Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Moving In

Yep, we did it, we spent our first night in our new home on Saturday and though we moved all of the big stuff, we still have some work to do. Of course there is lots of unpacking, sorting, organizing and putting away that needs to happen, but I still have plenty to do at the old house, too. Oh, and if that isn't enough, there is a new project on Mason's horizon that has decided to come to fruition this week. I can't share the details yet, but it wasn't suppose to happen until the first week in February and now they want to start this week. Okay, we are a "roll with the punches" kind of family so we will make it happen, but the timing is certainly not ideal.

On other fronts, Mason is working on a speech to deliver to local service clubs about his culinary journey and winning Chopped Junior. We are testing the waters on what a speaking career might look like. He loves performing but doesn't love the idea of learning someone else's lines. He told me he may have to give up a dream of acting and I suggested he make a living being himself, it's served him pretty well thus far, don't you think? He didn't reply right away and pondered that for a minute and said, "Tell me more, like what do you mean?" I noted Ryan Seacrest, Mario Lopez, and Phil Keoghan, host of the Amazing Race. These men are spokesmen, they get paid to speak, host events, do radio in Ryan's case, and endorsements as well. They are entertainers for sure, but for the most part, they get paid to be themselves, the public likes them so there is a draw. I think Mason could have that kind of appeal, too. He is quite articulate, certainly entertaining when he plugs in, and he's not hard to look at (I know, I'm a bit biased!). I'll be sure to record his speeches and you can give him some feedback. We are working on not saying um and uh, and learning o strategically pause and smile. Stay tuned!

I'll post photos soon, but for now I have to try to get this house in order before the company gets here. Have a great week and be sure to make someone smile today, pay a compliment or two, it costs nothing and builds value in the world tenfold.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Falling Behind But Not Quitting

I guess I didn't anticipate the impact moving into our new house would have on my resolution to write every day.  That's really silly to even type as I know what it means to move, I KNOW!

I'm not quitting. If I fall way behind, I will catch up. I will write two or three posts in a day and by the end of this year, there will be 365 new posts.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Judgement VS Evaluation

Maybe not all of you know this about me, but I LOVE a stimulating discussion. I like when people don't agree with me (legitimately, not antagonistically) because it makes me think about angles I haven't considered - and if it makes me uncomfortable, all the better. The conversation about spelling/grammar and the English language was not meant to call anyone out or hurt feelings, it was just to pose the question, "Do people today care about the importance of communicating effectively through proper written language?" This was based on a true event that seemed so crazy to me. 
With that said, I was advised that "Observation is a strength and Judgement is a weakness." If that's true, what is the difference between Judgement and Evaluation? In observing, can we trust our instincts to warn us when an individual or situation is unsafe, or would that be considered "judgement," that said person is dangerous? How do we know? I can ascertain I feel something and react accordingly, but it seems to me if we are living completely "judgement free," we are living in an unrealistic place. Should our children trust everyone they come into contact with so as not to be weak and judgmental? Certainly, we all have different color lenses we see life through, but isn't the pointing out of "Observation is a strength and Judgement is a weakness." a judgement in and of itself? 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Thank You Notes

Do you write thank you notes? Have you taught your kids (read: made your kids) to write them? I do and I also make Mason do it, too. It's a dying art, handwritten communication and manners as well. It's good manners to say thank you, and it's even nicer when a thank you note comes in the mail.

Here's my take on it, when someone goes out of their way to do something nice for you or to purchase you a gift, the very least you can do is send a thank you note. Emily Post notes that a thank you note is necessary if the gift giver is not present to thank personally, so when grandma or grandpa sends Mason a gift, he needs to write them a note that we mail to them. This is important for a number of reasons in my way of thinking. First, it gives Mason some practice writing and properly formatting a communication - the card and the envelope to mail it. Second, everyone likes to get happy mail, and mail from your grandkids is the best kind. Finally, it lets the sender know the gift came. Of course we call when something comes and Mason verbally thanks the sender, but I think it's important to send a note, too. Oh, and let me add, it shows grandma and grandpa that their teaching us about the importance of etiquette is being shared down the generational lines.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Making Lists

I often have so many balls in the air that if I don't make lists, I can't remember anything! Do you make lists? Today I need to research property for two clients, call a new client about a listing, keep packing to move, move some boxes, hopefully get over to the new house to start putting the kitchen together, schedule some travel for a competition for Mason, meet Dave in W. Sac to shop for Mason's bedroom and maybe a couch, and pick up the moving truck. Oh, and did I mention we are moving?

