Time for a check up

I had foot surgery last week to correct a painful bunion. I’ve had my share of surgeries. Granted, none that were life threatening, but surgery all the same. I used every hour of vacation I had to be able to fix my foot so that I can, hopefully, walk without pain once again.

I’ve had almost a week to sit and think about so many things. My foot, obviously, is one of my biggest subjects of deep thought… along with my finances.

As painful as my recovery has been, I am appreciative for the opportunity to sit back and regroup.

The Bunion Debacle

Even the surgeon marks the foot to be operated on to ensure a good outcome.

I’ve decided to make October another spending freeze month.  Besides the fact that I’m condemned to a boot for the next four to six weeks, I don’t feel like going anywhere, and I’m too tired to do anything…. including shopping online. Speaking of tired, let’s take a time out while I take a nap. Seriously.

One of my main reasons for another spending freeze should be pretty obvious. Doctor’s bills. Funny thing about health insurance… Sure, it helps pay for medical costs, but you’ll still end up paying out the nose for surgery. How ironic that our insurance year restarts in October, just three days before my surgery. Say goodbye to all of the deductible I have paid in. It’s also so sad that my benefits changed. My deductible went up by a thousand dollars. Our open enrollment event happened, and my medical insurance almost didn’t happen. The only thing that saved my finances at all was the hospital calling to pre-authorize my medical coverage. It was discovered that a glitch occurred in the rollover of my insurance information. The only coverage I had was for prescriptions. WOW. Needless to say, I freaked out and made a barrage of phone calls to multiple people to try and get things straightened out in time for my surgery, which was happening in two days. Thankfully, human resources pulled through, and my coverage was restored in tact, and in time. I am very fortunate, and thankful for my surgery. (I think… So, so painful!)

I will be making arrangements for a payment plan for my out of pocket costs for my surgery. That makes sense. My spending freeze will be most helpful. Reevaluating my monthly budget will help me achieve my goals.

May I suggest to ALL of you, to connect with your insurance providers and make sure your coverage is good. Had I not had my upcoming surgery, I possibly would not have known about the glitch for months. I have prescriptions that I get every month, which would have been covered, HOWEVER, if a medical problem had happened, I would have been left owing much more money, with nothing to be done about it.

TIME FOR A CHECK UP!

 

 

 

My life is a game of football

September is finally here! That means school is back in session, the weather will start to cool down, the leaves will be turning and falling soon, and football is back. I AM ELATED.

Many of you probably don’t care about football, or possibly sports in general, but it really has a special place in my heart.

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember watching football with my dad. Monday night football, Sunday games… Sitting with dad, getting rowdy, yelling at the tv, high fiving at the great plays… some of my favorite memories. I hope I never forget them.

You see, I relate to football on so many different levels… It’s a time for friends and family to come together, whether in celebration or disappointment. Either way, the conversation and company is amazing, and so is the food that’s consumed. The thrill of the game is intoxicating. I love the physicality of the players, the passion and attitude, and the strategy involved. (The payday is just a nice bonus!)

Life should be about our family and friends. Hold close to those who support and build you up… the ones that have your back. They celebrate with you in the good times, and are there for you during the hard times. These are the people to cling to. They may even show up with delicious food.

Every minute of your life should be a thrill… appreciated and intoxicating. Living life to the fullest. Is it always that way? No, but is it possible to change your view and make it so? It might be tough, but be happy you get to play the game.

I am passionate about a lot of things. When I’m pumped, I yell, dance, and celebrate. When I’m angry, I tend to lash out, with attitude. (Throat punch Thursday anyone?) Our lives are full of highs and lows. It requires strategy and poise. It’s okay to celebrate your successes,  but not to the detriment of others. It’s okay to be disappointed when things don’t go our way, but don’t be a sore loser. Reevaluate and make adjustments as needed.

Football

Strategize and succeed

Put a positive spin on your game of life. Prepare for the unknown. Have a game plan. Dance when you succeed. Keep your composure when you fail. Come back stronger when you try again. Unite with the players on your team and aim for the prize.

YOU’VE GOT THIS.

 

 

Wedding overview – WE SURVIVED

It has been a few weeks since I have posted anything. I have been wrapped up in wedding prep and planning… So sorry about that, but hey, what’s a girl to do?

Three days post wedding, and I am sitting at my computer with my feet propped up. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for requesting a few extra days off from work to recoup. This is when I truly come to realize that I’m not in my twenties anymore. I am SO exhausted! My actual job is a very physical one… lots of heavy lifting, customer service, and thinking mix ratios, timelines, etc. That is a cake walk compared to this whirlwind of a week. I’m pretty sure that every muscle in my body aches. My feet are destroyed. My brain hurts. I am, surprisingly, ready to go back to work for some normalcy!

Here’s a rundown of my last week. I’ll have to sort some things through to make sure all my facts are in order. Bear with me here.

Last Tuesday, the 21st, was a normal workday. Mostly. My brother, John, along with his wife and thirteen year old son, started their journey from Idaho by car. He texted me throughout the day to give me updates on their travels. I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. They arrived at my work around three in the afternoon. I was overjoyed to see them. I cried a little. My only sibling, and I haven’t seen him in nearly two years. I miss him! They spent the last two hours at my work visiting. I’m sure my coworkers were a bit annoyed with that, but, honestly, I didn’t care. It was so nice to see them. We all went home after that and unloaded their car. I gave them a tour of the house, and showed them all the changes since they had visited last. They got to meet my two new doggies, Joshua and Maya. My nephew bonded with Maya almost instantly. It was adorable. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting about anything and everything. It was so nice.

