Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oh - Is That Today?

I remember as a child that Remembrance Day was a very special day. I remember that none of the stores were open. Only the corner store was open & they were only allowed to sell milk and bread. It seemed second in importance only to Christmas. Now, like so many of our times of reflection, it is just another excuse to get some shopping done.

I watched the services this morning on tv as I do every year - and yes, I paused for a moment of silence at 11 - and I was once again struck by the faces of those that we hope to honor through our remembrance. They stand so resolute as if they are right there in the trenches all over again.

I honestly don't think that we can ever hope to grasp the horror of war. Try as they might, Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List are still just depictions. We eat popcorn while we cringe at what we see. But when it's over, we just turn them off and move on to the next thing. We don't carry it with us.

Then I see those young soldiers that are facing a new reality of war and again, my mind cannot wrap around what it must be like to be a soldier who leaves his or her family not knowing if this might be the last time. What is it like to be the husband or wife that is left behind with an empty spot at the table each night? What is it like to be the child who only gets glimpses of Mommy or Daddy and tries to comprehend why they have to keep going away? When will you be home to stay?

I remember the school services as a child - listening to a trumpeter come in to play The Last Post, the reading of In Flander's Fields, the poppy pins, the moment of silence.

Stuart Maclean says it best: "We have tried, but we haven't tried hard enough. We have been busy with other business, though I can't for the life of me remember what it was."

So I hope that in the midst of everything else that happens today that you take time to pause and reflect. It truly is the least we can do to honor those who have paid a price that we will never understand. I say thank-you to those who, at such a young age, selflessly gave of yourself so that I might be free.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Now I don't want to get off on a rant....BUT!

I saw this in the store the other day and almost fell over:

Cash is so "20th century." Use your card! This 21st-century version of Monopoly eschews the cash in favor of a debit system that keeps track of your money for you. It's a whole new twist on the age-old property trading game. Travel around the board, collect money, and punish your opponents financially as you have some good clean fun. Tokens include the Toyota Prius, New Balance Shoe, McDonald's French Fries, Labradoodle, Motorola RAZR Mobile Headset, and a Laptop Computer. As far as properties go, you've got Boston's Fenway Park, Las Vegas Blvd., Houston's Johnson Space Center, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, and Minneapolis' Mall of America. It's the same great Monopoly fun in a more modern format!

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't one of the great things about Monopoly that it teaches math skills and money handling? We play Monopoly - the original edition, sans french fry token - and the kids love it! Frogurt learned some incredible math skills from playing this. He knows how to make change, for example.

I think that we as a society have a tendency to change things that don't need to be changed. The toy industry has become more about seizing another opportunity to sell a licensed character or indirectly advertise to children when it should be about skill-building. Children learn through play - they learn how to win gracefully, lose gracefully, problem-solve, take turns, math skills (even rolling dice teaches them how to add in their head) and so much more. They don't need Dora splashed on the box to do it!

The saying is "Don't judge a book by it's cover" but packaging - not just toys but everything - is a huge industry. Packaging and image can make or break a product. How sad. What happened to what was inside the package? Isn't that what counts? Why do we always need to reinvent? Salad dressing is salad dressing, whether the bottle is round or a more trendy shape.

I guess what I am suggesting is to look past the glitz and glimmer this year. We are being more cautious with our spending so all the more reason to dig beyond the logo. Our children will follow our lead. So find a classic board game, pull it out & see if they notice that there's no debit machine. I think they will be thrilled just to spend time as a family. And they just might learn something while they're at it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Writer's Block

It isn't that I forgot about my blog. It isn't that I didn't want to write. I have been looking at the page everyday. However, I have found myself at a loss for words lately.

I've been dealing with things since the summer - things that I just don't understand. Why does an 18-year old so full of potential have to have her life cut short? Why does an innocent 3-year old have to have her cancer return? I've been angry and confused and mad. Yes, mad.

I know that a blog can be a place to work these things out but I just couldn't. Then I realized that no matter how much I tried, there would never be an answer that would satisfy. I would never know why these things happen. I can ask "Why, God?" every day but there won't be anything that will make me truly understand. Not in this life, anyways.

I started reading The Last Lecture. My husband bought this book for me months ago and the only reason I chose the other morning to start reading it was because I couldn't find the other book I was reading (it was buried in a pile of papers). Here is a man that had every right to be mad and question and give up. But he didn't. He chose to squeeze every drop of living out of what he had been given. It is a wonderful poignant discourse - if you haven't read it yet, go get it and read it!

It is how we look at things that can make the difference. That doesn't mean dismissing anything. It just means trying to find the joy in spite of the sorrow. Not easy, by any means. There is a quote on the inside flap of the jacket of the book: "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand." --Randy Pausch

I admit, I've been folding my cards lately. But I am learning that I need to stay in the game. I need to risk before I can gain. I need to have faith and acceptance that I will not know all the answers. And I need to know that that is okay.

I am off to make pancakes for my kids - and at Randy's advice, they won't be round. They don't need to be round. Who decided that anyways? It is Thanksgiving weekend. I am truly grateful for my family and my children, who will help ensure that our pancakes are never round again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Life Off Of Auto-Pilot

As you may or may not know, I joined Weight Watchers 10 weeks ago (on a side note, I've lost 16 pounds and feel great!). I have had more than one person ask me why I joined - I was never that heavy. While that may be true, I have know for a long time that I have had some destructive habits when it comes to my relationship with food. It had gotten to the point where if I hadn't asked for help, I would have watched my weight spiral. I was heavier than I ever had been and I made alot of bad choices when it came to eating.

When I joined and started tracking what I ate, I found that I had to be much more conscious about what was going in my cake-hole. I had to plan and think ahead. No more auto-pilot. I remember one evening shortly after starting, we were at Freckle's year-end piano recital and afterward there were desserts and snacks out for people to eat. I looked around the room and watched as people mindlessly filled their faces.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have nothing against dessert! I had pie twice last week! However, it drew parallels for me as to how we live our lives. Auto-pilot. Reactionary. Buy now, pay later.

I wrote earlier in a post about switching to a cash-only system. This was taking control of another area of our lives that also operated on a non-thinking system for the most part. Ooo - I like that so I'll buy it. No planning, no control. Now I have a grocery budget and a meal plan in tow when I head to the store and we are much happier.

The more areas of our lives that we can take back the reigns, the better. There are small and simple steps we can take each day in whatever arena needs attention.