Lists are also imperative to a good nights sleep. If I don't get all the stuff in my head on a piece of paper. I will lie in bed and my list of things to do will swirl furiously, the stuff I need to do, the stuff I didn't get done today, and the stuff I want to do. AHHH! All while Dave is blissfully sound asleep next to me, sometimes even before his head has hit the pillow. Is this a gender thing? Do women worry more about what needs to be done than men do? I think so, but I digress.

My point is just that I need to write shit down, I need it out of my head on on a piece of paper, and it has to be paper, if I put it in a note in my phone, I don't reference it. Although I do sometimes lose the piece of paper, or have more than one piece of paper that has some of the same things to do on both of them, but not everything on each. Sheesh! This is one big mess of a post about lists that are suppose to make my life less messy! Laughing!

Here I go, I'm going to make one list, on one piece of paper, that I will not lose, that will make me feel good each time I cross something off it as done. Now I need to figure out how to focus on doing just one thing at a time. And you? Lists?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

I'm Not Making It!

I'm not writing every day. Maybe it's an unrealistic goal but I really want to make it happen. My life is busy, really busy. I bet yours is, too, I really don't think I'm special or do anything more superhuman than other active families.

I suppose instead of being hard on myself if I don't write one day, I could make my goal to write 365 posts this year. That would be one a day, but not necessarily written each day. Is that cheating? I don't think so, my goal is to write, to share my thoughts and ideas and touch peoples lives. It's not uncommon to be inspired and write, write, write in one day and then be up to my eyeballs busy and not feel up to it the next.

So there it is, the first modification to my 2016 new years resolution! Laughing! I'm not quitting and I will show 365 posts for 2016...I will. Iwill. IWIL.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

To Be Understood

Have you ever had an experience that upset you horribly? You just wanted to react, right now! Throw something, hit someone, just scream and thrash physically just to move? Yeah, me too. What do you do when you feel that way? Well, sometimes I do scream. I don't throw things or hit people because before I can really do that I think, and when I visualize myself out of control, I stop.

Today something upset me, a relationship issue tied to finances and before I could even really talk about it, I had to think about it. Even as I type this I'm confused by what I feel and what I think I should feel. I don't think I live in lack, but I am absolutely frugal. This issue isn't about how much money was spent or even what it was spent on, it's about me feeling invisible or that I'm not part of the equation. I don't feel like I can count on the plans we make or what we have agreed to when big decisions are made without my input.

The upside is that I know we will talk and work through this. In the big picture scheme of things this is not small, but it is not enough to be considered big. To be understood is to be loved and ones willingness to listen and try to understand is all we can ask. Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Music Holds the Key

We all have defining moments in our lives, mine seem to be triggered by music. I gave a child up for adoption when I was 24 years old and that was the beginning of the amazing life I live today, but not before I went a little irresponsibly crazy first. I'll save that story for another day but that cognition out of the dark was triggered by Don Henley's Heart of the Matter.  It would be many years later that I would be forever changed by a broken heart and then Toby Keith's Cry'n For Me. Here is that story as I penned it for a college creative writing class in 2011. 
Living in the Light of Love
My pause came when months passed and I was still sobbing. It was as if it were the first day he was gone.  Even now, while I recount my loss, I weep.
With every loss comes a lesson. If not a lesson, an opportunity to grow. Why? Why? Why? As I mourned my loss, I cried why? In my darkest hour I learned about the light of love.
Real love. The kind of love that changes your life. Love that makes you feel like you are all you ever need to be when it’s good, and the anguish of pain so grave when it’s bad. I learned about the light of love.
I wasn’t infatuated or experiencing self-serving love born out of need, but true, unconditional love – and then an unpredictable loss. My bereavement was like drowning in a raging river while gasping for any breath of air I could seize. All while furious that the rest of the world went on, smiling, laughing, living. Why? Why? Why?
A performer sang an acoustic song. A good-bye song, the kind that makes you cry when you are not grieving. It was through my tears that it all came very clear, love doesn’t’ care. Yes! Love doesn’t care. 
Love doesn't care? I thought love was caring and it is, but love doesn't care if you are black or white, love doesn't care if you are young or old, love doesn't care if you are two women or two men. Love doesn’t care.

The light of love doesn’t judge who you love and who loves you back. Until I lost, I didn’t understand love. Love doesn't care what your ethnicity is, how much money you make or don’t make. Love is just love and it’s beautiful just the way it is. And ultimately love doesn’t care if you are a girl and a dog living in the light of love.

Kathy and Riley 2009

Monday, January 18, 2016

Being the Bad Guy, Yeah, It's Me.

I'm the bad guy, uh, gal. I'm the one who says no, who holds the line when my son wants to do something, "just this one time, I promise!" No. Over the weekend Mason could not find his skateboard helmet and wanted to go ride. "Please?!" he pleaded, "I'll be careful." No. I offered up his BMX full face bike helmet but he protested, "That's so dumb. I"ll look like an idiot wearing that while riding my skateboard." I told him he should have thought of that when he finished riding last time and that he should have put his helmet where it goes instead of wherever it is right now - that place that he can't find it.