Wednesday morning, the 22nd, I made a call to the contact person for the wedding venue to try and set up a meeting for Thursday afternoon. I had three phone numbers. The first number was disconnected… Uh oh! I left voice messages on the other two. I was a bit nervous about that, but I tried to push that to the back of my mind. I DID NOT say anything to my daughter. That was the last thing she needed to hear. She was starting to stress a bit. That’s what brides-to-be do, right? After that, John and I went through all the electrical components I had collected over the last few months to figure out what we still needed to make all the audio work for the wedding. (I have been collecting items for my music group here and there for future performances.) We had just about everything except for an amplifier/receiver and a few connectors and cables. We ran into town and found everything at one store. Hallelujah! My hubby had a receiver, RCA cables, and speaker wire, so all in all, I only spent about $30. YES!  That afternoon, I took the family, and met my music girls in Corvallis to do a music video of our first song, “Incontinence”. (Yes, you read that right!)  Corvallis has this wonderful event called “Play Piano Play” every summer. They place pianos all over town out in parks and on street corners for people to play. All free… just so people can enjoy music and talent. It is the neatest thing! We made a spur of the moment decision to go and perform. Why not? John recorded the song for us, and the wedding photographer came and took some photos. It was so much fun! 

  After that, we drove around Corvallis for a bit, and then took a little tour of the historic homes in downtown Albany. There are so many beautiful homes. After we got home, I made the family Instant Pot ribs for dinner. I have been raving about my Instant Pot to my brother for a few months. I figured I’d show him what he had been missing! They were perfect, fall off the bone, delicious… IN AN HOUR. He was impressed. We had another evening of chatting, drinking some adult beverages, and laughing. My daughter and her fiance came by to say hi for a few minutes. Another great day. 

Thursday, the 23rd, I left another message about the venue. I still hadn’t heard anything back, and I was starting to freak out a little bit. John mentioned that he would like to take his family to The Enchanted Forest.

Located on I-5 in Turner, OR. A charming little amusement park, established in 1971.

It is a quaint little amusement park about thirty minutes away. It has been there since 1971. The story behind the park itself is wonderful. It was a nice distraction from the worries going on in my head. We arrived at about eleven o’clock. The parking lot was full. It wasn’t too hot. Perfect.

Just have to take selfies with the family!

My nephew and I had a great time going through all the little rabbit holes, slides, and kiddie attractions. We were about to enter the haunted house, when I finally got a call back about the venue. The meeting and handing off of the key would happen at four that afternoon. WHAT A RELIEF! The rest of the afternoon was carefree. We rode the log ride and got soaked. We rode on the roller coaster. (Thank you, John, for not throwing up in the hood of my sweatshirt!)

Checking out all the cute little shops at The Enchanted Forest

The beginning of the roller coaster ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had lunch, did a little souvenir shopping, and made it back down for the venue meeting in plenty of time. We did a walk through of the place, exchanged monies and keys, and then things started to “get real”. My daughter was getting married… in a day and a half! I had my hubby make dinner that evening, since I was gone most of the day. He made a delicious manicotti.

The grange. The venue for my daughter’s wedding

I met my daughter down at the venue at six to practice. She asked me to rearrange a Metallica song for piano. For their first dance, she wanted to sing part of “Nothing Else Matters” to him as a surprise before they started dancing. The practice went really well. The room where the dancing would happen had amazing acoustics… just the right amount of echo bouncing around. I teared up as she was singing. It was absolutely beautiful. As soon as we finished up our rehearsal, we headed back to my house for dinner. My music girls were already there. We had another great laughter filled evening, visiting with my family.

Friday, the 24th… the day before the wedding. John and I woke up roughly around the same time. We decided to load up all the sound gear and haul it down to the grange to set it up and do an audio check. Everything worked great. He ran back to the house to wake up his wife, so I started working on the basement decorations. I put silver glittery ribbon around all the columns. It was simple, but very nice. Ron, the photographer, showed up to start setting up his equipment and taking photos of all the progress, and the bridesmaids arrived a little while later to help with the decorations. It was tough. We didn’t have as much stuff as we thought we did. Some ribbon, string lights, and other things that I had no idea what to do with. I had one set of people downstairs putting up lights, so I went upstairs to see what I could do for the stage and seating for the reception… I hung up all my mason jar lights in the windows, and the bridesmaids attempted to make some bows for the front of the stage. I didn’t like it. Not at all. I’ve never decorated for a wedding. Yet once again, I was in a panic. The groom, and several of his entourage showed up and helped in the basement with the lights. I guess the plan for the string lights was different than what I thought. I’m so glad they knew what was going on. They did a great job hanging them up. Carmen came and set up the tables in the basement with tablecloths, car centerpieces, and little canning jars with nuts, bolts, and battery powered tea lights in them. Then, my dear friend, Kate, (one of my music girls, and the officiant for the wedding) showed up and had brilliant ideas. We wandered around the venue and she assessed everything. She said she would come back the next day with a variety of things and help decorate. Seriously love this lady! We had the rehearsal at 6:30. We ran through the ceremony a few times to get things hammered out. It was good. Most of the wedding party left after that. I got a phone call from my florist friend, Rosa, that she was in my driveway with Carmen’s last minute bouquet, so I quickly drove back to my house to get it.