Weight? Start writing down what you eat or eliminate one bad habit now.
Money? Move to a cash-only system. It is truly the best way to see where your money actually goes.
Time? Do a to-do list and stick to it. Don't overwhelm yourself with 50 items. Make it achievable and enjoy the feeling of checking things off.
Personal time? Schedule it in. That's right - mark it on the calendar as "me-time" and don't make any other plans. Make it as high a priority as any other appointment. If you had a doctor's visit scheduled, you wouldn't choose not to go because there was too much laundry. Treat yourself with the same importance!
Cooking? Make a meal plan for the week - this will actually overflow into several arenas - you'll save time, money and end up eating healthier! Check out Sandi Richard's books if you need help. These are great books with family-friendly recipes that are easy to prepare.

Take control of your life. You are not a zombie or a robot so don't act like one. Don't let emotions or lack-of-planning control your day. Feel how it feels to soar with the controls in your hand. Trust me, life is much better in the driver's seat!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


On more than one occasion, Freckles has asked me "Are we rich?" My answer without hesitation is always yes. Then, of course I ask her what prompted her question. It usually has to do with "stuff".

So, I ask her what that means - being rich. Again, it often comes back to the acquisition of things. However, in my experience, "stuff" has very little to do with being rich.

I have little signs posted in my house that say "Today I choose to be wealthy." It is a choice. I experience the richness of my family. I experience the wealth of being together. I experience the fullness of giving to others.

Could I buy a new car? Of course. Could we live in a bigger house? Sure. We have the money and the credit. But it is a choice. If we choose to take on a car payment, it is at the expense of other things. If we choose to live in a bigger house, it would mean leaving it less often to go on vacation together as a family.

We have found that what is important is each other. It is the time spent together. When we choose to have an attitude of wealth, then abundance flows. We are very rich, indeed! We have everything we need at any given moment and so many luxuries as well.

It's just symantecs. How you define riches will determine your focus. Let your days be filled with the abundance of time spent together with those you love. Share with those around you. Find 10 things this moment you can be grateful for and express that gratitude joyfully.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Learning how to cry is the hardest part

There are some things in this life that will never make sense. I can't even try to understand because it causes me to break down. Language seems like such an insignificant form of expression when the heart is aching, welling up inside. I just don't get it. I don't understand why.

Mikelle, I will miss seeing you turn into the beautiful woman you were destined to be. I will miss seeing the photos you were yet to take, the songs you were yet to play. I will miss watching you discover your true potential because I saw greatness in you just waiting to burst out and shine. You will forever be missed.

These fleeting charms of earth
Farewell, your springs of joy are dry
My soul now seeks another home
A brighter world on high

I'm a long time travelling here below
I'm a long time travelling away from home
I'm a long time travelling here below
To lay this body down

Farewell kind friends whose tender care
Has long engaged my love
Your fond embrace I now exchange
For better friends above

I'm a long time travelling here below
I'm a long time travelling away from home
I'm a long time travelling here below
To lay this body down...

(Long Time Traveller by Wailin' Jennys)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cutting Corners

The kids were gone all last week so I took it upon myself to repaint their rooms. What a great idea! I have done my fair share of painting so I know that I always start off very excited about the prospect and there is nothing quite like seeing that first brush of colour on the wall.

However, I also know that I usually tire of the project around midnight when I am covered in paint and longing for my pillow. So there I was at about 1 AM in Freckles' closet trimming the ceiling, thinking to myself, "No one is ever going to look up in here..." The temptation was strong to just skip it and get to bed.

I was however reminded of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (must have been the paint fumes). Who is he, you ask? He is the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. I heard a fascinating story about the painstaking detail he took on the statue, including her hair. Here's the thing: the Statue of Liberty was erected in 1884. Airplane flight was not something that had been conceived of. So no one would ever see the top of the head. And yet, he took great pride in every facet of that statue, regardless of who would see it, or not see it for that matter.

So, yes, I realize the inside of a closet doesn't quite compare to an historic monument but the principle is the same. How do we apply ourselves when no one is watching? The definition of integrity is what we do when no one is watching. Oh, the cobwebs we sweep under the bed!

I will try my best to pay attention to the details because it is in the small things that the difference between average and greatness can be found.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Before You Judge Me, Try Hard to Love Me

Those are lyrics from Childhood.

When I was a young girl, I was a figure skater. I was at the arena pretty much every day after school. I remember one day, a day like any other, one of my skating buddies asked me if I had the new Michael Jackson album. I said "Who's that?" She couldn't believe I hadn't heard of him. She told me how cool he was and my response was, "Is he white?"

I have always remembered that day and I will probably always remember yesterday. I was picking Freckles up from her last day of school and we were driving home. I turned on the radio and they were playing Thriller. I turned it up and we were all doing the car dance (the one where just your upper body moves because you are strapped in your seat). We were happy and smiling and then the announcer came on and said that he had died.

I was, like everyone else, in disbelief. I didn't know what to think. I was kind of sad but wasn't sure if that was overreacting. Over the last day and a half, I have heard so much of his music on the radio and have realized, no, I'm not overreacting. This is a big deal. He was an icon for my generation. His songs were anthems of my childhood. Thriller was the first cassette I bought with my allowance.

As I look at all the controversy that surrounded him in the latter part of his life, all I can think of is how we saw a man who really needed help but never got it. We don't know what was going on with him but we do know that he was thrust into the spotlight at a very early age and stayed there ever since.

So I am allowing myself to get misty-eyed and watch all the news and entertainment shows. I feel that a part of my childhood has passed into legend and I am sad. I choose to remember the Michael Jackson that rocked my teenage world.

This morning on the radio, one of the announcers paid tribute to him and I have to quote him because I think he really got it right. This is from C.R. Nichols from Joe FM:

"There is a sweet joy in his music that he never seemed to find in his life...You can never escape when the person chasing you is you...We remember what we want to remember and we so very much want to remember that magical man that set our hearts and our feet dancing decades ago when we were young."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Ode to My Dad

Once there sat a big brown chair. This chair was not filled with stuffing but with memories. It was filled with stories told every night while a little girl and her dad sat in the chair. It was filled with popcorn from movies watched together. It was filled with grape pop, which the little girl was careful not to backwash! It was filled with spaghetti and meatballs, which was the dad's specialty. It was filled with spruce tree needles from the many trips out into the forest to select the perfect Christmas tree.

As the little girl got bigger, she decided she didn't need the chair anymore. She grew up, moved away and started a family of her own. But there was always a longing to get back to the chair. Now, she has a little girl of her own who fits perfectly into the chair with her Pappa. It is a new chair, red not brown. But the stuffing in it is being replaced. It won't be long until it, too, is stuffed with memories.

The girl now smiles as she watches herself in her daughter, curled up with her Pappa for a bedtime story. She wants to say thanks to her dad, who has always loved her even when she didn't love herself. She wants to thank him for always making room in the chair for her, even when she was supposed to be in bed.