He said he would not ride...but he did, even after I assured him if he rode without the helmet that I would confiscate his board and he would be restricted for I don't know how long. I'm the bad guy who gave him a piece of my mind in public. He cried. I think those around us were a bit uncomfortable, too. He finally quit protesting so I stopped scolding. I thought for a moment that maybe I went off in public and that maybe I should not have in front of our friends. Well, my doubts were put to rest when three people, separately shared with me that they appreciate that I say what I mean and mean what I say when it comes to Mason and discipline.

I don't really think I am the bad guy. I have just a few things that I draw a hard line in the sand with and protecting his head is one of them. I was thrown from a horse back in 2009 and suffered a concussion. I lost many of my memories for months. I think I got them all back, but who knows. I know that Dave would recall something that I had no recollection of so he would show me photos. Talk about weird! I could see I was there, I could see what he was talking about, but I could not remember the event at all. In that case, I did finally recall it while driving down the freeway weeks later. Just this last Christmas, a friend of ours got a new skateboard and in minutes, he slipped and hit his head on a parked car and busted his skull behind his ear. He was life-flighted to a hospital and spent several days in intensive care. It can all happen in the blink of an eye and it's not just that I said he has to wear a helmet, it's the law. I don't mind being the bad guy one bit if it means I keep Mason whole and healthy, hopefully he knows being the bad guy is because I love him so very much!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Is There a Celebrity Among Us?

Tonight after lots of football, we went to dinner at Max's in Auburn with David & Lisa and while we were dining a woman approached our table...you all know where this is going, right? "Excuse me, are you Mason Partak?" 
She had a flyer for his tacos but keep in mind, we did not announce ahead of time we were going to be there and the place was packed. She wants to arrange to have him come speak to her classes at an elementary school in Grass Valley. She asked him if he would be comfortable giving a talk and maybe doing a demonstration of some kind. He assured he he has done lots of talks and demos and he would be happy to come talk to her school. 
Gotta love it!

I knew there would be a window of time after he won Chopped Junior that people would recognize him, but I guess I didn't expect random, "Are you Mason Partak?" while we are out to dinner. I'm beginning to think there may be a celebrity among us!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Our Four-Legged Family Member

We signed the paperwork today to buy our new house. Dave has been gone for over two weeks for work and while he's been gone, I've been packing. The house is in all kinds of disarray, some stuff is packed, some is pseudo packed, while some is right where it's been all along because we still need to use it each day.

As I take our house apart, pack some stuff, give away other things, and throw out lots more, Spencer is clearly not comfortable. He is sticking with me like glue. If I walk from the bedroom to the kitchen, he is at my feet. If I sit down at my desk, he snuggles in under my knees at my feet. He knows something is changing and he's not sure what it is. If I could think or speak for him, I would think he is feeling like he feels when we pack to go on vacation, only more so.

I reassure him that he is coming, too and he will love the new house. Dave suggested that we put together a box with his blanket, babies, and tennis balls in it so he can see his stuff is packed, too. Not sure it will work, but we'll do it because he is coming with us. In fact, we didn't buy houses that we really liked because they didn't suit Spencer. We all matter and you will never hear this family say, "We're moving and we can't take our dog." NO WAY!

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Importance of Visual Communication

I am a communications major and love to, well, communicate. I've been told I'm articulate and have a way with words but you know what, I've recently learned the importance of visual communication. Don't get me wrong, I'm a visual person and an artist that paints guess what? Words. My art is RiverLights Originals, I pen inspirational words on river rocks, add metallic inks and then photograph the rocks in shallow running water. The combination of the running water, metallic inks, and sunlight creates beautiful mosaic like images.

A few days ago I learned yet again, the importance of communicating with images. Many of you know that Mason and I have spent the last two years raising money to improve his elementary school kitchen. Ultimately, the school got an upgrade to the school cafeteria and a full blown culinary science lab so the students at the school can learn about science, nutrition and how to cook. Mason raised $26.052 to put in the CSL, but now they needed money to buy the supplies to conduct the classes.

I had posted several notes asking for donations and Mason even offered up $200 from his Chopped Junior prize money to get the donations ball rolling. A local business offered up $100, a fan who saw Mason on Food Network message him saying he had also sent $100 to help. Keep in mind, at this point, the principal of the school has been paying the $100 a week bill to get this program off the ground out of her own pocket. I did some quick calculations and deduced that the school needed $1400 to get through the rest of this school year and posted letting my circles know we needed $1,000 more in sponsorship. At the same time I was posting asking for help, I saw a post from one of the parents at the school with photos of that days cooking class. I asked if I could repost and when I got permission, I posted this:

A few days later Mason and I stopped over to our friends house to deliver some of Mason's famous tacos (they've been under the weather and couldn't come out to Max's with us) and Mason came running out with a check for $1,000! WHAT?!! I went in the house and thanked them profusely. I asked why and Gary said, "I saw the photos and I want this program to continue." I saw the pictures. Look at those kids, they're smiling, learning about food and science and math and food and nutrition... I saw the pictures.

