Taking A Que from a Fork in the Road

(As promised, October is the month of completing my unfinished thoughts.  This blog began in October of 2016 and almost completed on January 29, 2017.  The original time references remain.)

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

File Oct 10, 7 25 38 AMIn the fall of 2015, Cal Poly Agribusiness received an interim department chair and my world started to shift. And has continued to move and shake like a decent earthquake until recently. With change happening in just about every corner of my world, witnessing many others experiencing much of the same circumstances, a common thread was evident; people love to express their distaste for change.

I think change is unavoidable. If you are one who yearns for control, order and normalcy, a shift in your schedule can feel like a one, two punch to the face.

The general public as a whole, will moan in harmony with the thought change. Fear of the unknown is a very uncomfortable state, and can leave one feeling unsteady and out of sorts. My life has had so much alteration in the past two years, I don’t know what typical is anymore. The other morning, I woke up with an epiphany that inspired me to write this post. Change isn’t the bad guy, but the transition that makes one loose balance.

Navigating through an untraveled road course, with blinders on, is much like transiting from an old comfort to a new circumstance. The cause of the fear and what makes change difficult is the transition.

The old adage, when one door closes another one opens really is a truth. Stop and think of how many times your life has had interruptions, maybe for good or at the time seemed like for bad, but down the road you looked back and thought, well what was the fuss all about? Why the heck didn’t I decide to do “XYZ” sooner? Or a really difficult, heart wrenching change, turned into opening up opportunities you never knew existed.

I am here to argue the point that change is good, it is the process that causes the anxiety, strain of the unknown, and downright discomfort. Using my recent experience of changing career paths, physical addresses and basically my entire daily life, I have learned a few lessons.

My Navigation Tools for Change

  1. Stay in the moment. When I allowed myself to start wondering about where I was going to be sleeping the following week, what was happening to my house in Paso Robles, or would I ever find a permanent location, anxiety and panic would start knocking on my minds door. But if I stayed in the now, focused on a few days at a time it didn’t seem so daunting.
  2. Remove all expectations. Similar to number one, I did all I could to stop my wondering mind. Why? There is a good chance you will end up being disappointed. I kept telling myself if it is meant to be, it is meant to be. For example, when searching for a new residence, I quickly discovered finding a rental was tougher than I had expected. So I decided to physically make a list of “must haves”. Tier one, short commute, natural light, two bedrooms, enough outdoor space for herbs and plants and a place for a washer and dryer. Extra special bonus features would include a gas stove, garage and no carpet. Removing time to let my mind conjure up visions of grandeur or even worst case outcomes, made the process less daunting.
  3. Change is a marathon, not a sprint. Remember to breath and allow time to run its course. As an efficient minded person who loves a good checklist and prefers to know the ending of a movie before it even begins, this was tough. Patience and I don’t always see eye to eye. But through this progression the realization that when you click along at a record pace, one misses the chance to catch all the opportunities.

But this time I didn’t have the ability to be in a hurry. I had to endure the transition and low and behold, the change has been fabulous.  Empty nest mom, living by the beach and getting my choice of nightly dinner selections, has been overwhelmingly therapeutic.

Perfect example of applying my new formula, is my dining room set.  If you would have told me a week ago that I would spend the weekend refinishing dining room chairs, I would have said right.  Heck, I didn’t even own a chair a week ago. But from trash to treasure here I am today.

I think the best place to begin the story is, the chairs chose me one afternoon at work. I spent 30 minutes on Pinterest Friday night, which directed me to a store to purchase paint. The store owner was late, so instead of pacing outside the locked door, I wondered across the street to the antique mall.  And what before my wondering eyes appeared, but old coffee bean sacks, with a cool design and even cooler price tag. With chalk paint, brush and stapler in hand, I was off to races.

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Before and after chairs.

Now mark my word, if I started off looking for white distressed chairs with burlap or better yet old coffee bean bag cushions, my expectations would have been smashed. But living in this new frame of mind that allows time to send out to the universe a message that I am here waiting and enjoying the process.  Low and behold, just like amazon prime it drops little pieces of life at my door steps.

“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.” – Unknown

(Update, I completed the dining room look with an old table I refinished in another weekend.  My place is still not completely furnished, but I did grow my first crop of tomatoes on the balcony.   The last year has truly been one of the most peaceful and rewarding in my professional career.  I have had the opportunity to flex my creative arm, learn lots and still have time to wonder the beach in search of new blog ideas.)

