV!
I recently canceled my cable because I simply do not watch TV at all anymore, except during football season. I'm going to miss that. But it seemed like everything on TV was another overly dramatized string of unnatural witty banter that didn't really amount to much, and truthfully isn't that funny either. H…

The Friends of my Girlhood

Back in the days of film cameras, I was an avid “photographer.”  I got my first camera – it was a sturdy little purple thing and used 110 cartridge film – when I was eleven years old.  I had well-documented photographic evidence of every friend, every flower and every tree.  It is a lucky thing I started babysitting so young because much of it went into paying to develop those blurry pictures!
As I got older, and at some point eventually gained use of digital cameras (though not often, and I didn’t own one until I was married!), I still had this weird urge to print my digital photos.  After all, I’d been storing my photos in albums for years and it seemed like the right thing to continue.  Just because the camera had changed I didn’t see why my method of saving photos had to as well!
I grew out of that eventually, and thankfully, though in the end, I had a dozen of these photo albums to contend with – all of them taking up valuable space.  I decided to remove the photos, ensure every…

A New Fitness Challenge!

I have always felt more prepared for things when I make a list. And then I have the privilege of feeling accomplished when I check something off of my list. My 101 things to do in 1001 days list (which has actually grown to 110 things) is keeping me focused on the things that are important to me. One of those things is my fitness and health.
I have mentioned that I recently finished losing 30lbs and have spent the last six months working to keep the weight off for good. One of the most important ways I have done this is by finding new challenges for myself to keep me from getting bored. And so it was right before Christmas last year that I discovered a fitness challenge to keep me on track!
I signed up for the 500 mile challenge as a means of making sure that I stayed accountable and kept a log of my miles. I am no runner, but I am a fitness walker and a long-distance one at that. I am not someone who would ever be described as athletic either, but I love the fitness communities that ma…

The Times I've Failed

It’s fun and easy to talk about the times we succeed.  It is fun to tell (and to hear) the stories of the amazing job success story, or the time someone made an amazing catch in an intramural softball game, or the best interview you ever had.  But sometimes the best stories and our best learning experiences come from the times we’ve failed.
I am a borderline perfectionist and competitive to the core.  This has placed a lot of internal pressure on me since I was a little girl, on top of the expectations my parents and teachers always had of me.  So, in my younger days, I always took failure a little bit hard.  I remember when I was seven and attending a Christian elementary school, we had Scripture memory recitations and I was absolutely fuming when another little girl beat me to getting her ribbon for competition up on the wall.  We had the entire school year – until the end of June – to complete the process and recitation. But her ribbon went up on the wall before Christmas. 
What …

Let Freedom Ring!

“Give me liberty or give me death.” – attributed to Patrick Henry
As we celebrate our freedom on this 4th of July, I hope we pause to remember the cost.  More importantly, I hope we strive to reflect on our responsibility to protect that freedom currently.  That is not to say from foreign armies and their leaders, which of course is true, but also from the politicians we currently have.  On both sides of the aisle, there are unscrupulous people to whom our freedom is an obstacle.  We must ever be vigilant of that.
The responsibility of freedom begins with us as individuals.  To make choices that are wise and sound, and to plan for our present and our future in ways that are reasonable.  To never, as Benjamin Franklin warned us, allow our freedoms to be exchanged for a little security.  The security is a farce, and the freedom will never be returned once taken.
I am a member of the Libertarian Party but have no intention of getting political on any side.  My hope is that people will w…

Life Balance

Work-life balance is so important, but it works a lot better when that off time can be spent in the pursuit of hobbies.  Yet, people too often seem to overlook investing the time and effort into those hobbies, and then they fall by the wayside.
Remember, we work to make a living, and everything outside of work is life!  And that includes our hobbies!

A friend recently told me, “But I feel like I don’t have any hobbies!”  So I started drumming up ideas about how to find and try new hobbies.  One idea I came up with is Groupon!
A few summers ago, having just finished my bachelor’s degree and feeling like I had an excess of free time on my hands, my sisters and I found a Groupon to try stand up paddle boarding.  A visitor at work had recently been talking about his passion for it and we decided to give it a try.  As it turned out, we really enjoyed it and went again!  Had we not heard his passion for it and seen the Groupon we might have never known how fun it could be!
A quick glance a…

Xennials

I have always chafed at being called a millennial. While my birth year fits the traditional definitions of a millennial, I dislike being lumped in by politicians, professionals, and academics as fitting into this demographic. But for those of us born between 1977 and 1983, there is good news! Experts are now saying we fill the gap of a mini-generation, a bridge so to speak, between Generation X and the Millennials, called Xennials.
I grew up listening to cassette tapes (truth be told, my first experience with music was on my dad's reel-to-reel), and I did not even watch a DVD until I had graduated from high school. When I was in high school all of my written assignments were done with paper and pen, and back in my courting days, my now-husband sent me handwritten love letters – in cursive! I used to work out at the gym at my first college with a bona fide Walkman. I was in my mid-twenties before I owned a cell phone (when I was in my late teens and early twenties I was convinced …