The Mountain Mandarin Festival has been a big supporter of Mason and this project. They have given the school the opportunity to work the festival for the last three years for a percentage of the ticket sales and this alone was a large part of that initial money to put the CSL in to begin with. Yes, the MMF has been a huge supporter, but they stepped up again because they "saw the pictures."

Incredible and wonderful. Communicate and share, do these things with intention and watch the good come flooding in. Now we need a local grocery store to step up and sponsor the CSL for the whole school year. Mason and I are working on that, but rest assured, this is a great program and it will change lives, I know it's changed mine.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Who Is This Kid?

Mason's postcard
My son Mason is 12 years old. For the most part, he is a normal 12 year old boy who is strong willed, determined, obstinate, and can be a real pain in the butt for his dad and I. He loves to play video games, ride his BMX bike and skateboard, he skis and snowboards, and of course he cooks. When it comes to cooking, he's quite exceptional. He loves to perform and he can rock a live cooking demo or television performance like a seasoned professional. Last year he had the opportunity to compete on Chopped Junior on Food Network and he won, holy cow, he won!

Our hometown has been so excited to have a Chopped Junior Champion on the map that our local Max's Restaurant asked if he would put one of his recipes on their menu and he went with his spicy street taco from the show. Last night Mason was scheduled to be at the restaurant to meet and greet diners, talk about the show and see how they liked his tacos. I expected him to chat with people as he's quite outgoing but I did not expect what I saw last night, not at all.

Mason had dinner with the restaurant manager and people walked up to the table to talk to him as he was wearing his CJ chef coat so they knew who he was. When he finished eating, he washed his hands, grabbed his postcards and started working the room. He walked up to each table in the lounge and then he made his way to the dining room. I tried to get in behind him to take a photo or two, but I was intercepted by diners asking if I was Mason's mom. By the time the night was done, so many people had come in to see him, he signed photos, took pictures, and answered questions about cooking and competing on CJ. One of the people who came in to meet Mason was a young man with autism, Mason made that child feel like a million bucks! I was so proud of my child last night.

When the night was over and we were getting ready for bed, I asked Mason what he said to people in the dining room when he walked up to the tables. He replied, "I just walked up and said, Hi, welcome to Max's. I'm Mason Partak. I'm guest cheffing and my spicy street tacos are on the menu this month." WOW! WOW! I can't imagine having such a sense of myself at 12 years old. Now I know why people were stopping me and complimenting me. The truth is this though, Dave and I cannot take all the credit for who Mason is, to a large degree our kids are who they are and it is up to us as their parents to either foster those qualities or squash them. Are you tuned in as a parent? I think being older parents has really served us and obviously, it's been good for Mason, too.

Tune in to your kids, listen to who they are and then find ways to support them to be more of that. Be okay when that changes and when then want to explore different things in life, you will be so glad you did when you see your kid step up and as someone said last night, "live on purpose" at the ripe old age of 12 years old.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Is Recycling a Good Thing?

Of course it is, unless you are committed to writing a blog post every day in 2016 and you are drawing a blank. No, not drawing a blank, what is really happening is there are so many things you want to write about that you can't focus on just one of them long enough to craft what you really want to say.

I'm a writer and that paragraph above is not even well written, it's not you who is committed to writing every day, it's me. When I feel like I can't find what I'm looking for to put words to paper, I start to think about the hundreds of thoughts and ideas I've already posted that likely have not been read by anyone. Yes, I've been writing and blogging for a really long time. I started my Monday Motivator as a weekly email back in 1999. I uploaded it to a blog in 2007 (I think) and tried to upload as many previous emails as I could find. My MMs have all been read, but my Intentional Winning in Life blog posts have not all been read - I'm sure of it.

But I'm not going to recycle my writings unless I want to share and add to an earlier life thought. Reading back through old posts I find that as I continue to live and learn, some things change, while some things remain the same and I think, man, that's good! Did I really write that? Nice! 

With that, check out my earlier posts here and on my Monday Motivator and see what you think.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

In Your Darkest Hour

Why don't we teach our kids about grief? We focus on smiles, joy, and laughter from always asking each other to smile for a photo, or the minute someone cries, trying to make it stop. Why? It's not only okay to cry, it's necessary.

