Tuesday, December 26, 2017

My Vanguard & Magnet School Advice

As the mother of two kids who are in Vanguard and Magnet schools, I am often asked questions by soon to be and new parents. They want to know how they can send their kids to good schools inside the loop (or close to it) without having to pay for private school or having to move to the suburbs. Here are links to some of my top blogs with advice on how to navigate the Houston Independent School District Vanguard and Magnet system. 

The Kids and I, Seth is in 8th grade at Hamilton in Vanguard and Miranda is a junior at DeBakey H.S.

If you have a child starting Kindergarten the Fall of 2018 you've missed the application deadline- it was in December. You'll have to check with HISD if they have a second phase application for Kindergarten. I'm not sure about that.

If you have a child starting Kindergarten the Fall of 2019 the application is due in December of 2018. Start drilling him or her on their alphabet, sounds, colors, shapes, now because they will have to take the Vanguard test January or February of 2019. That's only one year away! My best advice on this. Buy those workbooks at Walgreens and CVS in the book/magazine area. They were great for teaching the kids the basics and inexpensive.

My personal experience

Elementary School

The Vanguard Test when they are 4 years old (for Kinder)

Middle School

Second Phase Application

High School Application

The Kinkaid EMSI program- a well kept secret. 

Not everything is always rosy. If you aren't lucky enough to have a child attending a Vanguard or Magnet school, things can be tough. Or if your child has a special education challenge. Here is my experience when Miranda went on to middle school and Seth had to leave a really good elementary school to go to our neighborhood school because his sibling transfer wasn't renewed, before he was in Vanguard.

Note: I added one more at 3:30 p.m. about high schools.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Roof Over Our Heads & Other Things

Hurricane Harvey came and flooded thousands of homes in Houston. I was very fortunate that I wasn't one of those homes. However a day or two after the storm, as we continued to have rain, a piece of my kitchen ceiling came crashing down. I had a weak spot on my roof and the rain was too much for it. I knew I needed a new roof but I had been putting it off. Harvey forced me to make an important decision; to sell my house or to stay in it at least until Seth graduates. I chose to stay.

Jar of Happiness to be Opened on New Year's Eve

The home and property values have really gone up in our neighborhood and I'm constantly being approached by people asking if my house is for sale. I know that I'm sitting on a huge lot and a half, and that they aren't looking at my house. They're looking at my property size and the fact that I'm on a corner. These buyers can build two tall town houses on my lot to sell for double the amount they are probably trying to offer me. However I don't know that I'm ready to sell. Miranda graduates from high school in a year and a half and Seth in five. So I decided to roof the house and stay for 5 more years. 

I told the kids that the saying, "All you need is a roof over your head," is very true. Think about it. If you have a roof over your head, protecting you from the rain and inclement weather, you don't need anything else. All your possessions inside your house and you are safe. So I fixed the roof to have a roof over our heads and everything else will fall into place. Who knows, maybe I'll make more money this year and I'll be able to progressively fix the house. 

The kids and I started this "Jar of Happiness" in January. Every time something good happens we write it down and put it in the jar. Miranda and I do it a little more than Seth, I have to remind him to do it, but we do. This year we have a lot to be happy about. 

In June I received a promotion and more pay to move over to another team as an Account Manager. It's been a whirlwind 6 months but I love it. I'm definitely challenged more on this account desk and it's stretching me professionally. I've also been chosen recently as our team's mentor for new team members. I'm really excited to have this leadership role on our team.

When I decided to roof the house and to stay here a friend of my ex-husband, who didn't even know me, offered some extra help to roof the house. I am forever grateful for the kindness of this man and for my ex husband who over-saw the whole thing and did a lot of work himself. He's been replacing the wood trim all around my house, which isn't easy work. He's a great co-parent!

There are a lot of other things that happened in between. Daddy had seven falls in a row, almost one every other week. He went through a few weeks of physical therapy and he's doing much better. One of his legs was weaker than the other but the physical therapy really worked. Grateful for the wonderful physical therapist Shannon. Daddy turns 94 in March, God willing. 

As we got closer to the end of the year I finally got to meet my beautiful great-niece Kindread last weekend. I was so in love with that beautiful girl! She looks like a mix between her mama and her daddy. She shares her daddy's and my curly hair and our under-bite. Too cute!