Thanks Dad. I love you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tell Me How You Really Feel

The other day I had a strange encounter with a sales clerk. At the end of the sale, he said "Have a good day." Okay, nothing odd about that. I replied, "You too!" Again, normalcy prevails. And then he responded, "I'm trying," as he walked away with his head hanging down. I was a little taken back. What do I do? Do I just leave the store? Do I ask him if everything is alright?

The next day I was at the grocery store and the clerk asked me how I was to which I responded "Fine. How are you?" She then began to tell me her story in great detail. I found my inner dialogue telling me to back away slowly...

So why do we use phrases like "How are you?" and "Have a nice day"? Are they just greetings or are they something more? In my mind, whatever they were, they seem to be nothing more than a pleasantry. But what do we do when someone actually answers the question??

It caught me off guard and reminded me once again that there are a lot of lonely people out there. Maybe I should look at these instances as a chance to reach out. I didn't take the time to engage either of these people in conversation. Too absorbed in my own to-do list.

What are your thoughts? Should we just ask how people are doing as a greeting? What do you do when someone actually tells you?

Thursday, May 28, 2009


So at church on Sunday, our pastor shared a story about his trip to Kenya. He said the main language was Swahili so 99% of it went right over his head. But there was one word he knew: "mazunga" It was their word for "white man". The interesting thing is that the literal translation of that word is "one who spins".

What a picture! How are we viewed by those around us? Are we spinning around in a tizzy? With summer just around the corner, I have found that many people actually relax and change gears - what a concept! Taking time to enjoy the warmth and beauty of summer is so important, not just for us but for our kids.

When I look back on my growing-up years, one of the memories that is very prominent is summer vacations. These days, I have the opportunity to go on weekend retreats periodically. I love these because I am completely unplugged. I don't have computer access and I leave my Blackberry off.

So what is it about summer that makes our brain switch into this more laid-back mode? How do we capture that same mindset, say, a week before Christmas? It is important for us to model this to our kids year-round. I am beginning to realize that relaxation is a learned skill!

I have started meditating in the mornings and I am starting with a "simple" exercise: I close my eyes, breath and count to 10 and back to 1. The trick is that I am supposed to focus on nothing other than the numbers. Not as simple as it sounds. Here's and example of my inner dialogue:

"One.....Two....hey I'm doing pretty well! Whoops! .....Three....Four.....I need to get milk......"

I challenge you to try this. It takes less than a minute but it is very eye-opening how hard it is to quiet our minds just for a minute!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Off the Shelf

I shared this story with my team this morning but thought it bore repeating.

I have wrinkles. I am now closer to 40 than I am to 30. And my age is starting to show. Not alot, but enough. My skin doesn't have the same youthful vitality it did a few years ago. However, I have the tools! I have invested in a great skin care anti-aging, anti-wrinkle system. Scientifically proven to reduce the look of fine lines and deep set wrinkles! Great! So why does my face still look the same? Because I don't use it.

I am lazy. When bedtime draws nigh, I just want to hit the pillow. Sometimes I even ask myself "Do I really need to pee or can I make it til morning?" So needless to say my skin care regime does not get done every night or even ever other night. The creams sit there in the cupboard feeling useless. I know, I know - if I would just take 2 minutes a day, I would look and feel so much better. The products could do their stuff.

Well, this is much like my business. I have all the tools but if I don't do anything with them, no one benefits. I can know all there is to know about my product and my customers but if I leave the toys on the shelf, what good is that? It is when they are put into the hands of a child that the magic happens (much like my under-eye cream!).

So what prevents me from doing that? Same as all areas of my life. Could be laziness, fear of failure, too busy, you name it. But when I do what I know I am supposed to do, I feel so much better! And I have helped someone else too. Whether it's sharing a parenting tip, helping a stressed out mom with her teething baby or listening to a team member who had a bummer show, I am at my best when I am sharing. When I share my passion, the magic happens.

The only problem with that is that it makes me smile. And that just causes more wrinkles :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Biggest Loser

Those of you who know me know that I am a bit of a reality tv freak. There are certain shows that I just simply must watch and I don't know why. Case in point, America's Next Top Model. I have no idea why I feel the need to watch this show but I am drawn to it. Now when I look at magazines I find myself analyzing them like some Tyra Banks-wanna be.

I think what attracts me is that they are so utterly mindless. I don't have to think. I don't have to engage. Now, LOST on the other hand requires my undivided attention and adoration. It is the steak in my TV dinner. America's Next Top Model would be the soggy vegetables that I roll around with my fork and try to convince myself there is some nutritional value there.

But then there is The Biggest Loser. This is the first season I have actually watched this show. I found it very inspiring. As someone who is always encouraging people to push through their obstacles, I found myself utterly sucked into this show and immersed in the characters' struggles. Oh, Sione, I like Bob too!

The season finale was this week and I could not believe my eyes. I could tell that there were certain people that just finally got it - they had actually changed their lives, not just by losing weight but by getting to the heart of the matter and shedding their baggage. They learned new ways to deal with obstacles and heal past hurts.

There's the lesson for us all. Whatever it is we use to mask the pain and the struggles we deal with everyday will never heal the wound. Only getting to the core of the issue and being honest with ourselves will get us onto the road to redemption. We owe it to ourselves to be truthful with ourselves. Often that is the hardest person to face. We are harder on ourselves than anyone else and our internal dialogue keeps us always just out of reach of our full potential.

Whatever it is that holds you back, know that you can break through it. Take time each day to focus on your victories. Reward yourself for little milestones as well as big ones. You deserve to live your life to your full potential!

Tara before:

Tara after:

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quality....not Quantity

So I stopped in at Battery World to get a new battery for our home phone. While there, I saw this sign:

Doesn't that just hit the nail on the head?? How many times do we cheap out and then regret it. We know full well that "we get what we pay for" but we still do it! We are continually lured in by the thought of saving a few bucks in the moment that we don't think about the big picture.

I have to say, that when it comes to our kids, this is so important. We get them something of poor quality just for the sake of getting them something and then they are heartbroken when it breaks. Think about what that does to a child. They can have much deeper attachments to things, whether it is a favorite toy or a special blanket, and when it falls apart and they see it go into the trash, is that really sending the message we want? Don't get too attached because it will just end up in the garbage anyway. Hmm....