Modern Florist Oregon did a fantastic job with the bouquet! Beautiful!

IT WAS GORGEOUS! I gave her a huge tip for her effort, quickness, and delivery. I wrote the best recommendation I could on her business page. Modern Florist Oregon did a spectacular job! I am not even ashamed to give her business a boost here. The bouquet STILL looks perfect 5 days later! After I ran back down and showed off the bouquet, Kate and I did some more planning, and then my other dear friend, Janet, drove up. She had surprises for us! She made the most beautiful hats for us! Big, decorated hats to wear at the wedding! It’s amazing what tool and flowers can do!

These girls are seriously the best! These hats are FABULOUS!

It was decided that once the ceremony was over, we would wear them. How fun! By the time I got home that evening, John and his wife had gone over to a friends’ house for the evening, so I sat down at my computer and started getting Carmen’s playlist for the reception together. She had run out of time and couldn’t get it done. She sent me two pages of songs she wanted to have played. I was up until almost 2 am getting all the music together on my iPod. I had my feet on ice bags. They were so sore! My hubby finally came in and made me go to bed. I went to bed hoping to be able to sleep. I slept decent enough.

Saturday, the 25… THE MORNING OF THE WEDDING. I was up early yet once again. I drank some coffee, and my brother and I went into town to rent a couple of plug in lamp posts for near the stage. I had been looking online the night before for something to add that “extra touch” and decided on those. We get there, and… they don’t have them in their store. They had another store in Salem that showed they had a set. We went back to my car and called up there. Yes, they had them. I reserved them, and then called another dear friend… Super Bob. He said he was willing to drive the distance and pick them up for me. He also said he had a few tables that he could bring. What a life saver! After that, we headed down to the grange again. I was discouraged. Nearly half of the decorations we had put up the day before had fallen down. Panic… again. I went through and reattached everything with pushpins instead of tape. Kate arrived with fabric, hair ties, a big step ladder, and a variety of other useful things. She had incredible, doable ideas! We put up a beautiful purple swag above the stage, using hair ties to attach to the hooks above. The hair ties also were used for making poufs. BRILLIANT! (I seriously have THE BEST group of friends!) She commissioned the bridesmaids to do various tasks, and they did great! They decorated the photo booth area. We put some neat fabric on the backs of chairs in front of the keyboard and audio equipment to hide the eyesores. The groomsmen, all VERY tall I might add, attached a silver ribboned wall behind the keyboard as well. It looked awesome. Bob arrived with the lamp posts, after some major delays in weekend traffic on the freeway. The lights looked great, however, one bulb was burned out, and one post had bright white bulbs, and the other had soft white… Two completely different color bulbs. Yellow-ish vs white. Bob volunteered to get some more white ones, and left to get those and to get ready for the actual event.  Carmen and the bridesmaids left around two to start getting ready. My husband showed up with the backdrop for the ceremony… Natural lattice with braces attached to each side and the middle. John, Kate, and I grabbed Carmen’s lovely purple fabric and screwed it to the backside. Kate and John then took the long black tool Carmen had purchased and wove it from the back to make lovely little poufs on the top and sides. It looked gorgeous. Kate left, John left, and I finished checking things over before leaving at nearly four. I was hot and sweaty, and didn’t even have enough time to take a shower. I went and changed all my clothes, did my hair and makeup, and then waited for Carmen to show up so I could help her put her dress on and the final prep.

Saturday, the 25th… THE WEDDING. The photographers showed up for the final photos of the prep with Carmen. She showed up a few minutes later. We went upstairs, stressed and feeling the time crunch. Carmen’s official ride down to the wedding showed up. Thank you to Fred, for volunteering at the last minute to drive his beautiful black Chrysler 300, so she could arrive “in style”. We got her dress and shoes on with no issues. She had a few photos taken, and then I left her with Fred and her daddy. I rushed down to the grange to get situated with the rest of the wedding party. I pulled up, hot and heavy, and I see a nice turnout of people. Good! I had gotten a few last minute cancellations, so I was hoping there would be a nice turnout. There was. Janet came over and helped me carry all my stuff, and then it all happened. Carmen arrived in the beautiful black car. The music had been playing Diana Krall love songs while the guests arrived and sat down outside in the sunshine… a pleasant 80°F. Kate was already at the front when Jacob, the groom, walked up the aisle. His groomsmen followed behind, the first one carrying my tablet with a picture of the best man on it. He couldn’t attend. He is in the military, stationed out of the country. They built a scarecrow type man to hold the tablet as his face. It was perfectly humorous.

Handsome groom!

What a beautiful bride

Carmen and her daddy.