Yesterday I received another wonderful gift. My beautiful, favorite niece (and only one) had a baby boy and named him Nicholas after his great-grandfather. You could tell my dad was pleased because when I showed him a picture he said, "Is that my tocayo?" Tocayo is the Spanish word for someone who has the same name. 

So here I am at the end of another year. It's been a long time since I blogged because I've been experiencing a little bit of writer's block. I have been so very overwhelmed and trying to over come a lot of the anxiety that I mentioned in my last post. Things have been better and I'm hanging in there. 

I have a lot of plans for the new year. Some of the same ones I've  had in the past. I want to eat better, exercise more, refinance my house, work on my finances and get my kids through the second semester. 

High school applications were filed in time for the boy and we find out where he was accepted around Spring Break. I didn't write about it this year but yes, we applied to DeBakery, Carnegie for Vanguard, Lamar and Heights. The boy has been doing really well! He's taking 9th grade Algebra and Science. 

Once we get him off to high school it will be time to start college applications for the girl. Hard to believe. I have a blogs on here when I was applying for elementary school for Miranda! Next year this time I'll be in the thick of college applications with her!

Yes, we have a lot to be grateful for. Our health, a roof over our heads and wonderful brains in these two kids. I'm happy. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Body is Changing, I'm Getting Older

I'm officially past 47.5 now. I hit the halfway mark last month. It was at 47 that I started feeling my body change and looking in the mirror and seeing the changes in my face, in my skin. I'm getting older. I love a quote that says, "Do not regret growing older. It's a privilege denied to many."

Me at 34 and 47. 

In the top picture I had just had Seth. I sure bounced back pretty quickly at that age! I was still young enough to have kids and my face looks radiant, like someone who just created a life. In the bottom picture, taken a few months ago, most people would say I still look great. Believe me, I appreciate it. I know I look younger than some people my age. However, I also know the reality that I'm growing older.

I feel like we aren't always allowed to talk about aging. Either people are embarrassed to acknowledge it or we're told to shut up, age is just a number, be grateful for what you have, etc.  I get both those points of view. Sometimes aging is the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. And I get being grateful. My older sister passed away at 42, my mom at 69, and I've had family, friends and acquaintances who have died young. I get that I should be grateful to be alive and I AM. I try to practice gratitude every day and I think about something that I'm grateful for.

None of this changes the fact that I am getting older and that yes, it is happening to me. I don't know why it's such a big deal to acknowledge that. It's a fact. It's happening to all of us and there's nothing we can do about it. I find it hilarious that even the word "perimenopause" is highlighted in red on this blog program as if the word doesn't even exist. Yes, it's real and all women with two ovaries and a uterus are going to go through it.

I miss my mom. I miss being able to ask her questions about menopause and when did she first see the signs. All I can do is try and remember events and conversations I overheard from my childhood and I do the math as to how old she was then. I guess she started heading towards menopause at 47 based on a very clear memory I have of her having an embarrassing incident out in public. I remember conversations I overheard about her going through "the change." I was around 8 years old and that would make her 47. I'm 47.

They say that often women start menopause around the same time as their mothers. Based on that math I'm pretty much on target and I can feel the signs. There's the irregular periods, the super long periods that don't make sense, and how hot my body feels sometimes. I've never been irregular since I started having kids at 31. That was something that used to happen to me in my teens and early 20s.

Of course all this has to happen right when my OBGYN of over 20 years retires. So I went to see my primary care physician right after a two week long period. She sent me for blood work to see if I was pre-menopausal but instead of focusing on that she was distracted by other things she wanted to check, like my blood sugar and my cholesterol. When she called me with my results she told me those and then promptly hung up. I had to call her back to ask her, "Hey, what about menopause?" She had forgotten that was the main reason I had gone in. (Once again I wished that Dr. Miro hadn't retired.) She told me that the blood work didn't show signs of pre-menopause. She had already said to me in the office that if that was the case she recommended that I find a new OBGYN. Exactly what I didn't want to have to do.

I know my body. I know what's happening. I'm so ready for it too! I'm ready to embrace this new phase of my life. I just wish it didn't come with the discomforts that come along with it. Like why do I have to feel warm all of a sudden? And why do I have to feel anxiety? Nobody told me that was a side effect until now. It's either one of those secrets or one of those things I ignored when it didn't pertain to me. Surprise! As I've gotten older I started feeling anxiety and I didn't know why. It probably started a couple of years ago, well now that I'm moving towards menopause I feel it even more. Apparently it's the hormones.

