Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fun Moments in Travel - Episode 10

We thought it would be nice to go for a family outing one Saturday evening for Ben to go fishing, the kid to take pictures and for me to take a walk.  Actually, the idea was more like I wanted to go for a walk and Ben wanted to go fishing and the kid didn't want to go anywhere.  We left later than I would have liked due to what I will refer to as a kid strike.  These usually involve an extensive amount of time spent in the bathroom "getting ready," followed by an attempted negotiation by the kid to stay home which is shut down by the usual, "This is not a negotiation speech," which leads to the need to go pick out socks then, painstakingly, the kid manages to get into the vehicle with a look of petulance that a photographer can only dream about capturing at a photo shoot.

Less than an hour to go before sunset, we manage to get to our destination.  We don't have much time so I tell Ben to go park by the water.  It is not as warm as it was supposed to be so I know it's going to be a quick, cold walk.  The kid stays in the car to draw and we don't even bother to discuss it.  We got where we wanted to be in spite of the kid strike.

I get going for a walk and make it to the other side of the pond, take a few pictures and notice that someone has parked their car directly behind ours.  Weird, why would someone park there?  I look over to see Ben put down his fishing pole and say something to someone but I can't tell if the kid got out of the car or if it is someone else.  I try to listen for voices.  Is he getting robbed?  Is the kid in the car still?  What is going on over there?

Oh well, no screams, so I keep walking around a bit more, taking a few more pictures but the car is still there.  I start to walk back over but wonder if I need to call 911 or take pictures of the car or something so I hesitate about halfway back.  I send a text to Ben, "Okay over there?"  "Yep."  "Ready to go?"  No response.  "I don't see you fishing."  No response.  I wonder if he's really okay or the person robbing him made him type that so I call and try to look like it's not me calling from 200 feet away, just in case I really should be calling 911.  A robber would totally fall for that - some eyewitness missing the entire crime because she's calling someone while looking at the tree in the water.  Seems legit.  Ben answers hurriedly, "Where's your insurance card!?"  I try to tell him it is in the glove box and he says, "He's back, gotta go."

I decide it is safe to approach and get to the car after the other car has left.  Apparently, a police SUV car.  It turns out, I told Ben to park in a permit only parking lot.  He also didn't have his fishing license nor could he find proof of insurance in my car (which I showed him in less than 5 seconds when I got to the car).  Each instance was a $100 fine, though we could go to court to fight the insurance one.  Fortunately, Ben didn't get anything but a warning.  Our car ride home was mostly quiet with a few noises from the back seat about how we shouldn't have gone out and, especially, not brought the kid along.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

2017 Be More: An Update

Life has been flying by.  I suppose that means I have been having fun, right?  I can't say that I feel like I have been actively working on being more but when I sit down to write this update, I realize I am being more than I realized.

Be more giving.
I've started volunteering with the kid once a month.  Usually, I am nervous about volunteering.  It's a new place with new people and I don't know what the expectations are so I worry about not doing a good enough job.  After a few months, I decided that any help is better than no help and it's volunteer work so they can't fire me.  Now, instead of being nervous, I look forward to it.  When we are done, I feel a sense of being more - giving of myself, being an example to the kid, benefiting the local community and appreciating that the life I am living right now gives me the opportunity to do something to help others.  I want to volunteer more and am actually looking into something that takes me way out of my comfort zone.  We will see where that one leads in the next few months.  Stay tuned!

Be more well read (or other activity you enjoy).
I used to read a lot when I was younger (read: before college, when it was for fun and not for assignments) but as I got older, I had other things to do or would lose interest in what I was reading.  Over the last few months, I have read three books.  I realize this is a low number to some people but it's more than I have read over the past 5 years, easily.  Taking the time to actually read a book to completion is being more - more patient to finish the book and more disciplined to stop reading at a decent hour so I could wake up rested (this was another problem I had with reading - I couldn't put books down and go to sleep).  I am currently re-reading a book by Robert Fulghum, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."  I think the first time I read this book, I was in high school.  It's a grouping of short stories so I can read as many chapters as I like and put the book down at a decent hour.  This is probably the fourth time I am reading this book.  In all, I've read four of his books and will actively pursue reading the other ones out there that I haven't read yet.  I love physical books.  Reading on a screen just isn't the same for me and since I usually read before bed, I prefer not to stare at a lit screen before heading off to sleep.  Oh, and if you are curious to know what books I've read - they were, in order: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories to be Read with the Lights on (Alfred Hitchcock), The Giver (Lois Lowry) and I'll Push You (Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck).