Just the other night Mason came in my room and asked if he could hug me. Of course, I never turn down a hug from my loved ones and as we hugged he started to cry. I asked him why he was crying and he said he didn't know, he just felt sad. I didn't ask anymore questions, I just held him a little longer, kissed his head and told him he should go to bed. On his way out of my bedroom I added, "Keep crying if you want, it feels good sometimes to just let it out." With his tear stained cheeks, he half-heartedly smiled and said he loved me. I don't know if he cried some more or not, but it wasn't twenty minutes later that I checked in on him and he was sound asleep.

My darkest hour was back in 2009 when I lost my sweet Riley. I didn't know what to do or how to reconcile my grief. I was heartbroken in a way no man ever affected my heart or soul. To say I was soaked with sadness would not even come close to communicating the depth of my pain. I cried every day for months and all these years later, I still cry if I let myself go back to that time. I suppose we don't teach our kids about dark days because we hope they will never have to feel pain like that, but that is simply not realistic.

Mason was just a little boy when we lost Riley so he didn't all the way understand the depth of my grief but he and I talked about it recently. He noted that the people who said Riley was just a dog probably don't think that young people can have a real love crush. I asked what he meant (I knew, but I wanted him to elaborate) and he said that kids have crushes, they have feelings that make their stomachs tingle, and they get excited when they see each other, those crushes are like kid love. Yes Mason, kid love, or puppy love is what we called it when we had crushes. His point is that early love will invariably lead to young heartaches and learning how to process and manage emotional pain is an important part of nurturing growth. Did you have someone tell you it would be okay in your darkest hour? I did and Mason will, I hope you do, too.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Getting to Share in an Intimate Moment with my Son

Mason is just 12 years old, but he is wise beyond his years. A few nights back we had minor disaster in our master bedroom and I had to sleep on the trundle bed in Mason's room. It was fun, kind of like a slumber party. I was wrapping up some email on my laptop and he was on his iPad. I told him he needed to say goodbye to his girlfriend he was messaging with on Instagram and he was taking longer than I wanted him to take. I pushed and he got mad at me, he said, "Mom, she is trying to tell me something, can you give me just another minute?" I was playing hardball as it was really late and when he finally signed off he made sure to inform me that she just broke up with him. Ouch! I felt like a total schmuck.

Keep in mind that he is only in the 6th grade but he and this young lady have been courting for a couple of months - that's a long time at this stage in life. I had my laptop off and way lying in the dark listening to my boy cry. It felt horrible and I was so grateful when he started talking. "Mom, L and J knew, they were so happy today at school, they were laughing when I walked by and I just know they told N to break up with me. Why would people be happy that someone was going to be hurt?" What do I say to that? I said the only thing I could say, I told him that there will always be people in life who will take joy from other people's pain and in middle school, it's probably as bad as it will ever be. I went on to say as young kids, you all don't know how to reconcile these grown up situations and when someone is getting hurt, it's scary. It's easier for a young person to act tough and like they don't care than it is to show real compassion and empathy.

I don't think he liked my answer but I followed it up with what I thought was sound advice. I told him to not feed into any drama that may be at school tomorrow. I said that middle school is the introduction to relationships and how you start out handling things will help how you handle things as you go through high school and college. The best thing to do is to hold you head high, do your own thing and ignore any remarks that try to pull you into the blacktop drama. I did my best to convince him that he should leave girls alone and just be a kid, don't mess with "girlfriends" right now. I'm not sure I succeeded, but I'll keep trying.

How many mom's get to be present when their son's first break up happens? Not many I would imagine and I was so honored that Mason shared his feelings with me. What an amazing gift, seriously, it was a priceless, wonderful gift.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Expectations...Yeah, I Got 'Em!

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times, "Kathy, you can't have expectations of others, if you do, you are responsible for the disappointment that will inevitably come" What? This has never made sense to me. Why is it bad to have expectations of others and why is it on me when they flake? If I understand what has been explained to me, I give more than most people. I take my commitments seriously and if I say I will do something, I do it. Not everybody operates like I do. Because I know how I will handle a commitment, it only stands to reason I would expect those I am dealing with to behave the same way, especially when we agree that we will follow through with our commitments. Not so much. People don't do what they say they will do, and they don't show up when they say they will...and people are okay with that. "Lighten up!" they tell me. "Don't be so serious all the time." is another excuse I've heard. It baffles me.