Then there's my face. I look at myself in the mirror when I'm washing my face or putting on my make up and I can see the elasticity of my skin changing. It's so weird! I see it in some pictures more than others. I see the skin under my eyes has changed too.  I think, "Here I am. I'm getting older." And it's amazing. Where did my youth go? It was over in the blink of an eye.

In the words of Colette all I can say is, "I love my past. I love my present. I'm not ashamed of what I've had, and I'm not sad because I have it no longer." I will just have to roll with it and ride this crazy wave.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Post Hurricane Harvey from Houston

A lot happened between my last post on August 20 and today. The kids did not start school on August 28 as planned and they are now starting on Monday, September 11. Hurricane Harvey is the reason.

Although Houston was not directly hit by Harvey when it made landfall on Friday, August 25 the rain started out slowly that night. It was so slow in fact that some people were fooled on Saturday into thinking that maybe it wasn't going to hit us as hard as they had been saying. Some even went out to watch the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight on Saturday night and were trying to get back home when the deluge happened.

Downtown Houston- Photo by Edward Isamu Nicholas
People found themselves stranded on bridges or they had to turn around and go back to friend's homes. When we woke up on Sunday this is what our city looked like. People had to evacuate their homes and some were rescued in boats by the fire department and first responders. As they day went on ordinary citizens called the "Texas Navy," like my friend Kim Maraldo took their personal boats out and helped save people from their homes. They were amazing.

Stude Park off I-10 & Studewood- Photo by Mary Ann Marucci

In the aftermath of this horrible devastating storm the city and state has really come together. People have been tearing their houses apart, cutting out the wet sheet-rock, throwing out all the damaged things in their houses. 

Yesterday I took Miranda to volunteer at one of her lacrosse teammate's home. The neighborhood I was in was filled with people's belongings, wood, sheet-rock, basically, their homes. It broke my heart. All these people out there working on their homes. 

A Home in the Braeswood neighborhood

I parked on the side of the street to see if she was going to stay there or go to another home and as I was sitting there a woman came up and asked me if I needed anything. She and her husband were out dropping off food and water to people working on their homes. When I went back to pick up Miranda the mom of the home told me one of the mattress companies had just donated 4 mattresses for them.

Ordinary people have been out helping where they can. A friend of mine's home was flooded and a group of my friends went out to help her. I found out too late because I was taking Miranda out to help her friend. When her sister, also my friend called me she was telling me how a woman from the neighborhood just stopped by and asked how she could help. Just like that. 

Businesses all over the city are doing extraordinary things. Jim McInvingvale, or Mattress Mack as he's also known, has opened up two of his locations as shelters. He's letting people sleep on his brand new furniture and providing them restrooms, showers and his restaurant. He also volunteered his company moving trucks to rescue people from their homes and highways. His trucks were out from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday rescuing people. Amazing! 

We were extremely blessed. I woke up on Sunday morning to the downpour. I'm not an early riser but I was up at 6 a.m. and I went out into my foyer, between my back door and my garage, to film the rain and our street. The video is dark but you can hear the water coming down hard and you can kind of see how full the street is. The water only got that far and never even filled my yard. It was like a regular heavy rain day for me. Our neighborhood, Lindale Park, is built higher, our homes are built even higher, and many, like mine, are on pier and beam. I know I have so much to be grateful for. Others, like friends of mine, have not been so fortunate. If you can, please consider giving and donating what you can to the shelters or to people you know. Giving gift cards to people you personally know is a great idea and the money will go further because you're giving directly to them.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Another Summer Is Gone, Welcome Fall

Another summer is come and gone! Where did the time go? Summer flew by between Miranda at Kinkaid EMSI and our Germany trip.

Miranda and I in the Black Forest

I finished the blog about Miranda's Sweet Sixteen trip or #GermanySweet16. Go check it out if you haven't. It's just a few blog posts chronicling our adventures through Germany.

Life has been good and I've been feeling very grateful. I'm so grateful for the trip that we had and for the time I got to spend with my girl. I can't wait to do the same thing for the boy in 3 years but his dad will take him on that trip.

Between now and then I'm hoping to take a trip to Canada with the kids and somewhere really cool in the US. Maybe Chicago in November.