The best man was there in spirit

Myself, my son, and a groomsman

I followed the last groomsmen, holding a photo head of my son as a bouquet… Carmen’s brother. He couldn’t attend either. He is also in the military… stationed out of the country. The bridesmaids followed behind. Then, Carmen stepped out of the car, and walked down the aisle on my husband’s arm. My heart melted, seeing my hubby’s smiling face as he walked with my beautiful daughter, in her beautiful dress, up to us. He handed her to Jacob, and the ceremony began. Kate did a wonderful job officiating her first wedding. There was humor, seriousness, and it was heartfelt. I was impressed. They said “I do”, and the kiss was so very sweet. We walked back down the aisle, and that part was over! We did photos with the photographer while everyone went down to the basement to eat pizza and salad. We went down, ate, took some more photos, and then, after a bit, came the first dance. I got my microphone, and announced the first dance. I sat down at my keyboard, and started to play. It sounded really good. Carmen started to sing, and it sounded beautiful… and then the soundboard overheated and the keyboard cut out, in the middle of the first verse. She nervously turned her head towards me, and I loudly whisper, “Just keep going!”… And she sang it acapella until I got the electronics up and going again. She did a beautiful job! She stepped up to him at the end of the first verse, and I then serenaded them through the rest of the song after a few finger flubs of frustration.  At the end of the song, Jacob wiped a tear from his face. My heart was full. Everyone loved it, even with the glitch. How could they not? Metallica gone classical… enough said! Carmen had a daddy/daughter dance with my husband… “Wanna Be a Baller”, and then a dance with her biological dad… “Mental Health”. Odd? Not if you knew my daughter. They were the perfect choices. After that, the dancing was on, and my soundboard repeatedly shut off throughout the rest of the evening. SO FAR FROM PERFECT. I was stressed and irritated by it, but no one in my circle of friends thought it was a big deal, so I calmed down. “It is what it is”.

Carmen and Jacob’s first dance as husband and wife

There was much conversation, laughter, dancing, consuming of adult beverages, and overall enjoyment. The grange was just about empty by nine o’clock and we started winding down. Jacob sat in the basement with his friends from out of town for awhile. My family went back to my house. Carmen followed me there to get a few things before heading home… and it was over. We conversed for awhile about the wedding, and got ready for bed. It was then that I realized that my underwear had been on inside out the entire evening. I had been in such a hurry, I didn’t even realize it. Now that’s funny! I sent a text to Carmen informing her of this, (she gets a good laugh from this type of information.) and went to bed.

“Wanna Be a Baller”

Sunday, the 26th… the day after. I got up at 6:30 to see my brother and his family off. They didn’t end up leaving until almost 8:00, but that’s okay. I cried, of course, as they drove down the street and out of sight. I had fully planned on going back to bed, but I couldn’t sleep… Too much crying. So, I left a note for my hubby, and headed down to the grange to get going on the cleanup. I had all the ribbon down and rolled up, trash off the tables, and all the jars gathered together by the time Carmen and Jacob showed up. We got all the tablecloths off of the tables, all the jars boxed up, and everything completely out by three in the afternoon. (And yes, she laughed hysterically at my informative text from the night before.) We left the grange with nothing left to do but vacuum the stairs and mop the kitchen area. I went home and took a break for a few hours, and spent another hour vacuuming and mopping. I did another walk around check and left. I collapsed on the couch and did nothing for the rest of the evening.

Monday, the 27th… two days after. I got up at a decent time, after feeling ill in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I felt better when I got up. Mind you, I was even more sore than the day before. Today was my day of running around. I had to have the rented lamp posts back in Salem by noon. I also needed to run by the courthouse to drop off the completed wedding paperwork. It took me longer than I expected with all the traffic, to return the posts, but I made the deadline and headed back. It was noon when I got back, so I couldn’t go to the courthouse until after lunch, so I made a few stops, put gas in my car, and went to my daughter’s house for a bit. We talked about all the unique problems that happened at the wedding. She wasn’t upset at all. She laughed about it and said, “Well, that’s kind of how things go with us, isn’t it?”. LOVE this girl. She’s already ready to tell the story of her perfectly imperfect wedding.

You may kiss the bride

I have learned a few things from this whole wedding experience.

#1- It’s okay to fire your friend from being your free wedding coordinator when she doesn’t actually do anything. (Taking over a week or two before the wedding is not for the weak!)  Actually hiring a coordinator may cost money, but there won’t be nearly the amount of stress when your big day arrives. OR, be sure your person is going to be able to handle the responsibility. You HAVE to know stuff is going to get done!

#2- DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! “We’ll do that later. We’ve got time”, DOES NOT WORK! Even when we all have jobs, and lives, things have got to get done. Every time you say that, that’s one more thing added to your last minute list… that you don’t have time for.

#3- Having reliable friends and family is so, so important! There is NO WAY I could have gotten this all done without my husband, Kate, Janet, Super Bob, John, Rosa, Fred, Ron, and so many other people!

#4- It is okay to let people help you! Don’t let your pride get in the way. If people volunteer to help, LET THEM HELP! I have been humbled by this experience. Even though I feel that I need to do everything myself, other people can do things too! Ask. Delegate. Trust. Accept. Just let it happen!

#5- Don’t expect perfection. Nothing will ever be perfect. Of course you want it to be. I did. This is my baby girl. Of course I wanted it to be the perfect day for her. I told her, very frankly, to not expect perfection. Whatever is going to happen, will. Whatever isn’t, will just be one of those great stories you laugh at when you tell your friends about your wedding. She has a lot of things to laugh about for sure!