Here's how I see it, if you and I are in an relationship, be it friends, lovers, or work, we have an understanding of what that relationship is and how we are participating in it. Yes, I said we have an agreement. I know this because I am a bit of an over-communicator, I like to know where I stand with people. If you say you will do something or be somewhere at a specific time, I believe you. I will expect you to do it or be there on time. If you don't, well, then I have a decision to make. I either decide to keep you in my circle but know I can't rely on you to keep your word, or we just politely go our separate ways. I need to know that I can count on the people in my life, and doing what you say you will do exhibits respect, it's really tough to have a relationship without respect, don't you agree? See what I did right there? I asked you if you agree with me. When you don't keep an appointment with me or show up on time, you might as well just tell me, "Kathy, your time is not that important to me. I know you did what you had to do to be on time, but I didn't and you can just wait for me, or maybe we can reschedule?" No. We can't.

If I can't expect you to show up and keep your word, I don't think we are a good fit to be in a relationship. It may just be me, but I have amazing people in my life and I know many of them feel the same way I do, so let's just suffice it to say, I do expect you to do what you say you will and show up when you say you will show up. You can expect the same from me, and we can live happily ever after.

*This isn't to say that sometimes things that are out of our control come up and delay us, that's different than the person who is always late or just has a loosey-goosey attitude about being on time.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

I Wrote and Published a Book

Did you know that? It started back in 2000 and I even started the first draft. I got busy and changed computers a number of times so I lost track of it. In 2007 I found it and I finished it in 2008. I don't think I printed it until January of 2009, but I finished it and printed it. I sold maybe 100 copies, but I'm proud to say I completed it.

Creative and Memorable Ways to Keep in Touch - yep, a little paperback gift book about and old school way of touching people. There are 52 ideas ranging from sending a Christmas card in July, creating themed gift boxes to mail, to being a secret pal for no real reason at all. Certainly, we keep in touch and share news on social media, but this is a much more personal way to touch people and stay connected.

Here is the first paragraph in the intro of the book:

This was started in 2000, and here we are 15 years later longing for a more personal connection more than ever. Do you have plans to try to do more to personally connect with your loved ones? I may republish my CMWTKIT blog, but not right away, I'm more interested in keeping my resolution to write every day in 2016. Unless of course there was a major public outcry for this fun little gift book. Big smiles!

Friday, January 8, 2016

What Does Success Look Like?

RiverLights Originals
When I look around and see the amazing people I have surrounded myself with every day, I see how good they have it. Sure, we all have problems, but for the most part, my circle of friends is happy and successful. They are working, playing, traveling, basically living a pretty good life.

As I look toward the new year, I always reflect back on where I was and how far I've come. Sometimes it seems like I didn't make nearly the amount of progress I was hoping for, but I keep setting goals and working hard.

It's about that time I am feeling a bit like I was destined to be a "Have Not" when someone says to me, "You really inspire me! I love the way you are not afraid to get in the game and try. I wish I could be more like you." WOW! I hear that and I ask, "Did I inspire you to the point that you did get in the game? Did you do something you would not have had you not seen me step up?" I usually get a resounding "Yes!"

Some examples are when I posted photos of my hikes and how I am taking action to get fit. I ran into an acquaintance at the grocery store and she had clearly lost a significant amount of weight. I commented and she replied, "You inspired me. You posted every day and each time I thought, why am I not doing it too?" Another time my friend had applied for a job that was something she wanted to do but had not yet had the experience on her resume. She was nervous when she got the interview because she felt like she didn't have talking points applicable to the new company. She went into the interview and told me that she channeled me and the way I can plug in life experiences to make an example of something. She spoke about examples in life and other jobs that she was able to make metaphors for the new job and show the interviewer that she has the skills - the people skills, the admin skills, the life skills that have nothing to do with the specific industry. Her excellent skills are applicable in many places and she remembered me advising her to ask for the position. She did and she is now excited to go to work every day.

With stories like this, how can I feel like I am not getting anywhere in this life? That is success on a grand scale! It makes me feel amazing and each time I feel like I am trying to run in quicksand, I will come back to this post and remember, these are just two people I've inspired to get ahead in their lives. What about you, do you feel successful? If you do, how do you gauge success?

Thursday, January 7, 2016

What is Time?

What is time? Time is a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them. Time is often referred to as the fourth dimension, along with the three spatial dimensions. What?! Laughing!

Time is the 24 hours we have each day and the seven days each week, that make up the 365 days we all have each year. Time is so relative, think about it, remember that day you had big plans after work and it seemed like the minutes were hours while you were at work? And then the way the minutes flew by once you were at your event with your friends? It;s how you think about it and how you live in it that makes it what it is for you. Time is just time, it is neither fast nor slow, it is the same for all of us. Do you have time? Can you make time? What time is it? Where did the time go?

When I think of time, I think of where I am and where I want to be. I've heard it said again and again, "It will take so long." Or, "By the time I get my degree, I will be too old to do anything with it." Nonsense! The fact of the matter is, the clock is always ticking, the next 60 seconds, 60 minutes, 60 hours, and 60 days are going to pass at the same rate they did last year and where will you be? You can start today toward where it is you want to go and when those 60 days pass, you will be closer to that goal. 