I've also been very happy at work lately and really happy with my recent promotion. I have been very lucky to get another awesome manager in my career. I know that isn't always the case so I am very thankful for that.  Life has been good.

It's the weekend before the last weekend before school starts. Uniform shirts for Seth have been purchased via Amazon, ordered 2 different size pants from Target and will find out which ones are better when I receive them, but thank goodness he has 3 pairs I bought him in the spring when he grew. Bought Miranda some khaki pants today and a skirt online and buying her all her uniform shirts on Thursday when we go pick up her textbooks and laptop at the new school. I also bought basic school supplies today so they have something for the first day. I'm almost done with Back to School shopping! All I need now are M's shirts and her white tennis shoes for hospital visits.

The beginning of school also means a couple of important things. One is that fall is on it's way! The second big thing is that it's time to start our applications for high schools now. Even though he's only in 8th grade the boy goes to high school in exactly one year. Unbelievable.

Waiting for fall, scarves, boots and lattes!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Miranda's #GermanySweet16

The first time I went to Europe I was 17. Now that I think about it, that's pretty amazing that I was that young and that my parents let me go alone with my older sister. What's even more amazing is that one of my best friend's parents also let her go alone with just us and no family.

Me at age 17 in a German pub in Frankfurt.

This summer I will be in Germany for only the second time in my life. Exactly 30 years after my first time and what makes it so special is that I'm traveling with my 16 year old daughter. Hard to believe that it's been 30 years! I can't wait for her to have the same experience that I did when I traveled outside of North America for the first time.

Years after my first trip to Europe, and after I had gone back to visit Italy and Spain, I remember reading a wonderful passage in one of Maya Angelou's books about travel:
“It is necessary, especially for Americans, to see other lands and experience other cultures. The American, living in this vast country and able to traverse three thousand miles east to west using the same language, needs to hear languages as they collide in Europe, Africa, and Asia.”
When I read this I couldn't agree more. Visiting Europe for the first time was such an eye-opening experience about so many things. I realized how young our country is and how there is a big wide world out there to explore. My sister, friend Cynthia and I explored five countries in two weeks. We arrived in Germany and then traveled to France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.  It was a whirlwind trip but the best part was that I found that I really loved Spain an Italy and I went back to both those countries later when I was older. 

When I went on that first trip we spent very little time in Germany and I think we were only in Frankfurt. I remember very little so it's going to be great to go back and visit other cities like Munich and Berlin. I'm really intrigued to visit the concentration camps near those two cities. It's exciting to plan our trip and our itinerary knowing that in just a couple of weeks we will be there. 

Miranda chose to go to Germany in lieu of a party and I'm glad she took us up on that offer. In society young girls have coming out parties at 16. Their family introduces them to society. This is like a "coming out" of sorts for Miranda too, but it so much more than that. Instead of introducing her to the world or society we will be introducing the world to her. 

I've created a blog called Miranda's Sweet Sixteen. I'm going to upload pictures from our trip there to record our adventures and to share. So visit us there in the next couple of weeks to hear about our travels. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

How Do You Create Your Own #WIN?

In my last blog I talked about creating my own #WIN in life. I was referring to this ven diagram that many people share on social media. How do you find what you love, what pays and what you're good at, all at the same time? Sometimes, if you're really lucky you do find it. I did once. I wonder if those people who do find it realize how fortunate they are. Do they appreciate it or do they find something else to complain about? It seems like it's human nature to do that because I did.

So what am I doing? I'm trying to find all 3 again, even if they are 3 different things. Or 2. I love social media and I love writing. I love communications. I can do that here, blogging, volunteering as the social media manager for my daughter's lacrosse team and other non-profits. I can partner with TreviƱo TodaMedia on their app GritoBlast that we're really trying to get off the ground. Those are things I'm both good at and that I love.

What I do for pay is sell advertising. I was very lucky for many years because I loved it, I was good at it and it paid me very well. Sometimes I don't have all 3 any more, it depends on the month and what I'm doing. I'm in sales so honestly, it also depends on how much money I'm making. Other days I feel super passionate about it because it's my career, not my job.

Then there's the writing, that I love, but I somehow never make room for it. I never give it a chance and I hate that. It makes me question my love for it. Do I really love it? If I love it so much why am I not doing it? I keep telling myself that I need to take a weekend retreat alone so I can kick start my writing and get going on my new novel. Excuses, excuses, I know. I don't need a retreat, I need to just do it. Nobody is holding me back except me. That's all...