I present the bride and groom

 

So, now, my lovely daughter is a married woman… married to a wonderful man. I have another son. (I honestly don’t care about the “in-law” part.)  She is happy. They are happy. I am happy. And that, my friends, is all I could ever hope for…  And no one got arrested.

August=Spending freeze

August is upon us already. That means a spending freeze for me. July was filled with multiple birthdays and other expenditures this year… that means spending extra money. I will have one exception for this spending freeze though… wedding expenses. I am retraining my brain to frugalness by not spending on anything frivolous or uneccessary.

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I know I’ve already done the rundown on spending freezes in a previous post. This month I’m going to heed my own words. IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN. I’ve already had challenges this month, and it’s only the fourth! I went shopping with my daughter today. She wanted some company. Of course I said I would go.  I had to put back several items as we wandered around multiple stores. They were great deals. I sure wanted to take them home!  I had to keep reminding myself… “I don’t need this. Self control, self control, self control”. It worked! Chalk one up for me!

Bills, minimal wedding expenses, and bare essentials/groceries… That is all I’m purchasing. This month, for some reason, I’m finding this really difficult. I’m not sure why. I do spending freezes several times a year. Having MY birthday in July probably didn’t help. I usually buy myself a few things… Things I’ll use, but not solely needed items.  They were random, spur of the moment items. Maybe that’s it? I wasn’t as careful with my money and my steadfastness waivered.  Yep, I’m going with that.

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Yes, this month will be tough. I have company coming to town for the wedding. I’ll have four extra people in my house for five days. I’ll make it work! I think I’ll use some of my food storage to compensate for the added food costs. That way I don’t blow my grocery budget. I’ll be sure to make menus choices that everyone will enjoy.  It’s going to be pretty hectic, so I will be using my crock pot and instant pot the majority of the time. These will save me a lot of time, giving me the freedom to visit with my brother and his family, along with decorating the wedding venue. I’ll say it again… This will work!

So, my money IS going to stay in my wallet. Amazon WILL NOT get my business this month. I am not going to the store unless I’m grocery shopping or getting items for the wedding. Repeat after me…. Self control, SELF CONTROL!!

Laughing at and loving your imperfections

I’m going to be brutally honest here. I am one of the most awkward people you will ever meet… With the exception of my kids anyway… (They inherited their awkwardness from me. Sorry kids!) You may not notice my awkwardness right away, but at some point it WILL show up. Just you wait! Not only do I tend to be socially awkward, I’m physically awkward… Vertically challenged… Clumsy… Whatever you want to call it is okay with me. It’s the truth. Seriously, I fall down. A LOT. I have been this way for as long as I can remember, and it hasn’t gotten any better with age. I still trip and fall, and I still bruise just as easily. I could be completely embarrassed by tripping all the time, or running into things. I could wear jeans and long sleeved shirts 365 days a year… Where’s the fun in that? I have embraced it. I have accepted it. I only hope to have an interesting story to go along with the usually incredibly colored bruises. Half the time I don’t even know what happened to get the bruise. I’m sure people assume that I’m in an abusive relationship… No. No I’m not. If you know me at all, you know the truth. All I can do is laugh at myself… A song title comes to mind… “Oops, I did it again”.

All of this awkwardness could totally leave me wanting to hide in my house for the rest of my life. It did, at one point VERY long ago. I’m over it. If nothing else, it is definitely a conversation starter. Most of the really good ones DO have hilarious stories to go along with them. Somehow, they usually involve one or more of my dogs.

That one looking at me? That’s Maya, the adventurer. Good thing she’s adorable!

My most spectacular one of this year? Oh, let me tell you all about it! It was a Thursday. I was just arriving home from work. I pulled into my driveway, and pushed the garage door opener on my sun visor. As the door goes up and I start to pull in, I notice the man door going to the back yard is open… (I’m positive I closed and latched it shut when I left.) Uh oh. I see all three of my dogs racing to the garage to see me. Wow, they run really fast! I pull in as fast as I can, pushed the garage door opener again to close the door, and fling my car door open to try and block them from running past me and getting out to the front of the house. (You see, they’re all very spirited, and two of them we rescued earlier this year. They don’t go out front without leashes. EVER. Open yard and a busy street. We just don’t do it.) Well, I thought everything would be fine, until I see Maya, the adventurer, start to go under my garage door with about two feet left before it closes. What’s a girl to do? Dive after her, catch her tail and hold on, obviously. Of course, just as I grab her tail, the door closes the rest of the way… on my arm. I’m talking an over-sized, very insulated, double garage door closed on my arm. BUT I STILL HAVE A GOOD GRIP ON MAYA’S TAIL. I didn’t let go. So there I am, laying on the nice, cool floor inside the garage while Maya is stuck sitting there on the other side because I have her tail. I’m starting to inwardly panic because I’m stuck down on the floor with no way to open the door, and my arm is starting to tingle a bit. About twenty seconds go by before the garage door comes back up because it apparently hadn’t shut completely… Just got to love those safety features. (I think.) As the door comes back up, the other two dogs make a run for the front, and my grip on Maya’s tail falters… And away they all go… in three different directions. I scramble up off the floor and start chasing dogs. I’m yelling and carrying on like a crazy woman as the dogs run across the street to two of the neighbors’ houses. Luckily one of these neighbors is outside and I frantically yell, “GET HER!” as I go and chase down the other dogs. I get Joshua and Masco rounded up, and put them in the house. Then, I go back for Maya. The neighbors, bless their hearts, have her on their patio. She’s so happy to see me. I talk to (wheezed is more accurate) my neighbors and thank them repeatedly for quickly catching Maya. I grab her collar and she and I head back over to my house… as I’m not so nicely telling her that she and I are NOT friends right now. I get her in the house, and the garage door is now closed… and my husband is mowing the lawn in the back yard. Clueless. SERIOUSLY?! I go inside, quickly tidy up the house, do some vacuuming, and then my friends show up for our weekly girls night. We’re all sitting there eating snacks, laughing, and I got a chill and rubbed my arm. I am startled. I have a HUGE goose egg on my arm.

