Monthly Archives: September 2012

Magical Fairy of Knowledge: Myth or Should I Keep Waiting?

Today I went to a webinar to learn more about the open enrollment period for making changes to benefit plan at my work. You know, since I’m a recently self proclaimed True Adult, I am trying to “learn important stuff.”

As I sat there in the webinar, I was hastily taking notes like I was back in college trying to write everything down before the slide changed. Should I write that down? Will I even know what that MEANS when I look back at my notes later? What did she say? SLOW DOWN! What does THAT word even mean? Is everyone else writing that down?

This is what I am looking for, I think. (Magical Fairy Abbey Cadabby – Sesame Street).

These were all thoughts I had at some point today. No ones fault – I just feel like I could use a life coach sometimes – someone who could really sit down and explain to me the ins and outs of topics like: Investments, Retirement Savings, Life Insurance, PPO vs. HMO and things like Short Term Disability and Medical Savings Accounts without a sales pitch.  There is never really a class in college you take that prepares you for all of those things. And it seems like older more experienced adults just seem to magically know things. I keep waiting for the magical fairy of knowledge to visit me in my sleep so I can wake up and feel educated about these topics that really have the power to impact my life. I feel like I’m behind on this stuff.

But so far, no fairy. So I’m back to trying to do research on my own, attending the webinars and sessions offered at work so I can try and figure things out, and just trying to ask questions. I’m not very great at utilizing things like “customer service lines” to ask questions and I know that could help if I were more willing to ask for help.  I’m one of those people who need a lot of time to process information – so I’ll have one question and when I call to get info I will feel like I got that one answered only to realize I now have MORE questions but I’ve already hung up. And I’ll be up front that I sort of hate talking on the phone, even if it’s with my husband, so talking to a complete stranger isn’t my cup of tea. Especially when I feel like they are rolling their eyes at my silly questions.

A good example would be last night when I rushed home to unwrap my new vacuum only to find that a piece on it was broken so I couldn’t use it (FAIL!). I opted to email their customer service people because you know, I don’t like to call people. My husband gets home and immediately gets on the phone and has it taken care of in 5 minutes. He looks at me and says, “Now what’s the lesson we learned?” And after I swallowed my pride I admitted that “Sometimes making a phone call is a better option.”

Whatever. They would have emailed me back…eventually.

Growing up isn’t all fun and games. I guess I knew that it wasn’t all along – but now that I’m getting to a certain age where I need to make some “life decisions” about the rest of my life (financially speaking) – it’s all weighing heavily on me. It’s time to get real about some things and start taking responsibility for my financial future. After all, I missed out on that whole marry a royal prince thing – so I can’t rely on the hubs to fund my coffee habit once I retire.

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Challenge, family, goals, just for fun, Life, relationships, resources

Finally a Grown Up (Officially)

I have reached a crossroads in my life. A point where I realize I’m no longer the little girl playing in her sandbox. I’m no longer that teenager listening to her music as loudly as possible and wallowing in self-pity. I’m not even that college girl inspiring all her sorority sisters to get involved, be motivated and to love each other.

I am however, old enough, to be totally and completely excited about receiving my new vacuum in the mail today.

That’s right. I’m excited about a vacuum. This is certainly a turning point for me. Where I have to fully accept that I’m an adult with responsibilities like keeping my house clean. I won’t say that I’m excited about having to clean my house, but having a new vacuum will certainly make it more “fun” than….NOT having a new vacuum? Whatever.  Stop rolling your eyes at me.

I’ve been researching vacuum’s for awhile now. Trying to talk to people, figure out what might work best. Definitely a far cry from past conversations like “What’s your favorite drink?”and “OMG – did you hear that so and so broke up?” I’m so grown up.

We have basically all hardwood floors in our house – and with 2 big dogs who have doggy door access 100% of the time, a husband who tracks in mud and dirt from mountain biking on a regular basis and just daily life – I feel like I’m constantly sweeping, dusting, sweeping, mopping and wondering why there is STILL so much dog hair on the floor when I just swept…and it’s an endless cycle.