So how do I create my own win? How do I find time in my life to do all the things that I love, that pay me well and that I'm good at? How can I do this while raising two kids and taking care of my dad? Those are the questions that only I can answer in order to create my own #WIN.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

My Inner Journey, new Goals, new Novel

Things don't always go like we wish they would. It's so easy to get caught up on the idea that a certain thing, job, house, relationship, is going to make everything different in your life and bring you happiness. But like the Rolling Stones say, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you'll get what you need."

One of my newest fascinations are sacred hearts and milagros. From Casa Ramirez in the Heights.

When we don't get something that we think we really really want, we have to think, "Did I really need that thing OR can I create MY OWN ven diagram in life?" You know, what is your perfect spot? What you love, what pays well, what you're good at - these three things intersected create a #WIN.  Can we just do the things that make us happy to create that #WIN for ourselves? That is what I'm pondering on this weekend.

I've set new goals for myself and some things have already fallen into place. First of all. I love my industry and I love what we do. I know that. I love that every day people in our city pick up a newspaper or turns on their computer to read the words that my newspaper has written and that by selling the ads around those stories I too have had a part in that. If you don't believe that people still read the newspaper, know this, the Houston Chronicle and chron.com reach 1.8 million readers on ONE Sunday. Yes, I am a part of something huge and I get paid to do it. My goal is to make more money doing that this year. More money always adds to my happiness.

I feel like my whole life I keep doing things that take me astray from writing. I make myself go astray starting new projects and always being busy. I am going to start concentrating on writing again and I have an idea for a really great novel. I'm already writing the outline and the characterization charts. I can't share the topic yet but it's going to be a really good one and I'm very excited.

I also love social media and all of the marketing aspects behind it. It's changed the way we communicate and even the way we share news. I'm really excited to take over as the volunteer of the social media for my daughter's lacrosse team. It's going to be great experience and part of my continued self-education. This is something that just came up for me unexpectedly, but just at the right time.

Then there's my inner journey. I just heard that term again yesterday and I thought about what a perfect description that is for my spiritual journey. I'm at a crossroads in life. I don't believe in organized religion, but I do believe in spirituality. (I feel like this topic deserves its own post so I may do a longer one about this later.) I've recently become fascinated with sacred hearts, milagros, old churches and women saints.

I'm on an inner journey right now, combining all the things that I believe in. I have an ad in today's Belief section for an event next Saturday. It's hosted by an organization called Brigid's Place. It's a "service of music and mediation that celebrates the voices of the women who loved Jesus — Mary the Mother, the woman at the well, the woman who anointed Jesus, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene." It sounds so beautiful to me and I told the organizers that it reminds me of St. Fabiola and my intrigue with her and the Fabiola Project.  I'm really interested in women saints as people and what they did. I'm not necessarily interested in the Catholic religion because it's an organized religion. I'm more interested in the stories and the spiritual aspect of a lot of things.

So there you are. I am going to pursue things that I'm passionate about in life- making bonus, writing, running, social media, bringing order to my life/house and exploring my inner journey. I am going to create my own ven diagram.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I'm Running Again, for the 100th Time

Okay, maybe not for the 100th time because as many of you know, I'm not really a runner. I'm a half walk, half run kinda person, but I still count that as running because if I run even in the tiniest amount it's running in my book.

This is me last summer. I ran in the Houston heat. So I know that if I can run in the summer I can run any time. Although I did try to run on a cold day one day this past winter and I thought I was going to freakin' die! My lungs hurt so bad! How do people run in the cold?? I think it's worse than running in a Houston summer.

Anyway, I've never been a runner. I've made some small attempts throughout my life but I never stuck to it as much as I did last summer. Fall just didn't work out well for me for one reason or another. This spring I have decided I am going to take advantage of it not being 100 degrees and the time change. I'm going to run as much as I can between now and summer. Then I will do it again in the summer. I have to because M has to run to keep up with lacrosse and I want to encourage her.

All this running better make a difference on my body too! I need to lose a good 20 pounds. More, but I'm being realistic and taking it 10 pounds at a time. So let's just say 10 pounds for now. So goal one is 10 lbs and to run them off. Plus all the other boring stuff you have to do too, like not eat or drink so much. Ugh! But necessary.