Progression of garage door bruises. Does this only happen to me??

I hadn’t even done an assessment of the damage to my arm in my haste to get the house in order for guests. I had completely forgotten about it. I guess it looked pretty bad. The girls were staring nervously at it for the rest of the evening. I put an ice pack on it. The next day I had to fly to Montana for the first time to help with a new computer system launch. My arm looked HORRIBLE. At least I had a great story! That broke the tension and awkwardness of meeting new people. They had a good laugh over that one. Ha ha!

My social awkwardness is pretty hilarious. I get nervous talking to people. Evidently I anticipate what people are going to say…  and then I blurt out things that have absolutely nothing to do with what they just said. I get the weirdest looks from people as they try not to burst into nervous laughter. I’ll be at the store buying groceries, and the cashier is overly chatty. I try to be polite. We get done with my transaction, and then I think they’re going to say “Have a nice day”. They actually say “Thanks for shopping with us”, and I say, “You too!”  Wait, what?? Good grief. The cashier gives me an oddly strained look, and I make my way to the exit shaking my head. Yeah, I did it again. It happens all the time. WOW. I do laugh loudly when my daughter calls to tell me she had a “You too!” moment. I can relate.

So, what it comes down to is this… We can either be embarrassed and ashamed by our many imperfections, or we can embrace who we are and own it. At this point in my life, I’ve accepted the fact that I am one big casualty waiting to happen. I make sure to announce this to new people so they aren’t surprised. Trust me, they are usually surprised anyway. It’s okay that I have awkwardness every minute that I’m awake. It’s okay that I have to look down and watch my feet when I walk. It’s okay that I can trip on a completely flat surface. It’s okay that I have random bruises. It’s who I am. Not accepting it ISN’T going to change it. I can laugh and joke about it. It’s either that or cry. I don’t like to cry… No one wants to see THAT.

LOVE YOURSELF FOR BEING IMPERFECTLY PERFECT.

Revisiting the past: Class reunion update

The day is long and warm… the breeze is gently blowing through the trees… and the sounds of laughter, conversations, and excited screams flow through the parking lot as I step out of my car in the “secret parking lot” behind the Deluxe Brewery. I take a deep breath, grab my camera, and head to the entrance. My anxiety is running high as I step inside… the thought of so many people is getting to me. I am greeted by familiar, friendly faces and hugs. My awkward and nervous conversation starts keying down to a tolerable level almost immediately as I find my name tag and see a few of my friends that I see on a fairly regular basis. After a few minutes, I find my way over to the bar and get myself a tasty adult beverage to calm my nerves. Breathe…. Ah, delicious.

I look around and realize that there is no one taking photos of our event. I was originally just going to take a few, but hey, I brought the only camera! I’m so glad I did! Not only was I able to take photos of everyone (I think), I got to give myself a task that takes me out of my comfort zone. I did things I wouldn’t normally do without a camera attached to me… I talked to just about everyone there… Hell, I stood on a tall table and took pictures until the staff told me get down. HA!

I saw people that I went to school with since the first grade. I was curious how many would be there from way back then. Actually, I was curious how many would be there from my entire graduating class. I wish more could have come, but, it was really loud in the building with all the talking going on. Imagine if it were six to seven times the amount of people!

My circle of friends in school was pretty small. I was so shy that I didn’t talk to most people unless it was absolutely necessary. I recognize the faces and the names though! It was incredibly magical to me. Thirty years later, and all the social walls have fallen. Everyone is happy to talk to everyone else… genuinely asking how they are, what they’ve been doing, and where they live. The majority of us wore name tags with our yearbook photo on them. Some people looked so different that I did a double take when I looked at their name tag. Others really hadn’t changed at all. It was pretty mind blowing.  I had only planned on staying for about two hours. I ended up staying for an extra hour and a half. I had an amazing time.

It was so nice to all the smiling faces…. all the bright eyes, laughter, and intense conversations. It has been 30 years since I have seen the majority of these people, but at least for one night, we were all long lost friends. Thank you my fellow bulldogs for a delightful evening!

HAIL WEST ALBANY HIGH!

What will you be doing this summer?

Summer is upon us! There are so many things to love about summer.  Ah, the sun, the barbeques, the vacations, and… THE GARAGE SALES!