It was time to pull out the big guns. I bought a Dyson. Not just any Dyson, it’s a DC35 series – a cordless vacuum with lots of attachments to help with under the couch/bed areas, different surfaces (so i can use it for our areas rugs and hardwood/tile areas), and it even has an attachment to focus on your floorboards which is a constant nightmare for me.

From Dyson.com gallery (just one of the attachment options)

Doesn’t it just look cool? I read a lot of reviews about it, and most of them were pretty positive. I have decided that 100% of the people will never be happy 100% of the time. So you have to take reviews with a grain of salt. I’m pretty sure Abraham Lincoln said it more eloquently and he WASN’T talking about vacuums but the thought process still works for me and I’m going with it.

It charges quickly and has a lot of power. And I think I mentioned my excitement over the variety of attachments. I also got it on a woot.com special and saved over 100$. That also makes me one happy yet very adult girl.

It should arrive today and I have a feeling I may move “vacuuming” up on my chores list instead of waiting until the weekend. Watch out people, party at my place. Just be sure to wipe your feet before entering!

6 Comments

Filed under family, just for fun, Life, product alert!

New Realities

I’ve been on a soup kick lately. My hubby recreated my favorite soup from Olive Garden – the delicious Zuppa Toscana. His version was equally delicious and I think I ate about a gallon of it for lunch. Now i’m extremely full and probably make a swish swish sound when I walk.

After a a L-O-N-G day of work yesterday, I arrived early at work this morning trying to mentally prepare myself for an earlier appointment. That appointment didn’t show up, so that sort of sucked. I mean, I arrived early for nothing! It did give me time to sit and check my email while I sipped on my coffee, I guess. I just can’t wake up today. It’s one of those beautiful it’s-almost-Fall-days outside, and all I can think of doing is taking a blanket outside and lounging in the grass and letting the sun warm my skin. As I was taking what I would call a “slow walk” with my co-worker after eating all that soup, we were listing all the things this weather made us want to do. We both ended up listing things and then saying, “oh to be in college again!” College was certainly one of the few times in my life where I had gaps in the middle of the day to do things like go lay in the quad, or go out to eat at 2am in the morning and still maintain a normal life. When I do things like that now – it throws a huge kink in my life.

For instance, staying at work until 9 last night completely deflated me for today. I’m just tired and feeling a little down today (despite my delicious soup, of course). As I was walking to my car last night, a student who attended my presentation was walking with me and we were talking about how different a college student’s schedule is from a professional working person (for the most part – I’m sure there are exceptions). He was telling me his normal bedtime is about 2am. Oh, I remember those days. Now about the only reason I see 2am is because I drank too much water for dinner and I have to get up to pee. But when I asked him the last time he saw 6:30am, he agreed it had been just short of forever. I joked with him about enjoying the crazy schedule while it lasted – because once college is over and perhaps the first few years of working while you are still vibrant enough to go out on weeknights and still function at work the next day, it all changes whether you want it to or not.

I used to be a night owl. I would stay up so late. And I would get up early to get to work and just do the same thing over and over again. Now – I prefer to be in my bed all washed up and teeth brushed by 10pm so I can do some reading and be well on my way to sleep between 10:30-11pm. I set my alarm for about 6:42 (roughly, right?), knowing I’ll snooze at least once. Without fail, I struggle to get up every morning despite having 8 hours of sleep. What happened to that night owl who didn’t really require sleep? Perhaps I was more caffeinated than I remember in college?

All of a sudden, I’m just aware of some of these small changes in the type of person I am. The type of person I’m growing into…or growing up to be. I’m sitting here thinking that if I just could get home a little earlier I could get the floors swept and de-clutter the kitchen table before dark. And that idea sounds really appealing to me (not because I enjoy cleaning, but because that would mean that i’d be finished before I’d normally get home from work – SCORE!)  If you could see me right now, I’m totally making a disgusted face AT myself. Who am I?!