And this isn't just for kids. I am a big fan of TLC's What Not To Wear. Over and over, the message is pounded into our brains: buy fewer pieces of clothes that are of higher quality. Seriously, this really does make so much sense!! And look how good those people look! And think about how good you feel when you put on a piece of clothing that cost a bit more. I have to say, I got a pair of Ralph Lauren sunglasses last Christmas - actual Ralph Lauren sunglasses. In the past I have never spent more than about $10 on sunglasses because I have broken several pairs and the thought of having my pricey sunglasses stepped on because I set them on the stairs when I came in the door was a hard pill to swallow. Well guess what - those sunglasses have never once been set on the stairs. They actually get put back in their case. Why? Because when we have to put out a bit more coin for something, we tend to take better care of it, right? These glasses came with a really nice case. It's at the back door so that every time I come into the house, I can put them away - and I do! I also have a really nice suede suit jacket. You'll never see it in a pile on the floor, but you will see my crappy cardigan there.

We send ourselves quite a strong message by choosing to constantly cheap out. We are subconsciously saying that we are not worth it. For our children, we send the message not to draw too strong of a connection. Freckles has been saving her allowance and birthday money - she currently has over $70 saved. She is learning about saving for something she really wants. Think of the care she will put into her purchase, knowing that she has had to wait and save to get it. Frogurt, on the other hand, has a hard time saving (this has to do with age differences as well). He doesn't quite get delayed gratification yet. He will spend his few dollars every week on something that doesn't last long and that becomes yesterday's news in an awful hurry. Yesterday, however, he had enough saved up for a bigger item. He got himself this great sticker mosaic set and took so much pride in making these pictures, all of which are now displayed proudly in his room.

So next time you're tempted by that $5 t-shirt on display next to the lettuce, think about it. Think about all the other $5 shirts that have worn out before their time and how pooling all those $5s together could get you a much nicer shirt. Think about how much prouder you would stand. Think about how much your child would love it if their favorite toy never broke (commercial time: Discovery Toys has a lifetime warranty!). I can tell you, it is a much better feeling. We are all worth it. No, money doesn't buy happiness but that's no reason to throw it away.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Amazing Race

I think I've finally figured it out. I think I have finally found my voice. We had a Discovery Toys meeting here at my place last night and we did an exercise that I had just done the week before at another DT event. I have done this exercise many times over the course of my business but I think I finally got somewhere with it. It was figuring out my "why" - why do I do this business and what do I want out of it? What are the roadblocks that keep me from getting to where I want to be? What are some solutions and strategies to overcoming those roadblocks?

As I said, I've done this exercise before. I know that our reasons for staying with a business evolve over time and are not necessarily the same as the reasons we joined. But I think I finally got honest enough with myself and figured out what it is that I love about being a part of DT, why it is that I haven't left when I have encountered those roadblocks that truly are a part of anything worthwhile.

Here is what I wrote down:
Because I feel fulfillment being a part of this company. It allows me to be not just a mom and not just a wife. I am a person that other adults look up to and respect.

Wanna know the reason I joined? To make money and stay at home with my kids. Is that still true? Absolutely! But it has become so much more.

A fantastic analogy came up last night. One of the things that we all struggle with from time to time is just simply picking up the phone to make calls. Ugh! Who among us hasn't felt the weight of the phone pulling us in another direction? However it is part of our job. As a mom, who among us enjoys cleaning a poopy diaper? Even though we don't look forward to it or particularly enjoy it, we know that it has to be done. Plus, the longer you wait, the worse it gets!

I feel that something has clicked in my brain. I've heard this click before and it usually comes right before a time of greatness. I feel like I have been floundering a bit this year trying to find my footing. Even with this blog, it hasn't been focused but rather random and scattered - a good reflection on where I've been. But now I have found my voice. Now I am part of an amazing race that will lead me to greatness! I am excited to pick up the phone today and I am excited to talk with people and share with them. That's ultimately what it's all about - sharing! And as Jack Johnson says, "It's always more fun to share with everyone!"

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I just finished watching The Pursuit of Happyness for the first time. It's been on my to-watch list for a long time and tonight was the night it finally happened. I've been meaning to watch it because I have heard from several people what a great story it is of never giving up and chasing your dream. Well it was all that. But that's not what hit me.

As I watched this movie, I was sitting in my nice house having something to eat and folding laundry. I put away 3 loads of clothes into closets that were by no means empty. I realized how much I take what I've been given for granted. So what if my walls aren't the colour I want them to be? Who cares that my car isn't shiny and new? Does it matter that there's a stain on the rug in the living room?

We have been given so much and tonight I realized how self-absorbed and selfish I can be. I have had the house to myself for over 24 hours now (the DH took Freckles and Frogurt on a road trip - they'll be back soon) and I spent all day today in my pyjamas. I got quite a bit accomplished but I had the luxury - yes, the luxury - of staying home and enjoying my house. As I walked through each of the bedrooms to put away the clothes, I was just taken back with what a huge responsibility we have been given as parents to empart to these small charges of ours some semblance of what it means to give selflessly and to be filled with gratitude. I was filled with a longing to just wrap my arms around my kids and try to get it through to them how rich we actually are.

Both of them have asked me that at different times - are we rich? And my answer is always the same. It doesn't have anything to do with what is in your bank account. Riches aren't measured in square feet or by what sits in your double garage. There are many people who seem to have it all but inside are crumbling. There are those who seemingly have nothing, like Chris Gardner, but who are rich beyond measure with love and devotion. It is measured by what you do with what you are given. It is measured by the fullness of your heart. And by those standards, yes, we are very rich.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Now I have several pet peeves surrounding the everyday functions of my house - I'll save How To Properly Fold a Towel for another day.

Today's pet peeve: cereal. I currently have an unopened box of Brown Sugar Mini Wheats hiding under my bed. I bought it the other day but am waiting to introduce it to the cereal cupboard. Frogurt was even with me when I bought them but has obviously forgotten as he has not asked me about them. This is a favorite type of cereal around here but that is the problem. There are currently 4 other types of cereal on the go. I have 4 cereal keepers and they all have something in them. But none of them has very much. If I were to bring out the Mini Wheats, the rest of those cereals would go uneaten. Even worse, someone, most likely my DH, would rip open the jumbo plastic bag and perch it precariously on top of one of the cereal keepers. Even if there is an empty container there, he won't take the time to transfer the cereal from the plastic bag to the cereal keeper.

There is also the scenario where the bag of cereal is too big for the smallest of the keepers. However the extra-large keeper only has about one bowl left. So there are two possible actions here: eat the last bowl before opening a new bag or transfer the crumbs to the smaller keeper. But, alas, no... instead the cereal is once again left in the bag or the majority of it is transferred and a bit is left in the bag to get stale as it falls to the back of the cupboard and is forgotten about.

Here's the thing - since not introducing the new bag, I have noticed everyone is eating the other cereal up! What a novel concept! Let's finish something before we start something new! No one is complaining. However, if there was new cereal sitting there and I asked them to finish up the last of the rice krispies first, there would be much whimpering and carrying-on.