I'm over 45 now, pre-menopausal and my body wants to just hold on to this weight for some crazy reason. It's like it doesn't want to part with an old friend. Sorry body! You must say goodbye to my fat now. I know you've been together for a while but the fat has to go.

Let's see how it goes this round and I will keep y'all updated on these 10 lbs and how many days I run. Today will make day six in a row!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Turning Forty-Seven

Once a year I try to write my birthday blog around or closer to my birthday. I'm a little late this month, but technically we are still in February, my favorite month of the year, so we're good.

Here I am on my birthday with my cupcakes and dancing to my song!

I spent my 47th birthday having breakfast with my dad and sister, getting a pedicure, and celebrating with my very best friends, my Tertulia Girls. They have been my best friends since I was 9, 11, 15 and for the past 16 years of  Tertulias with all of them. We had a great time eating and having margaritas at my cousin Sylvia's restaurant, Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen.

After dinner a small group of us went to Edison's, a new bar in my neighborhood and I danced the night away. Edison and I share a birthday so it was very appropriate that they had a party and dancing that night.

I had so much fun and I didn't think about anything, how I looked, who was there, nothing. It was a very liberating feeling. Even when I slipped and fell I got right back up and kept on dancing. My friend Cami took a sympathy fall with me and when we got up she leaned in and said, "None of these twenty year old bitches could have fallen and gotten up like you did!"

She was so right and despite how much I had had to drink earlier at dinner, and being just high on life, I thought about where I was in that moment in my life and how different I was from those girls there that night. Many of them were out, maybe with their boyfriends, trying to impress them, or maybe they were single, looking for a boyfriend. Many of them could have been at that point in their life when they were trying to find a life partner, a father to their future children.

I am free because I'm past that part of my life. I'm a 47 year old woman who was already married and already had my children in life. Check, check. That isn't my goal in life and I'm free to just be me, have fun and not give a care about what others think of me. I wasn't out that night to impress any guy. I was there to have fun with my friends and with myself and I did.

The next morning my sister and I went to the Forest Park Cemetery on Lawndale in search of Mr. Martin's niche in the Abbey Mausoleum. Mr. Martin was all of my sisters' high school history teacher at San Jacinto High School, later renamed HTI (Houston Technical Institute). They loved him so much and he made such an impact on their lives. Mr. Martin went on to teach at Jones High School in the Vanguard program and he taught several of my friends too. He was an extraordinary human being. I only had a chance to meet him once very briefly when I was touring Jones when I was in 8th grade.

We followed Mr. Martin's directions to his niche just as he wrote them in his obituary that we found on Legacy.com. If you have a chance read all the beautiful words that former students have left for him there. Included in one former students' comments is a transcript of what Mr. Martin wrote and posted here inside of his niche in the photo.  When we got to the mausoleum and read these words that he wrote before he passed away, it was as if he was still teaching from the beyond. My sister cried as she read his words of wisdom, his advice to all those who took the time to look for him. One last lesson.

I loved the whole piece, but I had two favorite parts. "Watch for the full moons, we are all of this Earth, love it and save it. Love thy neighbor every chance you get. Yes, dust to dust, and that's a wonderful thing! Expect no more. To thine own self be true, as much as your society will let you."

My second favorite was this, "Grow up, take full responsibility for your life, you are the product of all the decisions you have ever made. Tempus fugit, carpe diem! Abandon your myths and superstitions, embrace ethics, absolutes are for children. You have a mind, put your trust and faith there. Get rid of your selfishness and live free. Do the same to die free-----"

I felt that it was fitting that I was reading this the day after my 47th birthday. Mr. Martin's words reminded me of my former boss. He told me once, "You don't really grow up until both your parents pass away." I saw what he meant when my mom died. I felt like I grew up a little and I know that when my dad passes away I'll feel the same way. I am 47 years old now. I've become the care-giver to my father and my father has become the child. It's time for me to grow up more. I know I'm a grown-up and I care for my own children, but I feel like I'm still growing up in other areas.