I guess it’s natural. Priorities change as you get older. I’m sure I’m nowhere near the finish line of personality and priority changes in my life, I’m only 31. But when I think back just 10 years, I was 21 – living out my senior year of college. President of my sorority, editor of the student newspaper, intern extraordinaire, babysitter of the year, 3.8 GPA. I seemed to be doing it all so well, and I don’t remember ever feeling this tired. I guess life has a way of sneaking up on you – taking you by surprise. Maybe working on a college campus amongst all these energetic and never-stop-to-rest students, I’m constantly reminded that that time in my life is over. And it makes me sort of sad.

Until I remember all those papers. And the friend drama. And the boy drama. And being totally broke all the time and not having a kitchen or any private place for just me. And maybe, it’s a worthy swap, after all.

Being a grown up can be pretty good – maybe I just need to embrace nap time again.

1 Comment

Filed under goals, just for fun, Life

Finding the Magic Again

At one point in my life, a piano looked gigantic to me. Trying to play a chord stretched my little hands beyond their reach and I stumbled across those ivory keys, hitting a few wrong notes until I finally got there. I remember being a little scared of my first piano teacher – scared that I wasn’t learning quickly enough, that my timing would be off – or that she would tell me I wasn’t going to make it as a piano student (she never said any of those things). I was only in first grade and it was a big undertaking to learn how to play the piano. But I wanted to learn desperately. My aunt played (and taught piano) and I wanted to be just like her. It seemed to come to her so naturally, her fingers flowing over the keys, making the magic happen.

I took piano lessons for 11 years. I went through phases where I didn’t want to practice and it felt like a waste of my time. And other times when playing piano was the only thing I could think to do to just get away from it all. Finding myself at the piano in an empty house singing sad love songs and ignoring the tears falling down my cheek – it was like therapy. I also have fond memories of my younger sister and I sitting at the piano together – playing and singing Disney songs, or a tune from Little Orphan Annie. The music would fill up our house and mom my would never tell us to stop because it meant a lot to her that we were putting to good use all those piano lessons she paid for along the way. I recently sat down at my old piano in my parents house with my 6 year old niece and we played and sang those same old Disney tunes. It made me realize that I needed to play again.

When I left for college – I didn’t realize how much I missed my piano. I found myself in the basement of the music building on our college campus once and there were all these pianos just sitting there and I realized that part of me was missing. But life went on, and I played piano when I visited my parents during holiday breaks. But mostly, I didn’t play the piano anymore.

A little piece of my heart

Now that I have my own house, my parents offered to give me my piano. Neither of them play – so it was just sitting there, unused aside from the times my sister and I visit their house for Christmas or Thanksgiving. Finally, the exchange happened this weekend and now I have a piano in my house again. Growing up, I always wanted a house with a piano room – somewhere I could go and just shut the door and play and sing at the top of my lungs. I also wanted a black baby grand and I don’t quite have that yet – but just having my old piano back is a huge step in the right direction. Seeing it in my house is like having a little piece of my childhood again, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until now. I sat down last night to play a few songs from the music my mom had brought with her – it was old stuff like the “hit songs” when I was in high school, but I still enjoyed playing them. They are like little memories that I get to re-live as I start playing those old chords again.

I’m not quite the player I once was, but I’m working on it. It’s going to take some practice to be the confident pianist I was in high school. But as I was playing last night, I felt those notes in my soul and the music soothed me in a way that I haven’t  been soothed in a very long time. I can’t describe the feeling I get when I play – sometimes it just feels like emotions coming from my fingertips when I hit my stride and let go of the technique and just play from my heart. My piano teacher used to tell me that I had the heart of an artist when I played. That often I would play notes that weren’t on the sheet, adding in volume and extra beats to add to the piece. I don’t even know how or why I would do this – I just felt it and my fingers just did it automatically. My piano teacher called it “artistic license” and I was okay with that, I liked the idea of having passion and heart for the music. It made me feel talented.