Hau`oli Lā Hānau Bubba

(translation – Happy Birthday Brandy)

Earlier this week was I was scanning my blog for evidence of unfinished trains of thought, and in true Jacky fashion veered off into reading past posts. I stumbled upon an entry from a couple of years ago I wrote for Miss Tisha Tucker. And it gave me the clever idea to duplicate this effort for a very special birthday girl born October 4th a fabulous 40 years ago.

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My October Birthday Girls (Lilly & Brandy)

Brandy came into our life as a bright eyed Cal Poly agriculture student in search of an internship to fill her summer hours. Little did she realize this life decision would end up completing her resume.  I had just returned from maternity leave with my youngest in tow.  Lilly was just learning to speak, and promptly began pronouncing Brandy as Bubba.  From that moment on, she has held the title of Bubba with my clan and ones that gather around our circle.

Bubba, if defined by the urban dictionary (or my three kids), would be cooler than an aunt, nicer than a sibling, and more accepting than a peer.  I guess if I had to pin point a person that defines Brandy in our family, it would be Fairy Godmother meets Rock Star. She has been present for every grand moment my kids have had from graduations to champion drives. Back in the day, Nolan, whole heartily believe if Bubba was ringside, his chances for a win increased tenfold.

Tomorrow, in honor of this sparkling, sun loving, bubble drinking gal that has a smile larger than Texas, we are all headed to Nashville. Brandy and I share countless interests, but one topic that is always near and dear to our souls is music. To celebrate, I am stealing a line from Brett Eldridge’s Wanna Be That Song, “every life has a soundtrack”.  Here is my attempt to applaud four decades around the sun in song.

The Playlist of Brando

1 – Brandy – Looking Glass – Self-titled hit that holds dear memories of a cast of characters serenading her as they walked through the CMSF front door.  You are a fine girl!

2 – Soak of the Sun – Sheryl Crow – I truly do not know anyone who loves soaking up the sun more than Brandy.  Not only will she tell you to lighten up, but wants everything she has got, too.

3 – Amarillo Sky – Jason Aldean – An authentic farmer’s daughter, she knows the importance of a hard day’s work, the blessing of a blossoming crop and the value of agriculture in our everyday life.

4 – Cowboy – Kid Rock – Hot men, cowboys and rock stars, the only person I know that might love them more than the birthday girl is Miss Tucker.  Brandy shares a special gift with Mr. Rock. They both have perfected the art of using the English language in a colorful fashion at exactly the right moment.

5 – Tiny Dancer – Elton John – Timeless, poetic, and everyone in room will bound, remind you of anybody? Plus this song is featured in one of our favorite movies that celebrates the backstage life we have experienced.

6 – Blue Hawaii – Bing Crosby – Maui, Mai Tais, and more sun. Combine our happy place with this timeless crooner and it doesn’t get much better.

7 – Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond – A baseball fan and Giant lover.  I borrowed the 7th inning stretch from the baseball team she MUST know the most about, the Boston Red Sox.

8 – Raise ‘Em Up – Keith Urban – There is no one that I would rather share a toast with than the birthday girl, well maybe Keith Urban.  From bubbles at J, to cocktails at noon, there isn’t many food and beverage moments we have passed up along our adventures.

9 – On the Road Again – Willie Nelson – Speaking of adventure, Brandy’s social calendar could rival the royal family.  She must have her mechanics number on speed dial for the amount of mileage she puts on her vehicle.  Not sure there are many outings she has passed up on the last 40 years.   If only one of us could win Mega Millions, our suitcases would never be empty.

10 – We Are Family – Sister Sledge – Going hand in hand with number nine.  Her family is number one, followed closely by her friends.  All of which she would travel near and far to experience anything from a wedding, to you marveling at your freshly mowed grass.

11 – American Girl – Tom Petty – Brandy is all that is good about this country.  She is a true patriot who loves all that is the USA.  Or is it that she loves the Patriots and Tom Brady?  Either way, it is red, white and blue.

12 – Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars – When you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while. Her smile, need I say more?

13 – Hotel California – The Eagles – The Eagles are the 70’s and have countless hits that could make the cut on the tribute album.  But this seven minute ballad, was released in 1977 and is as timeless as our birthday girl.

14 – Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding – One of her all time favorite tunes.  Flashback to the 80’s, John Hughes movies and timeless lines.  Brandy is the one person I can text a line from a movie, The Office, or a comment regarding reality TV and she will instantly fine amusement.