Be more inspiring.

I took to facebook a few months ago and posted positive or funny quotes for 30 days in a row.  Some people were concerned about my mental state while others were encouraged with me.  A few weeks later, people were asking me about posting more - they had started looking forward to what the day's thought or quote would be so I did another 30 day stint with even more positive, happy or quirky posts.  The quotes were intended to give me a positive start to each day (or evening if mornings didn't allow time for the post) and ended up being a piece of inspiration for anyone who happened to cross my posts.  I'm currently working on a different 30 day of posts and can't wait to share that with my facebook family!

That's where I've been.  How about you?  What have you been doing to be more?  Any suggested reads for a non-reader?  Share!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Motivational Speeches

I love a good motivational speech.  You leave the room with a glow beaming from your insides.  You feel like you can conquer anything thrown at you.  A major project to complete in two days for your boss, no problem.  Projectile vomit from your son's tiny little body, exorcist style, no problem.  Repairing the hole in the side of your house that the neighbor's tree fell through, no problem.  Making a five course meal for your in-laws on a Tuesday, hell yeah!

But then that speech wears off and you realize you can barely conquer peeing in the toilet sitting down.  Stress takes over - too much to do and nowhere near enough time.  Why is this project your priority?  What kind of kid has that much vomit in that tiny little body?  Seriously, is he hollowing out his legs with this crap?  How many times did you tell that damn neighbor to trim that stupid ass huge tree?  I barely cook grilled cheese for dinner during the week, let alone a five course meal for people that I don't go to bed with.

So how can we find a happy balance between, "I own this world," and "The bed is the only safe place right now?"  The answer, my friend, is Moderational Speeches. (Sidebar: Can I trademark that phrase?  It's amazing!)  One might ask, "Moderational Speech?" or, "What is this Moderational Speech to which you are referencing?"  These are speeches that keep us level - not so high that people think we are on medications and not so low that people think we are on medications.  Seriously, though, who cares if we are on medications?  Medicines have their purpose but, I digress.

Let's go through the parts of a Moderational Speech as though you are the speaker, externally or internally.  If you are wondering why you are the speaker, the reason is that you, my friend, are the director of your life and personal dialogue.  By the end of both speeches, you will feel completely grounded but have a little extra kick in your step because you are that good at moderational balancing.
  
Speech to give to people
Internal speech dialogue
1.      Thank everyone for taking time out of their lives to come listen to you speak today.
1.      Take a moment to reflect on how awesome you are for taking the time out of your day to give yourself this speech.
2.      Let everyone know that you have lots of other things to do today so they should also thank you for being here to talk to them but don't be obnoxious about this.
2.  Continue to self reflect on all that you do     each day to share your awesomeness with the world, all without the incessant pestering for acknowledgement and accolades.
3.      Highlight things that make people feel motivated.  Sometimes, quoting songs can inspire people such as, "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life."1
3.   Sing some of your favorite songs, in your head or  out loud.  One of our favorite songs is, "It's Hard to Be Humble," by Mac Davis.
4.      Continue with movie quotes, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."2
4.  Think about how cool a name like Mac Davis is and what your cool name should be. 

5.      Let people know that sometimes, everything is going to feel like it is going your way and, other times, it will feel like the floor is falling out from under you.
5.  Consider legally changing your name to this then realize you aren't really motivated enough to make that happen.
6.      The important thing to remember, in the most moderational inspiration you can muster, is that everything will be okay eventually.
6.  Finish up by remembering that even if all you did today was clean poop off of a wall (don't ask), it was done by a great person with moderational goals and that's good enough.