I’m looking forward to the day when I feel that sensation again – the magic from my fingertips, the day when I can play with all the drama and creativity I once did and not feel like a kid who has forgotten how to tie his shoelaces. Something that was so second nature to me for so long seems a little blurry to me now and that makes me sad. But more so…determined to find my voice again. This time, just for me. Not because I have a piano lesson or a concert to perform in – just because I want to play because it makes my heart happy.

Leave a comment

Filed under family, goals, just for fun, Life, motivation, weekend review

How My Heart Grows

My baby Duchess all dressed up for Easter 🙂

I grew up with dogs. Lots of dogs. But they were little dogs – so it never really seemed like that many since their combined weight would probably not even equal what one of my dogs weigh now. I grew up with miniature dachshunds (wiener dogs for those unfamiliar with their official name). Our first dog was Copper, and she was a mix – so she had long hair and was probably about 12-13 pounds. I remember the day we got her – she was so tiny and we kept her in this big open cardboard box in the kitchen because she would get lost so easily. We got another one, Doogie (Like Doogie Houser, MD) and he was probably 6 pounds wringing wet and super feisty. Next came Sandy who was a beautiful big chested red dachshund. Last came my beloved Duchess (Duchess Mahagony Splendar was her “legit name” if you must know). At one point we had all these dogs at the same time plus puppies. Since some of our dogs were registered, they made beautiful puppies and we found them loving homes. Looking back, creating MORE dogs was probably not the smartest idea – but it happened and we always found loving homes for them.

We had a big fenced in backyard and a doggy door so our dogs could go in and out. We had a big yellow slide that my dad installed for us when we were kids that started on the 2nd floor of our house/deck to the yard. We grew out of it, but that yellow slide still remained and the dogs put it to good use. They would slide down it instead of taking the stairs. It seemed perfectly normal to me at the time, but in telling the story, I’m sure that sounds crazy. Either way – it was pretty funny to watch them charge out the doggy door and fly down the slide and land in a sprint across the yard to chase a squirrel.

I never really knew a home without pets, it was just a part of my life growing up. My best friend who lived down the street always tells me she remembers coming to my door and hearing the pitter patter of tiny paws coming to greet her at the door. That melts my heart a little as I’ve obviously had to say goodbye to all these pets as they have lived their lives already, and sometimes I’ll have a vivid memory of them and it brings tears to my eyes because I just had such a special place in my heart for them. Losing them was so hard. I remember Sandy got hurt and was no longer able to walk and my parents had to make the difficult decision to put her to sleep because she wouldn’t have any quality of life. I remember sitting out in the backyard, holding her in my arms and my tears dripping down onto her head as I promised her I would see her again one day.

The day my mom called to tell me my Duchess has passed away was equally sad. I knew she was old and had lived a really good life. I got her when I was in high school and she slept with me every night. Her warm body nestled against mine. Nose edging under the covers, burying herself in my comforter and driving me bat crazy with wanting to get on my bed and off my bed several times a night and having to do this for her since she was too small to make the jump either way. She passed away just a few years ago, and I remember every time I’d visit my parents, I would say good bye to her because I knew it might be the last time. I had a good long cry when my mom called to tell me she had passed away. It seemed like the end of an era – all of our pets from “growing up” were gone. It felt like my heart was breaking.

I guess that meant we had officially grown up.

When I met my husband and we had gotten to a more serious place in our relationship – he talked incessantly about getting a dog. I put my foot down. No dog! And he would show me pictures of adorable puppies and talk about how fun it would be to have one (he wanted a chocolate lab) and I continued to burst his bubble every time. I knew that owning a dog as a grown up would be totally different from my experience of being in a house with dogs as a child. I wasn’t sure I was ready, or We were ready. After all,  I don’t have a huge amount of memories of taking the dogs for their shots, or paying for vet bills for a reason! I do remember cleaning up after them some – but not all the time. Our dogs were tiny so they didn’t require long walks and they had each other to keep themselves entertained.