I love shopping garage sales for the incredible bargains, but I’m going to focus on the HAVING garage sales. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m not overly fond of putting on a sale, but I am on a mission this year. I desperately want to pare down my possessions. I make progress every week, which is good, but I’m gearing up for sale day. I still have a few weeks to go, and that’s great! I’m looking forward to filling up all my large boxes with items to be sold… which means more stuff leaving my home! I’m even taking this a step further. I’m planning with my neighbors and we’re going to have our sales on the same weekend. How awesome is that? Neighborhood sales attract more attention, which hopefully means more people and more of my stuff going away!

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I know I keep focusing on items going away. Yes, that is intentional. There are a few reasons why…  #1- I need the ongoing pep-talk. I’ve been making excellent progress, and I would like it to continue. In this case, I am my own personal cheerleader.  #2- I am trying to change my mindset. I am trying to reverse 40+ years of keep, save, and buy multiples of everything. I’m tired of storing so much. I’m tired of having to find bigger totes and shelves. When I’m asked if I have big plans for the weekend, and my response is all too often, “I’m going to be cleaning and organizing my music/computer room… AGAIN”, then obviously, things need to change!

I started following a Facebook page called Becoming Minimalist a while back.  I am inspired by Joshua Becker. His posts are not only interesting, but I find them to be quite insightful. I love the little sayings he posts. I can relate. I take them to heart. I’m trying to embrace this way of thinking in order to take my home back and not let my stuff own ME.

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Let’s buckle down and go through our stuff! Call your friends and neighbors and get to selling! (And don’t forget to donate what you don’t sell!)  Less stuff means less cleaning and less stress. Let’s take back our evenings and weekends, and do the things we really want to do… ENJOY LIFE.

LET”S DO THIS!!

 

6 months until Christmas… are you getting ready?

I love the Christmas season… It’s my favorite holiday. I absolutely adore the music. I love the lights, the baking, the tree, and the smells associated with it. I love getting creative with gifts, and coming up with the perfect present. I love the look of surprise and joy when my gifts are opened. I love watching people selflessly give to others. It would be nice if everyone was so caring and sharing all year long, don’t you think?

I hate to break it to you, but Christmas is officially less than 6 months away! I know, right? This year is flying by! Blink again and black Friday will be here. I know it seems very far away, but trust me, it really isn’t! I don’t know about you, but I’ve already got a game plan together. It’s ALWAYS good to have a plan.

There’s a few things to plan for as you’re gearing up. THINK LISTS! You know how much I love my lists. Obviously, I start off with a list of the people I need to buy for. By each name, I write down their favorite color, things they collect, and the snacks they love. Next, I start brainstorming ideas for gifts. I keep an ongoing list in my notes app on my phone. That way I can keep up with the little things I notice as they come up.

Reuse, reuse, reuse!

Oh so lovely, and easy!

Next, I write down gift wrapping ideas. Those of you who know me know that I am obsessed with meticulous wrapping. I feel that the wrapping should be just as beautiful and exciting as what’s inside. A few of my favorite ways to wrap presents… Repurposing Pringles chip cans. They make great boxes. (Pinterest has excellent diy ideas!)  I also enjoy making used greeting cards into gift boxes. I used to ask all of my friends to save their chip containers and little boxes for me. I love using cell phone boxes too. I love this type of wrapping… easy yet elegant… And recycling things just makes sense!

Instead of throwing cards away, repurpose into gift boxes

One of the most important things to add is my budget. I HAVE to have a budget. Millions upon millions of people go deep into debt every year because of the holidays… buying everything under the sun… buying every single thing on children’s lists.  Personally, I absolutely despise the idea of being in debt, especially because of Christmas! I write up a realistic budget, and use all my frugal skills to ensure that my budget stays in check. Coupons, coupon codes, membership bonuses, gift cards, store rewards, ebates… the list goes on and on! As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the resources are out there for the taking. MAKE YOUR MONEY WORK HARDER FOR YOU! A little bit of research can save you hundreds. If you come in under your budget by Christmas, that’s great! Set it aside for a jump start on next year. You could even get presents and clearance Christmas accessories in January. Save 75%+? Um, YES!

Another thing I do a lot of is homemade gifts. I love the creativity of making the perfect gift for someone… made with hard work and love. It could be beaded jewelry, gifts in a jar (cookies, etc… there’s actually cookbooks specifically for this!), a framed photo you’ve taken, a knitted scarf, the possibilities are endless. Make it, and make it personal! I thoroughly enjoy receiving these kinds of gifts. One of the things I do for all my employees is make each of them a Christmas stocking. Every year we hang stockings on the front of our counter for everyone to enjoy. Each fabric is picked for something that they love, and it makes me so happy to see them all hanging up. (When the holidays come around again, I’ll show you the counter. It’s absolutely lovely!) Things like that, to me, makes me appreciate the effort that was put into a gift.  It truly warms my heart.

LOVE personalized things!

I scour the thrift stores for wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows for pennies on the dollar. I save the majority of the colored tissue paper (used for gifts) that I get throughout the year. I have a little box specifically for it. When it’s full, I stop collecting. I do the same with gift bags. I have a container dedicated to gift bags. When it’s full, I’m done. If you find nicer ones, swap out for the less attractive ones in your stash. You honestly CAN have too much. Set a limit and stick to it. 