I'm not the best with citing sources but here's what I got:
1 The Facts of Life, Television Show, portion of lyrics from seasons 2 - 5.
2 From the movie, Forrest Gump.  Great movie, you should watch it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

2017 Be More: What's up with that?

New Year's Resolution: Two Months In
It's hard to believe I haven't blogged for two months - the time seems to have gone by so fast and so slow at the same time.  I left off with my 2017 resolution: be more.  Be more, it turns out, means so many things.

Be more present.
We've become a society encapsulated in technology.  While I don't describe myself as a person that can't be without technology, I do realize that I spend way more time in the virtual world than the real world for my liking.  I can remember having conversations with my daughter or husband that I didn't really listen to because I was distracted.  It hit me one day that my lack of presence in the discussions could lead to no conversations down the road and that is not a direction I wanted to take.  In order to be more present, I put down the phone or laptop or mute/turn off the television when they come into my space to talk.  They are WAY more important than anything else and I wanted them to feel that from me.

Be more appreciative.
Really?  How general is that one?  For me, this means trying to consciously appreciate what I have in life, like how awesome my friends and family are, having a warm house to come home to and a reliable car to get me around.  I can be a negative, pessimistic person and when I start down that path, it gets wider and longer very quickly so I am trying to be more aware of how good I have it.

Be more amazed.
Not sure if you've noticed this but we live on a planet with tons of cool things to experience.  The sky alone is an entire topic of amazement.  The clouds, or lack thereof, the way the sun shines through pouring rain is an anomaly in itself that still mystifies me every single time it happens.  Rainbows, double rainbows, sunsets that look like the world is on fire and eerie sunrises through the fog.  That's just a small portion of the day sky, not even touching the night sky.  Then there's trees and animals and insects and so on.  Just get out there and be amazed by this place, you won't be disappointed.

Be more kind to yourself.
There's a few components being addressed here.  Sometimes, I have an internal, self-deflating inner voice that puts me down.  I consciously work to knock that bitch down and I've come a long way but still need to focus on the virtual smack down from time to time.  Another way I am trying to be more kind to myself is to make healthier food choices and get more physical activity in.  Now, being kind to myself does not involve taking away any foods - I am living one life and it won't be one without cake, cookies, ice cream, cinnamon rolls and so on but it will be one that involves more fruits and veggies!  Physical activity, for me, is simply doing more.  I get up around 5:30 to get 30 minutes of exercise in, usually walking or a weights/walking combination four or five days a week.  Getting this done in the morning usually leads to higher energy levels through my day and a better attitude because I've already started my day successfully.  This is also time I get alone, to focus on me, because the other people in the house are usually sleeping while I'm getting my sweat on!  I've been feeling tons better since making these changes, which actually started well before the 2017 resolution.


That's what I've been up to for the past two months.  Let's see what else I can do to be more this year.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 New Year's Resolution Report/2017 Resolution

At the end of last year, I resolved to do or try at least 12 new things over the course of the year.  Well, the year has ended already.  Did I make my goal?  Damn right I did!