I had a feeling that my boyfriend (at the time) didn’t know what he was going to get himself into. We lived a life of going and doing whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. No schedule other than work hours. We didn’t really have any responsibilities to anyone other than ourselves and for whatever reason – I appreciated that time in my life. I had dated others before with a pet and I did a lot of the work. I knew how much time and energy it took to be a good pet owner. I also remembered how much my heart ached when I lost one of my pups in the past, was I ready for that? Could my heart take it?

How could anyone resist?

When one of our good friends mentioned their neighbors had a litter of puppies (lab mix), I knew my time was up. We walked over to see the pups and they were only a few weeks old and of course, my heart melted. There was one chunky chocolate boy with a white patch on his chest and toes that jumped in to my heart immediately. It was love at first sight and I knew we would be counting down the weeks before we were officially dog parents.

I knew how much I was going to love this dog even though I knew my schedule wouldn’t be mine anymore because I would be responsible for another life. It changed everything.

But mostly, it made my heart grow bigger. And as our little Yoshi grew up, I think we did, too, in a lot of ways. And along the way, we rescued another dog and named her Peach – and they are a huge part of our family. They are big dogs (75 pounds and 50 pounds), so they feel more like actual children when they want to sit in your lap. We spoil them too much, and I often get weepy eyed thinking about the day that their lives will be spent because they have been such a huge part of my first “grown up family” experience.

Today is Yoshi’s 3rd birthday, and I love him even more today than I did the first time I saw him. And since we don’t know when Peach’s actual birthday is, we just celebrate them on the same day. Three years have flown by and so much has changed – but they remind me everyday that there is always room in your heart to love more. Even though sometimes I feel like my heart will burst, they have taught me about patience and unconditional love. It’s nice to have them greet me everyday with kisses and jumps (even though I’m not as excited about the jumping) – it’s like being someone’s favorite person every single day.

Their first lake adventure together

 

It’s fall time again – this year we’ll have to get him a much bigger pumpkin!

The four of us!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under family, just for fun, Life, relationships

Three Tips to Get on Track with Life

Well, it’s raining – again! I can’t believe how much rain we have been getting here in the South when so many people are desperately in need of rain in the mid west. I am SO glad I forgot to return the umbrella I borrowed from my office yesterday because I had to use it again today to get from the gym back to my office. I taught my TurboKick class, showered and got ready for the day again since I have a presentation to do tonight on campus.

It’s not going to be a super long presentation – but I’m hitting some highlights of how to get on the right track your first year of college. As I’m contemplating the millions of tips I could give, I’m trying to pick the tops ones in hopes that something I say strikes a chord with them and they actually take action! I don’t often interact with students on the younger end of the spectrum in my role, so when I present to freshman it’s always a refreshing perspective for me. Everything is new and interesting. Every piece of advice is something you might consider, even if just for a moment. Particularly when I speak to a group that focuses on leadership, I feel like the audience is there to hear something that will make a difference in their college careers.

Some of my top tips would be:

1) Don’t just be a student.

  • Grades are important, but they are not the only thing that you will be judged on. Being in college is about more than just showing up to class and turning in work. You need to pick a few organizations and be involved. Be a leader of some sort in at least one organization.Volunteer some of your time. Give back to your campus is some way.

2) Utilize resources while they are free

  •  Like the academic success center, tutoring assistance, counseling, career development (as in getting your resume reviewed, getting help with finding jobs/internships, interviewing help, etc), taking classes beyond the required so you can expand your skill sets, going to free concerts and events that expose you to new ideas and cultures, going to the gym and utilizing the free exercise classes or seminars offered, climb the rock wall, sign up for a trip that takes you off campus with your peers

3) Take responsibility for your own destiny

  • Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what you should do; spend time creating your own plan. Whether you stick to it or not doesn’t matter, but at least attempt to organize yourself. This means reading information about your major and understanding the classes you need to take and what order you need to take them. This means thinking ahead so you can block out time for that “must have” part time job or internship.