Am I alone here? What are your pet peeves?

Monday, March 30, 2009


I find the most ironic thing about this video is that I got the link from a tweet from Anthony Robbins...
I love twitter but I also love the underlying message of this - we too often replace "actual" contact with people for virtual contact. I see this happening in our children more and more - they can't wait to get home from school (where they have actually been with their friends) to chat with them online....What happened to meeting in the playground or the soccer field?

As parents it is our responsibility to make sure our kids are getting the social interactions they need. That might mean joining a playgroup or a swim class when they are young, sports classes or music lessons as they get older - just something so that they are having the opportunity to hang out face-to-face with other kids. This also gives us as parents the same opportunity. We too need "live" social interactions to balance our online communities. I think the idea of social media is a wonderful tool and am thrilled to be a part of it - as long as it doesn't replace me picking up the phone and calling my best friend to meet at Starbucks and go for a walk.

Enjoy the video!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Soup Nazi

So the other day we took Freckles and Frogurt to Burrito Libre (they don't have a website!) because it was "free burrito day" with a donation to the food bank. By the way, if you are in Sherwood Park, you have to check this place out - it was delicious and very generous portions!

I digress...It was the couple in front of us that caught my eye. We were standing there, family of 4, with a bag full of non-perishable donations. This young, hip, trendy couple had one can of soup. She was carrying a beautiful Dolce & Gabbana handbag to accessorize her very nice outfit and fancy hair. He too was well-groomed and stylish. Now I realize I am passing judgement based on superficial evidence, but come on - one can of soup?? In exchange for 2 large burritos (regular $7 apiece)?? Maybe it's just me, but I think they missed the point.

This of course was another opportunity to talk to our kids about the importance of giving and how blessed we are and how much we truly have. After all, we only had to go one day without a television! I am very proud of my children and their generosity. They know what it means to give and the joy that brings.

Having said that, I am not sure Frogurt quite got the concept of the food bank. As he was eating his burrito, he said "Wow! The food bank sure makes good food!"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Homer Knows Best

Our tv died yesterday. I think Homer sums it up...(gets a little off topic at the end but you get the idea....)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Time to Get Dressed

Sniff...I heard about this a couple of weeks ago but didn't get around to blogging it until now:


By mutual agreement, Steven Page will be parting company with the remaining members of Barenaked Ladies. Jim Creeggan, Kevin Hearn, Ed Robertson, and Tyler Stewart will continue recording and touring together as Barenaked Ladies. Steven Page will pursue solo projects including theatrical opportunities while the band enters the studio in April 2009, and hits the road in the fall.

Page says "These guys are my brothers. We've grown up together over the past twenty years. I love them and wish them all the best in the future."

The band also wish Steven well in all of his endeavors. Ed Robertson says: "It's the start of a new chapter for all of us. Here's to the future!"

Everyone is looking forward to making new music and thanks their fans for their support.

Bwwwaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!! It truly is the end of an era. I have spent the last 20 years following these guys. They are one of my favorite bands. As a musician - a real one with a degree and everything - I have always appreciated the musicality of these guys. Their wonderful harmonies - with the plethoric use of dominant 7th chords, et al, you can tell that someone took a theory course or two.

So Stephen, I wish you well. Ed, Kevin, Ty and Jim, I will continue to enjoy your antics and true talent in a society where such a thing is a rare gem.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's Just a Job

I remember years ago watching a show about "Cool Jobs". The one that sticks out most in my memory was that of the person whose job it was to arrange the cereal boxes on Seinfeld.

See them there in the kitchen? Someone got paid just to arrange those. Hmm. Part of me thinks "That is a cool job" but part of me thinks, "How fulfilling of a job could that possibly be?". And that's when it hit me. How much time did that job actually take? Probably not that much. And I would think that it paid a decent wage considering the immense popularity of the show. So then I think, "Well, if I only had to work a few hours a week and got paid very well for it, I probably would look for fulfillment elsewhere with all the free time I had left over!"

Bingo! And thus I segue into the book I am currently reading: Timothy Ferriss' The 4-Hour Work Week. I am loving this book. Not only am I learning to challenge my thinking of what is "normal" and what is "insanity" but he is quite a funny writer as well, even using the occasional profanity (which you don't normally find in the finance section....). There is a great comparison between those he refers to as the Deferrers and the New Rich. One of them says that the Deferrers are those whose goals are designed to free them from doing that which they don't like, whereas the New Rich set their goals not only for that but "also the freedom and resolve to pursue your dreams without reverting to work for work's sake....The goal is not only to simply eliminate the bad, which does nothing more than leave you with a vacuum, but to pursue and experience the best in the world." (pp23-24) He talks about "mini-retirements," essentially not waiting to the end to experience life but enjoying it throughout.

So I guess I am one of the lucky ones. I have a "job" that I love and that I find great fulfillment in. I work about 15-20 hours a week and can be at home with my kids. We get to travel as a family and it is all a tax write-off. I have networked with other people in my field in pools in Acapulco, on the Copacabana beach in Brazil and while waiting in line with my kids to go on Space Mountain at Disney. My commute is a simple set of stairs in my house and most days I can do the majority of my work in my jammies (I really hope they never perfect the video phone!) But out of it all, I get the biggest charge when I see someone else I've helped succeed/reach a goal. That is where I find the fulfillment. So for me, what I do is anything but "just a job". It is a lifestyle and one that I won't quickly be trading in for a cubicle...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Memories Gone Digital

I'm a genius! Just have to get it out there. I came up with a great idea today - a moment of pure inspiration.

If your house is anything like mine, there is paper everywhere. Now with 2 children in school the plethora of artwork and projects that come home in any given week is mind-boggling. And that doesn't even take into account all the homespun masterpieces. And, of course, every one of them is special and must be kept and prominently displayed.

Well, I have been trying to figure out what to do with all of this. This week, we said goodbye to 2 of my daughter's school projects (both were very cool) that had been on the top shelf in her closet collecting dust. However, I did take a picture of them first. Amidst a discussion this morning with other moms who face similar dilemmas, it came to me! I am going to take all those pictures and - no, not put them in a scrapbook - put them on one of those digital photo frames! Then they can each have one in their rooms and they can have a slide show of their favorite artwork!

Whaddya think? Am I as brilliant as I think I am??