Here's the full list with the details:
1.      Participated in a weight loss challenge at work
Lost not only weight but also the challenge!  This wasn't a major deal but I don't participate with many extra things to do at/with work so this was out of my comfort zone.
2.      Enjoyed an evening with psychic medium, Deanna Fitzpatrick
I've always enjoyed watching psychic mediums do their work and while I realize there are a number of fakes out there and a larger number of people that don't believe in this work, I am one who does believe in souls and an afterlife.  I went to this event with my Mom and we both enjoyed it.
3.      Attended a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater
3a. Performed an audience role in said murder mystery dinner theater
This was so much fun that my Mom and I ended up attending a second dinner later in the year!  Performing a part was very stressful for me but since my goal was to try new things, I had to say yes and I think I did a mighty fine job.  No one seemed to notice my nervous shaking.
4.      Went to Herr's Factory Tour
We made this trip as a family with one of little one's friends along for the ride.  This place smelled so good, especially the first stop at the pretzel building.  We also enjoyed fresh, warm potato chips.  Bonus: we bought tons of souvenirs (chips) and it didn't cost us an arm and a leg + the tour was free!
5.      Went to the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival
Okay, I have to admit that I was on a foodie frenzy when I signed up for this festival and ordered the 20 piece selection.  20 pieces was WAY too much food to even try to consume and we weren't supposed to bring anything home.  However, my Mom, always being the prepared one, brought sandwich bags anyway.  This seemed to be the norm as several "seasoned" attendees were walking around with Tupperware/Ziploc containers and the vendors were putting the items directly in them.  This is not a festival I would attend again as there were a ton of people crowded into a small space (something that gives me anxiety), the items really weren't all that great and it was a hurried event.
6.      Vacationed in Washington, D.C. on Memorial Day weekend
Whew! I've been to D.C. before on a field trip but never stayed the night, let alone a full weekend.  This was a great trip with some great friends!  I wouldn't go there again over a holiday weekend, such as this date or 4th of July due to the large quantities of people that were there.  Because it is the nation's capital, there were a lot of people there from all over the world, which is great but for the fact that, like driving, a number of them walk in the opposite direction so not only was it congested but there were people walking in a nonsensical order, which drove me bonkers and limited my contact with the main area attractions on Sunday to the morning hours only.  Check out fun moments in travel episodes 6 and 9 for more details about this adventurous weekend.
7.      Vacationed in Deal Island, MD
We hit Deal Island for an extended weekend at the end of the school year with my parents.  We had a whole house complete with a dock on the Chesapeake Bay.  It was an absolutely beautiful weekend but mostly because of the good company.  We didn't do much because, frankly, Deal Island is a place with nothing to do which was the point of going there.  Several hours were spent on the dock fishing, watching the sun roll through the sky and playing cards in the house, with the bay view in sight.  It is very likely that we will head over here again, possibly for an annual excursion.  Of course, there is also the option of staying at other locations on the Bay to experience different adventures.
8.      Saw a movie on opening day (Independence Day: Resurgence)
Ben and I saw this together and the movie followed the original film pretty closely.  Not a big deal but it was something new.  To be honest, we usually head out to the movies after they have been on the screen for a while because the theater tends to be way empty, just how we like it.  This go round, the theater wasn't nearly as packed as I thought it would have been so it was even more enjoyable for me.
9.      Took an archery class with little one
The kid is into archery and had wanted to take a class for a long time.  I was finally able to connect with a teacher and signed us up for some private lessons.  It turns out, I'm pretty good at archery for a beginner and the little one is, too.  We had fun doing this.
10.  Threw a machete
This may fall under the archery class but while we were practicing archery, a brief machete lesson came about, too.  When the teacher offered for me to try throwing it, I would normally have said no so I took a hold of it, giggled like a school girl and threw it.  It hit the ground.  Then I threw it again and hit the target.  It was really fun.
11.  Attended a summer concert at Killens Pond State Park
The state parks in Delaware have been offering free summer concerts for a few years now.  This past summer, I decided it was time to go.  The weather was nice and I needed a few hours outdoors with some good music.  I invited Ben to meet us at the park on his way home from work and packed him a sandwich (plus drinks and chairs for all of us).  He ended up getting there before us and helped pick out a spot to enjoy the concert.  As soon as the music started, Ben melted - he was relaxed and comfortable and I was enjoying it just as much as he was.  Little one spent her time reading a book.  This was not a life changing moment by any means but a good time was had and that's all we needed that night.
12.  Took a stick work/self-defense class
This class was taught by the same person that worked with us for archery.  I learned a lot in this class about self-defense that will stay with me forever.  The stick work portion was way more fun than I expected it to be.  As we developed moves, a rhythm came about that was soothing and encouraged me to continue.
13.  Went on an outing for the sole purpose of taking pictures
One evening, I decided it was time to go out just for pictures.  All three of us hopped in the car and headed over to Abbott's Mill Nature Center.  I got some fantastic shots there and little one also took a ton of pictures.  Fun!
14.  Attended the International Food Festival in Milford and ordered everything on the menu from one of the vendors
This was the first International Food Festival and we got there right as it was getting started.  There wasn't much going on at that point, food trucks/tents getting in order and music blaring at full force over the speakers.  It wasn't the most pleasant experience I've ever had but the food we came home with for lunch was quite good, even though we had to wait 1/2 hour for it.
15.  Went tent camping with the little one's troop
So, little known fact of life about me: I don't enjoy tent camping.  There is something about having to pack everything you need to survive for however long you plan on staying in the wilderness then unpack it/carry it/set it up/clean it/repack it/carry it back then unpack it and clean it again when you get back home.  In addition to the packing situation, there's the dirt, bugs, heat/cold, walking to the toilet and using public showers (that you hope have warm water), too.  I decided to try tent camping with my little one this year.  It turned out to be the first weekend that got down to about freezing temperatures at night.  I had on multiple layers, a cot with a pad, a sleeping bag and a blanket and was still shivering and I don't mean that, "Oh, it's a bit cold out here as I shovel snow" shiver, I mean the, "Oh, dear Lord, I was not aware that my innards could shiver, too."  It was all I could do not to get in my car and drive the hell home and send my husband back in my place.  That said, I made it through the whole weekend (two nights, people) and I am proud of myself for sticking it out.  The other mommas were a delight to hang out with and it was cool to see little one be independent.  Will I do this again?  I'm not one to say never but let's just say it's not likely.
16.  Participated in the first Dashing Through the Show walk at Cape Henlopen State Park
I roped Ben into doing this with me and it was a pretty good night.  We enjoyed walking through the light display.  Afterwards, we shared a po' boy that was divine!  I hope the display grows from year to year and I would absolutely consider doing this again (but I will bring my own hot chocolate and cookies since we didn't get to partake of this because of my refusal to stand in a line for 20 minutes).
17.  Went to Belize
Seriously!  My husband decided the perfect end to a year of new things would be to take a trip out of the country (for the first time ever)!