There are so many more that I could share – but I think those hit a lot of the highlights of getting on the right track. It’s so hard to get BACK on track from a crazy freshman year. Pulling your GPA up from a 1.5 will seem impossible. Creating good study habits and finding people with similar values is a lot easier if you start off in the right mind space. Setting goals for yourself and posting them in a place where you can see them is a great way to remind yourself everyday why you are here.

I think these 3 lessons can be transferable to non-students as well. It’s easy once we graduate and start our careers to stop really reaching for something more. To do more than just go to work. To get involved in the professional community, or to take action in your community through volunteering in some way. We forget that we are in the driver’s seat and let life just float by when we really need to take charge of our own destiny’s and have a plan for ourselves. We need to set goals, write them down and revisit them. We need to evaluate our progress and change things up when needed. We need to do more than just take up space, am I right?

And if you look around, I bet you have a lot of resources available to you that you aren’t using. That spare room could be a gym. Your neighborhood association could need some help. Your old sorority/fraternity chapter might need some extra hands during an upcoming event. Your church might need some help in the nursery. Your place of employment might offer to pay part of a class fee if you wanted to go back to school to work on that certificate or degree you’ve been considering. Take action. Take responsibility, take back the driver’s seat to your own life. This is your journey, where are you going?

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Challenge, goals, just for fun, Life, motivation, resources

A Little History

Proud to be an American!

I often overlook the true meaning of many of the holidays we celebrate. The biggest exception to this statement would be Christmas, because I grew up truly celebrating Christmas as the “birthday” of Jesus and every Christmas morning my family would gather around and one of us would read the story of His birth before we did anything else. Growing up, I was always eager to get to the “open the presents!” part – but looking back, I am so glad my parents took a few minutes to remind us of what Christmas was REALLY about for our family.

I find myself at work on Labor Day which seems sort of ironic. But as I was driving to work today, I started wondering – what IS Labor Day, anyway? Why do we celebrate it? Why do people get this day off? Surely, it is more than the mark of the end of summer. More than an excuse to barbeque and play cornhole (although – I wouldn’t mind doing that today!). I thought I remembered something about it having to do with labor unions but wasn’t really sure on the details.

I looked it up when I got to work, and it’s history reaches pretty far back. The first labor day was celebrated in New York as a parade organized by unions on Sept. 5, 1882 to celebrate the spirit and strength of the American worker. It was a time when child labor was rampant, workers labored in terrible conditions without a proper break or proper wages for that matter. This day wasn’t immediately recognized by the entire country, it was a slow process of 12 years before it became a Federal Holiday. It started as an outcry for better working accommodations, decent wages and something that resembled a 8 hour work day.

Over the years, it’s certainly easy to feel like most of us (myself included) have lost sight of what this holiday stood for so long ago. It was the work of Americans who wanted to organize and demand to be treated fairly. Sounds like an honorable thing to me! And I hope that most people would feel like we’ve made major progress toward worker’s rights in the USA although there is always room for improvement.While there is much disagreement regarding labor unions and the like – I’m not taking sides here. Simply sharing a bit of history about this holiday.

If you want a better understanding of the history behind Labor Day – I found this article on CNN.com to be helpful as well as the DOL’s description of Labor Day.

A personal goal I have for myself is to try and be more knowledge about history. It seems like so long ago when I took a class that required me to really learn and apply that type of knowledge – but I know how important it is to understand history so that we can make better decisions about the future. So we don’t repeat mistakes unnecessarily, right!?

History was one of my least favorite subjects in high school, but I wonder if i attempted to learn it all again as an adult if I’d be more fascinated by it? I guess it’s worth a try. Any history fanatics out there who would recommend any resources (books, blogs, etc.) to help me get started?

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Challenge, goals, Life, resources