I love Mr. Martins' advice to put your trust and faith in your own mind and to live free to die free. What an amazing man. What an amazing teacher. Although I've never been a formal teacher I've mentored many young people since I started my own professional life twenty-four years ago. I've been talking about that a lot this past week. I hope that one day a mentee remembers me in the same way. I hope that I touch as many lives as he did, starting with my own children's.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Life Lesson in True Gratitude

A few weeks ago as I drove up to my house, that I affectionately refer to as Grey Gardens and that my children refer to as the house from Fight Club, something really hit me. My lack of gratitude.
The house 15 years ago when I bought it, before Grey Gardens

As I drove up to my house I thought about how I haven't taken care of this house the way I should have and I felt ashamed. It reminds me of a child who is given everything so they don't take care of their toys or the nice things that they have. I feel a lot like that child. I have had this house for 15 years and even if I haven't been able to fix all the things that need to be fixed, I should at least work on trying to keep it nice.

This house may have lost its luster in the last few years but it's MY house. My house may be imperfect and it may need work but it's mine. I can sell this house or this land if I needed to, or I can choose to keep it. Not many people can say that. I have a roof over my head and it's a roof over my children and my elderly father.

I think about women all around the city, nation, state and world who have to live in women's shelters. I know that I'm grateful that I don't need to do that, but do my actions reflect my true gratitude?

My word for 2017 is "Order" and that's my goal this year with this house. It's to get it back in order. Just because I can't afford to fix it doesn't mean I can't do other things. I can organize the rooms the way I want them. I can make it look nice with what I have. My second word for the year needs to be "Gratitude" again. I think I really know the meaning of that word now, more so than I did when it was my word in 2014.

I'm grateful in general. I'm grateful for my health, my children's health, their intelligence, the fact that Seth has come such a long way, that my ex is such a great co-parent, my father and his health at his age, my "village" of friends, family and that I have enough to survive.

However, these last couple of years have been hard, but they have also been good for me and for the kids. We've learned not to take money for granted. When I think about it, for many years I steadily made more and more money and I also spent more and more. When they were younger and I was married we had a double income and we never wanted for anything.

Now I've learned to do without and how to be frugal. That's been an important lesson for me. I went from having my parents, to having a double income and I never learned how to take care of myself until now. It's been an important step in really growing up.  Learning true gratitude is a big part of that and inculcating it in my children, so that they learn to truly be grateful when we have more.

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons whether we want to learn from them or not. I've learned that God provides at just the right time and I think that this lesson in gratitude makes me and the children better people. I have faith that if and when we have more in life they are going to look at it with a very different point of view than they did before. I have faith that as they get older and have better opportunities in life they will know when to be grateful. I have faith that I will too.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year and New Word

The truth of the matter is this. My life has been a big disorganized mess for far too long. I'm one of those people that can't do too many things at one time. I can only really do one event or activity per day, unless I'm traveling for fun or work. When I'm traveling for work I can make several sales calls in a day. When I'm traveling for fun I can visit several places in the same day too. It's not the same when it comes to doing things I need to do for the house.

by Rose Khan

What I share on social media is what makes me the happiest and the proudest- mostly my kids, my friends and shoes. A lot of my energy goes to them, taking care of my dad, and my career. In my book, happiness, education, feeding my brain and the brain of my children, way outweighs anything material. I even half kid on Facebook all the time about my disorderly house and that I'm not much of a homemaker.

Therefore, the only word I can think of for 2017 is "Order." I need more order in my life and I feel like the word order covers everything. Order in my home, health, finances, children, work. I want to lead a more orderly life, without losing my eccentric traits I also value. That's the tricky part!

I like to think of myself as part artist and how many artists can you think of who lead orderly lives? Not too many! Think of Tyler Durden and the Narrator's house in "Fight Club," and Michael Caine's house in "Children of Men," all packed with books and papers. That's my house.

I'm not really religious these days but I am a spiritual person. I believe a lot in karma and doing good so that good comes back to you. I think there's some truth to decluttering your life in order to open it up to good things, a little feng shui. I'm starting off my year with a clean slate.

My first step towards inviting more "order" into my life is to clear out my house of all junk and clutter. In early December I prepared for this project by cleaning out the garage. The garage is the "holding place" for me to put all the clutter and to work from there. I have to do this or I will get overwhelmed by the house and I'll end up doing nothing at all. Every two months when it's heavy trash day again I'll clean out the garage of anything I know I don't need or want for sure.

I want to follow suit with my health and cleaning out all the bad things from my diet. I'm going to start running again before it gets really hot again and I'm getting financial things in order because I have some goals I can only achieve by doing that.

2017 is going to be a year of "Order" and I'm starting now. What is your word(s) for 2017?