With all of these new things, what did I learn?
1.      I learned that I am still not comfortable doing new things.  I prefer to know what I am walking in to and how it's going to go down (call it a personality defect) but I also learned that I'll never know if I like something new if I don't even try it.
2.      Delaware is a flat, flat state.  Whenever we travel outside of the state, this is made ever so obvious to me in doing activities in which any incline is involved.  Thanks, Delaware.
3.      There are a ton of fun things to do nearby (within a two to three hour radius).
4.      I have the best time when I am with my family.
5.      I have a lot of fun with my friends but I don't hang out with them nearly enough.
6.      Anxiety sucks.  I know it is completely irrational and I hate it but I haven't found my personal cure for it.
7.      I really, really like food.
8.      I almost enjoy exercise (this is a major leap from years past).
9.      I've always known this but this year really enforced it more - I have the most incredible, loving, generous husband.


So, what's up for next year?  Be more.  I'll leave that as vague as it is and we'll see where that leads.  Be more.

Friday, December 23, 2016

My Favorite Christmas Memory As An Adult

My favorite Christmas memory is from a time when we had very, very little money.  We were planning on building a house on our 5 acre property and had moved out of our home that we were selling.  In the interim, we moved into my husband's Grandmother's house, who graciously opened her home to us during our "in between" time.

Ben had taken a new job so we could pay our bills after his previous employer had cut his salary by nearly 1/3 due to removing his on-call pay.  The new job was with a company that lacked training and organizational structure and he was let go near the end of his probationary status.  This was in October.  While he looked relentlessly for a new job, his loss was during a time of many cutbacks and a job was hard to find.  Our in between time turned into a longer period than we originally expected.  By the generosity of his Grandmother and my parents, we were able to make it through, bit by bit.