Saturday, March 7, 2009

We've Gone Bananas Over Fruit

Okay, I am all for finding healthy snacks for kids but seriously, I think we've lost our marbles:

Canadian grocer Sobeys has partnered with Disney to introduce the Compliments Junior Disney line of food products. Now I realize that this actually happened a couple of years ago but I just ran across an ad in a magazine for this and it caused me to blog.
Check this out:

Maybe it's just me....but those are just apples! Regular red apples! Do me a favor, if you do actually invest in the "Buzz Lightyear" apples, save the bag and then fill it with regular apples the next time. What are we doing to our children (and to ourselves for that matter) - this is the closest they could get to commercializing something as simple as an apple.

But it gets better. We can't make an apple look like Goofy but we can make a burger have ears!

Now I love Disney just as much as the next Cast Member but I just have to shake my head at this kind of marketing. I don't know...Am I alone here? Doesn't this seem ridiculous?

The House Fairy

Thank-you again to Julie for this tip - The House Fairy made her first appearance in our house on Thursday. Wow - Freckles and Frogurt barely made it to the end of the video before running to their rooms to clean! They have since been putting in actual effort to get their rooms clean and are anxiously waiting her return. She left a letter after their initial clean sweep telling them she would be back soon but they would never know when so they had to always be prepared with clean rooms. Well, she will be reappearing and leaving another letter tomorrow. They are both on their way but not quite there yet...Since I can't seem to get through to them, I am glad to see that manipulation and bribery are alive and well!

So thank-you House Fairy for motivating my children to clean their rooms. I am glad to not have to raise my voice. Instead, I can leave fraudulent letters around the house and get much better results!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

To Thong or Not To Thong

So believe it or not, this is based on a conversation from my bible study group yesterday morning - you get that many women together in one room and we are bound to rabbit-trail.

Anyhoo, this is a preemptive discussion as I haven't had to deal with it yet. But, a while ago, a friend of mine told me that her 15-year-old daughter wanted to go shopping for thong underwear. One of the reasons was probably because she as a mom also wore them. I too, wear them and am wondering how I will handle that question if/when it arises from my daughter. Why do I wear them? Because I find them more comfortable. I am not naive enough to think that is the only reason people wear them.

In our study, we are watching a video series on the book of Esther - the subtitle is "It's Tough Being a Woman". Beth Moore, who leads the series, took surveys from a group of women. The one I loved the most went something like this: "It's tough being a woman because we have to wear panties but spend our lives making it look like we don't!"

Unlike most of my junior female counterparts, I do everything I can to avoid the little triangle-attached-to-2-strings-peeking-out-the-top-of-my-pants look that seems to be so popular. May I recommend Junk Food t-shirts - I love them! They are longer and so comfy (I usually get mine from But it is for that reason that I fear the question. I have seen way too many young store clerks sporting the triangle-over-pants look. This is not something I want my daughter to participate in. I don't think I'm being a prude - I just know that that particular style isn't one that sends the message "These are just so comfy!"

So I will not fret until the day comes (maybe by then, we'll have moved onto some other weird fashion trend that pushes the envelope). Maybe we'll return to the high-waisted jeans of the early 80s! And those extra-long shaker sweaters!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Heat Wave

Okay, so I am writing this while my car is warming up. It is currently minus 30 with windchill here today. But in the midst of that the strangest thing is happening....

For any of you who know me well, you know that I am always cold. I wear thermal pjs year-round as well as socks, slippers and a sweater. One of the main reasons I drink so much coffee is because it is warm.

So I was as surprised as anyone last night when I was struck by the urge to take off my sweater because I was absolutely roasting! Troy said when he came to bed I had thrown the covers off. And yet again this morning, the windchill felt refreshing when I went outside! Did I just experience a hot flash?? It's way too early for that! I saw that Oprah where she was talking about hormone replacement therapy for women over 35. Really?? Could this be the start of pre-menopause?? I had enough trouble coping with my greys which are quickly forming an army on my scalp.

It is some consolation, however, that I am currently back in my warm hoodie (which, ironically is a hoodie from Maui - you can tell they made these for tourists...who in Maui needs a hoodie?!?) and my hands are cold. I think the car should be drivable now so I will head out into the cold and feel my age again - an age that is not ready for a heat wave.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Anal Retentive

So back in the days before children, I was a highly organized person. Seriously - it was amazing. Now, this seems to be a unique phenomenon that lasted for just a section of my adult life. If you were to look at my room when I was a child, you would find no evidence of this. I used to have goldfish as pets and once it took me three days before I found one of them who had jumped out of the tank and ended up buried in the pile of clothes on the floor. I drove my mother nuts...

But then, came the golden days of organization. Everything had a home. At work, you would never know I did anything because my desk was always immaculate and there were never more than 3-5 messages in my in-box. I liked things this way!

Then came the children. Those days disappeared. You could still see small pockets struggling to survive - my tupperware cupboard, the way I fold towels, the labeled bins for everyone to put their own mitts in...and I still go batty if there are more than 5 things in my inbox - I have lots of folders to sort messages into.

This year has seen a small resurgence in my anal retentive self. I feel the need to be organized once again and find that the piles and chaos are making me twitch more than usual. There are a few more neat pockets appearing. I am striving to attack the piles of paper sooner and looking for new ways to cut out the clutter. After this I am heading to the eco-station to drop off a box of dead electronics that has been sitting in the basement for far too long. I realize this might not be the most exciting news but for me it is a breakthrough! As the kids get older and are more able to clean up after themselves, I am finding the ability to clean a room and find that it still looks that way at the end of the day - wow!! Of course, the cats seem to find great joy in fighting on a freshly vacuumed rug.

So how do you deal with clutter? What are your main hot spots? It is definitely paper in this house...I welcome your ideas!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In the Waiting Line

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the moment last.
Just trippin' down the cobblestone.
Lookin' for fun and feeling groovy.

I got a great email today describing all the things that we as children (my generation) survived:

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate bleu cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We  had no child-proof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.
As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick-up on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank Kool-aid made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. And we were OK.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound or CDs, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chatrooms.......
WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not poke out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

When I read this, I smiled because this was my childhood! I remember all the neighborhood kids meeting at the lightpost on the corner of one of the yards and we would play hide-and-go-seek. We would hide all over the neighborhood! And yes, when it was suppertime, our mothers would stand on the front yard and holler for us to come home. I remember travelling from Manitoba to Alberta for summer holidays and my brother and I would play in the back of the van. He would often sit on a little suitcase between the two front seats with a map and track where we were.

This does actually segue (kinda) into what I had planned on writing about before I got that email. Patience. The ability to wait for something. The ability to work for an extended period of time in order to reach a goal or accomplish a task. Technology has taught us many things but one of them is a lack of patience. Now come on, admit it, you've sat there grumbling because your computer is taking too long to boot up. There are more than 3 people in our line at the grocery store and the person at the front is pulling out all her coupons while the cashier calls for a price check on an obscure item that the employee sent to find it has to call twice to the cashier before finding the right item (and then of course a manager has to be called to do an override).