One of the things that I have realized as I have gotten older is this… you don’t have to buy EVERYTHING for everybody. I have always had a humble approach to gift giving. When my kids were little, they had very long lists of items they wanted to receive. I know, I know… that’s what kids do. I know I did. (I recently found one of my lists from way back. So THAT’S where my kids got the hilarity from!) Just because our kids ask for a hundred things DOES NOT mean you have to get them all. Remember that budget? Take the time to find out what they REALLY want the most. Pick out 3 or 4 things, and let them be happy and satisfied with what they have. My kids had a ton of toys, but yet could still be bored. How is this possible?  Well, I found out that the overabundance of toys results in a lack of appreciation for what they have. Totally true! This could be said for so many things in our lives. I appreciate my things so much more when I have to work to get it. I don’t get everything I want, and I’m honestly glad I don’t. When, and if, I finally get what I wanted so badly, I am much more likely take better care of it… use it more often, for a longer length of time.

So, what it comes down to is this… Take a little time, and start preparing now. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the majority of your shopping done before December comes? Think how nice it would be to actually relax and enjoy the season instead of stressing out about it. Wouldn’t it be comforting to know that your Christmas fund is already where it needs to be, since you’ve been saving a little every month for it, right? If it’s not where you want it to be, now is the time to start!

Make your lists. Have a plan. Let yourself look forward to the holidays.

Why music is my passion

Everyone has their “thing”. You know, that something that has always been there… The thing that puts you at ease, that calms you down, relaxes you like nothing else can. For me, that thing is music. I don’t mean just listening to it. I mean creating it. Sure, I have other things that I truly enjoy doing… Writing and photography… but music is my first love.

Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. My mom used to say that I would sing harmony when I was a toddler. I don’t even remember when I started playing the piano… It was that long ago. I have always had a song in my heart… A tune running through my head. It is a bit distracting sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sometimes I feel it’s easier for me to let people hear how I feel, rather than just use my words. I am fortunate enough to be able to put those feelings on paper.  I was so fortunate to have parents and music teachers who pushed me to follow through with my music education when I wanted to quit. I’m grateful now that they saw my potential. I feel so blessed.

I wish I had more time to do what I love. I would love to dedicate all day, every day, to my creative outlet. A few hours a week just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Just when I’m getting into “the zone”, it is time for bed, it seems. At least I get some time. I try to make the most of the time I have. I’m making progress. I am starting to spread my wings.  That’s the important thing.

I have also been blessed with amazingly talented friends. They are my soul sisters. These ladies are so creative and fun. I’m a lucky girl. Together, I think we have the potential to do something wonderful. I don’t think there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish. Someday, I hope, with the poetic partnership of my gifted friends, to be able to bring OUR music to life. Our whimsical interpretation of adulthood could bring a new perspective on life. Sure, it might have been done before, but I think we have some unique experiences to bring originality to the table. I have faith that our time will come. (I will let you know when it happens. Trust me on this!)

There’s something about the whole creative process that brings me so much satisfaction and joy. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.  I lose myself in the notes, and it transports me to a wonderful paradise. It really is a part of my being, and I am so thankful for it.

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Enjoy your life. Make the most of the talents you’ve been blessed with. Lose yourself in what you love.

 

 

 

My class reunion – reflecting on my life

This summer marks a pretty significant event in life… My 30 year class reunion.  It just doesn’t seem possible. 30 YEARS? In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday. In other ways, it seems like several lifetimes ago.  To be honest, I’m pretty excited about it.

As I reflect on my life, and what I’ve done with it, I start to ponder… Have I lived up to my potential? Have I left my mark on the world? Am I satisfied with the things that I have accomplished? Are those things actually noteworthy? I have experienced a lot of very different things in my life since school… both good and bad. Marriage, kids, divorce, death, among other things… All those events have helped make me who I am. I’m stronger. I’m more opinionated and outspoken. I’m confident. I’m a very different person than I was. I’ll bet most of us are, and that’s the beauty of living in this crazy world.

I haven’t accomplished as much as I wanted, but I feel that I have made significant progress. It seems like most of those forward leaps have happened just in the last couple of years. I feel like I’ve contributed to society. I feel like I have made a difference. That’s really what life is about, right? Making a difference?

What I find the most fascinating about the anticipation of my upcoming class reunion, is that I am genuinely looking forward to seeing all those people I graduated with. I am looking forward to seeing and visiting with the friends I had. Were we all friends? Absolutely not. Will I recognize all of them? Maybe. I don’t expect everyone to recognize me. I certainly don’t expect for all of us to become best friends. I AM expecting to find that, at this point in our lives,  we have gotten past all of those social boundaries. As I’ve mentioned before,  I was a very socially anxious and awkward person. I’m excited to see how we have all changed. I know I have. I am excited to hear about everyone’s successes. It all sounds so wonderful.

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Do I know what I’m going to wear? No. I know I won’t be dressing to impress anyone. That doesn’t matter to me. I’m a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl, so maybe I’ll show up like that. I don’t know yet. What I do know, is that I want to have enlightening conversations with all my fellow Bulldogs, and hear about all the great things they’ve done.

So, as our big day approaches, I wish all my fellow classmen and women well wishes and safe travels.  I look forward to seeing all of you, and catching up. May we be united in happy memories, and look to the future with excitement.

Hail West Albany High!