Thursday, November 12, 2015

Getting it right

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bang Bang

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reading and Writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

Raising a Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 30, 2015

By golly, she's writing!

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

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

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

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

Here are the things on my list that are completed.

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

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

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

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