This is what I know about time; I know that I'm grateful for every day that I am still here with my family and friends. I know that the time I've spent living my ordinary life are some of my most treasured memories. I know that it does not take a long time to make a shift in my universe, no matter how small or how large, how I think about something in an instant can set things in motion whether I realize it or not. Time is why I write. I want my time to be documented for Mason and his family, I want them to know who we are and all the amazing things we did. For as time goes on, it is not kind to our minds, and these memories will change, and fade and eventually cease to exist. Time is precious, it is the most valuable gift you can give and it's important to give the gift to yourself sometimes. Don't you think it's about time?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Power of Intention

New York, Central Park August 2015
Mason is just 12 years old, but he has spent all those 12 years watching and hearing me talk about the power of intention. He hears me frequently say, "Whatever you think, you're right!" It's my favorite quote. Even though Mason will squawk about something being difficult or life not being fair, I know he understands that his thoughts guide his actions which in turn, create the immediate outcomes for his life. I say immediate because contrary to popular belief, changes can happen in an instant. It is a combination of immediate outcomes that when they come together make a successful future.

While Mason and I were in NY for the Chopped Junior competition, we talked a lot about what an honor it was to just be invited to compete on Food Network. The morning of the competition Mason and I had a little chat in our hotel room. I said to him, "You know Mason, I am completely confident that you have everything you need to win this thing. You have practiced and studied, you have the skills. With that said, more than anything I want you to understand that it is cool just to be here and to have fun today." He hugged me and we went down to breakfast. We met the other kids and their moms and the staff in the hotel restaurant moved a little 2 person table to the end of an eight foot table and Mason and Hannah's mom sat at the little table. During breakfast Mason playfully announced, "Hey, there is 100% chance that the Chopped Junior champion is sitting at this table." All the kids chuckled and nodded and Mason added, "No, this table" as he placed both hands on the little table only he (as one of the kids) was sitting at. They all laughed but I got it, it gave me chills the way he calmly spoke with such conviction - he absolutely set his intention and went on to win the competition. Coincidence? Some would say yes, but not me.

Our kids absolutely mirror what they see, and they see more of us as their parents than other people, especially at younger ages. Mason is now starting to spend more time socializing with other people in other environments and he will often tell me, "Mom, they don't think like we do." That pleases me that he gets how much power he has to control his life, and I'm sure to also share that the things he can't control, he can control how he reacts to and what his next action is. That is just as important in the manifestation process, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Mason Made Roasted Onion & Garlic Cheese Balls

Kristy DeVaney from cavegrrl.com invited Mason to create something using cream cheese. Mason is not one to shy away from a challenge, especially when it involves Challenge cream cheese!

Mason created a cheese ball that when rolled in different coatings, adds variety to the flavor. Make them for your next party. Hey the big game is coming, February 7th, your guests will love this snack and it's not the same old thing.

If you are interested in Paleo and gluten free options, visit Cavegrrl.com and you will love what Kristy is doing with real food.

Mason Made Roasted Onion & Garlic Cheese Balls

2 pkg Challenge cream cheese
1 med yellow onion
1 sm red onion
1 lg head of garlic
6 sage leaves
2 springs of Rosemary
1 pkg chives
1C Italian blend grated cheese
1.5C fresh grated parmesan
1C chopped or sliced nuts (we used almonds)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400. Quarter the onions and top the head of garlic. Create a wrap around the garlic with foil so it sits up, it does not have to be closed up. Drizzle the onions and garlic with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until soft. Set aside and let cool. Once cool, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their casings, Mason thought this was way fun how they pop right out.

Finely dice the chives and place them in a bowl, set aside. Dice the sage leaves and Rosemary. Once your roast onions and garlic are cool (don't have to be cold, just not hot), place them in the food processor and pulse until they are almost a paste consistency - not quite though. Add the cream cheese, Italian blend, 1/2C parmesan, sage and rosemary and process unit it is all completely mixed. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. You may need to scrape your food processor bowl and mix again to be sure you don't have cream cheese lumps. Turn the whole thing out on to a cookie sheet being sure to scrape all the cheesy goodness out of your processor.

Form the cheese into four logs or balls and roll in the chives. When you start to run out of the chives, add the other cup of parmesan and coat with that. Do the same with nuts if you want. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. 

Serve with a French baguette and crackers, it's delicious!

Mason also notes that if you have leftovers, it adds a delicious layer of flavor to casseroles or we added it to white chicken chili, it was so good!

Monday, January 4, 2016

And Then There is Nothing...