15 – The Best is Yet to Come – Frank Sinatra – Just like Miss Haupt, Frank is old school, cocktail hour and Las Vegas.  But even more Brandy is a classic, that has melted our hearts and holds a place at the family table.  And it’s a real good bet, the best is yet to come.

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Just Another Night

Honestly, this was harder than I originally thught, so many great tunes to select.  I guess I have 365 days to produce Greatest Hits II.  Happy Birthday Brandy – Dream Big, Love Large, and never ever forget the famous words of Micheal G. Scott “Would I rather be feared or loved? Easy. Both I want people to fear how much they love me.” XOXO

#PFN – Potential Future Nonsense

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The beach below Cardiff is my new desk.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”  – C.S. Lewis

There is fine line between obsession and procrastination.  Maybe it is just me, but sometimes I feel torn to being completely devoted to a task, and finding a substitute chore to fill my day.  Chalk it up to my need for perfection and achievement, but this trait has haunted me for years.

As a young girl, the very messy and creative space I called my bedroom, would cause my mother unrest.  I would spend days setting up the perfect office or organizing the ultimate classroom, making each student their own file of their work.  I adored colored pens, pencils, tablets of paper, adding machines, and any other items I could sort, organize or just plain establish a system.  You should have seen my paper doll collection arranged by outfits, size, and style.  If only I would have known that filing cabinets existed, I would have asked Santa for a bank of the steal cabinets.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and my assortment of paper and office supplies were simply magnificent. Well, maybe not so much for my mother.  Sooner or later Grandma Jo would put her foot down. And it became the battle to clean my room.  Now I was never high on stashing my loot under my bed or in a drawer.  No if I was going to do the job, it would be done right.  Once the cleaning bug hit me, the cycle started.  First a quick few minutes of me unloading the countless treasures into the hallway. And then hours of very precise and meticulous moving of items back into my room.  Every drawer, closet space and storage location would need to be in perfect order. My mother’s patience and my ability to stay amused by this task would run neck in neck.  Just like clockwork, about 3 hours into the process I would wonder away and my mother would show up with a hefty trash bag to finish the job. No need to worry, I would simply begin to build my collection again.  The moral to this story is, as a little girl, I would teeter from procrastination to obsession as fluid as one would skate down the side walk.

Fast forward decades later and one might ask, “Do I still experience this quandary on a regular basis?”  Absolutely.  The balance is tighter and not as extreme as in my youth, but unless I have the inspiration to accomplish a project to a level of satisfaction, I push it off my plate and focus elsewhere.  On the flip side, once my mind locks course with a mission, I have an obsession to succeed.  My blog is very much a product of this practice.

Briefly scanning the dates of entries one quickly realizes I am not the best at keeping up with the writing game.  2017 started with two posts in January and then my blog sat dormant until a couple of weeks ago.  But this isn’t a true reflection of my writing.  I have countless notes and ideas, that for some reason, I don’t feel the obsession to perfect and thus they fall into the deep dark hole of procrastination.  Recently I discovered how many unfinished blogs are floating around waiting for me to bring them safely home to the internet.

Today’s post was discovered on Pinterest.  I was working on a project and in true Jacky fashion in the middle of perfecting the content, procrastination began to take lead.  I found myself cleaning off my desktop, which lead me to pin pictures I had saved for inspiration to Pinterest.  And while I was deleting, reorganizing and combining my Pinterest boards for perfect organization, there they were, two boards I had started for blog inspiration.

This got me thinking how many more of these lone wolves lurked among my electronic devices and secured spots?  As I began to dig, I found my reflections and views saved on my desktop, tucked in files on Dropbox, in a note keeping app on my iPad, and even written on a stack of beer coasters that are paper clipped together.

November is National Novel Writing Month, which challenges the would-be author to complete a 50,000-word manuscript in thirty days. Breaking down the math, that requires one to log 1,667 words a day on average.  So my first step in developing an obsession to chase the penned word, post a blog weekly in October.  And the simplest way to accomplish this goal is to dig up my buried treasures of unfinished prose. Titles such as,  Always Dreaming – Horse Racing Theme,  Change vs Transition, Fly Over States and Surreal Moments are just waiting to be nurtured, groomed and sculpted into the perfect thought.  At the end of the day, my writing may be nothing more than nonsense, but it is my nonsense.  And if this goal can kick my obsessive gene into gear, then it is worth finding an ending for all my potential future finished work.

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense” – Alice