December came fast and our financial situation did not allow for a frivolous Christmas.  Fortunately, little one's list was limited.  She wanted Bernie and Pinky (two unicorns I had included in my stories that I told several nights before bed), pajamas and soap (yes, you read that right).  We collected pine cones from the yard and painted them to make Christmas trees for her dollhouse.  Then we painted more pine cones to decorate the tree with.  I bought a large bucket of plaster of paris and we made change holders molded from apples for Christmas gifts.  We also got some gifts for Grandmom and put them in a stocking (we found out Grandmom had never gotten a stocking).

On Christmas morning, we went downstairs and prepared to open our gifts.  We got Grandmom up (she was a late sleeper) and the look on her face when she saw her stocking was priceless.  She went through it ever so patiently, enjoying each item.  Little one opened her gifts, of which were few.  The last one she opened had the unicorns and the foam soap in it.  She went nuts!  She was over the moon about having foam soap.

My heart was fullest on that day and I often reflect on the generosity, love, patience, perseverance and kindness that really shined through during this time.  One of my coworkers gave us a gift card to IHOP.  At that time, I couldn't even remember the last time we had food from anywhere outside of our kitchen.  Another coworker encouraged me to apply for a job I had been looking for when I was nervous about making a change while Ben was out of work (I got the job).  Good things happen even in hard times, we just have to be open to seeing them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Fun Moments in Travel - Episode 9

Oh mercy, do I have another story for you about fun moments in travel!  On our weekend trip to D.C. (see Episode 6), we parked in a parking garage as suggested by the hotel where we were staying and left the car there for the weekend.  We planned to head out Monday morning to avoid the influx of traffic sure to be heading in on Memorial Day.  We headed to our car to leave around 9:30 a.m.  When we drove to the exit, there was a car directly in front of us next to an empty booth where someone was supposed to be collecting money.  The mechanical arm granting our freedom was in the down position.

We both got out of our cars and spoke to a couple that was sitting nearby, also apparently waiting to get out of the garage.  They had been there an hour and tried calling the parking garage company, speaking with the hotel staff and even the building manager that was on site but no one would/could open the gate.  They even called the police to no avail.  Fortunately, the other family called the police and managed to explain the situation in such a way that they came out and spoke to him in person which followed with a dispatch to the fire department (not sure if he used my term, "false imprisonment," but in my head, that's what made this ball start rolling).

To my surprise, the fire department was apparently located just around the corner and within 5 minutes, firefighters were literally walking into the parking garage with axes.  I was internally freaking out because, for some reason, when people show up carrying axes, it is then that I realize something is wrong.  They looked over the mechanical arm to figure out if dismantling it was an option.  If not, I am assuming, they would have axed it, literally.  While the firefighters were doing this, the building manager that had been so incredibly unhelpful an hour prior was suddenly agreeable to calling the parking garage company and getting the matter resolved that way.  The police officer took the man aside and seemed to explain to him that he had already missed that opportunity and instructed the firefighters to move forward with dismantling the arm.  This was delightful to witness because this guy was smug the first time he spoke with the police officer.  Seeing him not get his way and hearing the tone of voice the officer was a treat for me.

Within 5 minutes, we were free to go.  No one took our information.  I thought sure we would receive a bill from the parking garage in a week or two.

As predicted, a few weeks later, Ben and I received a letter in the mail from Washington, D.C.  Walking back to the house from the mailbox I thought, here it is.  When I opened it and found a $100 speeding ticket, you can imagine my surprise!  Upon researching online, we found out there is a specific six lane road (three lanes on each side) on the way in to D.C. that slows down to 35 for no reason other than a speed trap (this single one reportedly brought in $5 MILLION + within a single fiscal year).  Ben wrote a letter requesting the charges to be dropped for several reasons and, to my surprise, they dropped it (thank you internet)!


While the beginning of our trapped adventure had me on edge (there was no way anyone at work would believe me if I told them I couldn't make it to work on Tuesday because I was stuck in a parking garage in Washington, D.C. all day Monday), I rode away with a laugh and a smile because, like my job, you can't make this stuff up.