I have a million things daily that stimulate my thoughts and inspire me to write, so to resolve to write every day in 2016 seemed like a great way to get those ideas and questions out of my head and in print. So why the heck does my mind go completely blank when I make time to write? Is it because I have so many things I want to write about that I can't choose just one? Could it be that I've not organized properly and made a list of all my topics and I can't all the way remember them?

I don't know the answer to the question but I suspect I'm not alone. Tomorrow I will start a list in my Whimsy Log (yes, I have a paper Whimsy log!) so when I make time to write, I can pull out my list and pick a topic. Maybe this is part of the fear and paralysis that takes hold when we actually take action to do that thing we really want to do, but don't all the way think we can, or believe that we are not good enough. Hmmm, what do you do when it's time to start and you have nothing?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

How Do We Keep the Spark in Marriage?

Dave and I have an amazing love story, well I think we do. I won Dave on the radio in 1996 and though it was not love at first sight, that first date was the beginning of our romance novel. We didn't date right away, in fact, it took us six years to finally admit what others could see so clearly, and he and I finally became we.

We love our story and I think that we talk about it often is part of what keeps our love alive - we always remember why we fell in love with each other. But there is more to it than just reminiscing, Dave and I intentionally hug each other every day and we pay attention to the times when it seems like it's been longer than usual that we've been intimate and both of us initiate a reconnection.

We get busy and when stress levels start to rise, it's tough to tune into your partner, relax and get into a sexy headspace. The problem is, the longer you go not tuning in to each other, the harder it is to reinvest in each other. For us, it's always okay to say, "I'm not up to it tonight" but we will likely follow up with a conversation that sets a mood for the next few days. A little flirting, some sexy texts, and some planning to make time with each other alway works.

Ultimately, we keep talking and touching. There is some effort that goes into keeping our love alive but it's not work, it's not that thing that you hear people say, "Marriage is work, you have to work at it." It's the kind of effort that you put into letting someone know you love them, you still find them attractive and sexy, and you still want them. Letting Dave know I love him and I love us is not work, I always want him to know how I feel, even if it takes a little more on my part, I will go the extra mile.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Why Don't You Start?

We've all said it, "Someday, I'll..." What? What is on your list of things that you will do someday? Mason often reminds me of the lofty goals I have in my life, things like take my family to Italy, or travel for 3 months around the US in an RV and when he does, I say, "Someday." He loves that because he knows he will get me when he replies, "Someday is today!" Yes, I say that all the time and now, so does he.

In reality, what I actually mean is someday is today, today is the day to set the wheels in motion to work toward that goal. Every small step adds up to getting you where you want to go. I proved this to Mason two years ago when we were watching a Travel Channel special on Disney Cruises and the construction of the new Disney Dream. Mason said, "Mom, you always say you want to take a Disney cruise, when do you want to go?" Without hesitation I replied, "Let's go next year for your birthday." He was pleasantly shocked and we immediately started looking at the different plans online. I called a Disney cruise specialist the next day and that phone call turned into several emails, some literature that came in the mail, and my first small payment on our cruise. In October 2014 we set sail to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream! A simple intention and the action following it with a phone call made that bucket list family vacation a reality.

What I'm really loving is watching Mason learn about the power of intention and how to set his to get what he wants. In 2013 Mason set his intention to be on the Food Network and this year, he competed on and won Chopped Junior! I look at him and I just imagine what my life would have turned out like if I had learned the power of visualization and intention at his age. Stay tuned, I see big things in his future and I suspect his Somedays will come sooner than most others Somedays.

What do you want to do, what is on your list to happen Someday? I bet there is something you can do right now that could set the wheels in motion to that someday coming sooner than you think. Go ahead, start.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Welcome 2016, Let's Write!

I always want to set goals for the new year, resolve to succeed and take as many actions as possible to help me get closer to achieving the long list of things on my "I Want To Do" list. I'm thinking a writing resolution; blogging, food, art, RiverLights Originals, my cookbook, our Chopped Junior experience, and who knows what else. All in all, 365 days of writing. 

Though I write diligently each week on my Monday Motivator blog, I want to write more and on a broader spectrum of topics. It would be fun if people read my musings, but that's not necessary, it's really more for me, and for Mason after I'm gone. Like so many other ideas I have, I will just start and see where it goes. 

I want this to be more personal and I want to be able to write about anything I'm feeling, thinking, creating, contemplating, or processing, I don't want to worry about what people think. If my post resonates with you, great, if it doesn't, that's okay too. I welcome stimulating conversation as long as it is respectful. We don't have to agree to get along and be kind to one another and ultimately, if you don't like what I'm posting, you don't have to travel this journey with me. That's the beauty of this life, for the most part, we can choose to participate or not. 

Happy New Year, let's make this one great!