And don't even get me started about traffic!

One of the things I've noticed in my business especially is the need for people to feel instantly successful. Well, I've been doing this for over 5 years and I am successful but I didn't get my first big paycheque my first month in. It took me a while to build a business. It took time to develop a new set of skills. So I guess whatever it is that you are pursuing, make sure you give it time to develop and grow. To continue the flashback to my childhood, "Rome wasn't built in a day". Whether you are working on personal development, growing a new business, learning a new instrument, becoming a parent for the first time, remember that there is a learning curve and you need to allow yourself time to grow. You need to realize that when you hit a roadblock, you have choices: you can either turn around and go home, you can sit on the roadblock and pout, or you can look for a way to get past it. Without challenges, we will not grow. Trees, when hit by a storm, push their roots into the ground, making them stronger for the next storm. They grow because of the challenges.

So, next time you see your child drinking out of the dog's dish, grab the camera first. She will survive. And next time you feel stuck and out of ideas, call someone who's been there, or look for a creative solution and step out of your comfort zone.

"Go out on a limb. That's where all the fruit is."
--W. Rogers

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety jog.

I don't even know where to begin! Our trip to Acapulco was so amazing from start to finish. From a business stand-point, we were treated like professionals and given so much information about the New Discovery Toys - that's right! It's going to be new! We have a new logo and will soon have new web tools, a completely new look and so much more! There were also countless opportunities to talk with the different owners (both in clothes and in swimsuits). That's one of the things I love - the opportunity to be sitting on the edge of the pool giving my input to the decision makers of this company. They were asking us for so much feedback and it was just a pleasure to be able to share with them. Also, I had some fantastic talks with the president of DT, Rich Newton. I love this man. He has such a big heart and is so willing to help people and listen to them. It gives you a really big confidence boost when both the president and VP of sales introduce you to people as a hot shot and tell you how much they believe in you. That's what this company does!!!! This is not a job. This is not a hobby. This is not me out selling a few toys to help pay the bills. This is an opportunity that has changed who I am. I am a strong, confident business woman, a great mom with confident children, a dedicated wife with a great marriage. I feel the most successful when I have helped someone else reached a goal. I have learned (for the most part!) a balance in my life and I am taking care of myself and giving myself value.

Now the personal side of the trip. I can't tell you how proud it makes me feel that the reason we were on that trip was because of me! I was able to take my family to Acapulco. I was the reason we stayed in a 5-star hotel. If you want your husband to support what you do, just earn a trip! The Fairmont Princess was so beautiful! The kids had so much fun, both at the 5 pools and at the Kids Klub. They too got Discovery Toys t-shirts and wore them proudly. Frogurt told Rich how much he liked being a part of Discovery Toys. He and Rich are now partners. Freckels was inseperable from her travel buddy Petra. They did everything together. We also got to take the kids swimming with the dolphins, a dream come true especially for Freckles.

Now the post-vacation work begins! Not only the laundry, but the dedication of myself to building my business and taking it to new heights. I am very excited for what this year will hold! It is going to be an exciting ride so get in, strap in and join me!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cash is a 4-letter word

Ahh the midst of all things financial, I have a suggestion that has been immensely helpful for us. Now this was something I had been meaning to do and started doing before any of the stuff was in the media and this actually is not really related to the economic times we find ourselves in. It certainly helps in times like these but I think it is a universal principle and don't know why it took me so long to get with the program.

The program? Cash. That's right - no debit, no credit card...just cold hard cash! You want to know where all your money is going in a week? You want to be able to stick to a budget? Use cash. Now my friend Julie told me several (okay, many many) times to watch this show Til Debt Do Us Part. Well, thank-you Julie! (for my American friends, it is a Canadian show but still very applicable - it actually is kinda nice to see them working with Canadian money on TV - don't see that very often). Anyhoo, I have watched the show quite a bit now and it really helped us make that move to cash. I had wanted to do it for a while but this show helped me figure out what to do with it. So now in our cupboard, we have 4 jars - Food & Eating Out, Transportation, Entertainment, and Everything Else. Each week our budget is divided up into the jars (which I was able to figure out from her interactive worksheet) and I know exactly where I'm at. So now when I go to Costco and I know I only have $80 left for groceries for the week, I don't even go down certain aisles.

The other thing this has got me doing again is meal planning. What a lifesaver! I sit down at the beginning of the week and figure out what I am going to make for suppers for the week. That way when I go to the grocery store with cash in my pocket, I know exactly what to spend it on. Sounds time consuming, you say? Not at all! I used to spend so much time fretting about what I was going to make and then having to make extra runs to the grocery store to pick up a can of coconut milk or whatever else...Now, I make my list, do my shopping in one trip and I'm good to go for the week. Plus the meal planning probably only takes me about 10 minutes. I would call that a time saver!

Now the whole purpose behind this was so that we could live exclusively on Troy's income, which we have come much closer to doing now. My income goes towards things like debt repayment and the extras (clothes, car maintenance, gifts, etc). I know that ideally, Gail (the host of the show) has a jar for clothes but we don't buy clothes every week. If you do, then make sure you have a jar and a budget for it.

Lastly, we have also started an emergency fund. Every month, an automatic transfer happens into a separate account so when those bigger things happen, we are not scrambling or pulling out the plastic to deal with it.

This is still a process and we are far from perfect but I can't tell you what a stress-reliever it has been. We now know exactly where the money is going and there is so much more thought that goes into purchases. That was a big eye-opener for me - how thought-less my shopping had become. When you have a specific plan, you think twice before throwing that patio set in your cart because it's such a good deal and it probably won't be there next week!

I highly recommend trying this. I bet you won't go back. It's time to put the thinking back into our spending and our saving.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wear the Old Coat and Buy the New Book

I love that quote - it's by Austin Phelps (of course, I tend to buy the new coat and the new book....)

Sorry for my absence. I was quite ill at the beginning of the week, when I meant to post and then have been catching up on things.

Anyhoo, today I wanted to share about my bookshelf. I have found such joy in reading over the last few years. In school, I read because I had to but only rarely actually enjoyed the books picked for me. After I had children, I felt I didn't have time. I now know that it is vitally important for me to make time to read. It is one of the ways I grow as a person. Fiction and non-fiction alike have shaped me into the person I am. So I wanted to share some of my favorites! I have been in and out of book clubs over the last several years and always feel like I am missing something when I am not a part of one. I don't know if it's a time-of-life thing but it seems to be a hard thing to get people to commit to for any length of time. Still, I am thankful for the times I have been in them as they have introduced me to some of my favorite books that I might not have discovered otherwise.

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
This was the first book club book I read (it was my pick). Wow - what a great book. I remember being about 30 or 40 pages from the end thinking to myself that there was no way he could end the book that would satisfy me. There was a big fork in the story and I didn't like any of the possible directions. But what a wonderful surprise!

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingfisher

This was such a riveting story and taught me so much about how we react to circumstances in our lives. I can't say enough good things about this book. Highly recommend it.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseinni

I also loved The Kite Runner (if you saw the movie, you missed out. You've got to read the book) but what I loved about this book in particular was his ability to make you feel how real the characters are. At one point while reading, I set the book down and looked at Troy and said "Did you ever wish a character in a book was real just so you could beat the shit out of him?" Incredibly powerful writing!

Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Again, you might remember they made a movie out of this - try to forget that. I have never been so disappointed in a book-interpretation of a movie... This is an incredibly moving story and there is so much more depth to the characters. It will inspire you!

The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

I have already read this book twice and will read it many more times. It is just such a practical book on how to get what you want. I am very much about figuring out what you want and then putting a plan in place to get it! If you are new to non-fiction, this is a great place to start. The chapters are short and each day gives you a new principle. It is from this book that I learned the term "inverse paranoid" which I now consider myself: I believe that everyone out there is here to help me!

Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn
This was my first "law of attraction" book and I admit, I put off reading it for a long time because there are parts of it that just don't line up with my beliefs. I have learned something though and that is that there are many things I can learn without compromising my beliefs. For example, much of the law of attraction literature says to "put it out to the universe". Well, for me, when I read that, it means to me to pray. When I read it in that context, it makes a whole lot more sense!

Dare to Dream, Work To Win by Tom Barrett
This is written specifically from a network marketing standpoint and is by far the best book I have read on the subject. If you are in network marketing, this is a must read! He puts forth a very simple plan for success: plan your work; work your plan. Did I mention this is a must read??

Well, I could go on all day. But I would love to hear from you what have been some of the most influential books for you. What books have stayed with you and influenced the person you've become. What books were just so good that you stayed up until 4 in the morning even though you had to get up the next morning but you just couldn't put it down? Which authors have been able to draw you into their worlds so much that you could feel the wind in your hair and smell the dew on the grass? Which books have caused you to go through an entire box of tissue in one sitting?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Golden Global Idiocy

First off, I admit - I do like awards shows. Specifically, I like to watch the Golden Globes and the Oscars. I even have an annual Oscar party. I didn't get a chance to watch all of the Golden Globes last night. In fact, I saw very little of the actual show but I saw the pre-show in its entirety. Hence my need to rant.

So first of all, I find it interesting to see who all qualifies to attend this gala event. Case in point, Billy Ray Cyrus. He has done nothing. He is riding his daughter's coat tails - literally (did you see the shot of him standing on the train of her dress?) And apparently he gets the good car while she only gets the hand-me-down Porche. Wow - life's hard when you're 16. Here's the thing with Miley. She is not a talent. She is a product. And how sad is that? We have turned people into products! And there's a contest to see who'll be first in line.

My other big eye-roll of the evening came when Ryan Seacrest was trying to get an interview with Brangelina. They of course did not give him the time of day and he was left standing there looking very foolish indeed. Now on one hand, I can see where they are coming from. I personally wouldn't want to spend any time talking with Ryan Seacrest either. However, it all came across as such a pride-full arrogant scene.

I guess my point is (and I do have one) that we have to be careful who we look up to. Why do we idolize these people? Granted there are some exceptionally talented people out there. But there are also people like that in our own neighborhood. I am constantly amazed at the creative genius I see all around me - genius that is coupled with humility and humanity. I don't know...I was just so turned off by the attitudes of these people to whom we give such attention. We know what Suri eats for breakfast but we are still learning the names of all the kids on our child's soccer team.

Okay, okay...I could go on for days but I won't. I do like to get caught up in all the glamor and splendor from time to time. I just try to make sure that I don't take up too much real estate in my brain with trivial star tracking. I've already given them too much of my energy and time just with this post.

So again, I do have a point: Be the role model your children are looking for. Doesn't matter if you can sing a note. Just be human, approachable, real. And if poor Ryan Seacrest comes knocking, make sure to give him the interview.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Yes indeed - it is that time of year again. Did you make any resolutions? Still sticking to them? It is the 6th afterall! I have kind of gotten away from making resolutions the past few years. Instead I focus on setting goals. To me, these are different things.They share common threads but I find often resolutions are made because it is the thing to do. There isn't a real plan behind them.

Goals, however, must have a plan. There is a cliche that states that goals are dreams with a deadline. I've learned a lot about goal-setting over the last several years and am in the process of formulating this year's goals. What do I want to accomplish? What will this year look like? At the end of this year, how will I measure success? What does that mean for me? I say for me because success is a very individual thing measured differently by different people. That is the first step in setting goals - figuring out your own definition of success. Do not base this on what you think it should be or what you think others expect of you. It has to be based on your true self and what will bring you that sense of accomplishment.

So, here is one of the things I've learned about setting goals. It's a simple acronym but it makes a lot of sense. Goals should be SMART:

So look at the difference:
I want to lose weight - not a goal, just a statement of desire.
How about this: I will lose 10 pounds by July 1st by exercising 3 times a week and cutting out snacking after 8PM.
See the difference? Which person do you think will reach her goal?
Notice also the difference in language: the first one said "I want" while the second one said "I will". There is a difference between desire and decision. Let me say that again: There is a difference between desire and decision. Language is very important. I was sent a video this morning and the opening of it said "If we spoke to our friends the way we speak to ourselves, how many friends would we have?" Wow - think about that! You need to value and love and cherish yourself!

So when you are setting your goals for the year (or whatever time period you are setting them for), remember that. Are your goals such that you are showing yourself value? Where do you put yourself on your totem pole? Are you even on the totem pole or is it too full of looking after everyone else? Last year one of my goals was to find balance. I don't think I'm there yet but I have come a long way. I will continue to work on this. One of the things I started doing was scheduling "me time". At first it feels selfish. There I am sitting at Starbucks with a good book and a latte while there is laundry, cleaning and phone calls to make. But it's like I've said so many times before: on an airplane, you put on your own oxygen mask first before you try to help anyone else. My oxygen mask just happens to drip espresso. Sometimes it's a hot bath in the middle of the day, sometimes it's going for a walk or to the library. Whatever recharges your batteries, make sure you take some time to do it. I started with an hour a month and have worked up from there.

So as you think about the coming year and all of it's possibilities, make sure that the goals you make and the way you measure success are in line with what truly gives you joy and fills your cup.

Here's to a year of possibilities! Go out and grab it!